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Men in Black: International (2019)
One or two smiles then down the memory hole...
Lots spent on CGI but it looked to me like it was one of those films that people on it suspected they were headed for a train wreck. The writing and some of the acting lacked coherence and energy. It didn't hit the chemistry that the first MIB films had. I suspect because those were creatively fresh. Now, we see a retread coming from a mile away and who needs it. High marks for Les Twins!. The World of Dance winners did a great job, and more than a cameo, as dastardly aliens! (Who dance, of course!j.
Gloria Bell (2018)
We Left... And I Care NOT How it Ended!
Julianne Moore is one of my favorite actors and she seems like a fine human being. We stayed 15 minutes longer than my wife wanted. She was done about 10 minutes into the thing and kept rolling her eyes as I urged her to hang on.
Whatever the intention was for this film it was an epic fail. Boring. Tedious. Sad.
Dead to Me (2019)
Shining High Fives to the Actors, Writers and Production
I loved this "dramedy" like I love my chocolate and fine wine: broody, with a depth of flavor and a long note; bringing a smile to my face and an appreciation for art and talent.
These two actresses shine in their own ways, never once straying from the full embodiment of their characters. Marsden plays his part to a tee, as well: so charming yet so smarmy; a nacissist you know can't be trusted; a stereotype for the times and one that may take generations to overcome. But here he is.
The story unfolds in the addictive, fun, stunning way that you want from and episodic procedural. This is one of the best and I can't wait until Season Two!
Vanity Fair (2018)
Entertaining Delight That Never Waivers
I admit I'm a geek for British history pieces, but I figure that makes me a bit of an amateur expert. This 7-part series matches The Crown, Victoria, and The Favourite for its brilliance with range of humor, drama and tragedy. What more can you ask for in a worthy binge or to savor one episode at a time?
High production values, top notch acting and a great story. You'll have to pay attention as Becca Sharpe is a clever player (they didn't have a word for sociopath when Thackery wrote the book!). By the way, also recently viewed "The Man Who Invented Christmas", which is a wonderful movie about Charles Dickens writing The Christmas Carol. Curiously, Thackery is portrayed as Dickens nemesis and adversary. I believe VF came out after Christmas Carol and was Thackery's greatest commercial success.
The Favourite (2018)
Call This What it is -- A Masterpiece
Let me start by saying I have not been a Lanthimos fan. I watched The Lobster for 20 minutes and stopped, and didn't want to see Sacred Deer just from seeing the trailer. This film, though, perhaps because he didn't write it, which constrained some of his worst inclinations, produced something that will live for decades in the annals of truly great cinema.
Unless you are into superheros, explosions, splatter and martial arts as your only movie fare; and if you appreciate cinematic art in its many expressions (acting, music, plot, layered symbolism, cinematography, direction, etc.), then this is a film that will stick with you for awhile.
Finally, I want to say a word about two things ( NOT spoilers):1) the ending that a few people seem to be dissing in thier reviews and 2) a few disparaging comments about historical accuracy.
In my viewing the ending was perfect. The Queen remains the Queen no matter who fights for or wins the place of Favourite. Winning is not what it looks to be from afar. Is who you become in getting to the pinnacle who you really want to be?
And take a look at Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough in Wikipedia, which references her letters reporting the Queen's lesbian bent. Was this out of spite? Who knows, but it's there. One of the only artistic licenses on historical fact that I could find was the tea and horse incident, which served to further the intensity of the drama.
Go see this movie as soon as you can. It's going to have some serious attention in award season.
Life Itself (2018)
You Either Get It Or You Don't
No super heroes, no car chases, no revenge , no wild cgi effects, no apocalypse, and no lurking undead.
Just superb layered storytelling, fine acting, and a message about the dilemma and the magnificent potential of human beings (if we choose it).
If that's not a message that interests you, or you have some pre-set bias around the way Fogleman famously evokes emotional themes, then do everyone a favor and don't show up. If, on the other hand, you do not fear your vulnerabilities and can stretch yourself to some artistic license that doesn't involve space ships or old men who bounce off pavement (I'm looking at you Tom, Liam, and Bruce), then I dare say you could really like this movie.
I was lucky to get tickets to an early screening and I look forward to watching the IMDB number on this film go up and up.
Made for a specific audience- not me
So boring we walked out of the theater about 30 minutes in, and I live in Austin for chrissakes.Tropes, flat acting, and cartoon characters. Actually, 4 is a bit on the high side,
Christopher Robin (2018)
A Smile on my Face from beginning to end
Take some time out and do nothing, which is a who,e lot of something, for a couple hours. Sweet for kids, food for thought for adults, a delight to see movies like this being made. Than you Disney. After Wrinkle you have redeemed yourselves with a masterpiece.
Good Behavior (2016)
How Could This Not Be Winning Awards?
This show made me laugh, cry, cringe, root for the criminals, cheer for the innocent and sing praises for the actors, writers, directors and whoever played any part in making this series happen. Who knows if they can repeat the triumph of season one in season two, but I'll be waiting on pins and needles for it. Actually, we'll probably save up a few episodes so we can do some binge watching. You know, I didn't like Michelle Dockery in Downtown Abbey that much. She was my least favorite daughter! But OMG she nailed Letty in this show, did a flawless American accent, and was perfectly cast. But the revelation was the writing. Each episode takes you to a surprising conclusion and masterfully sucks you into the next adventure. None of it was pretentious or stupid, ever. And the humor is subtle, sly and on the money. Watch this and celebrate the best TV has to offer. No kidding. Just do it!
The Sinner (2017)
There's no Season Two. So enjoy!
Literally sat down to check out the first episode and binge-watched all 8 episodes in one long day! The chances of that happening are pretty slim in my busy world, so it better be good. This is a smart, tight, psychological thriller with some great imaginative writing. Plenty of twists to keep you going, "next episode, please" and Jessica Biel is perfectly cast and Bill Pullman works as the salty, troubled detective. It took a couple episodes to warm to his portrayal, but he eventually owned the role. You'll have to pay attention watching this one as there are a lot of moving parts and interconnections that come together as the show goes on. It reminded me some of the really good British crime dramas like Broadchurch, The Fall or The Tunnel. There's no season two, so enjoy.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Grandiloquent - not in a good way
If you haven't seen the original then you will be lost and confused for two and half hours. I saw the original recently and I re-liked it a lot, but I'm not a sci-fi aficionado with a great and caring eye like many people are. Anyway, I knew the story and where 2049 was coming from. The cinematography and CGI are impressive all the way through and no doubt Oscar worthy. Gosling and Ford are great together, and Sylvia Hoeks is a revelation and worth the price of admission alone. So what's not to like? It's boring and the story is so convoluted you'll have to sit through it twice to figure things out. How did K find Ana, for instance? OK, maybe I fell asleep and missed that detail.
I'm sure its a matter of taste. The only Villanueve movie I ever really liked was Sicario, so maybe that tells you something why I found BladeRunner 2049 overwrought and overblown.
Battle of the Sexes (2017)
Good Fun Entertainment
.... And a bit of historical nostalgia and a nod to BJK's contribution to our society's two-steps- forward- two and a half- back progress in attaining equal rights and privileges for... well, everybody. Great acting, as we've come to expect from Carell and Stone, and good story development. They did what I thought was an odd thing with the tennis scenes and I get why they did it but it felt off: they slowed down the action to look like what I see when I'm out on the local courts watching pretty good players duff around. Professional women regularly clock speeds of 120mph on their serve and the power of their returns would blow your mind. The producers made it look like a weekend amateur could manage a volley with either of these pros. Very unrealistic, which is the only reason I subtracted a point!
Ugh. I'd rather be forced to watch Showgirls again.
I'm not sure I can convey how much I didn't like this movie. That it won Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film simply informs me how out of touch I am with the sensibilities of the Hollywood Foreign Press. Or maybe it's how much the HFP is subject to current glamour, politicking and fantasy of what could have been. I think of it like The Artist winning Best Movie of 2011. Everybody liked it for about 5 minutes and then there was "buyer's remorse". (Reminds me of a certain recent election, too, but that's another story).
Look, Isabelle Huppert is an awesome actress and I have no problem with her getting the recognition she deserves (thus the 2 rating!), but this movie is a mess as only Paul Verhoeven can construct. You will go out of the theater thinking: "WTF, who lives like that?", and "Wait a second, that subplot was for...why?", and "OMG, how contrived can you make a character backstory to justify your tale of perversion and delusion?".
Lastly, I know the French have their cultural perspective on monogamy, art and what sexual and economic equality looks like, and I consider myself very accepting of different worldview and cultural mores; but this movie just left me with vomit in my mouth and a dislike for humanity. If for Verhoeven creating strong revulsion in the viewer is an art form, then I suppose he is a genius.
Not a Ten for one big reason
Look, if you're a SciFi fan you have to suspend some belief. That's the rules. So the reviews that say this movie doesn't reflect reality are playing some weird double standard. I bet they loved Roque One or Star Trek, which are about as far fetched as you can go. Anyway, moving on... I loved the premise of this movie and appreciated the way the story line looked at some very human dilemmas around home, relationship, life and death. A lot of movies don't come close to the philosophical questions Passengers laid out, and the acting is superb. One big problem for me was the schmaltzy Hollywood ending. They took the "return to life" scene too far and THAT is where it lost any credibility. Then it skated to that Hollywood close that left a bit of vomit in my mouth. I can think of at least three endings that would have been more poignant and more in sync with the depth of the earlier messaging. Missed opportunity probably due to some suits that wanted more explosions and a Happy Ever After.
Movie goes over the head of most viewers
I'm giving this movie a better review than most because I found myself engaged in the nuanced messaging, the attempt to do something different, and the fact that I felt entertained and went into the rest of my evening talking about what the movie was about. Any movie these days takes a risk when it scratches in new territory and the reviews here seem nit picky and unfair in some cases. For example, if dialogue is "slow moving" then that is a director/scriptwriter choice that in a movie that has thought itself out, like this one, you can see in the overall look and feel.
Look for example,at the early scene where Naomi is speaking at the women's empowerment group. Watch the camera scan and you see more of the lettering in the poster appear behind her. It goes from "men" to "omen" to "women" and her monologue relates to each as it goes by. This doesn't happen by accident, folks, and this is just one instance of nuance in the movie, including the ending which makes you have to reflect a bit and fill in with your own opinion and/or judgment about the state of how we regulate (or don't) the investment banking sector.
I like movies that make me want to pause the stream and talk about what we just saw. But that's just me.