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"Mommy and Daddy Talk to the Animals"...Cerebral Cryptographic Cinema
A Sci-Fi First "Contact" Movie with Echoes of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) and there is no Better Film to Touch Tone then Simply one of the Greatest, and the First, of the then Emerging Genre.
Like its Predecessor it Succeeds in Delivering a Message to all of Mankind that is such a "No Brainer" that it Reflects the "Human" Condition so Profound and Simplistic that in its History has been in so much Disrepair that one Wonders how We Survived this long.
The Movie is an Exercise in Cerebral Cryptography, Mood, Life's Emotional Tragedies, and above all, Communication, and even more Precise, Language. The Core of the Movie is a Decipher of Intent. "Why are they here?" is the Marketing Tagline.
The Film's Third Act Reveals the Why and getting there it is Rife with Neurosis, Fear, Tension, and for those Waiting for the Big Battle of the Species...Their Still Waiting.
It's a Movie that Throws Expectations to the the Clouds and Dares Settle on an Intellectual "Interstellar" Meeting of Minds. It Accomplishes this through the Beautifully Subtle Cinematography and the Far from Subtle, Bombastic Sound Design that Heightens the Suspense.
Overall, it's Different than Anticipated, and that in itself is a Good Thing, and takes Audiences on a Journey Inside the Spacecraft, Intent, and the Motivation of a Visitation from a very Non-Familiar "Alien" Species. It Truly is an Encounter of the Strangest Kind.
Jason Bourne (2016)
"Copy That"..."Copy"..."Copy That"..."Copy"..."Copy That"......and They Did
Formulaic to a Fault, Frenzied, and Familiar Entry. The Fourth in the Franchise. It is Nothing New, but since it's been more than a Few Years since Matt Damon and Director (and this time Writer) Paul Greengrass did Their Thing, it might seem New to Fans and Newbies.
The Camera still Shakes, the Editing is Pumped to the Extreme with Endless Quick-Cuts, Zooms (in and out), and there are the Typical and Tired Swooshes, Ultra-Close-Ups, and more Computer Screens (wall mounted and hand-held) than You can Count.
The Story is One-Note, Bourne Puzzling on just how He got to be Jason and not David Webb, OK Two, the Launching Platform. While the New Social Media Thing is Ho-Hum, one Question must be Asked. Would the Director of the CIA (covertly involved or not) show up at a Vegas Convention to Help Unveil it to the Public? The CIA Director...Hello......Goodbye to Credulity.
Anyway this isn't a Movie that Requires Credibility or Authenticity. That should be Obvious. This is an Entertainment that is a Delivery System for Adrenalin. That Goal is Achieved, but Expecting Anything Else is going to be a Non-Starter.
The Non-Acting from Alicia Vikander as the Lead Female-Agent-Protagonist-Antagonist is Extraordinarily Boring. No Expression and Robotic. The Least Animated Performance...Ever. She is the Only Thing in this Thing that is Motionless, OK, Tommy Lee Jones comes Close to Her Comatose.
Overall, Not a Bad Movie to Waste Two Hours with, but it's Nothing More than an Assembly Line, Animated, Live Action Escapism. Familiarity Breeds Contempt, someone said. Time to Evolve or become Atrophied and Accused of Not Caring.
Well Acted, Dry, & Dull Account of Real-Life Libel Trial with Holocaust Subtext
Somewhat Interesting, but Ultimately Uninviting Courtroom Drama Reliving the Real-Life Libel Trial against Author Deborah Lipstadt brought about by "Historian" and Hitler Apologist David Irving's Claim.
The Film Employs an A-List Cast of Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall, and Tom Wilkinson working from Noted Playwright David Hare, based on the Book "History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier" by Lipstadt.
What's was On Trial in London, and in the Move is the Willful and Knowledgeable Distortion of Facts in a Non-Fiction Scholarly Work to Promote an Ideology. Not the "Holocaust Denial" Claims. It's all about Motivation and Knowingly Misleading and Misrepresenting Facts.
It's all an Intertwining Connection of Things like Academic Scholarly Work, Conspiracy Theories, Anti-Semitic, Political Agendas, and the "Interpretation" of Facts, Records, Artifacts, and Witnesses, with Regards to the Hiding and Distortion of Events in the Historical Record.
The Movie is not that Inclusive and does not even Try to Involve much of the Intricacies of these Complicated and Overly Complex Subjects. It Limits the Film to the Libel Trial, using Direct Quotations from the Transcript. The Human Element is Dramatized by the Personalities of Lipstadt and Irving.
The Two most Cinematic-ally Effective Scenes are a Visit to the Auschwitz Site and a Sit Down by Weisz as She Tries to Raise Funds for the Trial at a Dinner with British Jews. The Trial Itself is Dry and Boring.
Overall, it's a Little Movie with Big Implications but has Aspirations so Limited as to Render the Subjects Covered rather Dull and in the End Anti-Climactic.
Worth a Watch as a Primer and for those Unfamiliar with the Trial, The Holocaust, Historical Revisionism, and for the Topical "Fake News" Mantra Routinely being Bandied about in Headlines Today.
Domestic Disturbance (2001)
Sabatoged by Studio Cuts Resulting in a Pale & Pedestrian Picture
Theatrical Film that Plays and Looks like a Movie-of-the-Week. Maybe because 23 Minutes were Cut to get that PG-13 Rating. Another Brain-Dead, Clueless Misstep by the Suits at the Studio.
Because what They got and what the Film Turned into was a Pale, somewhat Palatable Picture that Flopped Miserably at the Box-Office and with Critics.
It's Not a Bad Movie and does have a Good Cast with John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, and Steve Buscemi. James Lashley gives a Good Tween Performance with a lot of Screen Time. The X-Wife and Wife is Played by Rebecca Tilney who is so Let-Down by the Script that She Barely Registers.
Overall, it's Inoffensive and Slightly Suspenseful, but aside from Vaughn's Intimidation of the Youngster, nothing much Disturbing happens.
Note...Director Harold Becker's other "Kid in Peril" Thriller "Mercury Rising" (1998) is a great and very underrated Movie that is a "Sleeper" out there waiting to be rediscovered.
The Strangers (2008)
"Are you a sinner?"......Unsurprising Home Invasion Horror......Average All Around
There is Nothing Original or Surprising in this Home Invasion Horror Flick. One could say that it's a "Slow Burn Starter", and that would be Correct. A Clunky (What the Hell is going on?) Start would be more Accurate. Confusion and Ambiguity Substituting for Suspense.
The Anxiety in the Audience is Built upon Wanting Something, Anything to Happen to Kick-Start the Thing.
When Things do Start-Up it's Disappointingly Derivative to the Point of a Ponderous Residue that Resides (What the Hell is going on?). Besides the Obvious Not Much.
So what We have here is a Bare Bones, Pointless, Sadistic Story with a Modicum of Suspense, Gratuitous Blood and Gore, Sketchy Protagonists, even Sketchier Antagonists and to Top it All Off, one of those Jump Scare Endings that, to be Kind, one guesses, is an Homage.
The Sound Effects on the Soundtrack are Lovingly Detailed and are quite Effective and the Performance from Liv Tyler is Her Standard "Waterworks" Mode. But it Works. Scott Speedman doesn't Embarrass Himself and is Serviceable.
Overall, it's a Time Passer and a Time Waster. Never Clever, just more of the Same. Very Little Dialog, Mundane Camera Work, and as Unsatisfying as it is Unsurprising. It's not Smooth and Feels like a Bunch of Scenes Tacked Together so that it Adds Up to the Required 90 Min. Run Time.
A Mild Recommendation for Horror Movie Fans. Others, Not so much.
The Monster (2016)
Crying in the Rain...A Creature Feature Awash in Emotion and Terror
Tight, Taut Creature Feature with Psychological and Domestic Issues at the Foundation of the Imagination and Reality of a Mother Daughter Dysfunction.
Two Strong Performances from Zoe Kazan (Mom) and Ella Ballentine (Lizzy) center the Story that Unfolds on a Dark Rainy Night on a Rural Road where the Two are Stranded after an Auto Accident.
Flashbacks Fill in the Backstory as They are Literally Awash in Cleansing Tears and Rain and the Fractured Bonding seems to be Therapeutically Helpful. However, there are Physical "Monsters" Afoot that are as Dangerous as the ones from the Psyche.
Horror Fans who Love Their Creatures to be Front and Center, both in the Frame and in the Story might find things Disappointing for at least 2/3 of the Movie. The Third Act is Brutal and Bloody, the First Two Acts are Heartbreaking and Gut-Wrenching.
Overall, it's a Well Done Little Movie, but it Pulls the Audience in so many Directions that the Balance doesn't seem quite Right. There's something Missing to make the Whole Thing Work as well as Intended. It's a Good One and Worth a Watch for Fans of the Genre, but it's Not Likely to Please Everyone.
Good Intentions but In the End the Movie is a Doom Laden Frustration
A "War On Terror" Movie is Never going to be Universally Accepted, at least Until there is No More "War On Terror". Even the Proclamation and the Definition are Ambiguous, Fleeting, with Dissent Everywhere.
While the Film tells the Story of an Individual "Bomb Maker" and all around Genius (Guy Cheadle), and Succeeds for the most part to be Up Close and Very Personal concerning the Motivation, Religious Philosophy, Devotion and Dedication to the "Cause" and all of that Feels Real enough, the Enormous Political State of the World Intrudes.
It Suffocates the Narrative trying to be an End All. There are Flashes of "Holy Book" Readings and Devotees of All Stripes manipulating Justifications for all kinds of Bad Behavior. Americans are Not Given a Pass and Neither are the Muslim Extremists.
It's a Snake Eating its Tail. Circular Logic and the Nullification comes from a Reality that has been with Us since the Beginning. There are No Winners, Only Losers.
Noble, but Frustratingly too Real a Contemporary Global Problem, and after it's all over there is a Residue of Doom that Resides in the Viewer.
Overall, the Movie is want to Explore these Dilemmas, Paradoxes, and Conundrums in a Two Hour Action Drama. Seems a Futile Experiment in Entertainment and Enlightenment since it has Yet to Be Done in Two Millenniums.
Tim Burton's Fun House...Imaginative and Intoxicating...A Nifty Nightmare
No One has Ever Accused Director Tim Burton of Lacking Imagination. He is an Artist, First and Foremost, but Not the Best Storyteller. He is Not a Writer. He Composes with a Unique Visionary Style of Twisted and Displaced Parts and Places.
The Story Told here is Meandering, Confusing, and so Time-Looped that the Viewer is Disoriented. So Combined with the Disorienting Peculiarities of the Participants the Disorientation takes on a Labyrinth of Dimensional Overload.
Like a Dream, it makes very Little Sense at times, as Time is Tortured. Does this mean that the Movie is Unwatchable or Uninteresting?...No!
It may be Needlessly Confusing and Hard to Follow, but the Visual On Screen Stuff is so Enchanting, Engaging, and Invigorating that one ends up Not Caring a Hoot about any of the Chronology.
It Sweeps and Sojourns to so Many Places and Time Lines it becomes like Caring about the Cars and Tracks of a Roller Coaster Ride. It's Peripheral, and Perhaps those who are want to Focus on Background and Grounding for Gravity's Sake will Not Find this Satisfying.
But as Entertainment, the Whole Package may be Lacking Inclusion, it is Far From Lacking Fun. Creepy, Nightmarish Fun.
Small, Impressionable Children who Scare Easily should Avoid, this is a Bedtime Story that is Not for the Faint. Some Adults have said that the Movie Scared Them. So Beware.
For those willing to Pay Admission to the Fun House, or the Haunted House of the Circus or Carnival, should "Step Right Up" and be Amazed.
Mission to Moscow (1943)
Important Time Capsule...Oragnic Overreaction to an Overwhelming Deliema
This Obvious Whitewash of Russia for Propaganda Purpose Picture was basically Commissioned by FDR. He wanted Warner Brothers to Film Ambassador Joseph E. Davies Book to Brain-Blast Americans to Lighten Up on Russia because We Needed Them in the Fight Against Fascism.
America had to View Them as an "Enemy of Our Enemy" and Ignore Stalin's Atrocities, at Least for Now.
To Say that Director Michael Curtiz and Screenwriter Harold Koch Delivered is to Say that They Delivered a Movie so Over the Top and Sensational is to Understate the Overstatement.
The Film Ended Up being so Fawning and Fatuous that its Original Intent was Overshadowed by its Inability to See just how Ridiculous the whole Thing turned out.
Nonetheless it was Released and for the Uninformed, Unaware, and Uneducated Folks of America it might have Convinced a Few that an Alliance with a Brutal Dictator was Necessary and would Save Countless American Lives by the End of the War.
After the War, the Overreaction to the Soviets was just as Bad as this Overreaction during the War. It Resulted in the McCarthy Witch Hunts and a Cold War with the Soviets that Lasted a Very Long Time, and an Arms Race that Proliferated the World with Thousands of Nuclear Warheads on Both Sides.
This Movie, in Retrospect, really wasn't Needed in 1943 and Making it and Releasing it was a Mistake with the Benefit of Hindsight.
But, it is Worth a Watch for it was Made and it was Released during a Time when the Politicians of America and the Movie Makers of America were not Thinking Straight and is a Good Example of the "Fog of War".
President Roosevelt, Warner Brothers, and Yes, Ambassador Davies should be Forgiven, because Their Intentions were Pro-American and Not Pro-Soviet, although when Viewed Today it Seems that way.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Unremarkable, Uninspired Modern Western...Entertaining but Distant & Elusive
A Remake of a Remake that is Unremarkable but Mildly Entertaining Escapism. It's Far from Profound and is Lacking any Memorable Twists except the Standard Post-Modern Occupation of a PC Inclusion Checklist.
An All-Star Cast that does have African-American Denzel Washington as the Lead Man among Men that was the Biggest Joke in "Blazing Saddles" (1974).
But other than that bit of 21st Century Revisionism that is Accepted by Audiences and Critics as Hardly Worth a Mention, this Western Movie is Typical Stuff from the Genre that Director Fuqua Presents as Classical, including the Rich, Colorful, Sprawling, and Handsome Cinematography.
Pedestrian Picture that Tries to Remind Viewers of the Appeal of a Genre that Falls In and Out of Style with Regularity. But the Movie is so Uneventful that Inspiring Moderns to give the "Western" a Look is Doubtful because the Film itself Feels Uninspired.
The Third Act with the Final Extensive Shootout is actually the Least Effective with the Carnage and the Sacrifice Lacking a Visceral Feeling and does Nothing but Numb the Heart and Brain with a Binocular Looking and Behemoth Body Count Witnessed by Detached Onlookers.
Not the Worst Remake ever made and Not the Worst "Western" made in the Modern Era, but to call it anything but Product would be Praise it Does Not Deserve.