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I Kill Giants (2017)
Original and interesting
I had no preconceptions about the film as I hadn't heard of it. Maybe a difficult genre for some.. superficially it seems to be directed towards adolescent girls (maybe adolescent boys put off because most characters and the lead are female?) As a 47 year old man, I'm sure like most adults, it seemed a very touching story of a child who has suffered serious trauma and how she tries to regain control over her life with no strong guiding parental figures. I was quite tearful at times, which suggests to me this is more a film that may have been created for teens, but more appealing to adults. I thought it was well paced, some interesting and beautiful scenery which blended well into the story, and though has some 'typical' elements (bully, sympathetic adult (Zoe S)) the way they are played and feed into the story are not typical. The acting, the storyline, the filming were all 8 stars, giving it a solid all round 8. Quite an original experience and I would highly recommend it, but as others have said, it's not a science fiction or action movie.. it's a touching movie about trauma in a young girl.
Definitely strange, but makes perfect sense in the end - that is its beauty
If you're looking for a simple detective movie with Keanu Reeves as the lead, or an action packed adventure, this isn't the film. That's why I loved it. Yes, it is weird, but it's weird because you think it's one story, then it turns out to be another, and then you realise it is actually something completely different. The female really plays the lead role and Keanu is the 'canvas' which takes almost the viewers perspective of initially not understanding what happened. However, the film makes perfect sense and the surreal parts tie into the final conclusion. Don't read any parts with spoilers - the twist is worth it. I'm not a Keanu fan really but his role is ideal here, as in understated detective. Not a film for adolescents, children or action movie fans, but is a film for people that like an interesting story told in a novel way and relates to a woman with a problematic life. I really enjoyed it, though my wife didn't (she thinks i like all weird films) but it is neither slow nor 'art house's rubbish, but simply a compelling story with an interesting end. Try it, there is a good chance you'll find it fascinating and enjoyable, as I did.
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
meh - story weak with large plot holes, actors should get writers
I don't want to put spoilers in this (and haven't). But basically he saves the day after actually being so stupid in the first place. Really, Kirk should have seen this coming and should have gone to Star Fleet jail for his negligence and poor decision making in the first half of the film.
Much of the bits that tie the plot together are tied together in a stupid (science fiction can fix it) solution. Plot holes so large you could fly the Enterprise through it. Even the 'solution' to the problem at the end was cheesy and made no sense scientifically or practically.
I always like science fiction to ask important questions or make us think in different ways or reflect relevant problems and use the science fiction as an arena to explore this in an interesting way (I, Robot; Blade Runner; Star Trek generations/voyage home etc). This film was none of this. It was a trite story that didn't quite make logical sense and had no real moral context or value. Some obligatory references to the old Star Trek. Some superficial reflection on his life that was contrived and never really resolved meaningfully. This film was made for around 12 year old age range.
They didn't really have any character development, certainly didn't make the most of Zoe Saldanha, and I expect she was paid handsomely in a role she would have shined in if she had a half decent script.
Despite this, I like the actors and the action was nicely done. I had more emotional response during the trailer than during the film, but I wasn't necessarily bored. Just wish, given the money spent, they would get a decent story and decent writers. Guardians of the Galaxy (closest type of thing I can compare it to) will be a franchise that will take over from Star Trek given this poor outing, and it is a shame, because the actors are all pretty good.
Dark Matter (2015)
Firm plot with interesting twists and great actors/characters
If this keeps up I can see them winning awards (third way through season 2 at moment).
OK, so they're all pretty young, and pretty, and young. But they're also all interesting actors and each has something special to offer the script. Indeed, the plot balances them nicely and really it's hard to know who the 'main' character is because they are all unique and lovable in their own special way. And weirdly, this is bizarre, because in their own way they are all (or were) pretty nasty people.
The sets are maybe not the best, and the special effects I can't even remember.. but you know why? Because the plot is so good. I'm involved in the story and really wondering what will happen next. This is as sci-fi should be: not a lazy way to tell sub-standard stories and replace plot with effects and lazers, but a great character development and interesting (and different) story line which engages you, which uses the flexibility and allure of the future to create the scene.
Unlike some series ('How to get away with murder' springs to mind) it doesn't try to get attention by lots of sex and killing or oddness. Simply good stories.
I recommend you watch the first 3 episodes and if you don't like it, leave it alone. For me, I was hooked by episode 2 and then it just got better and better. Season 2 even delved deeper into the overarching story. I've got high hopes for this, and as long as they keep it well paced they should have a winner for many many many seasons.
lead didn't have the charisma nor the understanding of the role
Admittedly a demanding role to play, but I can't help thinking that the lead actor should have read MLKs 'auto'biography. King was an extremely intelligent and philosophical man who chose every single word with precision. He knew very well the layers of meaning he was putting under different speeches. Unfortunately, even when the actual speeches were being quoted the principle actor bored me.
Some scenes were over played and without subtlety, thereby losing their impact, though I thought the explosion scene was well timed. The flow of the plot was staggered and I found it difficult to really associate with the characters. It is quite 2 dimensional and, though good in parts, on the whole it was just not good story telling - which is unnerving given how good a story it was to start with.
In all, the only thing I found surprising was how such an important event, when dramatised, could fall so flat... a nice Sunday afternoon film when you are nibbling cheese and biscuits and chatting occasionally.
Let's Be Cops (2014)
Good comedies are hard to do. Let's face it, we're bored with 'hangover II etc' and a comedy isn't funny if it just repeats previous comedies or if it is just banal humour.
Well, this film is neither intellectual nor cheesy. It has a really nice core story about these two great guys who have had very little success in life, but then they realise how powerful they are just by wearing police uniforms. The story seems simple, but the two main actors play it just right and it doesn't go over the top, but produces a really humorous film that kept be riveted. One of the best comedies I have seen, simply because it gets the balance right and is light, exciting, fun, has a little depth, and made me laugh despite my grumpy mood. Thoroughly recommended to everyone! No 'shocking'/rude comedy, simply excellent fun.
Are You Here (2013)
profound, but bizarrely cast
If this had an unknown cast and a different director this would have been an award winning film about the difficulty of finding meaning in our lives.
It starts a little slowly with the main character (weather man) who is a womaniser and seems to be happy, and who also helps his bipolar friend who is struggling to find meaning in his life. However, ultimately find that it is the weather reporter who is searching for meaning in his life - and he finally breaks down when his bipolar friend begins to develop a life on his own.
The film contains quite profound comments (subtle inferences) on what it is to be crazy (and if belief in God is crazy); how relationships can be sexual and caring, but without being about becoming a couple; vegetarianism; living within the modern world or finding meaning in returning to a simpler way of life.
So - the film sounds arty and profound. Except it isn't produced in that way. It is directed like a Hollywood movie, indeed a Hollywood comedy. This mismatch between the complexity of some scenes and some of the plot, and the characters/actors and filming style are probably what disappointed many viewers. Personally, I loved it and put it in the same league as 'the way way back' but a bit more bizarre.
In summary - a great script and good film, with odd casting and presented as a comedy, which it isn't. Will be disappointing if you want something pure Hollywood, but will be engaging if you like sentimental and deep films that make you think, but are not pretentious (indeed - I wonder if it was done purposely like this in an effort to take out all the pretentiousness and make it seem like a light film).
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
I guess this film attempted to show vampires in a different light; as reclusive intelligent intellectuals bored with life yet filled with knowledge.
However, the script was awful and it came across as pompous and boring. For example, the main character orders a wooden bullet (in an attempt to show how tortured the character was, though we don't know why) and he says the names of the trees the wood is to be made from in Latin, quickly. If he was intelligent, he would know he could just state an easy to get hard wood, in English, and enable the man to write it down.
The film seems to be written for Goths who would like a very slow painful story with no real direction or substance. It's like watching a film about two unhappy people (not even the excitement of real depression) just lazing around on a sofa.
There are no redeeming features to this film; and yes, I love arty films and films without action. If you want a vampire film for intellectuals watch "Let the right one in" which is genius. Only lovers left alive would have been a poor school project. Pompous, shallow and dull with no real story. I watched 3/4 of the film and flicked through the rest on fast forward as I felt I had wasted my time. If you like action films with vampires don't watch this. If you like intellectual films with vampires, don't watch this. If you like films without vampires, don't watch this... get my point?
well produced and fulfilling film
This is a documentary, but in no way dry or boring. An educated civil rights activist, Angela was arrested and kept in solitary confinement (as so many political prisoners were during the civil rights movement) awaiting trial for murder and conspiracy.
There is excellent footage and well edited interviews with family, lawyers, FBI agents and Angela herself. Angela comes across as an excellent speaker; controlled and factual, and it is no surprise she garnered so much support. The finale is well presented and the film is gripping from start to end. During the time of the civil rights movement in the US, it paints sufficient backdrop to understand the environment in which she was living, but the focus is definitely on her story and her trial.
This film will become an important contribution to material on the civil rights struggle in the US, whilst being easy and accessible to everyone. The personality of the people being interviewed shines through, and throughout a lot of the film I found it both emotional and uplifting. Angela personifies the intellectual struggle to change America.
Na Cidade Vazia (2004)
I watch some African cinema (my girlfriend is Angolan) and I lived in Portugal, so I have some insight into the culture of Luanda. For me this was really a fantastic piece of work: beautifully produced, subtle but not artsy. It painted a picture of Luanda (in the past) without exaggeration and didn't delve into any 'ah, poor Africans' type stupidity. It was a simple tale of a 12 year old boy escaping the war torn countryside to Luanda and the friendships he has with people, and how he gently influences their lives. Another critic said that the parallel with the story of a warrior (mentioned in the film) was not complete, but really, it would have been a cheesy Hollywood movie if it had been. Also, the ending may not give a sense of finality, but that was part of the beautiful message of the film. It is extremely well crafted, with simple scenes of the fisherman smiling at the boy, or his friend washing his godmothers clothes, that lights up this film with such richness. Even the subtle cultural aspects, like the Kizomba dancing in the evening, and just their way of being, is so natural.
This is the best African film I have seen, and probably within the top 8 films I have seen in my life.
The Help (2011)
beautifully crafted, powerful, yet simple
You'd think this film would be some trite statement about racism. In fact it was a touching, human, simple but well woven, story which is touching and beautifully directed. The acting is superb and the characters excellent. It is set in a clearly racist era and location (Jacksonville, Mississippi), yet gracefully pulls out the subtleties of power structure and desire to conform that allows normally kind people to reinforce prejudice. The sub-plots are also superb (i.e. relationship between the main character and her mother). The news coverage of the civil rights movement is also brought into the film fluidly without dominating the story. Beautifully crafted but not 'arty' so a perfect film for families (no violence, sex and only very little (mild) swearing).