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The Believer (2001)
Interesting subject with good acting by Gosling
Loosely based on a real person, Ryan Gosling plays a right-wing Nazi who is actually Jewish. While he spends his time hating Jews and joining a Jew-hating group, he struggles his internal conflict. On the one hand he has a lot of respect to his religion and culture, on the other hand he hates it and his people. While many of the people in the group are just ignorant thugs, he is obviously one of the most intellectual people in the group.
Very interesting subject (even more when you know it's actually (loosely) based on a real person) which raises some interesting questions.
Ryan Gosling is very good in one of the earliest roles. While the movie is interesting, it shows the lack of budget and lack of experience by a first time director. The script itself could have also use some polishing and I didn't like the cinematography which uses close-ups way too often.
Still, it's an interesting story with good points, good questions and good acting by Gosling - and the fact that I saw it at least 3 times by now proves something too.
Biloxi Blues (1988)
I always thought 1988 was one of the best years at the cinema (together with 1984, 1990/1991 and 2000).
I've seen this movie several times before, but not in a very long time. It's just as good as I remembered, perhaps even more. Excellent semi- autobiography comedy/drama about recruits in boot camp during WWII. Excellent writing by Neil Simon based on his play. Excellent cast - Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken and many unknown others, all perfect in their roles, even the supporting cast in tiny roles (the girl playing the hooker and Penelope Ann Miller who is damn cute). Good production and good direction by Mike Nichols.
Like GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, this is a great example of taking a play and making it into a GOOD cinematic presentation. The writing has a perfect combination of comedy and drama and all the characters are well defined and interesting - not like in many others movies in which the supporting characters blend with each other.
I just realized that the play and the Eugene Morris Jerome character are part of a semi-biography trilogy by Neil Simon. Corey Parker, who plays Arnold Epstein "the intellectual Jew" to perfection, also played Eugene (Matthew Broderick's character) in a later TV production, Broadway BOUND (1992) with Jonathan Silverman who himself played Eugene in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS (1986). And to close the loop, Matthew Broderick played in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS on Broadway.
I give 7.5/10 for the first half and 7/10 for the second half.
La tortue rouge (2016)
Too long, too slow and too lacking
(Major spoilers are indicated below, the rest is spoiler-free)
An animation about a castaway on a deserted island. It got some good reviews and is nominated for an Oscar, so I expected a lot more from it.
The animation is too minimalist and too static. Since there is no dialog at all, sound editing and music are essential. Unfortunately, they are both extremely lacking. Many scenes have no sound at all (or it's so minor that you can't even hear it) and there isn't enough music.
The scenes are way too long and repetitive and the pacing is very slow, but not in a good way. Zemeckis' CASTAWAY was slow too, but didn't have any boring scenes like in this movie. Zemeckis' movie not only had Tom Hanks talking to himself, but was even smart enough to add the volleyball which allowed Hanks to convey his thoughts and feelings. I'm not saying that a movie needs to be dumbed down to spoon feed the viewer, but it needs to make it interesting and moving.
* MAJOR SPOILERS START *
The ending is both good and bad. It's poetic and moving, but makes no sense on a literal aspect. Are we really supposed to believe that the guy had one long hallucination through his entire life? And doesn't it make the entire story of the son meaningless?
* MAJOR SPOILERS END *
The movie would have worked a LOT better as a short. Even at 76 min (excluding the credits) it's way too long for its premise.
For a movie that needs a constant fast-forwarding I'd usually not give more than 4/10, but for this one I'll give a pass for effort.
Extremely uncomfortable to watch
This movie has the worst score I've ever heard in my life. Seriously. It reminds me of a military siren. Just awful.
I find Natalie Portman's acting and especially her accent extremely unnatural and distracting. Sorry, but I think it's far from an Oscar worthy performance.
The entire movie feels extremely uncomfortable to watch. You need to see it yourself to understand what I'm talking about. Plus, it got a strong sense of Oscar bait and I don't bite it: An entire movie revolving around one actor, reenacting events of a historical figure. And for me it fails flat. It feels like a student project.
Watching the real "White House broadcast" (which was recreated in the movie), Jackie's accent and way of talking (and general way of behavior throughout the entire broadcast) is extremely unnatural too. Still, I think Portman makes it even MORE unnatural and uncomfortable.
Only worth watching for James McAvoy
I guess the fact that I actually wanted to watch an M. Night Shyamalan movie (haven't done that since THE HAPPENING (2008)) and actually sat through the entire movie (losing interest while watching it) is an achievement by itself. Still, it was everything I expected from a Shyamalan movie and from watching the trailer. James McAvoy is too talented for this silly movie, which had a big potential in terms of plot, but it was reduced to the regular Shyamalan garbage. It starts well, but gets worse and worse until it reaches the awful silly ending.
BTW, although Anya Taylor-Joy is a main character, I think she has less lines of dialog than Arnie in the first TERMINATOR.
As always, Shyamalan has to give himself a silly cameo. And the last scene... oh, god, the cringe.
This film is only worth watching for James McAvoy.
Rogue One (2016)
Total borefest - I almost fell asleep
(Minor spoilers are indicated)
It's pretty bad, but I guess STAR WARS fans would enjoy it. It's more of the same. Lots of shooting, lots of bombing, lots of starship fights. All pointless. I was waiting for the movie to be over. You know how Peter Jackson loves to release extended versions in which he shoves more and more unnecessary stuff just to fill up the time? It feels the same. This is a 90-min movie (at best) "squeezed" into 134 min. You saw EPISODE 3 and you saw EPISODE 4, so you already know what happened before and after - you can't spoil the plot and this movie just serves as an unnecessary filler that adds nothing.
And if you're waiting to see Darth Vader, you're in for a huge letdown. His appearance in this movie is less than 5 min and it's easily the worst Darth Vader costume I've seen. Actually, all the costumes looked pretty amateurish. The CGI was pretty good and some good one-liners here and there. That's it. A pointless movie just to grab more money and fill the gap between the main STAR WARS movies.
* MINOR SPOILERS - START *
What I liked about the plot is how the writers managed to find a good explanation (excuse) for the biggest plothole in STAR WARS (i.e.: Why would the Empire build a Death Star with a backdoor to blow it up) and the ending which, although expected, was nice for tying it with the beginning of STAR WARS 4. I also liked that they DIDN'T try to turn this into a feminist propaganda - the female lead was just there and they didn't make a big deal out of it. K-2SO was a nice sidekick.
* MINOR SPOILERS - END *
The audience pleasantly surprised me. It's the first time I attend a movie on its first day of screening and I expected lots of noisy kids. Nothing like that. Total silence, except for some nice cheering at the beginning, at the middle and at the end.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Worth watching on the big screen
The first part of the movie was absolutely terrible. Full of clichés, religious nonsense and a love story less believable than the one in STAR WARS EPISODE 2. If the movie continued like that I would have probably given it a 3/10 or a 4/10.
Then comes the military part of movie and it was just excellent. I don't remember seeing such believable war scenes since SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Excellent sound, excellent score, great war pyrotechnics, good cinematography.
I wasn't impressed by Andrew Garfield's acting. His constant silly smile is so annoying. Ignoring the smile, he was OK in his role - not more, not less.
If you manage to ignore the awful first part of the movie and Mel Gibson's regular nonstop religious themes, you better try to catch this movie at the cinema if it's still playing - that's a movie to watch on a big screen with good sound.
As much as I hate Mel Gibson on a personal basis, this was a good movie, if just for the authentic war scenes.
Vince Vaughn, who I usually hate, was surprisingly good (perhaps the best actor in this movie) and it took me a while to recognize him. Although the military training had some FULL METAL JACKET ripoff vibe, he was good on his role.
The Finest Hours (2016)
The only reason to watch this film is to appreciate James Cameron's amazing talent in THE ABYSS. All the energy and credibility that Cameron created in THE ABYSS is lacking here. The boat looks like a studio set, the acting is drained of any energy and credibility and all the CGI makes it very hard to suspend your disbelief. Everything that made The Abyss a masterpiece is missing here.
Casey Affleck is absolutely terrible. Just try to think of his performance next to Ed Harris' - it's impossible to compare them.
And the clichés, oh, the clichés. The movie opens with 15 minutes of establishing that the protagonist got the case of the not-gays and it's more and more clichés from there.
Oh, and how the hell did LARRY KUBIAC become an old man Brian Dennehy all of the sudden?
Pete's Dragon (2016)
The Jungle Book meets The BFG meets DragonHeart
This movie is basically THE JUNGLE BOOK meets THE BFG meets DRAGONHEART. I know I'm not the target audience, but it's boring and I don't get the point of making Elliot act like a stupid giant dog. I also found it weird that he doesn't talk. I really don't remember the original movie (saw it about 30 years ago), but I don't think it's worse than this movie, with all the modern CGI. Speaking of CGI, the dragon in DRAGONHEART (1996) felt more realistic. I know doing CGI of fur and hair is difficult, but I don't think you can tell there's a 20 years difference between those two movies.
Robert Redford looks older than ever, but honestly he looks amazing for an 80-year old guy.
It's very appropriate that they cast Bryce Dallas Howard as a park ranger because her acting range in all her movies equals to that of wood.
Also, I don't usually recognize an actor wearing a wig, but the one Pete wears is pretty obvious.
No real spoilers here, but I put a warning anyway.
Oscar winner for Best Documentary.
After watching SNOWDEN (Oliver Stone's movie) yesterday I watched a few more videos on YouTube about Snowden, which were interesting enough for me to reconsider whether I was wrong to give CITIZENFOUR a low rating. I wasn't.
This documentary is terribly edited, making it extremely boring and hard to sit through. A different editing could have made wonders for this. It has very long scenes, both of Snowden talking in the hotel with the journalists and of other events - all given without any trimming. This is "a fly on the wall" in a bad way - it's like watching raw material. Why would I want to do that? There are also long scenes of voice-only (with unrelated and unedited video shown just as a filler) and text-chat exchange - this is just a terrible filmmaking.
In addition, the ENTIRE filming of Snowden in the hotel was shot Hand-held. Why in hell would you do that?! It's a guy sitting in bed - not a car chase. Couldn't you just put the camera on a tripod or even on a chair/table? There was absolutely no reason to have the camera shaking the ENTIRE time.
Both Snowden (while not a masterpiece) and the videos on YouTube were a lot more interesting and informative than CITIZENFOUR. The subject may be interesting, but that doesn't make a film good (whether documentary or not).
The only benefit of watching the documentary was to see Snowden's real reaction to the situation (instead of watching an actor) and the short section towards the end, which isn't shown in the movie - meeting with the lawyer and planning the exit from the hotel.