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Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Well executed tale of shallow hedonism
Like any soap opera, this is a story of "when will they f---" executed in setting of pretentious aristocracy somehow in 1980s Italy instead of 1880s England. And they are gay. And they are Jewish. It's nicely done for what it is, but I fail to see any depth or real love in this story of "rich pretty boyz screwing for a summer". The only beauty here is the very shallowest sort.
Wag the Dog (1997)
Great movie! With a horrible ending!
This movie's got a lot of really great funny details, fast-paced, everyone-interrupting-each-other dialogue delivered by great actors being great characters, all with an interesting and important message as the subtext. Almost like a more funny NETWORK. Unfortunately the movie very suddenly gets really stupid near the end, drags on for awhile, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Weirdly rushed for a movie with no point
It's a whirlwind of explanatory dialog intermixed with action building up a flimsy plot structure leading us to...?
Hard to describe the emptiness of this movie.
Too long, not for groups
I was expecting more Nick Cage hate-watching fodder, good for a group. Instead Mandy is half arthouse, half grindhouse, horrible for group watching because it's confusing, mumbly, and slow. I might have liked it more by myself, but, maybe not. As someone else mentioned here, MANDY probably should've been a short. The interesting parts are too few and padded with dead space.
Die unendliche Geschichte (1984)
Creepy Kid Camp
When Germans do psychoactive drugs, things like the The NeverEnding Story poop out. Imagine giving Nietsche shrooms and then showing him what a Furby is, or getting Kafka high and giving him free creative control over an episode of Sesame Street? I remember seeing previews for the movie when I was a kid and feeling a weird nervousness that something really creepy was going on there. Watching it for the first time now, I was so right.
It's hard to describe the confluence of campy, trippy, nihilism-y, goofy, and Germany going on here, but one thing is for sure, there is no way children under the age of 21 should be allowed to watch this. That's right, if you can't legally drink then you should not legally be allowed to watch The NeverEnding Story. That is, unless you are prepared for a lifetime of nightmares about little girls with huge eyes and prostitute eyeshadow begging you to "just believe!"....because otherwise the world will end, and not even climactically .
The Thin Red Line (1998)
A compilation of hayseed poetry/philosophy voiceover ("where is the glory? Where is it?' What is it?" ), distracting 30 second appearances by A list celebs, whooshing noises, and shots of trees from below.
Possibly the most pretentious movie I've ever seen. A gross jerk off fine arts rendition of a subject that deserves much better.
One star: The only rating propaganda ever deserves
Lots of other reviews have stated how this documentary works as propaganda by misrepresenting facts and selecting dubious sources, so I won't repeat. I just want to express my disgust.
I am stunned that someone so bent on spreading "the truth" can simultaneously reach his hand into the evidence bag and manipulate and misrepresent the real truth to fit his view of the world. Or to fit a sexy storyline for his career-making documentary...
Kip, you are no better than Goebbels. In your self-righteous pursuit of film success you sell out the only thing that really matters in your profession: the truth.
I really hope you change your path in life. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and big egos. Please put yours aside, for the sake of a world innocently consuming the trash you put forth.
The worst Star Wars. This is Episode IV except in 3D. Literally.
Growing up with Star Wars adds some weirdness to critiquing it. For instance, I was of the generation too young to find Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks annoying, though I'm pretty sure I knew Jake Lloyd (had to look that up...) was a terrible actor, even for a 9-year-old. I loved all the movies I through VI.
Now I'm an adult for the next phase of Star Wars, and I think this is by far the worst. This new episode is just an oh-so-self-aware remake of Episode IV. And when I say "remake of Epidode IV" I mean it has the exactly that. There's a young whipersnapper who discovers a latent ability with the force. She lives on a desert planet. There is a droid with some secret plans that falls into her hands. She is helped by mercenary but basically good smuggler. There's a bad guy with a father-son relationship to a good guy. There's another evil empire with "a device capable of destroying an entire planet" (guess what happens in the end). This, bespeckled with periodic awkward points where some classic character happens to force their way back into the narrative. Oh hey CPO, R2, Leah, Han, etc. I get the whole self-aware self-referentialiality of it all, I guess, but to me it ended up basically boring.
But since when was Star Wars about plot? Good point, it's always been about spectacular space world visualizations, kooky creatures, ships, battles. And here too this latest Star wars falls short. Once again its an updated Episode IV, but instead of stop motion, the x-wings are in CGI. Few to no new ships, worlds, creatures, battles.
I think many folks discounted Episodes I, II, and III for terrible acting and a poor plot. But I would counter that they did what Star Wars does best, best. The visuals were stunning. The sheer imaginative power was inspiring. Incredible battles in land air sea and space. Nothing creatively innovative like that is in The Force Awakens except now R2-D2 is round and "Darth Vader"'s lightsaber has little side blades. Yawn.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
A better tittle: _What if My Kid Is A Dick?_
We need to talk about We Need to Talk About Kevin, starting with the misleading title. Watching the life story of "Kevin", a strangely problematic baby-toddler-teen, an unsettling suspense settles on the audience: when will Tilda Swinton deliver the titular line?? Will it be after Kevin puts the family hamster in the garbage disposal? Or maybe after he counts all the way to forty like a big boy and then intentionally shits his pants? Or maybe after he becomes a teenager and starts dressing like one of the Jonas Brothers? But the line never comes! No one in the movie ever says "Hey, Kevin has all these cds of virus- laden porn in his room, we need to talk about this!" or "Hey, We need to talk about We Need to Talk About Kevin, starting with the misleading title. Watching the life story of "Kevin", a strangely problematic baby-toddler-teen, an unsettling suspense settles on the audience: when will Tilda Swinton deliver the titular line?? Will it be after Kevin puts the family hamster in the garbage disposal? Or maybe after he counts all the way to forty like a big boy and then intentionally shits his pants? Or maybe after he becomes a teenager and starts dressing like one of the Jonas Brothers? But the line never comes! No one in the movie ever says "Hey, Kevin has all these cds of virus- laden porn in his room, we need to talk about this!" or "Hey, Kevin still wears his baby clothes at age 17, we need to talk about this!" Dad (John C. Reilly) remains adamantly oblivious, and mom (Tilda Swinton) just lets the situation simmer as Kevin spirals out of control in his assholery.
Eventually, Kevin makes a sudden break from simple dickishness and commits a deed so horrendous that everyone in the town begins abusing his mom on sight as she remembers her son's life in flashback. So, since it never happened in the movie , let's talk about Kevin. Why does he act like such a little douche literally since birth? No reason is given in the movie, not even a supernatural Satan-spawn type thing. This leads me to suggest a new title for the movie, one more descriptive of its philosophical crux which is rooted in a nightmare that disturbs the sleep of many a future mother: What if My Kid is a Dick?
Survive Style 5+ (2004)
Weird, witty, and pretty, but not insufferably so.
It may be weird and in the end essentially pointless (though not plot-less), but it is very funny, very wow photography, very Japanese (but not Anime/Manga/NerdFringePornvisavisEpicFantasyViolence), very funky, very coocoo, und auch wery LALALA. HEHEHE. Outch. Too much fun here. But not insufferable artistic hipster facetiousness. Though more in that direction than in the direction of, say, Happy Gilmore. But too random to be liked by people who would describe is as "wacky!".
Note to self: when search of torrent tracker brings up more magnets for "movie___soundtrack" than "movie", then probability of soundtrack being super awesome is good.
The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
Every other scene is borderline brilliant, every other scene really sucks
New York City glamour, extremely real acting and scenarios followed by CNN circa 2008 mumbo-jumbo, annoyingly flashy cinematography, and wanna-be American Psycho depravity-in-materialism preaching. Rarely do it want to shut off a movie every five minutes, and if so, even more rarely do I find something to respect in the next five.
As to Sasha Grey and her acting abilities, I think she's OK at it. Many reviews scathe her for "deadpan", but I think that's what high-class dumb sluts actually are probably like. Pretty much empty. Making the most of what god gave them in a depraved way. To me it seems real. The "hooker's boyfriend" character was great, which is hard to pull off in my mind. I really empathized with this guy in a weird situation.
What's not real are the characters of many, though not all, of the "rich assholes". That's about as eloquent as Soderberg is with these characters, "They're just rich assholes" when "the rest of us are hurting" as we are reminded again, and again, and again.
The script and plot line isn't great, often forced by some contrived circumstance, and really goes nowhere in the end. Maybe 5 is too generous. I guess I was intrigued.
Pandora's Promise (2013)
An important message conveyed in a mediocre+ way
The good: It's good to see a film that advocates science and reason for the purpose of spreading an important message that is far overdue. I think the interviewees were well selected from pools of both scientific experts and relate-able, intelligent, concerned citizens who all present the overwhelming and long-known evidence for nuclear power's safety and use.
The bad: A 45-60 min version could have been equally informative. There's a lot of bad editing and poor documentary style, sometimes laughably so, and the narrative thread gets rather weak as it's stretched to meet minimum feature length. Many poor pro-nuclear arguments and some inflammatory material is thrown in the mix which diminishes film's documentary integrity.
La montaña sagrada (1973)
Something for when you are really....really...high
I don't think I would have liked this movie at all if it wasn't for the way it was recommended to me: a couple crazy French friends, both computer science grad students who loved to party, said this was their favorite movie to get absolutely blazed to. I might have immediately jumped to the judgments many others have made e.g. this is a masturbatory, campy, art-for-artists, hippie-dippy, and poorly made piece of trash. All that is true; luckily for me I had the image of two giggling Frenchmen, stoned to obliteration watching this beyond lunacy, and that helped me to shake my head, laugh, and actually kinda enjoy....though I wish I too could have been (very) stoned and in the company of those who were likewise.
Of course it's always a cop out to say you need to smoke in order to like a movie, but one must admit that certain types of films fit like a puzzle piece into that category "good while high", for certain types of weird people. This is one of those.
Solid, though definitely "Screenwriter's Interest" material. Nick-o-meter 7/10
This one was introduced to me through numerous clips which were shown to a screen writing class I took in college, and the whole movie is (or should be) of interest to anyone interested in screen writing, or even more generally "what makes a good story?", "how are stories written?" (at least as far as Kaufman is concerned). One of the most entertaining parts of the film is how it propounds lots of rules for writing good movies and then breaks every single one of them (pay attention to the opening dialogue between Cage and Swinton). In the end, it's a philosophical piece, not so much giving answers as challenging the viewer to think for himself. A solid.
The Rock (1996)
The stupid explosion-based action of yore just cant compete with the stupid CGI retina-orgy action of now.
Part of the Criterion Collection apparently, must be because it's in the category of "so bad it's good" because it is exceptionally bad/good
Not all movies need to be brainy and existential, but do they really need to be so stupid they are baffling? I guess I have hard time shutting off, a hard time trying not to take it seriously. Was it made to be serious? If so then MB must think we're all f-ing retarded. Die Hard was good, this is like, campy, with all the brain eating chemicals, and Nick Cage as perhaps his very very worst, very setty sets, lots of dry-ice smoke.
If you want stupid action and explosions and eye candy, why not go full bore and watch transformers? Going back is just a study in the sh#!tier.
Clearly Carl Sagan was behind this one...
I like science, but you can't make a dramatic film about science. I suppose some people part of making the movie also understood this so there's some plot like stuff thrown in (romantic interest, a bit of political intrigue) but damn if it's all just a poor disguise for a movie about science which just doesn't make a good movie.
I can almost hear Carl Sagan droning in my ear "if you don't care about science then what *do* you care about?" I care about doing things right Carl, and pontificating that science is the end all does not justify making movies with a shaky plot support and lots of philosophic discussion not to mention a sh#! ton of astrophysics jargon.
I don't hate this movie; heck I'd say watch it, but only once.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Expendables of indie movies. I feel like Wes Anderson just jerked off on my eyeballs.
Whatever this movie is, it's Wes Anderson. You'll be reminded of that every time there is a 180 degree pan or dolly instead of a normal cut, every time there is straight-facedness in the sight of ridiculousness, every time there is a theater-esque set, every time another massively A- list celebrity appears in a minor role so as to be included in the exponentially burgeoning WA troupe...
The story is choppy and riddled with voice-over and voice-over within voice-over, but def hella whimsical. I'm not a hater, check out my other ratings of great films like Rushmore, RT, even LAWSZ...this one was just too much, like the Darjeeling Limited on steroids.
The strictly lamer version of The Straight Story/About Schmidt. Watch those instead.
Everything said in Nebraska has been said better in pretty much exactly parallel terms elsewhere (see Lynch's The Straight Story, or Payne himself's About Schmidt). I guess the point is, getting old sucks, but we were human after all...something kinda tiresome and bland like that? Like the black and white photography? Like the contrived old-people raunchiness that's the only source of comic relief aside from "Midwesterneres are sure stupid aren't they?" Like a poorly thought out plot with holes (especially regarding the sons' money, transportation) and unrealistic, flat characters (the "villain", the "nice stupid Midwesterners")? Like Will Forte who can't act in a serious role? It's pretty predictable people.
Snake Eyes (1998)
A textbook dud, not even bad enough to be good. Nick-o-meter 2/10
I should probably give this a lower rating, because I've been more entertained by the badness of "worse" movies than I was by the weirdly uninteresting qualities of Snake Eyes. Not to spoil, but snake eyes is a completely gratuitous title.
The story is all connected together, its not a random mishmash of plot holes and non-sequiturs like other "worse" Nick Cage (a.k.a The Rock), but for some reason it just lies there like sh#! on a peanut butter sandwich. Carla Gugino and her assets were about as exciting as it got. When the movie ended it was like "well, hmm, I guess that was that".
Nick, Nick, Nick, not at your best this time. Not at your worst (a.k.a The Rock) but not at your best. Yawn.
HOWEVER, lots of cool (possibly gratuitous) steadicam work and some really long takes. Guess dePalma got caught up in the technical this time.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Just because a movie is sad does not mean it is good. Also, c'mon Nick!
I guess this was supposed to be deep and depressing... I found nothing depressing about it as the characters already have both feet in the grave from the very beginning. I don't know how they got there or why, and watching them lay down and die from there is downright boring. Before you watch, read the taglines and think about what might happen, and you will probably be about right.
As far as Nick Cage, I know it's a huge matter of opinion with this guy, but I'd say in this movie he stunk. Lots of obvious and crummy improv. If you want good Cage, watch Wild at Heart or Raising Arizona. He's a good actor, but needs good direction, and the director that decided this sappy drama of a screenplay was for him clearly didn't get it.
Apollo 13 (1995)
The only movie where engineers and science are the heroes. Detailed and realistic beyond most. Gravity, you suck!
A great movie of history which sheds a lot of light on the extremely awesome technical accomplishment it was to send people to the moon (and with computers that could "fit into a single room" that are less powerful than and old Nokia brickphone).
There's a bit of drama added, but overall the movie does extremely well at also going deep into the technical struggle with a well executed fortitude far beyond what most Hollywood would dare (i.e. Gravity).
This movie teaches, entertains, and inspires the audience toward scientific endeavor like no other. Special effects are amazing, especially for its time, but they are not the sole source of meaning (as with mofoing#! Gravity). Apollo 13 respects its audience, and though filmicly it's rather standard storytelling, it's great to see a film made that tells such a story.
The Exorcist (1973)
Awesome acting through awesome directing really shows, though a bit longer than it needs to be. Would have been ridiculous to see in the 70s.
I finally watched the Exorcist to see what the hype was about, and I think I see. A few things that impressed me
-Psychologically driven horror versus terror/slasher. I was expecting pure demonic fantasy but it's a more grounded and "real" than that.
-Visibly awesome directing. The acting is great from children and adults alike in extreme reactions and portrayal of fear and disgust.
-Kooky creative horror and SFX, still passable and surprising by today's standards.
-Some great cinema. I liked the shots, especially many of the medical device shots which purely of their photography produce fear. It felt almost like an art film
I was less keen on the screenplay which was choppy, a bit vague or non- sequitur at times, and definitely overly long.
Belle de jour (1967)
As any emotion or idea is teased out in art cinema, Belle De Jour brings forth understanding of the complex notion of humanity's most damning conundrum: we want most what we cannot have. As love may be the most powerful of our emotions, not even it can save lovely Sevinne from self- destructing her perfect life. Many films explore the idea love deprivation and its effects, but this is the first I have seen which explores what happens when we actually get what we want. The seeming madness which ensues is meaningful because it makes sense; the progression is strangely not just plausible, but logical.
A beautifully photographed piece of visual as well as narrative art, Belle De Jour is subtle in its themes, deterministic and yet random in its story. In other words, it is real....it leaves one with a haunting understanding of the true nature of the human animal.
Madness in Love
This film plays on all the tensioned strings of love as the most powerful emotion--the most direct segue to insanity.
Love is something we want to happen selfishly, but by its very nature requires a mutual, balanced, and undivided emotion. The madness that ensues in these characters is clearly tied to the various imbalances that occur: unrequited love, partial love, projections of the desired state of of the loved one upon the loved one, incompatibility torturing those who lust for love, sexual lust, and most of all...the permanent scar left upon those who loved truly, and lost.
The sheer all-encompassing nature of this film, the fact that it touches on the madness behind so many forms of love is a testament to its concise power. Interestingly--unlike most films and art films which attempt only to share a story of the human experience or to evoke with us an emotion--Hour of the Wolf is also very much a practical film, because above all, it is a warning.
La jetée (1962)
I Never Give Ten Stars
To give more meaning to my review, this is one of about five films that I have given ten stars out of the hundreds I've rated.
La Jetee is about the only art film I recommend widely. It does not indulge in vague artistry, cryptic and boring wanderings which you are left to decipher. La Jetee if it is anything, is a highly tuned piece of film engineered to lead any viewer in the right mindset on a carefully planed emotional journey. There's no filler; it's only 28 minutes. All of the "artsy" features of the film, especially the photo-montage style are executed with a very clear intention in the task of stirring up within the viewer a strong emotion...
***How to watch this movie***
Might be useful if you are not used to art films. Take in La Jetee still after still. Let each image (and especially *the* image of the woman) wash over your mind in context of the story being told. Don't try to understand every detail, but do try to understand the story (which can be confusing since it involves time travel). Most of all be open to feeling, maybe even crying. This might mean it is better watch alone where there is no pressure to keep it together. This film is best if you let it tear you apart.