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Spring Breakers (2012)
This seems to be a movie made for enraging people. I can't think of any movie that would make more people angry, for one reason or another. Spring Breakers is, ahh, shall we say triggering. Let's see: it features... white people murdering black people, suicidal tendencies (including giving a blowjob to a loaded gun), naked minors, minors drinking alcohol and taking drugs, irresponsible sex, girls watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the TV show with the most ubiquitously hated fan base, dubstep music by Skrillex, and gangsta rap, and talking about how angelic Britney Spears is, and I'm sure plenty of people will find the mantra-like endless repetition of hollow phrases like "Spring break forever" infinitely annoying and think the whole movie is plot less and stupid and glorifies a "white trash" culture, and even if it is a parody and even if it is laughing at the things it is portraying and portraying them in a negative light, it is doing so in a manner that is incoherent, too slow and/or too "artsy".
That said, I loved it.
Warm Bodies (2013)
A surprisingly funny and romantic zombie film
A weird combination of romantic drama and zombie apocalypse movie, Warm Bodies certainly covers new ground. It wasn't a great movie and the plot certainly has some elements that leave you scratching your head and/or make you sick. Still, it succeeds in being funny at times and emotional at others.
The story is told from the point of view of a zombie. His inner monologue is pretty hilarious. He can't speak, or do much of anything besides shamble around and eat brains, but it's like he has this longing for something greater. Then he manages to fall in love with a human being.
Squick? Well, there is no necrophilia here, though it's sort of implied by the story. The romance is actually pretty romantic, though that might sound strange.
The bad guy is the girl's dad, played by John Malkovich with a veteran's stoic confidence. He doesn't approve. We get a Romeo & Juliet story.
Still, it's a B-movie with poor action sequences and some stuff that got thrown in when it should've been cut.
Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
Surreal comedy with a disappointing ending
This movie was effing crazy.
The plot and the situations and the characters are completely surreal. The whole thing is like from some deranged dream induced by reading too many written assignments of 5-year-olds and abusing substances you shouldn't be abusing.
I liked how the characters just looked at the stuff like, "this isn't so weird that I should comment on its weirdness". They don't make many movies like this. Everything is so realistic and believable now, even though the subject matter is totally crazy. This film was like a LucasArts adventure game where you do things not because they make sense but because of the surreal humor they provide.
Unfortunately, as the plot elements come together, the absurdity turns into crackpot comedy revolving around jokes like "big breasts are better than small breasts" and "Germans are gay". The last half hour of the film is a disappointment.
Man of Steel (2013)
A needlessly edgy Superman film
I've been recently watching season 1 of Smallville and I got to say, that show, while simplifying and adolescent, portrays the beginning of Superman's heroics a lot better than the film Man of Steel. It has a nice, relatable hero and a message of optimism.
Man of Steel imitates the Dark Knight films with its "dark", "mature" look and conflicts. It shouldn't. Superman is supposed to be a friend who helps people in need. In this film he just wrecks stuff.
Let's see: the beginning of the film is infantile space fantasy with a plot as silly as, say, 2012. Thankfully Russell Crowe happens to be around, always a pleasure to watch his performances. After that young Clark Klent hides in a closet because the world is scary, embarrassing himself in front of fellow students. He concentrates on his mother's voice to block out the horrors. Then we learn his dad died in front of him because he couldn't save him because his secret would have gotten out. The rest of the film revolves around Kal'El struggling to get over these childhood traumas, and of course, kicking the ass of his fellow alien superpeople.
Amy Adams I thought was a good Lois Lane though the romance felt forced. The visuals were stupid with ruined skyscrapers left and right after some dude fell through them.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
If you get past the make-up failures, a great humanistic sci-fi film
I had some problems with this film but mostly it was great. It's a good adaptation of a novel that's ridiculously difficult to adapt and tells six interesting stories that wildly differ from each other. The range this film successfully portrays is great, from 70's pulp mystery to dystopian science fiction and 19th century drama in the style of Amadeus.
The visuals look amazing, the costuming and prop departments outdid themselves. The big problem was that for absolutely unnecessary reasons they tried to turn Western people into Asian people with make-up and vice versa, with unsettlingly unsuccessful and jarring results. Seriously, it looks weird. Why didn't you just give up? You didn't need to do that! If you get past that, the film is definitely worth a watch and some discussion. It's very humanistic, dealing with things like prejudice and the things one person can do to change everything. The film discusses morality through difficult topics like homosexuality and slavery. Though the film is science fiction and fantasy, its messages are broad and applicable.
Gangster Squad (2013)
Slow, gray, predictable
The advertising campaign for this film seemed to promise great visuals, colorful set pieces and costumes and sounds. The film never delivered. It's drenched in gray.
The film is very clichéd. Sean Penn is a bad guy, which we know because he's angry in every scene we see him in. Josh Brolin is a good guy, which we know because his brow is in a determined wrinkle the whole time. Ryan Gosling is a young devil-may-care attitude and speaks in a funny accent - he was no doubt the best part of the film. You might think it would've been the pretty Emma Stone but her role is actually very small and completely expendable.
The car chases and gunfights lack intensity, the plot lacks twists and the tension doesn't increase at all during the film. This film was far too long for its content.
One Day (2011)
I like romantic comedies, some of them at least, if they're well made, genuinely emotional, funny and/or sexy. I liked The Notebook, I liked PS. I Love You, I even liked He's Just Not That Into You a little. But One Day was just boring. It wasn't genuine, it felt calculated and forced and it wasn't one bit romantic. All the romance died in the first half hour and then it was just bleak, but not so bleak it was tragic, just bleak enough to bore you.
Anne Hathaway has good performances (no, not The Dark Knigh Rises) but this wasn't one of them. She felt uninspired and unsure of what to do and where to take the character. The story tried to tell the story of two entire lives but ended up showing a poorly sketched flash, and what's worse, a flash we couldn't identify with.
The end twist made me burst out laughing, and trust me, that wasn't the intention.
Less than B-movie quality but somewhat entertaining at times
Calling this a B-movie would be undue praise. Evil Dead is a B-movie. Vamps is cheap, silly and uninspired.
Cashing in on the success of vampire franchises, Vamps is a film with poor quality in story, acting, special effects, dialog, directing and soundtrack. It tells the story of two young women living in New York who meet guys and go to clubs and happen to be vampires. The film manages to squeeze a couple of funny jokes and ideas out of this setup.
Mostly the film rests on the shoulders of Alicia Silverstone, who is funny and genuine even in this silly role. Krysten Ritter is alright as well, and Sigourney Weaver looks like she had fun filming her scenes, though I'm not sure how that is possible and how the filmmakers got her to sign on this.
A horror film where the scary stuff slowly creeps up on you
This is was a refreshing watch even though the plot is pretty conventional, beginning with the age-old horror movie setup of a family moving to a new house with a dark past.
The film is quiet and subdued. Ethan Hawke delivers a great performance. The tension and atmosphere rise slowly and effectively, the plot thickens and the stakes rise so high you start to sweat. There are not many jump-scares, the horror slowly creeps up on you. The scariest thing in the film is definitely the footage of home video tapes with murders recorded on them (fake of course, the film is entirely fictional, but it looks very convincing and horrifying and will stick with you).
The film has a cool story and a cool ending but the plot does fall a bit short when the time of the reveal comes. When you find out what it all was about you go: "oh, that's all it was?"
A good-looking horror-thriller that plunges into fantasy
Have you noticed how many horror films start with an ordinary family moving into a new house? We get to know the parents and the kids (usually at least one teenager) and their problems and dynamics, and we see how they have trouble adjusting to their new home. They hear weird noises and see weird things like objects changing place or doors closing. The tension increases and we prepare ourselves for something scary. And then the film's original story takes it from there.
Insidious is no different, in fact the beginning of the film is so conventional that I was sure there has to be something more, something surprising. Well... there is, once Insidious gets into gear it does offer some twists, but not exactly like you'd expect.
Here's the big spoiler: this film is not scary. The first half is somewhat scary and it seems like the ending might be hellishly frightening, but it's not. It's funny. The film starts realistic but turns into fantasy horror, pretty much like the show Supernatural. There are comic sidekicks and slapstick action sequences, and the plot becomes very fantastical.
The humor is pretty subtle and understated so the film doesn't really jump the shark, it's just a pretty startling change in atmosphere.
The acting is alright and there are some cool, dark visuals.