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|1930 reviews in total|
I found Zoolander an amusing satire, whose "message" against the excesses of fashion seemed as valid as irrelevant; however, its biggest attribute was its bizarre and very funny sense of humor. The forced sequel Zoolander 2 attempted to recycle the same strategy, but this time, it doesn't work, because even though it delights itself laughing at contemporary popular culture, its weak comedy attempts almost never work, with very few good details accompanied by many pointless scenes of nothing. But with many cameos in order to distract us from the inept "jokes". On the positive side, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson keep showing credibility and enthusiasm in their roles, even though co- screenwriters Stiller, Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg made the bad decision of separating their characters for long periods in order to focus on their particular sub-plots, which are quite insipid and completely uninteresting. Penélope Cruz also displays conviction in her role, and we have many other famous faces showing up in Zoolander 2, who are unfortunately employed as a poor substitute of humor. Even though I didn't find Zoolander 2 as bad as other comedy sequels (such as Caddyshack 2, Teen Wolf Too and Son of the Mask), I found it quite weak and hugely inferior to its predecessor. In summary, I can't recommend it, even though it worked as a reminder that the fashion which seemed ridiculous early this century is nowadays almost normal, specially if we compare it to the ultra-ironic "hipster" culture.
I made the mistake to start watching Trainwreck expecting an extended episode of the TV series Inside Amy Schumer, with the same incisive sense of humor and the inexhaustible energy of its eponymous star; but this is a film directed by Judd Apatow, so Trainwreck ended up being closer to the monotonous domestic drama of This Is 40 and the "millenial" neurosis of Funny People, in which Apatow tried to show himself as a "serious" director, and therefore, less funny than when his movies tried to make us laugh without as many philosophical pretensions. Despite that disappointment, Trainwreck managed to keep me moderately entertained because of Schumer's effervescent personality and the presence of various brilliant actors in supporting roles (Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Brie Larson, Dave Attell and Tilda Swinton), even though their presence doesn't have much to do with the main story. There are many jokes in Trainwreck which don't work, and the supposed "drama" feels artificial and predictable, but Schumer's performance is honest and completely credible, and the same can be said about Bill Hader as her love interest, displaying the range of his talent when he doesn't have to be the buffoon by default. We also have an abundance of cameos and performances of diverse famous athletes, from LeBron James (who genuinely makes a good work) to John Cena (who definitely doesn't have any histrionic talent). I honestly didn't recognize many of the invited athletes, but the fans of sports might enjoy the references and personalities I couldn't appreciate. In conclusion, I wasn't left very satisfied by Trainwreck, but I think I can give it a slight recommendation, and Schumer has definitely proved she's an equally talented actress for the comedy and the drama.
It was obvious that, sooner or later, someone was going to make a film about the legendary forest of Aokigahara, widely known as "the Suicide Forest" due to the big quantity of persons who commit that act there (between 50 and 100 each year, even though the Japanese government doesn't announce the total numbers anymore in order to reduce the fame of that site), maybe inspired by the book The Complete Suicide Manual, which recommended it as an ideal place to do that. But, well... leaving its origin aside, the subject is undoubtedly fascinating and disturbing. Pity that the film The Forest wasn't able to do anything interesting with it. From the beginning, The Forest displays many elements copied in the same degree from the old J-Horror and the Hollywood horror (strident music, nightmares, faces deformed digitally, etc.). And with those visual clichés and cheap thrills, The Forest advances until leading to an unnecessary twist which is more irritating than surprising, due to the arbitrary manipulation of events which doesn't even adequately solve the "mystery" of the damned forest. Another problem is the main character's characterization. As we can suppose, she's completely skeptical on the beginning before the warnings of the supernatural entities inhabiting the forest; her purpose is finding her twin sister, and she won't let any local superstitions to interfere in her mission. But she almost immediately recognizes the fact that, effectively, the uncountable suicides created a malignant atmosphere in the forest, and not everything is like it seems. And then, she stops believing, thinking that everything has a natural explanation. And then, she believes in ghosts again. And then, she doesn't. And then, she does. And that's how things proceed until I couldn't care less about the final answer, which ended up being irrelevant anyway, because of the previously mentioned twist. On the positive side, actress Natalie Dormer makes a good work in the dual role of Sara and Jesse, displaying equal credibility in the suspense sequences and the dramatic scenes she shares with her "sister" or the gallant in turn. And the forest in which most of the movie was shot (located in Serbia) is undoubtedly lugubrious and threatening, unlike the squalid Czech forests we have frequently see in similar horror films; pity that there are too many scenes in almost total darkness which avoid us from appreciating the most dismal details. In conclusion, I liked Dormer's performance and the Serbian locations, but I found The Forest a boring and uninteresting film in spite of that, and I can't recommend it.
From the beginning, I supposed that The Loft would be either excessively simple or excessively complicated. And even though it ended up being the latter (definitely), that doesn't mean I was left very satisfied by it. The Loft has a promising beginning, presenting us a mystery with five (or maybe more) possible guilty ones who start to suspect of the other ones. Wesley Strick's screenplay (based on a Belgian film from 2008) gradually increments the distrust and paranoia between the "friends", while properly handling the multiple hypotheses, flashbacks and revelations. Unfortunately, there comes a point in the story in which everything gets so scrambled and arbitrary that I ended up losing interest in the result. The characters get gradually more antipathetic with their mutual accusations and tantrums; and at the same time, we can't trust in anything they say, so everything is possible. If Jason Voorhees had shown up, I wouldn't have been too surprised (to be clear, The Loft isn't a horror film; it's an "erotic" thriller with less eroticism than a visit to the dentist). In summary, the screenplay ends up degenerating into a series of whims whose only justification seems to be their own existence. I think many scenes could be re-accommodated without fundamentally altering the ending. Or we could exchange the hero (or heroes) with the guilty one (or ones) without compromising the internal logic of the film. On the positive side, Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Matthias Schoenaerts and Eric Stonestreet bring competent performances despite their characters being occasionally betrayed by the screenplay. In conclusion, The Loft didn't bore me, and it deserves a slight recommendation because of that; however, I found its screenplay excessively entangled, and the ending feels too bland after such many "creative" juggling.
Frankly, I wasn't very interested in watching Brooklyn, because I tend to find the films about immigrants repetitive and a bit tiring (for example, The Immigrant). Fortunately, Brooklyn ended up widely surpassing my expectations thanks to a harmonious and optimistic screenplay, but not lacking of risks and tragedies for Eiris, an endearing main character who combines innocence and common sense in order to avoid (as much as she can) the risks faced by European young women trying to survive in the idealized "America" which didn't always end up being as idyllic as they dreamed of. In other words, Brooklyn keeps a sober and gentle narrative, whose purpose isn't making us cry or bringing us moral lessons; it simply portrays a credible story which defies the conventions of the genre (if the films about an immigrant's experiences can be considered a "genre"), adding correct doses of drama, humor and romance in order to balance the story. Speaking of that... I think Brooklyn can be considered a romantic film considering the influence two courtships have on both sides of the ocean; however, I felt that a secondary aspect in Eiris' evolution, because the emphasis lies on her spiritual travel to a better future... if she can break the bonds to her past. Even though "break" isn't the proper word either... better said, she has to integrate them to her flourishing ideology in order to appreciate her new home, without obstructing her continuous search of identity. And then, we have the extraordinary performance from Saoirse Ronan, who carries the whole film on her shoulders with her huge talent, subtly expressing the spectrum of emotions her character experiments while never exaggerating her reactions. Director John Crowley keeps a perfect control of the movie without sacrificing any spontaneity, and even though Brooklyn doesn't include any big surprises or devastating revelations, it managed to keep me captivated with the experiences of an ordinary character, but not less interesting because of that. In summary, Brooklyn is an excellent film which deserves to be admired not only because of all the things it achieved, but also all the clichés it avoided in the development of a story which seems simple, but which is rich in detail and humanity.
Like the title of the film indicates so, the Kray brothers were certainly British legends, admired and hated on the same degree, like it always happens with the most famous criminal figures. But director and screenwriter Brian Helgeland doesn't seem particularly interested in judging or offering explanations; he just pretended to make us plunge into the personal lives of the brothers, showing their volatile relationship with each other and the strong contrasts between their personalities which made them so efficient as "businessmen" and so dangerous as enemies... at least until the differences became serious conflicts which threatened to destroy their empire. Needless to say, the story of the Krays brothers has been told in many occasions, both in cinema and TV (the most famous one might be The Krays); and even though Legend has elements which distinguish it from the other ones, I found it quite ordinary on the narrative level, but with an attractive visual style, solid production values and a magnificent performance (well, two performances) from Tom Hardy, who plays both roles with an amazing intensity and detail, making us immediately forget that we are watching the same actor. The screenplay of Legend (based on the novel The Profession of Violence, written by John Pearson) seems to intentionally omit the details in the crimes of the Kray brothers, something which is justifiable when we recognize the intention to explore the psychology from both men. But at the same time, that makes Legend feel incomplete and occasionally a bit tiring, specially during its second half, which is a bit repetitive and predictable. Besides, it's never left exactly clear with the London is so determined to catch the brothers. On the beginning, we are introduced to Nipper Read, the noted Scotland Yard Inspector in charge of the Krays case... but he disappears almost immediately, and we only see him in a few occasions with the same angry face for not being able to find enough proof to start a judicial process; I think there should have been something more substantial than vague conversations about extortion and casinos in order to fully understand the importance and cover of the crimes from Ron and Reggie Kray. As I previously said, Hardy brings a brilliant performance, and Emily Browning, Chazz Palminteri and David Thewlis also make a good work in their roles. In conclusion, I wasn't left completely satisfied by Legend, but it offers enough positive elements in order to receive a moderate recommendation.
The Green Inferno (which had been "shelved" since 2013 due to the economic difficulties of Worldview Entertainment, the original distributor) is a bloody and affectionate tribute to the cannibal cinema, popularized during the '80s by Italian directors such as Ruggero Deodato (to whom the film is dedicated), Umberto Lenzi and Joe D'Amato. I have never been a fan of that sub-genus due to the frequent use of real animal torture in order to make it more "realistic". Fortunately, The Green Inferno doesn't employ those atrocious tricks, and I found it a memorable and disturbing experience with amazing Peruvian locations, absolutely grotesque special effects and a solid screenplay which endorses the gore with incisive comments about corporative greed and the questionable ethic behind activism in the short term. Besides, the care invested in the recreation of a cannibal tribe is impressive (with the help of genuine Peruvian natives), and unlike other jungle movies, the tribe of The Green Inferno never feels like a Hollywood artifice, but an authentic culture nestled in the middle of the jungle, which is already terrifying on its own merit. Sure, I'm not an expert on lost civilizations, and I can't judge the anthropological realism of The Green Inferno... but it definitely feels real. Besides, I also liked the performances from the whole cast, highlighting Lorenza Izzo and Ariel Levy. In conclusion, The Green Inferno is definitely one of the best "cannibals in the jungle" films I have seen, and it deserves an enthusiastic recommendation as authentic horror cinema, of the kind which can only be produced independently.
Screenwriter Emma Donoghue (adapting her own novel) designed an intriguing structure which makes Room difficult to categorize. Is it a thriller, a domestic drama or a character study filtered through an unusual perspective? Don't worry; it's a rhetoric question, and I prefer not to get into too many details, because the less the spectator knows, the better the story will work. So, I will just say that Room is a provocative and very interesting movie with an innovative premise, amazing performances and solid direction. The story is generally developed through the eyes of the kid Jack, something which offers an incomplete vision of the facts; but thanks to the screenplay and Brie Larson's extraordinary performance, we can quickly fill in the holes in order to realize the scale of the situation and the way in which the main characters assimilated it. But that's just the beginning. It can be said that the "conventional" ending of the film happens during its half, creating a brusque and significant thematic and narrative transformation which brings new challenges to the screenplay and the performances. Fortunately, both elements work, and they take us to an ending which isn't necessarily happy, but definitely satisfactory. As I previously said, Larson makes a magnificent work in her role (in my humble opinion, she should have already won an Oscar for her performance in Short Term 12), while the kid Jacob Tremblay also brings an excellent performance, absolutely natural and convincing from the beginning to the end. On the negative side of Room, it was a bit difficult for me to adapt to the second half after the suspense of the beginning; but that's when the previously mentioned character study comes into scene, and once I comprehended that strategy, I recovered my interest. Even though I liked Room pretty much, I don't have particular wishes to watch it again; however, it deserves a recommendation because of its originality and unusual execution. And, personally, it confirmed me the damage the trailers make to the films they pretend to sell. If you are interested in watching Room, don't watch any of its trailers.
After a prolific career during the 20th century, director Joe Dante decided to reduce the frequency of his projects in the 21st one, almost exclusively limiting himself to TV series and occasional short films (not to mention his popular "retro" site Trailers from Hell). In this century, he has only made three films: the mediocre Looney Toons: Back in Action; the entertaining, but not very memorable, The Hole; and, more recently, Burying the Ex, a likable horror comedy which evokes his independent period (when he worked with the great Roger Corman), shot on a low cost and in a very short time; it's definitely not among his best movies, but it still deserves a moderate recommendation, specially to movie buffs who appreciate Dante's naughty style and the constant references to classic fantastic cinema. Max, the main character of Burying the Ex, works at a disguise and Halloween decorations shop, something which justifies the presence of classic posters, specialized magazines (Fangoria, Famous Monsters, Video Watchdog) and fragments of films such as Plan 9 from Outer Space and Night of the Living Dead. And we even have incidental tracks from Tarantula, It Came from Outer Space, and I don't know how many other ones. But those are just audiovisual ornaments. The most important thing in Burying the Ex is the bizarre love triangle between Max, Evelyn and Olivia. Like in many other zombie films, the infection (or curse, in this case) isn't useful only to create the threat of the living dead, but also to explore some aspect of human experience. For example, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) employed the zombies as a metaphor of racism, consumerism and class division (respectively). Burying the Ex takes a more humorous route, using the zombie as the metaphor of the "hellish girlfriend" who wants to control her boyfriend's life and alter his way of being; it might not be a particularly deep idea, but it adds some substance to this humble film. Anton Yelchin brings a good performance as a docile "geek" submissive to his girlfriend's requests, while Ashley Greene transmits Evelyn's emotional evolution with conviction, and Alexandra Daddario brings a natural and credible performance as a romantic interest more compatible with Max's personality (by the way, it's difficult not to question how Yelchin manages to attract such spectacularly beautiful women... that might be the authentic fantastic element of the film). On the negative side, Alan Trezza's screenplay is too obvious, with many predictable situations which lack of the imagination I expected in a film directed by Dante. Fortunately, the screenplay improves during the third act, when the romance clichés give way to the more immediate danger of the zombie girlfriend, almost invincible and willing to do anything to retain her boyfriend. I'm a fan of Dante's, and that might have made an influence in my appreciation of Burying the Ex; it's definitely not a great or highly memorable film, but it kept me entertained and it keeps a continuous degree of tension which is easy to lose whenever comedy and horror are combined.
Who would have imagined that receiving hits in the head for many years has negative consequences? I'm sorry. I don't want to seem insensitive. Dr. Bennet Omalu is obviously a medicine genius who didn't only overcome the racial and cultural prejudices of his new nation (the United States), but also had the courage to defy the huge economic interests who were against his discoveries. That's the central premise of Concussion, whose main pro is definitely the excellent performances from the whole cast, starting by Will Smith in the leading role, who brings intensity and credibility. The supporting cast also makes a perfect work, highlighting David Morse and Alec Baldwin. However... it was difficult for me to get interested in Omalu's investigation. Were there really any doubts about the effects of football on its players... specially in the brutal professional level? It's like making a film about the first doctor who related junk food with obesity: it's difficult to get surprised when we already knew it, even without scientific evidence. So, all the scenes in which different experts examine Omalu's data and they seriously nod with their heads lack of any dramatic impact, because it would be absurd to suppose that football is a safe and inoffensive sport to its players. And I wasn't convinced by the romantic sub-plot between Omalu and his "roomie" either; it might have been like that in the real life, but it doesn't contribute to the main story too much, and it feels like typical "filler" to humanize a character who didn't need it. Maybe, I should have started this review stating that I'm not a follower of football and I don't know very much about that sport (and the few things I know are probably wrong because I learned them from films such as Any Given Sunday and Draft Day). Therefore, I didn't have any illusions about the loyalty of NFL to its employees and I wasn't scandalized by its cold betrayal to the spirit of the sport; no wonder the corporations are the most popular villains of cinema. In conclusion, Concussion deserves a slight recommendation because of the performances and its valid warning against the dangers of a violent sport. Besides, who knows?, the film might save the lives young university (or high school) football players who recognize the danger before the damage is irreversible. But honestly, I didn't find it very satisfactory as a film, even though I will employ it as a new excuse not to do any exercise.
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