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Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)
Sometimes the experimentation comes off as a bit pretentious and even dry. However, what's remarkable is how the film manages such strong emotions even in its oddities. Bauby's inner thoughts are the star; such a humanistic way in which the movie uses humor to help us relate to his plight. Overall, it's a compelling and unique film...that I can't imagine ever wanting to watch again.
thank God for Disney+
Easily one of the coolest and most entertaining of the early live-action Disney films. A seeming drug-fueled fable about an old Irish man kidnapping the king leprechaun, it's a surprisingly funny and cleverly written family comedy, with the kind of old-fashioned effects that make me long for this kind of ingenuity in filmmaking again. I can't believe I didn't see this growing up...
The Lovely Bones (2009)
It's not the shallowest film. It's not the saddest film. It might be, however, the shallowest sad / saddest shallow film. A bludgeoning of melancholy for over 2 hours, Jackson proves that no matter how visually beautiful you make something, there needs to be more underneath it. The afterlife and supernatural elements are beyond frustrating; rules are non-existent, and the "philosophy" is like a freshman college student who just read Aristotle for the first time. Tucci is bad, Wahlberg is REAL bad...it's all just bad.
The Farmer's Wife (1928)
My favorite of Hitchcock's silent pictures.
One of Hitchcock's only straight-ahead comedies, he shows such skill in that arena, giving us a charming & sweet little romantic comedy, & a clear predecessor of the modern genre. Thomas as the farmer is a wonderfully endearing yet out-of-touch lead, sifting through a hilarious variety of women sutiors. The misunderstandings, the high-concept silliness, the broad performances, the sharp dialogue, the foolishness of the main characters to recognize their own fate.
Easy Virtue (1927)
A shockingly uncompelling plot of a woman's history coming back to haunt here...only her past isn't that bad, the people judging her are implausibly over-critical, her husband is a scared fish of a man, and the entire culture of this world seems interested in this story for no good reason. It's basically The Bachelor without Chris Harrison...and who needs that? The cold-opening in the courtroom is the only part that shows some real Hitchcock genius.
The Prince and the Pauper (1962)
Extremly Predictable and Largely Boring
Disney was really into hiring one child actor to play multiple roles. However, unlike their success in this in The Parent Trap films, Scully just isn't quite up to the task. Each of the boys is clearly written, but the layers of deception are lost under a doe-eyed dullness.
An Artifact from a Different Era of Movies
Is there ANY chance this movie didn't originate with simply some rich man in a suit saying, "DeVito and Schwarzenegger as brothers! HAHAHAHAHAH!" A largely mediocre 80s curio that's made watchable thanks to Schwarzenegger. He's so great in this; naïve, funny, perfectly playing against his own larger-than-life persona.
The Ring (1927)
Alfred Hitchcock's "Raging Bull Durham"...
...jealousy, whether warranted or not, is a tough opponent to beat. If you can get over the slight bit of male ownership (and the comically appalling racism), this is a pretty sweet little romantic dramedy. Hitchcock's skill as a visual storyteller is so apparent and far ahead of his time here. Just wish he didn't hire two dudes who look so similar for the love triangle.
Hitchcock's "First" Movie
Because of the decades of movies made sense, there's no real surprise here in the plot for a modern audience. Still, this early Hitchcock shows moments of his visual brilliance, even if he's not quite as confident as he would become even just a few pictures later (The Ring, Murder!).
Better than "King of the Wild Frontier"...but still not very good
Disney's Davy Crockett (played by a man named Fess...for real) is one of the least interesting heroes in history. No downfalls, no conflicts, no personal demons; he reminds me of a contestant on The Bachelorette that would be let go in an early episode sheerly because the woman forgot he existed. Nonetheless, this is much better than the original movie...mainly because it's closer to actually, ya know, BEING a movie. Also, Mike Fink is kinda great.
Vanilla and Lame
Stock footage of wild animals, unabashed colonialism, possessive sexism...all made better by a truly lame white savior hero. However, it does have the following quote: "My father can lick any man in Kentucky...and I can lick my father." So it's not all bad.
A modern-day masterpiece.
I think I expected this to be like a 21st century "Boyz N tha Hood", but it's not. Completely hilarious in its undeniable incisiveness, Blindspotting is more like a millennial "Friday", only more poetic. Diggs and Casal are wonderful; their chemistry, which is the obvious drive of the film, is impeccable. Passionate and difficult, yet fully entertaining.
Queen of Katwe (2016)
This is exactly what you might expect from a true-life Disney sports movie about chess; good, but kinda basic. As someone who knows nothing about chess, the movie does the heavy-lifting so I could understand how to feel at each moment. The performances are very good, especially Oyelowo, but the most notable aspect of the film is its soulful representation of single motherhood.
God help me...but I really don't hate this movie.
Sure, the sexism and racism were there from the beginning, and the film is much too grown up for the kids who would most appreciate how childish it all is. Nonetheless, in that childishness is plenty of impressive-effects-driven, popcorn fun. And I don't care what anyone says, LaBeouf was a talented, natural star from the jump.
Compelling and Infuriating
Living in Panama City after Hurricane Michael gave this a specific feel for me. All these post-storm stories and issues, with the government and FEMA and the media...it's all so familiar. So little has changed. In one of his most reserved (though still fully emotional) films, Lee gives a lovingly in-depth look at the effect of race and class during the fallout of a natural disaster.
About as Fun as Action Movies Get
Full of self-awareness but filled with plenty of filmmaking skill, this is about as fun as action movies get. Sure, its extreme violence could be a turn off, but with Trejo in the lead, it's all too hilariously ridiculous to offend. Most surprising is that it isn't pure mindless drivel; the Mexican-border stuff is handled with remarkable complexity and understanding, showing how many politicians use poor brown people as a scapegoat for their want of power.
Another Good One
I always forget how much I enjoy the simple world-building and sweet magic of this series. This was the last one I needed to see, and it only confirms my surprising fandom of the franchise.
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
This may be sacrilege...but I think I like this more than Moonlight...& I LOVE Moonlight.
Beale Street is simply one of the most gorgeous films I've ever seen. It's unbearably romantic, not just in Baldwin's flawless story (which certainly deserves the description) but the way Jenkins shoots & edits. Even the lighting, which is not usually a topic of discussion for surface-level film analysis, is just perfect. BTW, if Bryan Tyree Henry doesn't win an Oscar before I die, the Academy should officially give up the ghost.
A corny-as-hell tonal disaster
This is a Lifetime Channel movie with a Seinfeld musical score. The filmmakers clearly just wanted to make a trashy courtroom drama, and just stuck Thurgood Marshall's name on it. Everything written about him in the epilogue is 100x more interesting and more deserving of a movie than the obnoxious caricature we're given here. And Gad is overacting like the best teen-actor in your high school play.
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Very good...but am I the only one who likes Flags of Our Fathers more?
With both of these movies, there's a common interest: the military's chain of command. The lack of autonomy and individual personhood that soldiers (on every side) have is disheartening, however necessary that may be. Eastwood takes the feel and look created by Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan, and works to create characters that are more complex and interesting than any in SPR. Too long and (at times) much too muted, this is still a powerful emotional roller coaster...but only the negative emotions.
Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2 (2020)
Better than the first in all the most important ways (choreography, songs, plot, themes). However, if this gets ANY "woke" credit when Descendants 3 does the same thing SO much better, I'm gonna lose all my chill.
My feelings for this movie are as bipolar as Harley's flips between villainy & heroism.
There's a lot to like: Robbie is still wonderful in the role, action scenes are colorful & unique, female empowerment is strong (the one area that DC is inarguably better than Marvel), & McGregor's violently flamboyant turn is great. However, there's a desperate, Tarantino-inspired desire to be "cool" that's so off-putting (dumb non-linear editing, self-congratulatory 4th wall breaking) & hectic, it kept me at arm's length.
I'm Always Amazed How Bad My Taste Was When I Was 15...
It has often been said that puns are the lowest form of comedy. I would like to argue that judgmental sarcasm, followed by a knowing eye-roll, is the true lowest form. Evolution, an embarrassingly unfunny scifi comedy, is full of this garbage. In a desperately obvious bid to recreate the magic of Ghostbusters, Reitman tries to trade in Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis & Hudson with Duchovny, Jones, Scott & Moore. The result is a glib & lazy excuse for blockbuster entertainment. CGI isn't bad, though. So that's something.
Melodramatic, sleazy, old-fashioned goodness that ends perfectly.
If Phantom Thread was more compelling, it would be Martha Ivers. Full of great romantic and political intrigue, Milestone weaves a fun tangle of lies upon lies. Stanwyck is fantastic, Heflin is simple cool, and Douglas was a clear star from moment one.
So...yeah...the Dora movie is good. Go figure.
A children's film that's like a mash-up of The Brady Bunch Movie and Indiana Jones, and I'm TOTALLY here for it. The humor is certainly much better than the adventure plot, but the humor is so effective and weird, it's impossible to dislike. Merced is an immediate star, giving an undeniably winning performance that's as convincingly sincere as it is funny, while Pena and Longoria steal every scene they're in.