The Official Review Thread of 2020

anonymous1980
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:30 pm

LOVE AND MONSTERS
Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Dan Ewing, Arianna Greenblatt.
Dir: Michael Matthews.

After a fallout from an asteroid causes Earth's invertebrates to mutate into man-eating monsters, the remnants of humankind go underground. Among them, a young man who decides to make a perilous journey to reunite with his high school sweetheart. This film which combines a YA romantic comedy with the monster movie and post-apocalyptic genre is pure formula. But it is a lot of fun and surprisingly refreshing. It doesn't go overboard with the big action and manages to surprise a few times. I can see why this got nominated for the Visual Effects Oscar. It combines animatronics and puppets with the CGI and the creature designs are quite imaginative. It is better than you think it's gonna be and it is genuinely enjoyable.

Grade: B+

THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Cast: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, Miss Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Tyler James Williams, Evan Ross, Leslie Jordan.
Dir: Lee Daniels.

This is a biopic of singer Billie Holiday, sort of focusing on the time the FBI targeted her for performing the controversial anti-lynching song "Strange Fruit" by exploiting her drug addiction. This story is quite interesting and compelling. But the film tells it in the least interesting and least compelling way possible. The film instead relies on the truly superb performance of Andra Day to carry it through. The film is otherwise little more than a pretty good cable movie from the 1990's (perhaps on Showtime or Lifetime) with a slightly bigger budget. If it weren't for Day's performance, it would've been a chore to sit through but she made it watchable.

Grade: C+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:21 am

Mister Tee wrote:Question: do we have any idea how many years had passed between the main body of the movie and the epilogue? And is there a good brief read on how the rapprochement was allowed to take place?

Good question. Here's a good place to start: https://www.history.com/topics/1990s/bosnian-genocide

Interestingly, Jasna Djuricic who plays the Bosnian interpreter for the Dutch U.N. forces is a Serb, as are other cast members in the film. The genocide that occurred in July 1995 was responded to by the bombing of Serbian positions by NATO in August. Estimates of Bosniaks killed by Serb forces at Srebrenica range from around 7,000 to more than 8,000 in that short period of time. The Serbian general depicted in the film who was dubbed the "Butcher of Bosnia" was not found guilty at his Nuremberg-like trial until 2017 when he was imprisoned for life at the age of 74.

If the Oscar for International Feature were to go the most important film, then Quo Vadis, Aida? would be an easy choice, but of course that's not the decision that's being asked to be made.

It might still win in an upset, but Another Round is a film that really resonates with the Academy which has its own share of middle-aged and beyond drunks and outright alcoholics. The film is an indictment of the Danish society at large in which heavy drinking is a national pastime. Then there's the backstory of Vinterberg's 17-year-old daughter having urged him to make the film based on an old play he had written. She was to have played Mikkelsen's daughter in the film, but died in a car crash four weeks into filming before her scenes were to be filmed. Her character was rewritten as a second son for Mikkelsen's character. The film is dedicated to her. Those are her classmates who who appear as extras in the classroom scenes.

It's a tough choice. A tie would be nice. It would put a spotlight on an Oscar category that is generally shrugged off by the public at large.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:24 pm

I'm totally with dws on Quo Vadis, Aida? -- an extremely powerful, gripping film that's for me more successful, top to bottom, than Another Round. (As potent as the extended inside-the-compound section was, the scene just prior to the finale took it to another level.) I definitely agree that it could have been an upset winner under the old you-must-see-all-five system, and I'm not entirely sure it couldn't pull it out even in this circumstance. It's not as if Another Round was that widely seen, either; it's kind of a weak front-runner-because-there-has-to-be-one. And this film is just so emotionally engaging.

And, yes, the lead performance was sensational. (And extremely accessible, because a good bit of it was in English.)

Question: do we have any idea how many years had passed between the main body of the movie and the epilogue? And is there a good brief read on how the rapprochement was allowed to take place?

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby MaxWilder » Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:53 pm

Big Magilla wrote:It's left up in the air, but the grandmother was in no shape to be tending them following her stroke. Then again, how much tending would they need after they've reached a certain point in their growth?

Good point. Besides, she’s people’s favorite character. She wouldn’t just vanish without mention.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:34 pm

Reza wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:For me, Minari and Sound of Metal were the two most emotionally true films of the year, and the year's two best films. Nothing else comes close.


Despite your sad personal memories surrounding the plot of The Father didn't you find it as emotionally true as the two films you cite?

No. When my father would confuse people he was speaking to with other people, it would be people he hadn't seen in some time, not people he saw every day like his daughter and son-in-law. The people he imagined seeing were people he wanted to see, not people he didn't want to see like Hopkins' character's illusions were. He was happy to see them, not terrified like Hopkins' character was most of the time. Except for the girl who reminded him of his dead daughter, none of the people Hopkins' character imagined were those he wanted to see.

I thought the film was good, but not great.

Hopkins was very good. Colman and Northam were good, too, but I think it was a mistake to have other actors play their characters in certain scenes. I know the intent was to have the audience see what Hopkins was seeing, but I think it would been better to have the audience see what was happening from Colman and Northam's perspectives. That way you understand what they're going through from the start. Otherwise, it looks like it could be that they're sending in substitutes to confuse the old man to get him declared incompetent so they can get his money as in so many previous films and TV shows.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Reza » Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:07 pm

Big Magilla wrote:For me, Minari and Sound of Metal were the two most emotionally true films of the year, and the year's two best films. Nothing else comes close.


Despite your sad personal memories surrounding the plot of The Father didn't you find it as emotionally true as the two films you cite?

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:47 pm

MaxWilder wrote:Minari spoiler question:

Does the grandmother die at the end? There doesn’t appear to be a time jump, but the father says the minari are “growing well on their own.” The grandmother is the one who planted them, so is she no longer there to tend to them?

It's left up in the air, but the grandmother was in no shape to be tending them following her stroke. Then again, how much tending would they need after they've reached a certain point in their growth?

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby MaxWilder » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:36 pm

Minari spoiler question:

Does the grandmother die at the end? There doesn’t appear to be a time jump, but the father says the minari are “growing well on their own.” The grandmother is the one who planted them, so is she no longer there to tend to them?

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:06 am

For me, Minari and Sound of Metal were the two most emotionally true films of the year, and the year's two best films. Nothing else comes close.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Reza » Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:02 am

Mister Tee wrote:All you people who commented on Minari forgot to mention how dull the damn thing is.

For me, this is like Sundance/vintage 1983, when nearly all the films that came out of there were well-intentioned stories of honest-working-people (mostly in rural areas) whose humdrum lives were chronicled with grinding integrity that didn't allow for a single moment of wit or invention. Halfway though, I started to suspect this was largely memoir (a suspicion confirmed by research), because no one would try to sell this limp a narrative as a story -- it can only fly as something that has "truth" as defense. Even the sudden flurry of plot developments in the last quarter hour (after 90 minutes of barely anything happening) had the whiff of "don't tell me it's melodramatic/it actually happened that way". Proving, as someone once said, that life is no artist.

The only thing this movie has going for it is the grandmother character, and I will say that Youn brings the movie to what life it has. (Though I felt bad for her having to deliver the I Am Metaphor/Hear Me Roar speech that spells out the meaning of the title in as banal a fashion as the worst 1950s play.) She's the only thing about the film that deserved a spot on the Oscar slate. Steven Yeun had a wonderful, insinuating presence in Burning, but here he does next to nothing -- how he managed a best actor nomination for it is beyond me. (I'm retroactively even more outraged for Delroy Lindo.)


Hilarious and absolutely spot on!! :lol:

In fact even Youn is no great shakes and if she wins over any of the other 4 nominees it would be a travesty.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:09 pm

All you people who commented on Minari forgot to mention how dull the damn thing is.

For me, this is like Sundance/vintage 1983, when nearly all the films that came out of there were well-intentioned stories of honest-working-people (mostly in rural areas) whose humdrum lives were chronicled with grinding integrity that didn't allow for a single moment of wit or invention. Halfway though, I started to suspect this was largely memoir (a suspicion confirmed by research), because no one would try to sell this limp a narrative as a story -- it can only fly as something that has "truth" as defense. Even the sudden flurry of plot developments in the last quarter hour (after 90 minutes of barely anything happening) had the whiff of "don't tell me it's melodramatic/it actually happened that way". Proving, as someone once said, that life is no artist.

The only thing this movie has going for it is the grandmother character, and I will say that Youn brings the movie to what life it has. (Though I felt bad for her having to deliver the I Am Metaphor/Hear Me Roar speech that spells out the meaning of the title in as banal a fashion as the worst 1950s play.) She's the only thing about the film that deserved a spot on the Oscar slate. Steven Yeun had a wonderful, insinuating presence in Burning, but here he does next to nothing -- how he managed a best actor nomination for it is beyond me. (I'm retroactively even more outraged for Delroy Lindo.)

A cluster of films I genuinely liked -- Promising Young Woman, Judas, The Father, even Nomadland to a degree -- had me thinking maybe I was short-changing the year. But seeing this listless piece up in all the top categories makes me revert to my original position: that this was barely half a year, and giving out prizes for it is inflationary for those involved.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby gunnar » Fri Apr 02, 2021 2:46 pm

I had the same thought about Jasna Đuričić for Best Actress. That was an excellent performance and an excellent movie, too.

dws1982 wrote:Just a quick word about Quo Vadis Aida, the International Film nominee from Bosnia and Heregovina: I liked it better than Another Round; it's doing something very different, and in the must-see-all-five days, I think it probably could've had a shot at an upset because it's a fairly mainstream film with a strong emotional pull, and a VERY strong lead performance. NEON should've made the film eligible in all categories (I don't think it was "officially" released until March 2021) and pushed Jasna Đuričić for Best Actress, because there was room to move in that category, and she would easily get my vote. Not going to say a ton else about the movie, and I would caution you guys to avoid reviews, because this is a movie where, because I had read a plot summary and a couple of reviews on Letterboxd (that didn't even really discuss the plot in a ton of detail), I knew way more about where it would go than I would've preferred, and I think I would've liked it even more if I hadn't read those reviews.

It's easily available as a rental or purchase on all of the big streaming sites.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby dws1982 » Fri Apr 02, 2021 2:40 pm

Just a quick word about Quo Vadis Aida, the International Film nominee from Bosnia and Heregovina: I liked it better than Another Round; it's doing something very different, and in the must-see-all-five days, I think it probably could've had a shot at an upset because it's a fairly mainstream film with a strong emotional pull, and a VERY strong lead performance. NEON should've made the film eligible in all categories (I don't think it was "officially" released until March 2021) and pushed Jasna Đuričić for Best Actress, because there was room to move in that category, and she would easily get my vote. Not going to say a ton else about the movie, and I would caution you guys to avoid reviews, because this is a movie where, because I had read a plot summary and a couple of reviews on Letterboxd (that didn't even really discuss the plot in a ton of detail), I knew way more about where it would go than I would've preferred, and I think I would've liked it even more if I hadn't read those reviews.

It's easily available as a rental or purchase on all of the big streaming sites.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Sabin » Wed Mar 31, 2021 1:28 am

Every once in a while a movie comes along that makes me feel like an asshole for not liking. This year it is The Forty-Year-Old Version. From the outside, there's nothing in this film that isn't worth supporting: a writer/director/actor drawing from personal experience to paint a tale of nearing-middle-aged, drawing from a new well, intersectional struggle, a black and white New York energy. The last one is present in this film. Although the black and white cinematography isn't that great (theme of the year), it has a great sense of atmosphere that carries it along. And there's a very sharp specificity to the teaching scenes and the rehearsal scenes that are very funny.

That's about where it ends. The comic timing of it is all off. Scenes are long. She's not a dynamic performer. And I grew tired the story. She just goes from brilliant unappreciated playwright to brilliant appreciated rapper. All of which can work if but she never comes face to face with any of her flaws. She does some wacky shit like physically assault a producer and gets stoned and choke in her first performance but... where's the flaw? Where's the change? This movie plays like the story of a pathological fuck up approaching forty in a film that never lets her look like a fuck up. Its in direct odds with the fact that the film always portrays her as the only sane person in a world of crazy people. The ending would be so much more powerful if I felt like I was on that journey, but I wasn't. And that bummed me out because there's a reason people love this film.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2020

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:02 pm

I really liked the first hour of Another Round. It was a barely-hidden metaphor -- middle-aged men striving to recapture the vitality of their youths through alcohol -- but it also played around with the idea Zemeckis' Flight had been too cowardly to really explore: that a mild level of intoxication CAN work as inhibitions-remover, and perhaps lead to achievement unlikely under normal circumstances. This is a variation on Baudelaire's "Be always drunken", and is not without its support in traditional medicine (my father-in-law was flat told by his doctor that one strong cocktail a day would keep him healthier). In Zemeckis' film, the path of intoxication was ultimately rejected on purely moralistic grounds. In Vinterberg's, the stumbling block is the likelihood that indulgence will lead in too many cases to over-indulgence, and ultimately failure and/or death. This is an approach that feels more genuine, even if it ends up much the same place.

There are a number of sentimental aspects to Another Round -- the picked-on kid with the glasses, the loyal dog whose master neglects it -- that prevent it fully being the clear-eyed human document to which it aspires. But it's got a lot of interesting elements, and the final moments work really well. Interesting to note that, of all films involved in the Oscar race this race, it's the most centered on the problems of middle-aged white men, yet it's received no criticism I've seen for that fact. Does the fact that it comes from abroad given it automatic diversity points to stifle criticism? If the remake Sabin envisions comes to pass -- surely Judd Apatow has one half-cast already -- will that still be the case?

Other Oscar catch-up:

It's hard to believe it's Paul Greengrass at the helm of News of the World. If there's one thing his films usually offer, it's a freshly-conceived approach to material. But News of the World feels like dozens of westerns I've seen before -- the nominated production design and score, in particular, come close to generic. The only real distinction this has from a film I might have seen in the 50s or 60s is that, instead of being set upon by savage Native Americans, our main characters are menaced at intervals by feral white men. (In the words of someone on IMDB, these guys appear periodically and basically announce "We'll be serving as Bad Guys to fill the next 15 minutes of run-time.") The only narratively interesting element of the film is the reveal of Hanks' situation when we finally reach his home of San Antonio. and even there, it's a bit confusing (trying not to spoil: he refers to having left 5 years ago, but this is 1870, and 1864 is later referenced). This is kind of nitpicky, but since it was the only part of the film that interested me, I was sorry to see them botch it. Anyway, the movie seems to me to be for people who liked movies 60 years ago more than anything made since -- for those who can watch an old cuss and a rebellious young girl warm up to one another and not care that they've seen the same plot innumerable times.

Love and Monsters is carried for a while by the fresh line readings of Dylan O'Brien. But it's not a terribly fresh story, and it grew more tiresome as it went on. As for the effects: when we got to the giant crab near the end, I thought, wow -- this is almost indistinguishable from the giant crab I saw in Mysterious Island, when I was 9 years old. Ray Harryhausen never got Academy cred, but apparently his inheritors can.


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