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MOVIES: What Have You Seen Today? (2017)


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#391 Dustin

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 02:13 PM

Contratiempo/The Invisible Guest - director & script Oriol Paulo

 

A nifty little "locked room" mystery thriller used as frame for a nuanced psychological drama. An estimated € 4.000.000 budget bought you a film looking easily ten times as expensive*. A clever script, a solid cast with some fresh faces and thankfully not already-done-to-death locations here build that atmospheric density necessary to make the plot flow and the viewer ignore the holes. There are a few predictable moments, granted. But the end comes as much as a revelation to us as  it does to the main protagonist.  

 

 

*If you watch this please spare a thought for how Eon would approach the task, with plenty of action, stunts and genuine brand trash - but probably not that much more impressive for all their pains. If the estimated € 4.000.000 is a sound figure then they made it certainly look like more.    



#392 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:57 PM

Sounds intriguing!  Thanks for the tip!



#393 DaveBond21

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:37 AM

The Fog (1980)

 

Directed by John Carpenter

 

Kind of a mix of The Omen, Halloween and Close Encounters. The plot is thin but it's more a series of chilling moments, and it's quite effective as that. It's like they came up with the eerie moments first, and then wondered how to put it together into a plot.

 

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#394 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:57 AM

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

 

I liked the first Jack Reacher-film - and stayed away from this one due to the negative reviews and lack of opportunity to see this Edward Zwick-directed follow-up (it went out of theatres so quickly around my hometown).

 

But I have to say, having seen it now, I think this is a very well made action thriller, with Cruise nailing his version of Jack Reacher perfectly.  The plot propels itself forward quickly and leaves no dull space.  Cobie Smulders is great as a female soldier fighting for her reputation (and life).  

 

Yep - great entertainment.

 

 

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

 

Wow, simply wonderful filmmaking, with a captivating story within a story, both very different from each other yet extremely important for each other.  Tom Ford is really a great director and writer.  This is the kind of arthouse film that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

 

 

BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING

 

Otto Preminger´s mystery about a child that disappears from a school is a 60´s masterpiece, now available in a pristine version on blu-ray.  Absolutely magnificent piece of work with twists and turns which really are a masterclass.  And Sir Laurence Olivier plays the police inspector with so much elegant precision that he does not need any big dramatic outbursts to shine here.  Look at the way he shows that he is in total command of the investigation with one little hand gesture.  Just terrific.

 

And the shocking revelation about "Bunny Lake"...  oh, man, that was a twist so many modern filmmakers would not be able to match.



#395 Professor Pi

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 05:03 AM

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2

 

Pretty much everything you want in a Marvel Guardians movie.  The opening titles set the fun tone for the whole movie, though there is some emotional gravitas to it.  ELO never sounded better!  I rewatched the first Garudians movie before and felt it was like a Star Trek movie.  Star-Lord has Kirk's haircut, attitude toward women, but is learning his ethics.  Volume 2 is more like a Star Wars movie (I won't spoil the story with evidence of this, but the set pieces and plot devices will be recognized upon viewing.) 

 

The comic timing is sharper, the colors more vibrant, and the music just about perfect, both songs and score.  This has quite a cast (Michelle Yeoh has a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance as a Ravager.)  Each character is given more background, especially Yondu and Nebula.  Rocket and Drax are scene stealers.  In both movies, I'm amazed that Rocket has the most emotional resonance, given that he's a CGI critter.  They still have a villain problem, but this story is more about character development than galaxy saving.  Not sure if they intended this, but there's an interesting political metaphor employing "goldness" as an ideal perfection with a race known as the Sovereign.

 

Marvel seems to have bifurcated the MCU into the cosmic (Doctor Strange, Guardians, Thor), and the grounded (Ant Man, Civil War, Spiderman Homecoming)  It will be interesting to see the direction next year's Infinity War goes.  While I found Guardians 2 better than its first one, I'd probably rank it lower, ironically, on the overall MCU rankings.  It was everything I wanted and expected, but didn't have the jaw dropping paradigm shift of Winter Soldier or event status of The Avengers.  Still, it's a worthy sequel, better than the original, and admirably ties up loose ends from the first.  Not sure where they'll go for a third entry as this was a very satisfying sequel.

 

The last of the five (!) post credit scenes brilliantly ties in all the Stan Lee cameos (comic book fans will know, others should look it up.)  The genius of this is Marvel found a way to link Deadpool and X-Men movies into their universe without violating studio licensing agreements.  Basically, any movie with a Stan Lee cameo is now in the same universe!



#396 DaveBond21

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 06:01 AM

David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

 

This was disappointing but that's not a surprise. I loved the original British TV series "The Office" but many have proved in the past that it's very difficult to translate a successful TV show into a successful movie.



#397 Professor Pi

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 05:06 PM

Alien Covenant

 

Ridley Scott has gotten dark.  Or should I say darker.  If you've seen The Counselor you know what I'm talking about.  Space is dark and cold, and what aren't empty expanses are filled with terror.

 

Neither the alien nor the Covenant ship is the main topic in this film, but rather androids, or "synthetics" as played by Michael Fassbender.  Actually, he plays two, Walter the resident caretaker of the colonist Covenant ship, and David from Prometheus.  The film is both a sequel and a prequel, and isn't entirely successful at either despite being interesting as it raises a host of philosophical and religious questions.  In fact, change "Weiland" to "Tyrell" and it could easily exist in the Blade Runner universe.

 

The crew members aren't as dumb as the ones in Prometheus (though I won't say they're smarter, either.)  As married couples, many of their poor decisions can be attributed to emotions, and also faith, but that is also their one redeeming quality.  Unlike Alien and Aliens, only one crew member seems to have any charisma, and he's only shown for a few seconds, and even then via a selfie video.  One would hope Danny McBride would pay homage to the late Bill Paxton, but he mostly plays it serious.  So the problem is the good guys are too bland to root for.  Katherine Waterston is capable as second-in-command Daniels, but she's no Ripley, nor as admirable as Prometheus' heroine Elizabeth Shaw.

 

Which leaves us with Fassbender's sociopath droid David and his cold egotistical logic.  He's as unctuous as the xenomorph newborns are slimy.  The first half of the movie is awfully reminiscent of Passengers (another colonist ship movie), before becoming Prometheus' sequel.  But it feels like a movie is missing in between (indeed, there is a Covenant prequel in pre-production called Alien Awakenings, as well as an Alan Dean Forster novel coming out in the fall.)  In fact, Covenant could just as easily be the prequel to Aliens, were it not for a few loose strands and continuities here and there.

 

But Scott isn't interested in retconing the Alien franchise as much as he is raising, and not answering, questions about creation, religion, mankind meddling with nature, and manifest destiny applied to space exploration.  One frustrating thing about weaker Alien movies is the offscreen deaths of characters from before (think Newt from Aliens).  Usually they're explained after the fact, but Covenant quite literally seals its survivors fates as a foretelling harbinger in its conclusion.  And by making the xenomorphs a product of genetic engineering and manipulation, it flips the nature vs. man conflict inside out.  And this is where this prequel is darker and colder than any other Alien movie.  The xenomorphs are almost always shot in full light, either daylight or lighted exteriors, and even in dark are silhouetted in their white bodies (an Alien Resurrection nod?), as if photo negatives of the Alien films to come later in the timeline.  But that just highlights the terror coming from the nature of man, as opposed to the nature around man.  Or more to the point, the nature of man's creations.  There's an interesting sub theme about fatal involuntary male pregnancy from rape (no woman is shown being killed that way in Alien Covenant.)   There's also a scene that is equal parts homoerotic and homophobic as juxtaposition to it all.  And no horror movie is complete without the requisite shower scene, a reproductive act murderously interrupted.  Ridley's theme being that creation inevitably leads to death.

 

Whether or not director Scott intended all this makes both these prequels fascinating to discuss after rather unsatisfactory viewing experiences.  But for those that want the physically convulsive horror that comes with this franchise, Scott does not disappoint.  That's why I chose to watch it during the day, but it still left me more cold than terrified.  But maybe that's Ridley's point.






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