The Official Review Thread of 2018

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:11 pm

It's almost August, and there are only two films that have been released so far this year that are strong contenders for my year-end ten best list. One is Lean on Pete. The other is Isle of Dogs.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:08 pm

Lean on Pete
Just excellent. I kind of had this grouped with The Rider mentally, because the trailers didn't offer a whole lot beyond "young man and a horse". The movies have similarities beyond the horse thing: Both deal with life on the margins of American society, with the way that people trapped in cyclical poverty seek to find meaning and purpose in their lives. This is simply one of the best portraits of a life of poverty that I've ever seen in a movie. As a teacher in a rural school district, where most students are low-income, I recognized this world, I knew these people--Charley and his father were similar to so many parents and students that I've dealt with before. There's also just a sense of kindness and decency to so many of the characters--Haigh brings a truly generous worldview to this film. The cast is excellent top-to-bottom--especially Charlie Plummer in the lead role. Beautifully shot, very moving, I would not be unhappy if this ended up as my number one movie of 2018. It's available to watch for free on Amazon Prime, make sure you do.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:47 pm

As far as Leave No Trace:

What I can say for Debra Granik is, for someone whose films' subject matter is not really in my wheelhouse (I'm more disposed to urban settings/verbal characters, neither of which she much deals in), she manages to keep me engaged pretty much throughout. I don't think Leave No Trace is as strong as Winter's Bone: the latter had that mystery plot to give it a more solid narrative spine; this film, after a while, heads toward a destination that's fairly infer-able, and doesn't arrive there in a particularly unique or surprising way. But, with all that, it's a moving piece about marginal figures, and its detail work feels pretty strong.

As with Winter's Bone, Granik shows a knack for finding authentic rural faces (including Dale Dickey, again) who help the story breathe honestly. But most of the action centers around the two central characters. Ben Foster is adroitly cast: he carries so much crazypants baggage from earlier roles that he doesn't need to do much acting (and, happily, doesn't) to convey his character's inner turmoil; I much prefer his work here to some of his more extroverted work. But Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie is the breakout of the film -- a fully unaffected adolescent who carries the story without sentimentality. I'd guess her performance is one of those that some will start advocating for a best actress nomination, which for me is a bit of a stretch: her work is solid but plain -- something I can admire without getting too excited about it.

Which pretty much describes the film, as well. Certainly a welcome offering in this dreary part of the year, but at three star level, for me.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:08 pm

Mister Tee wrote:And Armie Hammer embodies the uber-WASP dudebro entrepeneur/villain. One wonders what his great-grandfather would have made of this devastating indictment of capitalism.


I remember one time watching an old Tonight Show where Johnny Carson interviewed Armand Hammer. This was during the time of the nuclear-weapons-freeze movement, of which Hammer was a big supporter. Hammer said he hoped that people could someday merge the best of capitalism with the best of socialism and noted that there was no unemployment in the Soviet Union.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:23 am

SKYSCRAPER
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Tzi Ma.
Dir: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Ex-FBI operative with one leg is now working as head of security for the world's tallest building in Hong Kong. Predictably, a group of criminals set fire to it with his family trapped inside. This film is pure Screenwriting 101 combining elements from both Towering Inferno and Die Hard (with The Lady from Shanghai thrown in for us film geeks). You pretty much know where this is going to go if you watch enough movies. But it's fairly enjoyable. The Rock pretty much nails his persona as the sympathetic everyman who still manages to be a badass macho action hero. I will also give a lot of credit that Neve Campbell's wife character isn't a helpless Damsel in Distress. Otherwise, this is a fun but disposable action picture.

Oscar Prospects: I suppose Visual Effects is possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:39 pm

Sorry to Bother You doesn't hit all its targets squarely (and, at a certain point, may take on too many targets, creating such a diffuse narrative that it can't possibly resolve all elements satisfyingly). It also has a somewhat over-familiar story-arc -- the go-getter who betrays his roots for the promise of gold, but comes to lament his choices in time for redemption.

These shortcomings are real...but they're not defining. The greater impression the film leaves is of an of-the-minute premise that speaks to both racial and economic injustice (the Hillary and Bernie campaigns, together at last!), that has lots of inventive plot turns and wonderful attention to detail, and even offers some visual panache (as when the main character's cramped garage home expands magically to a deluxe apartment). This is as interesting an original story as I've seen in any movie this year, and, even when the story stepped maybe too far into the ether (I can't say I was crazy about the out-there plot development in the final act), I was happy to be in the presence of people trying for something new. Oh, and there are many-many laugh out loud moments -- the most in any movie since The Death of Stalin.

Lakeith Stanfield is a bit of a passive protagonist -- buffeted along by the pressures of others more than choosing his own path -- but brings the audience along every step of the way, not an easy task given the dubious choices he makes. Tessa Thompson takes a role that in many hands might just be The Girfriend and spins something fresh and detailed out of it. And Armie Hammer embodies the uber-WASP dudebro entrepeneur/villain. One wonders what his great-grandfather would have made of this devastating indictment of capitalism.

All tolled, not a great movie, but a worthy effort I'd recommend seeking out.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:25 am

Question: Is A Quiet Place a good movie?
Answer: Has Michael Bay ever made a good movie?

No, Hollywood's crappiest successful filmmaker didn't direct it, but he produced it. John Krasinksi directed it from a script by a couple of guys from the MTV school of writing.

Krasinski's direction of wife Emily Blunt and some very talented kids as well as himself is strong, but the sript is not only illogical, it is absurd from the get-go.

SPOILER information follows, so if you haven't seen it you may want to stop reading even though the sequence I describe occurs before the film's title flashes across the screen.

In the opening sequence filmed in silence with people using sign language to communicate, the family of mother, father and three children is seen in a pharmacy three months into a post-apocalyptic world in which the mother miraculously finds the medicine her middle child, a boy, needs to cure whatever is wrong with him. The youngest child finds a toy airplane but his father takes it away from him for fear its noise would draw the unexplained monsters. He removes the batteries but leaves them in reach of the boy. The father with the sick child in his arms and the mother exit the pharmacy. The oldest child, a girl, and the younger boy linger behind. The girl gives the boy the toy airplance with the battereis removed, turns and exits the pharmacy. The boy grabs the batteries and puts them in his pocket. The family continues down the road, with the girl catching up to the others. They cross a bridge with the littlest boy yards, maybe as much as a quater of a mile, behind. The boy has inserted the batteries back into the toy airplance and turned it on. The father hears it, gives the sick boy to the mother and runs back to the little boy but is too late.

What responsible parent, under any circumstance, let alone one living in such a frightening world, would walk so far ahead of a young child without even turning around to be sure that he is following safely? The answer is none.

The rest of the film is like that, one stupid thing after another until it comes to a conclusion that leaves too many questions unanswered. Since a sequel is planned, we may get answers to some of them, but I wouldn't count on it. It will be, after all, another Michael Bay film.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:55 am

ANT MAN AND THE WASP
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfieffer, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, Abby Ryder Forston, David Dastmalchian, Tip "T.I." Harris, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale.
Dir: Peyton Reed.

In the sequel to Ant Man, we find out what happened to Scott Lang/Ant-Man before and during the events of Avengers: Infinity War: He's trying to help bring back Janet Van Dyne from the quantum realm but they must elude a super villain, a bunch of bad guys and the authorities to do it. Is this the best Marvel movie? No. Is it better than the first Ant-Man movie? I think so, yes. It is often very funny with a lot of really great and inventive action sequences. Plus Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfieffer giving the film a little bit of heft and gravitas in their serious moments. It's pure pop entertainment and the good kind. If you don't like the MCU, don't bother. This will not change your mind.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is a strong possibility.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:47 pm

The older I get, the more I become a cheap date for comedies with strong pacing and visual innovation. Game Night starts off on such a sunny note with Max and Annie's winning meet cute that I never quite came down. It might be silly, inconsequential fluff but that doesn't mean it's lazy. There is a stamp of exuberance goofiness that nerd-directors John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein inject into every scene, transitioning from shot to shot using fake sets and model landscapes. It's more a goof than a satire of David Fincher films. Ultimately, they're not interested in saying anything substantive about these comfortable thirty/fortysomethings plunged into a world of their dreams and fears, but I was smiling so much I didn't really mind. It's just about not being afraid to grow up while never suggesting that this gang needs to stop gathering together to play charades.

It's a lot of fun. I can't defend the third act outside the fact that I didn't want to stop watching the cast, especially Rachel McAdams (who is as funny here as she is generic in almost every other role), Jesse Plemons, and his Westie.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:45 am

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez.
Dir: Stefano Solima.

This is the largely unnecessary sequel to Sicario which focuses more on the sicario himself as well as his morally grey government handler. This time, after a devastating terrorist attack partially responsible by the drug cartel, they kidnap the daughter of a big-time drug lord in an effort to incite a drug war. I liked the first film quite a bit. I didn't need a sequel and after seeing it, yeah, it doesn't need it. It's still a solid thriller but it's sorely missing the original's humanity and nuance which made it a tenser film. This film has some good moments. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are excellent as always. But it does tackle some troubling themes which, in the current atmosphere of U.S. politics, seem ill-timed or perfectly timed, depending on your point of view.

Oscar Prospects: Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:49 am

HEREDITARY
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtdel.
Dir: Ari Aster.

A matriarch of a family dies. Then strange, disturbing and horrific things start happening. That's all I'm gonna say. To say anything more would be spoiling it and yes, once again, part of what makes this film so effective is the fact that you really have no idea where it's going until it plays its cards. I was sitting uncomfortably all throughout, squirming in my seat. It's a slow-burn film, no jump scares. It's not really a thrill ride. It is true horror in its classic sense. At its heart, it's still a very human story despite the supernatural twists and turns it makes. The performances are great. Yes, Toni Collette is outstanding but I also want to cite how great Alex Wolff is in this one. I never thought about him as an actor much but he is a revelation here. It is definitely one of the better horror films of the decade and one of the best movies of the year. I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

Oscar Prospects: Horror films USUALLY don't do well. But Toni Collette is absolutely deserving of a Best Actress nomination. Also deserving of a nomination is Alex Wolff, who's kind of a co-lead but they'll probably push him for Supporting.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:22 pm

dws1982 wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:By the way, the hidden headline for me here is that you haven't see the film. You passed on an Eastwood movie? That rocks the foundation of my world.

I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, but I just couldn't bring myself to it after the reviews were so overwhelmingly negative.

I posted this in the morning, and what did I do this afternoon?

Went to see Gotti, of course.

Its 0% on Rotten Tomatoes makes The 15:17 to Paris seem well-received in comparison, so all I can really say is that curiosity got the best of me. Let's be honest, this is not good (any time you see over forty credited producers listed in the opening credits, beware), but it's also not bad in any unique or interesting way. (Well, one exception maybe, which I'll discuss later.) It mostly just suffers from a baseline incompetence and half-assedness. Lots of little, stupid things that take you out of the movie every time: The dialogue will mention a character who's present, for example, "That guy's name is Sammy Gravano. They call him The Bull", and then it cuts to him, with text on the screen labelling him "Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano". It does this with several characters, and with dates as well (which veer between oddly specific and maddeningly unclear).

Early in the film it shows a sick-and-dying Gotti meeting with his son John Jr. in prison. (Credit where it's due, Travolta's makeup in this sequence is pretty good, and there are some times where he does look generally like Gotti.) It then cuts back to Gotti in prison when he was in his thirties--his wife and four children (two boys, two girls and the boys look to be between the ages of 8 and 10) are visiting him. So, logically, you would assume that one of those boys is John Jr.. But then, a few scenes later, John Jr. appears, and it's the same actor from the meeting with dying Gotti. And, although this scene is set over 20 years before, the actor doesn't appear to be one day younger. He goes from roughly 15 to 45 over the course of the film, and never looks any older than mid-20's (which the actor--who isn't bad, all things considered--actually is). John Jr. also has basically the same exact shaved-on-sides, long-on-top hairstyle for the entire film, except for one blink and you miss it scene. Soon after John Jr. appears, one of the actors playing one of Gotti's younger sons completely disappears from the narrative. So I was thinking that maybe the second boy in the prison scene was just a neighbor or something, not a son. But then, after the death of Gotti's son Frank, he tells his wife that she "still has four kids", which means the kid was apparently still there, just out of the family narrative. Maybe the child actor was suddenly not available. It's just a lot of things like that through the whole movie. It feels like there was a longer movie that was either left on the cutting-room floor, or never filmed because they wanted to cut it the story down to its essence. I'm not sure that movie would've been a lot better, but it might've at least made more sense. So many storylines seems to come out of nowhere: Aniello Dellacroce's character announces he has cancer as abruptly and nonchalantly as that character in The Room; a mob war breaks out and ends so quickly that it's hard to figure out who's shooting at who; the Paul Castellano murder--Gotti's giant power grab--is woefully underdeveloped. (It's hurt by the fact that Paul Castellano only appears once before he's assassinated, and I don't remember him having any dialogue.) Sammy Gravano barely has any screen time before he takes the stand against--there's no sense of the betrayal that Gravano's testimony must have been for Gotti. Also some crazy use of music--who hasn't wanted to see a mob hit carried out to "Silent Night", or a funeral procession to "House of the Rising Sun", or Gotti walking out of court (after one of his acquittals) to "Walk Like and Egyptian"?

So maybe the one interesting thing about its badness is a really questionable moral stance it takes, but also doesn't develop very much: It uses what i assume is genuine newsreel footage from the time of Gotti's conviction and funeral, where people are arguing for Gotti as everything from a modern-day Robin Hood to some kind of secular saint. The movie never totally develops this idea fully--there's one scene of Gotti throwing a neighborhood block party, but nothing else really. If the people truly did love John Gotti, it might have been interesting to show why they loved him. It also bends over backwards to whitewash John Jr. (Not surprising, given that he was a consultant on the set) as a victim of government persecution. Ummm...not quite...He's believed to be responsible for something like eight murders, although the movie only links him to one (which it pawns off as a fistfight gone wrong). I don't know the merits of the racketeering cases, exactly, but it's pretty well-established that even in the 2009 trial, Gotti was trying to intimidate witnesses in the courtroom.

I've probably given this more thoughts and more words than it merits, so I'll stop.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:11 am

Mister Tee wrote:By the way, the hidden headline for me here is that you haven't see the film. You passed on an Eastwood movie? That rocks the foundation of my world.

I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, but I just couldn't bring myself to it after the reviews were so overwhelmingly negative. Even the Eastwood auteurists over on Letterboxd weren't too convincing, despite their 4 and 5 star reviews. It might actually make an interesting companion to The Rider--another movie where much of the cast plays a semi-fictionalized version of themselves--but I can't say I'll go in with high expectations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:28 pm

I don't think they were trying to hide Screenslaver's identity...if they were, they did a terrible job of it. It was a pretty easy guess.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:11 pm

Anonymous, perhaps you should white out the spoiler section of your post? Just a quick cursory glance at your post easily reveals what you’re intending to hide, without giving anyone a chance to avert their eyes when seeing SPOILER.


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