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A Quiet Place (2018)
A Quiet Place to Nap
A Quiet Place is a movie I've been looking forward to for quite some time. Not just because of the cast and director, but because the concept was so good and the first trailer really sold me on the movie. For the entire length of that trailer it's completely silent (save for the end) and I really loved that. Unfortunately, the movie is more like it's second trailer.
First of all there were good things about this movie. Emily Blunt really shines, and in a way carries the movie. She's the most competent talent in this entire movie, and honestly I don't know if I would've been able to watch the whole thing had she not been there.
I liked the way the movie was paced, how it takes place in real time for the most part. There weren't any cuts where an entire hour or more will go by, the movie just keeps going and doesn't stop. I liked that, it felt more personal. And with the tone of the movie it really did work.
The first scene was good as well, it served to introduce the conflict and the world well and really establish what this movie was going to be tonally. I also really liked the ending. Sure it was totally out of place but it was kind of campy and I liked that.
Despite liking the first scene it also completely ruined the movie. It introduces the fact that there is going to be a lot of music. The movie is full of stock horror movie ambient or otherwise music that completely ruins the tone. If the movie had been dead quiet and all we as the audience could hear was the world and actual characters I might have been closer to the edge of my seat. Every sound would actually mean something and have impact, but the constant soundtrack butting into that silence made sound much less impactful. If the movie had been from the perspective of the deaf daughter entirely that would've made for a pretty dang cool movie too.
Save for Emily Blunt, there is barely a competent actor in this movie. Krasinski clearly tries, but as the movie wears on he slowly starts to give less and less to his portrayal of a character he wrote. It's like his passion for the film was just ebbing away as he realized what he had done. The daughter is usually fine, but she never says anything and her facial expression remains the same from start to finish. The son is just awful. His facial expressions are over-exaggerated and silly looking, and serve only the pull the audience out and remind them that this is just a movie.
The movie tries to establish characters for the first third-ish, but the problem is is that there are no characters. They're just a bunch of flat, one-dimensional beings existing in an empty world. They have no personalities, save for barely visible character tropes. Krasinski is a concerned father, the daughter is a rebellious teenager, the son is a coward but only when the movie calls for it. I understand that the movie was trying to get the audience invested before the non-stop climax that takes up two-thirds of the movie, but the characters need to be people for an audience to care, and I didn't.
In fact, this whole first character bit is incredibly boring. I was constantly fighting off the urge to nod off, and I almost walked out just to wake myself up. Heck, this is probably the only movie I've genuinely considered walking out of the theater for, and it's not even the worst movie I've sat through in theaters. It's just so boring, and the biggest thing it had going for it is quashed in the first scene. Sure the climax is mostly fun, but it takes a while to really get going because of how sleepy I was.
As a whole it's pretty generic too. The directing is nothing to write home about, the scares are often cliches that anyone who's seen a horror movie before will recognize. There's a scene where the characters hear something that sounds like steel plates hitting their roof, and it turns out to be raccoons. Really? A fake-out scare? Don't we have enough of those? And the fact that it sounded like something really heavy hit the roof just shows how amateurish this movie is. It's like the director was about the introduce the monster, then halfway through the scene decided not to but just didn't fix the editing. Way to go.
The monsters bend to the will of plot convenience. They are drawn to sound and have no eyes. It's established in the movie that they are drawn to the loudest sound in a given area. So how do these monster somehow listen through loud rushing water and hear gentle breathing an entire floor below them and be drawn to that. They serve only to drive the plot, and when Krasinski wants to bend the rules he simply does. Unfortunately that's not how to set up an engaging universe, sorry.
Another thing that could easily be a nitpick was Blunt's character being pregnant. It's established early on that this whole apocalypse thing has been happening for well over a year. So what we're expected to believe is that this couple decided to attempt silent unprotected sex and succeeded? First of all, how stupid can you be, and second, how and why? Sure it was supposed to built tension for the plot, but in the grand scheme of things it just doesn't make sense.
The second trailer gives away the entire movie. Part of the reason why I think the first bit was so boring was because we'd seen it all before. The constant dialogue in my head was "and then there'll be a shot of him and then he'll do that and this'll happen and yep, I was right." Honestly you could just watch the second trailer and that's basically the whole movie. I typically try to avoid movie trailers, but when you go to see movies in theaters they're kind of hard to avoid, and I hate to use the marketing as a flaw because oftentimes that's not even something the director actually puts together, but come on. The trailers had to have been approved by someone.
Overall A Quiet Place was terrible. It was probably the most respectful theater I've ever been in (everyone was dead quiet for its entirety), but that really only made it easier to doze off. It's not that I hate John Krasinski, in fact I'm quite happy at how hard he's been trying to establish himself as an actual Hollywood presence outside of 'The Office', and it's great that he got an actual budget to work with for this movie. But he really screwed the pooch with this one. Under a more competent director, this could've been a pretty incredible movie, and who knows? Maybe one day someone else will take this concept and make something of it, but for now, we're left with this total disappointment of a film. In the end I definitely wouldn't recommend it.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
A Well Written, Intense Film that Screams 'Forgettable'
L.A. Confidential follows three cops in L.A. as they attempt to crack a murder case that is more than it seems.
The three main characters, excellently played by Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce, are also well written. Yes, their characters are generally built around one major character trait, but they still manage to branch out from just that. The characters all have motivations that are laid out in expository fashion, but said exposition isn't so drawn out that it derails the film's momentum. It's quick, and it works to flesh out the characters. Not only that, but the characters go through arcs. They get over things, move on from ideas they once indulged, act out rashly like people do. They're flawed in more ways that just being dirty cops, and I think that's one of the best selling points about them and the movie as a whole.
I'm a sucker for a good crime story, no matter whose side it takes. Here, L.A. Confidential manages to forge a complex, yet largely easy to follow story. Sure, I got confused with some of the names and such, but the dirty cop formula is one that is often easier to follow than police politics. The movie mixes both, and it actually works. The crime itself is engaging to see as the detectives find more clues and discover more along with the audience. It's a lot of fun, and often creates some stellar tension.
If I have but one real issue with the movie, it's how forgettable it is. With poster art as bad as it has, it's no wonder I never paid attention to it until I saw the ratings. It's not a movie that would jump to my mind when someone brings up great movies, or even crime movies for that matter. Maybe later into the conversation I'd start raving about how good it was, but it'd take a bit to get there.
Overall L.A. Confidential is a really solid crime drama with great characters and writing. Sure it's pretty forgettable, and I probably won't see it again for quite some time, but it's a solid watch for sure, and in the end I'd definitely recommend it.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Conveniences and Fun
Spider-Man: Homecoming follows Peter Parker as he attempts to take down an organization in his city to prove to the Avengers that he can be one of them.
Unlike in the previous Captain America movie where I found Spider- Man immensely annoying, in his solo movie he actually proved to be quite good. It's clear that he's putting a lot of energy into his role and having a lot of fun with it. His character is pretty eccentric, and seeing him being able to pull off this character in a solo movie is really refreshing. Plus the writing for his character is a lot of fun too. He's a nice, younger break from the other movies.
The movie as a whole is a lot of fun. The other actors are good and again, clearly having fun, the action sequences are fast and entertaining, it's all a good time. The only problem with this fact is the lack of stakes. It never seems like Spider-Man is actually in danger, there's always some convenient thing there to make sure nothing bad happens. The amount of problems Spider-Man actually fixes himself are incredibly small next to the amount of plot conveniences. Something bad will happen and immediately be fixed by some convenient, semi-connected to barely connected thing. It was too convenient to believe on multiple occasions, and I just didn't dig that.
There was one scene in the movie, closer to the end that involved a major villain and the love interest that I knew was supposed to be super intense and serious, but I just couldn't help laughing the entire way through. It felt like the movie suddenly became a sitcom for those ten minutes. The scene was totally out of place and so clichéd to the point where the audience can't actually predict it. It's a cliché that's been done to death, so most filmmakers know not to include it in a movie anymore. I'm not saying it was a bad twist, but it sure was a funny one. Where my problem with this scene really lies is towards the end when a character comes to a realization about something. It's as if the writers didn't know how to start wrapping up in the generic Spider-Man way and just went with some half-developed way that really doesn't make a lot of sense.
Overall I had a lot of fun with Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that doesn't make it a great movie. It's immensely convenient, lacking tension or stakes, at one point becoming too silly when it's supposed to be serious and at times sacrificing realism for rushed plot progression. Other than that this is a perfectly disposable, turn-your-brain-off action comedy to watch with a group of friends on a rainy day. In the end I would recommend it.
Personal Shopper (2016)
Multiple Unrelated Movies Mashed Together that Somehow Mostly Works
Personal Shopper follows a woman whose job is to be a personal shopper for a famous model, meanwhile her brother has recently passed away and she attempts to communicate with him from the spirit world.
For starters, the directing is pretty great, right from the opening scene. Olivier Assayas clearly has a great idea of how to hold the camera to invoke a particular mood or portray a certain idea. In my opinion, he's the best part of the movie.
Another one of the best things about this movie is Kristen Stewart. While she can be a little inconsistent, specifically with her line delivery from time to time, she is largely very good in this role, and it's really nice to see her continuing to try and do well at acting after Twilight.
As far as the story goes, it's kind of a mess. As I'm sure you got that same vibe from my plot synopsis, there's a lot going on with none of those events really relating to each other at all. While I think it's interesting that Assayas decided to take a very different route with this movie, it's still just a little jarring how unusual and unrelated so much of it is. While I never questioned or got angry at the movie tone or character wise, it's still just a little weird to think about. And at times, the flow was lost a little with the awkwardness of all the entirely different plot points.
Overall I liked Personal Shopper. It's a very unconventional movie, and it's certainly not for everyone. While the directing and acting is solid, the story as a whole is very unrelated and weird, and it comes off as pretentious a lot of the time. Furthermore, the pacing suffers as a result of all these story lines that feel like they should be different movies altogether. In the end there are very few people I'd recommend this movie to.
The Big Sick (2017)
Both Hilarious and Unconventionally Emotional at the Same Time
The Big Sick follows a Pakistani man who falls for a white woman, and how that affects his family life where he must choose between going with the arranged marriage that his parents want for him or leaving his family for the woman he loves.
There are a lot of things to love about this movie. First of all, the acting. Kumail Nanjiani as himself (more or less) is fantastic. It's clear that this is a role that he really cares about, and he puts a lot into it. Zoe Kazan as his love interest is fantastic. She's a realistic character that we as the audience grow to love over the course of the movie, and the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Their relationship is authentic and they play off of each other perfectly. The rest of the cast is great, like Holly Hunter as Kazan's mother and Ray Romano as Kazan's father. Both, again, have great chemistry and play off of each other in such a way that they feel like they have a real, developed relationship that'd be easy to get behind.
Something I've had a problem with in comedies about stand-up comedians is that a lot of the comedy comes from the stand-up, but in The Big Sick the stand-up isn't that funny, yet the movie is hilarious. Almost all the comedy stems from the characters and situations, and I found myself laughing-out-loud fairly often.
Another thing that I loved was how unconventional the movie is. It had a lot of opportunities to handle itself in the way that most romantic comedies would and opts for realism instead. That's not to say that the movie is unhappy, it's a very happy movie, but it doesn't try to censor the audience from the real world and how these situations would actually go down (or how they actually happened). It never sacrifices it's quality to appeal to a wider audience, and I really appreciated that.
If I have but one problem with the movie, it's that at one point I had to check my watch. For a moment I dreaded the amount of time left in this very long romantic comedy, but the movie never actually wastes time and that last 50 minutes flew by.
Overall The Big Sick is fantastic. The comedy is great, the story is handled perfectly, and the acting, characters, and chemistry are on point. The worst part was the guys sitting behind us in the theater who kept repeating the jokes after they were said and sarcastically (or not sarcastically, I couldn't tell) talking about the quality of the film afterwards. In the end I would definitely recommend watching this movie.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Beautifully Written and Acted
The Squid and the Whale follows two parents as they separate and how that affects their entire family.
Something that jumped out at me almost immediately was the writing. The father character in particular is shown to be a very real, well- realized character right off the bat. And the rest of the characters are pretty much written around him, and it all works perfectly.
But what is good writing with bad actors? The leading cast here is fantastic. Each one plays off of each other well enough to feel like a real family but poorly enough that you feel that every conflict has depth and gravitas. Especially towards the end when the characters begin to come to realize certain things the movie manages to really tug on some emotional heart strings and really make the audience feel for the characters, even the hardest ones.
The movie is directed with hand-held camera, giving it a found footage/documentary vibe. And as a result it feels much more realistic. Not to say that the conflict seemed fake, but the directing just added to it.
Overall I loved The Squid and the Whale. The direction, acting, and writing are all fantastic. It's hard to watch, and yet it's so engaging. In the end I would definitely recommend seeing this movie.
An Engaging Character Study Advertised as a Dumb Comedy
Colossal follows a woman who discovers that she controls a giant monster attacking Seoul with her movements, and how she tries to learn to manage that responsibility.
Upon seeing the trailers I dismissed this as a garbage comedy with a dumb concept, but upon seeing the movie it's something much more. For starters, the concept is handled in a way that I didn't at all expect. It handles it with a lot of seriousness. It takes a concept that could make for a mildly entertaining children's movie, and shows it how it would really play out. The characters who get involved are real people and when the monster comes into play there are real consequences. When it comes down to it, this is a movie about supernatural circumstances and how people would respond to those circumstances if they became reality. And as a result, the movie is very unique. It's a one-of-a-kind movie.
Some of this uniqueness does come through as self-aware, out there comedy. Most of it works, but it's very unusual. Still, with a concept like this one, they don't really feel out of place. Looking back at those scenes they were really weird, but still fun. Most of it isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but it's good.
As much as I did love this movie, there is a point towards the last act where one character has a fairly sudden mental switch and while it doesn't really distract from the flow of the film, it's hard to ignore it.
Overall I loved Colossal. As a comedy it isn't that good, but as a movie it's great. I loved the direction the movie took, and I can't wait to see it again. In the end I would definitely recommend watching it.
Patriots Day (2016)
A Jumbled Messy Bore
Patriots Day is about the bombing that took place in 2013 at the Boston Marathon, and follows multiple story lines revolving around that event.
The movie has about 6-8 different perspectives that it follows. The one about the terrorists themselves is fairly interesting, though the movie as a whole gets pretty good towards the end. The violence is realistic and engaging, it does a great job of getting the audience into the moment.
Otherwise Patriots Day sucks. For starters, the pacing is trash. For the most part the movie is incredibly boring. All the different perspectives are largely the same or just uninteresting, and the same is with the characters.
Speaking of the characters, none of them are any good except for the terrorists. The opening of the movie is an introduction to all the different perspectives, and it's awful. Each one is the same thing: people happy together with dramatic music in the background. It's a horrible way to start a movie because it's so monotonous, and the characters themselves are uninteresting and unrealistic. We don't get the vibe that these characters could actually be real people. And when the bombing goes down all these characters exist as catalysts for tear bait at the end. Half of them don't get referred back to until the end of the movie when we as the audience is supposed to cry over them, but we care so little (and have largely forgotten about their problems) that it just feels lazy. I didn't even know one of the characters was the chief of police until like halfway through the movie when his role actually became important. And moreover, the movie keeps introducing new characters after the beginning. Even after the halfway point it tries to introduce new characters and it just doesn't work. It's like Peter Berg really didn't have enough ideas for a 2+ hour movie. It's the 2013 Boston Marathon, surely there's more stuff you could've done! This was a pretty big deal, surely stuff actually happened behind the scenes.
The terrorists were the only interesting ones because they actually had unique motivations and complex conflicts. And for a movie where they're the bad guys, I feel like that's a bad thing.
Overall Patriots Day sucks. The pacing is awful, the characters are bland, and the bad guys are the only good characters. To me, 2016 has been a bad year for Peter Berg. In the end I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Well Directed, Tasteless Snorefest
A Clockwork Orange follows a young man involved in a brutal gang who is used for an experiment that tries to cure his criminality.
Stanley Kubrick is one of the biggest things to appreciate about this movie. His directing is quite good. Despite everything else in the film, his work behind the camera was something I couldn't ignore.
In addition, Malcolm McDowell as Alex, the protagonist, is quite good. His performance only gets better as the movie progresses, making the last act all the better.
Speaking of the last act, it's pretty great. The direction it decides to go is fascinating, with all the stuff the main character goes through as a result of his past life, and it really says something on society as a whole, all the while not being too horribly blatant about it's message.
As far as the rest of the movie, it's okay. The first two acts are painfully boring, and even aspects of the third are too. I found little purpose in the tasteless display that the first chunk of A Clockwork Orange was. It was like the movie was trying to be both brutally edgy and artsy at the same time, but it forgot to be tasteful about it. So much of the movie is over the top for no real reason other than to be over the top. I read a little on the movie where it tries to draw a parallel between the movie's content and the experiments that Alex is subjected to, the parallel being the audience's inability to look away, but I found myself looking away from the screen far more than I have in a long time. I had no problem looking away and paying minimal attention to the film while I looked at my phone or watched the paint dry on my walls. The first two thirds are incredibly simple and frankly, rather uninteresting. It was unnecessarily drawn out and as a result I felt myself dozing more than once. The movie started out actually making me feel physically sick, which I thought was a good thing because that meant that I was semi-invested already (it was able to make me feel something genuine early on), but then it divulged into a boringly unoriginal story that I simply couldn't care less about.
Some aspects of the third act prove to be rather absurd as well. I know that I said earlier that most of it works really well and isn't overly blatant, but there's one scene in the movie that really doesn't make a lot of sense. It didn't need to be in the movie really. It involves two characters from the first act, and it felt kind of unnecessary. Like it didn't need to involve those two characters, it could've (and should've) been literally anyone else.
And the music is, while mostly good, overused to death. Most every track started to feel like a frustratingly obvious cop-out, where instead of showing actual characters and story we just got montages and narration to said tracks. And that music was all the same. It was like Kubrick could only get access to two or three tracks and recycled those over and over.
Overall A Clockwork Orange isn't my cup of tea. While the leading performance, directing, and final act are solid, the first two acts, use of music, and pacing were all lackluster. I've read reviews where people say 'you have to see the movie more than once to fully appreciate it' but I'm sorry that I can't stand the idea of sitting through this movie more than once. The artsy stuff all feels artsy for the sake of being artsy, and that's it. I'm not curious about what everything else means, it doesn't seem like there is any meaning to begin with. So in the end I personally wouldn't recommend this movie.
A Monster Calls (2016)
Brilliantly Impactful and Perfectly Balanced
A Monster Calls follows a young boy whose mother is suffering from cancer and how he meets an imagined tree monster who teaches him how to cope via stories.
For starters, every cast member kills it. Lewis MacDougall as the main character is outstanding. More often than not child actors don't work out, and even if they are good they have a few hiccups here and there. This kid didn't. Not once did I cringe at his acting abilities, nor did I ever not buy a single thing he said. He was fantastic. The supporting cast, including Toby Kebbell as the father, Sigourney Weaver as the grandma, Liam Neeson as The Monster, and especially Felicity Jones as the mother. Each one at first embodies what may seem like a clichéd character at first but very quickly and organically brings immense humanity to each role. One of my favorite aspects of the cast is how they are used. MacDougall fills the screen for most the entire run time, whereas the rest of the cast are supporting characters, but it never feels like any of them should've received more or less screen time. We got just enough time to introduce each character before humanizing them, and as a result it all flowed together so well.
The directing is fairly good as well. J.A. Bayona knows his way around a camera, and while the movie very much feels like a mainstream Hollywood movie with a good budget, he still manages to add his own flair to the way he shoots it.
The character of The Monster consumes a good chunk of screen time, and thankfully he looks fantastic, along with all the rest of the special effects. The way he moves and talks and interacts with the cast are all fluent, and not once did I disbelieve anything I was seeing on screen. Sure, it is obvious that The Monster is CGI, but it was never distracting, and I recall even audibly acknowledging how good the effects were as I was watching the movie. And furthermore, The Monster tells stories and there are almost always stylized animations to go along with it, and each are distinct and beautiful to look at.
The writing is fantastic. The dialogue is very well written, and the way the story is carried by both the real life story and the stories told by The Monster are engaging to say the least. The characters are relatable and investing, and each one plays off of each other incredibly well. I'm not afraid to admit that I was crying a fair bit towards the last half as a result of these characters. Even characters who maybe hadn't received a whole lot of screen time made me cry, which shows just how well they were written in such a small amount of time.
The last act in particular is fantastic. Certain scenes towards the end show that the movie doesn't hold any punches, that it's willing to get right to the point over censoring itself. And as I said earlier, it honestly made me cry.
There were a few little things that I really appreciated about the movie as well, such as the name Lewis MacDougall being credited first at the beginning. So often mainstream movies advertise their biggest actors first, regardless of how small their roles are, and it's very refreshing to see a no-name child actor receive a credit first. Another thing was the sort of 'twist ending'. It's not really a twist, but there are two interpretations of it: a happier one and a darker one, and I appreciated that the movie was willing to present both those options to the audience, that the movie could actually be exploring something much different and more real than what the average audience member might pick up on.
Overall A Monster Calls is outstanding. It's excellently performed, written, directed, and filled with top notch special effects and gut-punching emotional content. I absolutely loved every moment of this movie, and I can't wait to see it again. In the end I would definitely recommend this movie.
To the Bone (2017)
A Fantastic Lead Performance Weighed Down by Poop
To The Bone follows a young woman with anorexia who decides to join a support home where an unconventional doctor attempts to heal her and others.
Lily Collins shows herself to be quite the actress in this movie. She brings a lot to her character, and you can tell that there's a huge amount of depth to her just by the subtleties of her performance and the way she delivers her lines. Not only that, but she literally starved herself for the role. Now that's dedication, especially for a Netflix movie.
Also, the disorder itself is pretty well portrayed. All the characters' little things they do to ensure that they stay thin and the way they talk about it is all very interesting. Being a psychology person myself, I found a lot of enjoyment out of that.
Sadly, the rest of the movie is awful. For the first half of the movie, Keanu Reeves (who plays the doctor) is constantly out of breath, which is really distracting. It's like the guy's been running laps between each scene he's in, and even when he gets over that he's still not a good actor. There's a reason he doesn't do drama, it's because he can't.
The characters themselves have pretty good chemistry, and there is a strong sense of community among them, but individually they're all pretty uninteresting. The character of Luke is a standout in that he's just the worst. He's British and he's super outgoing. Sure, that sounds like fun, but he's outgoing to the point where it's unrealistic. There's a scene where he interrupts someone just to break out into song. And that's it. He just starts singing. There's no reason for it, it has no relevance. He sings the same line later too. But it's not like it supposed to be as a joke either, because he's actually a good singer. So it ends up being this completely out-of-place, awkward scene that does nothing.
Despite how well written Collins' character is, everyone else is awful. Their dialogue is uninteresting and often cringe-inducing. None of them seem real in the slightest.
Despite the fact that I can tell that the movie is trying to be unconventional in it's storytelling, it really doesn't work. The way it's shot, the music, the way the music is used, everything is horribly conventional. There's nothing special about how this movie is made.
There were a couple of defining scenes that really forced this movie down a couple rungs. The first of which takes place in a room where rain falls. It's a scene where a generic song plays over top of it and the song sings about what is going on in the scene. Considering how out of place the scene is, I expect that it was built completely around the song. The second scene is an 'emotional' scene between the main character and her mother. Considering there's no development of their relationship to begin with, it was hard to not only enjoy and embrace the impact of the scene, but it was hard not to laugh. It was so absurd, and I'm sure that if the characters had an on screen relationship it could've worked, but without that it was comedy gold. It was like an SNL skit or something. The third of which was some stupid Inception-ish stuff, where Collins' character has a dream within a dream. She dreams that she dreams about her future. I don't know why she couldn't just dream about her future instead. Would've made it less confusing.
Overall To The Bone is awful. There's so much terrible stuff in this movie, and yet somehow I still find myself torn between recommending it and not. Lily Collins is fantastic, and the disorder itself is well portrayed, but the rest of the movie is putrid trash. If you're still interested in it, I'd watch it simply for Collins' performance. In the end, however, I don't think I would recommend this movie.
Kaze tachinu (2013)
A Visually Appealing, Poorly Written Animated Biography
The Wind Rises follows Jiro Horikoshi, a man who designed fighter planes during World War II.
As per usual, Studio Ghibli creates a beautiful looking movie here. The animation is breathtaking, with the scenery being gorgeous to gawk at and the animation itself fluent.
More importantly, the first half of the story and almost everything revolving around planes is really well written. The main character, Jiro, is interesting and well-written. The way he acts is realistic, and it's easy to believe that this guy actually existed.
I went into this movie not knowing it was about planes. By the look of the poster art, I thought it was a romance. For the whole first hour and a bit I was just waiting for that to start. The first bit wasn't bad by any means, but I felt like there was more waiting, like we were wasting time or developing characters to make a more effective last act. Then the romantic aspect started and I remember audibly telling the movie "no stop, go back!" It was awful. The characters don't spend nearly enough time together on screen to form any chemistry or relationship, and then suddenly they're getting married. It's out of nowhere and I really didn't care at all for their relationship.
After that it keeps switching between romance and planes. Again, the planes stuff is cool, but the romance is awful. And this is where the movie gets particularly stupid. Characters make decisions that make no sense whatsoever. I get it, this is based on true events and maybe these decisions were actually made for these reasons, but I don't care about the source material. Make it less accurate for the sake of making a good movie, I don't care. Don't paint this character as a genius then turn him idiot for the last act, it just doesn't make sense.
Also the voicing acting is pretty bad. Now I watched the dub, shoot me if you want, I don't care. It's the official dub, so it should hold to the same standard of quality as the original. And it doesn't. Go ahead and tell me to watch the sub because it's 'so much better', but I prefer to watch my movies instead of read them, especially when that option is available professionally. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is awful as Jiro. He's so dull, it's like he's literally reading the script for the first time, not processing a single line and just saying it all. Moreover, John Krasinski as one of his friends is overly excited all the time. And I mean, ALL THE TIME. Yet his character's face looks constantly unimpressed or bored. It's like the voice actors should've been switched.
Overall The Wind Rises is not the movie I hoped it'd be. Despite expecting one thing, I enjoyed the other part much more. Only about half this movie is good, and the rest is still littered with no-so- great aspects. In the end I wouldn't recommend this movie.
Hardcore Henry (2015)
Barely a Guilty Pleasure
Hardcore Henry follows a man turned cyborg as he attempts to rescue his wife from the men who kidnapped her.
This is the first action movie to be filmed completely in first person. And some of the action is actually pretty fun. It's almost always exciting and moving, things are always blowing up and stuff. It's a good time, or at least it's trying to be.
It's clear though that Hardcore Henry isn't supposed to be a serious movie. It's supposed to be a self-aware over-the-top action comedy, and a lot of that comedy works. Very often the humor is well-timed and laugh-out-loud funny. I really enjoyed those parts of the movie.
Despite this, the movie is also too self-serious at times. There really isn't any part of this movie that should be serious, and yet it still tries from time to time. Yet the movie is so rushed that it simply can't develop anything, and as a result any grain of investment is ultimately lost.
Furthermore, the movie is nauseating to watch. Like I said it's completely in first person. It's similar to a found footage movie, which is a style I am quite a big fan of. But here it just doesn't work because most of the time I can't tell what's going on, so it's honestly pretty boring. And when it's not boring I feel like I'm going to throw up. I'm pretty sure I actually had to look away a couple times in fear that I would puke.
Also the special effects are just terrible. If you see the movie you'll know this for yourself.
Overall Hardcore Henry is a nauseating, if not boring, if not very funny action film, but 9/10 times it's one of the first two. I really didn't enjoy this movie, and in the end I wouldn't recommend it at all.
A Psychological War Film
Dunkirk is the story of the allied troops who were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk and surrounded by German soldiers as they try to survive and escape, meanwhile volunteers sail their boats out to save the soldiers, meanwhile fighter planes attempt to defend the soldiers on the beach from German bombers.
Typical to Christopher Nolan, this movie is fantastic. Nolan directs the crap out of it. Not only is his camera-work fantastic, but the scenery he captures is beautiful. They manage to really nail the tone, with it being a little claustrophobic despite the location being a massive beach. The characters are stuck and there is absolutely no way for them to escape. Right from the opening scene, Nolan nails the tone and realism of the film.
On top of that, Hans Zimmer's score is far from only being the icing on the cake. In truth, the music proves to be something of a major character, assisting in the carrying of the rest of the cast through this horrible event. The music perfectly suits every situation, and whether or not you feel for the characters, the music makes sure you at least feel a little tense.
Speaking of the characters, there really aren't any. Sure, there are like 300,000 soldiers on the beach, yet we still feel for them. The main character has maybe four lines in the movie, yet the reason why he's so good along with the rest of the characters is because the movie sets up this horrible situation and instead of filling the movie with gratuitous war violence, a lot of it is psychological. When a character is desperately trying to escape from drowning you definitely feel for them. I don't know about you, but I don't want to drown. And even without speaking, the characters make decisions and do things that are completely logical and understandable. There are no dumb people in this movie, and as a result they prove to be very human. There is so much humanity in these characters, so it's very easy to relate to them in some way.
Part of why the characters are so humane, however, is because of the acting. From the big names like Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh, to the first-timers like Fionn Whitehead, there is not a single bad, or even average, performance in this movie. The lead, Whitehead, is absolutely outstanding in his first full-length film role, pulling off a very human performance simply by the way he moves, acts, and reacts. My personal favorite, however, was Cillian Murphy. He plays a shell-shocked soldier and absolutely nails it for the short amount of time he spends on screen. His character holds so much depth and intrigue, I looked forward to every moment he spent on screen.
The movie feels real too. The gunshots sound real, and the way the action scenes are shot are in-the-moment and authentic. When Hardy flies his plane and attempts to shoot down others, it's not epic. It's not really even that fast-paced. It's honestly just kind of tedious and frustrating, watching him carefully line up his shot before shooting. And again, the claustrophobia is very real. We get plenty of in-the-cockpit shots that show just how incredibly uncomfortable it would've been in that plane. Again, it's very real and no matter how 'weak' the characters are I felt for each one. And there's so little hope in this movie. Characters end up in terrible situations and don't always get saved last minute. Things happen that would happen in real life but in a conventional movie? No way. Just when you think the movie may be divulging to conventionalism it throws a grenade at your face and you remember that this is real.
Towards the end of the movie it felt a little over-dramatic. The music, the narration, the way it was shot. Of course then I remembered that this was a dramatic event. What happened was not pretentious, it was a big deal. Deciding to use a dramatic filming style at the end made sense.
If I can find one problem with this movie, it's that at times it felt a little slow. Not that it wasn't interesting, the movie is fantastic at showing the audience what happened without making it long and boring, but it does slow down from time to time. Certain moments may feel a little out of place, but in terms of the plot still make sense.
Overall Dunkirk is fantastic. Just about everything works, and you should absolutely go see it. From the music to the directing to the acting, it's great. Go see it. It's worth your money.
Get Out (2017)
Subtle Mystery at it's Finest
Get Out follows a young black man as he goes to visit his white girlfriend's parents. From there, weirder and weirder things begin to take place.
To start, the acting is pretty solid. Daniel Kaluuya as the leading character paints himself as something of the modern 20-something- year-old. He's relatable, he's mostly interesting, he's got his flaws and he's got his perks. And he's a photographer. Gotta appeal to the hipster crowd too. In all seriousness his character is very realistically played, but even more so when he needs to hit an emotional high note this guy nails it. Starring alongside him is Allison Williams whom I believe said that this was her first movie. Seeing her on screen that's not something you'd think. She's so subtle and so well played, even if she is a little dull from time to time. You can tell that's part of her character, that's what she's going for and it actually works really well. The performances of the two parents, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford, are great as well. I'm going to sound like a broken record here but again, subtlety, they got it. In a film of overwhelming mystery, the subtlety here plays a key role and works fantastically from start to finish.
But what are good actors without a good screenplay? The writing is quite good. While a few lines came off as forced or awkward, the vast majority of it works very well, and the way the story progresses is engaging and very mysterious. It never really hints at what the end goal may be, and yet it makes sense when it's finally revealed. There's no 'eureka!' moment when the twist is revealed, yet that may be the very reason it worked so well. Because once again, subtlety.
Probably the biggest star of this film is Jordan Peele, the director. It's hard to believe that this is the first time he's made a full length film. His ability to direct is fantastic. The way it's shot is that of a professional, and I look forward to seeing more of his filmmaking career in the near future.
Most horror movies feature generic music cues and sharp, loud sound effects to keep the viewer awake through it's entirely boring scare tactics, and while Get Out does use those same sound effects, they are woven into actual music that is quite good. And I get the feeling that the music was partially used to satire typical horror movies, considering how unique this one is compared to others. And while it may come off of as generic or lazy to 'cue the creepy music when creepy stuff happens', the music is still good and, upon a second watch, actually justified.
While I enjoyed Get Out for the most part both times I saw it, that's probably my biggest problem with it. The first time I saw it I didn't care at all. The build up seemed to be going nowhere, and it was all just so weird. However, when the twist ending rolled around I suddenly understood and enjoyed it much more. Upon a rewatch I was able to pick up on the things I missed, along with some unexpected comedic foreshadowing. And while some of the comedy did work, some of it didn't. Unlike the trailer made it seem, the movie is hardly a satire on modern horror, or even a comedy to begin with. It's very much a mystery, so don't go into it expecting to laugh.
Overall I really enjoyed Get Out. The acting, writing, and story are good, and the soundtrack is effectively used. It's a subtle mystery that hits more high notes than low ones. It's one that I can certainly see myself returning to time and time again to see and pick up on new things. In the end I'd definitely recommend it, but moreover, I'd recommend seeing it more than once.
Palo Alto (2013)
Some Good Performances and Repetitive Scenarios
Palo Alto follows two teenagers specifically as they live their lives at the end of their high school years, as they and their friends develop relationships and attempt to balance their stress with everything else.
Gia Coppola does a great job with the directing here. There were several scenes that proved pretty to look at or just plain flattering for the actors or sets. It was nice to see someone putting effort into the movie.
As far as acting goes, Emma Roberts shows herself to be a talented actress that simply hasn't found the role to make her one of the greats. There's an Oscar winner in there somewhere, she just hasn't found her yet. Jack Kilmer most notably pulls off a solid performance as the other leading teenager. He pulls off the whole stoner persona really well, while still bringing depth to his character. And James Franco also manages to pull off a note-worthy performance here as a high school soccer coach. He's genuine, no matter what the material is that he's given.
As for the rest of the acting, it ranges from bad to okay. The main child actor is pretty terrible. Every line he's given is just an atrocious read and it's so blatant that this kid has no idea what he's doing, nor any concept of how to act. I know he's a kid, and thankfully his role was small, but I don't really care. He sucked. There was also this voice over of a judge reading something to one of the characters and he's just monotone for the entire thing. Nobody talks like that. It's like he was literally reading off the script. Nat Wolff was kind of off and on here. Sometimes he was pretty good, and other times he wasn't so much.
Some of the writing was good. It resonated with me and I was able to relate to some of the feelings of the characters. But a lot of the time it was way out there. Coppola didn't seem to know how to make these characters hook up romantically, because a lot of the time they just start making out and hope for the best. And it works a lot of the time. Like apparently there's no such thing as relationship made organically, people just mack and pray. Some of the characters are kind of dumb sometimes. They jump to conclusions and overreact. Furthermore, the movie attempts to cram as much relatable high school junk in as possible, and as a result none of it receives nearly as much development as it should. There's the whole soccer thing, then there's graduation and relationships and partying and volunteering (no working apparently) and as a result multiple of these things take a backseat to each other. And while some of them did receive plenty of attention, many didn't. Also there's this metaphor for life that gets briefly mentioned at some point in the movie and then gets brought up again at the end as if it's a huge deal and has huge significance to the entire movie and all that, when in actuality the metaphor is poorly presented and doesn't make a whole lot of sense with the rest of the movie. It's pretty pretentious.
And the pacing is just flat out bad. When the movie seemed to be wrapping up it'd only hit halfway, and from then on I was losing interest with every minute. And it doesn't help that the movie is super repetitive. It's a lot of the same scenarios with the same characters dealing with the same stuff. It gets pretty boring after a while.
Overall Palo Alto kind of sucks. I like the concept of taking two very different teenagers and showing their story from their perspective and how they interact with each other and all that, but a concept alone isn't enough to save an entire film. It's often poorly written, poorly acted, and boring. Sure the directing and some performances are saving graces, but they simply can't support the entire film. In the end I wouldn't recommend it.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
An Absolute Blast of a Horror with a Rocky Start
Alien: Covenant follows a colonization ship called 'Covenant' as it sets out to, you guessed it, colonize another planet. Along the way the crew comes across an uninhabited planet with all the means of supporting life, and it's closer than the one they were going to, so they decide to check it out. What's the worst that could happen?
I know I'm in the minority when I say that I absolutely loved this movie. While it isn't as good as the two original Alien movies, it's up there to me.
With the exception of some parts of the beginning, I thought that the movie was really well written. It did a good job of developing the characters through quick dialogue just enough to increase the stakes higher than if they were all expendable. All the characters, who are married to one another, speak to each other like actual married couples. And it isn't just generic lovey-dovey dialogue, it's mature and realistic. While I didn't always know who was married to who most of the time, the stakes were still there. And even when the characters landed on the planet the way the story was carried from then on was great fun but still well-written enough to make complete sense.
As a whole, the movie is both creepy and intense. With the stakes put in, the action is just that much more exciting. And with antagonists like xenomorphs, it's terrifying. There was a slight alteration to the aliens that works really well with the story, and actually makes them infinitely more creepy. It adds another layer of intensity and complexity to the movie that I personally really appreciated. Furthermore, the movie constantly has this level of urgency where the characters learn fairly quickly that there's something wrong, and a large portion of the movie is spent with them simply trying to get out of that problem. But they can't. Very little of this movie is glossed over or skipped ahead of, especially towards the last two acts. So the audience is constantly on edge, waiting for the moment when the characters will either meet their end or get away.
The movie is beautiful, whether it be the set design, landscapes, or CGI. The sets are fleshed out for the most part and manage not to bore. The landscapes on the planet are breathtaking, and the CGI is great. A lot of people had a problem with the movie replacing the classic alien costumes with CGI. Personally I have no problem with how a filmmaker decides to use special effects, so long as it looks good. Sure, I prefer practical effects too, but I doubt this movie could've been done with costumes. The aliens move in oftentimes inhuman, impossibly fast ways that simply couldn't be captured by a regular human, and thus the fear and intensity would be largely gone. And in-movie, the CGI looks great. The aliens are creepy and mostly real, though it isn't unobvious that they are fake. It's not so bad that it took me out of the movie, though.
The acting I found to be often good and more often fine. There wasn't a lot to praise, other than Michael Fassbender. Acting-wise, this guy carries the movie. He plays two characters, and he's fantastic as both. Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup were good as the leading characters as well, and the rest of the cast was good for what little they were often given.
My biggest problem with this movie was the beginning. While it did a good job setting the scene and stakes and showing the contrast between the people and androids (which helped with the character development as well), there was one point that I think was poorly timed and another that was glossed over. The main character spills her beans about a semi-important idea she had with her husband too early, and it just doesn't feel natural. If it had been done later, it would've been better. Later, when the characters go to the other planet, it takes them a couple weeks. Those weeks are completely skipped. Those weeks would've been the perfect time to slip the character and her husband's idea in, as well as develop the other characters. Personally I think that the movie simply should've spent maybe half an hour in those weeks, making it a two-and-a-half-hour- long movie. That way the stakes could've been even higher. Although the dialogue did suffer at the beginning a little, and Waterston's performance went from very emotional to not emotional way too quickly, causing a small problem with her performance.
Overall Alien: Covenant is a solid addition to the Alien franchise. While I don't think it's as good as the first two, I'd say it's right behind them. I don't really get all the hate going it's way, I had an absolute blast with it. In the end I would definitely recommend it despite the fact that you'll probably complain about it too.
Before Sunset (2004)
The Same Great Characters with a Not-So-Slight Hiccup
Before Sunset follows Jesse and Celine 9 years after they first met as they meet up once more and hang out for the hour or so before Jesse has to catch a plane.
Similar to 'Before Sunrise', this is a movie about the same two people talking. And that's it. No real plot or anything, it's just a reunion. And it still works. These characters haven't lost their flair quite yet, it's still interesting to watch them interact with one another.
Once again, the acting is all pretty solid as well, with both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy pulling off great performances. And as per usual, they play off of each other very well.
And yet again, the writing is good. The characters have realistic, yet semi important, conversations that are rarely boring or uninteresting.
Still, with a movie like this the pacing does suffer. There are scenes in this movie that dragged more than they should have, and they were noticeable. It was noticeable when they picked up again, and they were noticeable when they started, for no particular reason really. It's just how the movie is structured.
This review has been a rehash of the one I wrote for 'Before Sunrise', although I do have one new thing to say. There's a scene towards the 1 hour mark where one of the characters has a sudden outburst and it's kind of out of place. Everything's going well and their conversations are wrapping up and suddenly one of them just gets super mad and starts ranting. While it wasn't totally out of nowhere, it noticeably changed the tone so quickly that it was hard to ignore.
Overall Before Sunset is, while good, not as good as it's predecessor. Everything good about the first one is good in the second one, but tonally this sequel has some challenges. In the end I would only recommend this movie if you liked the first one. There's really nothing new here from the first one.
A Modern Film Style Placed Over a Fantastical Setting Somehow Works Out
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a retelling of the story of King Arthur, unsurprisingly. It follows a young boy as he is separated from his parents and raised outside of his kingdom. When he pulls the king's sword from the stone, the current king learns who he is and sets out to stop him from claiming his place as king.
The movie is very much a fantasy with a medieval setting, but it blends modern aspects into it as well. And surprisingly they all work. The costumes aren't your typical medieval attire, yet they still fit the world that the movie has built well enough not to be glaring. And the music is similar. It's exciting and not as medieval-sounding as one may expect, but again it works. And more specifically, the directing style which is much more modern and fast-paced, works perfectly with King Arthur. A lot of scenes are made a lot better by Guy Ritchie's style actually. Near the beginning of the movie there's a montage showing Arthur growing up, and it's shot in such a way that the audience can tell what's happening and learns something about the main character while keeping it fast and interesting. There's a mini plot line that goes on in the montage, and it's all shot in such a way that it isn't boring to watch, unlike other montages or showing-the-progression- of-time tactics.
Apart from the directing, the acting is pretty good as well. Jude Law in particular stands out as a king with evil intentions, but he still maintains a level of humanity. So no matter who's side your on, you can't help but feel for his character. And even without that, he's still a solid, subtle villain. Charlie Hunnam does a good job as Arthur as well, though not as much as his villainous counterpart. The performance of Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as the mage stands out in that she's rather dull. Her acting is flat and monotone, but she's consistent enough that it's clear that that's the character she's going for, so it isn't unbearable to see her on screen.
There's one scene in this movie (basically the entire second act) that I found to be particularly exciting. Ritchie's distinct directing style shines here once again, and it's both fun and engaging. It proves that the movie is willing to take some risks, and while the fact that the scene happens is a little formulaic, it's still an awesome scene.
Speaking of excitement, the movie as a whole is just that. The action is well choreographed and well-shot, and it's just plain fun. It was shot in such a way that it wasn't difficult to tell what was going on, but still maintained a fast pace and a level of urgency, and it was just plain awesome to watch.
As whole, King Arthur still follows a formula unfortunately. And while that isn't glaringly obvious while watching the movie, it's still present after the fact.
Overall King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is fantastic. The directing, acting, action, and distinctive style all make it one of the better movies I've seen as of late. While it does follow a formula, it isn't bothersome enough to ruin the movie. In the end I would definitely recommend this movie.
A Fantastically Well-Made Movie that Falls Short
Moonlight follows a young African-American boy growing up in a ghetto.
From the opening scene, this is a very well-made movie. For starters, the directing is fantastic. The way shots are composed and the length of them at times is all very impressive, clearly displaying Barry Jenkins' skill as a director.
Another thing I noted were the performances. There wasn't a single weak one, and while not all of them were amazing, it's not like they were ever bad. Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali in particular shine. I was disappointed to see that Ali's character wasn't in the movie all that much, but all the same he stole every scene he was in.
As a whole, the movie was very well written, with consistent character dialogue and a realistic progression of events. Yes there was the occasional hiccup here and there, but as a whole it was solid.
Although sparsely used, the music proved rather effective for most of the scenes that it was incorporated into.
And to top it off, the title itself has significance to the movie and it's message, but it makes you think and pay attention to understand it.
So where did this movie falter? Well, first of all the music. I know I said it was good, but on occasion it was used poorly, thus making a scene out to be more important than it actually was. And this was an ongoing problem with the movie, regardless of whether or not music was involved. It's pretty self-important at times, which made it a little hard to fully enjoy. Some scenes seemed to exist for the sole purpose of being like this. There's a scene where a man holds a young boy in the ocean like he's baptizing him, and while the scene is just about the boy being taught to swim, the way it's shot makes it out like it's some super important and meaningful scene when in actuality it's just a swimming lesson.
Furthermore, the way the movie is divided up doesn't always work. The first act is really good for the most part (save for a couple of awkward scenes), but as the main character grows up it becomes less and less engaging. The flow is broken by the second act, and everything after that feels like a drawn out segment that, in actuality, shouldn't be nearly as long as it is. The first act had some good development and flow, but the other two acts just feel like awkwardly separate parts of the movie.
Overall Moonlight is a solid movie that falters in how broken up it is and it's own self-importance. I had a lot of the same problems with the movie 'The Tree of Life' as I did here. They're both very well-made technically speaking, but both are a little slow and pretentious, making it hard to fully enjoy either one. The only difference is that Moonlight focuses more on story than it does on symbolism and artistic stuff. In the end I would still definitely recommend giving Moonlight a go.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Well-Acted, Directed, and Written
Before Sunrise follows a young man and woman who meet on a train and realize how good their chemistry is, so they decide to hang out for the rest of the night.
As per usual, Ethan Hawke kills it. While I wouldn't call this his best performance, he's still fantastic. And same goes for Julie Delpy. She does a great job, and the two play off of each other so well. It's a relationship that was actually authentic. I bought the idea that these two people were this compatible and could form a relationship.
The writing is fantastic. Partly the reason why these characters are so authentic and fleshed out is because they are both given personalities portrayed by amazing writing. Their characters are thought out and well developed by the end.
Another thing that came as a surprise was the directing. There were a handful of shots that went on for several minutes, during which the characters just talked. They had a huge chunk of lines to memorize and they had to play these particular characters for the entire time, again proving how great the actors are. Sure, there was probably a lot of improvisation, but even then it's still impressive that they managed to stay in character that long.
If I have but one problem with the movie it's that it could drag from time to time. Considering the movie is made up completely of conversations between two people over the course of several hours. It's not exactly exciting or riveting in plot, it's relaxed. And sometimes I felt like that too, maybe a little too much.
Overall Before Sunrise is a very well-acted, written, and directed film that suffers from being a tad slow. While it isn't a movie I can see myself watching again anytime soon, I absolutely enjoyed it, and in the end I would recommend it.
Mou gaan dou (2002)
Goofy Editing and Mediocre Writing
Infernal Affairs follows the police department as they attempt to find the criminal mole in their midst while the opposing gang attempts to find the undercover mole in their group.
If you ask me this is a pretty awesome concept. Neither side is able to get anywhere with the other because they're both constantly receiving information from the other. It's a conflict that can't end with either side winning until they take action specifically against their opposing moles. I'm not doing it justice, but it's pretty cool.
Unfortunately, it doesn't handle it nearly as well as it could. The acting, for starters, is okay. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bland. It really depends. Most of the time it was pretty good, but it does falter enough for it to matter.
The movie suffers from it's lack of ability to develop any of the characters or their relationships. Some of them have romantic relationships that are treated like a major part of the story, but they're so poorly written and unfocused that it makes it hard to really care about them.
My biggest frustration with the movie is the editing. It's hilarious how dated it is. Multiple scenes end with a still frame while dialogue continues to play, followed by the screen fading to black. When did this movie come out? 2002? Yeah, it's a little late for that. Clearly someone didn't get the memo.
Overall Infernal Affairs has an awesome concept that it couldn't quite pull off. The writing and characters aren't fleshed out enough, and the editing is hilariously dated. In the end I'd really only recommend this movie to a handful of people.
One of Those Movies that I Really Enjoyed but was Just a Little Too Slow to Fully Enjoy
Snowden follows Edward Snowden as he works for various groups where he handles classified information, when he learns that the government can and is watching just about everyone without them knowing, so he decides to leak the information.
For starters, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is pretty great here. The performance he gives is authentic but still intelligent. He isn't just your generic tech nerd character, he has a personality, and his performance really shows that. Shailene Woodley does a great job as well, though she isn't given quite as much as Gordon-Levitt to work with. The rest of the cast is solid, but they don't get much better than these two.
The writing here is painstakingly thorough. When I say that, it's both a good and a bad thing. On the bright side, the plot and characters are very well fleshed out. And something I loved was that you didn't have to be incredibly smart to understand a lot of the dialogue. The characters didn't use language that was heavily technology-based, so I actually understood the vast majority of the story. The plot wasn't lost in the language, and for a movie like this one that is certainly a welcome aspect of it. As a result of the thorough writing the characters were fairly well fleshed out, adding another level of depth to the movie. When there were tense moments they were actually tense. When something important happened there was weight. I actually cared about the characters. On the down side, however, the writing was so thorough that the movie became somewhat slow. It's one of those movies that you really like or find interesting, but it's just a tad too slow to fully enjoy. I feel like a bit of time could've been shaved off and it would've largely remained the same while still being thorough.
Overall I really enjoyed Snowden. While it was slow almost all throughout, it was thorough and well performed. In the end I would recommend this movie.
An Oddly Shot, Poorly Developed Story
Sugar follows a guy from the Dominican Republic as he plays baseball and ultimately makes it to the big leagues.
Right from the get-go this is a boring movie. From the way it's shot down to the content it chooses to begin with, it really just isn't at all interesting. For the longest time this movie is a total drag to sit through.
It does pick up towards the last two acts, but even then it really isn't anything worth mentioning. The acting on the part of one of the actors in particular, whose name I don't even know, is terrible. She's so cringe-inducing to watch on screen, and I really hope she hasn't gone and pursued a career in acting. The rest of the cast is mostly fine, but again nothing worth mentioning.
While the story as a whole is decent, it's so poorly developed that it's hard to get invested in. This may not be a valid complaint to some, but there was way too much baseball in this movie. I know that's the central theme, but there's a difference between a movie and a baseball game, Sugar leaning closer to the latter. There's very little drama or characters of any kind in between. And no, the occasional phone call home doesn't really count, especially when it's just a conversation about sending money or how much each person misses the other. There aren't any real characters here. I will say that the one thing that the actors did right was, when two characters couldn't speak the same language, nailing the awkward silence that accompanies conversations and the way they interact.
As for the directing, it was really goofy. It was all done hand- held, which is fine when it works, but the camera man kept zooming in both suddenly and randomly on the actors when they were performing menial tasks. The directing choice to zoom in on something is usually done for emphasis, but here it's used during small talk and characters doing their job. It's just a little too goofy and frankly doesn't fit.
Overall Sugar starts as boring and, while it does pick up, still manages to progressively get worse. It's poorly directed, performed and written. My guess is that I'll forget this movie in the next few hours, and in the end I wouldn't recommend it.
Jason Bourne (2016)
A Classic Bourne Film Filled with Flaws
Jason Bourne follows the character of Jason Bourne as he is brought back into his old life to discover who he was before he became an assassin, meanwhile being hunted by the CIA (I think).
I actually don't know who was hunting him. All these undercover law enforcing agencies have such fancy- shmancy names, it's hard to remember them all.
Similar to the last three movies, Jason Bourne is very much a Bourne movie. It's shot largely the same way and it uses the same music at the same times, and all around it is pretty reminiscent.
In addition, the action is, while done almost completely with shaky cam, still kind of exciting. Sure shaky cam is the easy way out, but there's a reason why people still use it. It's kind of exciting if done right.
However, I had two major problems with this movie. One of them was the directing. Sure, it is largely shot like the other Bourne movies, but that doesn't mean that it always was, nor does it mean that other Bourne movies were, shot well. There were a few scenes where I actually laughed out loud at how dumb it was. On occasion the camera would zoom in on Matt Damon suddenly, as if it were some kind of kung fu ninja-type movie panning on a character's eyes to show intensity. The only problem is is that here it was completely out of place and just plain goofy.
My second problem with the movie was the acting. In particular, the handful of scenes in which Julia Stiles appears alongside Matt Damon. Damon is already not that great in this movie or any of the ones before, but with her he just sucks. Oh yeah, and she's also terrible. She's absolutely awful in this movie, I'm happy she didn't stick around.
Overall Jason Bourne kind of sucks. Sure, it's consistent with the other Bourne films technically speaking, but with the performances of both Matt Damon and Julia Stiles weighing it down, the occasionally goofy directing and bad directing as a whole, this is one worth skipping. In the end I wouldn't recommend it.