Watched any good movies recently?

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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:06 am

Watched Non-Stop which was fine, had a good cast, Neeson knows such a role, it had some nice twists though one wondered how an air-marshall hadn't learnt how to avoid making people alarmed. The plot strains a lot near the end and it starts to go a little too actiony but there is enough good performances, good twists and tension that it makes for a nice time.

Both: 6.0

Watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and... a little disappointed. There is humour, Jonny Depp provides a good villain, nods, one or two good scenes involving the Beasts and it goes along nicely enough but when it reaches end phase, the problems hit. Whereas first film concentrated on a few strands, this has many many many strands, the group of four diverge into their own paths rather then a united one, you have the villain and many other strands. This means, despite one or two well done moments, that a lot of the big emotional moments are with characters and dynamics that they are hoping are still aflame from work of the first film or haven't been build up at all. The ending phase feels weak and the film starts to feel long, I left the film (or my TV) feeling like I hadn't got to know the characters or had a chance to really warm to them unlike the first movie.

Both: 6.5

Horror Escape Room, I think you can guess the premise (group invited to escape room with 10k prize, find out it is deadly). Decently set up, the Escape Room stuff works well enough, each one feels different from the others and is intresting for what it intends to do, it isn't about you trying to figure out how they get out but to sit back and watch the group do so, gradually builds up a bit of tension but never as tense as hoped though one room has impressive stunt work from either Deborah Ann Woll or a stunt double.

Good on group dynamics, some start interested and others not, reactions changing as events unfold, each having their use in the group. However it isn't good at drilling down into the backgrounds of the characters or the individuality of the characters, there is enough there to keep them different and individual, cast do a good job but don't really get to know them or to really warm to them. It is enough for a good time but it flags near the end as it seems to be unsure what ending to choose so mashes together four which slows momentum and undermines the tension, couldn't help but feel it would have been better with a certain ending with using a second as an after-credit sequence
major spoilers
keep Zoey (Taylor Russell) being shown the ruined place by disbelieving police and seeing more clues while clear baddies have got away with it, let that leave the fate of her and Ben (Logan Miller) uncertain. In after-credits, have the airplane and actory scene as a teaser but don't link it to Zoey


Both: 6.5

Watched The Squid and the Whale by Noah Baumbach. Premise: The Berkman's, once great author Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and wife Joan (Laura Linney) have long been unhappy and are splitting up. This creates a divide between the two sons, young Frank (Owen Kline) and teenager Walt (Jesse Eisenberg)...

Meant to be semi-autobiographical and don't really want to look into how much but this just seemed really well done as a movie. The characters felt real (though coach Ivan by William Baldwin talked in such an annoying way), every scene clicked, the deterioration of relations, the damage being done inch by inch, how this impacted the children, it clicked and each change felt human, it felt like it made sense within the well written characters and their journeys. It kept balance between enjoyable and worrying for the characters, each had at least something redeeming (though Bernard was pushing it) about them and their failings are human if, in the parents case, very damaging. There is humour and a likeable romance, cast do a very good job, it is an intresting look into humans damaging nature.

Me: 7.5 Sis: 7.0
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:58 pm

Watched romcom Destination Wedding. Premise: Two people on the way to a wedding bump into each other at the airport, neither might be described as happy to be going to it or the most charming people. The two (Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves) do not initially get on but they have a whole weekend of meetings to get to know each other...

The idea isn't unknown, two very abrasive figures meet, don't get on then fall for each other over time. Very much a two person movie, others rarely speak and are just there to be part of a crowd gathered for the wedding or subjects of their memories of the wedding party. Both characters have an annoying phase, Ryder at the beginning where her character is slightly self indulgent in her "woe is me" and Reeves near the end where his character could do with a talking to. Humour isn't as sharp as it quite hopes, it is gently amusing but the one liners and the titles cards between the acts don't quite land as well they might have hoped.

It does have charm, the two leads are good performers who connect well, there is humour, there are moments of sweetness hidden beneath the characters cynicism, it explores the duo including why they are the way they are and one is drawn into rooting for them, rooting for a potential relationship. Each scene is well done with good dialogue and the story flows well, uses scenario of the destination wedding nicely.

Both 6.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:12 am

The second Fantastic Beasts felt like a classic 2nd in a trilogy movie. Slow, building towards something epic, but that isn't ultimately delivered in this one. The worry is we've got another 2 middle movies, so I hope they are slightly faster paced!
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Apr 20, 2020 10:04 am

Watched psychological thriller Faults. Premise: Cult deprogrammer Andy Roth (Leland Orser) has fallen on hard times and is under finical pressure when, on one book tour, he is asked by worried parents (Chris Ellis and Beth Grant) to try to save their daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Can his five day program bring her back to the family?

The set up has an edge of tragic comedy as one gets glimpses of how bad it has become for Andy and where life keeps giving him kicks, tone changes once the daughter is brought in. The comedy fades once the deprogramming starts where it becomes between Andy and the daughter, his using his expirence to carefully find things out, prodding and adapting while being careful to ensure she doesn't escape. She is sometimes nervous and alarmed, other times confident and commanding, Winstead and Orser provide a very good duo that bounce off each other, shifting the dynamics skilfully.

There are good dynamics, mystery's gently peeled back and hinted at as characters get more time with each other like the relation between daughters and parents, it times its break up's to do stuff outside the room well, the conversations between the main two hold the attention. It takes a turn of tone in the second half that it doesn't quite land, it slightly goes into the too confusing territory rather then the mysterious but it has a good ending.

Both: 6.5

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

Watched horror film Extracurricular. Premise: Four students, dancer Miriam (Brittany Raymond), sportsman Derek (Keenan Tracey), the planner Ian (Spencer Macpherson), and Jenny (Brittany Teo), doing well in school, friends. Also carrying out murders as a club. America has the best after-school activities!

The sort of film that doesn't have a wiki page, not the best visual quality and not sure all of Michael Caterina+Rajeevan Nithiyananthan's camera work quite worked as could be shots that didn't feel right. We saw this coming on sky and liked the premise, only 90 minutes so we thought to give it a chance... it was alright. A little undercooked but passed the time, didn't make major mistakes, didn't take full advantage of the idea.

Opens well, an effective example of what the gang do then... the film lacks a little something. The police investigation lacks tension, the group are ok but perhaps only Teo brings a bit of spark to the role. The group do fall into typical roles but that is easy to forgive, they have a nice bond, the meetings and plans about killing are good, moments with teachers and authority figures are well dome, some tension but perhaps not enough when they do carry out tasks, some decent twists and action goes along well. The plans and the attacks keep things going and there is just enough about the group to avoid one turning off.

Problems are more the characters aren't fleshed out enough, you get glimmers of what they could do and why some of them are doing this but that lack of depth becomes an issue as twists unfold. The twists do make sense but you have to fill in the holes as to why characters act this way rather then it being built in onscreen. It also obvious from very very early which character might become the weak link and it is never quite clear how that character got involved. Some dynamics leave questions that never get explored and leave you guessing at what the writers (Matthew Abrams and Padgett Arango) intended.

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

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat May 16, 2020 12:06 pm

Tried The Hustler, it is well done, the... dancing is coldly impressive display of technique and athleticism and was setting things up well but for me it lacked some spark, the performances weren't quite clicking for me to draw me in though clearly it has done so for a lot of others. Ghost World, didn't warm to the two lead characters and wasn't drawn in, tried Stuck in Love which wasn't bad, moments of humour from Sam (Lilly Collins) and some decent dynamics but it doesn't quite spark and some of the writing feels a little try hard. Had one of those weeks with movies

Watched Thoroughbreds where two teenagers rebuild their friendship, Lily (Anna Taylor-Joy) preparing for university and the somewhat distant Amanda (Olivia Cooke), things initially tense but soon plans start to be made, particularly over Lily's mean step-father (Paul Sparks).

Well set up, the awkward conversations at the start between the two girls as Amanda pushes back against Lily's falsehoods, Lily trying to get an understanding of Amanda, it introduces Lily's bad relationship with her step father at right time. It is well paced, knowing when to introduce something new about the character or a new character, it builds into the dynamics between the two girls or between them and other characters like Anton Yelchin's Tim, what characters do feels in line with their character but avoids being predictable or not leaving an element of doubts.

It has a good ending scene but runs out of steam near the end, I'm not sure the two leads were quite strong enough to carry this. Cooke is an actress whose work I have enjoyed but the detachment for this role worked against her character's ability to pull you in, the lead duo were pretty good but when it needed that extra bit of spark, they didn't have it whereas Yelchin did.

Me 6.5, Sis: 6.0

Watched One Hit Die: Legend of the Lich Lord, which was more a season of their D&D comedy but amazon didn't do season 1 (watched it on youtube since) and combined the episodes into a 90 minute movie. Premise: Necromancer Nerrena (Victoria Souter) seeks to raise the Lich Lord (Michael Roik) but needs his orb. Seeking to stop them is the party: chosen one and paladin Cassandra (Mikaela Cochrane), the fighter Sasha (Julie Orton), greedy thief Torvold (Andrew David Long) and drunken wizard Azurus (Phil Burke).

It was a pleasant enough view, not everything worked well but enough did that I had a nice enough easy afternoon watch. Don't need to have seen season 1 (the chosen one has been changed, the other group remain same cast and D&D role but persona's have been changed), didn't feel the villain comedy ever worked bar the inept servants once or twice, the drunken wizard thing was a little annoying. Knows it's effects are cheap so uses them carefully (and in one case, deliberately cheaply for comedy), as a story they built one or two things up (usually for the comedy) but felt more like going from sketch to sketch as they moved towards the usual "hunt item, get item, fight lich".

There is enough humour to make for a pleasant time, the frustration with elves, the druids (North Darling) utter despair at the group, Sasha's clumsy flirting, Cassandra's eagerness and belief in the prophecy of her being the chosen one, the ability for lines to be misinterpreted. A few moments really get a laugh, most of those that are hit are "well that was a bit of pleasant amusement", it does have a crudeness but felt it worked but others may not. There is one strand
gender swapping
that it feels clumsy at and goes down a route it probably shouldn't have. The finale goes really well, silliness in the fights was fun, some amusing duels and a strand that had been long running that comes with a twist that... might have mixed reactions but felt the cast pulled it just the right line.

Me: 6.0

Watched Pet Semetary as a horror and it was... fine. A bit of tension, some horror atmosphere, goes along nicely. Not greatly pulled in by the characters but it does enough to keep one focused, some of the horror and story ideas feel unexplored, few of the twists are fresh but they are done well enough for a small start of horror during a relaxed evening when wanted brain switched off. It did the job

Both: 6.0
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu May 21, 2020 3:18 pm

Watched Toy Story 4, was wary when this was being made as Toy Story 3 had really ended the franchise on an excellent note but reviews were good. Was a very good film and done in a way that felt it updated franchise by moving towards more female leads, main new character was a good one (and several spin offs on disney+ already), several good strands that were well balanced and met for strong emotional punches in the end point. Perhaps the villain, as it were, is slightly underdone but her strand still finishes well and it has a good theme.

It had what I wanted from a Toy Story film, humour (Tony Hale and Keegan-Michael Key comedy duo were hilarious), exploring themes as the toys and the children grow up+face challenges, it found new angles to keep things fresh and felt like shifting the franchise on, it had heart and lots of it (bar one movie advert that seemed a bit blatant)

Me: 7.5 Sis: 7.0

Rewatched the reboot of The Muppets, had a great time. It does feel like those making it had genuine love for the Muppets and captured a lot of what made it work, cameos (Jack Black was a highlight), 4th walling, good songs that fitted the mood (I liked Kermit's sad song about the past), humour and heart. Not afraid to go "yep, this is a repeat of what we did in the past" including a new Rainbow connection, or to keep its humans as side figures (possibly slightly too much with Mary's reasons for frustrations), the Muppets were the stars of this show. Show within a show was as good as the build up, humorous with things going wrong, songs, heart as they tried to save the theatre and rebuild old bonds. Generally just had a lovely time
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri May 22, 2020 7:10 am

I enjoyed Toy Story 4, more than I expected to. But personally I think 3 left it in the perfect place, and they would have been better not revisiting Woody and the gang. I think if they wanted to do another one they could have used the same premise but with a different set of characters.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 am

Sun Fin wrote:I enjoyed Toy Story 4, more than I expected to. But personally I think 3 left it in the perfect place, and they would have been better not revisiting Woody and the gang. I think if they wanted to do another one they could have used the same premise but with a different set of characters.


I can't really argue with that, that would probably have been the better route forward for the franchise though I can understand why they would pick shifting the same set.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon May 25, 2020 10:55 am

Watched Killer Joe. Premise: Young Texas man Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) is desperate for cash he owes to some bad men. Hearing his estranged mother's life is insured for a lot of money, he turns to assassin and cop Joe (Matthew McConaughey) who, since the family lack cash, suggests Chris sister Dottie (Juno Temple) be the retainer...

A violent film but keeps it well timed and with purpose, not so much on nudity. Does well in building up Chris desperate situation and an unhealthy family dynamic that drives events, Joe's calm expirence provides a good counter to them and adds to their scenes, Dottie one is never quite sure what she knows and that is used effectively. Films holds the attention, good exchanges and plot moves along nicely with family sometimes close but often fraying. End phase hampered by a scene that felt unnecessarily nasty and not in keeping with the rest of film's tone

Both: 6.5

Watched Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, a two parter that we turned into a movie. Red Dwarf does seem, with the last season as well, to have found its old feet. Had a good idea for the adventure, some old nods for the fans, plenty of great jokes as the main four turn on each other or mock the situation, some fantastic comic lines and comic twists on the concept.

Watched The Favourite the Queen Anne black comedy by Yorgos Lanthimos and one that has had historians with their heads in their hands. This feels a... slightly toned down Lanthimos film, one more suited to wider audiences but not one that betrays his style. He and cinematographer Robbie Ryan got some great shots that captured the moment, he mixed modern with ye olde (dancing, some language) for a sense of the surreal, the sense of humour and the strange very much remains.

Lanthimos touch combined with three strong performances from Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz (who gives her character such a sense of strong dominance) and Emma Stone makes for a fun, intresting movie (though I enjoyed it more then my sister). The dynamic between the three is strong, the humour is good, the ability for unexpected is there, dialogue flows well. However it felt like we only got a flicker of Anne as a person with Coleman's performance carrying a lot of the work, that we get more of a sense of the dynamics then the three as individuals (though we got some with the other ladies). Last half hour seemed to see time jumps and jumping from bit to bit with character changes that were not build in and explored which meant film didn't finish as strongly as it might have.

Me: 7.5, Sis: 6.5
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