Watched any good movies recently?

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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Sakae Wu » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:50 pm

I haven't posted here for awhile, so I thought I'd mention a few movies that left an impression on me over the last few months:

They Shall Not Grow Old is defintely one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. What really sets this one apart is that they only use restored footage and photos from that period as well as actual veterans that do all the narration. (recorded years ago and digitally enhanced)
It's entirely from a British pov and directed/produced by Peter Jackson created for the Imperial War Museum archives. The most impactful part of the movie is watching the transition of enthusiastic English teens who assumed they were signing up for one long heroic calvary charge, to becoming gaunt, hollow eyed veterans who had seen too many horrors. A few parts showing post battle footage were pretty hard to watch.
There's little mention of the French or American involvement, and most comments about the German side seemed fairly respectful which was a little surprising considering the brutality of the fighting involved.
Very educational and highly recommended. 9.5/10

Shoplifters should have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in my opinion. While theft in Japan isn't that common relatively speaking, people living in poverty is unfortunately.
This film has many bittersweet moments of people trying to survive on the fringes of society. The characters are flawed but easy to root for. And the incredible performances of Lily Franky, Sakura Ando and a little gem named Miyu Sasaki made this one of the better movies I've seen in awhile. 9/10

May We Chat wasn't that great overall in my opinion, but it was unique, well acted and memorable. It's from Hong Kong and based on the lives of three young women whose overreliance on social media (namely WeChat) causes all sorts of problems but also brings them closer together. The first half is a tad boring and explores their day-to-day lives. The second half takes a dark turn and had me riveted for the rest of the movie. Rainky Wai Yue-Sam was fantastic in this and worth watching on her own. And the ending was a quite a surprise as well. 6.5/10
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:40 pm

Watched western anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Unusually we split this into two, we found the tales intresting but it has a slow pace and after the very slow Gold Canyon we discovered we still had an hour left, we didn't want to tire of it so decided to take a break.

Opens up with a sense of a book being opened, gives a real sense of ye old book with dedication and such details, each tale starting with a picture with a caption that teases a moment to come then once glimpses first words (and at end of each tale), first tale is the Ballad. Tim Blake Nelson is a good opening lead, there is cheer and fun songs to catch the attention yet also a dark side is quick to emerge. There is something dark about human nature in each tale, to point that one ends up waiting for the dark side to emerge though usually the moment is well executed. Each tale has its own style to help keep things fresh, opens with cowboy musical then there is horror, romance, plays and so on that keeps it fresh.

Each tale is, though tending towards the slow, really well done with only cast member I had issue with was Saul Rubinek's attempt to do a French accent. The tales are intresting, varied, endings have impact, has songs (not a musical despite the name) in two of the tales and they are enjoyable, it has a good eye for human nature and human misery but usually enough lightness to not make it too depressing.

Both: 7.5, nearly 8 but for the need to split
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:40 pm

Lost this while posting

Watched rom-com spoof Isn't It Romantic. Premise: Architect Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is single and no longer a fan of rom-com's which she sees as unrealistic and not hopeful of love. When mugged and knocked out, she slips into a rom-com world with flowers, suitors and song, something she is all too aware of and isn't so keen on.

This feels like a film where writers Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman had a basic idea they wanted, a rom-com that shines light on and has fun with the tropes. The problem is they didn't have enough fresh or well executed ideas to fill the 89 minute movie, there were some neatly done ideas here or there and a fresh ending phase but a lot of the ideas were either old or fell flat. Natalie's explanation/rant of why she hates rom-com to her underutilized friend/assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) summed it up, there were two or three moments that felt clever observations or delivered in an amusing fashion but a lot of it was ideas that have been mentioned for years and not delivered well. The rant overall felt overly long and didn't work as a whole, too much meh overwhelming the good moments.

As a rom-com itself, it isn't good enough. Some of the romances lack strong chemistry though best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) has moments in romance, it is hard to warm to them till near the end when some of them begin to click. Use of songs for romance doesn't work, the songs never come alive and though a decent cast (Liam Hemsworth and Priyanka Chopra), they don't spark off each other.

As a comedy? Some enjoyable visual "land of rom-com" gags and some good jokes over the near ninety minutes but have seen better comedy performances from most of the cast, they didn't manage to make the most of the "heard it before" jokes, to give them life. I found the attempted spoof of the gay best friend, played by Brandon Scott Jones, undercut its points by the way they played it but my sister disagreed.

Me: 5.5 Sis: 6.25
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby SunXia » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:27 pm

Man the new Spider-man movie is awesome. Seriously so glad I didn't grow old and die before they really started doing good Comic Book movies!! Just need to get someone to fix or reboot the DCEU away from Snyder and his "grittiness"!!
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby PeanutButterToast » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:59 pm

SunXia wrote:Man the new Spider-man movie is awesome. Seriously so glad I didn't grow old and die before they really started doing good Comic Book movies!! Just need to get someone to fix or reboot the DCEU away from Snyder and his "grittiness"!!


Aaah! So jealous. I haven't seen it yet, but yes I agree about Snyder. He screwed up my all time favorite superheroes for "dark and edgy". I mean...ugh. Why make Superman dark? He's Superman! I could go on a whole rant about that but just...ugh.

Glad the new Spider-Man is good though.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:27 am

I only watched Homecoming on the plane home the other day which I really enjoyed! Will probably wait for DVD release for the newest one.

Batman at least seems well suited to gritty movies? I loved the Dark Knight trilogy and that was pretty dark! All that said I find Superman the dullest superhero ever so I've stayed away from most of the DCEU.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:15 am

SunXia wrote:Just need to get someone to fix or reboot the DCEU away from Snyder and his "grittiness"!!


I got the impression, particularly with Snyder leaving after family tradegy and how badly Justice League went down, the latest movies like Shazam (from what I hear) have moved away from the dark grittiness.

Nothing wrong with being a dark gritty movie as long as done well and he really failed to justify why his Superman needed to be dark and gritty.

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Watched Netflix/Adam Sandler's murder comedy Murder Mystery which got decent reviews from places I keep an eye on so for once it wasn't critics vs Adam Sandler getting huge numbers. For us it was... just about passable, the slow start (only gets going once on yacht) is certainly true but it wasn't the "spoof of murder mysteries" that we had heard about and that was a pity as most of the best comedy was based around the murder investigation.

The murder part is fun enough, some twists, allows you to guess along, some amusing parodying of the genre but it also gets too actiony and doesn't delve into the potential suspects but does have fun with the inspector (Dany Boon). In terms of comedy, Adeel Akhtar as Maharajah Vikram Govindan is really annoying but very much a side figure while Sandler's benighted ordinary slightly inept guy role doesn't work (nor is his performance that good), his character is annoying and is unfortunately a main figure. Sandler also goes for crude jokes which just feel boorish, where comedy works is those related to the murder mystery, the inspector, the dislike in the murdered family, the parodies and to an extent Jennifer Aniston's more competent wife and her love of mystery novels.

There is a good cast, Aniston does well as does Luke Evans, Gemma Arterton and Terence Stamp the most notable. The idea of the outsiders (one a police officer, the other a fan of murder mysteries) finding themselves into a murder in a family, a poor couple now amongst the extremely wealthy does work at times but they got balance wrong, needed less focus on the main couple (including a slow set up) and more on the side characters. Or make a more intresting leading male character at least.

Me: 6.0, Sis: 6.5

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Kung Fu Panda 3 was the best of trilogy for us, the franchise has always had heart and humour but a tendency to drift. This film prevented that, it had the humour (using Seth Rogen's mantis and pandas well), it had good themes, it had an alright villain in Kai (J. K. Simmons) but one whose reaction to events could be fun. It mixed the fighting well with its humour which worked well for us, it looked as good as ever and was a sweet tale.

Both: 7.0

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Watched musical based film A Star Is Born, the most recent version directed and led by Bradley Cooper with Lady Gaga as fellow lead, had heard very good things of this one and first version of the film we have seen. We really enjoyed it despite being a bit patchy at times and couldn't shake the feeling it could have been better, felt like a film of two parts.

The first half, the rise of Ally (Lady Gaga) has the best songs like Shallow, Out of Time and Always Remember Us This Way, there is a good sense of concerts (says someone who has never been) but there is a sense of atmosphere and energy, Cooper is a good performer with a decent voice and Gaga is... well Gaga. Cooper's Jack is a little creepy with his flirting until the romance happens when it really clicks, set up a little slow but good dynamics with supporting figures like Jack's manager Bobby (Sam Elliot), the sense of Ally's confidence growing bit by bit as they build to Ally's breakthrough, but a little patchy in first half hour.

It then switches to the decline of Jack, one moment he is playing in front of packed crowds, next he is in a bad place and it wasn't the only time "I feel something had been cut" came to mind. Lady Gaga and Cooper have very good chemistry, it is easy to believe in the pairing and scenes between them or figures like Bobby are intresting. The scenes of Jack's public decline are well done and there are good personal scenes but it felt like there was more focus on "pop machine is bad" rather then reasons behind Jack's decline and Ally changing. It keeps touching on his hearing issues but never delves into it and it is far from the only issue, one wonders why "let us talk about it" never comes up (makes some sense with Bobby but not so much with Ally who is supposed to "get him") and the focus on pop machine=bad leads to ending phase not being as powerful as it should have been.

Me: 7.5, Sis: 8.0
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:52 am

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, this time based on teaching music at a struggling school, a better constructed film without some of the ridiculousness of the first film. While it lacked the worst elements, it also lacked a bit of spark, the music took awhile to really arrive and nothing really matched the best music of the first film, the kids now feel very dated and trying too hard, the best moments tended to involve the nuns (and some of the monks) but they were used sparingly.

Me: 5.5 Sis: 6.0

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Watched The First Purge which sought to freshen up a film franchise that perhaps gone a bit stale by doing the set up, when the new founding fathers first test the idea of a purge. That in itself had some interest, the fascination of the news crews, the little differences (which they could have done a lot better but some of what they did was nice), the various motivations behind the sign ups are fun, the exchanges with politician Arlo Sabian (Patch Darragh) and scientist Dr. May Updale (Marisa Tomei) overseeing it... such a pity such things are such a small part of the film.

It touches on but doesn't delve into what the outside is seeing on the first purge, Sabian and Dr Updale exchanges are good but small and it basically stops half way through having taken a... route that felt cheap
major spoilers
the first purge struggling as people aren't behaving how Updale thought they would behave, going into why could have been intresting. Ditto the founding fathers desperation with the situation they inherited and what that says about today's society. Neither is delved into. However it turns out the purge is a success not due to human nature (which is what the Purge has been about) or a gentle nudge but the government sending in armed troops to enforce the mass killings. It being not people but all the wicked government felt cheap
. The film is mostly about the purge, which is mixed and a group of thinly drawn stereotypical characters on the ground rather then Staten Island as a whole

The purge is decent enough till near the end, some nice tension (they use the contact lenses to good initial effect), baddie (Rotimi Paul) has impact in the opening stages, a few nice setplays but is hindered by a seen it all before and in more spectacular style, being the first meant there is less flair. The end phase however turns into a stereotype rambo style character and lots of action which is not the film's forte. The characters we follow are not intresting despite a cast that is fine, some really clunky dialogue, a lack of spark, characters not well written or always making logical decisions.

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

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:54 am

Watched Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe. Premise: Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park) were childhood friends and neighbours who lost touch. When the engaged chef Sasha returns to San Francisco, what will change? Will they rebuild their friendship or will old wounds keep them apart?

One of the best constructed rom-com's we have seen in years. It knows what beats to go for, provides a fresh angle, balances the two leads well with female in the lead and taking on some of the aspects traditionally given to males, refusing to shame or change that Saha is assertive and business like. It seems to know the flaws of the genre and quietly, without making a fuss or a joke about it, ensures it doesn't repeat those, it feels fresh.

As a romance, there is a nice chemistry and good performances from the leads, the two characters are flawed and likeable, the journey for the romance is intresting, nothing is a bit too perfect, dialogue feels natural. It builds well to its big scenes, there is heart, there are the usual obstacles but done in fresh ways, they tended to find fresh angles to the usual rom-com romances. It might have benefited from exploring more how Marcus became the figure he was as some of his stuff gets slightly squeezed out with just 102 minutes.

As a comedy with comedians as leads, it is a very funny, full of jokes that mostly hit, knowing how to use awkwardness (as it had for romance) to add to the comedy or knowing when to just add an extra line to push joke over the edge. It also has a very good knack with just watching a character pulling the right face for a comic situation. Michelle Buteau as Sasha's best friend Violet is great for comedy, the celeb cameo
Keanu Reeves
is well integrated into the plot and is done in hilarious style as it sends up reputation while moving on the story.

Songs are of an old 90's style but fit nicely within the story, the big flaw is that at 120 minutes certain side characters get squeezed. While Marcus parents (James Saito, Susan Park) are well done and friendly likeable figures, elements on his life like the band feel underdone, Sasha's friends are well done and how she became the figure she was but her parents are under-explored given their role in this story.

Both: 7.5


====================

Watched drama based on Richard Ford novel Wildlife. Premise: In the 1960's Jeannette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry Brinson (Jake Gyllenhaal) move to Montana for Jerry's new job with Jeannette staying at home to look after teenager Joe (Ed Oxenbould). When Jerry loses his job, tensions build and it gets worse when he joins effort to fight the wildfire

Builds up well, showing a friendly loving family but also glimpsing at the deep problems underneath that emerge after the firing. Well made and well acted, it touches on what can be uncomfortable as relations deteriorate, concentrating on very human frailties and the impact it is having on Joe, our main trio are intresting characters sometimes making very bad decisions but also giving enough to show why they make such a bad call. My sister sometimes found it a little slow, I felt the storyline between Joe and friend Ruth-Annie (Zoe Margaret Colletti) just vanishes after a time but ending was very well delivered and felt appropriate for the film

Both: 7.0
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:05 am

Tried A Bigger Splash but it felt slow, didn't click and Harry (Ralph Fiennes) is really annoying which isn't balanced out by warmth to other characters or story. Tried The Little Stranger which didn't do anything wrong, it was well made, good performances, nice storyline but it wasn't quite us, it didn't quite click enough.

Watched 2014 horror Creep which was written by it's co-stars. Premise: Videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice, also director) is hired for recording some distance away, in a remote house. He finds out he is hired by the dying Josef (Mark Duplass) but.... well it is a horror film, this won't be a heart-warming session for Aaron with life lessons and cake.

Builds the sense of "pleasant if slightly odd" as the two meet, neither men set to be hero of the hour (and seventeen minutes), enough charm and weirdness to keep us going. Then little cracks appear and the horror starts to emerge bit by bit, leaving one with questions that one hopes to see answered, good moments of tension and awkwardness. The two actor film with hand held video works to give a sense of intimacy and as if it happened, good performances.

When it turns more towards horror, balances well with a sense of humour and keeping the horror in bursts then doing something else. Builds towards the ending which was well done and made sense with what we had learnt about the characters, I'm inclined to watch the sequel.

Me: 6.5

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Watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom aka second of the new films, has plenty of lovely moments that stand out in the film including a strong opening scene, a bit of humour, ok baddies, some well done tension scenes. At its best, it pulls one in for some of its setplays, puts one on edge of the seat, pulls on the heartstrings, maybe make one giggle. It even touches on some intresting themes that another film might have delved into, uses the dinosaurs well (like Stygimoloch) for the most part. However the moments are simply moments or a passage of the film, it is not a consistent pull.

The film doesn't delve into its themes, will drop ideas and people completely or for long spells, plenty of flab and scenes that don't click. The new support characters feel like stereotypes and tropes, Chris Pratt delivery felt off, characters make some weird or flat out absurd decisions, its attempt to awe with dinosaurs doesn't quite work. Film is "heavily inspired" by past films to point where one has seen the plots involved before and it feels tired, lacking of ideas (perhaps if it had run with its themes, that might have felt different). The end phase has its moments but goes on way way way way too long

Both: 6.5 (though she leans towards 7, I more a six)
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