The Official Review Thread of 2018

The Original BJ
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:31 am

It's flown a bit under the radar, but I wanted to recommend First Reformed as a film worth seeking out -- I think it's one of the stronger efforts of the year so far. It's quite a sad film -- I think there's barely a laugh in the whole movie -- but despite dealing with heavy subject matter, it doesn't wallow in misery. Schrader's touch as a director has a lot to do with this, as the film's reserved style lets the story play out more as elegy than melodrama.

The film's plot doesn't exactly barrel along, and there were one or two detours that didn't quite work for me (the fantasy sequence certainly), but the film is more focused on character and mood, and a central narrative gradually emerges to take the film toward a fairly gripping climax. Along the way it deals with a lot of prescient issues -- the conflict between religion and politics (specifically on a subject -- the environment -- where that nexus hasn't been excessively explored), the tension between fading small-town America and modern culture (the flip phone -- itself a relic at this point -- for Hawke's character is a nice touch), the way citizens of our world seem to be wrestling with the feeling that life on our planet is getting worse and not better. And the contrast between the two churches -- the old historical landmark and the megachurch -- provides for a compelling portrait of intra-faith religious differences. (And the details Schrader uses to characterize the environments of both churches are spot-on -- the megachurch youth leader, for instance, is perfectly cast.)

This is Ethan Hawke's strongest work in some time, playing a (literally) buttoned-up character bottling up a lot of his own anger and pain while attempting to present the more measured image expected of him in his job. (And of course it crossed my mind that Hawke playing a man of the cloth would have fulfilled Damien's wildest dreams.) And this is a nice change of pace role for Amanda Seyfried, who doesn't typically get to play material this serious.

The ending is obviously open to interpretation, though it strikes me that there are really only two ways one could interpret it. Both seem to have religious/spiritual connotations, and without going too deep into spoilers, it may well be a Rorschach test for how optimistic or pessimistic one is about the future of the world these days.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 26, 2018 10:01 am

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Erin Kellyman, Jon Favreau, Linda Hunt, Warwick Davis.
Dir: Ron Howard.

This is the spin-off film that's basically the origin story of Han Solo. Did we really need to know how he met Chewbacca or Lando Calrissian or he got the Millennium Falcon? No, we don't but here we are. The intriguing behind-the-scenes drama aside, this film isn't the huge mess it had the potential of being. It's a competently made blockbuster, as what can be expected from a Ron Howard movie. But as far as Star Wars movies go, this is definitely only a notch higher than the prequels in terms of quality. I mean, it's not offensive, just largely forgettable. The saving graces are Donald Glover as young Lando who I wished this movie was about and his droid L3-37 who's probably the best droid character in all the movies. I'm looking forward to their inevitable spin-off movie. Overall, neither a disaster nor a triumph. Just okay.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 19, 2018 7:49 am

EARLY MAN
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Miriam Margolyes, Nick Park (voices).
Dir: Nick Park.

A tribe of cavemen find themselves having to play a big football match for a right to keep their home in the valley against the more advanced Bronze age players. This is the latest from Aardman and they usually do great work. I love the Wallace & Gromit shorts and the Shaun the Sheep movie was superb. This is a significant step down unfortunately. It has its charming moments of course. There are funny parts, the stop-motion animation is always something to see and Tom Hiddleston is really good as the main villain. But I simply wasn't taken by this at all. I found it rather dull and too derivative. I will say this is for Aardman completists only.

Oscar Prospects: Animated Feature and Original Song (I think) are possible.

Grade: C

DEADPOOL 2
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Denniston, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy, Eddie Marsan, Rob Delaney.
Dir: David Leitch.

The second installment of the hit R-rated superhero movie franchise has Deadpool protecting a young boy mutant from a time-travelling super soldier named Cable who wants to murder him as a child to save his family. I enjoyed the first film but I didn't think it was the Second Coming like a lot of fan boys did. This second installment is more of the same where they amp up the violence and the snarky meta humor. If you enjoyed the first one and like that kind of stuff, there's no reason to believe you won't enjoy this. I did. I had a good time but I can see someone getting tired of this type of thing fast. It would be interesting to see if they can make a third one without feeling repetitive and tired.

Oscar Prospects: Makeup is possible. So is Original Song ("Ashes").

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Fri May 18, 2018 3:18 am

Thanks for the link to the article Franz. Read through it whilst waiting at the vet getting my three cats vaccinated for their flu shots. It was very interesting reading and had a good overall perspective on Queer Cinema since the dark days of AIDs (that sadly are still with us).

Probably the only person that comes to mind making totally out there Queer cinema is Bruce La Bruce, with very much mixed results I'm afraid. His 2013 film Gerontophilla, the most accessible film La Bruce has made to date, is so sweet but audiences who flocked to Love, Simon would be running for the exits on mass if they happened upon it. I was surprised that God's Own Country wasn't mentioned in the article though. It's a film that seems to have struck a cord with audiences but had the misfortune of being released in 2017 - the year of Call My By Your Name, so never really broke through to a winder audience, though I must confess that it left he as cold as the environment that it is set in.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Thu May 17, 2018 11:54 am

Going back to the Simon thoughts, this quote is from a longer piece on Queer Cinema.

Beyond discourse, the question of what makes a film queer has become subsumed by aesthetics and narratives that display a straight gaze. The most egregious example is one of the most recent: Love, Simon, a gay bildungsroman whose political and moral center is that its protagonist Simon is Not That Kind of Gay. Simon is a blandly handsome high-school teenager (Nick Robinson) who spends much of the film assuring the (hetero) audience that he’s just like them. “For the most part, my life is totally normal,” he says in the expository voice-over. He lives in a big two-story house; his parents are played by L.L.Bean catalogue models Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel; he gets a car with a big red ribbon on it for his birthday like a holiday car commercial. “I’m just like you except I have one huge-ass secret,” he says. “Nobody knows I’m gay.”

So what kind of gay is he not? Well, he’s certainly not like the only out gay student at his school named Ethan, a black femme student (Clark Moore) who delivers many of the movie’s only jokes. In a scene where a couple of jocks are bullying Ethan, Simon remarks, “I wish Ethan wouldn’t make it so easy for them.” When Ethan and Simon finally talk in the end, rather than have Ethan push back against just how good Simon has it, the film whiffs and has Ethan act as a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. Ethan remains a patsy, offering reassurance rather than resistance to the implicit assumption that Simon is “relatable” precisely because he’s white, masculine, and upper-middle class. The gravest injustice in Love, Simon is that a gay white boy couldn’t have grown up like a straight white boy.

It’s easy to castigate Love, Simon, but it’s the middlebrow iteration of a widespread sensibility that trades in sentimentality as a way to render LGBT people sympathetic


The entire article is worth a read.

http://www.vulture.com/2018/05/queer-ci ... to-it.html

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 12, 2018 12:10 pm

TULLY
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass, Asher Miles Fallica, Elaine Tan.
Dir: Jason Reitman.

A stressed mother of two, pregnant with her third unplanned child, hires a night nanny to help her take care of the baby. The third collaboration of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody is somewhat of a return to form for both after tepid receptions of their previous independent of each other outings. We've had a lot of films about parenthood made but his one manages to offer a fresh perspective that's quite eye-opening and thought-provoking. There's actually a third act twist which may lose some viewers but personally I thought it was quite effective. Charlize Theron gives one of her career-best performances in this one with nice supporting turns from both Mackenzie Davis and Ron Livingston.

Oscar Prospects: Theron deserves a Best Actress. I don't know if she'll get it though. Maybe a Golden Globe nom?

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby danfrank » Wed May 09, 2018 2:00 pm

BJ's thoughts about Love, Simon are almost identical to my own. I'll just add that I found myself wishing that there were films like this when I was a gay teen, though even then my tastes were quite a bit more sophisticated than this. I also found the lead actor, Nick Robinson, quite likeable. The film is likeable enough for what it is, though there was one particularly groan-inducing scene (the ferris wheel scene, for those who have seen it) at the end. As long as they're making these types of films for the masses, I'm glad they made this one.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Wed May 09, 2018 12:00 pm

The tricky thing about Love, Simon is that the very thing that makes it groundbreaking is also the exact same thing that limits it. Which is to say, it's a mainstream mall movie through and through, so the fact that a film geared to this audience (and released wide) features a gay teen protagonist makes it something of a trailblazer. And yet, in order to be a mainstream mall movie, it has to adopt a pretty vanilla teen rom com aesthetic, which makes it simultaneously feel rather generic as a creative work. All of that said, its heart is clearly in the right place, and it's got some enjoyable laughs along the way. Plus, it has an admirably diverse collection of characters, both in terms of LGBT and racial diversity -- I've heard the film characterized as "too whitebread," which strikes me as a strange complaint, given how many major characters of color fill out the movie. There's nothing here that's earth-shaking artistically, but strictly on multiplex movie terms, I found it a watchable enough two hours.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Wed May 09, 2018 8:28 am

I really found Love, Simon so pre-calculated, middle class, safe and ultimately tepid. And at 110 minutes its way too long to sustain the flimsy material. My only interest in seeing the film was the hype surrounding the first 'major studio' gay themed teen film aimed as the masses as opposed to the 'gay ghetto market'. It's impossible to dismiss the acclaim for the film given that many film critics are much younger than I am and I can appreciate that they are coming from a totally different perspective that is not clouded by decades of far more challenging queer cinema, not only from the U.S., but on an international level as well.

U.S. queer cinema has really gone downhill this century some of which has to do with the fact that barriers already broken down during the 1980's in particular and that the nature of cinema has changed. So little gay cinema, unless by a major director, is shunted straight to DVD and/or streaming. Unfortunately, that's were most of it belongs.

I haven't seen Blockers, though I understand that it has gotten some excellent reviews but I'm trying to cut out new films that simply don't appeal to me unless there is some reason the convinces me otherwise (e.g. Love, Simon). And on top of that I can't stand Leslie Mann. She is the Lorraine Gray of the 21st century and she only appears to even have an acting career because she is married to Judd Apatow. Nepotism has always existed in the 'arts' and has produced some great talent over the years but goodness Mann must rank as the worst to ever emerge. I'm sure someone will prove me wrong with even worst examples. Disclosure: I did actually like Mann in The Other Woman.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Wed May 09, 2018 1:00 am

Franz Ferdinand wrote
Re: Blockers and Love, Simon. One of them is an openly gay-themed movie marketed as such, while the other initially appears to be a gross-out comedy but features an un-marketed and affecting gay sub-plot handled, I thought, quite gracefully. One of the bigger surprises of the year so far.

I've been interested in watching both. Could you speak more to them.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Tue May 08, 2018 2:59 pm

Re: Blockers and Love, Simon. One of them is an openly gay-themed movie marketed as such, while the other initially appears to be a gross-out comedy but features an un-marketed and affecting gay sub-plot handled, I thought, quite gracefully. One of the bigger surprises of the year so far.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby taki15 » Mon May 07, 2018 8:32 am

JFC, what's up with all this hostility towards Infinity War? If someone didn't know he'd believe you are talking about Transformers Part 65743.
The movie is very good for what it is and unlike some other Marvel movies who have been ridiculously and unfairly lionized ("Thor: Ragnarok", "Black Panther") this one deserves all the praise it gets.
Also, allow me not to take seriously the opinion of anyone who openly declares his disdain for comic book movies in general, the same way I wouldn't take seriously any diet tips from a morbidly obese guy.

Precious Doll wrote:
Sabin wrote:It's television. That's basically it. If you like the show, you're entertained. But don't call it a film.


There was an article in The Guardian today that basically said that. Essentially these super-hero 'films' are just on-going episodes of a superhero TV saga.


You know, the U in the MCU stands for Universe. It wasn't exactly a secret.

Reza wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:
Precious Doll wrote: Only hope it doesn't score a technical Oscar nomination next year....

Bank on it getting a visual effects nomination, and all of us holdouts grudgingly watching it sometime next winter.


I think all of you holdouts will be rewarded early next year. The effects are pretty cheesy.


Another ridiculous statement based on nothing but personal feelings. With the exception of a small scene at the end the visual effects were excellent.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun May 06, 2018 10:50 am

THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O'Dowd, Zhang Ziyi, John Ortiz, Aksel Hennie, Roger Davies.
Dir: Julius Onah.

Yes, I know. I'm late to the party. Finally caught up with this on Netflix (I paid for it, so why the hell not?) There's a major energy crisis on Earth and a group of scientists are sent up into space because apparently wind and solar power does not exist in this world despite the fact that they figured how to do artificial gravity that can withstand a lot of damage. And somehow in their quest, it opens up a rift in the time-space continuum causing clashing of alternate realities. Yes, it doesn't make a nick of sense and it's a mess. Worse yet, it wastes a fine ensemble of actors who are way, way, way better than this. It does manage to be somewhat entertaining for how awful and unbelievable it is.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: D+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 05, 2018 11:01 am

BLOCKERS
Cast: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Geraldine Viswanathan, June Diane Raphael, Gary Cole, Hannibal Burress, Gina Gershon, Graham Phillips, Miles Robbins, Jimmy Bellinger, Colton Dunn.
Dir: Kay Cannon.

When three parents find out their daughters have a pact to lose their virginities on prom night, they go out and try to stop it. When I first saw the trailer, I thought, "Eww, do we really need that movie?" but then the reviews came out and it's not what one fears at all. It kind of takes the teens-going-out-to-get-laid comedy sub-genre but from largely the point of view of the worried parents. The result is quite funny and an often refreshing take on the genre. One scene in particular is hilarious (you'll know it when you see it). The film also largely avoids potential missteps in its handling of its themes and it's also surprisingly sweet. The entire cast is great. It's no masterpiece but it's a pretty solid comedy for its genre.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Precious Doll » Wed May 02, 2018 5:40 am

Sabin wrote:It's television. That's basically it. If you like the show, you're entertained. But don't call it a film.


There was an article in The Guardian today that basically said that. Essentially these super-hero 'films' are just on-going episodes of a superhero TV saga.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.


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