Posts Tagged ‘ film ’

A Quiet Place (2018)

a-quiet-place-john-krasinski-noah-jupe-millicent-simmonds

Pretty good film. Very suspenseful and tense, and Spielberg-lite at times, channeling the original Jurassic Park quite directly in certain scenes, especially (**SPOILERS**) near the end in the grain silo, and with the kids hiding in the car as the monster alien thing tries to get them. Wasn’t expecting Krasinski would sacrifice himself, though, which was a very nice touch and just about assures he won’t have to pull double duty if he decides to direct the sequel, probably. It was also quite an emotional scene without being corny, wrapping that story element up in a perfect little bow. Well done.

The monsters, though, seemed pretty stupid, and I had a hard time believing humans wouldn’t have figured out a way to kill them before all this. It’s kind of obvious; the monsters have ultrasonic hearing, so maybe turning up the volume to a frequency that would irritate them might be the way to go. It’s not rocket surgery. (**END SPOILERS**)

Anyway, a good film overall. They probably could have milked the suspense a bit more, or done more with the monsters, and some scenes were a bit stupid or didn’t make much sense, like the (**SPOILERS**) water cascading into the sound proof underground booth thing. What the heck was going on there, exactly? All that water came from Blunt’s character leaving the faucet on? Really? And this is the end of the world, you’d think they’d be more careful to not leave potentially valuable water running like that for so long in the first place. (**END SPOILERS**) A really out-of-place moment in an otherwise pretty logically sound film.

But as a film that’s almost entirely silent, and made up of only a handful of characters, it’s incredibly effective, especially thanks to the acting, which is across the board excellent. An effective, entertaining, highly suspenseful little film.

The Crying Game (1992) – 4.5/5

This movie is the very definition of unpredictability. You go into it expecting one thing, namely, nothing special, and that’s what you get for the first third or so, but then there’s a weird genre shift the likes of which I’ve never seen in a film before that screws with you and keeps screwing with you until you’re left shocked and stunned and slowly shaking in a corner. Good stuff.

I’m being vague, but only because I’m trying not to spoil anything. Sure, I could be evil and do so, but nah. All I’ll say is, the movie starts out as a kind of dark political thriller, then flips and becomes this romantic suspense story, then flips again and becomes this sort of strange romance/action/suspense/thriller hybrid that defies easy classification.

What appears to be a relatively straightforward narrative completely shatters at one point near the middle of the film, and it’s astounding. It completely changes the nature of the story and the characters within it, and the movie becomes so completely and utterly unpredictable that it’ll leave you speechless. At least, it did for me.

I had forgotten what it was like to not have even the vaguest idea where a story was going. Most films follow tried and true patterns, and this one does, but not in a way I had ever seen before. It also messes with you emotionally, and, in some ways, ethically. What would you do if you were in the main character’s position and something like that happened? It’s totally mind bending, and brilliant.

It’s also kind of funny at times. And the performances are all pretty good, especially from the main “love interest.” No idea how they pulled that off, but they did, and it’s great.

The dialogue is a bit stale though, especially at the beginning. And the story at times does get a bit clunky. It’s not a perfect film, not that there is such a thing, but this is one of those movies that achieves brilliance almost by accident. Had one or two things been different, it probably would have ended up being a total disaster. Luckily for us, this wasn’t the case.

A must see. A truly great, brilliant, mind bending film. Probably one of the best suspense/romance/thrillers ever made. Truly groundbreaking. Not sure how it even got made.

Bruno (2009) – 4.5/5

This movie was freaking hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard so consistently. The critics were wrong. Dare I say, it’s better than Borat, and is arguably the funniest comedy I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Not only is it hilarious, but there are also slight hints of social commentary thrown in that are really effective. **SPOILERS** I loved the interview with Paula Abdul, where she talks about how she wants to help people make their lives better as she’s sitting on a Mexican guy Bruno hired to pose as a chair. Or the whole end scene with the cage match and the hundreds of angry, screaming rednecks. Or the scene where he “engages” with his dead lover as the psychic watches on. **END SPOILERS** Hahaha!

The story was also pretty solid, considering it was partly strung together from real life events. It didn’t suffer from Borat’s schmaltzy ending; everything felt natural, nothing forced. Except the midget sex scene which was just crazy.

And some scenes were just plain demented. This movie constantly walked the line between hilarity and dementia, and if the filmmakers weren’t as careful as they had been, some scenes could have easily ended up being downright disturbing and unwatchable. Namely the “tv show test screening” scene, the “camp out” scene, and the whole “swingers” scene. Even the ending cage match scene was pretty twisted.

But it was all just funny enough to stay entertaining, and that’s the real brilliance of this film. It’s hilarious, thanks mostly to Sasha Baron Cohen who is brilliant and extremely quick on his feet. The man deserves an award, or more awards. He’s just great. How he pulled this off is beyond me.

This is a truly groundbreaking film, more so than Borat in my opinion. I think the reason it didn’t do as well, and isn’t liked as much, is because of the flamboyantly gay lead character and the many wacky, homoerotic situations he gets himself into. It’s a sensitive topic.

The last big set piece of this film, the cage match, perfectly illustrates the attitude that many people in this country have toward homosexuals. Granted, Cohen tricked all those people into witnessing something they’d probably never thought they’d see in their lives, thus fueling their rage further, but come on, how stupid do you have to be to not realize that you’re being put on? He called the damn thing “Straight Dave’s Man Slamming Maxout.” Obviously, something out of the ordinary was bound to happen.

So, great movie, brilliant even, but a bit too extreme for mainstream, I think. Also, once again, way too much male nudity, but eh, it was hilarious nonetheless. Truly groundbreaking stuff. Watch it!

2012 (2009) – 3/5

Spectacularly idiotic. Exactly how it’s been advertised as being. Lots of mindless, catastrophic destruction amid terrible dialogue, forced melodramatics, and implausible, “by the skin of their teeth” action scenes. That’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining. It was. Very much so.

The melodrama almost kills the movie, though. Any scene not involving mindless destruction is so schmaltzy it’ll make you want to gag. Insane moments of things smashing and exploding are often interrupted, or directly followed by, some of the worst soap opera type crap I’ve ever seen. But maybe this was intentional: it made me look forward to the death and destruction all the more.

The beginning of the movie also could have used about 20 minutes cut from it. It’s all mostly set up, and poorly done, idiotic, overly dramatic, cliché ridden set up at that. But luckily, once it passes, it’s one ridiculously entertaining catastrophe after another. Ah, what joy. Heck, why even have a plot at this rate? Why not just make a 2 hour movie featuring mankind being wiped out in all sorts of violent, explosion filled ways and call it a day? I’m sure it would have made just as much money, if not more. I certainly would have enjoyed it a lot better. The “plot” simply got in the way.

As I’ve hinted at before, the special effects in this film are outstanding. There’s one scene in particular that actually kind of disturbed me, and it involved a giant tidal wave, a Navy ship, and the White House. Logic doesn’t apply here, but the visual was so disturbing, especially given the perspective presented to the audience of said incoming tidal wave, that it really freaked me out.

I also liked the fact that the film didn’t shy away from death and violence. I was surprised at just how many people die in this film, that is, almost everyone on Earth. And in terrible, violent, horrific ways. The destruction of LA alone is intensely over the top, but still somewhat realistic and frightening. How they did it is beyond me, but it’s very well done.

Also, the only parts of spoken dialogue that I did enjoy were from the villains. There’s one line uttered by one of the twins of this Russian billionaire guy at the beginning to John Cusack that was just downright creepy. He says something like, “well we have the tickets, and we’ll live, and you and everyone else will die.” Coming out of a little kid’s mouth, it was effectively chilling.

There’s also another sort of villain character who, in retrospect, was arguably the most logical person in the film. He says and does things that you’d expect from someone in charge of such a painstaking situation, and he’d be right regardless of whether you agreed with his morals. But again, melodrama wins out, and the piece of crap, politically correct but logically inconsistent course of action is taken. Dumb. But that’s to be expected from this film.

So, yeah, a stupid, stupid, stupid film, but entertaining. Watch if you want to see the world being destroyed for two hours, and if you have a strong stomach for dialogue as horrific as said destruction scenes.

Ponyo (2008) – 4/5

Cool film. Didn’t really understand all of it, but that’s to be expected with these kinds of films. The point of films like this is to look at the pretty animation and go “oooh, ahh” and be amazed by it all, and I was, story be damned.

Though compared to Miyazaki’s other films, this is about as straight and coherent a narrative as you’re going to get. And it is very enjoyable, and pretty. I especially liked the scene where the waves are chasing the car up the mountain and the little girl is hopping from wave to wave to keep up with it; very well done.

It’s also charming and cute in its own way. The little fish girl thing is adorable, though the notion of her turning human to be with the little boy is a bit odd. Wasn’t she his pet? What’s going on there? And what was with the supposed “villain” at the end? Didn’t he initially have a plan to wipe out all of mankind or something at the beginning of the movie? What happened with all that?

So, yeah, it’s unconventional and doesn’t really make sense, but it’s entertaining and very well animated. Worth seeing.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) – 3/5

A relatively mediocre horror/thriller concoction with a few cheap scares and plenty of weird imagery, courtesy of Jennifer Carpenter and her superhuman ability to distort her face and body in disturbing, unnatural ways. Oh, and scream real loud in 3 different languages.

The film is well shot. It looks great, like a traditional horror film looks like today. The acting is okay, except for Carpenter who’s fantastic; really the star of the show. The way she manages to look kind of pretty one moment, and totally hideous and demonic the next was very impressive.

Her face is just triangular enough to pull off looking subhuman, especially when straining her neck at certain odd angles. And her eyes were almost comically deranged throughout; looking into them was like looking into the mouth of insanity itself. How she pulled off being possessed this convincingly is beyond me. Well done.

The story is kind of hum drum, and ultimately can’t make up its mind as to whether it’s a supernatural thriller or just a normal thriller with deep psychological elements. Yeah, sure, it’s supposed to be ambiguous, but it really isn’t. It’s clear that the filmmakers wanted to give viewers the impression that it could be either or, but decided ultimately to include clear supernatural elements that leave little room for doubt, which kind of annoyed me.

It would have been better if they had indeed kept it more ambiguous, or at least made the non-supernatural elements a bit more defined rather than casting them in such dubious, spiteful light.

Also, there are too many cheap scares. Lots of “BOO! GOTCHA!” moments. They’re effective, but come on. Lame. The only genuinely scary moment is the exorcism scene, which is pretty intense and had me hiding under my desk when all was said and done.

But other than the strong performance and the one really good scene I just mentioned, it’s pretty average. It could have used some stronger direction, and a bit more polish here and there. Oh, and way too many flashbacks. Screenwriting 101, people!

Overall, eh. Watch it for the strong performance from Carpenter, and the occasional scare.

Barry Lyndon (1975) – 5/5 – MASTERPIECE

I don’t use the word “masterpiece” very often when describing a film, hardly ever actually, and have been in the past disappointed by films long considered masterpieces that were merely great, or sometimes just good.

This film, though, is an exception. This is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. One of the few true classic films, and probably one of the best made. This is film at its finest; a living, breathing painting. A “Mona Lisa” of motion picture. It achieves a level of greatness only a small handful of films in the history of cinema ever have, one I frankly had forgotten existed, and should stand as the set example all filmmakers should strive for, or, better yet, surpass.

Brilliant isn’t a strong enough word for this film. It is a perfect example of all that is possible in the art form, from cinematography, to direction, to writing, to scenery.

Everything here is top notch, particularly the cinematography which is some of the best made. Every scene is beautiful. Every single scene. And don’t even get me started on the scenes lit entirely by candlelight. Kubrick had to apparently have a camera specifically created to be sensitive enough to capture the low light, and it looks gorgeous. Why don’t more people use this technique?

And the performances are just brilliant. Kubrick’s hand is in everything here, but the acting is a great example of just how significant a director’s influence on the actors can be when done well. There’s this cynical, almost malevolent coldness to all the characters that I loved. It speaks of a bitter, selfish world built on lies and emotional deception. Rarely have I seen a film from a director who manages to so brilliantly capture such a specific world view on film.

Everyone is just slightly off, even the protagonist who starts off somewhat likable in the first half, then takes an almost 180 degree turn in the last half and becomes a total prick. Yet you still sympathize with him, especially by the end. And that brilliant duel scene, oh man. Talk about great editing and staging.

This is a film made up of some truly unforgettable images. The carriage scenes, particularly when Lyndon blows smoke in his wife’s face, are inexplicably disturbing despite nothing much of importance taking place in them.

There’s just something about the framing and lighting and the deadness in the eyes of the characters that just makes these moments so unnerving, as though they’re all just zombies going about their lives because they have to, because life in all its forms is little more than a burden made up of deception and pain, and they have no choice but to live it, or die. It is a cruel, godless, uncaring world, and there’s nothing they can do but suffer through it.

I also think of the scene when Lyndon gets robbed, and the guy with the two pistols and that look on his face as he’s saying all these relatively terrible things to him in such a polite manner. And Lyndon’s desperate pleas of mercy. It’s just so twisted, even though it’s not even remotely graphic. He just gets robbed. But there’s something in the criminal’s eyes and mannerisms that speaks of a world where such things are all too common, a giddy malevolence in committing the deed, knowing he won’t be caught, and expecting to do it all again to someone else at a later time. I can’t quite describe it.

Overall, this is a brilliant film, suffice it to say. It does things I didn’t think possible in cinema. It makes you see things you’ve never seen before, and presents them to you in ways that’ll change the way you look at the world, and, more likely, filmmaking as a whole. It’s just that good. It’s a true masterpiece, and ought to be displayed in museums right along other works of art like Michelangelo’s David or the painting at the Sistine Chapel. Of course, that probably won’t happen, but it should.

This is a must see for any film lover. Anyone who wants to know what the medium of film is capable of ought to see this film. There is a composition to this that I didn’t think possible in cinema; the strong, confident hand of a master working his craft to perfection. I know I don’t say this very often, but this film is a masterpiece. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Kurt & Courtney (1998) – 3.5/5

Amateurishly made doc about an interesting subject that proves once and for all that anyone with half a brain can make a decent documentary if the subject is engaging enough. Also, it provides a decent summary of Kurt Cobain’s life, though the people interviewed, aside from direct family members, are questionable at best. Crackheads, thugs, and criminals the lot of them. Nice choices. Were these really even the types Cobain spent time with when he was alive? No wonder he killed himself.

Terrible interview/filmmaking style overall, though. And take off those damn headphones when you’re about to interview someone on the spot. No wonder he got such hostile reactions from people; no one likes a camera and a boom randomly shoved into their face.

And what an odd nail biter of an ending. What in god’s name was he thinking going up on stage to bash Courtney Love at her own award show. Yikes! Took guts, but was ultimately pointless and mean-spirited.

Patton (1970) – 5/5

Freaking fantastic film that’s longer than it should be and a bit slow at times but is so well acted that it more than makes up for those shortcomings. George C. Scott gives one of the best performances of all time as the title character Patton; why this man isn’t more of a legend in cinema is truly baffling. Probably because he rejected the Academy whenever they nominated him for anything, citing that it “shouldn’t be a competition.” Good for him.

The cinematography is also nice, and the story takes an interesting spin on the tired WWII genre by focusing on a less than sympathetic American general whose historical ambitions teetered on the verge of obsession. The acting from Scott is astounding; something to truly behold. His mannerisms and facial expressions, along with his often hilarious line readings are just brilliant. I’m not sure if some of those lines were meant to come out as comical as they do, but the character just says such absurd things sometimes in such a believable way that you can’t help but laugh. What a great, gruff voice.

And the action set pieces are spectacular, more so than in most action films today. I have no idea how they pulled off some of those scenes with the tanks and fighter planes and hundreds and hundreds of soldiers all in the same shot at the same time, and the first set piece where Patton is shooting at bomber planes with his pistol as they fly over his head, with everything in the same frame. How the heck did they do all that without special effects? It must have taken forever.

The film is truly an achievement, both technically and artistically, with a performance that’s really one of the best ever captured on film. If the film had been tighter, it would probably be more accessible, but as it stands, it’s pretty great, especially if you’re a fan of action films, or war films, or films with brilliant performances. Strongly recommended.