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No Safe Spaces (2019)
Right wing propaganda by straw-manning the left on a topic where both parties have faults
I endorse free speech. I think this film should be legal. And I support the idea of a film coming out to support free speech. I decided to start my review this way because these position are exactly what the makers of this movie want to suggest critics of this film don't endorse, or don't endorse sufficiently, in order to try to dismiss the validity of the objections.
There are plenty of left leaning free speech proponents who get annoyed at loaded labels like "Islamaphobia" or "spiritual" or "mansplaining". These kinds of labels often lack an acknowledgement of their impressive nature.
I argue that If a society is going to try to make a blanket statement about something being "the problem" we ought to have a definition where we can consistently recognize the problem from a non-problem and know the supposed remedy. Or else acknowledge that the issue is dealing with subjectives and degrees of behavior as opposed to absolutes. Or that the topic is being discussed for comedic effect rather than for strictly educational purposes.
All one needs to do is read the "stars" of this documentary and be aware of them to see the right-leaning disposition of this project.
Don't get me wrong. These right wing figures such as Dennis Prager, Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro sometimes have valid and constructive things to say. As someone more to the left than right it would be far more convenient if they were all consistent idiots who never made decent points. That way I could just say they're always wrong and always be right. But they can make decent points. And the fact that they can make good points doesn't mean that they don't carry significant blind spots, biases and irrationalities. Which is something these speakers often erroneously try to argue are only virtues of people politically like them.
And many of these speakers have had many opportunities and moment where their issues have been illuminated by others. Yet they typically seem to fail to correct their errors. It's either because they don't care to improve or still fail to realize that there is room for them to improve.
The very title of the documentary is in reference to a development at Universities that outrages the right wing far more than the left. I don't think many people actually think "safe spaces" are meant to be literally safe. The same way freedom isn't literal anarchy. Even if that's often what some people on the right seem to argue it should be.
A few left-leaning free speech advocates would have been helpful in this film being feeling more constructive than problematic . I'd recommend looking into some atheist speakers like Matt Dillahunty, Stephen Frye or Sam Harris if you'd like some examples of left-leaning free speech proponents who could have been constructive for this documentary. As far as I've seen, no one supports the freedom to be or not be religious more than the minority who chose to not be religious. (And yes I know the 1st amendment provides 4 types of freedoms, and religious freedom is just one of them)
I probably shouldn't have hoped for the film to be good. But I did. And no, it wasn't
I'm not a major Star Wars fan. But I like the original trilogy. The prequel trilogy came out at a good time for me to like it as a kid. However, that appreciation as waned since better understanding what makes a good film(usually it's the script).
I did like The Force Awkens when it came out. Not as much as the original trilogy. But I felt it had promise. The last Jedi ruined a lot of that promise. But I thought JJ Abrams might be able to pull off some magic in the final film to make it cool again. But sadly that just didn't happen. I think Disney's biggest error was taking the scripts one at a time. They should have developed an entire story for the trilogy and then made each film one at a time. And if necessary made small changes based on the reception of the each of the first films releases. Instead each director was given liberty to write their own story. And Rian Johnson seemed to wreck the story JJ Abrams bad developed so badly that JJ couldn't resurrect his grand plan within the last film. And it really looks like he tried. But tried in vain.
The whole thing feels rushed or uninteresting. There isn't time taken to build the emotional investment into the characters. To be fair, at this point that interest should already be present. But that's no excuse to pretend it's already there when it's not.
They cut out all the MCU or Mrs. Maisel style writing that was out-of-place in the last film. But they went so far that they removed a lot of the fun or appropriate contextual humor that we've grown to expect in Star Wars.
Also, a lot of it just doesn't make sense now. Why in force awakens did they need to find Luke to train Rey If Leia could have trained her from the beginning? Why was there never talk of the planet killing ships before the last film? Why did people need the force to reason basic concept like: killing innocent people is wrong? Why was Rey suddenly able to use the force in completely new ways? Why did Rey suddenly feel in love with a character who she never seemed to like before.
The new trilogy managed to seemingly resurrected the stuff from the original Star Wars trilogy and thrown that narrative aside all at the same time. And somehow managed to do both in a really displeasing way. Now debates will invariable arise over whether the prequel or Disney Star Wars trilogy is worse. And both can really make a good argument that theirs is worse. I'll happily admit that I think the Disney series has the best movie between those two series. But at leas the prequel series ended with its best movie of the 3 rather than whimpering to a finish like the Disney trilogy.
So far, So good
I'm no special needs expert. But I'd say my mother had a lot of expertise on the topic. And some of that expertise rubbed-off on me. For about 15 years she organized and coordinated outings, trips including a week-long summer camp for adults and teens with special mental needs. One can argue that she didn't have "the real experience" with special needs. She wasn't with the atypical individuals full time like a family member or caretaker. But I think she got a better idea than many regarding the range of disabilities that exist. And what the individuals aspire to be. She was after-all interacting with them during their leisure or vacation time.
I grew-up with periodic experiences with the individuals with special needs . I volunteered and worked with my Mother on the trips as a kid, teen and young adult. Something that in hindsight was a great experience that more people should partake-in if possible.
I feel there was something intriguing to discover about all the people with special needs. But I feel that by-far the most interesting and engaging individuals were the higher functioning atypicals. They were much like the main character of this series. Particularly the folks with autism or the ones who could handle a relationship. Or at least the ones who felt entitled enough to try-their-hand at romance. I can think of some adults with special mental needs who had(and probably still do have) great relationships. Some who got married and probably remain in great marriages. And there are others who didn't seem suited for their marriage. And some who didn't seem suited for any marriage. But because they're adults with rights, got married or perused relationships anyway. The topic of the pressure and expectations put on those with special needs by others is a very interesting topic. Sometimes those with special needs would be used. Other times they'd be restricted out of fear of being used by others. Finding the right balance is not easy, even when trying. And some people sadly barely try at all.
I can also recall being instructed to keep or discourage romance for some of the adults. Sometimes that advice seemed to be smart. Other times it felt mean and Orwellian. It was and remains very hard at to discern the appropriate measures for stewarding or advising or not-advising each individual in each circumstance. It's rewarding when you get it right. But it's also frustrating and easy to second guess your decisions.
What's interesting isn't just the behavior of the people with higher functioning atypical qualities, but the caretakers behavior in interacting with them. I can also recall my mother and other volunteers recounting many amusing and heartbreaking and questionable stories.
This series explores those dynamic a lot. And it's really interesting and surprising that the perspective of the person with the atypical behavior isn't explored more through entertainment. Even a movie like Rain Man is mostly from Tom Cruise's perspective. (Speaking of Rain man, one of the guys with autism I knew was one of the autistic men the Rain Man character was based on). But in terms of autism characters. Radio is largely from the football coach's perspective. I am Sam is just as much about the daughter's fate as her father's. Forrest Gump is from Forrest's perspective, but it's largely a fantasy story as opposed to a seemingly realistic story like the one being told in this series. Atypical is different from all-of-the-above. And that's very commendable.
I unfortunately never knew an autistic boy or girl who pursued a romantic relationship. Even though I saw a few disabled couples, they had other needs than autism. So all I can say is that I find it unlikely for an autistic boy (and they are usually boys) to be interested in a romantic relationship. Even if he or she is high-functioning. I'm sure there's a boy like the one in this story in that regard. But I can't comment on how such a relationship could work. All I can say is that his autism is otherwise depicted very convincingly. Individuals with autism often have a pet topic or issue which they bring-up constantly. They often are funny by mistake and one often feels guilty for finding them amusing when it's often not intentional humor. They also often have a very literal interpretation and difficulty recognizing subtlety. They often have incredible memory, some infatuation with a pattern or sound sequence to stay focused. They also commonly have poor social skills, and will occasionally break-down and make a scene. It's also not uncommon for an "ordinary person" to romantically fall for someone with special needs. This phenomenon can range from being sweet to creepy depending on the particulars.
This movie's character has all of these qualities for a convincing character with autism. Even his look is good. For some people this is obvious, but for others it's a surprise to learn that people with autism don't have a "disabled look" like people with Down syndrome for instance (FYI: this with Down syndrome are usually high functioning for a person with special needs and shouldn't be underestimated). But visually the lead of this series looks just like how an autism boy might look.
I look forward to seeing more of where this story goes. So far after one season it has nice scripts, a good cast around the lead, the story arc has kept me engaged. I hope the quality continues.
Queen & Slim (2019)
Not a bad premise for a movie. But it somehow manages to be ridiculously unrealistic and boring the way the writer decided to present the story. One or two of the astonishing story choices could work. Maybe 5 or 6 if it took place over years rather than days. But all the coincidences and plot holes ended up being like a farce. Which is a problem when the film is supposed to be a drama.
Frozen II (2019)
This story = checklist. Not art
Many isolated components of this film were fine or fabulous. The visuals in particular look incredible. The songs, message and concepts within the narrative are fine to great.
However the story, logic and writing to keep all these parts together in an effective way is lacking. And that's really what makes or breaks a feature film. That's why I give it a 4.
Kids will likely enjoy it anyway. But adults will mostly like this one less than the first one. And the first one wasn't exactly a perfect story either. But in the first one I felt like things were at stake. Within this sequel I saw enough magic and implausible fixes within every encounter that I started at times to get annoyed rather than release that the protagonists were alright. And that's not good.
Not my favorite film of the year. But worth seeing and appreciating
I thought I'd weigh-in after seeing the 8.8/10 score.
It's a good movie. The script is solid. The acting is special. Especially for Phoenix. I like the the subjects addressed in the movie. I just didn't find myself on the edge-of-my-seat like some people who likely gave the movie 10/10.
I think my reservations were because it's a prequel story for a character we're already somewhat familiar with. We know the Joker isn't going to die. We know he's going to become evil. The surprises are how he started off as a sympathetic character and how that character transitions to becoming evil. I feel the topics could have been better addressed if it was a blank slate fictional story about the same guy without our Batman-frame-of-reference playing a part. The film probably wouldn't get as many views or make as much money. But I would have been much more curious regarding what was or wasn't going to happen. Because the end would have been a surprise. Every possibility would have seemed possible.
I think for THAT reason more than anything I gave the movie an 8. In terms of the potential for what this film could be, I think it's a 9/10. But I give it an 8/10 based on what it actually is.
And I would I would have given it a 10/10 on the potential score if it wasn't for one decision they made. I specifically thought it was unnecessary and contrived for the Joker to be implied to have any family relation to Bruce Wayne. For the story it made sense for his father to be a wealthy guy. I'd prefer it was some random rich guy who worked for the Wayne company, rather than Batman's father himself. When the world for a story is made-out to be too small and coincidental, it stops feeling as real and deep as it otherwise should/could feel. In my opinion they should have saved their coincidental juices for the Joker ending up on that Late Night TV show. I think the story having the father element plus the TV show appearance was spreading the coincidence juices a a bit too far.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Funny and makes a statement
I always like it when filmmakers try something different and it pays off. And this certainly seemed to accomplish that task. It's not entirely a dark comedy. But it's also definitely irreverent and crazy at times. It's also not a drama. But it has poignant heartfelt moments. And it's not a Pixar kids movie either. It's certainly a movie for a mature audience. And it works.
Most movies that try to make a movie in both comedy and drama realms have the two ends compromises the resolve of one other realm to a point where neither works. And the audience feels the tone should have been predominantly one or the other.
So why does this one work with both realms? I think it works because the comedy sequences are a result of naive situations for the lead character and his sidekick. It's the character's obliviousness rather than intentional jokes that makes his dramatic transition still work. Additionally the story is goofy enough at the beginning to get the audience comfortable with the absurd moments and situations infiltrating important moments which arise later. It also was not being afraid to give some dramatic moments for more comedic characters near the beginning.
As for the faults, I thought some of the stuff at the end could have been shown a little clearer and at a quicker pace. Also, one of the character's motivations became a bit unclear at times near the end when it would have been good for the motivations to be a bit clearer at that point.
But I look forward to seeing this movie again. I had a lot of fun at the cinema.
Also, if any big Broadway production company is watching, I think this film could be made into a fabulous musical. This film reminded me a bit of West Side Story, The Producers, Urinetown and Billy Elliot. Apart from The Producers these Broadway shows similarly effectively walk the line between being comedies and dramas.
The Lighthouse (2019)
To put it simply, this movie didn't strike me as feature film material. It might work as a surreal short film. Or perhaps it could work as a feature if it was a bit more consistent and cogent in its presentation. It's not just that I didn't understand it. I didn't understand how I could possibly understand it by watching it.
The cinematography and acting aren't the problem(although DeFoe could use subtitles). It succeeds in being original and memorable. But that doesn't mean it's not awful.
Far better than I expected. Just see it!
I hesitated to watch this film at first because the trailer looked SO BAD(even though it had good reviews). So when I saw it, I was pleasantly surprised to have fabulous time. I now recommend this film to friends. It is funny. It has some nice drama. It touches on some real world issues. And I found it fascinating to observe a lifestyle by these men and women which is so foreign to my own experiences.
I don't personally have a lot of personal life moments with strippers or their customers at strip clubs. I think most of the hate in this movie comes either from viewers who thought the specific strippers in the film made all strippers look untrustworthy and unethical, or (to a larger degree) that the film made the clients or victims of the strippers seem like they deserved what they got. I think in both cases that these criticisms are unfair. And I'll explain why.
First off, the level of sympathy that the male clients deserve depends on the man and the situation the women put him through. Some men are unquestionably violated. Others get the experience they paid for. It's also worth noting that the vast majority of strippers didn't end-up becoming criminals in response to the recession. But they aren't the focus of this story because they aren't very interesting in comparison to the strippers tracked in this film. The main way films make money is by telling interesting stories. Not by being perfect impartial journalists (there's no such thing) for the public.
The film tries to play into the mind of the strippers justifying their illegal conduct as they get deeper and deeper into criminality. The following point I can't stress enough: EVERY story which follows corrupt people does this exact same thing. From breaking bad to goodfellas to the wolf of Wall Street to the social network.
I can't help but find it sexist (and I'm a man) for so many people to whine about this movie having this particular story component, when people no one complains about other films with men as the criminals which do the same exact kind of thing. If anything I thought this movie defends the actions of the criminals less because it's told with regret within flashbacks. One senses while watching this movie that the women are eventually going to be caught. So the viewer doesn't have to be concerned about them not being held accountable.
What I think really bothered so many people(mostly men) is how comically the movie portrays the women taking advantage of the men. I didn't mind it because I have a rather morbid sense of humor and a difficult time envisioning me as one of their victims. I think i it's also worth pointing out that, in life, jokes are common tools for allowing people to emotionally justify bad behavior. They didn't seem out-of-place to me in this film.
The movie shows how the ideal business model of the stripper is often being risky and brazen. Which is similar to the frequent New York Wall Street workers who are the main clients of these particular strippers. And Wall Street screwing-up around 2008 had a more widespread effect on the rest of society in a very real way. Yet Wall Street workers were never criminally charged for their actions. I'm not saying this means the men deserved what they got. But I'm saying that it makes for a more interesting story when the women have some sympathetic case for their behavior. As opposed to no case. Especially when it's being told from their perspective. A movie is dead-on-arrival if the protagonist isn't somewhat sympathetic.
Another criticism for this film is that it's too slow. This one I think is a bit more legitimate. And why I gave it 9 stars. I though the last 40 minutes could have shaved off about 5 minutes. But overall I wasn't upset with the pacing. Especially at the beginning. I've seen far worst pacing in movies of this type.
Another common criticism was along the lines of "people only liked this movie because they liked Jennifer Lopez". I thought she was great in this movie. But I thought the movie overall was better. And I certainly don't go out of my way to see her movies because she's in them. Some people certainly do. But I don't think JeLo made this movie good by herself. It has a nice script, direction and overall acting from the entire cast.
I'd recommend seeing Hustlers and Ignoring the overall review score of the public. In this film's case I think the critics are right. It was no Ad Astra (which the critics loved and I found to be terrible, like most of the public). The people in the theater with me certainly seemed to have a great time.
I thought this was one of the better films I've seen this year. There are just a few butt-hurt people (mostly men) online describing this movie as "terrible" because they're insecure and clueless that the overall interesting nature of this story was the point. It wasn't trying to demonize men or give all sex workers a bad name.
Ancient Aliens (2009)
Science = mythology?!?!?!?
In case the fact that this show is supposed to be a history show, and it's called ancient aliens isn't enough to scare you, just read the description of the show on IMDB, where is says the point of the show is to assert that science and mythology are the same thing.
If that doesn't annoy you it should. Science and Mythology are clearly not the same thing. If they were, they'd be synonyms. Not two words with distinctly different definitions and usages. Science involves testing and refining explanatory models of reality which explain the evidence of the past with the evidence of the present while making predictions for the future. Science works to try to further confirm the models reliability and scope of usefulness. When the models are shown and confirmed to be unreliable, they're amended or discarded so that the facts remain more important than the scientific theories.
Myths are meant to be accepted prior to or in spite of all contradictory evidence or facts. They create excuses to discard inconvenient evidences and confirming clues are accepted and often extrapolated in attempt to try to describe many unjustifiable claims in addition to the simple truth they were on their own. Myths thrive by playing the victim of conspiracies against them, because that's an appealing attention-getting narrative(even if it's ridiculous when wrong). And there's an immature joy of presuming that one is part of a small group of people who alone know what's "really true". Even if the reasoning for one's conclusions are completely unreliable and flawed. The emotional confirming narratives can outweighs the logical disconfirming merits that one's conclusions are wrong or unjustified to be accepted as true yet.
What annoys me about these kinds of shows isn't the fact that all the people are complete crazy. If that were the case, the show wouldn't have any fans or staying power. It's the fact that shows like this have some intelligence and truth to some of the content. The problem is that they only have some intelligence and truth and the conclusions they wish people to agree-on based on their combination of truths and/or lies are often unjustified and silly. And if someone accepts some silly beliefs, it can snowball to them accepting others based on the silly ones they already accept. And if you believe enough absurdities, you open yourself up to be exploited and committing atrocities which you personally label as virtues.
A very average animated kids movie
This film has nothing really great or really bad to offer. If you want something special, skip it. The story structure is nothing new or particularly surprising. It has a lot of Asian actors which critics will undoubtedly enjoy for the sake of diversity. But ultimately apart from actually casting Asian voice actors it doesn't seem to really do anything more for China or Asian than the original Mulan.
Kids will certainly like this movie because they aren't as familiar with this repeated story structure as adults. Adults are unlikely to hate it, because it's wholesome, or find it to be a classic because it doesn't have many special components. It's hard to think of a more average and less risky-good or risky-bad family movie than this one.
A 6.5 out of 10 seems most fair for this one.
Ad Astra (2019)
Overall, too slow and stupid to make up for solid SFX
This struck me as mediocre fan-fiction-like science fiction trying to resemble serious adult science fiction by making the protagonist calm and mature and having nice special effects.
The acting was fine given the material and likely direction. The visuals are really great. Especially the very beginning.
Why the good doesn't make the movie worth seeing?:
This is 2019. A lot of movies look gorgeous and are competently acted.
What usually separates the good movies from the bad movies (in my opinion) is the story and whether or not the director can convey the tone and keep it interesting through the duration of the film. When people talk about how fabulous a movie like this was, I usually have to remind the insane person(from my perspective) that feature movies are an 80 to 180 minute art form. And they tend to me narrative for a reason. Features aren't 5 minutes of intriguing abstract visuals followed by a 2 hour conversation about all the potential meanings or intentions of the 5 minutes of content. I was a studio art major in college. It's not as if I'd be against such an experience or the existence of 5 minute abstract movies followed by 2 hour long discussions and debates over the content. I'd probably enjoy it.
But this movie seems to fit into the pretentious category of feature movies trying to be like an art movies, but also stuck trying to be a successful feature epic showing what should be addressed in Ted Talks.
This movie In attempt of being many things struck me as appealing like a whole lot of nothing for a good chunk of the time.
What makes the feature runtime worth the investment for a good feature film, for me, is the ability to be invested in the story. And the investment works when the tone is both appealing and consistent for the world or rules the story establishes. The tone for Ad Astra has some appealing parts. But it wasn't consistent. Sometimes it seemed like cheesy science fiction with the stunts and contrivances the story pulled. Other times is seemed like it was trying to be a real interesting human-struggle story for the future (kind of like the Martian).
Whenever a film tries to make too many contradictory things work, they're inevitably going to have some of them compromising or crippling the impact of others. Ad Astra's story often felt silly as a space odyssey type movie. But it also felt far too mature and serious to be a fun popcorn movie. Which makes it a big bore.
More than any other movie It seemed to me like it was trying to be like the film Gravity. But focus on a different type of internal struggle for the protagonist and be set in the future and consist of a space odyssey (see the problem yet).
A movie like Gravity has a lot of intended metaphorical components to its story. But the genius of Gravity, which Ad Astra lacks, is that (if you can get over a few factual errors for some of the story elements for Gravity) the story is interesting and engaging, even if you don't pick-up the metaphors. Gravity also was never trying to be like 2001: a space odyssey in the pacing. It immediately had the viewer within the action and drama. And the action and drama sustained itself from the beginning till the end.
Ad Astra had a lot of slow moments. And even the tense moments didn't feel too gripping because the main character's strength is that he's able to remain calm and composed. So we had no one to feel very emotional through.
I wish they had consulted with someone like me who is similar to Brad Pitt's character in being calm and having a long fuse internally. Because even if someone like me can surprise themself by how calm they remain in crazy moments on the inside, we still can be funny or interesting to watch on the outside. Brad Pitt was portrayed as boring and it was often difficult to be sympathetic of his situation. And I can't think of any space movie that works if the main character isn't sympathetic or interesting. Even Sci Fi movies I don't personally like, such as 2001: a space Odyssey or Interstellar manage to make the main character mostly sympathetic. Brad Pitt's character had an end-mission which I was invested in. But he didn't set off with that appealing mission as a goal. So I wasn't invested in the character as a whole. He didn't seem to earn a hero's story. He stumbled into it ridiculously (which I'll address later) And that makes it hard to really get behind his character overall, and the movie overall.
I'll go into some details on how some of the story elements seemed unrealistic from my understanding of space-travel and logic.
I couldn't figure out why he parked his he had to go through Neptune's rings to get to the other ship? It seemed like a contrivance for dramatic interests. And I'll explain how we know this. Later on, he gets back to earth from a strange takeoff with priciest factored-in at the point of the launch? If the ship could correct itself to provide for a safe passage, why not correct itself when it heading toward the other ship near Neptune?
Probably my biggest issue which I vaguely addressed earlier is: How did the head-of-Mars-lady (who we learned would be one of the people most interested to know of the conspiracy and motivated to divulge it to everyone) end up with video proof of the conspiracy? And why didn't she or couldn't she share the video to everyone everywhere? Did online video-sharing becoming impossible in the future? This is IMO an inexcusable plot-hole.
Here's another thing the movie had to suggest for the sake of adding action. It suggests that in the future there are no background checks or restrictions on what person or weapons can be taken to the moon. And suggests that anyone can wander around on the surface of the moon like it's the old west? We can't even have people wandering around the skies around earth right now without air traffic control throwing a fit. Why would the surface of the moon have such terrible management and oversight?
Also, don't people have to be pretty securely buckled-in when on a rocket that's taking off? Especially if it's supposed to go fast enough to get from Mars to Neptune in far less time than it takes today for a rocket to go from Earth to Mars when it's not transporting people ( human-passengers limit acceleration and deceleration possibilities unless you have something like inertial dampeners which things like Star Wars or Star Trek seem to have) But if they had that, they wouldn't need any buckling-in at all. And characters clearly buckle-in for the launches in the other circumstances. They also never indicate that the ships have an extra gear once in space to account for the rockets being able to travel faster. They make the rockets like modern rockets with the experience that they're way faster and don't have to deal with any of the problems which would be dealt with if they were much faster.
I wouldn't knit-pick this in the movie if it weren't for all the people claiming the movie's depictions are realistic. Were we watching the same movie?!?!?
Dear White People (2017)
Trying and failing to be execute a lot of good ideas
I'm sympathetic with the goals of the show. But that doesn't mean I'm going to like the show. And sadly I don't like it.
Somethings are greater than the sum of their parts. In this case the show is worst than the sum of its parts.
I've only seen 2 episodes. But from what I've seen, the series isn't enough about a compelling story or educating the viewers like the show title suggests. The show is trying. And in some ways it succeeds. There's a few nice jokes that hit their marks and the acting and music are likable.
But It seems this show is about educating and explaining problems with race within a drama and comedy about college students.
If it was an over-the-top comedy show about millennials in college it could work. If it was an educational investigation show about race it could work. If it was a show about some black kids at a university which touches on race at times while mostly being just a likable comedy or drama about their lives, it could work. But this show tries to combine all of the above. Not only does all of this together not work for me for a TV show. But it creates a situation where it's seemingly impossible to envision how it could effectively work for a single show.
Just like my title suggests, I feel the issue with this show is that it's trying to be too much. And fails to realize how important and useful it is to have generic appealing simple content to establish a show's and its character's likability first.
Too goofy to be serious and too serious to be charmingly irreverent.
I have regal unlimited and thought I'd watch this movie as my B feature following watching Brian Banks, which I enjoyed and would recommend. Even if it wasn't perfect.
I didn't have huge expectations going into this movie. I was hoping for a good irreverent golden retriever dog movie. Sort of in-line with a dog's purpose. I grew up with a Golden and love them.
Instead I saw a story which wasn't a chronicle of a dog's inspirational life as a real dog. Instead it felt like a story where an typical human intellect was trapped in a dog's body. This makes it annoying when the dog only demonstrates his abilities by acting sharper than a real dog once or twice.
I think they felt that the dog had to have a mature understanding because there was some mature complications in the movie for the adults. I just don't agree.
I think these stories work better if the dog is treated more like a Forrest Gump character who is mentally underhanded, but still gets to be the hero out of will and luck. And demonstrates that you don't have to be a genius to make a big impact if your heart is in the right place.
Another thing that annoyed me:
The grandparents lawsuit was ridiculous. Especially the fact that they drew up the papers before they had an actual useful incident to exploit for their benefit. I'm no law expert, but I feel that a spouse of a partner generally doesn't count as a very solid witness in court defending their partner. Even if they witness the event, I feel that a neutral witness or neutral revealing piece of evidence is necessary for the guilty side to have the upper hand. After-all, the guilty side has the burden of proof.
I hope our court system isn't set-up so 2 people can bully one person when a fight breaks out between them by the lie of two allies counting more than the truth of one defendant. I'm no lawyer, and I'm aware our justice system is flawed. But I don't think it's THAT flawed. Especially when the decision has the consequences we see in the movie.
I also was annoyed that the movie gossiped the unscientific idea that entities have literal souls that transcend your body after death. Is it so hard for writers to say I hope rather than I know regarding something that's so clearly speculative hogwash? Or, if the dog detects a soul, explain how? Rather than have the dog make an empty assertion similar to ones humans make which lead these ideas being so popular in the first place.
Nice ideas, pretentious execution. Tarantino in a nutshell
I was honestly expecting this movie to be worse. Seeing this film was a reminder to myself that even if I think Tarantino films are typically disappointing, I feel they are disappointed because I see a lot of good stuff and potential in much of the content. I just get annoyed at certain decisions regarding the execution.
I've seen less than half of his films. But I've seen and heard enough to where I feel the ideas are generally good and many of the components are successful. Once upon a time... in Hollywood was no exception.
I love the idea of tweaking history and telling an old known story in a new way or creating a new story in an old way. I also like scenes which have a lot of dialogue and I like non-linear storylines or editing that makes one question if the story is or isn't being shown in a linear manner. I also don't take issue with seeing violence or dark and mature content within a movie.
This issue I have is that the Tarantino films I've seen seem too interested in having these sorts of components for the sake of them being part of Tarantino's brand. At times it seems the integrity and intrigue of the story takes a backseat to the style. Rather than the style supporting the story for the sake of the story being told in the best way possible.
Certain scenes seem to drag on and on. I don't care if a scene or sequence of dialogue takes up a lot of time. Some of my favorite movies have these attributes. I'm not suggesting his films ought to conform to rules or norms about runtime or pace of sequences. I take issue with many Tarantino scenes seeming and feeling like they take a long time to get close to nowhere. Especially when other parts of the story go by at a standard or even quick pace.
For instance the scene where Brad Pitt's character goes to see his old work colleague at the Manson hippie commune went sooooooo slowly. Some people certainly appreciated it. And It would have been awful to not build the tension. But I felt the attempt of tension building was so excessive that I was eventually felt annoyed rather than concerned. This isn't the first Tarantino film to make me feel this way.
I was also annoyed during the climactic fight sequence the way one of the characters died by flamethrower, while in a pool. The flamethrower itself as the weapon was awesome and well established within the story. But putting the character in the pool was stupid. How hard is it to avoid being burned to death when you're already in a freakin pool? I don't care what fighting trauma you have from shortly before. It's natural reflexes to fall down or crouch to avoid a blaze of fire shooting at you. Even if you couldn't see the flames because you're covered in blood, you could feel them and sense that you're in a pool.
It would have been an easy story fix for Leo's character to not have a pool. He could have been on a lounge chair outside instead. Or just had a pool somewhere where it wouldn't feature in the climactic battle with a flamethrower.
I'm sure some Tarantino fans will object to all of this and find a way to try to explain the actual "genius of it all". They have every right to delude themself. But it's not going to work on me.
No artist one respects should be held to seemingly no potential negative standard as long as their work has their original off-beat "brand". A brand isn't a synonym for fine-art. And if it you repeat your brand over and over, it's no longer original.
The Man from Earth: Holocene (2017)
It has a few interesting moments and then the rest is just bad
The first film is great, and I thought I'd give this one a try for the heck of it. I read that it wasn't very good like the original. So i was prepared, and had no right to be furious when it turned out to be inferior. But I felt valid in still being disappointed.
Overall the reviewers I read were correct. There are a couple scenes in this film near the climax which are very interesting and enjoyable. But I would have really liked to have had more in the conclusion to explain what happened to the characters.
I also would have much preferred if the first two acts were condensed into just the first act. I also think they should have come up with a reason for John aging. It feels like no one edited or collaborated with the writer of this script. And it suffered as a result.
Far too much of the film consists of the students trying to determine what the audience already knows. It film really only gets interesting when John tries to leave the area and the students block his pathway out. If the film wasn't made in my college town, I might have given up before it ever got to the interesting part.
The first film understood that a good film needs to be interesting from the very beginning. This film maybe could have worked if told in flashbacks after starting within the interrogation process. It also needed that professor from the original film involved with some of the interrogation.
The scene between the religious student and John was definitely the most interesting. But the gaffs surrounding it made the film awful in spite of that scene.
I'm definitely glad I didn't waste money watching this in a theater.
This movie has a few interesting ideas. But overall it didn't WOW me. The film's success is largely an understanding of a reality the movie tries to paint as evil. Which makes the whole product feel bizarre. And not in a good way.
I'd say the biggest flaw is that It often felt too slow paced. Also, after a while a lot similar kinds of jokes were recycled to a point where it wasn't fresh.
The actors were fine. The songs were performed nicely. I was annoyed that they never really explained why nearly everyone suddenly forgot and had no record or evidence of The Beatles, Coke, Harry Potter, cigarettes and a few other random things.
I liked what they did in imagining John Lennon surviving to the present day. Although the pathway to the main character meeting him seemed rather contrived.
Sadly, the story had a lot of love story cliches which made what I thought was an interesting Beatles sci-fi movie, into a chick flick romance. And not a good chick flick romance.
The film honestly feels like the work of a producer with a calculator rather than an artist making a brilliant work of art.
It isn't terrible. Producers usually know enough to make a product which will stay afloat. But it certainly isn't a movie I'll be recommend to my friends. Other band or musician movies of late have been much better. If you want a musician tribute movie, I'd recommend Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody, or Green Book instead.
Toy Story 4 (2019)
Not a terrible film. But not in league with the first 3.
Although I think this film is overall about a 7/10. Which is ok. I'd give Cars a 7/10 and Brave probably a 6/10. Let alone cars 2 or 3.
However, I really despise Pixar deciding to make Toy Story 4 given that the other 3 movies are 10/10 or maybe a 9/10 in the case of the first one. But the original Toy Story gets brownie points for being first feature length animated movie and first Pixar film. The decision to green-light this script is a 1 or 2 out of 10 decision if you ask me. Because it had the complete opposite effect of Toy Story 2 and 3. Real fans and legacies are built on quality rather than quantity.
The Toy Story films as a duo and trilogy seemed special because they escaped the typical sequel problem of going downhill or being redundant. (Which is especially common for kid-friendly movies)
Toy Story 2 and 3 were such good sequels because they didn't just seem to keep the original vision going, but also improve on, or build on the strengths of the previous films.
Toy Story 2 has the Emily flashback sequence. Toy Story 3 has the Lotso backstory plus the poignant moment where Andy passes on his toys to Bonnie.
Toy Story 4 has an emotional moment or two. But it doesn't have the strong central plot of the other films.
It took me long time to figure out what #4 specifically was lacking after I watched it, but luckily I found someone with the answer. Which is that the film doesn't seem to clearly be about one big storyline in the action packed dramatic 3rd act, like what we see in the other films.
What feels like the craziest most dramatic action sequence in the first 3 films is the middle of the 3rd act. (It's called the climax for a reason)
In Toy Story 4 what feels like the most dramatic moment is in the middle. Which is when they try and and fail to rescue Forky.
Meanwhile, the end of the middle act, where in the first 3 pictures, the main characters learn something important and make an important pivotal decision, is instead, in Toy Story 4, placed at the very end of the 3rd act. And it just didn't feel fresh in a good way. Instead it felt a inferior, unclear and insufficient because the viewer isn't sure what the characters are fighting for in what should be the climax. And if feels it can't work as a climax yet because you're not sure yet what they're all fighting to achieve. This issue alone easily drops the film at least 2 stars.
I also objected a bit to some slow-paced moments in the beginning of the film.
The film doesn't seem to have a villain. Obviously it's good to have red herrings for the audience trying to find a villains. But generally you want there to be someone or some characteristic which is a clear source of the conflict for the protagonists. I don't know what or who that was in this film.
Buzz following his buttons when deciding what to do seemed contrived and like a step backward rather than forward for his character.
The end credits were also noticeably awkward. Why all the pauses to show credits between the clip sequences? Did anyone honestly think this new style was an improvement over the style of the end credits for Toy Story 2 or 3?
The strength of the film was the new and returning Bo had many funny and heartfelt moments. The score and voice acting were still top notch. Bo peep in particular was neat to see and hear once more. (Can you believe that it has been 20 years since we last heard Bo speak?) The look of the film was mostly very enjoyable too.
Some people were annoyed that characters like Rex, Jessie and Mr Potatohead weren't featured much. But I feel that would have made the story seem even clunkier and even harder to follow than it already was. If you stretch the viewer's attention to too many characters in a movie then there's no interesting or cogent story to be had with any of them.
Anti-choice and factually misleading message 😃 Sign me up!!!!!
This film is made by those heroes who understand that a woman's body isn't her own. Particularly when a cluster of cells in her body become fertilized and could conceivably become a child. That "possibility" is totally different than a sperm or egg potentially being a child prior to fertilization.
It understands that a woman's purpose is to give birth no matter what. That women chose to have uteruses and run the risk of becoming pregnant whether it be from intent, irresponsibility, or such charming instances as rape or incest.
After-all if a 15 year old child could conceivably be saved by their parent sacrificing their body to potential save their child, it's obvious that the state should force the father to put his life on the line. All the anti-choice heroes agree on this matter. There has only been court cases where judges ruled that people didn't have personal autonomy after-all.
This film also illuminated how to check if your pregnancy was a blessing from God after raising the child. If the child causes one's life to turn out good, God exists. If it turns out poorly, God exists. If it turns out so-so than God exists. And YES that does make it a falsifiable scientific-like test. How could this not be a scientific-like test?
It sure is a good thing this film didn't seem like propaganda. Instead it was clearly just "art" with the intent of the story being compelling and thought-provoking whether you agree with the characters or not, their scenes and dialogue seemed like the stuff of real characters. They really seemed to accurately show that Planned Parenthood doesn't do anything to prevent unplanned pregnancy. That 100% not 3% of their work gots toward performing abortions. That all of their clinics perform abortions. That abortions are very gory and always happen in late stages and limiting the access to them is the solution to women having safer abortions with better scientific methods such as a coat-hanger.
And yes. If you somehow still aren't sure, this review was dripping in sarcastic. But the following content is serious.
I don't think the overall review score of the film is inaccurate. If anything it is too high because many reviewers voted high just because they agreed with the politics of the propaganda. And the sample of viewers mostly reflected the opposite opinion as mine.
The difference between good movies with political messages like 12 angry men, The Paths of Glory or American History X and movies like this one is that poor movies make the message the singular point or art of the movie. A viewer who isn't stupid will see right through that kind of thing and not find the story compelling, and inevitably give the film a low score. And yes, I am calling people who lovingly review this movie stupid. They are willfully being manipulated. And there is a real coat to everyone by them being so easily emotionally manipulated.
If you want to believe that your pregnancy is fate and that you must do whatever possibly to sacrifice your body for your child, I respect that decision. But I do recognize that your decision is a decision and ought to be a decision. This is why I don't call anti-choice people pro-life. I call them anti-choice.
Until you can demonstrate that life has "fate", "destiny" or "inevitability" and isn't a cloud of possibilities, you have no business telling people that you know their life consists of fate which you understand how they must care for their body better than them.
Dead to Me (2019)
Great show so far
This is show which reminds the viewer that you don't need to do anything fancy to keep viewers Invested and entertained.
This show has a small cast and probably didn't have much of a budget for the first season. But this series has a great script. It doesn't have a lot of complex or innovative ideas. And it doesn't have to have those qualities when the story is written and edited to keep you on your toes while ringing as believable. And that is what you get with this show.
What is refreshing is seeing a drama with short episodes about 30 minute each rather than the longer drama episodes we are accustomed to seeing.
The show starts at a good point where there are a lot of mysteries. And the show unveils the components one piece at a time. I expect now that I know everything, that it will be worthwhile to watch again to see how the story comes across differently while I'm in-the-know as opposed to blind regarding a lot of the mysteries.
I hope they renew the show and add a few more episodes for the next season. Because when you piece together all of season one, it's essentially the length of a long movie.
I watched it all in about 3 or 4 sittings. But I'm not surprised that a lot of viewers were able to watch it all in one sitting.
I definitely recommend watching this. Especially if you like drama, noir, or mystery type stories.
Rated highly, but still IMO underrated
The Drumhead might be my favorite TNG episode. It certainly is my favorite episode that isn't regularly mentioned as a top 5 episode, such as The Inner light, or the good Borg, Q or Time Travel episodes.
The drumhead has the type of villain which really gets under my skin more than others due to the type's continued effectiveness and presence throughout history.
This episode's villain is so camouflaged that she uses one of the typically good characters, in Worf, as an ally in her corruption. And Worf follows along willingly, only seeing his errors at the end of the episode.
It's a phenomenon we can find often in people who get so swept up in an opportunity to create order and justice of some sort, that they end up resembling the very type of evil they're trying to fight due to their own tribal arrogance and exaggerated fear of the other. Often such villains gain power and test the norms slowly one step at a time until before many realize it, there's a completely new evil norm out of a promise for a miracle cure to a problem where a solution hasn't been demonstrated as much as asserted as a problem.
And just like Worf, the individuals who seem to get swept up in such mistaken causes are typically the people who seem unable to spot irony, hypocrisy or enjoy a joke or construct a joke because they're so serious and desperate for vengeance. Their good qualities get obscured by their lesser illogical desires to get their way in solving some issue regardless of the costs.
Black Mirror: Men Against Fire (2016)
Good ideas, but poor presentation and execution.makr this a poor episode for Black Mirror
The episode begins rather strong. It made me interested in the protagonist and the overall arc. But they present too many clues for me to be surprised by the twists.
The content feels spoon-fed rather than particularly intriguing. And they had a lot of ideas for this episode where the presentation could have been more mysterious. But instead it feels slow, obvious and in the end, over-the-top vindictive and cruel. I know to not expect a fun or light topic for this series. But this one took some ideas which were potentially believable with improved technology and stretched them unnecessarily to where the antagonist became unbelievably cruel for the sake of exploring how evil some technology could become. Instead the goal should be creating an engrossing story related to the potential issues of technology. This one wallows in the issues too much. Nose dive was similar.
And that is what is so upsetting. In both episodes the stories have some good ideas, great acting, great sets and great costumes, but the stories aren't written in a particularly strong way to get the most out of the ideas. The ideas and work come off like a missed opportunity.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Babel (1993)
Ok despite some misssed opportunities
This episode seems like it could have been better with an extra few minutes to tell it's story. Which is interesting. More often it feels the episodes could lose about 10 minutes.
What I wish the episode included was a scene showing the Bajoran doctor discover the cure from Bashir's initial work. This is kind of the climatic moment the story was leading up to. And they just kind of skip it and just tell us via Sisko's log that it happens. I call that a downer.
The other scene I would have liked to see would have been a scene addressing whether the Major's action of capturing and infecting the bajoran doctor against his will was or wasn't acceptable or ethical.
But overall the contagious babeling storyline was good. And It has some interesting twists in determining the provenance of the contagion.
Overall it seems do deserve a 7. But it seems a few easy changes I recommended could have make it a 9 without much difficulty.
Rare enjoyable episode from later on in the show
This one doesn't do too many broad new things. It has a nerdy song. It has Penny and Sheldon together helping and confusing one another. But both of those things are things that made me like the show in the first place. Plus the material of them working together plus the song and Sheldon and Penny's meeting was different in certain ways. Any and Lenerd also have fun doing old kiddie science stuff m. Overall it's quite good.
Dreamworld should be proud
The HTTYD movies have certainly been the best animated work for Dreamworks if you ask me. I'm thrilled they decided to end this story of Hiccup, Toothless and the others because the timing felt right. They gave us a great opening film to introduce the dynamic of dragons vs humans becoming dragons plus humans. The 2nd film is about Hiccup and Toothless becoming responsible leaders of Berk. And the 3rd film is about Hiccup protecting Berk and the dragons now that they have a target on their back.
In each one the film's the protagonists accomplish their goal and following this storyline it would be a bummer to see them try to create another movie involving another chapter for these characters.
The animation is great. The jokes are starting to get less fresh by this 3rd film which is another good sign that the 3rd one should be the conclusion. But the jokes and story are still entertaining overall. And the story is never overly childish or goofy. The last film has the mom as the big new good character. In this one it's the light-furry dragon as it's called. Sadly the new dragons isn't a surprise like how the mom was a surprise in the first one. (Come on marketing)
The reason I didn't give it 10 stars is because the villain is rather similar to the last villain. Apart from him having a different type of dragon at his control in a different way and hating some dragons as opposed to all of them, they are about the same. I'd say they could have done a better job making the villain more sympathetic, believable and different. It seems they didn't have time for that because they needed extra time to conclude the entire trilogy. I say too bad. Make the movie a bit longer. Don't sacrifice the intrigue of the villain for the sake of having the film end at a regular time for a kids movie.
I also felt that it would have been better is Hiccup knew of the island he took his people to beforehand. I know more coincidences are to be allowed in kids movies than other movies. But I really didn't feel it was right for Hiccup as a leader to succeed so much by luck.
Instead some scouts should have found and reported on the island. Or maybe his mom or the Kit Harrington character knew about it. Rather than having all of Berk luckily stumble across it while trying to get somewhere else. I thought that could have been better constructed with the story.
Another small complaint:
Toothless suddenly learns how to draw now!?!? That's like one step away from him writing or talking. Pick another way for him to flirt and fix the other 2 problems and I'd give 10 stars enthusiastically.
Luckily the conclusion of the movie is really good and probably the most important thing for them to not screw up.