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Utopia Talk / Movie Talk / Movie Reviews 9000+++
Cherub Cow
Mon Aug 24 16:44:42
moooovie talk, recommendations, pancakes, etc.
Cherub Cow
Mon Aug 24 17:06:50
"Straight Outta Compton" turned out to be a strong movie!

This was the one about the origins of N.W.A (Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E, etc.); trailer:

It had a lot of late 80s and early 90s nostalgia mixed with the dramatic story of N.W.A — a story framed to be a sort of "journalism of the streets" where rappers were responding to systemic police oppression in a cathartic and political way (an uncensored view). It clearly wasn't made randomly, because it selects big moments like the Rodney King beating and shows how the discourse around police and black violence has remained the same in a lot of ways and how that informs peoples' attitudes.

It also focused a lot on the relationships of the band members and how they handled exploitation by record labels. Ice Cube really comes out looking good here, because it shows how strong of a lyricist/writer he was and that he was the first to recognize that their manager was hiding finances behind false promises. And all of this was tied in with their major songs, like "Fuck the Police," which were shown to be like instantaneous story-telling of their real situations.

Anyways! This movie might not have brought out the nuance of showing that riots tend to be self-destructive or that social ties can actually be a detriment to communities, but taken as representation, it shows strong individuals working out their issues through their art and condeming the witnessed violence that inspired that same art. So even if you're not really into rap (I'm not especially, though I definitely like songs like "Fuck the Police"), this movie could be worth seeing for its empowering content and dramatic handling of real life events.
Mon Aug 24 17:18:46
Cherub Cow
Mon Aug 24 17:21:09
the wanderer
Mon Aug 24 23:05:38
one of their songs was "Find 'em, Fuck 'em, & Flee"... did they defend that? :p
Cherub Cow
Mon Aug 24 23:39:02
lulz. They managed to gloss over a lot of the negative aspects of their lives :D .. they show one night of on-tour hotel debauchery, a few of those objectifying MTV-style pool parties, and their manager mentions that he wants to make sure he's not taking care of all of their illegitimate, tour-made children, but then they only mention in passing if anyone actually has children — like Ice Cube mentions one, but that wasn't brought up again. It seemed like they wanted to show that lots of people in the industry interacted with N.W.A (like 2Pac and Bone Thugs), but they didn't want to give any screen time to any of those people. I'd even accuse them of sexism for having so few intelligent female characters in the story and for not condemning their own past behaviors, but it was an across the board inattention to anyone outside of the group..

But yeah, they def sold it like it was all fighting the system and left out a lot of their negative effects on it so that they could make it seem like they were prophets or something :D
the wanderer
Mon Aug 24 23:57:05
my roommate had one album so familiar with just that one

it had this song which i couldn't figure out if it was meant as a legitimate love song or what :p
it sounds like a love song of sorts, but the lyrics... it would be scary if so :p
Cherub Cow
Wed Aug 26 15:59:44
"I'd rather fuck with you
'Cause I like the way you scream my name
I know you like this dick
'Cause you enjoy the pleasure and pain
Now I'm ridin' on this pussy here
And I'm not gonna stop, I'm not gonna stop, bitch
We can do it doggy style and you can get on top
Sing this motherfucker"

So romantic! ;D

Sinister 2 was okay when it came to atmosphere and effects and it even had a couple of jump scares that got me :p .. but the plot was pretty meh. The first Sinister was fun mostly because it had Ethan Hawke and an "unhappy" ending, but this one didn't have those. In the new main cast, Shannyn Sossamon did really well — seems like she's really grown as an actress (thinking of her bad start with 2001's "A Knight's Tale" and 2003's "The Order"). James Ransone was also really funny/awkward and did well with the extra screen time. But! Not really worth paying to see this one.
Fri Aug 28 15:24:41
womin pretind thay want romanse but thay wuld b perfectlie happie 2 b pounsed on bi sum1 leik dis in da middel of da nite http://vig...ision/latest?cb=20111109220851 as long az he had a big dick
Cherub Cow
Fri Aug 28 19:05:18
Fester Addams was kind of a dreamboat so a better example might be necessary ;p

Saw "No Escape" (2015) last night (trailer):
— not to be confused with 1994's "No Escape" with Ray Liotta!

It was pretty good, aktly. They did well in creating realistic setups and characters, like when Jack Dwyer's (Owen Wilson) family gets off the plane in their mock-Thailand (filmed in Thailand, but it's just supposed to be a nameless, Far East, tropical 3rd world country that is next to Vietnam but somehow is not Laos or Cambodia) they get to see all the taxi drivers yelling for business, a confident ex-pat (Pierce Brosnan) with sex-tourist attributes trying to give tips, and a Westernized local trying to appeal to them with a dated American cultural reference (Kenny Rogers). All of it should seem familiar for peeps who have traveled in that area, though this level of accuracy could easily be confused with xenophobia by dumb proles who possess only a cursory, uninformed activist's understanding of Orientalism or who otherwise missed the intention of the movie. Nevertheless, this realism helped when the "purging of Westerners" segment of the coup begins.

Realistic Staging
Showing that the reality before a mass killing can be oddly routine and that signs of the impending danger can be misinterpreted by those out of the coup's information networks, Dwyer's family is caught up in "normal" life and totally unprepared when the violence begins. I thought the shock and disbelief was communicated well, and their survival instincts always seem reactive, messy, and unplanned — probably the main selling point of the movie. Dwyer's relationship with his daughters played on this developing survival instinct, with one daughter in particular always resistant to the next survival decision, which was a good way to show that bourgeois sensibilities can result in death if people don't adapt to the new reality and instead stay mentally within the protections of a society that no longer exists to provide them. Sadly, this realism begins to crack towards the end...


Broken Realism
The kind of brutal realism that was attempted in this movie can only be sustained for so long in a mainstream release, and that was shown in the later writing decisions. For instance, in a critical moment of the movie, Annie Dwyer (played by Lake Bell) attempted to make time for Jack Dwyer to grab a rifle, but when the rifle doesn't fire, the plan fails. It seems that Annie will be raped while Jack can only look on in horror, but -just- before the movie accomplishes total horror by committing itself to this outcome, Pierce Brosnan and "Kenny Rogers" show up to save the day. The unlikeliness of their arrival was never explained (were they following the Dwyers? How could they have been? The best explanation would be that they observed the scuffle from the brothel and acted quickly), so the movie immediately loses points for not getting ugly. "Ideally," Jack and Annie should have been brutalized, then either left for dead and limping along for the rest of the movie, or if Brosnan "must" show up, he'd arrive too late. A similar situation happens later..

When the Dwyers reach a boat that can take them to Vietnam, Jack again finds himself trapped and about to die. This time his daughter will be executed if she does not shoot her own father (and probably also if she -does-, really). But, once again, the situation was stopped by a rescue; Annie distracts the coup soldiers for long enough that Jack can kill them. Here, "ideally" Jack should have been killed by his daughter, then, either the daughter is killed and Annie escapes with the other daughter (the more likely outcome), or Annie manages to kill the men and rescues the daughter (less likely). Personally I think this movie should have ended with Annie and one daughter arriving in Vietnam, brutalized and subject to immigration laws while she waits for U.S. intervention.

Poor Critical Commentaries
I was a little surprised that this movie was panned, because even though it broke towards the end, it was still pretty realistic and visceral, so I couldn't help but read a couple reviews of this movie, like one by Lesley Coffin:
..or another by Walter Addiego:
..or this sensationalist, Sean Burns:

None seem to understand this movie's intention. In their minds, it was xenophobic "othering." For critics like these, it was a "[white person's horror story]," where the generic business traveler shows up in a country where 1st world amenities don't exist and brown bodies kill and die indiscriminately. Addiego in particular does not seem to be familiar with genocide logic, saying, "we’re also told that the rebels are just regular folks out to protect their families. Funny, they actually seem like vicious, sadistic and largely indiscriminate killers" — is there a difference, Addiego? Was the Rwandan genocide perpetrated only by soldiers? No. When cultural cleansings through murder occur, motivations like "protect your family" become brutal. Farmers pick up the machete, shopkeepers rape their own neighbors. The coup enlists -everyone- with mechanical absolutism, and anyone who does not participate — anyone who does not kill the designated "enemy" — dies likewise; people end up "protecting their families" by participating to survive. This movie portrayed such a genocide, and it did it with a political twist that seems to have been missed or minimized by the reviews I've seen.

Thematic Message
So where was the intention? A couple of the reviewers I saw noted the colonialism message, but they called it "tacked on" or incomplete. So here's my reading:

From the very beginning of the movie, a separation is shown between the benefactors of colonialism and those who suffer from it. A monarch is slain, and around him stand dirtied and scarred rebels. The Dwyers get off a clean plane, meet a dirty airport, and then shuttle to a pristine, Western-friendly hotel. It is only when Jack ventures outside the hotel's unrealistic façade that he meets the angry mob of the revolution. All of this was visually communicated, but if that wasn't enough, when the surviving Westerners have fled to the hotel roof, the mob chant of « sang pour l'eau » ("blood for water") is explained as being the result of Western interests owning the country's water supply — something which has actually happened
— and thus the mob intends to reclaim their water with blood. This was established early, so that by the time Pierce Brosnan pauses for a moment to explain the situation in detail (the "tacked on" moment that was brushed off by some reviewers), it should already be obvious. That is, in neo-colonialism style, Western banks opportunistically create debt so that they can own a country's resources and means of production — something which creates instability and ressentiment within the exploited country. The result? When the puppet government falls, Westerners and Westerner allies meet a violent purge, and refugees flood the neighboring countries.

This background was clearly established within the movie (not "tacked on"), in effect showing Westerners a visceral account of how it feels to become such a refugee — to be in a country which is falling apart and to have "no escape" ("Oh! the title of the movie!")

This message should be especially resonant given the mass migrations into France and Germany due to the puppet governments of North Africa and the Middle East collapsing. Like some of these refugees, the Dwyers even have to cross to safety by boat, and by this point in the movie, being shot to death by Vietnamese soldiers (symbolic of functionaries of Western interest, like boats intercepted in the Mediterranean) seems -better- than staying in the war-torn country, where no hope exists.

Could this have been played out more effectively by the film? Definitely. To make this point real, they should have removed Brosnan's presence in the later sections of the movie, and variations of the "ideally" situations above should have taken place ...But then this movie would have been another "Hotel Rwanda" — a genocide movie that was critically praised but publicly ignored. Hollywood, in its instructive effort, made obvious concessions with this movie (addition of an action hero plot, "savior" moments, random comedy, etc.), but its message still survived in form, even if the critics have missed it.

(( End Spoilers ))

This review got long because I made the mistake of reading other reviews, but back on point: this was a visceral survival movie framed with refugee/genocide logic — and can be worth seeing for those elements — but ultimately it misses the mark with its unwillingness to maintain realism with its writing. Things should have gone far worse.
Sat Aug 29 15:35:08
I enjoyed it (saw it on release). The near rape escape was unrealistic but not unexpected given the introduction of the Worldly Englishman and is Native handyman (I dug the Kenny Rogers bit lol). The only question I had watching up to that point was when were they gonna save the day? Surely not that run in at the stairwell. As soon as she stepped out of hiding I knew our boy would enter stage left..
Sat Aug 29 15:35:31
Cherub Cow
Sat Aug 29 23:30:05
"unrealistic but not unexpected"

Dolphinately. I don't think I would have minded his showing up if they'd explained -why- he did. There were a lot of missing moments between Brosnan sending them to the roof and his suddenly appearing at that garden. Still liked it well enough, though :)
Sun Aug 30 09:41:09
There's no 'splaining in deus ex machina!
The Children
Sun Aug 30 14:08:23
mad max.

wow i underestimated this movie. dayum, great action movie. apart from the shitty actors with only a few oneliners and no backstory, it is a great action movie with great atmosphere, the style, the artist design and view of post apocalyptic world...dayum

shitty story though

Cherub Cow
Wed Sep 02 19:51:22
And it was mostly free of CGI! :D

Saw Hitman and American Ultra. Between the two, definitely see American Ultra! Lots of fun. Especially liked the bloody romance :)

Hitman opened strong (very stylized), but it had a kind of weak middle section where they tried to say a lot of transhuman stuff (whether a modified human would still be "human" — capable of choice). The movie was mostly homage, like they were combining Matrix themes and even fight scene variations with other references, like John Wick, Wanted, Resident Evil, Watchmen, Bourne series, etc (when it comes out on DVD I'll have to put all the references side by side with the originals)... seemed like director Aleksander Bach was trying to showcase his film skills, but in the process he didn't really do anything new or clever. Bach may need to differentiate himself with his next movie, because Paul W.S. Anderson already has this kind of industrial/techno homage style down (most of his movies stylize other movies). Still! Entertaining, even if the writing and acting were most often B-level and the special effects towards the end were comical in a bad way.

American Ultra had a lot more personality, though. Kristen Stewart has really been improving, even if the crazy Twilight people have held her back (I liked a lot of Twilight, but not for its pop culture energy). Ultra really played with the "Myth of Superman" trope (where a common and ambition-less person fancies themself capable of greater things and suddenly finds those things — but only by the story's god machine, not by any possible reality). So Eisenberg was always commenting on his own impossible connection with the things he was doing. All of that could just be summed by saying that "it was funny because it was a weed-head with spy powers," but it was more clever than that and wasn't just a movie for people to go to while high, though those people will certainly be the ones giving it most of its money :p
So! Would recommend American Ultra for realistic action mixed with comedy :)
Cherub Cow
Sun Sep 27 21:00:36
Last month I got in an internet argument with a random Imgurian because under a post that tried to play up how "disturbing" Serbian Film was, I said this:
"It's not that bad. Nothing that will 'haunt' anyone except maybe a teenager. It's just an average movie with some okay gore moments."
The comment chain formatted for readability, if interested:
It's via this gallery:
Cherub Cow
Sun Sep 27 21:00:42
(the Imgur gallery originally had the descriptions from the source link under each title, so source here for context, set to the page with Serbian Film's description):

Anyhows.. the argument ended calmly with this poster mentioning that I should watch "The Butterfly Room" (2012), and I was kind of hoping that I would like it so that I could catch up with that person and show that I wasn't just hating on Serbian Film to be "cool" (Serbian Film really just wasn't a good movie), but.... Butterfly Room was just *awful* :/

Basically, a lepidopterist (butterfly collector), who has coped with the absence of her daughter by dealing with preservatives, murders one of her apartment building's maintenance workers at the threshold of her "Butterfly Room", sending the movie into a pattern of half flashback and half "present" time to explain.

Terrible Acting
The acting was immediately painful, and it continued this way throughout the movie — not a surprise for an L.A.-based movie featuring veteran B-Movie star Ray Wise and actresses such as Heather Langenkamp and Erica Leerhsen, who have been in many horror movies (classic ones, in Langenkamp's case) but never with significant performances. Ann, the main character, was played by Barbara Steele, another veteran horror actress, and while I don't suppose her acting was necessarily -bad-, she certainly wasn't able to prevent her lines from exposing the bad writing which undermined the entire attempt.

Terrible Musical Scoring
This movie was another example of a tacked on musical score that made common moments seem entirely ridiculous. For example: in one scene, the camera reveals the contents of Ann's trunk to the viewer, which includes a large, silver nail — ♫[stock shriek sound!]♫. "Oh no! A large silver nail! So scary!" The better musical selection would be maybe an ominous synth sound or something, because shriek sounds don't make sense in -foreshadowing- moments. Still, the movie repeated this formula a number of times — showing objects or typical scenarios and accompanying them with shriek sounds. But, simply because the shriek sound was the only sound they had, when those "shock" moments finally occurred, the movie got it right merely by having done blanket coverage.

If someone wanted to give undue credit to this musical selection, it could be guessed that it was meant to highlight the horror in the seemingly everyday, but that would be very kind. Watching this movie, you know that they didn't put a lot of thought into the production side, so the real result for the viewer is that the "shriek" moments become comically overused.

Mediocre Directorial Style
This was directed by Italian director Jonathan Zarantonello, who hasn't done much yet. He has almost no style, so most of the movie was just him trying to get things into frame. The musical choices could probably be explained by this middling ability, because a lack of camera skill could easily lead to a lot of poorly-applied fixes in post production. Still, it's possible that the language barrier prevented him from doing well in this particular movie (his first English film), so I'd expect his Italian language movies to be at a higher level.

(( Spoilers ahead ))

Slow Movement Speeds
The movement in this movie was also quite comical. In order to make Ann a villain, people basically had to be really slow or incompetent in her presence. At the height of this, there's a scene where Nick (Ray Wise) could easily attack her, but instead his foot breaks through the bottom of a wardrobe — which was apparently made out of balsa wood — so he finds himself immobilized.

Weak Plot Developments
The opening scene of the movie shows Ann being severe with her daughter, barging in on her while she appears to be having her first period while taking a bath. The scene ends abruptly, so the viewer must assume that the daughter has been drowned in the tub. Later, when Ann's daughter turns out to be alive, the rest of the scene is shown.. and it's pretty weak. This scene was meant to be the crowning moment of a childhood of terrible traumas for the daughter (who declares that she needed a lifetime of therapy afterwards), but it basically goes: "you're so dirty for having your period in the tub! Now I will attempt to drown you in the very water which you have bloodied! Oh no! Your father has stopped me!"

*Could* this actual event have been traumatic? Certainly, yes, even if only in an L.A. decadence kind of way. Was it directed with real trauma in mind? Hardly. Even if viewers weren't distracted by the badly-done soft focus which was designed to make Barbara Steele look younger, the performances and direction within this scene were not focused on the horror of being brutalized at such a delicate moment; viewers instead see legs in a bath, spreading blood, hear Ann's voice, hear the door open, hear a struggle, and then see a child's surprised face underwater. And the scene ends not on the child's face — perhaps building depth behind her abused character — but on Ann, whose face cannot be read beyond the soft focus. Largely ineffectual.

Significance of the Butterfly Room
But if the bad acting, poor direction, poor musical scoring, and poor representation of trauma were all ignored, does this movie have any saving features?

Sort of...

Notable was the threshold of the Butterfly Room itself, which Ann says cannot be crossed by men. This first occurred with Chris, who upon seeing the contents of the room becomes horrified and is then murdered by Ann. Later, Ann has a cupboard placed in front of the door (another symbolic portal), and the prepubescent Julie must punch a hole through the back to even glance at the room's contents. She later makes the hole larger and accesses the room, where she discovers Alice's body ("undressing" the glass which encloses Alice, so that she can examine Alice's body) and comes under threat from Ann. The above mentioned scene of Nick's trouble with the cupboard was also an implementation of the writer/director's will in this respect; Nick cannot enter the room, even if he wants to protect Julie. In other words, given that the room cannot be accessed by the living male, given that a prepubescent girl can only guess at its contents (working at the exterior), and given that entering the room spells mortal threat, the room likely represents a female-specific puberty (incomprehensible or inaccessible to men). This being akin to sexual discovery and awakening, for Ann it means irrevocable change that in her narcissism she wants to stop with preservative acts. This of course signals back to the scene of Dorothy's first period — an event met with similar violence by Ann and an incomplete saving by the father figure. And so the psychological divide between mother and daughter has been born in cinema symbols, and in Electra complex fashion, Dorothy can only be psychologically free by killing her mother, but of course, the pattern repeats again; the same competition begins with her own child. Fearing her own death, Dorothy attempts to project her want of immortality onto her son, who himself has begun changing, terrifying her into neurosis.

In this way, Ann's butterflies seems to be symbolic of her failed attempts to preserve her own youth in herself or her youth via her daughter. There exists a kind of Freudian narcissism at work (Freud in "The Uncanny"), where Ann feels most whole when she chemically-induces "immortality" in her butterflies. And in Nietzschean Egyptianism..

"They kill, they stuff, when they worship, these conceptual idolaters—they become a mortal danger to everything when they worship. Death, change, age, as well as procreation and growth, are for them objections—refutations even" (Twilight of the Idols)

.. this "immortality" has been contrived; this "preservation" requires destruction. This was seen firstly when the remains of Alice's mother were disturbed. Ann must revisit the body with chemicals in order to mummify it, but when an elevator tile falls on the body, chemical gas escapes and a dissolving inner body is revealed. A similar effect was shown when Ann removes the pin from Alice's body, which bleeds like an uncorked wine bottle. In either case, it is seen that the act of "preservation" — an attempt to prevent change — only affects appearance states, while the thing which was "preserved" has actually decayed or been destroyed. Ann's obsession then displays the insanity of this kind of acting — this thinking that immortal states exist or can be maintained. Ann cannot stop puberty or its changes, and every time she faces a world that has been changing despite her preservative efforts (like her old-style car in a hybrid world), she enforces her will (often violently) to satisfy her narcissism. Her murder of Alice's mother, Monika, finds explanation here, because while the "normal" Electra complex would have Alice and Monika at odds, Monika has embraced her own state of incompleteness (she is an amputee), fetishizing it even, and placing no barriers between Alice and her manipulations of the narcissistic bourgeoisie. To Ann this becomes reprehensible. Having not reconciled her own sexuality, she must destroy expressions of sexuality in others.

(( End Spoilers ))

I think that Jonathan Zarantonello -was- being intentional with these expressions of Freudian states, so he deserves credit for expressing them almost entirely through cinema (rather than relying heavily on script explication), but this movie was still bad. It reminds me of one of my favorite horror movies, "Mister Frost" (1990), which I like only for its underlying ideas and -potential-, but which I still call "terrible" for its poor overall direction and character work and its painful 80s/90s shoulder pad fashions and hairstyles. That to say: a good idea, but expressed with a painful B-movie gloss.
Cherub Cow
Tue Sep 29 12:45:44
Watched "The Awakening" (2011) last night, and it was funny to see young Bran Stark (Isaac Wright) in a pre-GoT supporting role. Also saw a preview for "Silent Hill: Revelation" (2012).. have watched the movie before, but didn't realize that that was Kit Harington, so he and Sean Bean had worked together before GoT..

Anyhow, "Awakening" was actually pretty good.
They managed to disguise their plot twist (surprised me anyways), which was very kewl. It also had some nice treatments of isolation and loneliness..

Some of the movie seemed to be about a person's difficulty coming to terms with the world knowing that there's no "God" or afterlife (she becomes nihilistic), but the religiosity in that evaporated a little when the movie started examining repression, because events could be considered psychological states rather than confirmations of some eternal world (even though I think the movie was -intended- as confirmation). Rebecca Hall's acting was a little choppy, but it was directed well, with lots of that English fog to make things feel like a Gothic fiction. Given that it avoided most jump scares and relied instead on psychological possibilities, would def recommend if in the mood for a pensive sort of horror movie.
Cherub Cow
Wed Oct 07 17:43:52
Sicario was awesome! See it! :D
Great tactical-style action, serious/realistic portrayals, great cast (even Jon Bernthal — Shane from Walking Dead — stops by). Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt so kewl..

I thought "The Visit" was pretty horrible. Annoying acting, bad characters, contrived "value" situations (think of "The Signs" on this last point; "swing away" type stupidities)... When the "twist" flopped (mostly due to bad acting by Kathryn Hahn), I just wanted it to end, but it kept going for a while. Shyamalan's attempt at found footage was just too pretentious... Anyways, the jokes were painful, but at least the poop scene at the end made me laugh (don't think it was intended to be funny, but it was). Aside from that, really no reason at all to see it.
Cherub Cow
Sun Oct 11 23:11:16
"The Martian" was good! Definitely a pop culture movie, so it has a lot of the tropes and predictable dramatic cycles that come along with that, but it's somewhat elevated pop culture, so it didn't do anything super annoying.

At one point I -was- annoyed, and that was when peeps (Damon and Daniels) started talking (in separate scenes) about "[being a part of something greater than themselves]," but luckily Sean Bean's character showed the other side of that when he contradicted Daniels' character, so "all was right again" for me ;p

This writer's optimism for the future of space travel was probably excessive (global cooperation, shared goals, etc.), but this movie seems to be aimed at getting people interested in space exploration, so maybe it can make that optimism realistic. And I'm sure that it sacrificed a lot of scientific realism in order to allow the characters to MacGyver all of these situations (especially because you could guess that space think tanks would have come up with these solutions in advance of any drama), but those stretches of realism kept things tense.

So! The audience liked the comedy aspects a lot more than myself, but I still ended up liking the movie overall. Kind of an easy decision to see this movie.
Cherub Cow
Wed Oct 14 17:10:06
"99 Homes"
Was hilarious! :D .. I mean, it probably wasn't trying to be, but it was definitely hilarious.

This is the Marvel/DC crossover where Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) battles General Zod (Michael Shannon).. except not really. Basically Spider-Man loses his family house because he was late on payment for evars, and he ends up working for General Zod because Zod's real estate company has become one of the only paying jobs in the area (at least for a blue collar fix-it type).

The movie was supposed to show how morally reprehensible it can be to work the real estate system against home renters/owners, but it couldn't help but show that the people who fell victim were tragically idiotic. For instance, Spider-Man's character really wanted -his- house at all costs... but why? The movie repeats this desire for family foundations like it should mean something, but what if it doesn't? What if people agree with Zod's character and see that a house really is just walls where your stuff goes? Is "stuff" home? Personally, that's how I feel about it: home tends to be wherever the majority of your possessions happen to be, and possessions can be so transient in location that attaching sentimentality to them becomes as equally without gravity as the walls that typically surround them.

Shannon's character seems to appreciate this nomadic lifestyle (material as utility, utility being transient), which can make his character an unintentional hero of ugly market circumstances. Audiences were meant to pity and identify with Spider-Man while abhorring Zod, but the audiences who would pity would be the ones who attach sentimentality to locations like "home" (the house, the walls, the "history"), while the people who might have the power to change the injustice wouldn't, because the argument in this movie was confined almost entirely to this misplaced nostalgia — which the nomadic wouldn't feel.

For me, the movie's only effectual moment became the forged document (naturally the climax of the movie), because -that- was clearly a manipulation of the law. There were other illegal activities in the movie (like stealing appliances and AC units), but the victims in those cases were the banks and competing real estate companies — hardly something over which to feel bad. But, the evictions of people who failed to keep up with payments? Those people were upset, surely, but must viewers pity them? Certainly the system failed those people by even allowing them to have homes that they couldn't pay for, or by putting predatory practices into place that were designed to prevent them from paying off their houses, but generally it's difficult (at least for me) to pity people who overextend their assets into material possessions. I can't pity a poor person with a smart phone (how many jobs require more than texts, calls, and e-mails? Do they need a 70+ USD data plan and a 600+ USD cell phone? Hardly. And it's a joke to me that people have been convinced otherwise). I also can't pity a poor person who wants to pay exorbitant payments on a house. What life is being wasted by anchoring oneself to fixed locations and expanding possessions? Would Spider-Man's character at his most successful (possessing his house and having a family with "food in their mouth") ever leave his pedestrian mediocrity, or would "home" be enough? His was a character who didn't even know how to want more than the programmed checklists of modern society — "home", "family", "stability".. ("well you did lose a lot of versatile solutions for modern living").

Anyways. That's why this movie was funny for me — it essentially asked viewers to pity consumers/materialists. I should disclaimer and say that I don't respect the real estate people for making a living from parasitism, and I don't like that rental models in the U.S. don't pay into any lasting property (money vanishes into the apartment model, so home-owning via payments can be far more practical), but this movie's focus was almost entirely on the emotional ("dey tuk R houses n R jerbs!"), while neglecting the choices that doom people to ruin — their overextending into possessions instead of tracking their ability to make payments. So the housing market and the effects of its popped bubble bailout may be corrupt, but its victims, hardly blameless. Yet let us praise consumer society!
Wed Oct 14 18:19:15
Enjoyed the Martian (in 3D). Didn't like the whole JPL genius bit for gravitational sling shotting, but whatevs it was fun.
Wed Oct 14 18:19:37
Might catch sicario later!
Cherub Cow
Thu Oct 15 18:33:52
Def do it! Was good things :D

"Black Mass" wasn't especially interesting. It delivered on real crime violence (like Donnie Brasco, Casino, Goodfellas etc.), but it ended up falling very flat on character portrayals.

Like, the main character, Jimmy Bulger (played by Johnny Depp), was pretty much only described via circumstances and dialogue: "[he went to prison, they conducted LSD experiments on him, he's crazy, etc.]," but no particular motivations behind his character really grew from the story. Lots of his violent actions were shown, and it was pretty clear that he tends to be reactive to social slights, "witness for the prosecution" threats, and perceived disloyalty, but they never really established any kind of end state for him.. like.. did he want to "take Boston back from the Italian mob," like Agent Connolly (Joel Edgerton) claimed to want? Did he just want to get rich? Neither was really shown. There was even a scene where he decides to help the IRA by sending a weapons cache across the Atlantic, but why? For money? Because he suddenly felt loyalty to Irish cousins? Because he hated the British? Maybe it was simply a matter of having been to the Irish Independence parade and getting it in his head that he could help in a criminal way, but Bulger's mental processes were kept entirely unexplored. Even Agent Connolly's character washed out, because the most supplied for him was that in two different scenes he was shown wearing new suits, and it wasn't even clear if those suits were the result of money earned from promotions or money gained from bribes.. he was just "really loyal" I suppose :|

..As far as the movie was concerned, this gang basically just killed people and went drinking (and not even calamitous, "tip everyone all the monies" drinking). The movie never "followed the money," showing the criminal enterprise's successes and failures — just one celebratory visit to Florida. At times it seemed to want to focus on how embarrassing this must be for the FBI, but without showing the financial dimension, it wasn't really possible to tell if Bulger's gang really had become an unacceptable alternative to the Italian mafia that it had dethroned. Mentioned were drug trafficking at a high school, but otherwise the only people killed were low-level criminals, so the moral dimension of "innocents in the crossfire" was also left to the side. Even the murder of Deborah Hussey (played by Juno Temple) fell flat, because she was a one-dimensional prostitute character who may have told the police too much, all of two minutes before her death. I suppose viewers should be thankful that she was shown at a Christmas party earlier in the movie — she did, apparently, exist.

Basically, director Scott Cooper and his screenplay writers decided to put a bunch of criminal murders into a 2 hour movie, seemingly without any interest in the mental processes of any of the characters. Depp's character became another costumed type for his makeup collection, and everyone else just said their lines straight from witness testimony. There was very little attempt to do anything creative with the story facts. They just happened. That could be fine if it were intentional (it could convey some hopelessness or randomness to this criminal world), but this movie was pretty clearly a thoughtless endeavor. Its most impressive element came from the editing of the ending credits. Not exactly worth the viewing time.
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 23 00:24:39
"Crimson Peak" (2015) was okay, but very very skippable..

The short version is that it has the same problems as "Pan's Labyrinth" (also directed by Guillermo del Toro): really great sets, color palettes, lighting, and overall imagery — but terrible writing.

If this movie had just been a camera wandering around a haunted house but with no characters, it might have actually been -better- than this (or at least had the same overall effect), but instead there's this really obvious plot with zero deviations from the most classical clichés. The entire story is basically, "incestuous siblings marry rich young women and kill them for money... also, look at these ghosts." By the second half I kept hoping, "okay... the main plot has become obvious, now where will it deviate from the expected? Will the house turn out to be an entity with its own desires, maybe having forced the siblings to murder in order to stay alive? Anything?" Nope! :p ..

I suppose that there's a device in that. Could del Toro (also the script writer) have produced the most unexceptional script so that his great set work and imagery could take center? Possibly! If so, can't -totally- blame him, because he really -is- great with set visuals. But, it's kind of a waste. Why handicap a potentially great film by only partially enacting it? Crimson Peak made -so- much effort in its visuals (and even limited its usage of CGI's unexceptional gloss) but tied it together with a script with no life in it. I have to think that that was -not- intentional. Instead, the story itself can be seen as del Toro's self-reflection on his own bad writing, which he failed to escape..

Writer Surrogacy
Mia Wasikowska's character (a beginning novelist named Edith Cushing) was likely del Toro's surrogate in the movie. She seems unable to captivate publishers with her ghost story (maybe like a young script-writer submitting to Hollywood), so she hopes to neutralize her writing by typing it (this so that her 'feminine' hand-writing can't be recognized and so that she can perhaps be judged by the words themselves). But, her first honest review comes from Tom Hiddleston's character, Thomas Sharpe, who demolishes her naïve romantic sensibilities and lack of grit. He explains that love is messy — not some "perfection" as she portrays it — and he basically says that she lacks life experience. Now, viewers -could- say that Sharpe was dutifully breaking up with her as commanded by her father (and thus meant none of it), but it would be unrealistic to think that he wasn't speaking from a place of truth. He might have embellished that truth if he hadn't had to break it off with her, but this was likely the -cold- truth according to him, as honesty can result when social conventions don't have to be observed, and a breakup tends to be a great time to be in non-observance of convention. Okay then; she (as a young del Toro) is a bad writer. Time for her to grow into a person whose life experiences permit depth, right?.. del Toro must hope so, anyways.

The story seems to be built on the idea that Lucille (Jessica Chastain) and Thomas have the gritty, true love that Thomas was describing, and on a written level viewers might agree: they have murdered their oppressors together, and they've suffered in a kind of exile with their ghosts ("ghosts" which the story was painfully explicit in saying are "metaphors" for the haunting past). Edith becomes tormented by these past-gazing siblings and by the past's "ghosts," and given del Toro's heavy sampling of past cinema (such as with his constant use of early horror cinema's iris wipe, with his direct homage to The Shining's bath tub scene, etc.), in cinematic language del Toro could be saying that his "life experience" came from his (as Edith's) being tormented [as a filmmaker] by horror cinema (his own cultural past) — tormented maybe by its pop culture status, by its weight in collective consciousness, by its demanding that future cinematographers bleed in order to contribute to its body of works. Edith's injured and bloodied state by the end would then play the part of showing del Toro's passage through cinematic history, his rising out of it and into the present, his attempt to take his knowledge of the past with him, his overcoming the burden of old cinema by making peace with it through homage and alteration/re-invigoration (past and present an irreconcilable unity, given Thomas' inability to escape with Edith, just as homage changes the original form). This could be the indication of the ending scene, where visually the "book" closes on the story of "Crimson Peak" — with Edith being its author. Of course, cinema being its own language, the written word is not just the script's -words-, pre-screen; cinema's authorship occurs through the visual story, and in that domain (del Toro the author of the "visual book" of Crimson Peak) del Toro has fallen into a statement on himself which is not as heroic a becoming as he might believe.

A Soft Horror
Again, similar to Pan's Labyrinth, while the story was given the background of colorful sets, the sets and creatures have been given a gloss that doesn't quite lend itself to horror. Viewers might say, "but skeleton ghosts rise from the floor! They attack through doors!" but this would be missing the framing of these ghosts. The cinematographer is in love with them, not sharing in the -potential- horror of the viewer. For instance, when Edith sees a skeleton chasing her, the screen does not cut away from the initial instance of the rising in order to show Edith's reaction (as audience surrogate, her horror would be communicated as the audience's horror). Instead, the scene does not cut away. The full effect of the green skeleton's rising is shown with a lingering, stable camera, to the extent that it is not a terror (people look away from terror, they may even shake in terror, but to linger on it shows mental understanding, free from visceral responses). By the time the camera -does- cut away (a good 8 seconds later), Edith's facial expression seems almost out of place. Didn't she see what viewers (viewers aligned with del Toro, whose camerawork frames how this skeleton is to be perceived) saw? Didn't she see that this skeleton is a friend?

The entire movie suffers from this effect. The shots linger cinematically and affectionately, to where even when a character is stabbed, facial expressions and exposition communicate that "it's okay; there's no fear here; it's beautiful even." On the surface this is fine ("why insist on this movie making anyone afraid?") and it lends to del Toro's creating of an attractive setting, but related back to Edith's (del Toro's) "suffering for depth," the high gloss on these shots shows a person who has only -cosmetically- suffered. When even blood looks like it was painted carefully by studio hands (Wasikowska's attractive cut), when actors deliver "deep" lines with a tone of theater melodrama (Hiddleston's stairway scene), the effect is not a portrayal of true love as a love for even the horror, but a potrayal of a surface love which dresses up its "horror" with non-horrific artifice — like jewel-encrusted skeletons: death given the semblance of something attractive when removed from the visceral response.. a pretense of suffering never felt. Even Tim Burton, who dresses up his horror, does so with a dejected social sense; his characters know loneliness and -feel- broken or scarred, something which shows in his framing and the performances he gets from his actors. And Stanley Kubrick, who lingered for long moments on horror scenes, did so with a frame of malevolence — making the viewer see as the monster, and by that, fearing that the monster will look upon them. Del Toro has only looked upon the image of horror and lovingly reproduced that image, seemingly unable to access what inspired the image in others.

Yeah, this was a long way of saying that del Toro seems incapable of communicating deep pain (likely from a lack of having deeply reflected on any pain he's felt, or having not felt much anyways) and by effect, he seems unwilling to be truly sadistic with his characters, because sadism quietly requires a projection of one's own pain. This divorces his "horror" movies from the trauma that accompanies effective horror.

Even so, accepting this divorce (where del Toro works merely in the image, not in fear or the dissonance of a consciousness reconciling itself with a sinister world which birthed the daemonic image), Crimson Peak supplied a very colorful world with intricate sets. The movie itself may not be effectual, but its artistic elements can lend themselves to peripheral inspiration.. like viewing fragments which -could be- assembled into something greater.
Cherub Cow
Sat Oct 24 22:29:32
Got to the theater too late to see a particular showing of "The Last Witch Hunter", so saw "Bridge of Spies" instead. Trailer:
(the Spielbergo movie where Tom Hanks negotiates a spy transfer in a 1957/Cold War United States)

Was pretty good. Not like, amazing, but a good period piece. Spielbergo production meant a lot of historical accuracy and high quality period imagery (like Berlin Wall recreations, wide shots of crowds in detailed wardrobe, etc.). So very well produced and a solid story.

Seems pretty likely that Spielbergo decided to make this movie because Tom Hanks' character got to preach about how a country needs to maintain its values while dealing with foreign affairs; Hanks' character's want to keep the Soviet spy alive and treated well could very easily be paralleled with Guantánamo treatment reform, where well-treated prisoners could spell goodwill abroad. More generally, the movie wanted to show that a country like the U.S. needs to live by its stated ideals when dealing with "others" if it really wants others to come around to those ideals. And very much a patriotic dissent movie, because one person tries to do the right thing at a time when many/most do not seem to want to do so.

Worth a watch, but maybe not in theater. Not crucial or super memorable... but produced well enough that it's not like you'd regret seeing it :p
Sun Oct 25 04:18:00
The early duck gets the witch hunter.
Cherub Cow
Sun Oct 25 19:57:45
Was able to catch Witch Hunter today :)

Was aktly a pretty kewl movie! Not quite -super- kewl (so not crucial), but it had a lot of creative witch sets (underground lairs, tree fortresses, imagined apocalyptic futures where the Earth reclaims the world, etc.), and it minimized religious aspects, even separating Vin Diesel's character from them (they seem to be moving towards a "beyond good and evil" thing). It ended up being like a combination of Constantine (2005)(immortalized hunter of evil), "Black Death"(2010)/"Season of the Witch"(2011)(Black Plague and witches), and "Night Watch"(2004)/"Day Watch"(2006)(with its mention of ancient peace pacts), but it still managed to do its own thing.

Rose Leslie's character was very kewl, but my main complaint (and why this movie wasn't -super- kewl) was that her romance with Vin Diesel seemed a little awkward.. like they didn't quite have chemistry for it to work. I was trying to decide if this was just because I personally still think that it's "Ygritte and Jon Snow 4evar," but I don't think I'm -quite- that petty ;p .. so I think it's more just that the director didn't really put the right effort into their relationship.

Vin Diesel's character was too much the "eternal player" type, and this wasn't really seen to change much with his attraction to Leslie's character (had he changed enough to see -her-?). On her side, I think it actually worked a little, just because she was directly exposed to his subconscious via some well-directed flashbacks (so there was room to guess that she might see something desirable).. but.. I don't think the director spent enough time working with Vin Diesel — to -show- what might be desirable. Yes he had lost his family, but his flaws were taken mostly for granted (how had Leslie really perceived them? How had Diesel processed them in relation to his immortality?), so Leslie's presence didn't seem to alter him in any significant way. The silver lining on this was that they never kissed or anything, and the writers/producers intend to do a sequel (or at least -hoped- to if this movie had performed well, which it didn't), which means that major relationship developments were saved for future story work (which probably won't happen).

Their relationship being the major issue for me, the lesser issues came from random corny moments.. especially the ending, which seemed too upbeat and almost a comical — even if unintentional — repeat of MiB's car pan-away (ignoring the "dice with the universe" thing):
..though it was also similar to something else that I can't quite place..
Anyhow, personally I think they should have gone with a more foreboding ending (the evil awaiting), but with a PG-13 rating, it's not unexpected for them to go light with some actioney buddy cop routine.

So, I understand why this movie flopped (paid critics typically hate Sci-Fi/fantasy/adventure combos, and they definitely hate Vin Diesel), but I kind of liked it. I just wish they'd done a few things differently: an R-rating, either replace Leslie/Diesel's romance with a Platonic admiration or else do more background work on why Leslie's character might be attracted to a Diesel-type, a more dramatic/foreboding ending, and someone should have been fired for putting Harry Potter in a white turtle-neck sweater. Seriously? Bad, wardrobe! Bad! ;p

Because of these flaws, it just makes me want to watch "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" (2013) instead, which I -really- liked and I don't care if it "flopped" almost as terribly as "Last Witch Hunter" — critics don't know how to love clever horror/sci-fi unless it comes with pretentious attachments, whereas I think that characters interacting well can save almost any absurdity of script, because it's always possible to laugh while living in apocalyptic ruins :p

It flopped, sure, but it probably didn't deserve to flop this much (cost 70 million, has made only 25 so far). Even though peeps hate Vin Diesel (and it's def unfortunate that most associate him with Fast and the Furious instead of Chronicles), it had a lot of cool visuals, world-building, and characters (Rose Leslie ftw). I wish they'd done things differently, but no way does this deserve a 14% on rotten tomatoes while the Katy Perry movie gets a 77%. Fickle fucks! ;p
Mon Oct 26 21:41:24
Last Witch Hunter is good?

""Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" (2013) instead, which I -really- liked"

Unforgivable. That movie was pretty awful.
Cherub Cow
Mon Oct 26 21:48:18
I weirdly liked Hansel&Gretel :p
I especially liked how the troll ended up being a big softy, but the forest scenery and costumes really worked

Last Witch Hunter probably not worth seeing in theater, but wasn't so bad as the ratings have indicated. Lots of elements of it were nice.. just not an amazing movie or anything
Tue Oct 27 21:10:32
There were aspects of H&G that were decent. I just was not a fan of the total package.
Tue Oct 27 21:16:07
Cherub Cow
Tue Oct 27 21:51:24
lol .. didn't realize that there was a phrase for that behavior :D

"There were aspects of H&G that were decent. I just was not a fan of the total package."

That makes sense :p .. I definitely have complaints about it (mainly Famke Janssen's over-acting), I was just so won over by the fun stuff and the unintentional stuff that I cut it a lot of breaks :D .. I tend to do that with comedies, since comedies don't have to do much right to get lols :)
Wed Oct 28 17:33:46
Wtf is with these 'Jack' movies?

Jack the Giant Slayer
Jack Reacher
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jack Strong

Especially since 2 of those are CIA movies and Reacher is also an action thriller.
Sun Nov 08 01:08:58
Just saw Last Witch Hunter.

It wasn't too bad! Elijah Wood was completely out of place though. So much so that his character really didn't surprise me at all.

I could definitely see more entries into this universe being alright. Kaulder with his thing, Chloe slinging spells as she slowly masters witchcraft. I'd watch it.
Cherub Cow
Sun Nov 08 19:11:06
"Elijah Wood was completely out of place though."

Definitely. And didn't you hate the white turtle neck at the end? Terrible wardrobe choice! :D

"I could definitely see more entries into this universe being alright."

Yes they have something going here.. lots of hick-ups, but they've put a lot of work into the ideas so the world really works. Chloe could even get her own movie, I think ;p
..and I'm a little more optimistic about its future, because to date they've spent 70 million but made 84.4. Hopefully Vin Diesel does the same he did with Riddick and keeps adding to the franchise even if the critics don't like it :D
Cherub Cow
Sun Nov 08 22:18:22
The new Bond (Spectre) was okay. Nice visuals and it was very apparent that it had high production value.. I did enjoy just sort of looking at how cinematic everything was (beautiful locations, great sets, etc.)... but otherwise, kind of meh.

They really expanded on Skyfall's (2012; the third Craig movie) usage of extreme Bond clichés, almost like they didn't realize that Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) were better because they'd *departed* from a lot of the clichés. Because of this cliché love, it seemed like things were happening only because "that's what classic Bond does," as opposed to them being a result of *this* characterization of Bond. The effect was that Bond's story wasn't really that engaging.. like, here's this shadow organization that apparently engineered all of Bond's tragedies (*potentially* making a grand usage of Daniel Craig's combined continuity), but Bond was like, "yeah whatever. It's cool. Who should I shoot?"

There were also strange production decisions, like (( mild spoiler )) the ending bridge sequence where they kind of weakly asserted why the London Police had arrived so quickly and were setting up barricades and not engaging. This kind of broke the fourth wall, because really they just wanted to arrange a confrontation, their decision to hold back the police making that confrontation artificial... also, the car chase with Bond and the secondary minion (eye-gouger) was pretty odd. The minion was apparently chasing to kill, but at one point he catches up and doesn't do anything with the opportunity (not even a quick ramming), kind of revealing that the chase was meaningless. And just a poor chase scene overall, really.

A lot of the movie went that way; big action moments happening, but there was no tension. I almost wonder if they had to rewrite the script (maybe because the new Mission Impossible had the same villain?) and it just fell apart at some point in the process.. but I think the director was more at fault, because even with all the dumb clichés thrown in (probably some annoying insistence by the producers), a lot of it could have been recovered by making the action seem more perilous.. I don't think I was concerned about any of the characters at any point.

Yeahs... so obviously peeps will see this and it's a good blockbuster, but if this isn't Craig's last Bond role, they really need to drop Sam Mendes from the directorial spot. I can kind of forgive Skyfall because it was a big Bond anniversary so the producers had a lot of incentive to recreate the clichés, but Spectre had no excuse for continuing with them. Whatever! ;p .. Wasn't expecting much anyways. Hunger Games should be a better pop movie..
Mon Nov 09 23:26:47
"Chloe could even get her own movie, I think"

She'd have to greatly improve her spell slinging for me to believe such a movie! But the character could pull it off. And honestly, I'd like to see a little more ad-lib magic. The Witch Queen was able to conjure flies almost instantaneously in the final battle. Why can't they do some low key, highly targeted magic? A small fireball, quick illusion spells or something. Don't get me wrong, the careful preparation of the witches trying to catch Kaulder by surprise and take advantage of it is great, but they were incredibly hollow once he defeated their initial ruse. A little push back, to at least give him pause (or give a future Chloe a little purpose in battle) could be good.

"Hopefully Vin Diesel does the same he did with Riddick and keeps adding to the franchise even if the critics don't like it"

Just as long as he doesn't pull a 2013 Riddick out of it!
Cherub Cow
Tue Nov 24 21:53:29
Hey! I liked that one :D
.. though not as much as the 2004 one, of course ;p

"A little push back, to at least give him pause"

Truth! I remember expecting to see a lot more resistance in that scene, but instead he basically just stabbed the main witch... Maybe Diesel needs to play one level from a well-balanced RPG and model the plot after it :D

Really liked the new Hunger Games (Mockinjay Part 2). Very emotional. It also stayed very true to the book, including its dealing with trauma as something not quite experienced (Katniss misses a lot of the main action). I could see the temptation to continue the action after her unconsciousness, but it doesn't. Def recommend if you liked the other ones.
Wed Nov 25 00:22:33
"Hey! I liked that one :D"

I mean, I liked it too. But it wasn't like it had a solid plot. It was doing too much for me.

"Maybe Diesel needs to play one level from a well-balanced RPG and model the plot after it :D"

Ahahahah. Yes.
Cherub Cow
Fri Dec 04 15:39:54
Randomly watched 2007's "Brothers Solomon" (comedy with Will Arnett, Will Forte, and Kristen Wiig) — hilarious first 20 minutes :D .. it kind of settles down after that and doesn't really do too much with the ending. Fun movie though!

And I'm watching 2007's "Dragon Wars" soon (trailer):
Netflix thinks I'll give it one star out of five, so I'm pretty excited :D
Cherub Cow
Tue Dec 15 20:21:25
"Dragon Wars" wasn't so bad :(
.. was hoping for B-actor script situations and Sci-Fi Channel quality, but apparently this was a major production, so it really *did* try to be a good movie.. even though it wasn't. Like it had a lot of "Langoliers" CGI where stuff looked horribly photo-shopped, but they mixed those effects with actual explosions of sets and very *good* CGI (mix of low quality and high quality). Production seemed to have run into patchy budgeting situations or something..

They also came into English translation issues, where a Korean director working with an American cast resulted in performance issues. But! While the acting was bad, it was actually saved by the Korean script. That *might* be a good thing, but it meant none of the campy positives of a totally bad movie (no bad actors delivering bad lines) :/

Basically, if they'd wanted it to be a good movie then they needed more CGI work and probably an all-Korean cast, or if they wanted a campy movie then they shouldn't have bothered polishing *any* of the CGI and maybe should have used a bad script..

Oh! And randomly they had Craig Robinson (Darryl from "The Office", Aimee Garcia (Jamie Batista from "Dexter"), and Retta (Donna from "Parks and Recreation"). So that was weird too ;D
Cherub Cow
Fri Jan 01 20:17:35
Just a quick review of the last few years of my favorites!

• Oblivion (2013)
• Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) {in Detroit like "It Follows"; it gives pretentious airs in parts, but overall was very thoughtful)
• The Zero Theorem (2013) {by one of my favorite directors}
• Ex Machina (2015)

Really good but might end up less memorable for me:
• What We Do In The Shadows (2014) {see this!!}
• Birdman (2014) {very pretentious, but has some things to think about}
• Age of Adaline (2015) {corny writing in parts, but very emotional}
• American Ultra (2015) {such ultraviolence+romance!}
• Southpaw (2015) {really visceral, with some very potent scenes}
Cherub Cow
Fri Jan 01 20:20:03
..also thought of including "The Last Witch Hunter" (2015), but I'm interested in its future as a franchise moreso than this one movie..
Cherub Cow
Fri Jan 01 20:21:53
arg! and of course "It Follows" (2014). First wrote this list for the "It Follows" thread where it would have gone without saying..
Cherub Cow
Sun Jan 10 22:25:27
Thought maybe TC had reviewed this movie, but I recently watched "Buried" (2010). Trailer:
(it's the one where Ryan Reynolds gets trapped in a coffin and has to piece together his situation)

It was filmed well and I suppose it was impressive that they were pretty adept at figuring out interesting things to do with lighting and cinematography while just using a box.. Like for lighting they cycled between a cigarette lighter, a phone, chem sticks, and a flash light, and they built a number of movable boxes to get different shots and such..

But beyond that, the script was pretty bad so the story was mostly annoying to watch. The story suffered because Reynolds' character, although well-acted, was kind of an idiot. They justify this a little by having him voice the stuffiness of the box, his anxiety issues, and him being poorly educated.. but while some of that was designed to make him endearing or relatable maybe, all of his pathos decisions ended up showing a person too stupid to live.

There were also some mild politics thrown in to show the complications of U.S. involvement in Iraq (contractor abductions as an economy), but it didn't really explore any deep thought on that, so it was mostly a dead end ..or comic relief in my case ;D

Predictable and shallow.. Didn't mind watching it because I wanted a stupid thriller to watch! Worth it for that effect at least :p
Tue Jan 12 08:32:39
Gonna see the Rev today.
Cherub Cow
Tue Jan 12 17:58:29
kewl! They didn't pick it up at my local theater for some reason. plz2review,thx!
Wed Jan 13 11:47:52
Bad bear cgi, cool scenic views, almost too many coincidences. Liked the bad guy, maybe because he was named after my cat :P
Wed Jan 13 11:56:10

Glass was a bad ass!
Cherub Cow
Wed Jan 13 21:22:08
so worth seeing? :D
might have time to go catch it tomorrow if so..

otherwise catching a bad horror movie about Japan's suicide forest ;D
Thu Jan 14 14:13:09
I liked it. The film really showed how desolate and unforgiving the environment is in the Dakotas, especially before deep colonization began. But that is me. Suicide forest, though cool in fact, sounds a bit hokey in fiction.
Cherub Cow
Thu Jan 14 20:12:31
Oh I definitely expect the Forest to be bad. It's a PG-13 horror movie, after all ;p
Mon Jan 18 11:53:15
So I had a very odd dream where I was wilding a sword and slicing up all manner of witches (that could fly!). It sort of reminded me of something that the end of Last Witch Hunter could have eluded to.

There were these decaying shrubs that floated around, and with them came the aforementioned flying witches (and other pestilence-like monsters). The baddies were bound to these shrubs and couldn't stray too far. But the shrubs could move, slowly and ominously, so the pestilence could travel.

Needless to say, Vin, when you read this, contact me. I know its a raw idea, but we can hammer out a solid framework for another witch hunter movie. And I won't even ask to be in it.
Cherub Cow
Mon Jan 18 23:26:43
He could probably give you a cameo, though :p
Tue Jan 19 09:27:19
Do I look like Stan Lee?

Actually, don't answer that....
Cherub Cow
Tue Jan 19 19:01:51
Even Stephen King gets cameos! If you hang out on the set as a "consultant" for long enough, they'll eventually let you in the movie just to get rid of you ;p
..Actually, I read that Daniel Craig played a random storm trooper in Episode 7 (the one that Rey first Jedi mind-tricked), so anything's possible ;D
Cherub Cow
Sat Jan 23 20:54:30
Saw Revenant!!
Was really good. Def agree with "Bad bear cgi, cool scenic views ... really showed how desolate and unforgiving the environment is in the Dakotas, especially before deep colonization began."

Also really impressive continuous/long takes in the beginning.. really speaks to "Birdman" director Alejandro Iñárritu's ability to be able to control that many variables (there were more continuous takes after the beginning, but the start had a lot more going on). A brutal movie, too.. there were only a few scenes where anyone looked comfortable ;p

Did like the theme of vengeance not really being up to specific people, sometimes. I don't agree with the stated reason being that it's "up to God" in a religious sense, but I do like the idea that people don't always die because a specific score was being settled. In the early long takes they showed that by leap-frogging the deaths.. so one person would die, but then someone else would kill the person that killed that person, and someone *else* would kill the person who killed *that* person. Similarly the native with whom Glass works for a while doesn't get to have his own revenge, but Glass was able to get it for him.. actually I think Powaqa was the only one who was able to get it for herself (castrating one of her rapists)... so typically the audience sees the only total kind of vengeance via the camera's disembodied perspective (and given Leo's look at the camera in the end, "God" could easily be aligned to the audience's perspective; it's only by having perspective of multiple stories that any of it makes sense for vengeance).

Game of Thrones has done this a lot too. Like the person who took Jaime Lannister's hand (Locke) wasn't avenged for that act, necessarily.. he was just killed at random by Hodor/Bran. And peeps might want Walder Frey to be killed by a Stark for the Red Wedding, but it may end up being another random kill (or not; sometimes people get specific deaths, it's just difficult to arrange). That theme of people going to war to avenge things that end up lacking the personal spirit of revenge is old (Troy and Helen come to mind), but seeing that retaliation logic with a feature treatment was interesting.. and topical even, given that a suicide bomber can traumatize the world only to leave the world with no one but itself to re-victimize/avenge... At the end Glass sort of caught himself taking part in this cycle, maybe being okay with simply knowing that his personal aches would be satisfied regardless of his personal involvement.. at least to a point.. because he still gets to witness it.

Anyhow! Really impressive movie, though maybe mostly from a visual perspective (not sure if I'd say I love this movie or anything). Was def worth seeing, at any rate :)
Cherub Cow
Sat Jan 23 20:56:52
*really speaks to "Birdman" director Alejandro Iñárritu's ability to [] control
Cherub Cow
Tue Jan 26 18:29:08
Watched "The Vatican Tapes" from 2015... it was 90% garbage.


Quick plot summary: another exorcism movie, but with a semi-delightful surprise for the ending (the 10% that was non-garbage).

It was directed by Mark Neveldine, who directed "Crank" (very fun movie!).. so it really shouldn't have been this terrible, but it totes was. The editing was choppy and bad at the beginning.. like they'd forgotten to do basic establishing shots for a lot of scene and time changes and just had to attach scenes haphazardly. They also "tried" to do the "found footage" style except actually they didn't at all .. like they'd show "security" footage of corridors but it would be in the same high-definition as the cinematic shots — they'd just add little on-screen time signatures to make it *slightly* different.

Apparently Neveldine is a religious person, so that had a disappointing effect. I was hoping that they would make symbolic attacks of the Catholic Church, but it ended up being a bland, self-affirming religious movie.

(( Spoilers! If you care ;p ))

The big moment that would have turned that religiosity around happened at the end: after the failed exorcism, they learn that "Angela" (played by Olivia Dudley from 5secondfilms, who did really well in this, bad movie aside) is the anti-Christ, and the surviving priest returns to Vatican City, where another priest shows him an underground archive of "evil evidence" ... at this point I was hoping that they'd flatly say that the Vatican (and hence the Catholic Church) was an anti-Christ organization that had actually just been waiting for the rise of their anti-messiah... but instead it was just this contrived way of showing the last few months of history — for the audience's benefit — that somehow this surviving priest had missed (another coma was inferred, which was stupid writing within the context). Total missed opportunity.

So the movie was 10% fun only for the sake of yelling "Hail Satan!!" at the screen every time the anti-Christ hurt a priest or did something designed to scare Catholics ;p ..
Cherub Cow
Sun Mar 13 20:02:12
Finally saw Deadpool!
Was pretty fun :)
I wish they'd gone a bit more meta with it by critiquing the genre more (Marvel has had a *lot* of garbage movies to make fun of lately, so there would be no shortage of material), but considering that it was still Marvel they did a fair mix of "actual story" with the self-reflexive comedy. I especially liked the scene with his tiny hand growing back, maybe because it reminded me of Chris Elliott in "Scary Movie 2" ("you take my little hand!")
and of course the ending scene with Hugh Jackman's picture was funny :D

There were also a lot of 80s/90s references thrown in, which combined well with its attempt at being a niche movie instead of a pop movie.. but similar to the "more meta" thing, I think they could have gone much further to alienate viewers.. maybe even attempting to alienate Deadpool fanboys by making fun of them a bit.

So! Overall a fun movie — for a pop movie, which it still was, despite its R-rating and attempts at immaturity. I hope they can keep a franchise going and make fun of themselves and even its stupid fan culture more, because it all deserves it ;p
Cherub Cow
Fri Mar 18 00:44:29
Don't bother seeing "The Witch"

It wasn't *terrible*, but it didn't really have much going on. I think it tried to be too historical, which meant that it ended up being like a small-scale version of "The Crucible" (parents/adults believing the witch/devil accusation games of small children, putting them against the puberty issues of teenagers acting out, etc.). It also seemed to sample heavily from "Under the Skin" (2013) — particularly its music and feminist themes — but it didn't really do as good a job with them as Under the Skin (this sampling was probably because both movies were produced by A24).

It had some slight messages about "witches" being created by society's poor translations of circumstances (similar to Simone de Beauvoir's "one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman"), but it was not a particularly thoughtful treatment of that subject. It only used witchcraft as a horror that society enables by being socially backwards, whereas it may have been more interesting to see the witches as heroic/Faustian during the major plot of the movie — but still with the same dark treatment. I did at least like some of the ending elements (signing the Devil's book and the Witches' Sabbath), but again, I think those should have been the main focus of the movie rather than some horrific outcome. It could have been much more interesting that way..

Still, they put a lot of thought into it, so I'll probably watch it again when it makes it to DVD/streaming. One of the issues in watching the movie in theater was that a lot of the dialogue went quickly/inaudibly but made major Biblical references to frame the story, so a lot of the script's meaning may have been lost and would benefit from subtitles. But yeah, don't pay to see it.
Cherub Cow
Tue Mar 22 03:45:56
A few reviews!

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Really good, actually!
I don't want to ruin anything, and I don't think peeps should even watch the trailer because a lot of the movie was plot/mystery-based. So to keep it unspecific: it had lots of clever backs-and-forth between the characters being in terror and being comfortable, and it also managed to show a lot of the "not knowing" side of a post-apocalyptic world from an interesting angle (a bunker)...

(( Potential SPOILER ))

If you happen to be familiar with "Cloverfield" then that knowledge can add some extra dimension to the movie, and a particular scene of the end seemed to sample from the "War of the Wars" grenade scene:

Anyways, nice work by Mary Elizabeth Winstead! Definitely a fun movie for some semi-dark Sci-Fi. Also was my favorite of these four.

The Brothers Grimsby (2016)
Some good lols in Sacha Baron Cohen's usual style of gross subject matter :p .. but it seemed like it took a good 30 minutes for any of the jokes to start working.. I think it might be because it was directed a little too heavily as an actual action movie and only tagged on the comedy afterwards. So have to blame director Louis Leterrier — who has indeed specialized exclusively in action. I almost wonder if he was trying to get ahead of "Hardcore Henry" in some of his attempts with first-person fight scenes, but he really did not make it work in the context of Sacha..

Short version: not a good melding of action and comedy; good for a few lols, but probably not worth the ticket cost.

London Has Fallen (2016)
Fun and stupid :D
If you've seen "Olympus Has Fallen" it's pretty much that except on an even more ridiculous scale. The script reads like it was made for the Sci-Fi Channel, except somehow the producers got a lot of good actors to do it. It seems to have been designed to give a mindless catharsis to brown-people-fearing Americans because it's pretty devoid of almost all realistic boundaries and just gives a solid front for an unambiguous slaughter. Given that its director was Babak Najafi, an Iranian refugee, there does seem to be some self-aware play with the idea of giving an American Rambo some kind of clear villain and an outlet against terrorism. Even so! The ridiculous subject matter was still entertaining and managed to tread the line, staying just believable enough that it didn't completely fall apart into comedy. Would recommend for some mindless action :)

Spotlight (2015)
I was between "Spotlight" and "Bridge of Spies" for the Academy Awards "Best Picture" winner, and now it definitely makes sense why Spotlight won (not meant as a compliment; meant in the sense that the Academy pick of "Best Picture" goes to a movie with a political message that the Academy wants to endorse for that year. This does not mean that I liked the movie; it was okay). Behind Spotlight's story of exposing the Church's rampant sexual abuse coverups was its framing of a Jewish "outsider" character whose willingness to "[ask the right questions]" led to a disruption of systemic wrongdoing. In essence, the movie portrays a Jewish hero (the Boston Globe's new editor, Marty Baron, played by Liev Schreiber) revealing to the world its ignored ills by getting the Spotlight team to investigate a story that the Globe had previously ignored or otherwise had not adequately addressed.

The movie was somewhat subtle about this narrative, using surrogates like Mitchell Garabedian (played by Stanley Tucci) to reveal the "outsider" perspective that Baron was offering, but it couldn't help but show Baron taking the benevolent director's position, using his power and influence to get people to move towards his cultural objective (much like Hollywood's culture industry with its mechanism of standardizing morality and consumption for the masses). Given that the movie was written by both Josh Singer (raised Jewish) and Tom McCarthy (raised Catholic), it could be an intentional fusion of Catholic and Jewish imperatives, but despite the positive outcome of the story (the Church abusers exposed), it may be difficult not to recognize the manipulation and question its true motives..

Mel Gibson aside, the movie was mostly like a longer, more cinematic version of a "Law & Order: SVU" episode. The Spotlight team acted procedurally, following the leads and dramatically gathering evidence. And just like SVU, its journalists (as detectives working with sensitive material) had to recognize concepts like "survivors" and victim "grooming", wherein predators find weak victims and abuse social structures and power dynamics to evade prosecution. The movie ending on the phone calls from more victims also takes shape on SVU frequently; when one victim comes forward, more victims tend to be willing to speak out. This was part of the movie's message of getting people to break ranks against corruption rather than stigmatize each other for revealing ugly truths.

The movie also dealt with "loss of faith" themes, which Tucci's character quickly attempts to alleviate for audiences by saying that rather than believing/trusting in the temporary/physical humans who abuse systems, he believes in the "eternal" ideas behind those people and systems (as though the eternal is any better — it may even be worse). In that way the movie might have just been checking itself against audience/proletariat outcry, trying to reveal "better" religion rather than bridging into deeper issues with the Church. "One step at a time" logic.

Overall it was a good movie, with its strength being mainly in its script rather than acting, directing, etc.. Most of its topics seem like old news, but enough people still drink the Kool-Aid so these topics kind of have to be recycled in pop culture.. probably *just* worth the ticket cost, but of these four I would still only suggest "10 Cloverfield Lane" by my personal preference :p
Cherub Cow
Tue Mar 22 03:50:02
*The movie['s] ending
Cherub Cow
Sun Apr 10 00:00:58
Hardcore Henry was fun :D
Extremely minimal plot, so just a fun shoot 'em up.
Definitely recommended! :D

(( ! SPOILERS ! ))

Aside from it being an excuse for a character to go on a kill spree and exercise 1st person cinematography, it also had a minor theme about reproducibility and cultural formatting.. specifically, in the scene where Henry learns that his entire experience was recorded so that the memory could be implanted onto new cyber soldier clones as part of their emotional motivation subroutine, the writers were pretty clearly going meta, referring to the viewers of the "Hardcore Henry" movie itself as the persons who were susceptible to memory formatting (all viewers of the movie getting the same experience with only minor alterations, like their names; being "voiceless" so that any voice could be overlaid; a reproducible version of "reality" fed to the masses). In that case it was making a statement on how cinematic experiences shape a person's motivations (or how culture formats the mind in general).

The critique in this case was of the "damsel in distress" motivation, which may have [male?] viewers identifying with the "white knight" role as they disregard all depth in pursuit of stock characters. In the end this is met with disappointment when Henry discovers both the manipulation and maybe also how pathetically common it makes him. Then he finally kills the "right" people, and while in weak feminism this could be interpreted as punishing a woman for her cheating the damsel delusion (in which case the woman would be "taught" to remain a damsel), in the movie it seems more like an attack on deception and manipulation — Henry punishing the people who tricked him into killing for them by their giving him a flawed programming (one *particular* woman being complicit with a manipulation, whereas the cyber ninjas were not). It also speaks of how the programming can be rejected; millions of viewers may watch the same program, but they do not necessarily become encoded by the process so long as they understand its manipulation.

(( End Spoilers ))

Anyways! Good fun! :D
Kind of reminds of Neill Blomkamp's style, not just because of Sharlto Copley being present but because it explores techno frontiers in a simultaneously realistic yet over-the-top way. Kind of reminds also of some of William Gibson's ideas (cyber ninjas, avatars/surrogates, etc.). See it! Then wrap yourself around that rack of DVDs. Smoke while you are doing so ;p
Cherub Cow
Wed Apr 20 20:51:39
"Criminal" (2016)
started out well but kind of got cheesy towards the end. It also seemed to have underdeveloped its side characters (kind of a waste of Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones). Interesting that Ryan Reynolds did this in addition to "Self/less" (both about writing identity on top of an existing person), but Criminal focused less on the Sci-Fi and more on the action for action's sake. And I think the end sampled from the end of the "Bourne Identity" book, both having a CIA operative recovering some "memory" while on a beach, overlooked by an armed detail... They seem to be hoping that they'll have traction for a sequel, but it looks like they won't have enough money.. kind of a shame, because the writing only needed minor fixes to get rid of the movie's ultra-lame compromises (things like giving the audience more credit, fixing the dialogue and blocking in certain scenes, etc.). I think that they toned it down for mass appeal, but it's an "R" movie.. so why? Still, even though it's not worth paying to see, I thought Antje Traue and Kevin Costner did well.

"Eye in the Sky" (2016)
It had its moments and definitely went into the intrigue of the politics of killing from afar.. but it ended up being a little too obviously political (more interested in showing explicitly the politics rather than making a realistic or nuanced story). It also may have made the mistake of giving Alan Rickman too strong of a line towards the closing ("Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war") — the effect being that his reasoning might be potent enough to justify his behavior, whereas confidence may be convincing but usually masks fallacious contexts (for instance, he may know the "cost of war," but in this instance he was still engaging in war from afar and was still too quick to act, not considering political contexts). I think that line should have been written into the middle and the debates against it then given some time to complicate the perspective. The propaganda argument was probably the best, because it recognized that collateral damage kills would only propagate more vengeance/extremism.

Anyhow, was funny to see the writer (just one? Guy Hibbert?) trashing American war considerations. Every time the board room spoke with an American the American would basically say, "The solution is simple! Just bomb them! Why do you want to waste my time?" Not much nuance there! :p

Still might be worth a watch in theater, but maybe just barely... but with Hardcore Henry still out and Huntsman releasing tomorrow, it's really not necessary..
Cherub Cow
Sat Apr 23 21:24:49
The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016)

I liked it! :p

Before I get into *why* I liked it, it's probably necessary to explain why it's going to be panned (this ArsTechnica review pops up first at the moment http://ars...ible-and-12-miscalculated-wtf/ , and the reviewer, Annalee Newitz, didn't really get to the core of it — paid reviewers tend to be clueless, unless I can get paid!?? ;p )... Basically, the movie *does* have narrative coherence, despite Newitz' claim, but the issue that people will have is that its plot was *highly* secondary. Newitz was right to say that there *were* clichés, and aside from the beginning the plot never really allowed for danger (the characters didn't really feel imperiled). In many moments it was very obvious that the characters were going to be okay (such as the arrow to Hemsworth scene and the Indiana Jones-ish bridge scene.. the latter complete with Hemsworth pulling himself up after he's thought dead by the characters — the audience would have to be novice to be surprised). It's also kind of impossible not to see parallels to "Frozen", given that there's a Snow Queen who has isolated herself after personal loss... At a glance the plot *does* seem derivative, and so in itself (through its shifting and attempts at audience deception) it carries very little excitement on the surface plot level. But while Newitz was right to mention clichés in the plot, those clichés and the predictability that they created allowed for another type of movie to take place...

A character movie! :D (♥s)
With a fairly stock plot, the movie was able to focus on more world-building within this Snow White universe, and they were able to focus on the *personal* level of familiar tragedies. Like other stories of dramatic irony (such as Oedipus Rex, where the audience *knows* the plot already), the effect comes from witnessing some inevitability and seeing how the characters cope with it. Emily Blunt's Queen Freya character (Snow/Ice Queen) becomes a kind of tragic study of villainy (she not being a true *villain* villain).

(( SPOILERS ahead ))

Much like her sister, Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who in the first movie was revealed to have suffered her own personal tragedy (potentially having been raped by the king who adopted her as a child), Freya was subjected to her own cruelty story. The story — very much coherent on this plot level — gets to focus on how Freya's loss of a child (killed via Ravenna mind-controlling Freya's love) resulted in her *stated* hate of love and its broken vows. But on the character level it's revealed that she doesn't really believe it; even before Freya discovers that Ravenna deceived her, she is found quietly referring to her soldiers ("woodsmen") as her "children" — a quiet extension of the loss of her own child. In their "child" status her soldiers serve as young people (she being at least a couple generations older than them) whom she secretly and nostalgically protects, and in their "adult" status she despises them through her own cynical and damaged lens — yet searches among them for optimism. And when this becomes clear at the end, Ravenna even calls attention to how Freya, rather than killing Sara (Jessica Chastain) and Eric (Chris Hemsworth), divides them and gives them a vision which they must overcome. That is, rather than how Freya killed her own love in a fit of passion (believing lovers' vows to have been broken to the extreme), she shows Sara and Eric each a respective vision of a broken vow and lets them *live*, and then she watches, curious if they can reconcile by defeating the deception as she could not. In the crucial scene of this, Hemsworth's Eric is even revealed to have *known* (as the audience should know the plot) that Chastain's Sara would betray him eventually, but he still goes along with it, wanting to keep his vows. And when Sara shoots an arrow at Eric, while the outcome may be predictable it gets to show that she, unlike Freya, has overcome the powers over her, keeping her own vows.

So! In short, Freya creates a veritable lovers' crucible, echoing herself into Sara and echoing her slain lover into Eric, where to prove the truth of their love Sara and Eric must overcome an *apparent* breaking of vows, suffer for it for seven years, and upon meeting, either overcome the deception at last or submit to it by Eric's death, which would break all hearts and make Freya a true villain in turn (her cynicism confirmed by the repetition of her trauma). It's a kind of calculated, "Whiplash" cruelty, where she creates a system which filters mediocrity and demands true greatness to be defeated (searching an icy desert for a rose bloom), her own defeat thus meaning that something extra-ordinary has been birthed. *That* is where the story goes beyond plot; it is not the simple defeat of a cruel queen, it is the defeat of a queen who desired her own death as it would mean that her own error could be overcome through the redeeming efforts of her children (tragically she dies, but in comedy they live). This also accounts for Chris Hemsworth's comedic speech, with which Newitz also took fault...

Eric's character is *able* to be comedic because in the simple fact that Sara turns out to be alive he can mend his vows. This story was then about *Sara*, who must, like Freya, lift herself out of her own cynic's imprisonment, overcoming Freya's deception as Freya must overcome Ravenna's. When Sara finally laughs with Eric, she begins to wake. And when they commiserate over their lost years (separated and locked away for so long but still able to love beyond damage), their romance takes on a deeper significance. Eric's persistent comedy was a way to bring them out of a gloom to enable this shared vulnerability. (All very well-played by Chastain and Blunt, I should add)..

(( End Spoilers))

So! Some very good character scenes mixed within these supposed plot clichés. The movie was also able to keep most of the look of the former one despite Rupert Sanders and Kristen Stewart not being on board. That consistency probably comes from the franchise's new director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, having done the visual effects for the first movie (he'll also be directing the new Highlander movie, which to me currently seems like a good thing). If felt slightly less "magical" in the romantic sense, but that may be because Troyan didn't have an inappropriate crush on his star as did Rupert Sanders (director/actor crushes can work for a lot of movies, but when the director and actor have preexisting and non-open relationships... future projects end up evaporating). But there was some great chemistry between Chastain and Hemsworth, with Chastain's performance especially carrying them. It's a treat to see actors like Chastain and Blunt bring out the subtleties of a story like this, and it's especially nice that this kind of fantasy can be produced... though I worry that hack reviewers and low returns will prevent a third from materializing :/

I'm hoping to see it again tomorrow and definitely recommend it for fantasy peeps and/or if you liked the first :)
Sat Apr 23 22:38:49
"the reviewer, Annalee Newitz, didn't really get to the core of it"

She has been completely unimpressive to me. Take a look at her "competence porn" article:

She basically glosses over any shortcoming of a character (particularly with the Martian, and how watney had the entire planet working solutions for him once he provided power to an old rover) in order to make a point about how audiences love perfect people. She even goes so far as to make shit up to support her point.

tldr: I wouldn't put much stock in her words.
Cherub Cow
Sat Apr 23 23:05:32
Shame that her article gets top Google result for the movie :/
Thu May 05 05:19:56
Saw the 5th wave. A bit like ender meets independents day. And lol at cross guy!
Cherub Cow
Sat May 07 23:26:22
That's made it to Red Box so I'll have to get it!

"Green Room" was pretty fun.

Patrick Stewart's part was actually fairly minimal. He was a supporting character; he put things into action but didn't really form the focus of the movie. And this may have been the first time I've seen Imogen Poots in a role where she wasn't mediocre (she was particularly mediocre in "Need for Speed" and "28 Weeks Later").. She may only have the writing to thank for that, because her character had the most depth, being a white supremacist who was ready to leave the movement — hardcore and strong-minded but post-brainwash/unallied.

The movie itself was sort of a view of modern punk/counter-culture and its skirting white power movements — sort of a play of the anti-racist punk movement. The main characters have a punk band and end up booking a backup gig at a white supremacist compound somewhere in the woods around Portland, Oregon. Someone on site warns them to be careful, but their safety falls apart... Probably a strength of the movie is that they keep this descent into the unsafe pretty real; the characters try to rationalize how safe they could be, but outside things get pretty serious... then there's a big divide between inside and outside perceptions of everyone's circumstances.

Their framing of this entire story with counter-culture desires also adds an interesting dimension.. haven't finished thinking about it yet.. might have something to do with niche groups looking for a real experience but not being ready for it. They play with this through the idea of "Desert Island Discs" or the "Desert Island [Band]" — having to select what single piece(s) of music can be taken to a "stranded on an island" scenario. The green room peeps mostly reveal their preferences to be on the "poser" side (Madonna and Prince were mentioned; not exactly commitment to the punk scene), but Pat (Anton Yelchin) remains indecisive and Amber (Imogen Poots) seems confident with her Madonna choice even if it sacrifices some in-group credibility. So maybe their forcing themselves onto a punk scene doesn't really fit their search for a real experience, but they find a real experience by encountering a life or death trauma... life being cross-genre maybe.. hmm..

It also tried to keep the violence realistic, which added to the mixing of safe expectations versus real consequences. It's easy to blame the band for being ineffectual or not realizing how serious their situation becomes, but it also helps to keep in mind that on both sides there is a sort of newness to the violence.. like lots of peeps making their first kills and not really knowing how to cope with the shock and informality.

Anyways! I think it's worth seeing for its managing to break the normal thriller/horror expectations. The realism plays with the idea of any singular narrative, which makes life and death less certain. They even left a couple of things unresolved, which may be less about sequel plans and more about the narrative having to remain incomplete (to be seen!).
Cherub Cow
Sun May 08 23:20:09
"Keanu" was lols :D
There wasn't enough of the kitten during the middle section of the movie, but the beginning and end made up for it ;)

Most of the comedy centered on the ideas of "whiteness" and "blackness".. which was fun. I'm sure Key and Peele would be accused of being "house" instead of "field" if peeps wanted to be Malcolm X about it, but I think it was a fun way to reveal arbitrary cultural divisions.

Easy watch for Key and Peele lols!
Cherub Cow
Sat May 14 03:49:41
"The Darkness" (2016)


Ended up being pretty meh. It started with some fair buildup which made me think they had some interesting horrors planned, but it deteriorated quickly into lame and stupid.

As for the plot, I almost think that the "real life" story was that some bourgeois family got some polished stones from an Indian Reservation gift shop, brought them home, then blamed their problems on those stones ;) ... in the movie's story, though, an autistic boy brings 5 stones home after falling into a hidden, Native American ritual chamber during a family vacation. This apparently results in 5 spirits growing in power and intending to take over the world or some nonsense. But actually it just results in a Spanish-language exorcism.

(( spoilers ahead, not that it matters ))

Intended Theme?
The second half of the movie put major emphasis on the need for the white male cis bourgeois patriarch (Kevin Bacon) to open his mind to alternate religious possibilities. Late in the movie he finally "believes," which is supposed to enable viewer satisfaction and help the characters win. Then they check into a hotel and the white female cis bourgeois matriarch (Radha Mitchell, who is way too cool for this kind of thing) discovers that hotels don't carry Bibles anymore because it was considered discriminatory to other religions. Back home, they meet with exorcists, and the exorcists discard the Jesus crucifix from their weapons roll (like an exorcist's version of this:
http://www.yourprops.com/movieprops/original/yp_55e44bde87c810.90317413/Resident-Evil-Afterlife-Alice-Milla-Jovovich-screen-used-hero-knife-4.jpg ) and snarkily make a point to say that the evil that they'll be dealing with is much older and special-er than that Christian stuff ("[*our* made-up garbage is totes more ancient and valuable than *your* made-up garbage]"). So they defeat the spirits by yelling "this is a house of the living, not the dead" with increasing dramatics, and that does the trick. Still, Kevin Bacon has to run through a portal to retrieve his son, and he manages to tell the spirits that they should take him instead (why would that be a better deal for them? Trading places just ends up seeming like generic heroics). Then the movie ends with a few frames of him playing soccer with his autistic son, which is a call-back to a scene wherein Bacon listens to Paul Reiser telling him that after believing in spirits and stuff that his life went back to normal, including generic suburban activities like soccer with his son. So really "it's about family! It's always been about family!" or that kind of obligatory feel good ending type vomit.

Anyways, I think that all of that was supposed to show via a white bourgeois family that in the absence of the enforced power of the Christian religion life will spiral out of control into immorality and despair (they suffer from their daughter's bulimia, their son's autism, and their own infidelities and lack of communication). More importantly, this allows for other religions to be reawakened — the disenfranchised religion of these ancient Native Americans (Mesa Verdeans I think), for instance. The "horror" would be that they have been de-centered (the family's religion is no longer in control; it is no longer all-important because its myths have begun to evaporate in the multicultural world). Still, this de-centering backfires in the writing because it privileges another ridiculous myth (that of the Mesa Verdeans) when the Gloria character (Ilza Rosario) indicates that the Mesa Verdeans were even more significant and than the bourgeois family is silly for thinking that their Christian god can do anything. The idea is that by being open to this alternate religion and learning its rules they can be at peace in the multicultural world, but the stupid part comes from Gloria's prizing of this religion. That line should have been cut or altered, maybe to show that they'd just be using one tool among many for one of many possible absurdities.

Very stupid movie. It seemed like the second half must have been heavily revised into something more pop-culture friendly. I suspect that it originally had a dark ending where the family suffers an ending not unlike that of the family in the Sinister movie, but probably they brought on another writer who gave it the "mass release" revisions that it needed in order to become irrelevant trash.
Cherub Cow
Sat May 14 04:05:32
*"and [that] the bourgeois family"
Cherub Cow
Mon May 16 16:14:32
Ended up seeing Civil War. Was certainly a movie. Not really worth the admission cost. The fight scenes in the beginning few minutes were nicely done, and I found myself agreeing with the villain's want to destroy the Avengers, but whatever. Not really my thing.
Wed May 18 10:00:53
Really? I mean, I enjoy the Avengers as it's a chance to see multiple superheroes fighting as a team... But I also realize that the plot isn't necessarily going to be anything significant. The entire point of the Avengers movies are grand schemes, lots of fighting, a little interesting detail (emphasis on little; there's not much of it).

But Captain America: Civil War didn't really seem like an Avengers movie, despite the large superhero cast. Spiderman's appearance was the most obvious example of this. He was literally brought in for 1 fight, simply to make it 6 on 6. Fair enough, we don't need to know too much about him.

The movie tried to fake you out, making you think it was all about the ensemble with building up Vision, bringing in Wanda Maximoff, and introducing black panther for vengeance reasons. But these were really just secondary plots. Really, this was Iron Man 4.

... Wait captain America was iron man 4? Yeah. It was. It was an iron man movie with Stark, Rogers and Bucky Brooks as the main characters. Except in this iron man movie, Stark was the bad guy. We can see that this was iron man 4 throughout the entire movie. While it may have started with a captain America strike force, we're immediately introduced to Stark afterwards and we get to see that awkward scene were -insert generic government employee (right?) accuses the people saving the planet of killing her son due to collateral damage.-

But see, this is an iron man movie. And Stark has a history of terrible collateral damage from his Stark Industries weapons tech days. He actually was a partial accomplice in the death of thousands of innocent people and he profitted massively off of this. So while it may seem absurd to the audience that Stark takes this woman's complaints to heart, he has the motivation and past experiences for this type of illogical ploy to affect him.

And so, we see Stark do his normal overreact thing. He immediately wants to offload the public responsibility from himself in order to ease his conscience. Now we finally see Rogers come into play, but it's exactly as you would expect him to. Rogers is principled and he knows his values are more virtuous than other people's, and almost assuredly more than some UN politician. We don't see Rogers evolve at all within this movie. In the first one, we saw him become Captain America. In the second, we saw him realize that the people he placed trust in to oversee the well-being of the planet (shield) are corruptible. In civil war, Rogers does none of this. He has foregone conclusions and goes through no real personal growth; frankly, he doesn't really need to.

But Stark experiences changes. Several within this movie, as it were. He starts out his regular cocky self, reflects on his decisions due to the random black lady, decides he must be the leader that his bank account lends itself to enabling, forces what he thinks is best upon his own friends, realizes the error of his decision making and reverses course, then finally hits "fuck it" within the Russian base. This leaves him reflecting on all of his decisions, including that of the fate of his parents, at the end of the movie.

So, I can agree with you that in terms of a Captain America movie, it might be a little bland because Rogers just chugs along with nothing to truly challenge his beliefs. But as an Iron Man movie, we definitely see massive impacts to the main character and a character undergoing struggle of more than just body. He loses essentially all of his friends, either through injury or by imprisoning them, and has to deal with the fallout. He sees his direct decision making shatter the alliance of heroes he bankrolled and sacrificed his life for. He sees everything he thought he knew upended. I would say it was more than just a hero teamup movie.

Also, I'm not sure how you would see the villain's side of things. He illogically attributes the fallout of Ultron's actions (yeah yeah, Stark made ultron, but Stark also made vision) to the people who literally saved the world. You aren't going to save everybody. Sure, the personal tragedy is horrible, but incorrectly placing blame is still retarded.
Cherub Cow
Wed May 18 13:02:52
I agree with everything between "But I also realize" and "at the end of the movie" — I understood and saw all of those details. Even so, I thought it was mediocre. I really just don't care about these superheros or their pop culture friendly half-tragedies. Very much preference, though, because I prefer darker stories.

"Also, I'm not sure how you would see the villain's side of things"

Not necessarily because of his blaming the Avengers despite their efforts in some disregard for the balancing of lives saved vs. lives lost; it's moreso because of his general want to see the Avengers fail as a power and dismantle itself through its own self-indulgent heroism.. he may understand that his personal tragedy should be felt by the Avengers in a personal way rather than in some superhero altruism for the common prole (even Stark's concern for that random boy was vacuously similar to politicians naming random people as case studies in pathos speeches; "[such a good student! Wanted to build houses for poor people overseas!]"). Like personally I would care more if several of the main Avengers had died by this point, but the writers couldn't even kill the secondary War Machine and instead made him another appeal to the Wounded Warrior Project. Or if Iron Man had killed Bucky, that would have been interesting. But this is the franchise that didn't kill Iron Man when he went through the portal in the first Avengers movie — Stark should have died in that movie, but they want to continue the franchise with their immortals and have become too afraid to alienate viewers by potentially removing some demographic's favorite.

I did actually like Scarlet Witch's plot, which was surprising to me considering that I think Elizabeth Olsen has been self-satisfied almost to the level of Maggie Gyllenhaal or Anne Hathaway. It was a strong moment when she threw Vision through the building despite his attempts to placate her with self-righteous benevolence and friendship gestures. But again, a half-tragedy. They did highlight in the airport runway fight scene that the characters were pulling their punches, so *maybe* the writers see this flaw and intend to make choices.. but more likely they want the full cast available for the Infinity War..
Wed May 18 13:53:06
"Very much preference, though, because I prefer darker stories."

Fair enough. The marvel cinematic universe is definitely a light-hearted affair.

"it's moreso because of his general want to see the Avengers fail as a power and dismantle itself through its own self-indulgent heroism"

So it's more that you see the motivation for the villain as sincere, not necessarily that his reasoning is sound. Yes? Again, fair enough.

"the writers couldn't even kill the secondary War Machine"

Yeah, he should have been toast.

"It was a strong moment when she threw Vision through the building despite his attempts to placate her with self-righteous benevolence and friendship gestures. But again, a half-tragedy. They did highlight in the airport runway fight scene that the characters were pulling their punches"

I'm hoping they incorporate the totality of scarlet witch's badassery and have her work some world warping magic that gets people killed. This is the woman that ends up going insane and kills practically every mutant on the planet. In this vision scene, they have her overcome the fear of her powers. Now they just need a mental catalyst to throw her overboard. Maybe they can kill off Hawkeye (since he seems to be a mentor figure to her) and set off the chaos magic time bomb...
Cherub Cow
Wed May 18 15:17:55
That would be fun! :) .. or if she wasn't simply emotionally traumatized into killing Avengers but decided to kill them for thoughtful ideological reasons.

"So it's more that you see the motivation for the villain as sincere, not necessarily that his reasoning is sound. Yes?"

Oh no I think reasoning for him was sound: challenge the Avengers' altruism and their diluted morality. The Avengers have been working on the large scale and treating the world like their murder playground. They've told themselves that everything was done to protect a greater population, but the greater population does not matter with its hivemind and meaningless values (altruism itself being highly corrupt and killing the spirit of individuals). Even Stark with that random student tragedy didn't understand, because building houses for peasants in third world countries (the student's imperative) actually represents the same hivemind/charity logic of a non-specific "humanity" (part of why Stark was stupidly led to thinking that joining the impotent U.N. was in any way a good idea). And Captain America may *almost* understand that only select, individual lives matter and only then on personal levels, but he too dilutes it by thinking that he represents some noble, unified, or helpful spirit in service of some faceless population. Meanwhile the villain of the movie understood the personal potency of his individual family. Unlike the Avengers, he lost specific and important persons in his direct experience and he acted from that disaffected power (unlike the student's mother, who tried only to use guilt against Stark, or the Black Panther, who became charitable with the villain's life in some forgiveness epiphany). Stark would need to lose Potts or Captain America Bucky for them to understand, but instead they can only simulate from old or indirect losses. Even Stark's childhood loss of parents does not get to exact its power specifically (again, Bucky *so* needed to die, but Stark was instead left with more bad conscience).

Not to say that the villain was perfect.. for me he was just the most heroic in the movie, if only because he brought the Avengers closer to the suffering that they need.
the wanderer
Wed May 18 16:05:21
so was the Birdman message mostly criticizing the action movie blockbuster craze?

seemed like the dark voice in his head might be referring to the movie itself instead of his play... & to Keaton himself... (the last Birdman was supposedly 1992, same as Keaton's last Batman)

the trailer kinda seemed misleading in amount of action stuff was going to be in it
were they trying to trick the shallow audience they despise?
(though trailer's in general tend to mislead to get eyeballs as necessary so possibly just that)
Cherub Cow
Wed May 18 16:33:27
I think they were critiquing the idea that all these different worlds could be separated (like the theater world, the blockbuster world, and the real world). Like that theater critic wants to outright condemn Keaton before she even sees his play because she wants to preserve theater in a certain way (no movie actors allowed). So with all of the continuous takes they show that the separations between stage acting (that corny, voice projecting method with large gestures and also its highly rehearsed single performances with one chance to deliver the line correctly on the live stage), movie acting (Birdman; deep, raspy voices and comic effects, editing to make the actor look good, special effects and fantasy), and real life (on the street in a live broadcast world where there's no way to control all the variables) can't really be separated even though they attempt to enforce their own separate rules.

That scene at the end was the big tell. Keaton goes from delivering corny stage dialogue to walking outside with all the cell phone cameras, then back to the theater where his lines take on a realistic/improvised dimension even though they still have elements of rehearsal. And with the long takes they also show that movies, like theater, can be done in a way that puts a lot of demand on the singular "live" performances of actors (they have to memorize all of their lines and get it right in one go, just like stage actors, because it may actually be too costly to re-film the sequences multiple times). Then in the end the genres have totally collapsed such that Keaton can be in the realism of his hospital room, accepted by the theater world in good review, but can actually fly in a Birdman fantasy... so it's not really critiquing any of the genres, it's showing that they can't really be isolated or totally strict.

I've been meaning to write about this one! They reference a particular Roland Barthes text in the beginning, and I didn't want to review it before checking that reference.. but the Barthes reference was delivered by an academic/pedant, so it may just be showing how it's another limited perspective.
the wanderer
Wed May 18 16:51:46
hmm... so basically not at all what i took away :p

i'll defer to your experience... i guess... *sulks off*
Cherub Cow
Wed May 18 18:17:46
lulz. I haven't seen it in a while so I may be off, but I was only responding to your first sentence, aktly (just whether or not it was critical of the blockbuster). Pretty sure that you're totes right about the Birdman voice being meta and Keaton referring to his Batman role. The cross-genre thing was just one part of the movie :D
the wanderer
Wed May 18 18:32:07
then i'll provide more evidence to my position :p

early on when looking for a replacement actor, Keaton suggests 3 people who are shot down due to being involved in other projects (Hunger Games, X-men, Avengers)

i sense bitterness against the big action movie
Cherub Cow
Wed May 18 19:21:01
#LetKeatonBeBatmanAgain !!
Thu May 19 19:21:43
there relie needs 2 b a scene wear hulk kils blak widow bi gettin angrie durin sex and his cok bcums so large it rips her in 2
Cherub Cow
Fri May 20 13:26:12
pretty sure that's a gif. I know this because imgur is a terrible place.

Also! "i sense bitterness against the big action movie"

I didn't exactly respond with that Hashtag :p .. but yeah I think Keaton's character was definitely bitter at how he'd been discarded by the action movie world. Very much part of the plot. So it's only that the wider movie was showing how cross-genre he could be.. like maybe his character sees no divisions towards the end (like how he role-plays as Birdman in fancy, "flying" when he really took a cab, but then fully getting to become Birdman at the end when the genres collapse).

And not sure how much pop interest there would be, but I'd think it would be cool to see Keaton reprise his Batman role :) .. like maybe in a "Batman Beyond" universe or something where Wayne is coaching a high-tech Batman.. could be fun.
the wanderer
Fri May 20 14:32:01
well i meant the writer(s) of the Birdman movie were expressing bitterness
Cherub Cow
Fri May 20 15:10:45
Oh.. not sure! I think they were balancing the scales, but will have to watch again. I have some cheesy sci-fi lined up atm, though :p (Synchronicity, 400 Days, He Never Died)
Sun May 22 15:28:20
Just watched The man from uncle last night. It was ok. Not worth a review.
Sun May 22 16:28:38
It was trying too hard not to be bond.
Cherub Cow
Sun May 22 23:39:36
"Just watched The man from uncle last night. It was ok. Not worth a review."

Good timing! At a RedBox my final selection was between Uncle and "Extraction"..
"Extraction" (trailer)
So picked Extraction.. even though Extraction might also turn out to be cheesy.

Also, my mini thoughts for "The Fifth Wave": (( SPOILERS ))
- Cassie's poorly-written narration made it easy to MST3K the whole thing
- lol@leaving her brother on the bus and not telling anyone
- so stupid when they obviously set up for the "discipline problem" person to turn out to me.. oh my gods! a **girl**?? But "Girls can't play beisball!!!" ;p
- good thing that there's plenty of eye shadow in this apocalypse, otherwise we wouldn't know that Ringer's edgy ;)
- lol@Cassie bailing when she found the pistol
- "you read my journal?" lol!!!! Much awkward. Very teenager.
- can movies not get more original than intimacy while practice fighting? Like, "oh.. look.. while I was teaching you how to disarm someone I couldn't help but gaze longingly into your eyes"
- lol@bathing his beautiful chest in the lake — this movie is too much XD
- lucky that Cassie has time to keep shaving her legs in this apocalypse
- [1:15:48] .. just guessing that the tracking devices block the reticle readouts.. so they're actually killing humans..
- [1:19:42] yep.. at least interesting that despite the initial, sort of obvious moment of the military showing up and being the "Others".. the play-out did sort of make that point uncertain for a little while afterwards.
- the ground dropping away from a few explosions? wut?
- "hope" doesn't make us human, that's so stupid
- guess this will be a franchise :|

The dialogue was so predictable that I started finishing their lines... like.. "I was wrong when I said I was both one of you and one of them. You can't be both. You have to choose. I choose you"
*vomits a little*
And so messed up that Cassie just shows up and immediately Ringer no longer has a love interest with Zombie/Ben — he immediately starts asking Cassie for tactical/consulting advice for whatever reason. So I guess Cassie will have some kind of unnecessary love triangle. Such poor writing (dialogue, narration, plot..). Anyways, even though Ringer didn't have many good lines (was at least fun to see her shut down that sexual innuendo trope in the squad bay) and was a bit cheesy, still nice that Maika Monroe (from "It Follows") is getting cast for alt parts. She could keep some good selection credibility.
Cherub Cow
Mon May 23 11:45:42
Oh I almost forgot! :D
Remember that scene in Civil War when Captain America managed to keep a helicopter from escaping by pulling on it? lol.. it made a little sense when he was holding onto that rail, but before that.. yeah.. not sure that that's how gravity works — Captain America may be strong, but if he only weighs whatever human weight he weighs, then the helicopter would just lift him.

Also apparently the reason the captions on the screen were really big was because retarded fans of the earlier movies said that they were confused about where events were happening :D
Mon May 23 12:11:37
"Remember that scene in Civil War when Captain America managed to keep a helicopter from escaping by pulling on it? lol.. it made a little sense when he was holding onto that rail, but before that.. yeah.. not sure that that's how gravity works"

Yeah... let's pretend he had magnetized boots or something.
Cherub Cow
Mon May 23 22:32:33
"Extraction" was completely awful. Gina Carano and Kellan Lutz cannot act, yet they were expected to carry entire scenes, which resulted in lots and lots of cringe moments that lasted way too long. Bruce Willis was almost an extra in the movie, so he couldn't save anything. Extremely corny writing and Steven Miller is probably irredeemable as a director. Now to never speak of it again ;D
Cherub Cow
Tue May 31 18:29:02
"Synchronicity" (2015) turned out to be fairly interesting. Director Jacob Gentry seemed to be doing a tribute to the future style of "Blade Runner" (lots of blues, helicopter-observed cityscapes, synth music backgrounds), and even though Brianne Davis can't really act she still seemed to be managed well — will have to look at Gentry's other movies. (( SPOILER )) It started with the prospect of linear time travel, but it then took on a neat cinematic treatment of a Sliders theme (parallel worlds with only slight differences). The idea of finding a parallel world where things work out was neat, and they mirrored it by leaving behind worlds where tragic outcomes occurred. Worth a watch for a kind of dreamy sci-fi..

"The Boy" (2016) was weird! :D I think the ending especially will either make people absolutely hate it or just kind of embrace the weirdness and see some novelty in its almost "Psycho" unveiling of the truth. (( SPOILERS )) It also raises questions about the parents, like, given some of the set design reveals at the end (personal refrigerator and furniture in the hidden space), you'd have to expect that the parents intentionally hid their son away because of his burn scars (like a Quasimodo or Phantom of the Opera) and used the doll as a way to displace dealing with his real life ugliness. It's difficult to imagine that they would be completely unaware of the real side of things (they must have even helped him setup the space at least a little bit), so it would have to be something like that... This arrangement also plays on thriller/horror in a kind of meta way, because the audience may want the supernatural side to remain (like keeping the doll as a spirit) and may themselves play into dramatic illusion to almost dogmatic lengths, feeling betrayed if the veil is lifted. Probably will re-watch it again later..
Cherub Cow
Mon Jun 13 00:50:35
Love&Friendship (2016)

..had good cinematography in the B-roll and good period costume, but it wasn't directed well enough for its content — particularly because the dialogue was often fast and didn't have a lot of accompaniment (like how some movies will add a musical bit or frame a shot in a way that emphasizes the dialogue's meaning). This could have been intentional just to make viewer perceptions slightly more clinical about the social goings-on, however.

Also, Chloë Sevigny's scenes were garbage and should have been cut/replaced altogether (makes me think that it probably *is* true — as was suspected subtly between the lines in this interview
— that her director made her character American because he thought that Sevigny couldn't pull off an English accent). She was really out of place and is generally kind of an incompetent actor, even in other movies. She's attempted to disguise her incompetence through indie credibility, but she isn't even good in indie movies and makes poor choices, is self-aware in a bad way during scenes, and if her facial expressions were disguised by distance her voice still wouldn't even be believable for stage acting. She reminds me of a child who really wants to be right about something but is completely wrong about everything.

Kate Beckinsale did really well, and it was fun to see her in another Jane Austen movie (I thought the 1996 ITV movie for "Emma" was really good). The movie also had some funny editing to introduce the characters and typify them (like showing how handsome Lord Manwaring was via an iris/spotlight and later showing him exiting a carriage and pondering himself mock heroically). And I think this would be a really good companion to the "Lady Susan" Austen novella (one enhances the other, rather than the alternate scheme of a movie based on a book telling the story through more cinematic language, like was done well in the 2005 version of "Pride & Prejudice"), particularly because the dialogue was too fast to consider in a first viewing. It's made to be studied more closely through multiple viewings or deeper familiarity, much as the letters of the Austen novella would be studied by the characters. Even so, on a first viewing the themes come through (women taking power despite social conformism, Susan's questionable morality having positive results, duplicity and deception being woven into daily life, etc.).

So! Without reading the book it would probably just be a cute short movie, but with the book it would take on some much needed depth and its pace and wit would be more appreciated.
Cherub Cow
Sat Jun 25 22:17:14
"The Shallows" (2016) was fairly mediocre.

(the one where Blake Lively is caught on a rock island away from shore while a shark attacks)

It started out *very* tense. They did foreshadowing in the opening scene and then had good buildup where you really get some serious dread of the water (open ocean swimming already makes me super paranoid, so that's great ;p ) — so have to give credit to director Jaume Collet-Serra ("Run All Night", "Non-Stop"). But... slowly and consistently it degrades. Every time they show the shark it becomes a little bit more like "Deep Blue Sea" — comically glossy shark CGI that does not fit into the surrounding environment. By the end it gets so bad that it's basically a comedy. I also suspect that this was yet another case of the ending being redone by producer imperatives, because it got suddenly very corny/actioney in a way that was incongruous with any story-side realism that they'd formerly established...

Still, good performance by Lively, okay story, and good direction&cinematography. But yeah.. the shark effects were just too cheesy. Probably this movie would have seemed better if the effects had been better, but it really hinged its story on the shark effects so it's difficult to look beyond them... Might be okay to rent..
Cherub Cow
Sun Jun 26 23:50:21
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Kind of fun but kind of bleh. Probably its biggest fault was pacing; they kept flipping between events to keep things moving, but that meant that none of the characters were really developed in any meaningful way. I know it's an action movie, but I mean like.. zero development and almost zero buildup. Kind of surprising considering that this was Roland Emmerich himself re-directing for his franchise, but his track record has been variable and bad pacing could just be a fault of the editor, so maybe not surprising.

The effects were also *less* well done than the 1996 movie — expected, given the trend in blockbuster effects. Most of it had that super-saturated green screen sound-stage look, like the light source looks like a constant atom bomb flash on all the characters. Makes me wonder how much of this they bothered to shoot on actual locations...

Also on the cast, actress "Angelababy" (a.k.a. Angela Wing Yeung) looked like another bourgeois Chinese family's plastic surgery project (probably she has had her eye lids altered and her lips augmented, at the least). And appearances aside, she was a weak point in the cast.. kind of expressionless and trivial and added mostly just to boost ticket sales in the China movie market... It was funny seeing Maika Monroe acting well in a movie that was clearly not about character work — the dailies must have looked okay before all the post work, because she didn't give up on her character... Jessie T. Usher's character (Will Smith's character's son) wasn't particularly interesting — kind of a failed attempt at a theme of a world whose youths lost their parents. This failed theme goes back again to pacing: the dramatic side could have worked if they'd slowed things down in the beginning.

Brent Spiner was definitely the highlight of the movie for me. His character was a much-needed source of life, and even his strange relationship with his coworker managed to have some fun depth to it despite everything. The movie also had some random chuckle-type lols, which improved things a bit.

Overall, though.. not really a serious attempt at a sequel. The writers have really tried to inject a lot of background information in an almost "Prometheus" (2012) style, sort of exploring what other aliens might exist in this story's universe and making plot threads for a franchise. A franchise could work out now that the characters have been put in place (I've said this about other franchises too; it's kind of a sad consolation prize), but franchise writing was done at the expense of this single movie. But yeah, not a terrible movie, just a little too typical. Not bad to see it in the theater as it was meant to be experienced, but low expectations would certainly temper things.
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