The Official Review Thread of 2016

anonymous1980
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:05 pm

CHRISTINE
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, J. Smith Cameron, Timothy Simons, Kim Shaw, John Cullum.
Dir: Antonio Campos.

This is NOT an adaptation of the Stephen King novel but rather the true story of Christine Chubbuck, a local newscaster in Sarasota, Florida who killed herself live on the air. That's not much of a spoiler since it is a true story. I've heard about her story online. This explores her final few days leading up to her suicide. It reveals a talented, ambitious but deeply troubled young woman suffering from depression and various other issues. Rebecca Hall gives a magnificent performance as the titular role. She really should be getting more juicy roles like this. Antonio Campos's direction and the smart script kept this from being a Lifetime movie. It is instead a heartbreaking character study. Definitely a gem.

Oscar Prospects: Rebecca Hall should be in the running for Best Actress.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:08 am

LA LA LAND
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemary DeWitt, JK Simmons, Finn Wittrock.
Dir: Damien Chazelle.

I hate to add to the hype. I really do. But what can I say? I loved it. I had a smile throughout the film and by the end this movie completely won me over. It's one of those movies that remind me why I love film so much. The story is pure, predictable fluff: A struggling jazz musician meet and fall in love with a struggling actress. You pretty much predict where the story goes from there. But it's told with such style, such verve and such passion that you really don't care. You're just swept up by it all. It really is a Jacques Demy film for the 21st century. Ryan Gosling and especially Emma Stone are great. The songs are great. It's beautifully photographed and designed. I can't wait to see it again.

Oscar Prospects: All of them.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:57 pm

The most interesting thing about The 13th is its premise -- showing how that one clause in the 13th Amendment has been used to continue a shadow version of slavery, first with 100 years of Jim Crow, and now with mass incarceration. It's a very interesting and largely persuasive argument, and the film is mostly attention-holding as it tracks this history.

However...Duvernay & her collaborators don't give much credence to the to-me indisputable fact that, from the mid-60s to the late 80s, crime in fact WAS a huge concern in this country, with rates soaring beyond what anyone had imagined, and that it would have been impossible for government officials not to deal with that in some serious ways. A few people interviewed -- including Charlie Rangel -- make reference to this, but only glancingly, and the film doesn't seem to want to take it seriously as a motivator for public policy. It's certainly true that many on the right exploited this fact for nefarious purposes, but there were also many liberals and centrists (including Robert Kennedy) who understood this was a public issue of prime concern that required some sort of action. The fact that this meteoric rise in the crime suddenly stopped around 1990 -- for reasons no one has ever satisfyingly explained -- doesn't mean people were wrong to trust the evidence of their senses during the worst years. This film comes perilously close to taking the point of view of that portion of the left who viewed every crime-related issue as naked racism: that everyone was only pretending these initiatives would do anything but put African Americans in jail. (This group did as much as anyone to make Democrats unelectable throughout the Nixon/Reagan years, and I'm not very partial to their view.)

As part of that process of backing that angle, Duvernay seems determined to make Bill Clinton the chief villain. Not only does the film imply Clinton never believed in any of the crime policies he got enacted during his term -- there's some academic who sneers at the idea Clinton believed in them as crime-fighting measures -- but it comes back at him a second time, at the point where he acknowledges the unintended consequences. Just as, in Selma, LBJ somehow emerged as more villainous than George Wallace, Clinton seems to come in for more/sharper criticism than Nixon/Reagan/Bush. So, to address Sonic's months-ago thesis that The 13th would run away with this year's documentary prizes: it may be that a community in deep mourning over Hillary not becoming president doesn't care to cheer on a film that takes 20/20 hindsight potshots at her and her husband.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:18 am

Since I didn't share the high opinion many here had of Beginners, I wasn't at all disappointed in 20th Century Women. I didn't think it was outstanding, and I acknowledge the lack of strong narrative spine (it's evidently mostly memoir, and felt like it). But I thought the characters were well-drawn, and the dialogue was lively and textured throughout. I'll probably prefer it as a script to some of the eventual Oscar nominees.

And apparently Annette Bening will continue to be one of the rare things on which BJ and I have significant divergence. I thought this was a very strong performance from her, one I'd nominate over any of her earlier cited efforts except maybe The Grifters. Her line readings are as good as I've ever seen her manage, and she plays the "I don't know how to do this mother thing" believably and movingly. Best actress is a car-wreck this year -- once again, there are more worthies than there are spots -- but Bening would make my top five, definitely over Negga or Streep.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:50 pm

SWISS ARMY MAN
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Dirs: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert.

Lots of Daniels involved in this movie. A young man marooned on a deserted island is about to kill himself then he finds a very flatulent corpse washed up ashore and forms a relationship with it. Regardless of what your opinion on this film will be, you HAVE to give it points for sheer originality and audacity to make such a film. But a concept like this runs the risk of being potentially overly and irritatingly quirky and/or unbearably pretentious (a word I personally try to avoid using as much as possible). Yes, I think borders on those qualities a few times. But I think it largely worked. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe give such beautiful, committed performances that they straight up sold it. It's funny. It's oddly moving at points. It dropped the ball a bit on the ending but overall, it's worth a watch.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:05 am

AMERICAN HONEY
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keogh, Arielle Holmes, McCaul Lombardi, Crystal B. Ice, Will Patton, Laura Kirk.
Dir: Andrea Arnold.

A young woman at the end of her ropes joins a group of young people who go around selling magazine subscriptions who also get drunk and party hard. People who love this really love this and people who hate this, often really hate it. I consider myself in the former group. This is a superb film from director Andrea Arnold. It's over two and a half hours but, honestly, I didn't feel it much. This is a superb snapshot on the lives of misfit, wayward youth, just going from place to place with very little promise for the future. You find yourself relating to it, oddly enough, no matter where your lot in life would be. It features a superb ensemble, including newcomer Sasha Lane who I hope to see in more stuff soon. Shia LaBeouf probably gives his career-best performance in this film. Color me truly impressed. The soundtrack is pretty great and the cinematography is quite beautiful.

Oscar Prospects: I'd nominate this for Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing and Cinematography. But it has very little chance at anything.

Grade: A

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby flipp525 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:54 pm

Quick Elle question:

What was the second text message that Michele got? She is at work and it's nighttime. Someone is taking photographs in another room of the office.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."

-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:42 am

SING
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Jennifer Saunders, Garth Jennings, Beck Bennett, Jay Pharaoh, Leslie Jones, Nick Offerman, Jennifer Hudson (voices).
Dir: Garth Jennings.

A theater manager/owner at the end of his ropes decides to save his theater by holding a singing competition. It attracts a disparate group of underdogs who just want to make their dreams come true. And they're all animals. This animated feature film's plot is pure formula and almost shamelessly so. In fact, if it weren't a 3D animated feature film where the characters are all animals, it would've been laughed off and dismissed. But the film has a few laughs and it is overall pretty entertaining. You'd think you'd get tired of seeing animals cover well-known pop songs. Well, you do but you'll tolerate it enough since they got actors who can actually sing. It's cute. Kids will love it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Oscar Prospects: I think it has a better shot at Best Original Song than it has Best Animated Feature.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby dws1982 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:23 am

When I think about the worst movies of a given year, I try not to waste too much effort going after, as Bog called it in another thread, the low-hanging fruit. Sometimes I even find things to like in those movies--I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but I found plenty of worthy things in Ben-Hur (with some major caveats, of course). But sometimes the fruit just hangs too low.

I speak, of course, of Assassin's Creed. It's hard to think of a movie that does more to alienate the very people who it's trying to attract. First, some background: In the games, the main character is forced (or asked) to experience the memories of his ancestors (the Assassins) in order to help some corporation find something or other. If I don't have much to say about those scenes, it's because I never pay attention to them when I've played the games. The games are all about the historical settings; they recreate places like 12th-century Palestine, 15th-century Italy/Rome, Revolution-era France, Victorian England, and several other settings, and those (mostly) open-world recreations are extremely vivid and lots of fun. Anyone I know who has played the games plays it for the historical scenes which make up the overwhelming (as in, at least 90%) amount of the game. For some reason, this movie decides to spend most of its runtime in those cut scenes that no one cares about. I think it has three sequences in the historical setting, and even worse: they're the worst things in the movie. Other than a few parts that evoke the graphics of the game, there's nothing at all of worth in them: they're poorly put-together, they're hatefully anti-Christian, and there's no fun in them. So we're left with an incoherent story about, well, I couldn't exactly tell you. I can respect the fact that it's so consciously, and maybe even intentionally weird, but from the final product I can't begin to fathom why this was such a passion project for Fassbender.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:07 pm

TONI ERDMANN
Cast: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Ingrid Bisu, Vlad Ivanov, Victoria Cocias.
Dir: Maren Ade.

After losing his dog, a prank-loving music teacher decides to get closer to his ambitious, stuck-up daughter by intruding upon her professional life as a life coach named Toni Erdmann. This film is close to three hours long and I honestly felt it flew by after I got used to the characters. I honestly wasn't sure where this film was gonna go. I've heard so much from so many people about this. It gradually won me over, kind of like the title character. When it is a comedy, it is hysterical. Then the emotional component just sneak up on you in the end. It is one of the best films of the year.

Oscar Prospects: Also deserves an Original Screenplay nomination.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Sabin » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:28 am

I'm still sorting my thoughts out on Toni Erdmann. I'll write more a little bit later. I am very much a fan of it, though not as much as Maren Ade's previous film, Everyone Else.

I decided to cross Zootopia off my viewing list. No idea why it took me so long. I think those trailers just rubbed me the wrong way. There are elements of Zootopia I admired but I couldn't get past the fact that implying that certain races are predators and certain races are prey is just shitty. I mean, the writers go out of their way to chase after a message of tolerant but I just don't think it's possible when the foundation is so problematic. I really don't like the idea of kids coming out of this movie being taught that it's important to accept all members of society because they haven't been savage for hundreds of years. This movie wants to have it both ways: playing directly analogous to contemporary racial divides but also have an animated movie plot. You can't go from one scene that engages with race (perhaps even in a clever way) and then to another scene involving a government plot to turn predators into savages. I came away a little troubled.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:28 am

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!
Cast: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Juston Street, Austin Amelio, Forrest Vickery.
Dir: Richard Linklater.

A college freshman playing for his university's baseball team and his fellow teammates spends their last few free days before class begins partying, getting drunk, getting laid and getting high. The plot sounds like just another low-brow R-rated frat comedy but with Richard Linklater writing and directing, it's something a lot more. Though there are laughs, the film is a bit more deeper, sophisticated and complex than your average frat comedy. You really get to know these characters as just more than dumb, horny jocks. They are brought to life by a fine, young ensemble cast with Tyler Hoechlin and Zoey Deutch as the standouts. The film is considered a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. Well, it's not as good as that classic but it's a fine film.

Oscar Prospects: None but this would be a pretty good Original Screenplay nominee.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:46 pm

It's no surprise Paul Verhoeven went on to an occasionally successful Hollywood career. Even when he makes a film in art-house territory like Elle, he puts enough audience-friendly stuff in that it plays decently mainstream. There's plot to spare (almost too many threads), and it builds to a conclusion that offers closure. Not to suggest this is a movie your mother's going to like (mine, I'm sure, would be appalled by parts of it). But consider that Isabelle Huppert plays a character not dissimilar to the one she played in The Piano Teacher, and think how much further out on the ledge that film seemed to go. (My mother would have hated ALL of that.) The difference between Verhoeven and Haneke is pretty stark. I'm not advocating for one over the other; just noting how different they are with the same star and somewhat overlapping material.

Huppert, by the way, gives a pretty world-class performance here. I'd got a little worried when I saw Things to Come a few weeks ago -- a far more European film in which she gives a performance I'd summarize as "she's very good, as usual". I wondered if the critics had simply decided this was to be her year based on her volume and accumulated career points, not on her achieving something special. But here I think she's terrific -- at moments I was caught completely off-guard by the way she responded to events. I especially loved her amused detachment at certain moments...as if this whole thing, her whole life, was a bit of a game to her. I don't think she's a real threat to win an Oscar -- the parts that my mother would shrink from will have have the same effect on many Academy voters. But I think she has an excellent chance at the nomination, and it'll be more than a career salute.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:20 am

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Jimmy Smits, Guy Henry, voice of James Earl Jones.
Dir: Gareth Edwards.

During the reign of the Empire, a group of rebels plot to steal the blueprints for the Death Star as a key to destroying it. This precedes Episode IV of the Star Wars series, a standalone spinoff of sorts with largely new characters. You know, as I was watching this, I'm thinking, *this* film is probably what the Star Wars fans were imagining and expecting when George Lucas first announced he was making prequel films. But instead what they got was Anakin as a little kid and cheesy dialogue about trade embargoes. This film will satisfy those fans. For everyone else, well, it's still a fun movie for any casual fan of the series. There's lots of good stuff in it, especially Alan Tudyk as probably the best droid character in this universe and Donnie Yen being a total badass. It's not transcendent. It's a solid entry.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing.

Grade: B.

YOUR NAME
Cast: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi (voices).
Dir: Makoto Shinkai.

I was surprised this got a theatrical run here. But it is a love story so I can see how it will appeal to the Filipino audience. This is an anime feature film about a teenage boy and a teenage girl who switch bodies. But that's just beginning. I'm not gonna spoil the rest of the story but the way it unfolds and builds is so superb, it's part of the pleasures of watching this film. It's a wildly maginative, funny, sweet and moving science-fiction love story that will definitely surprise and win you over. It's so good, I'm predicting Hollywood is gonna remake it as a live-action movie.

Oscar Prospects: Actually eligible for Animated Feature. It would be a deserving nominee.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2016

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:21 am

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
Cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, TJ Miller, Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Jillian Bell, Randall Park, Karan Soni, Matt Walsh, Jimmy Butler.
Dirs: Will Speck, Josh Gordon.

An R-rated comedy about an office Christmas party that goes out of control? Sounds like a good idea. I'm wondering why it didn't happen sooner. i just wish this was better and funnier. That's not to say this film isn't without laughs and its charms. It's all thanks to the funny and talented cast who manage to elevate an otherwise "eh" screenplay which borrows a bit too heavily on The Hangover. (Seriously, modern R-rated comedies should quit doing this already). It was overall fun distracting but ultimately disposable.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+


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