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The right combination of silly, campy and funny woven into fantasy
Having seen the cartoon character for years as my younger relatives watched on, I was curious how can they make it into a movie, and a fantasy movie of all things. Well they did make it into a movie, and not a bad one. It never takes itself seriously, it wouldn't work if it did. But it also makes campy references to its cartoon origins, and if are familiar with these you'll have to smile at them. It also involves a lot of hammy acting, performed superbly by actors being aware of what they're doing, and combined with normal professional acting. It's not an easy balance to maintain, but the movie does it. If you're not familiar with the source material, it's cringe worthy to say the least. In fact you may not last watching it to the end.
So it does have a limited target audience, but if we do count the numbers of kids familiar with Dora the Explorer who grew up into smart aleckish types but still have a sense of humor, it might find enough audience to get by.
One more thing I must mention: the entire story is a take on the Wizard of Oz, with Dora(othy) and her three friends all of whom are a bit of brainy scarecrow, a bit of a cowardly lion and a bit of a heartless tinman and they all look for a mysterious legendary city when they'll get there they know all their problems will be solved. I could elaborate further on the similarities, but this review will get too long for this site.
This should be the launching pad of some brilliant careers
I had hard time believing Mile Joris-Peyrafitte, the director of this brilliant film and Nicolaas Zwart, its script writer have done so little so far. Even Lyle Vincent who's responsible for the amazing cinematography of this move has a relatively short CV. It doesn't show, in fact it looks like the job of some old masterful veteran of the trade. When this superlative trio combines with Margot Robbie, who has already proved herself on screen many times in the last few years and with Finn Cole, Travis Fimmel Kerry Condon and the very promising Darby Camp (who's career is already longer than some of the other names I mentioned here). What we get is simply a very good movie that should serve as launching pad of many Hollywood careers.
I could elaborate on each specific detail of this great movie, but it's so straight forward that I feel all I should do is send you all to the cinema to watch it.
Jessica Forever (2018)
So it's beautiful, is that all that matters?
Yes this is a very beautiful movie. Cinematography is superb, artistic design - first class. In fact, all the technical aspects of film making are at their peak. So What!!?? We also get here a confused Christian fable with Jessica a mysterious woman and her twelve orphans. Twelve persecuted, tormented orphans all of whom get to participate in Pieta like scenes over and over again. And that's not all we get, we get loads of pretentious mysticism the idiotic notion that one can equate death with redemption and therefore with love. In other words we get a thematic mumbo jumbo that the director and script writer confused with a story.
It's beautiful, but it's also hollow and pompous and a waste of some obvious talents that did participate in its making.
Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui (2019)
A rare gem of a movie
I don't rate films 10 very often, you can check my rating history and see for yourselves. this one is a rare combination of technical mastery, as manifest in superb chinematography and lighting work, great editing, amazing acting, that is mainly the two leads who really shine all the way through, Ge Hu as the male lead and Lun-Mei Kwei who in my humble opinion has the most expressive poker face I've ever seen. That is as long as she carries her poker face, when the time comes you'll find she does have more than one facial expression.
On top of all that, we get a tight story of a Greek tragedy proportions set in modern china, depicting a dark and un forgiving world that borrows a lot from the classics of Melville. If you remember Melville's attitude to the famous "honor among thieves" you'll know what to expect from this movie too. But do come with an open mind - you'll be blown away.
Doubles vies (2018)
As others said it here, this is a very French film. It's also very verbal and very witty, though most of the text is there only as a vehicle for the story itself about the relationships between four friends two of them being a part of the French literary circle, and their wives. The only reason this thing works at all, is the fact that all of the cast oozes charm. One keeps on watching them talking and talking, because they're so very charming doing it, their wit flows naturally. But the truth is that we didn't really get to see here great original story. All we've got here is an endless verbal deluge, delivered with a certain French smile of self awareness, and as I already said, with loads of charm. If that's enough for you, you'll love this film. I found it a bit longish, I thought the director didn't really know how to end it, so he tried a few endings and left them all in, a mistake not suitable for an experienced director. But that's about it.
Kiz Kardesler (2019)
You may leave your village, but the village will still stay with you
Good cinematography, good actors, a story that's a bit short on originality, but since the actors as I said are good, with Kayhan Acikgoz as Veysel and Ece Yuksel as Nurhan topping the cast, but not by much. And the good actors carry you through the story, even if it's a story I've seen many times before.
Don't get me wrong, it's an important story, the story of how hard it is to really get away from your village, from the place where you were born. Or in other words, as I said in the title, how your village refuses to leave you, even when you did get away. A story about how your place of origin is more than just a social background. I do wish it was more original, but even as is it's a good movie.
One more point I wish to make: this story is being told in a very theatrical style. Using the actual setting of the village and the harsh nature around as a stage, and maintaining strict loyality to the theatrical unities of time and place. But this is a very cinematic theater, and that's the way theater should look like in cinema.
Don't suspend your disbelief, just don't bring it in.
If the story was making sense, I would've rated this little movie 9 stars easily. But even as is, without making any sense, plot wise, all through the movie, this was loads of fun. A good buddies comedy with all the expected cliche, with jokes and surprises that surprise none, but with real good acting that breathes life into cartoon characters. And I do think that Dave Bautista is very underrated as an actor, he showed some real comic talent as a Guardian of the Galaxy, and he shows it here again, and then some. While Kumail Nanjiani who played the same role he played in The Big Sick, does it with tons of charm, and I never minded actors who play themselves, over and over again. I think, real versatility is a rare gift, but what's really important is being convincing when one plays a role, and not if this role is different from the previous one. And both of the leading actors excel in this department, which is the main redeeming quality of this movie.
As for the other aspects of movie making, it's all very professional. The pace is as relentless as it should be, the special effects are as one expects them to be. Bottom line it's a well done action comedy that will give you exactly what you want from an action comedy, as long as you don't expect too much, like a plot that makes sense.
Stan & Ollie (2018)
The dying days of slapstick
It's a wonderful recreation of cinema history, that took place away from cinema screens and cameras. The story of the final tour of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy around the British isles. When they still had enough funs to fill the theaters but already lost the trust of film producers who always care for return investment and profits.
Its a tour de force of acting, by the leading couple. Steve Coogan and John C Reilly, which I always consider under rated, and he proves me right with a superlative performance. The two playing their corresponding wives are also doing wonders with subtle nuances that only film camera can capture (when one lets it). And also worth mentioning is Rufus Jones as their tour manager. As a rule this is a well done movie through and through. Jon S. Baird has a short career, behind him but if he keeps going like this he still has a long one ahead of him. Making sure we see all these subtle moments while still giving us the feeling we're watching something taking place on stage.
But there's one thing I wanted to point out, one thing that made me love this movie to pieces. Again and again it shows us how slapstick is funny on stage, but far from funny when a real heavy suitcase falls down the stairs, or in other words, when it happens in real life to real people. This distinction is so clear throughout the film that I find, it adds a deeper layer to a story about the real life of stage and screen actors and icons.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
How far would you go in order to surprise your audience
Once again I debated with myself, whether I should write a review here. I know most of you won't like what I want to say. I also know with over 4500 reviews already here, most of those who may agree with me, won't even get to see it. It will simply get lost in the sea of fake reviews (paid or otherwise) flooding most of internet sites dedicated to such things. But eventually I decided that keeping what I want to say, in my belly will hurt more. So - here goes:
It's a great film based on a few false premises, some of which I already discussed here more than once. See on my review page what I've written about Infinity War, or Captain Marvel. In my personal book, every time a comics superhero dies, somebody made a mistake he (or she), didn't know how to fix. The control directors and script writers have over this sort of material is un limited. So if people don't like the character, and I mean real people not review writers that have a personal grudge against superheroines, because the actress is Israeli or because she was made too strong. If real people don't like the character, you wrote it wrong. Let's agree, it didn't happen here. People love the MCU characters, they were all beautifully written, and each actor performing them did wonders. They became as real as fictional characters can. So I knew what happened in this movie had to happen. I even wrote so in my review for infinity war. I must admit, I didn't guess the way they'll go about it, but I knew the many franchises, stemming from the MCU couldn't end. It wasn't a secrete, they kept on working on some sequells while working on this movie. And still, they did surprise me (and everybody else too). But, this sort of a surprise, dosn't cut it for me. Let's carry on with the toy box imagery, that the Russo brothers spoke about in their own IMDb interview. Think about going to play with your friend, he/she shows you a boxful of amazing toys, "I love them to pieces" they say, and the very next thing they take out a hummer and break some of them to smithereens. Surprise you? didn't I" yes, you sure did, but you're an idiot. And the fact, the entire movie prooves you're not, is making it even worse.
There's no reason in the world to drive the franchise this way, apart from the ego of the people having all the toys, their stupid wish to surprise us and to proove they really can do whatever they want.
I may have high esteem for their abilities. I have to agree, it was a great movie - I really didn't like it. And all the reasons for the ending we got, that I can think of, are making it even worse.
So it has to be dark, but does it have to be that gory?
I already discussed here,touching what I consider the stupid mistakes in the Avengers Infinity War, what happens when scriptwriters/directors feel their story is not real enough. We saw what they did over there to "make it more real" - I hated it, and I still do. I don't like the solution of Neil Marshall and his script writer, Andrew Cosby, any better.
What they did, is not a new idea, it's used often in sci-fi and fantasy film. Since the story is fantastic, one makes sure the special effects are as vivid and gory as possible. This works fine when it's being used in moderation, but when one has a movie building for the arriving apocalypse, where does one draw the line. How much blood has to flaw from the screen, for the spectators to feel that the apocalypse is real? Does anyone coming to see Hellboy, even wants it to feel real?
And it started so nicely, even before the start when I realized they didn't use 3D for this film, I was sure they didn't go for the "real feeling" having a story so fantastic one can't expect to feel real to begin with. In fact, most of the movie went by and I was OK with what I was seeing. Acting was good, they did make Hellboy a bit too whiny, but I could take it. And then the final 15 minutes or so arrived. I'm not doing spoilers, that's my rule so I'll only say that these final minutes went well above my personal lines. And as I said, well above the needs of the movie. Even the dark sense of humor, which carried the movie so well up to the crescendo bit, dies away, when it's needed the most.
One last point, in favour of the movie - I like what the movie was saying: "a monster is not a question of appearance, a monster is a question of deeds". I simply think they didn't have to spill so much blood to say it.
The Family comics
Yes we already have The Incredibles, in fact, the Fantastic Four in their comics version and even No Ordinary Family, were both a family of super heros, and dealt with the issues of being a family while having super powers. But Shazam is diferent, at least in one aspect. In all the paperback versions of Shazam, which I've read, all of them fairly recent, I must admit, I've seen only one or two copies of the older version, which didn't include the origin story, but it also seemed to point to the same idea of family. Family, as a concept is a matter of choice, not merely a group of people one is related to by birth. And this movie is making this point loud and clear. Even changing the origin story in a way to make this point even clearer. That's why for me this is, as I stated in the title "The Family comics". The whole point of the story is what a family is and what it does to you. That's why John Glover, is Mr. Sivana, after being Mr. Lionel Luther so convincingly in Smallville. There's nothing like a perfectly mean father to point out a good one.
Other aspects of the movie, are more or less all right. I won't elaborate on CGI, as I said more than once it's a mere technical issue by now. Acting is of the highest quality, plot has a few holes in, but it's almost coming with the teritory, of recent comics adaptations. That's why I rate it just 8 stars. Tighter plot, would earn higher rating in my book. The jokes are all right, not always so funny, but I did smile very often when watching it. And for me it's a decent bottom line. Especially since what's important here is the family issue, and that's covered all the way through.
Captain Marvel (2019)
So much hate goes on around this movie it becomes a budge of honor
This is a good movie. It has good story, good actors, all around, with the leading couple realy shining through. Namely Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson both build wonderful roles, have great chemistry together, and make us believe them and care for them. You can't ask for more from any actor or actress. There are a few faults in the basic premise, that is, since Captain Marvel is set to be the saviour of the univers, she's made way too powerful, they even make her do a Superman style stunt, which I won't speak about since I don't do spoilers. But that's a fault I already discussed when I wrote my review for the last Avengers installment. As far as I'm concerned the fault was made then, and now they have to live with it. But everything else works just fine here.
And still, there's pouring hate against it. So many people say it's a bad movie, it's bland, boring and I could mention worse names stuck to this movie. And I just saw it, with many others and none complained, in fact they all seemed to have fun. So I was wondering where does all this hate come from, and I can't avoid the conclusion that too many people here feel like they have to fight against the onslaught of raging faminism. As far as I'm concerned, this is so silly I think of all the hate my review is bound to get here as my personal budge of honor.
Botom line: It's a good movie, a good introduction of a superhroine that suffers from a problematic starting point, due to no fault of the creative team of this movie. In fact I'm much more worried thinking how will Avengers Endgame team handle this impossible starting point. But in this case they did all they can, and they came up with a real fun movie.
Well written roles, carry this movie beautifully
To be precise, most of these are well written cartoon roles, and still, though this cartoons are supposedly shallow we get the stellar cast finding in them hidden depth. They all seem to be mere cliche. The busy neglected stay at home mom; the silly infatuated teenager; the sensative son of a gangster; the slick con man that thinks the world of himself; the cantankerous ancient diva; and obviously the clumsy and shy fat girl with a golden voice. Each and every one here is a cliche, but a well written one, and they all get room for growth, and in this little heartwarming singalong, they do grow and they do warm our hearts while doing it.
It's not easy writing cartoon characters and making them human enough for us to care for them instead of laughing from them, but Garth Jennings pulls it off. He gets his stellar cast performing one surprising real life singer after the other. The fact that the actors do sing their songs helps a lot, making each song their own.
At the bottom line it's funny at the right moments and moving at the right moments, even though the story is never really original and never really surprising, it does make us care for every single character on screen, and in my personal book, it's quite an acievement
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
The Art of great movie makers lies in their obsessions
In fact I could say it regarding any great artist. Most of them are obsessed with something, and it shows in their art. But limiting myself to the field of cinema, I'll simply mention Billy Wilder and his obsession with the masks or disguises we humans wear. John Landis and his obsession with the mad world we live in. John Badham and his obsession with people beating the system, often manifested in elaborate machine of a sort. I could carry on with these examples, but the issue at hand is Alita: Battle Angel and the two creative minds behind the film.
First among them is, as far as I'm concerned James Cameron, who wrote the script and produced the film. And if one looks at the first two installments of Terminator (which I consider a single movie seperated into two parts), at Avatar and at this movie the idea of the human soul in the machine and its victory over it shines through. The strength of the human spirit is an issue in most of Cameron's movies, but since I didn't see them all, I will not discuss them here. Also true of Cameron's career is his obsession with complete control over the world he presents in the movie, hence the importance of the 3D technique in Avatar and in this movie.
Personally I don't like Robert Rodriguez as much as I like James Cameron, mainly because I often think that he cares too much for the stunning visuals of his film, and too little for plot and character development. But in this case I think teaming up with James Cameron helped him to get a better balance. This is definitely a visually stunning movie, but the characters are all well written, (at least the leading ones) and the story makes sense inside the borders of the world it presents.
The cast of the movie is mostly superlative, though some of the smaller characters are very superficial, it doesn't hurt the story so much, as their roles are very limited which means that not having a developed character makes sense cinematically. It's hard to pass judgement on the quality of Rosa Salazar's acting as we don't really sea her face but rather her cyborg face designed to look as part of the Manga world from which the source material arrives. Still during the movie it never felt like she wasn't human, or real, and that's quite a lot. The other three real roles in the film are Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Keean Johnson. All three are very professional to say the least.
As far as all other aspects of movie making, I can't find a single fault, it's all done at the highest quality. So to sum it all up, a real good sci-fi about the real strength of the human soul when pushed well above the limits we're familiar with.
The Favourite (2018)
Theatrical in the most cinematic way
This historical so called "comedy drama", which I consider a non term (at best I'd call it a drama with comic moments, but I actually consider this a historical satire about the politics and machinations of the British court). I don't care how exact are the historical details, I did check, and the basic historical drama depicted here did take place, and for me that's the only importent question - historically.
Cinematically we get a story presented in a very theatrical style, pointing to the theatrics of politics, and of royal politics. But this theater is a very cinematic theater, we get a very nuanced performance of the three leads, nuances that would often be lost on the stage of theater. And we do get three leading roles here. All three are superb, and the fact that Olivia Colman is written down as the lead is arbitrary in my book. She might have a little more screen time than the other two, (one would have to check it with a stop watch to be certain), but plot wise, both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, are her equals, and Olivia Colman herself has acknowledged it more than once. And as I said , they're all amazing. And actually, this trio makes the movie. I mean, every aspect of movie making is done here at the highest level: cinematography, editing, soundtrack, lighting, - it's all here, but without this trio none of it would matter, they make this story come to life, and they make us care.
One final point, I rated this movie 8 (bordering on 9), it could have been higher, if the point it was making was a bit less subtle. I feel that the final scene did make a point, but it was only half made, almost muted. And in my humble opinion it should have been a bit more forceful. Maybe thats the British understated way, but the rest of the story was fairly blunt, with the acting cast, and most of all the leading trio keeping it British. So I think, such a blunt story demands less subtlety at the finish line.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
About Disney's possessiveness, and when does it become a problem
Once again you see here the result of a long debate I had with myself whether I should write a review here or not. If you read any of my reviews concerning Disney's movies you'll know by now that I have a very high estim for their professional attitude; for their story telling skills; for their ability to create nuanced characters out of seemingly nothing. On the other hand I repeatedly have problems with their adaptations of literary masterpieces. Because whatever Disney studios adapt, becomes their own, so Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, and Mary Poppins, all get the same very professional gloss. And even worse for me, they all lose their own unique flair. No wonder P. L. Travers, disliked so much the original version. So much of her own book was for ever lost in the galons of charms oozing from the Disney version.
Disney have the right to coat everything they create with their own personal flavour, one may even consider it a sign of their own style. But when their own style is covering creations belonging to others, it becomes a problem. When it completely and utterly buries these creations, it becomes too much for me.
On top of this, in the very specific case we're discussing here, a case supposedly of their own creation, as this sequel was never written by P. L. Travers. What we get is as close to a carbon copy of the original without really being the very same movie. And again, for me, the sin in this case is even worse, because it's a final stamp confirming that the origin of the original is dead and buried. Now the Disney version is all there is. With tons of suger coating, with lovely bits of animation, with a forced ending and with a hint of a blooming romance, as if we didn't have too much of Disney in it already.
Slightly disjointed, not evenly made, but still a fun installment in the franchise
Saw the movie two days ago, and debated with myself whether I had something to say, ever since. It's definitely not as good as the first installment in JKR's new franchise, but it's definitly not as bad as described by some, here and elsewhere. It is, as my title says, slightly disjointed, and therefore can be a bit confusing, but it's not plotless. I've seen the entire film, and did follow the story it told. In fact, I could easily repeat it here - I simply don't do this sort of things.
Thing is, I think I know why it doesn't work as well as the first installment of the franchise. So I decided I'd throw in my two cents. I don't even expect most of you to agree with me. It doesn't work this way anymore. Not on this site. But here goes:
The first problem is, that JKR tried here to tell a story straight as a film script, as compared with the books that preceded the HP movies. Movies don't work exactly like books do. We all know that. Books are faster, and can cover longer time span in a shorter time. She didn't even use the cinematic ploy for gaps in story telling - narration. And personally, I'm greatful she didn't. But the plot is not allways flowing sometimes it even jumps from one point to the other without explaining how it got there. In the books, it was often used when she wanted to insert the real reason later on in the development of the plot. As I already said, movies work differently.
Problem is, the characters didn't carry us from one point to the next as well as they did in FBaWtFT. Why, because unlike Harry Potter and his two friends, both Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein, are portrayed as extremely shy and introvert. Their characters are well built, in fact I consider some of their dialogues to be briliant, but they lack the charisma needed to carry the audience with them, unless the movie is dedicated to them like the first installment of the franchise was. In this one, there are way too many new characters competing with them for our attention and lacking charisma they simply get lost all too often. Here lies another problem, most of the new characters are either too one dimentional or too superficially constracted. One exception is Zoe Kravitz as the tormented Leta Lestrange, but she gets too little screen time to matter. When she does get her screen time she does shine. Another problem is the villain. Unlike many others I don't have a problem with Johnny Depp. He's theatrical, I think the role calls for theatrics. But he can't be as scary as Lord Voldemort, who's always in our minds when we're in the world of Harry Potter. Those who see Grindelwald as an early version of Lord Voldemort, may be right but he's also completely different in nature. He's not a demon, he's in fact very human and in a way more terrifying for it. But the immediate effect must be less scary.
Bottom line: it's not a bad movie, but it does have some problems, and the biggest one is being compared with Harry Potter and with the first installment of this franchise, which was much better.
E.T.A Hoffmann meets Disney's era of TTT, and comes out fairly well
To be sure, The Nutcrucker and the Mouse King, is a different story. Its villains are straightforward villains, its heroes seem simpler, but like the more famous Danish fairytale author extraordinaire, H. C. Andersen, his artistic fairytales have deeper layers which Disney wouldn't reach, ever. Disney, doesn't stand for hidden depth. It stands for good story telling, good characters, and great artistic design. And we sure get it all in this version of the Nutcrucker. And ever since Enchanted, Disney also stands for what I call TTT - Turned Tables Trend - of Disney's movies, where Disney's grandees decided that in order to join the modern age they must add some sort of a plot twist to their movies. And they did it so relentlessly that I consider it a surprise when they tell a story where the villain is really the actual villain and when the hero's road to victory is straightforward.
As I said it here beforehand this became so ridiculous, that certain movies ended being plainly stupid (Into the Wood), but sometimes they do get their story all right, and then all their strengthes combine well into a charming story. In my book, this one such case. What we got here is a charming fantasy, with the recently required strong female character, that seems to extract some special hate on this site, and I can't understand why. Again, I already said it here, but I realize I must say it again: this is a commercial trend, but the entire movie business is commercial, and other commercial trends didn't get such quantities of passionate hatred.
One last remark, In my personal book, I've never seen Keira Knightley doing a better job. I personally think that the Sugar Plum Fairy over the top character suits her acting abilities to perfection. I heard her saying she doesn't know if she'll ever find another such role. I hope she does, we all deserve it.
For daring to be savage
Once again I break my own rule of not writing review for films with over 500 reviews (that is, over 500 when I write my review). I liked this movie because it dares doing a few unthinkable things for a Hollywood action film. It dares showing, in a manner of speaking some collateral damage. I mean - in so many Hollywood action films bullets are flying all over the place in the busiest streets without a single bystander getting a scratch. In this movie they do get hurt, most of the time we see it off screen, but we see it, the movie acknowledge the fact the innocent lives are lost. For a comics based movie, thats as close to realism as they can (and should) get.
Another place where the movie is possitively daring, is in daring to show Venum as the character he was created on the comics, a savage predator, with very little noble emotions or caring thought for anyone other than its own self preservation. The movie does veer off the original comic book story of origin, but it keeps the comics book nature of the beast, and that's a big plus in my personal book.
Other aspects of movie making: let's not speak about CGI anymore, I think it's a mere technical issue, and there'll always be those who say the CGI was lame. It wasn't but it's not a surprise, it's the way it is. The actors are very good, and I liked the fact Tom Hardy gets to play a comic character with his own face. I hated his mask when he was Bane. It was part of the character, but it killed half the potential of real acting in that film. Here he gets to really act, and he's great. Michelle Williams is as charming as ever, and perfect for the role, and Riz Ahmed is a very good villain. Jenny Slate should get more screen time, she's a great sctress, who doesn't get half the credit she deserves.
Altogether, a great, slightly different sort of comic movie, if it wasn't a bit rushed with the convertion of Venum, I'd rate it even higher.
The Jack Black charm works its magic
This is a cute fun fantasy comedy, that works because its stars make it work. Like most fantasy movies of late, it's very CGI driven, but since CGI is by now a mere technicality it's not a problem. Not having any real villain, is a problem and Kyle MacLachlan doesn't get any screen time in which to build his character, but it still works, because the leading trio is wonderful. Cate Blanchett, doesn't need my support, her abilities as an actress are long proven, and she is as good as one expect her to be. The kid Owen Vaccaro, has a nerd a dweeb and a dork written all over him. He simply has the look of the ultimate social misfit, he does have a few off moments but they're hardly noticed because the rest of the cast around him covers for him. And then there's Jack Black. I already consider him an extremely underrated actor. He's one of the rare few who can do buffoonish and cute together and make it flow naturally. In my personal book his most endearing quality is his complete lack of respect to his own image.
Without Jack Black, this is a nice but way too preachy movie about growing up with loss, and about outgrowing loss. With him, all the preachiness is gone, you simply can't take it seriously enough to be preached at. The moment you remove the preachiness, all you're left with is fun, and that's what we got here. A fun fantasy comedy with some added value to boot.
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
The Robert McCall I love is back, thank you
I had one major issue with the previous installment in this Antoine Fuqua new franchise. It borrowed the title and the basic premise from a series I liked a lot but turned its hero from a super brainy agent to a killing machine who liked to read books. As far as I was concerned the original movie was visually beautiful, like all of Fuqua's movies, but super simplistic, and a waste of a good idea and some very good acting performances.
But I was still curious how did they up their antics for the second installment, like they're required by the Hollywood code of sequels. I'm glad I was, as they dared going upward in a surprising way. As it was mentioned here by previous reviewers, this installment is much slower. In a way it's even predictable, but it's still riveting. Because it's not about the action it's about the man - Robert McCall, the pensive character created by Edward Woodward back in the 80s. The one that tought everything out carefully and always came on top because he was better at his job than all the others. Yes he's border line super being, like Antoine Fuqua likes them, but he's much deeper than a simple killing machine. His strict moral code, his obsession with order, his devotion to his friends and his compassion all shine through this film, and it's all the better for it.
Christopher Robin (2018)
Its not about Christopher Robin Milne, its about the wisest bear of very little brain ever
One must remember that Christopher Robin, the real son of A. A. Milne, wasn't ever the hero of the books his father wrote. His father borrowed his name and his stuffed animals for the sake of the stories he wrote. The real living CRM, didn't like the books, they gave him unwanted fame that he tried for years to lose. The hero of the movie we see is the hero of the books, should he grow older. This story is not about the real life story of CRM when he did grow older, and the movie makes it clear over and over again. To point just one such example - by naming the hero Mr. Robin, as if Robin was his surname.
So, if it's not about the real CRM, but rather about the character of the books, what does it mean? What is it about? It's about growing older and forgetting what being a child is. It's the same point Spielberg has made so eloquently in his misunderstood masterpiece Hook (1991). He used the same tool, he borrowed a literary hero who became an icon of neverending childhood and examined him as a grownup. And then he too forced him to remember his actual literary childhood. Mark Forster also dealt with Peter Pan in his past. He dealt with the events leading to the creation of that icon in Finding Neverland (2004). That's not what he's doing here, as I already said. This time he makes the grownup Christopher Robin face up to the wisdom of his childhood friends, in a world where memories are real enough for other people to see and hear them. - In a movie.
He pays much more attention to the real world we live in than Spielberg did in Hook. In fact he makes it so real, that the imaginary is forced to enter it, and even take part in the "real" events. Spielberg also did it in Hook, but only fleetingly Forster blurs the lines completely, because his real world is so very real, he can do it and trust us to understand.
The only point I have against this movie (a would be 10 otherwise) is the fact its getting rushed twice, especially in the second time when I couldn't help but feel the ending was forced upon the movie, lest it ends with anything short of the full fairy tale happy end.
Before I finish I must give credit to one of the best voice acting I've heard in a very long time, that is Brad Garrett who steals the show completely as Eeyore. Ewan McGregor is great, Hayley Atwell and Bronte Carmichael, are very good even though they get very little screen time and so is Jim Cummings, but Brad Garrett is the perfect Eeyore and his voice will ever ring in my ears when I see Eeyore in the future
A Non western about non cowboys and real Indians
It's a very deliberatly slow movie, taking place in a modern Indian reserve in the US. The story is as modern as possible, depicting modern day problems of modern Indians who work in the dairy of their neighbors maintaining an uneasy coexistance with very little love or respect lost between the neighbors. The story is the story of the Indians, it moves along at their pace of living. In which every action is very deliberate and carefully thought out.
It's very much like watching a slowmo of a train wreck. We all know it's going to end badly, and yet we can't look away. In fact the director could've decided to finish his movie five minute later, and it would've been a down right tragedy, but he chose to end it when he did, so we can still believe there's a chance for a happier ending. It's not a rational belief, but it's the ending we all want to take place.
The actors are all very real, some of them not professional, or doing their first steps as actors, none of them is a big star, but they all play their part perfectly. The film plays like a documentary, and in a way it is trying to be a document of this train wreck called the life of native Americans in modern day U.S.
The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)
Not a LOL funny but rather leave with a wide smile funny
I stated more than once that I like spy comedies, I also mentioned here that I like Mila Kunis. So this movie is a winning combination for me, and a winning combination it is. I liked the movie. It's definitely not a masterpiece, I can't remember a spy comedy that was. Maybe the original Avengers series of the 60s. But Mila's unique ability to create a likeable character that feels real, no matter what circumstances you put her in works here just Like it did in Jupiter Ascending and in Bad Moms where she was the only redeeming quality of the movie (with Christina Applegate). It's a very important quality for an actress (or an actor), think about it, she was likeable even in That 70s Show, where she played a jerk of a sort. And she does feel real, one does believe her she's smart enough to think fast on her feet even when scared silly by the crazy things going around her.
Countering her is Kate McKinnon, who does again the silly (but not always silly) and over the top shtick, she's almost a carbon copy of her role in Ghost Busters. Jane Curtin and Paul Reiser are always a nice surprise in a movie and they're as good as you'd expect them to be, and so is Gillian Anderson. Ivanna Sakhno is the real surprise of the movie as the cold blooded assassin, giving a very nuanced performance in a role where less would've been expected.
Altogether, this is a well done cute spy comedy that left me with a wide smile, and I wish I could leave more movies like this.
Mary Shelley (2017)
How I wish I could speak with previous reviewers
I've read two longish reviews of this film, I loved the film, The reviewers didn't. They didn't trush it all the way they didn't rate it 1-3 stars, which became common practice on this site. But reading their reviews I personally think they completely misunderstood the film. In fact I've got a different opinion altogether about what cinema is.
This is obviously a bio pic. but it's not a documentary. It's a work of fiction. It's the directors work, and it's the story the director chooses to tell. As is she tell the story truthfully. One may argue about the exact precision of the minute details, but even the longish review arguing against the errors made by the film does agree all the facts in the film are true. The argument dwells mainly on interpretation. Well interpretation is the directors to make. Interpretations are not historical facts. The story is about how Mary Shelley grew into the writer who wrote Frankenstein, it's not the story of Frankenstein it's a story of a strong woman in a period when being a strong woman was much harder than we realize, and it's told by a director who's interest is exactly at that point.
Considering these facts, this movie is a great success. Elle Funning is superb giving what I consider her coming of age performance taking her look of fragil beauty and imbuing it with inner strength and personality. She was always tallented but she's doing a hell of a job here. And judging the precision of her English accent is beside the point, unless you're an incarnation of Professor Higgins. The other actors are also very good. True Tom Sturridge is giving a very hammy performance as Lord Byron, but I personally always imagined Lord Byron as a hammy character. Ofcourse not everybody shares my opinion, but it's a legitimate opinion and both the director and Mr. Sturridge thought it suited the role, I think they had the right to do so.
Another point I want to make is the film noire usage of background atmosphere and weather conditions to mirror the state of the characters - it's done very well and it suits the story too. Which obviously is also a result of superb cinematography all credit to David Ungaro.
To sum it all up, I really wish I could discuss it all with the reviewers I mentioned but it's impossible on this site. I did publish my own email address here once but it's no longer visible because the site management decided to take it away. And I wish they didn't. But the film itself, in my own opinion is a work of art of the highest quality. And it hits all the nails its aiming for right on the head.