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Where old actors go to die
I am not in the entertainment industry, so I don't know how people like Stallone and even Modine would accept to play in something that is obviously crap. People used to respect these guys! I mean, think about the early Stallone stuff and know this is way worse than that. It's a beyond low budget production, only meant to get more money that they put in by dangling the cast in front of people. This is not a movie so bad it is funny, this is not a movie that someone tried to make interesting and failed, this is clearly a scam. It's criminal and every person watching is a victim. It doesn't have a story! I mean it. There is an old amnesiac guy (Modine) to whom some people give an experimental drug to in order to remember where he hid some money. Stallone appears at the beginning and at the end. Nothing happens. Nothing! There are some really bad scenes where people shoot at each other and then the film ends. The editing, the acting, the filming, everything is just bad! You've been warned.
As Russian Sci-Fi goes, it was pretty good
I have to say that I've seen effects and action like this before in other Russian movies, but in Attraction it was the story and, even more than that, the acting that elevated the film. Particularly Alexander Petrov was great with Oleg Menshikov a close second. Special mentions for Irina Starshenbaum and Nikita Kukushkin.
The story is about an alien spacecraft that force lands on Earth. They just want to repair and go, but humans are not so eager to let them leave and ascribe to the aliens whatever actions of intentions they fear or hope most. The romance part of the film was a bit much, I think, but not something I haven't seen before or that I have something serious against. There are still issues with how Russians are creating the scenes in sci-fi movies, something that is strange considering they have a great body of work with amazing actors and cinematography, but they are coming along. This has to be one of the best sci-fi action Russian films I've seen so far and I can't wait for them to make more, because I love the Russian science fiction literature and I hope we will soon get that in film format. But, just know that the rating here is relative to other Russian action sci-fi, not movies in general.
Final Portrait (2017)
Pointless movie about an eccentric painter
It's 1964 in Paris and it is fashionable to be an insane artist. Picasso, Chagall, they all do it. Why not Giacometti? He has a wife that wants to be part of his life and is always refused, but who accepts his mistresses and moods and abuses. He has a brother who accepts him and always helps out, but remains quite happily in the shadows. He asks a writer to pose for him for a few hours, only to erase his entire work again and again and again, then asking the poor guy to come back the next day. Every "day" we see Geoffrey Rush brilliantly portraying a crazy painter, while Armie Hammer just sits there, trying to understand why it is taking so long. And then the movie ends. That's the entire thing. Do we care about Tony Shalhoub being the background brother? Do we care about the characters of either Sylvie Testud or Clémence Poésy or even Armie Hammer's? No. Because they have no depth, regardless of acting prowess.
Bottom line: if you want a film to use as a trainer for being an obnoxious self absorbed hipster, you want to see this. Otherwise it's kind of pointless. It's worth noting that this is a 90 minute movie made from a 128 page memoir. I mean, what else was the writer going to do with an experience so weird? Write it down. It didn't need to be made into a movie, though.
The Aftermath (2019)
A failed attempt to capture the human aspect of the aftermath of WW2
Colonel's wife Rachel comes to a nice German house, requisitioned by Her Majesty's government for said Colonel, where she has to live together with the German owner and his teenage daughter. There is a lot of baggage there, as both families have lost somebody in bombings, there is the tension of the British occupation of the city to which the Colonel is temporary governor while people are still being found underneath the rubble and, as military people do, the British Colonel just won't acknowledge his feelings of guilt and hurt at his son's death. So what is a girl to do? Have an affair, of course.
The story might have worked, perhaps it did in the book, but in the film there absolutely no character development. People just act in a certain way to further the plot, but there is no reason for them to do so. There are lots of incongruities related to when are people at work or school and when they can stay at home enjoying nice wine and the occasional screw. The ending, the most powerful moment of the story, is also completely predictable and loses its force when you realize the big decision should have been the same regardless of circumstances. It is just impossible to care about most of the people in this two hour film. How someone managed to neglect characterization in a movie so long is beyond me.
Bottom line: this is a weak movie with a great cast. Surprisingly, I felt Jason Clarke did a better job than Knightley and Skarsgård combined.
I Am Mother (2019)
I blame AI, the Spielberg film, for starting the craze for philosophical movies about artificial intelligence, but Moon and, of course, Ex Machina, for redefining the genre as performance pieces with a few actors and one grand idea. And some movies get it right, some not so much, but they never get it wrong, because you either like it or you risk seeming stupid for "not getting it". I Am Mother has some interesting ideas, good acting, therefore is a solid entry in the category, but really it's two hours of waiting for something to happen only to be shown the obvious. I have to admit it was fun coming up with more and more outlandish theories of what was about to happen, but then it felt disappointing to see that the first "normal" theories were right and there was nothing more ingenious than that.
A good movie, worth watching, but bringing little new to the table. But I have to say I liked that Rose Byrne was billed second as Mother's voice, with Luke Hawker first, as the Mother's body. This is something new and right.
If you are going to clone other movies, at least derivate from the good ones.
In the first minutes of the film you realize it was never worth watching. The scene at the beginning - with the really lame (and unnecessary) CGI and an actress who can't act - makes you think it's a zombie flick, then nothing happens for quite some time. Next, you watch two random teens who video everything for their YouTube channel, which makes you think it's going to be a found footage film. It is not; it's just boring and lame. And in the end you realize it's a Body Snatchers type thing. Only you can't empathize with any of the characters (in fact you wish them all the harm in the world) and the tension of the town who doesn't believe the two kids is used for a total of five minutes, then becomes irrelevant. And the ending... that has to be the driest twist/punchline for the joke that you didn't realize it was a joke.
I mean, if you are going to make a low budget film with unknown/untalented actors, at least use a good story, like something from Scott Sigler. He has the alien invasion thing down in Infected and probably wouldn't have minded someone making a movie of it. Or anybody else who actually thought about their characters for more than one minute.
Bottom line: not worth watching.
Captive State (2019)
A combination of good acting, fresh story, low budget and no point
This is already a genre: the occupation genre, yet while it makes sense for Nazi Germany, it does little for interstellar alien species. The resources of Earth? puh-lease. But, hey, I get it, we need to freshen up the already tired French Resistance cliche, so we get movies like this. Once you get over that little hurdle, Captive State is a decent film. Well acted, with a rather transparent intrigue, but interesting. A bit too long for my taste, though. The only thing left is the ending, which achieves the goal declared at the beginning at the movie, but it pretty much dooms us all. Why? Because of interstellar alien species!! OK, maybe getting over that hurdle is not that easy.
The Head Hunter (2018)
Kind of pointless
No, this is not a cheery movie about an optimistic employee of an HR department. It's quite literally a hunter of heads, even more towards the end. And I have to say that the movie started very well, with a Nordic bleak and oppressive feel, a Witcher like character, a simple backstory and an oath of revenge, a purpose. It could have gone several ways, but none more disappointing than the actual ending. This is a film that sets up something grand, then settles for a pun and a weak punchline. I've heard so many good things about it that I had some high expectations, but I have to say that it felt like a very low budget Game of Thrones film: starts interesting, builds up momentum, ends suddenly and pointlessly. OK, my expectations that were subverted, but they were that this was a movie worth watching.
Captain Marvel (2019)
A decent Marvel film. All that hate was for nothing.
This is not a masterpiece, mind you, but it's a pretty entertaining flick. Its biggest flaw has to be Brie Larson, but not just because of her, also because of the rather bland reactions scripted into her role. Consider what she goes through and the moment of her big revelation is not any more dramatic than when she was getting angry for Jude Law kicking her ass. Yet even this is minor. One can easily believe that a woman in a man's world, who went through amnesia and two separate army training regimens would be a little bit stiff and guarded.
So that leaves the plot and the other actors. I have to say Ben Mendelsohn stole the show. He absolutely owned the film. And that acting next to Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson and the lead actress. Jackson's role was pretty funny and the terrible scene where he lost his eye was ... absolutely hilarious. Jude Law did his usual good job, but his character was pretty cardboard. All in all, decent story (not marvelous, heh heh heh, but good) and the actors did a good job. Including the cat, who almost stole the show, too! Coulson'n role was too small to mention.
I know I am very late to the party, but I didn't watch the film for a long time because of the negativity surrounding it and that disgusting feminist/antifeminist campaign that was related to it. The movie is nothing like that. I liked the Danvers character and Brie Larson was not brilliant, but she wasn't bad at all. I would have watched this film at the cinema and enjoyed it. It's certainly better than any Ant Man crap. So ignore Larson's off screen shenanigans or the people who want to inject their poison into other people's work... just watch the film and enjoy it as it is.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
A nice looking solution for an imperfect situation
Imagine you have to write Endgame. You would have to find a way to reconcile several things: the expectations of the audience, the continuity not only with the other movies, but with future projects and past comic book ideas, the actors that just won't come back whatever the reason, America's unhealthy obsession with political correctness, the wishes of the producers, the wishes of the director, the wishes of the people paying for the movie. It is an nearly impossible task. As a solution to this conundrum, Avengers: Endgame was really decent. It has character build up, exposition - maybe too much of it, foreshadowing, great action scenes, great emotional scenes, great acting. It got rid of all the leaving actors in a very nice way for their characters. It solved the problem of the death of so many living creatures in a way that didn't mean everything was simply undone or redone or forgotten.
That being said, all the characters in this film are dumb. I mean, really dumb. They have lightning fast reactions, but their solutions are ridiculous. The whole concept of the solution, which I don't want to spoil, lends itself to improvement.; it was not spent in this story. Also, there is a key moment that ends (heh) it all... it could have been done minutes before. All the elements where already there. And there are so many logic holes in the plot that my mind just reels from thinking about it.
Bottom line: a very beautiful film for your heart. Doesn't do your brain any good.
A retro looking Wacky Races, Japanese anime style
Well, it's a race and it is wacky as hell, but here the similarities end. I mean, the hero of the story has Dastardly and Muttley in the team after all. The animation is old style, with exaggerated expressions and weird situations that are, well, cartoonish. It is a all or nothing race using "traditional engines and not the new antigravity ones", but that pretty much means anything and basically the end of the race features an Orion rocket, at least in spirit. The army of the planet is after them, there are Kaiju level and planetary cannon weapons around and there are also the race organizers who take all kinds of crazy decisions that make little sense in any situations. It's an adrenaline rush, but also a classic love story. There is no moral, just a distillation of the will for your guy to win against all odds.
I cannot comment on the story of the film. It is so basic and archetypal, and clearly intentionally so, that I might just as well pretend there isn't one. What is great is the animation style. I think for any anime enthusiast out there, it is something worth watching. You won't stay up at night thinking about it later on, but as it is, it's fun from the beginning to end.
An ineptly named film let's Sam Elliott give a rare performance
This is an old man movie, thinking about his past and regretting some of the necessary choices he'd had to make in his life. A little slow, but lets Sam Elliott give one of his best performances and one in which he is not an obnoxious arrogant prick like most of his roles. I think someone thought putting Hitler and Bigfoot in the title would attract viewers, but what it did is set expectations for an entirely different genre with a completely different pacing than this film has. This is not some quirky comedy, this is not Inglorious Basterds Part Deux, it's not even an angry old man movie, like the ones Clint Eastwood did. Instead it is a slow (maybe too slow) thoughtful story about what we do, why we do it and the consequences of those actions. Total screen time for both Hitler and Bigfoot doesn't exceed five minutes.
I am not surprised by the low rating on Imdb. This is a film that requires a certain special time, maybe on a couch somewhere, with a stiff drink, preferably alone or with like minded people, pondering on the time that passes too quickly and the opportunities we miss on being better people. Not a perfect movie, but one of the good ones.
Iron Sky: The Coming Race (2019)
Still crazy, still fun, but not as good
They did Star Wreck, which was really fun. Then they did Iron Sky, which was not as good, but still really funny. Yet for the third try they did a sequel and, while it is very different from it, it still got hit by the sequel curse: it's not as good as Iron Sky! And I loved the references in the film, including one that was close to my heart: Hitler on a dinosaur which I really thought was a wink to Kung Fury. Yet it something was missing and I believe it is the original idea that both previous films thrived on. The production quality felt lower, too.
Bottom line: if it were standalone, it would be pretty damn funny. However, in contrast to the other two Timo Vuorensola films, it was weaker.
Death Sentence (2007)
The plot is ridiculous, but I might have bought it, if not for the really bad acting, directing and screenplaying. The dialogues are awful, people act like they are reading from the script in a coffee shop. It was just terrible to endure. Even the editing was abysmal.
I watched the film because someone said this is one of Kevin Bacon's best performances and that it is a fresh take on the revenge thriller, as the protagonist is faced with the consequences and emotional toil of his actions. Bull crap! Bacon is good in the film and I understand why his performance might look relatively stellar compared to the oh so bad acting from almost everybody else. And when I say this I include both John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund, actors I have a great respect for. The scenes make no damn sense! You also have to consider that the film is based on a novel written by the writer and producer of Death Wish! Those were not masterpieces either, but still: how has this been allowed to be so bad?! Honestly, I wonder how some of the writers and actors in this film ever got another job.
Bottom line: an immense disappointment from three actors that I really love and an unbelievably bad performance from everybody else.
A bunch of cliches bundled together
Imagine John Wick part 26 and you get this. It's lame, boring, doesn't add up and seems to serve no purpose than to serve gore and violence. And truthfully, that's boring, too. Hard R? I've seen French kids movies that are more brutal. And the cast... what were they doing there? Mads Mikkelsen? The annoying robot from Doctor Who? Lagertha? The Master from The Strain (no makeup, though), Richard freaking Dreyfuss looking so old you believe him when he says he is dying? It felt like one of those Russian movies that buy a few American actors to front something done with lots of money and no talent or passion and expected only to make e profit. No soul, just a eurogangster Hollywood clone.
Let me be unambiguous: this is not one of those "OK, they tried and it didn't work" movies. It's something that no one expected to work except as a trap for gullible viewers who believe bought magazine ad reviews. It's so bad that getting drunk will not make it funny. It's so bad that the few good scenes feel so out of place you suspect it's some kind of parody with a deeper sense that you can't grasp yet. It's so bad you can't believe you are watching it and you just have to watch it to the end to make sure it isn't all a setup for an after credit scene that points to the real movie. It's so bad you will consider scanning your brain for computer viruses after watching it.
Don't watch it. Shame, Mads! I had higher expectations from you.
The Feels (2017)
A lot of people talking about their feelings
It was a decent movie. The actors acted, the director directed, the script was complex and careful with the details. It was the plot that could put people off, being just about people getting together for a weekend for a lesbian bachelorette party and talking about their feelings. The title of the movie relates directly to orgasms and I think that it was the most artificial thing in the whole thing. I mean, yeah, orgasms are important to the story, but only for some characters and the interviews with everybody describing their first orgasm felt completely out of place to the rest of the film, which was about their life issues in general.
I can't in good conscience recommend the film, but it was definitely not bad. If you like this kind of movies - you know, people getting together in a retreat and NOT being chased by monsters or manic killers - then you will probably like this one.
Mary Shelley (2017)
Above formulaic and telling an important story, but missing some crucial part and a lot of the truth
Every now and then a movie comes along to tell a vital story from the history of man (or woman, as is the case here). Yet in presenting according to the modern sensitivities of American society today, all they do is sabotage the reality and truth of those stories. Such is the case with Mary Shelley, who is presented as a brave, if somewhat impulsive girl, who turns her emotional turmoil into the novel Frankestein, which thus gains so much power as the expression of emotional abandonment in a world ruled by cruel men. Yet in reality much of the story happened for different reasons, in different order or in a completely different way. I advise anyone interested in actual history to at least read Mary's Wikipedia page.
As the film goes, I thought Elle Fanning is beautiful and she portrayed much of Mary Shelley as intended. What I really disliked, though, was how direct, almost crass, her approach was towards Shelley. She all but threw herself at him, batting eyelashes, smiling adoringly and so on. She would have been 16 at the time and probably more innocent that modern girls, but no woman is that innocent and transparent. I thought Stephen Dillane played his part brilliantly, although I don't believe his character was very faithful to the real Godwin. The rest was decent. A special boo for adding Maisie Williams to the cast and giving her a two minute role and having her appear in the trailer as well.
Bottom line: the movie was decent, but it felt soulless somehow, even if the actors did a good job.
A.I. Rising (2018)
Good old school European Scifi, R-rated for sex, not violence
When I was a child I was reading Asimov and Van Vogt and Russian Sci-fi and it was all about the human condition when faced with the unexpected. Not about big fights, not about the boy saving the girl, not about superheroes. This film is like that, a Serbian film based on the short story of a Serbian writer from 1980 and played by two actors (and two extras) who are Slovenian and American-Serbian pornstar. Don't worry, it is spoken in English, only slightly accented. The space situation is actually bogus, a trip to Alpha Centauri that doesn't stand to any examination, but the interesting part is the personal dynamic between the two actors.
First of all (that that damn Anglo puritans) Stoya, the girl, is naked almost the entire film (and quite beautiful) and the two leads have sex quite often. It's not frivolous, though, and certainly not pornographic. Second, the story looks deeply into what our motivations as people are and what would we do when alone with a programmable machine that looks like a pornstar and can learn from experience. Yes, sex, of course, but what about after that? What about feelings that develop? I can easily compare this film with Her (which I hated) and I quite liked A.I. Rising. Or maybe it's closer to Zoe. Anyway, the exotic setting is used only as a pretext to examine what makes us tick, and that is what sci-fi is all about.
The acting is good, without being spectacular, the visuals are very artsy, nicely done, but sometimes pointless. The science is nonexistent and technology is used only to advance the plot. There are a lot of holes in said plot, but I advise you to skip them and continue watching, because attention was spent on the important things and the rest is just prop. The pacing is slow, which might annoy some people, but the original material was a short story after all. And yes, the title is horrendous :)
Bottom line: give it a try, especially if you are looking for something else than Hollywood action-fantasy or if you enjoyed old school sci-fi as a kid.
Manbiki kazoku (2018)
Unexpectedly good acting and a very thoughtful story, albeit a bit dramatic
If you want to see a Japanese live action adaptation after some manga, this is not the film for you. This is the kind of movie about poor desperate souls living on the outskirts of society and still being human. It's something that I am accustomed to, as it seems the entire Romanian cinematography can only be about that. It was a bit unexpected for a Japanese film, though, to see an exploration of small time crooks, living outside society, almost a taboo in the little I know about that culture, and them being presented as very human and having beautiful souls.
The plot is really unimportant, as the quality of the film is all about the details: great acting, attention to the little gestures, the subtle emotions and so on. It's an exploration of culture as a whole, not just the Japanese one, so in a way this is a very international film. Yet prepare yourselves for two hours of slow exposition of normal life. The movie is at the same time boring and wonderful and probably it takes one to be in a certain mood to fully appreciate it.
Bottom line: Good acting, even from the very young, and a slow exploration of people's souls while they are living their miserable lives.
A charming cast clearly having a lot of fun offsets the relative lameness of the story
Rosario Dawson looks way better than she has any right to, therefore an 18 year old falls for her, while having to deal with his liberal family, the jealous ex-lover of the woman and her paraplegic son. A lot of weird situations and a lot of humor to them make the case shine. However, the plot is strange, moving from dangerous situations that are described in an almost cartoonish way in order to diminish their darkness, to embarrassingly cliched romantic scenes that are simply ridiculous. It is almost impossible to take anything serious, even the situations which were not meant to be funny.
Bottom line: Nick Robinson is clearly going places and his charm saves the day. All the others, including gorgeous Dawson, do more than required of an actor in this kind of movie, which, I guess, is a testament to Macy's talent as a director. Storywise, though, it's a ridiculous movie and its rating will never go above average. It's a fun film, though.
Felt a mediocre attempt to bridge Her and Ex Machina in a lighter, romantic version that would appease audiences
The film is a character piece, mostly, with very good acting from McGregor, Seydoux and Theo James. The subject, an exploration of identity and relationships in a world where robots will soon look and feel like humans and there are pills that can recreate the feeling of falling in love for the first time. However, the ideas in the film were ridiculously simplistic, both in the technical realm and the emotional one. It felt like a weaker version of Her (if that is even possible) with the operating system replaced by robots. And then the issue is not how humans feel, but how the robots feel. It felt uneven, a botched attempt to capitalize on the success of other AI related films, but without the novelty or the desire to make you think. A movie version of the drug in the film that manipulates your emotions so you feel something romantic for just a few hours.
In fact, I am going to contradict the title. I believe it is what they wanted to achieve, but what they got was Her bridged with Pinocchio. Ouch! If it weren't for the decent performances of the main actors, this would have failed in a bad and boring way.
Chimera Strain (2018)
What if what people said was reality
This is just one more "Scientist playing God and failing miserably" story. It doesn't matter that the reasons he fails are morally extinct and that the way he handles crisis is to succumb to apparent psychotic strength, because he is a nice scientist that can't do violence. A cliched and ridiculous promise that doesn't really do justice to scientists (or mad scientists for that matter). No person of science would be intimidated by a psycho boss lady and her uber strengthy hench... person. It took three thirds of the movie to reach an obvious conclusions, only to change things as a superfluous twist that no one needed.
Bottom line: a movie in which all people acted for the money, rather than for the idea of the film, resulting in a boring, cliched, pointless plot and a sub mediocre performance.
Pushed to watch it, expecting it to be meh, having a lot of fun instead
I like tongue in cheek humor and this film is filled with it, from the "is he allowed to legally say that?" to doing to death origin stories. But it's more, the character is likable, the animation very nicely integrated (I loved the internal thoughts also appearing as comic book captions) and the pacing and characters nice. There are some things that are simply cliche, like the black family where people have to take sides either to be gang or state employees in the service of the system, but overall it was pretty nice. Doc Ock was uber cool and I think it was a real loss for missing a scene where she (yup, that how you do representation, with kickass characters!) would meet other versions of herself.
Overall, it was one of the best comic book films I've seen, and considering it's animated, that's saying something. I do like the dark side more, though, so lighthearted films rub me a little the wrong way, but since I can't have a Doc Ock series I have to settle :)
Mirai no Mirai (2018)
Above average anime about a little child's mind when he gets a little sister
The marketing tagline is misleading as is, I suppose, the title. Imagine a biography that starts with the main character as a child stumbling on a rock on the way back from visiting a distant relative and being called The Stumbling or The Relative.
The actual story is about a little boy named Kun coming to grips with the new addition to the family, his little sister (luckily not named Chan). And yes, they name her Mirai, which means future, therefore the spin on Mirai no Mirai, which is in no way the important part of the plot or the key character. First fascinated, then jealous of not being the center of attention in the household, Kun turns to fantasy, in which his dog is a prince, his sister is all grown up and he gets to meet his mother as a child and his great-grandfather as a young man. It's a coming of age film, where the age is quite small.
I found the animation pretty basic, but well done. Kun's character is a little bratty, but true to reality. Mirai or indeed any of the other characters have very little to bring to the story and are quite cardboard. All maybe except the father. It seemed to me the story a father left home to care for a little boy and his infant sister would write, musing on the weird and yet very recognizable behavior of the boy and raising the babbling baby to the rank of unpredictable natural disaster or even antagonist. It's not a wow film, but it does make you connect to early childhood feelings.
Vox Lux (2018)
A pretentious failure, saved only by Portman's performance
The subject is intriguing: an exploration of the current age, focused on artificial fame and mass shootings. When I heard about the basic plot of the film, I thought it would be the counterpart for A Star is Born and therefore I was expecting quite a different story. But no, the occasional emotional moments are blown apart by the unnecessary and overly cerebral narration, the plot goes all over the place, the split in four acts only shows how pretentious the whole thing is while it is basically saying nothing. And the ending? Having to watch Portman sing several pop songs was painful. Not because of her, but because of the awful music.
The thing is, Natalie Portman is fantastic! She portrays her character perfectly. Unfortunately, that's the only good (and short) part of the film. The young actress first gives me great hope, then she's replaced, Willem Dafoe's narrator is superfluous at best and Jude Law was wasted on his role. In the end it just feels like someone tried to do something very deep and intelligent without actually using their brain.