Watched any good movies recently?

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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:49 pm

I tried Eagle Vs Shark, didn't click for me at all but my sister enjoyed it. We tried the musical Hello Dolly which has an inventive opening and seems solid but one could hear the jokes rather then laugh, the humour just wasn't quite landing. Taxi Driver, wasn't a fan of the main character and never warmed to the film other then when Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) and Tom (Albert Brooks) were joking around.

Watched anti-bullying film A Girl Like You. Premise: The success of South Brookdale High School, a public school becoming one of the best schools in USA, is getting a documentary. However when Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth) attempts suicide, amidst rumours she is being bullied by popular Avery Keller (Hunter King), things change.

Filmed in a documentary style either through POV cam's or from the camera crew (Amy S. Weber playing the director as well as directing) making documentary. Once or twice I was not entirely sure how a camera was meant to have captured that moment and the documentary team seems horrible irresponsible at times. Is a bit of a hit and miss film, Jessica and her friend Brain (Jimmy Bennett) have some very good moments, and Hunter King is impressive as Avery and the film does a lot of work to give a balanced portrayal of her character. Weber shows there are wider issues and that people don't always react well in crises. However when the film moves off the duo (they are not as strong singly) or Avery then it can fall flat, some clumsy dialogue and clumsy blatant message/heart pull moments that makes the eyeroll, I feel it should have done more on how bullying has evolved from the parents day.

Both: 6.5

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Watched Luc Besson's adaptation of French sci-fiValerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Premise: Humanity has gone into space and formed a vast city that houses creatures from all across the universe. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are upholding the law but about to have a major adventure....

The work of Pierre Christin is not one I am familiar with but when this came out, there was a lot of talk of the influence it had on others. The universe and races created over decades of writing gets an intriguing glimpse here, the world building is one of the few intresting parts of the movie, seeing the different races and a sense of the universe makes me want a sequel more then the actual film did. There are things one recognises from movies and books that followed while the "one can recognize what kind of beings they are from way they look" trope is an issue here.

A hit and miss movie. I enjoyed the opening, seeing humanity's advancement into space and the scene following is a brave move that goes on a little too long (pacing is an issue in this film). Big budget that worked in terms of the visual effects, Sam Spruell did a good job as General Okto Bar, there are some humorous and inventive side adventures
the other dimensional market and the treasure
where the film comes alive for a brief time, there is also a cute creature.

The miss? The adventure one can guess the way it is heading, doesn't feel well constructed, action scenes involving the main story lack tension or impact. Dialogue can be filled with exposition and/or preachy, the characterisation of the two leads feels all over the place (at one point one of the leads describes the duo's motivation based on characteristics we didn't see during the entire 2 hours). The end phase feels like it takes all the worst bits of the movie and none of the good bits so alas it does not end with a high.

Besson does not get the best out of the cast, the only figure to really add to his character was Spruell. The rest are either passable enough or have flare but erratic, the latter includes Delevingne who sometimes brings humour and fun to a scene but sometimes doesn't quite land. This is still miles better then the awful performance of Dane DeHaan. For a role that is meant to provide comedy with witty lines, romantic chemistry and charisma, we get none of that from DeHaan. His jokes fall flat as do most of his lines, there is no easy charm or chemistry bar possibly with one figure (Rhianna's character), lacks a sense of authority or... anything. So flat. A real problem given the film relies on the two leads to provide charm and humour.

Me: 6.0, Sis: 6.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Kong Wen » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:11 pm

I watched Coherence! I appreciate that it wasn't an attempt to copy mind-boggling plot-setpiece style stories. They actually lay out what's happening quite close to the beginning, and then just let you experience it from a character's point of view.

It feels claustrophobic at first, but you get used to it, and I cut them some slack when I realized it was literally filmed in the guy's own house on one camera.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:45 am

Watched War of the Planet of the Apes, third of the reboot. At its best when it touches on what has worked in past. The look at the wider world moments are intriguing, new characters like the child (Amiah Miller) and an eccentric (initially annoying) new ape (Steve Zahn). It looks good, and the cast do a fine job.

It felt like they decided to make this a very different movie to the others
revenge movie then a prison escape movie
and it didn't work. The adventure wasn't exciting, the villain didn't quite work, action was flat, no tension, pace dragged, I missed the intelligence of old and the exploration of society. It ran out of steam well before an end that was over-dramatic and trying too hard.

Me: 5.5, Sis: 6.0
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:19 pm

Tried Now You See Me 2, sequel to magical heist film we liked. We didn't manage to finish this one. It brought back all the old guard, even ones they might have been wiser to leave out. Isla Fisher left so Lizzy Caplan came in with a new character and it didn't work for us, and though Caplan brought energy but the comedy felt forced. In fairness to Caplan, this described a lot of the comedy in the movie, it was trying too hard.

They don't build the badinage and the humour between the main characters, only one or two moments work. Most new figures struggle to stand out and in one case is just really really annoying. The big public spectacles aren't there and what they try to bring in instead doesn't quite feel real, tense or exciting as it lacks a sparkle. The investigation is far less of a focus and a uninteresting mystery takes over.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:22 am

Watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. While it was better than the fourth installment, it heavily relies on riding a wave of nostalgia, the baddies bring nothing new to the series (they are like some weird amalgamation of Barbossa's and Davy Jones' crews), and it really lacks the chaotic cohesiveness of the previous entries. I was never left feeling like Sparrow was subtly manipulating events to get what he wants in the end. He actually came off as pretty listless instead, and his banter from the previous films is sorely lacking.

Producers etc are also guilty of retconning quite a bit, ignoring their own lore, etc.

Aside from needing to tie up the loose end that is Will Turner in charge of the Flying Dutchman (which this movie sloppily attempts to do), this series artistically ran its course after the third film. There is a little bit of fun to be had in Dead Men Tell No Tales but definitely go in with low expectations.

Also, one huge spoiler-ish no-no for me. I was quite disappointed that our new Turner and "Swan" ended up spending around half the movie tied up or locked up. You're trying to set up a new hero and heroine, and then don't actually let their characters DO anything? They finally come to life a bit toward the end but by that point I felt the damage was done, for that and various other reasons.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:00 am

Saw three movies over the weekend.

-----

First up was Ant-Man and the Wasp in the theater. While it's good fun, it definitely does an about-face on recent Marvel entries and tones down the stakes (or does it???) and somber tone in a big way. Acting was fine all around - I actually admittedly really enjoyed the actress who played Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) in this, it really looked like she was having a blast with this. Evangeline Lilly also has a welcomed more prominent role. I had not realized it, but read somewhere after viewing that this is the first Marvel film with a female superhero featured in the title.

I think some may find the humor hit and miss, the audience at our viewing was generally enjoying it but that may not be the case for everyone. I will say that the humor is different, there's less punny jokes and banter, and more situational humor. My favorite bits were Scott Lang's quips when he's in over his head when it comes to the science, and of course Luis's informative monologue (only one this time, but it's done well).

Despite the light-hearted adventure tone of the film, I'm willing to bet that, between all the science-ing and the ending, this is also going to fit into the bigger Phase 4 narrative as well. That said, it's also very possible that it doesn't, as there is only one really obvious connection to the rest of the movies going forward for now.

Verdict: Perfect popcorn muncher.

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Next two films were home viewings my wife picked out. First up was the 2017 remake of It. I remembered bits from the original but nothing substantial other than Pennywise, really.

I really enjoyed the acting by the young cast, I picked up on a strong Stand By Me vibe from them. That said, the horror scenes didn't really strike the right note for us, despite an often creepy performance by Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. I think the relatively bad CGI for Pennywise at times may have played a part here. Another complaint was that there were points in the movie when the soundtrack selection made no sense.

Verdict: Not bad but not for us.

-----

And last up was French film Raw. Full disclosure, we watched it with Korean subtitles and my French and Korean are both not up to being able to fully enjoy a movie, so I may have missed some nuanced bits here and there. Another horror film, this time about a younger sister going off to start her college life, and losing herself to temptation in more ways than one during pledge week.

Interesting premise and I felt like the main characters were strongly cast. We went into this with no warning and I read later that people were so grossed out that they left the theater. While there are certainly some gross bits, I guess my wife and I are jaded to that sort of thing, as we just winced a little and kept watching. I also feel like the director could have leaned a little more into the whole "eating meat" aspect, my post-reading revealed that she apparently wanted to explore a couple of different themes and ended up not fully committing to any of them, which does detract from the film a bit. The ending also saps any good will built up with a wave-away explanation for everything of sorts.

Verdict: Solid but could have been better.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:47 pm

Tried A Ghost Story but the opening pace is unbelievably slow, wasn't warming to the couple being shown to us and my mind wandered.

Watched Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason ie the sequel to the original, if not for family film would probably have turned off. I had a nice enough time but it is patchy, a film that lacks real narrative cohesion that feels like it jumps from event to event (some of which have dated attitudes), and Darcy feels like he isn't fully fleshed out. Bridget Jones is, particularly in first half, annoyingly immature. She isn't someone who is charming or having self doubt, she is a woman who needs to grow up. A lot.

It does have a good cast who make the best of it and ensure some of the conversational moments work well, some nice humour particularly around Bridget's work or her bad timing with calls, some sweet romance moments. Music a bit hit and miss, Adrian Biddle has a nice eye for capturing London in way people will want to see it.

======

Watched Kong: Skull Island, an attempted reboot of the franchise. For me it was something that held up just enough but ran out of steam. When it worked it was due to the soldiers' humour that provided some amusing jokes. I liked some of the world building and the monsters, and it was visually good with the monster scenes that were fairly impressive but tended to go on just a a bit too long. The problems that weigh down the film is that the dialogue can be very clumsy, a "wise natives" stereotype (while ensuring the white characters dominate), its heavy handed war themes and way too many characters (I would have gladly have axed Tom Hiddelstone's character and most of the scientists) that they struggled to develop which all takes its toll by the end.


Me: 5.5, 6.0

======

Watched the highly rated recent King adaptation It, had not read the books, but heard good things and King films tend to be nice enough way to spend time for my sister and I. What we liked in this was the drama of the losers club, the six boys and Beverly, and their dynamics. The youthful attitudes including how things change when a girl is around, the adventures, the follies, watching their friendships evolve over the horrific occurrences, all done with realistic sounding dialogue and a talented young cast. We wished they had taken a different choice with romance and felt there was one scene where one character acted out of character to fit it
I get why Bill and Beverly was chosen, they were the leaders of the group, it briefly touched on past knowing of each other, decent chemistry. Yet it would have been nice if instead of the lead character Bill, it had been Ben that got the kiss, would have been unexpected, there was a far stronger chemistry, a sense of shared interests and teasing, and the poem. He was a leader, maybe not as much as Bill but he had been the thinker and a secondary leader until he suddenly pulls out of the fight in a key scene.


Where it is hampered is this is a 135 minutes with a gang of seven when the horror is meant to be related to the person's history and character, it did feel like this would have been better as a TV show. One could easily have merged a few of the characters due to lack of time they got, there are tantalising glimpses of the home life of each of the boys and it does seem like we are meant to get a far bigger look at how this impacts them then we actually get which is frustrating.

As a horror, it has a great opening scene that it never lives up to afterwards. It is hampered for awhile by a lack of clarity on what the rules are with Pennywise, failure to build up some of the character related horror, its horror scenes didn't click and would be glad when back to drama. As the rules became clearer and characters were better built over time, the horror wasn't scary but an unsettling atmosphere was built up, Bill Skarsgård's performance effective, a little bit of variety in the types of horror, the horror scenes themselves were not scary but they had an impact on the mood.

Both: 7.0
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:09 am

Watched American Psycho which I had heard of but never seen and didn't know was a black comedy. Premise: Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a Wall Street Banker with many friends, engaged to Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon) and a strict morning routine. He also has a tendency to want to kill people....

This is a film that has great parts that don't quite lead to a great film. Bale is excellent in the lead role and is supported by a very good cast. Either Bret Easton Ellis's novel or the adaptation of Guinevere Turner and director Mary Harron have an excellent eye for the clever, small details of life, of the dynamics around the main character's life, that really add to the piece. Bateman's character has just the right sense of weird peeking beneath the surface (bar hearing his innermost thoughts) without being so much that others would be wary, film carries out the kills with a style and sense of humour. Dialogue and individual scenes work very well as Bateman meets and deals with all sorts of figures in his home and office life.

Bar a few brief moments in first half, I was pulled into the film and yet there is something unsatisfying. There are a lot of characters who come in for a spell (sometimes very short time) then vanish from the picture for no reason, there are so many strands that some don't get knitted together, there is something that doesn't quite feel cohesive about the whole thing.
Both: 7.0
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:38 pm

Watched Pitch Perfect 3, very much same format so one knows what one is getting. Story of how the Bellas are re-formed for this was always going to stretch credibility somehow so they acknowledge it is a bit silly and go for broke, and it felt within the spirit. It has a strong opening with fun music, a lot of humour including in the set up then it becomes somewhat patchy with some scenes just not really doing anything and others having that sense of fun and lots of laughs. Was very much "ok third and final one so let's make it happy" feel as you can see them building towards happy endings and decent enough romances. Made some nods to its tendency for some of the supporting singers to get really sidelined in past 2 films without addressing the problem.

The film makes some good decisions and some bad ones. Does feel like they have a handle on how to use "Fat Amy" best with some great reactions to the strange stuff she says and managing to tone down the bullying aspect, and they managed to keep the commentators and used them well with some nice jokes reflecting the past history. Very good with the one line humour and "wait what" reaction moments, they get the right spirit with the jokes and the atmosphere so one is willing to ignore plot issues for a nice time. On the bad, story is not well constructed as they jump from place to place and from setpiece to setpiece, the rival bands get ditched after one concert, DJ Khaled was trying too hard and did feel like "we grabbed a superstar, let us be in awe" and John Lithgow's Australian accent was bad.

With the Pitch Perfect trilogy, I have tended to find the music is at its best with its traditional Rif Offs which jump from song to song so always something to like, the competitive edge and humour as they battle, or when the characters are singing in a relaxed casual way. There is good vocal talent and I tend to know the songs but when it comes to concerts, there is a lack of spark or energy in the performances.

Me: 6.0, Sis: 6.5

=====

Watched Paddington 2, if you have seen the first film you will know if its style of humour and its sense of optimism about people and the world, be it a idyllic portrayal (and well shot by Erik Wilson) of London or human nature. It does require a bit of detaching brain at times
prisons do not have that sort of money I strongly suspect
and a willingness to just go along for the ride.

There are three bad patches, the opening is slow with lots of slapstick which isn't my kind of thing, one passage that was setting up something important but in itself didn't live up to rest of movie and the big boss fight which lacked tension and excitement. Its villains aren't great, Capaldi's character has a few good moments related to him but is mainly irritating and lacking subtly and Hugh Grant's performance is a tad overrated. He did show his abilities as an actor and he was certainly game, put the effort in, charming and it was a good performance but it lacked a certain comic touch.

What makes this is a good film is the same charm and goodwill of the first film is very much there. It is not hard to get behind Paddington and his polite, warm heart, his optimistic nature about other people, that gives a platform for other characters to shine. It provides a surprising amount of emotional punch twice, my eyes watered a little, and left me feeling happy. We enjoyed the one liner type humour and the reaction shots to events and Henry and Mary Brown provide a warm, humorous duo once more (I would watch a film just about those two) that provide a second heart.

Me: 7.0, Sis: 6.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:35 am

Watched 2017 adaptation of Daphne du Maurie's period mystery My Cousin Rachel. My spell-checker doesn't recognize the name.... Premise: Philip (Sam Claflin) is orphaned young and looked after his cousin Ambrose (Deano Mitchison), when Ambrose fall sick and is sent abroad Philip is rather surprised to hear the life long bachelor has married someone in Italy (Rachel Weisz) and grows suspicious when Ambrose dies.

I can see the appeal of the novel judging by the film, the mystery, the frisson (or the sex), the period drama. One gets the latter and to the crew's credit they go further then some, they use the location and the costumes well as one would expect, there is a sense of place and time in the way characters interact with each other and the attitudes towards, for example, Italy. The rest? There is no real frisson between the main two characters, Weisz and Claflin do not gel on screen and their scenes together tend to be the worst parts of the film. The mystery is hampered by I didn't believe one half of the "did she or didn't she" aspect, Rachel never feels like a real person bar very rare flashes and her clever manoeuvring lacks subtly, there is a certain lack of atmosphere and it just doesn't draw me in. Ending was a clever idea but felt badly rushed in the execution so didn't work.

There were good things in the movie, one or two little moments between the two leads but they shine when with anyone else be it the local staff, the fellow gentry and particularly when with the likeable Kendall family (Iain Glen and Holliday Grainger giving charming performances). Philip and Louise Kendall tended to lift the film and wish there had been more of those two. Philip takes awhile to get used to, not for some of his less modern attitudes as one can see where he got it from (we were more angry with others for that) but in the early stages the level of his stupidity is infuriating. Yet over time, one also sees he is a good hearted, likeable chap and warms to him, wishing him well. It isn't a bad film, it goes along but it just didn't feel like it had enough for me, my sister was more positive and more engaged with the scenes despite sharing the same issues

Me 5.5, Sis: 6.5

=====

Watched horror Get Out which made Jordan Peele a hit as a director and got a lot of media love. There was a lot of talk on its handling of racism so will address that first: I found it over-hyped on this front. There was nothing new or innovative, if anything I thought there was a punch pulled with a key point
major spoiler
the reasoning for the kidnaps
, possibly we benefited from all the things following Get Out that have taken its lessons on board. It did however make racism a constant theme and perhaps its reflecting a light back on the liberal class of the critics played its part there, the "woke" girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) blindness to certain parts of racism worked well in that regard.

As a horror? Its early big scares don't work as they go too big, the scare music too loud and too obvious though in one case, a well constructed early horror scene is extremely unlucky in the choice of song
run rabbit run
just brought back memories of childhood that the horror got overshadowed. Where it gets better is when it goes for unsettling, that little bits and pieces are just a little off be it language, reaction or something about the image. Credit to Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel performances as the servants who really help create that unsettled feel.

It is a well made film, the cast do a good job with Williams and Lakeith Stanfield joining Henderson and Gabriel as the ones that found another level, the twists are usually predictable but they are executed so well that it doesn't matter, best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) provides humour at just the right times to just break things up. The story goes at a good pace but at the end, I was wishing for more depth on certain characters and certain concepts
major spoilers
I would have love to have learnt more about the family and particularly Rose's role in it
. Where I enjoyed it more then my sister is, though Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose lacked a certain spark, I find the dialogue and scenes with the family more absorbing then she did

Me: 7.0, Sis: 6.5
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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