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Proud Mary (2018)
Proud Mary (2018)
New year, so this is actually the first new theatrical release that I've checked out this year. I thought this looked like it could be a nice action film with a bad ass female lead, much like Atomic Blonde. At the very least, an enjoyable mindless action film would have sufficed. Unfortunately, I'm pretty disappointed with this effort. The guy who brought you the horrendous London Has Fallen brings another misfire. I'll tell you why this film is not worth your time of course.
Mary a hitwoman who works for a family involved in organized crime takes in a kid whose father she has recently killed. Taking him in for protection has caused waves and her own organization is on high alert to see who committed such an act. She must do what she can to protect the child while at the same time keeping his identity away front the already suspicious party she works for. Even witha rather tame plot, I was hoping for other set pieces to work in the films favor, sadly that does not happen.
I like Taraji P. Henson, and really liked the idea of her being a gun wielding badass. She doesn't disappoint in this film, which is great. Her talent is not enough to carry a film that can't keep you interested. The film has tame and ineffective action, which doesn't always come. The film spends too much time getting into Mary's relation with the family instead of being a stylish action film that is fun. Also, this whole story is incredibly dull. A lot doesn't go on and it becomes a tedious chore trying to make semblance of a story that you can't care for.
Of course its January, a month that historically serves up terrible films but I wanted something good here to kick off the year. Its a stale, familiar, and frankly boring story that you want to see end quick. I'd like to see Taraji in this type of role but in a film with a competent filmmaker who can provide for a solid fun action film. Sadly, this isn't the case here.
I am not a huge fan of animated films. I can count on one hand the number of animated films that I truly enjoy. However, there's something about Pixar, where they do have the best quality animated features. I really liked Inside Out (which surprised the hell out of me) and do like the Toy Story trilogy. I didn't think a whole lot of Coco from the trailers I saw but had to give it a fair chance. I really liked this film, it was entertaining, creative, emotional, and wonderful to look at.
The film is about a young boy named Miguel who lives with his family in a household that is strictly against any form of music. This stems from his great grandmother being abandoned by her father who was a musician. One day on Día de Muertos, Miguel attempts to borrow the guitar of a famous deceased musician and finds himself transported (and stuck in) the realm of the dead. The only way to get back is to get a blessing from a family member before sunrise. Along the way, Miguel tries to find out who is musician ancestor is.
I enjoyed this film the whole way through. Once again the content of the film was creative and had a lot of heart as is regularly the case with a Pixar film. I think the film does a great job of portraying an interesting look into Mexican culture, through the depiction of the Day of the Dead, the music, and the family values. The film carries the same amount of depth as something like Inside Out. It also carries a similar amount of fun, silliness and charm. i was pleasantly surprised with how much of it I was enjoying. Parts of the film do drag, sure, but its carried by enough strong moments.
The voice acting is great, and visually the film is quite stunning. Its rich and eye popping color give it such a vibrant and alluring feel. The music and score is good. It'll be enjoyable for all ages. Children will be distracted by the animation and the colors and quick action, adults will be enthralled with the deeper themes and tones that really carry this film and make it the best animated film of the year by far.
The Post (2017)
The Post (2017)
Steven Speilberg hasn't wowed me in quite some time so I was hoping for something more from this effort. His latter films have produced great performances but not really the wholly engaging films that I seek. I also think Ready Player One looks fairly atrocious, so I was hoping The Post would at least be good. After viewing the film, I will say that I enjoyed this quite a bit. In a similar vein to Zodiac and Spotlight the film is areally smart craft (although not as thrilling).
The film is about the real life leaking of the Pentagon Papers, which detail the United States' involvement in Vietnam even prior to the Vietnam War. At the time the Washington Post is a small scale paper that gets a hold of the story and decides whether to leak the involvement or suffer the same fate of the New York Times who had their freedom of press threatened by then president Richard Nixon. Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and Steven Speilberg surprisingly all work together for the very first time.
The film is detailed and there are little intricacies within the plot that you can miss if your attention wanders. The film actually has many talented performers which is nice to see. Everyone here is good. Tom Hanks (the nice cool uncle you always wish you had) is typically good, same with Streep. I'm quite a fan of politically based drama's if they are done with attention, style, and substance. I feel like The Post brings that after a lukewarm start.
The film doesn't have the same knife edge tension like Zodiac, however there is strength in the script and delivery. Its intentional that this film is easily comparable to what is going on today and Trump's war on "fake news". I'm happy to say this is Speilberg's best film in a long time. Stay tuned at the end for a chilling reference to the Watergate scandal. And with that my pre-Oscar viewing extravaganza comes to a close. Good year in film.
What an interesting concept for a film. Its incredibly creative and it makes you think about how the world would be if downsizing was actually a plausible thing. Healthier for resources, spacing, agriculture, and you could live more lavishly with less money. I would probably consider it. Getting back to the film though; it was unfortunately quite disappointed. A film of two halves with an entertaining first and a boring tepid second act.
The film follows Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) who decides that becoming smaller would be suitable for him and his wife, especially because he's in a pinch for money and is looking for change. On the day of the procedure his wife chickens out, leaving him alone to try out the massive change in lifestyle. Everything seems great at first, until Paul notices the underbelly of downsizing and some of the negative consequences involved.
I thought the first half was very intriguing. The concept, as mentioned earlier, is innovative and left me curious. The film does a good job of showing the procedure and how life is once you are downsized. Its quite good until the time Matt Damon takes drugs at a party and is passed out on his neighbors floor. Then the film just changes. It becomes too politically charged about differences of social classes and how the other half lives. This is fine but it didn't work in this film. The last act is going to make your head scratch and you will wonder how the film even got to that point.
Brilliant idea, poor execution in its finale is the only way to describe this. Hong Chau is quite great in this, and deserves her praises but once her character gets involved the film has much less to do with downsizing and more to do with a film that means to well and is trying to wrap things up in a cheery way filled with love and togetherness. I know Alexander Payne is capable of better which is why I'm disappointed with the writing in this. The film is overlong especially with a second and third act that seems bizarrely placed and is not as interesting.
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017)
The bulk of Academy season hopefuls have come and gone but I see one last one with Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool. I was immediately interested in what the film was offering. A relationship portrayed by Annete Bening and Jamie Bell? Very interesting. If anything I could see a possible Oscar nomination for Bening. After watching I did enjoy the film for what it was. Its well acted and fairly emotional.
The film is based on the real life memoir by Peter Turner (of the same name as the film), where he recollects the relationship he had with the famous Hollywood actress, Gloria Grahame. He encounters Grahame in the later stages of her life, when she is working at Liverpool in stage plays. Grahame and Turner begin a relationship which is marred by Grahame's spreading breast cancer, which she eventually succumbs to. From what I've read after the film, the events of the film seem to cover the incidents of real life pretty accurately.
Annette Bening kind of disappears into the role of Gloria Grahame. Its a really good performance from her. Same with Jamie Bell. The film is really carried by these two and their wonderful relationship. The film does have periods that drag and could have been portrayed in a more straightforward fashion, but the film never really loses its charm which is actually a strong selling point.
I loved Elvis Costello's "You Shouldn't Look at Me That Way", made specially for this film. Its a gorgeous theme and the parts that were included in romantic moments between Gloria and Peter made their relationship seem magical. Overall I don't the film is excellent, though the performances and romance and the film make it worth a watch. You can't help put feel sad for Gloria and Peter by the end of the film.
All the Money in the World (2017)
All The Money in the World (2017)
Ridley Scott has for the most part, been on a downward spiral in recent years. With recent films like Exodus, The Counselor, and Alien: Covenant, it was hard to see what made Scott's work so special in the first place. All The Money in the World is a film that garnered attention for the wrong reasons. In the wake of Kevin Spacey's recent sexual allegations and his axing from the film, the film made buzz for the expensive Christopher Plummer replacement reshoots. This was definitely a good idea. While not perfect, this film is Scott's best film in a while and shows that he can still pull off something good.
The film is based on the crazy real life story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and the negotiations between the kidnappers and his mother and extremely frugal grandfather, John Paul Getty Sr. The Getty's receive Getty III's severed ear in the mail because of delayed reactions in trying to get the hostage money together. The film shows just how unwilling Getty Sr. was in spending a dime, even at the expense of his grandsons life.
I thought the backstory for the film was insane but that was the allure of the film. Replacing the disgraced Spacey with Plummer was probably for the best, because Plummer is actually fantastic in this. Getty Sr. is a rather fascinating character and just trying to see how selfish and frugal he was mind-boggling.. He had short time to work on the film yet puts on one of his best performances. Michelle Williams is also a workhorse of a performer, and its no different here. I hope neither of these two get lost in the Award season shuffle because of the negativity associated with Spacey.
The film does suffer from the long running length and a middle act that drags, however I think the performances and dark nature of the film keep it going. It's not near Scott's early and best work in sci-fi but it shows that with a good script he has still got the style and ability to bring forth an engaging bio drama. Definitely worth a watch just to see the madness involved.
Phantom Thread (2017)
Phantom Thread (2017)
It's about time. Daniel Day-Lewis, probably the best actor alive today finally returns in what is said to be his final film. Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the most consistent directors today comes back for another exciting film this time a period piece set in 1950s London. It was impossible not to get excited for this. I haven't seen Hard Eight, but I think I love everything else I've seen from PTA, he is a fantastic filmmaker who deserves more praise than he gets. I think Phantom Thread may be his magnum opus (though I need to assess this for sure).
The film is about an esteemed dressmaker (played by Day-Lewis) who makes dresses for the cream of the crop. Things change very soon for him when he falls for a waitress named Alma. She becomes a part of his life and though he is a fixed man of routine her ways make him question himself, his love and their relationship. The film also shows some of the ups (and mostly the downs) of their relationship, and how volatile things become. The film examines the relationships between the two and the effects that ripple over time.
This film is superb on a few fronts. I don't think its Daniel Day-Lewis's best performance, although that's even hard to assess because the roles he does are so different. DDL's Reynolds Woodcock is a fixed, brutally honest, snotty man who clashes heavily with his wife who challenges him and is not content with standing by his side and remaining quiet. The back and forth between the two is a joy to behold. The scene at the surprise dinner has some of the best dialogue you will see this year. I can't commend the cast enough on their performances. Vicky Krieps has just put her name out there with this effort.
The cinematography and score are also of the highest order. I think this film is a strong contender for the Oscar for costume design as the costumes are gorgeous and impeccably immaculate. This is a vibrant and gorgeous picture in mind and in visuals. There are hardly any dull moments and the film flies by. PTA also masters comedy in this picture, there is enough levity to contrast the films more serious moments.
Overall, this film is worth all the hype and praise its received. Its probably the best we've seen from Anderson and a wonderful swan song for Daniel Day-Lewis (if this remains to be the case). There are many strong films this year and I think Phantom Thread is up there with some of the very best. All around memorable film that is breathtakingly stunning.
This was a better look into Chadwick Boseman than the million copies of himself he played in Gods of Egypt. I mean we get a good taste in Captain America: Civil War but Marshall was supposed to be a real showcase of his acting ability. I'll say that the trailers didn't really catch my attention. Wasn't in any kind of rush to see it but did get to it eventually. I think it was quite decent. Boseman and Josh Gad are good in it. The themes are familiar but handled quite well.
The film is a look at the first black Supreme Court Justice in his early days when he was a lawyer for the NAACP. A black man is on trial for the rape of a white woman and Marshall along with Sam Friedman take on this giant case in attempt to declare the mans innocence. Of course, the film takes place in a politically charged climate so the pair face adversity in the streets and also in the courtroom. The film also stars Dan Stevens and Kate Hudson (who I haven't seen in a while).
As mentioned earlier Boseman and Gad really make the film interesting with their strong performances. No real new ground is covered here. We get films around the civil rights era all the time and many just blend in. The other thing that makes Marshall work is the fact that its a procedural court room drama. I am a sucker for a film with an interesting case. This one is fairly predictable, nonetheless it manages to keep you interested.
I think 2017 has actually been quite a good year for cinema so I can see this film just kind of fading into the background. Its good. Nothing amazing but the film has enough going for it in a few departments. Oddly enough since this film takes off quite early in Marshall's life we might even get a Thurgood Marshall Cinematic Universe. It would be better than the Dark Monsters Universe (or whatever it was called).
Molly's Game (2017)
Molly's Game (2017)
I'm a giant fan of Aaron Sorkin as a screenwriter. I loved The Social Network, who knew a film about Facebook of all things could be so well written. I also loved his work on Steve Jobs, the sharp writing and focusing on three key points in Jobs' life just made for such an entertaining watch. I don't know anything about poker, but just seeing a combination of Sorkin and Jessica Chastain (who I adore) was enough to get me hyped for this.
The film is based on the life of Molly Bloom, a former skier who finds herself getting an in with Hollywood celebrities, famous athletes and other high rollers in games of high stakes poker. After spending years of learning the game she branches out and begins hosting and soon the games start involving the mob and law enforcement gets involved and she is eventually arrested. The film is primarily told from Molly's perspective and also stars Idris Elba as Molly's attorney.
Jessica Chastain is one of my favorite actresses. She's absolutely gorgeous and is so talented. I always feel like she comes close to winning an Academy Award but doesn't quite reach the pinnacle. She's unsurprisingly superb in Molly's Game, it might be her very best. She nails a completely character driven performance. The running length is long (clocking in at 140 minutes) but for me time kind of flew by because I was so into Molly's world. The film brings style and enough substance for me to really take a caring for Molly and what happened in her life.
This film is not about a character finding love, no none of that crap here. We have a well written biography of a person who got entangled with the wrong group and you want to see her find her way out. Sorkin's directional debut works so well for me. The world of poker becomes accessible for know nothings like me because Sorkin breaks down everything so well, while showing us the glitz and fast pace of the gaming world. I'm happy with Sorkin's finished product. It'll be a tough year for her as always but I'd love for Chastain to win the big awards for this.
The Snowman (2017)
The Snowman (2017)
When I first heard and saw the trailer for this film, I thought it looked like a good murder mystery thriller. I was in when I saw Michael Fassbender in a leading role. I didn't get a chance to catch this in theaters but then again I heard some really terrible things about this film. I'm usually not one to go by word of mouth so I was going to watch it eventually. I wish I didn't. The film is really as messy and coherent as everyone was saying it was.
The film is about a seasoned detective who must try to solve "The Snowman Killer" case. Decades prior similar cases occurred and now with a help of his new partner he must try to figure out who the killer is and put an end to the recent crop of killings. The film boasts quite a talented cast, which includes Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny and Charlotte Gainsbourg. All that talent, completely wasted on a mostly terrible film.
The script for this film is confusing. I am certain that the film was not only rushed but a few scenes were cut out. The film feels disjointed and without a coherent flow. This really took away from the viewing experience. I wouldn't say the trailers are very misleading but I definitely was expecting a stronger film based on them. The film is mostly bereft of action, suspense, or any real tension. I heard production for the film was rushed and it shows.
I think the film was aiming to be a European hit series based on a focal character (much like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) but this might have to be scrapped. I'm actually at a loss for drawing positives from this movie. Its a waste of talent and a rare misstep for Michael Fassbender. I'll give Tomas Alfredson another chance because Le The Right One In was massively entertaining. Avoid this film, its as bad as people say it was.
Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
I am an Anna Kendrick maniac, so it goes without saying I'm always going to watch anything she's in. I did quite like the first Pitch Perfect. The music and a capella were good and the film was entertaining. The sequel wasn't very memorable, few moments here and there but not enough to be considered a good film. The trailer for the third film didn't look amazing but I was interested in seeing how the film series would end. The addition of Ruby Rose caught my eye as well. Overall, the film has good music and performances but does little to give the series a good send off.
The Bellas are now older all with jobs they hate. They relish the opportunity to sing together once again. So, they decide to go on a USO tour where other rival bands use instruments instead of just harmonizing with their voices. Becca also must decide if she wants to pursue her dream of a musical career without the Bellas. Of course, there are also other sideplots. This film is pretty much billed as the last Pitch Perfect and yet its actually a really weak ending; one that goes out on a whimper.
The writing for this one is unfocused. The competitive nature of the series is present at first but fades away as it mixes with a villainous ransom plot. It becomes a real mess when the film tries to over plot it self. The Fat Amy jokes never worked and they don't here either. Its actually probably the weakest film in the trilogy and is further proof that we only needed one Pitch Perfect. The music and singing is top notch as usual and is unsurprisingly the best the film has to offer.
I couldn't help but feel that the film was just unnecessary and tired. Ideas were short and the film seems to exist just to complete a trilogy. Much like the second the musical performances are great but its hard to find anything else to really praise. The first half of the film is failed by the poor writing in the second. Also, no one ever needs that much DJ Khaled. In the case of this series, I really hope this is it and Pitch Perfect is done.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
The original Jumanji is a nostalgic film from my childhood. It still held up when I rewatched it earlier this month. The effects aren't the greatest but the film was fun and had a lot of heart. I was not one of those annoying people who had pitchforks out when they heard about Jumanji being rebooted or getting a sequel. Always give a film a chance, that's what I do. After seeing promo pics and trailers I was hyped. I like The Rock and Kevin Hart working together, and also love Karen Gillan. The film looked like a fresh spin on the original and even looked like an effort that wanted to stand on its own. It does exactly that. Say what you want, this is a very fun film.
Four different teenagers are given detention and once there they discover an old video game named Jumanji. They plug the game system in and are sucked into the world of Jumanji, primarily in a jungle where they must return a jewel into an enormous Jaguar statue. Sounds easy, but the jungle is filled with tricks and traps and wild animals. Oh yeah, the four characters become the characters in the game physically. This makes for a very entertaining time with almost non stop humor on top of its adventure.
The actors do very well in this. Jack Black and Kevin Hart bring the comedy. Jack Black's character is actually the embodiment of a self absorbed teenage girl, and he plays that remarkably well. I dig Kevin Hart with his loud commentary. I also love that he's always getting knocked over thrown around, in the way of danger, or in this films case- explodes. All the humor in this film comes at you tenfold and it all works. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat and, while somewhat predictable its never boring. The action scenes are gripping and grand scale. I loved the world of the film and the connection between the characters.
The film has a few nods to the original but the film is still quite independent from the original which is nice. Really its in name alone; the connection to the first. Overall, its a blast at the end of the year. Its a re-watchable and exciting comedy/adventure. Take off your critical lenses and actually sit and enjoy this. The negative things I'm reading about this are analyzing it on such a deep level. Dude, relax and enjoy.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Alas, the holiday season is upon us and with that the holiday season of films. A nice mix of buzzworthy films and Oscar hopefuls, this time of year is wonderful for cinephiles. I was mildly interested in checking this film out because it looked like a capable musical. After La La Land, you had to expect more musicals attempting to emulate that film's success. I have no problem with that, I have plenty of time for all times of films. The Greatest Showman stumbles on problems with its script and storytelling but make no mistake about this film having a glorious soundtrack and fantastic production and set design.
The film is (apparently a rather loose) telling of the story of P.T. Barnum and his struggle to make something for himself and his family. His initial idea of a museum isn't a success but he get's the idea of an innovative form of entertainment involving unique individuals with rare talents formerly shunned as outcasts of society. Yes, this becomes the modern day circus. I don't know exactly how truthful this is to the original story but I sensed that this film is heavy on dramatization and made things more peachy and roses than they might have been.
The plot is thin, there isn't a whole lot of development of side characters and you will feel like this film falls short ass a well written musical, like that of La La Land. It's well written in the sense that the songs in the film are quite excellent. Catchy, elegant, and near impeccable in sound , the soundtrack roars and impresses. The same has to be said about the choreography, the dance numbers, costume design, and the glitz and glamor of the early 90's and the grand circus theme. Its honestly a visual and sonic experience that's worth the watch alone.
I also liked the fact that this film doesn't overstay its welcome with an under two hour running length. It sort of zooms by and perhaps could have added more meat to its bare story but I'll take that over a long and dreary musical that becomes dull because of its length. The Greatest Showman may get lost in the award season shuffle but it does its job of being a fun time.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
I love Star Wars. The original trilogy is up there with the best trilogies in film ever. I even see the good in the prequel trilogy, despite their many flaws. I'll find something to love about them. When The Force Awakens came out I was very pleased with the revival of the Star Wars Universe and how fun and exciting the film and new characters were. The perfect blend of nostalgia and a new hope. I welcomed Rian Johnson and his vision for this sequel. This may be me looking at the series with my Star Wars fanboy glasses but this film was very good and a worthy successor and entry into the series.
The film directly follows the events of The Force Awakens, where Rey tries to convince Luke to teach her the ways of the Jedi. Conflicted Kylo Ren communicates with Rey while also being under the rule of Supreme Leader Snoke. The Resistance led by General Leia Organa must do what they can do avoid the First Order and their impending attack while trying to mount against them. Old heroes and new faces unite to find a common cause against evil forces. The film definitely feels like a smooth sequel to The Force Awakens.
The film boasts a familiar excellent score by John Williams. The set design and effects are fantastic. The theme and use of the color red is eye popping and glorious. The scenes in Snoke's throne room and the final battle with the old speeders on salt and red dust is beautiful. The action sequences are never dull and look exquisite (take some notes, Justice League). Without spoiling anything, there are a few wonderful battle moments which will have Star Wars fans feeling overjoyed with excitement.
The film introduces new cuddly critters and has humor, which is a hallmark of the saga. One thing I really love about the series is its ability to build new universes, as if there is infinite possibilities when introducing new worlds and characters. There are some questionable character decisions and plot choices, but this sets up for something grand in the final film of the sequel trilogy. Carrie Fischer has a stronger and more prominent role in this film and I think its a satisfying departure for a very memorable character and actress.
So where does the film rank among its predecessors? I think Last Jedi is comfortably better than the prequel trilogy and even outshines Rogue One (which is also really good). It doesn't quite meet the adventure and excitement that The Force Awakens brings, but that's perfectly fine. Its a film I plan to watch and experience again on home media, as is the case with the rest in this film series. Very pleased with this effort. Will be anxiously awaiting the return of JJ Abrams to finish off this trilogy.
I, Tonya (2017)
I, Tonya (2017)
I think this film may have had the best trailer of 2017. I saw it and knew instantly how badly I wanted to see it. I've never been a fan of Margot Robbie and her previous acting efforts but this looked like her awakening and where she would be proving me wrong. I believe it, she's quite sensational in this film. Her dedication to her role shows but really everyone involved has done very well. Craig Gillespie has his first real winner with I, Tonya.
I, Tonya is a biographical picture about famed and disgraced figure skater, Tonya Harding. Tonya was pushed onto the rink by her abusive mother at a very young age and despite the abuse becomes a very talented ice skater. The cycle of abuse continues with her abusive husband but she tries to bear through and succeed. Everyone seems to be against her but her talent is hard to deny. The film also goes into the famed attack on fellow ice skater Nancy Kerrigan and the aftermath of the incident.
The film is sort of told from a mockumentary perspective as if key characters are being interviewed. The film also utilizes breaking the fourth wall where characters in a scene would talk to the audience. I thought this was interesting and separates itself from being a standard biopic and gives this film a real comedic depth. The soundtrack is catchy and literally every performance in this film makes for a very engaging time. I didn't even recognize the chameleon Bobby Cannavale until the credits rolled.
Some wonder why the film was made but it kind of helps you identify with Tonya. She suffered physical and psychological abuse from both her foul mouthed mother and her rage filled husband. Her hands may not be completely clean in what happens to Nancy Kerrigan, but she is also just a victim of circumstances. Vastly talented, but just short of reaching her pinnacle due to outside factors and her image and attitude. The film isn't perfect but its vastly entertaining and could be giving Margot Robbie and Allison Janney Oscar nominations. I'm going to let this sink in and I'm sure its going to be something I go back to.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
As soon as I heard this film receiving some award buzz, I knew that I would have to see it. Interesting film title aside, I really went into this film blind not quite knowing what to expect. Sometimes Oscar films can be a bit baity and overbearing or not worth some of the praise it receives, that is the truth. I can say, that does not apply for this film. I don't know what my favorite film of the year is just yet but I'd except Call Me By Your Name to be in the top ten of the year.
This film is about a 17 year old boy living in Italy who falls for an American assistant to his father, who comes and stays with them for a period of time. Elio (Timothée Chalamet), soon realizes that he has feelings for this older man and they begin a relationship. Elio has to come to grips with his sexual awakening and see if a relationship is possible despite being in a relationship with a local girl. There's definitely much more to the film than my horrible summary of it, that's for sure.
Its a coming of age film of sorts but feels so fresh and like it makes a point to be different. New face Chalamet is now here to stay, having appeared in both Lady Bird and this film. He is fantastic in it and this happens to be the best I've seen from Armie Hammer as well. I had to just see two minutes of this film to conclude that this was a Luca Guadagnino film, the vibrant color and the gorgeous vacation setting cinematography made it feel like A Bigger Splash, and it turns out to be a spiritual successor in a trilogy to that film.
The backdrop of the 80s works so nicely with the film because this was also a time where homosexuality was quite hidden but becoming public. The score and soundtrack for this film is fantastic. "Love My Way" hasn't sounded this good since the Grand Theft Auto Vice City days. Once you finish the film, you know that you've been treated to something special and a strong contender during awards season.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
The Disaster Artist (2017)
The Disaster Artist I saw The Room a few years back and love it, to the point of obsession. No doubt, its absolutely terrible with a ton of flaws in production, acting, and script. Yet there is something endearing about it, that makes it ridiculously entertaining. I own the damn Bluray because I love it so much. Definitely my favorite "so bad its good film." When I heard about The Disaster Artist I was so infatuated with an adaptation of Greg Sestero's book. I loved all the trailers and was anticipating this for a while. Safe to say, The Disaster Artist is actually really good. Very entertaining, funny, and well acted.
The film is an autobiographical take, focusing on the beginning of the friendship of Greg and Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau is definitely a mysterious figure and the two soon become friends because of their love for acting. Down out of luck in Hollywood, Wiseau decides to make his own film (with a mysterious fund for the film) and while the film production wasn't without turmoil, the end product turns out to be one of the worst films of all time. And yet, the film becomes a cult hit and a success despite being terrible.
I think Franco's filmography is streaky to not very good (although admittedly I've only seen stuff here and there) but this most be his best work. Franco captures most of the embodiment of Tommy Wiseau and is so magnetic with his awkward mannerisms, ideas that don't make any sense, and his foreign accent. The film is very funny, you will get the humor and enjoy yourself even if you haven't seen The Room. However if you've seen it you will really appreciate what goes on in this film.
The film has a few cameo appearances which are cool, stay tuned even after the credits. The film also boasts an incredibly catchy late 90' early 2000's soundtrack and the attention to detail of the recreation of scenes and sets of The Room is almost perfect. This film actually made me want to re-watch The Room and re-experience the wonders of unintended genius of Tommy Wiseau. Franco has done a wonderful job with this film, and even though its about the worst movie ever, the film about the making of it is rather fantastic.
The Shape of Water (2017)
The Shape of Water (2017)
Guilermo del Toro is a solid filmmaker. I'm not overly crazy about his work and don't rate him as highly as many others do, but the visual beauty of his films cannot be denied. I am not crazy about Pans Labyrinth or Pacific Rim but I do actually love Crimson Peak. I was always going to check out The Shape of Water to see if Toro could follow up Crimson Peak with an equally outstanding piece of cinema. While The Shape of Water isn't amazing its quite enjoyable.
The film takes place in the 1960's where a mute cleaning women finds a creature has been captured by a Colonel and starts bonding with this otherwordly creature. She attempts to free the creature and falls in love along the way. On the other hand, the Colonel is an aggressive man and is abusive towards the creature and then goes all out to try to figure out who helped the creature escape. The film is set with a back drop of U.S./Soviet tensions and plays a part in minor aspects of the film.
This is definitely the best Sally Hawkins performance to date. She is wonderful as a mousy mute woman and does so much terrific acting in the absence of words. Michael Shannon was just born to play a villain and pulls off a typically good Michael Shannon performance. While this film isn't as visually stunning as some of del Torro's other work, the creature design, camera work, and costume and set design is still very top notch.
I'd say one thing about Del Torro's film that could be a criticism is the writing. The film is fairly predictable. Its good, but goes down a route that we've seen in similar type of films. Its an entertaining film but its not anything jaw dropping visually or creatively. Strong performances and del Torro's imaginative creature creation keeps the film moving and he creates characters you want to root for. Its not del Torro's best but its definitely going to please his die hard fans.
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
One minute into the film and I knew I was into something special. I really rate the work of Martin McDonagh. Both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths are excellent. When I heard about this film and read the premise I felt like this could be something that would make award season waves. The film has got a stellar cast to both and does a wonderful mix of comedy and drama to drive home a piece of film that is one of the strongest of the year thus far.
The film follows a lady who rents out three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri, which point fingers at the local officer Chief Willoughby, for not solving the death and rape of her teenage daughter. These ads become controversial as the chief is a beloved figure of the community and people start having mixed but strong reactions to the billboards. There is a scramble to figure out the results of the case, and the main characters all have life changing consequences of being involved.
This has to be the strongest Frances McDormand performance I have ever seen. She's always great but this was a total embodiment of a determined and strong willed mother who perseveres, despite knowing most of the town can't stand her guts. Woody Harrelson is typically good and we once again get a great Sam Rockwell showing once again showing how underrated he is. You become engulfed into the film and wrapped into everything that occurs.
The film has its funny moments but it also is heavy handed and deals with a devastating loss. The film remains somewhat unpredictable and while the end is a bit open ended and brings more questions than answers, it doesn't detract from a strong written work that was satisfying to see at the tail end of the year.
Wonder Wheel (2017)
Wonder Wheel (2017)
Off the bat, not really a Woody Allen film. Seen so many of his films and for the most part do not care for most of them. His best film by far for me is Blue Jasmine; an excellent character study with a riveting performance by a great Cate Blanchett. I was going to give Wonder Wheel a go just to see if I would once again find a rare Woody Allen film worth caring about. Nope, not this time. In fact Wonder Wheel is messy and doesn't do much to satisfy its viewers.
Wonder Wheel is about 26 year old girl who returns to Coney Island to live with her dad and stepmom after becoming a "marked woman" when she becomes at odds with her mob involved boyfriend. Her stepmom is having a secret affair with a local lifeguard and the addition of her stepdaughter brings forth complications as she also falls for the lifeguard and a love triangle emerges. The story of the film is what it is and isn't exactly interesting. Even for Allen, this film is a disappointment and is low on thought and creativity.
Some positives first; fantastic cinematography. Most of Coney Island pops out at you and the scenes with neon lights shining on characters faces looks gorgeous. Another distinct positive is the performance of both Jim Belushi and Kate Winslet. Both actors remain committed to the script and give very strong performances. The fun ends there. There are stretches in the film where I was bored. Timberlake was an odd choice for the film and it showed. The film's writing is unremarkable and feels like a simple hash of something bereft of creativity. The mob hunting part of the film gets lost in the shuffle because it takes a back seat to a love triangle that you won't care for.
I definitely don't like Woody Allen as a filmmaker and like him even less as a filmmaker. However, I will give due when I see something good. This is not the case with Wonder Wheel. Apart from looking lovely and being well acted the film has nothing going for it and you feel like this is one of the worst Allen films in quite some time. Somebody needs to tell Woody Allen that he doesn't need to release a film every year and can take some time off to get some creativity going.
I still haven't seen Near Dark, but have been really wanting to do so. I will say this though, Bigelow's Strange Days is amazing. In recent years Bigelow has shifted focus to more politically-war themed films. With Detroit, Bigelow brings attention to the Algiers Motel Incident which occurred during a race riot in Detroit. Her past two Academy Award nominated efforts made it seem like Detroit would be a contender this year. Overall, I am quite disappointed with this film and I'll tell you why.
As mentioned earlier Detroit depicts the real life event at the Algiers Motel, where black men and two white women were rounded up and humiliated by cops because of gun shots fired towards police during a very heated riot. The film enlists the help of John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, and an impressive Will Poulter. I did really enjoy seeing Hannah Murray in a film as well, she's a cutie. I thought Poulter was a perfect casting in this role. He impressed me, and now that I think about it his Pennywise from It may have been an interesting but successful casting if it panned out.
The film mainly suffers from being too long. The incident itself, while interesting does not need to be padded. The events of the night are portrayed for far to long, and the aftermath itself loses steam fast. The performances are good but there's a real sense of just showing the story without portraying it in an impassioned way. Obviously the events of the film still resonate today and should have really rallied a reaction but the film just falls flat.
I do like Bigelow as a filmmaker but she takes a misstep by recreating the events for this film. I don't expect this film to make any real splash awards season because its actually far from good. Poulter or maybe even Boyega may have an outside chance of a nomination but I don't see this film staying in memory for very long. Disappointed, but I know Bigelow will bounce back.
Justice League (2017)
Justice League (2017)
I was of the camp that thought Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, wasn't good but wasn't terrible either. With Wonder Woman coming out earlier this year and being a very fun time, you would have hoped the DC Extended Universe would get on track and continue to impress with Justice League. Warning signs were that the film somehow managed to look worse with every new trailer but I gave the film the benefit of the doubt. Yeah, this thing sucks.
An ancient super being named Steppenwolf is trying to collect mother boxes to destroy the Earth and its up to a group of superheroes to band and unite to contain the threat. Batman and Wonder Woman attempt to recruit a hero of the sea (Aquaman), a cybernetically reconstructed former athlete (Cyborg), and an awkward kid who is very, very fast (Flash). Oh yeah, worst keep secret ever as well they also attempt to revive the recently fallen Superman.
Here are some of the positives. I didn't have any problems with any of the casting choices. I obviously love Gadot as Wonder Woman, as she fully embodies the character. Affleck as Batman is solid. Momoa has a bad ass warrior look that works for Aquaman, and the comedic timing of Ezra Miller as Flash works. Actually Flash's fresh humor in this DCEU effort is actually the other strong point of this film. You would think that this film would be able to do a decent job of uniting DC's most popular characters but it really doesn't do a satisfying job of it.
Justice League is one of the most expensive films ever made. Its hard to believe because the graphics look choppy and messy. Its almost as if parts of the graphics look like they were taken out of a video game. The battles also look fake because they are over done with graphics and it really looks ugly. Steppenwolf is a very generic villain, looks too computerized and isn't built well at all. The dialogue is horrendous sometimes. Some of the humor (mostly from Flash) works but the other moment's fall so flat. In contrast to BVS, Ben Affleck looked like he was just going through the motions.
The film had a shorter running length than expected but it still felt too long. The exposition of some characters feels wasted at times, and other times you feel like they spend the wrong moments trying to just throw the characters in. It could have used much better writing. There were times were I was bored out of my mind. The action scenes are fairly grand but nothing epic (compare that to what we get in Thor: Ragnarok). I really back Snyder leaving the DCEU because this is a straight second misfire for him. It's unfortunate to say I have no interest in any film in this Universe aside from Wonder Woman 2.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
The Lobster definitely took my by surprise in 2015. Everything about that film appealed to me. From Colin Farrell's dead delivery, to the creative and completely absurd nature of storytelling. So when I heard about Yorgos Lanthimos making another film with Farrell involved, I was game. I went in completely blind; not knowing a single thing about the film. While not as strong as the Lobster, the film is unique in its own right and is one that still leaves an imprint.
The film is about Steven Murphy (Farrell) a surgeon who seems to be involved with a boy named Martin. Their relationship is weird and we don't really know what to think until we find out the vengeful reason for their acquaintance. Martin's father died on the operating table due to Murphy's negligence and in return he must kill one member of his family or face the consequence of the death of his wife and two kids all together. His family go through three stages; paralysis in the legs, extreme loss of appetite, and then bleeding from the eyes which results in death.
As you can tell, the plot is fairly absurd, rivaling itself with that of The Lobster. The dialogue delivery has that similar monotone, deadpan nature as that of The Lobster. The score is overbearing and jarring at times. The film is dark and yet gorgeously filmed. The dialogue and a few of the characters are idiosyncratic and thus you can find bits of humor in some of the situations.
Lanthimos brings forth another wild, weird, and creative entity. I don't think its as strong as The Lobster was but its still nice to see how things unfold in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The running time for the film is quite long which stunts some of the plot development and pads but it doesn't detract too much from the film.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
I remember enjoying Sidney Lumet's original adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel. It felt long, but was thoroughly entertaining. The remake had me slightly intrigued. Mostly because it had a really good cast to boot. I'm not the biggest fan of Kenneth Branagh's directional efforts, though I quite liked the live action Cinderella remake. With this film, we have a rather dull and uninspiring effort that does little to warrant its creation. It looks nice but feels like a wasted effort.
The film follows "the greatest detective in the world" Hercule Poirot as he is stranded on a train with other passengers. One night a murder occurs as one of the passengers is stabbed to death. It is up to Poirot to find out who committed the crime, while realizing the passengers on the train may not be as random and innocent as they seem. Branagh both directs and takes the lead role of Poirot in the film.
That's kind of where the problem lies. Branagh as Poirot takes center stage, and its a little too centered. There is a real talented cast here, that is not much more than background characters with limited material. Judi Dench is in the film and is rarely involved with screen time. I think Branagh is good as Poirot but the film kind of plods along and doesn't garner enough interest or shock as it goes along. The film feels like it just states the plot without delivering it for the audience.
The film remains quite faithful to the novel and is closely similar to Lumet's adaptation. I wanted more liberties taken to provide for a worthy and innovative adaptation but I can understand why it isn't that way. The film does not make use of its potential, and is an inferior adaptation of the novel. The visuals and picture is prim and proper but the film derails along the way which is unfortunate.
Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
Daddys Home 2 (2017)
I loved the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg pairing in The Other Guys. It was honestly one of the funniest comedies of this past decade. The actors have good chemistry and can play off each other well. I didn't love the first Daddy's Home, but the film had enough decent comedic moments to keep me interested in a sequel, especially with the addition of MAD Mel Gibson and John Lithgow. Overall, its what you'd expect from the film, not overly memorable and gets lost along the way but it offers comedic moments and a good time.
It's holiday season and both Brad and Dusty are co-parenting their kids and seem to have found a common ground. Enter Both their dads (played by Gibson and Lithgow). This sudden shakeup provides to be a test for them and their families as they explore problems and try to find ways to have an awesome Christmas despite all the trials and shenanigans that now present themselves. Mel Gibson is not in many films these days so this was a pretty rare appearance for him. Also, we have more John Cena.
I feel like the jokes are at times predictable, however some of them are able to land. Its a film that didn't need a sequel especially a predominantly holiday themed film. Lithgow and Gibson and more Cena is nice, but you can't help but feel they needed better material and are wasted a bit in the film. The film can't help but feel formulaic at a time where a creative approach to a holiday comedy would have worked better. Its more or less on the level of the recent A Bad Mom's Christmas.
The film gets distracted with its Christmas theme and holiday shenanigans that at times it is at the expense of comedy. I think the film had the cast and makings of a better comedy but a bit of the potential is wasted. Don't get me wrong, its funny it just could have been much more with the talent at its disposal. Still overall, it makes for a decent viewing experience during this time of year.