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Very well crafted film, amazing acting, about a village in the middle of nowhere
14 January 2023
I have to agree with most people that this movie was great. The plot is simple: one taciturn guy in a remote Irish village decides to not accept any contact with his best and oldest friend, with no explanation whatsoever, and the friend can't accept it. It is a deeply sad story, dealing with personal identity, despair, codependence, love - unrequited or otherwise.

Like with "In Bruges" before, the triangle of Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson works perfectly. And it feels kind of similar too: deep scenes about people, but not much story. The movie feels like a landscape painting where you admire the care and detail on it, but you don't really care what it is about. And it is about a village in the middle of nowhere, after all.

Bottom line: the best film I've seen in quite a while, but it doesn't cover all bases. Nor should it. It's like "In Bruges" had a child with "The Lighthouse". If you liked either of them or both, you will like The Banshees of Inisherin.
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Stutz (2022)
Couldn't shake the feeling of fake
26 December 2022
The film is overtly about Phil Stutz, Jonah Hill's therapist, a person who is more hands-on than most other therapists - if he can say so himself - so much so in fact, that he encourages his patient to express love and reciprocates it. That's not bad in itself, I don't subscribe to the idea of the detached guidance-only role of the psychologist, but to watch an entire production dedicated to the strong bond between the two men, masquerading as some sort of sharing with the world of great healing instruments, was uncomfortable to me. It was pretty obvious that, while presenting a lot of things about Stutz, the film was not really about him, but about Hill.

Don't get me wrong, I am sure Hill and Stutz were very real in their intentions, but the production itself, the way the patient-therapist relationship turned out to become, the specific (buzz) words and terms both people involved used and so many little details made me distrust the reality of what was presented. I am sure they believed in it and that they also felt it helped a lot, so I am not accusing anyone. I am just unsure they were honest with themselves to the degree displayed in the film.

A good effect of the movie was that it generated a lot of honest self-reflection and discussions with my wife, which is something I will celebrate. And I also believe that "the instruments" they talked about are real, have power and can be turned to very good use. The overall feeling that I got, though, is that this is a little vanity project for a Hollywood celeb and that most of the stuff they said was bull.

Bottom line: I rated it average because it did prompt some introspection and honest conversation, but I would not recommend it.
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Burning (2018)
Carefully crafted film, but you need to be in the mood for a slow paced psychological drama to enjoy it
23 December 2022
First of all the source material: Murakami and Faulkner short stories with the same name, but different subjects, were merged together to create the script. Second was how the movie was built: from very careful scenes, to the casting of Steven Yeun (American raised) as a kind of aloof out of society Korean individual, the soundscape, the locations, the metaphors and small clues that kind of link together to forge the chain of the narrative. The acting was great, too, coming from actors who one would perhaps not expect that from. All of this points to the quality of the filmmaking.

On the other hand, you have the slow burning pace of the film, the obvious "countrysideness" of the main character and the vague subtle social commentary, all of these part of the message that Lee Chang-dong wanted to convey, but maybe not what the viewer is prepared to accept.

Did I like the film? I dare say I understood where it was coming from, without having had the attention and focus to emerge myself in it and notice all the good parts in it. And for what I did understand, I also liked. But I did not _enjoy_ the film. It is not one of those things that you watch with half a brain and then feel better about yourself. And even if you use all your focus on it, you might like it a lot, but you will still not feel better when it ends.

It is clearly an art film, a more accessible one for sure, but still one of those things designed to be studied rather than consumed. Be prepared for that and you might have a more pleasant experience than me. And yes, it could definitely have been shorter.
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Troll (2022)
It wasn't bad
7 December 2022
Trolls are a new favorite export from Scandinavia, with wonderful stuff like Troll Hunter and Hilda, but as with many successful ideas, it will get copied and abused sooner or later. Troll is not a bad film, but it's not that good either. And worse than all is that when it ends you get no actual satisfaction because none of the characters in the movie are very relatable.

The hero is a young blonde paleontologist who is shown from the very start to be headstrong, firm in her beliefs and - more importantly - vindicated in them by finding exactly what she was looking for exactly when she needed it most. One completely unexplainable casting choice is her male counterpart played by Billy Campbell who will defer to her strong will and immediately disappear from the film. You can't even say it was a cameo.

Later on, a troll appears. Immediately our hero will say what needs to be said, ignoring the status quo, any personal status or status in general, will do what an entire nation state cannot and will even explicitly forbid it and save the day with a bunch of men who are immediately (and unexplainably) enthralled by her.

I don't want to spoil anything, so I will stop here, but enough to say that the ending is kind of... disappointing. There is no sense of victory or relief, just a generic feeling of failure.

The actors were not bad, the effects were seamless, I liked the troll and the general idea of the film. Alas, I couldn't empathize with any of the very formulaic and mostly unpleasant characters.
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Potential lost in a ridiculously scripted film
7 December 2022
The basic plot of the film is a team of soldiers going to use a macguffin to disable an alien megamonster that can also heal the planet. Conflicting interests and monsters and aliens and robots and weapons and heroic people, world being polluted, politics, megalomania, meteors, team dynamics, old comrades conveniently placed next to the target, little children, all of these play a role. And that's the catch: they really were not needed. The movie is bloated with ideas that have almost no relevance to the story.

If they kept it lean: weird plant starts growing exponentially in a very populated third world country area and soldiers need to either use it for whatever or find a way to sterilize the area, everything would have been fine. The clunky visual effects would have had more impact, the characters and the dynamic between them could have been explored, the road to the inevitable victory of the team of braves paved with emotionally and morally poignant moments. But no, it all feels like a video game cinematic from start to end.

And it's a shame, because I liked the lead actors, all of them having played in more than 100 movies each. With a good team of writers this could have been a great hit, a triumph of Chinese cinema. Instead it feels like a very cheap knockoff of similar Hollywood movies that no one can actually remember because they were bland to begin with.

Bottom line: within the same budget this could have been good. Instead it feels like watching someone else playing a video game from the 2010s.
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Finally a good movie!
28 November 2022
After attempting to watch some light movies with hope that they will be entertaining and stumbling only upon terribly bad or plain offensive stuff, I had the pleasant surprise to try April and the Extraordinary World, a French/Belgian/Canadian animation. Don't worry, it has both French and English soundtracks which were actually both good. The animation is pure 2D, the story is steampunk dystopian alternate history and it feels fresh, although it is firmly rooted in twentieth century sci-fi. I enjoyed it a lot!

The one negative thing that I have to say is about the English translation of the title. The French one refers a "rigged" or "fake" world and it evokes the kind of steam powered mechanical world that the story is about. The English title evokes just a little girl in a fantasy world, which is NOT what this film is about. I think a better choice of words for the English translation would have benefitted the movie.

Now, the story is about a world where all important scientists disappear and the remaining ones are shanghaied by authorities to build weapons, therefore technology stagnates at the level of coal power. Somehow, a family of scientists are the cause and the salvation for this situation and we follow April, a girl who tries everything to continue her parents' work, while being followed by both authorities and a mysterious power. I don't want to spoil it. Enough to say that the animation is good, in that artistic sense where it is not perfect, but it is hand drawn and very expressive, the story is captivating and very human, with social commentary that is both powerful and subtle.

Bottom line: I think kids would enjoy this as well, but I feel adults would understand it better. It was refreshing and entertaining.
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Bad movie from every direction, then agenda driven
28 November 2022
I am used already to get some Hollywood agenda shoved down my throat, so it has become a fact of life, an annoyance that doesn't really affect me in any way, not being American. Yet a movie still has to have a shred of decency in it to be watchable and this film does not. I vaguely remember the first film as fun, silly but fun. This is low budget, badly acted, badly filmed, badly lighted, badly written, badly directed, conceited and only then agenda driven. I could watch 20 minutes of it before I decided I have better things to do with my time. I can't believe this piece of crap was ever made. It's not even so bad it is funny, it's just completely lackluster. No effort was made by any of the participants in this film. Releasing such films should be punishable by law.
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Black Adam (2022)
Fun film, but impossible to not cringe at the underlying message
24 November 2022
If you are not American, you might suddenly feel something very strange happening while you are watching this film as the premise of the movie becomes evident. That's because, in short, American superheroes are sent, by Amanda Waller, to subdue a superhero emerging in a Middle Eastern country which has been under the occupation of mercenary military units that speak English with an American accent for decades. And the super team are not the Suicide Squad or something weird like that, they are "the good guys", tasked to maintain "International stability". Three quarters in the film there is the first ending, before the twist. I don't want to spoil it, but imagine that that would have been the ending of the film that would have suited the heroes best. That was "the good ending".

Once you get around the horror that the premise may instill in you, then the film is kind of fun.

The movie introduces a Justice Society (I know it probably comes from the comics, but what a dumb name!) which seems to be a poor man's Justice League, a new fictional country, a few new magical new elements that have magical powers. So basically Wakanda, but darker (no pun intended). The effects are fine, the story is more complex than what superhero movies have habituated us with and I enjoyed most actors, although I have to say Sarah Shahi was at best miscast and at worse a bad actress. Character wise, Pierce Brosnan's one was the most interesting, while the two "junior superheroes" were completely pointless to most of the plot. I also laughed out loud at stupid phrases like "I inherited my powers from my uncle" or "threat detected 100 miles from here! Get us there, now. Ok, give me 20 seconds". I know it's all make believe, but the most basic laws of genetics and physics should still function.

Another thing that kind of threw me off is Dwayne Johnson trying hard to NOT act. His choice of character was a stone faced person, when he has one of the funniest and expressive faces around. A bit of a miss there.

The end credits scene shows Superman (Henry Cavill) - apparently also sent by Amanda Waller - coming to make sure Black Adam behaves, completing the bureaucratic imperialistic theme of the movie.

Bottom line: it's not a masterpiece, but it is entertaining to watch. Might signal a new phase of DC films that don't suck.
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The Wonder (I) (2022)
An interesting, yet terribly slow story
19 November 2022
I will have to say that everything in this film was good: the directing, the cast, the acting, the sets, the trippy music. The only complain I have is that it lasted for 2 hours while everybody spoke and acted at half speed.

Now, the story is very interesting and the way the actors play it makes it compelling. I can't talk much about it, though, without spoiling it. I recommend you do NOT read any more comments, see the movie, because it's a good one, and only if you don't like it or feel like you have to see it at twice the speed, only then come and read what it is about.

At its core it's an exploration of societal norms and religion in poor Irish communities, but it is told through a very human perspective that makes it relatable. What I could not understand is the beginning and the end and a scene in the middle, where they break the fourth wall, for no apparent reason. The movie could have gone just as well without those scenes. I know it's about exploring belief, but it felt quite unnecessary.

The story is based on a book, but from the reviews I can say that probably you're better off watching the film. Again, it's very well done, but nothing happens except for the obvious.
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Apparently there were some difference between WWI and Battlefield I
16 November 2022
...well, except for the last few minutes. That was exactly like in Battlefield I.

If you've read Sven Hassel you will find many commonalities with this story: young German soldiers going to war, all giddy with anticipation and dreams of adventure, and finding hell.

I don't usually watch war movies, as I am not a fan of torture ending in pain, trauma and death, so you can be certain that if I rated this film so highly I liked it a lot. And it is a German film, with German actors from which I only knew Daniel Brühl (who I consider one of the greats BTW, watch out for this one!), so that's doubly great.

There is a bug in how we perceive war: history is written by the victors, so whenever a war ends, it is always shown in bright colors. OK, your family and friends died horribly, but at least we won! Your country and land are victorious! People who return from the war are heroes, the people who commanded them gods, the people who died even bigger heroes who made the great victory possible. That is why I usually don't like war movies written from the perspective of the victors: the endlessly ugly stupid evil Nazis and the snarky English speaking heroes who overcome all odds and so on. But this is also why I love stories from the perspective of the losers in war, or at least the average people caught in one: the human cost of being torn from your life and thrown in a conflict you don't want, care about or even comprehend, the difference between political and military promises and reality, the randomness of it all.

There is no honor, there is no heroism, no sense or logic in war, at the level of the common soldier. Subsumed by a great martial organism, these people die at the moment of recruitment, losing everything including their identity. You are watching a film about zombies: mindless, deadly, nameless and you still refuse to believe they have died way before a bullet hit their brain. In a way, stories like this are also an insult, because after watching or reading about it, we identify with people going through war and we feel - sympathy, yes, but also - that we understand what they went through. And it couldn't be further from the truth.

Bottom line: tyrants and military leaders don't watch films like these. They should. Great adaptation of a book that I now consider reading.
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Quite entertaining
14 November 2022
This film has it all: detective work, fights, public corruption, Sherlock, Moriarty and lots and lots of girls of all possible colors. Yet the movie is not annoying at all. It is a rare thing to see a feminist story that isn't vomit inducing these days and that is probably due to the fact the films are based on actual books by Nancy Springer. They're like 7 now and still going. This one is very very vaguely inspired by the Matchgirls' Strike.

Haven't read the books, but I am willing to bet they contain a lot more thinking and less running on roofs, physical fights with men three times in size and people arriving minutes of each other in the same places without having any reason to know where to go. But if I am wrong, these three things are what bothered me about the film.

I quite enjoy the style of the Enola Holmes movies and the actors, but they are quite formulaic. Not unlike the original Sherlock Holmes novels, to be fair. Enola has trouble finding cases, finds a seemingly minor one that she takes out of the goodness of her heart, stumbles upon greater issues, realizes her case is connected to one of Sherlock's cases and ends up helping a lot of people in the process, while fighting the patriarchy yet also finding romance and improving her relationship with her mother. All in a days work.

Bottom line: decent fun.
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I usually enjoy old low budget sci-fi, but this one was a dud
14 November 2022
The creature effects were reasonably good. Not great, by any measure, but fun. The story was ridiculous and the acting mostly wooden. At no point was I enthralled by the action or the actors. It's not even funny bad, it's just boring and a money grab. It feels like so many "lost world" films, with the same monsters, the same idiotic cultures that are somehow inferior to humanity, even when they are more advanced. Nothing original at all.

It was interesting to recognize actors from my youth, then read their IMDb pages and see who died and who still lives and what else the played in, so I guess there is some nostalgia value to this film. Did you know they changed the title of the film at least four times?
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Ironically, most of it was terrible, but it also had its good parts to offset that
24 October 2022
I liked the actresses and I think they did a good job. The story was intriguing, but simplistic and obvious. I don't know what Paul Feig is trying to do, except perhaps create a successful feminist film, then change genders. This movie has chances to be that film, because the effects were good, the acting decent, and some of the scenes really powerful.

Unfortunately, it was also something of a mixed bag, with some terribly tone deaf parts and a grating clash of themes and styles. For example the girls are in some sort of medieval village, but are dressed and made up like modern girls and also act like such. Because of that I thought it was a film for little girls. Then it became a bit of magical school thingie, with elements of classroom power games. Then it turned to horror and violence. Then to love. People were dying, then were friends, they died some more. It was all over the place. Too bad that the entire idea and ending were telegraphed an hour or so before the film ended. All twists were obvious and late coming.

Bottom line: I thought the movie was well made, but the writing was inconsistent, to put it mildly. And that starting from a book, which has overwhelmingly good reviews, although it seems to be polarizing people a lot, too. As a children's fairy tale, it was mildly entertaining, but I don't think parents will want the children small enough to enjoy this movie watch it because of the more violent parts.
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Hellraiser (2022)
Like the Candyman reboot, it lacked the 90ness
14 October 2022
I barely remember the Hellraiser movies and I have not read the books (or if I did, it was a long time ago). However, I remember that I liked the concept without actually enjoying the films all that much. And in that sense, the 2022 reboot is a perfect film. I liked the concept, but I couldn't really like the film.

And the reasons are quite mundane, very common, almost a cliché at the moment. The main character is a young beautiful girl who is conceited, angry, drug addicted and obnoxious. Her friends are the stereotypical (for movies) diverse group but which have nothing in common except being cardboard. Funny enough, there was no black person. Anyway, I hated them all. In fact, I liked Goran Visnjic the most, even if he had only a few scenes in the film. He gave a good performance and was almost sympathetic (for a monstrous rich white man). As for the cenobites... they were lame. Sometimes literally.

Bottom line: I couldn't wait for all of the obnoxious people to finally die. I couldn't empathize with any of them, except perhaps the villain. The twist at the end was intriguing, but it went nowhere. The best scene is when it shows the action is happening in Belgrade, so they show an aerial view of the city, write Belgrade, then zoom in and do a scary bang! Sound effect. I mean, that was the scariest part for Americans, not the skin tearing chains.

If you want to make a Hellraiser film that works, you need to think on how to not make only the human characters likeable and approachable, but also make the cenobites seductive, thrilling, attractive not despite but because of their deformity. The characters have to squirm in that uncomfortable zone between numbing normalcy and extreme perversion, a choice that tears them apart. In that sense, the only character who was in a Hellraiser story WAS the villain. The rest of the cast were playing in a bad zombie film.
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MK Ultra (2022)
Good performance from the actors, but the story is dull and all over the place
14 October 2022
I like Anson Mount, as well as Jason Patrick (which, BTW, I didn't recognize until I looked at the cast). The subject is also one that has enormous significance: CIA special programs to experiment with LSD and other substances in order to break the human will and make tools out of people. The acting was good, too, from all of the people involved. The problem was the plot, going from creepy to boring and back again without an actual reason. And if that wasn't confusing enough, it was interlaced with old documentary footage.

In the end, it felt like the movie did not know what it wanted to be: a thriller, a horror, a drama, a documentary. I didn't dislike the film, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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Great acting, simple yet effective story, instructive and inspiring
12 October 2022
You know when a certain category of people want to do an inspiring film, therefore they use someone who is good at everything, looks perfect and has tons of luck? Or those who want to make a tearful drama, and they use someone who is good at everything, looks perfect and has tons of bad luck? Well, this film finally shows a real person, surviving and learning at every step how to get better, despite whatever happens to her. In that sense, it's very inspiring. I wouldn't recommend anyone to follow suit, but as a film it's great!

It also happens to be starring two of the most criminally (see what I did there?) underrated actors. One is Aubrey Plaza, who you probably know from some comedy where she is sarcastically putting down someone with smart humor, but who in this film is almost unrecognizable - and not in that fake makeupy way that is all the rage, just through her acting. The second one is Theo Rossi, who you might know as Shades from the superhero series Luke Cage, where he almost eclipsed everybody else playing there.

Bottom line, I increased the film's rating while I was writing the review. It just seemed better and better. It's not perfect, but I cannot find anything wrong with it other than some pacing issues. It is not a fun film, but I was gripped by everything happening in it.
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Potential wasted in unexplainable ways to create an artistical failure
10 October 2022
Imagine you are trapped in a room with some monstrous creatures hunting you. This is the premise and it works very well! Unfortunately, almost everything else doesn't. And it is strange because the actors were OK, most of them.

The biggest problem are the monsters. They are run of the mill three jawed worms coming from under the ground. After a small attempt to explain them logically, the movie makes them function completely differently from how they were described. And they are pathetically low budget. You can only suspend your disbelief so much before you start laughing out loud.

Then there are the side stories that have absolutely nothing to do with the main plot! Family drama, relationship drama, a neighbor that appears at the beginning, leaves for town and is never mentioned again, a scientist that appears for a short while only to vanish completely, an entire background of being a policeman (even if the guy is practically blind without glasses) that never materializes and so on and so on.

What probably annoys most of the viewers is the potential of this film which was completely wasted in silly ways. One can almost see what it could have been if only edited differently or if some of the ideas in it would have been explored more. The venom of the worms is hallucinogenic. At times the victim believes fantastical things happen. Could that have been used to increase the stakes? Of course. They just didn't. Then there is the nature of the monsters. They are worms! Could they have made them be more gross, infect their hosts somehow, increase the fear. Of course. They just didn't. The plot sounds a lot like a Covid film, with a tiny cast in a small location. But they had 10 people in it, with at most three that mattered in any way. Could they had given them more to do, die horribly and graphically at least? Of course. They just didn't.

Bottom line: you want an entertaining worm horror movie watch Tremors again for the 15th time. It's still good. It Crawls Beneath could probably be very amusing in a MisT3k kind of way, while drinking with friends.
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Good movie for the times, but difficult to watch now
8 October 2022
The main characters, if one might call them that, are two hapless peasants, greedy and stupid, falling from problem to problem without any attempt to learn from their mistakes or improve in any way. It is difficult to watch these "heroes" being absolute zeroes, yet still be recognizable as a large portion of population today. Kurosawa makes me empathize with the two assholes and that hurts. Toshirô Mifune is his usual great, although I dare say his role doesn't give him a lot to work with.

As for the story, it is impossible to see the resemblance with the Star Wars film it inspired. The rogues are not a sexy smiling Ford and a physically expressive hairy giant, but more akin to two almost naked monkeys, wearing dirty rags and fighting for fruit (gold in this situation). It's more of a "cunning peasant" story, where the proud princess and her guardian must navigate enemy territory in order to escape, using smarts instead of force, misdirection instead of violence.

This is not one of those "Japan is green and great and everybody is noble" films, but a gritty black and white arduous trek through barren mountain and behind enemy lines. It has humor, it has some violence, but it's mostly about human frailty. I am glad I watched it, but more as a badge of cinephilia than because of the film itself.
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HollyBlood (2022)
Boring and uninspiring
4 October 2022
The romantic interest girl is cute, but she can't act. The main character is bland and pointless. More interesting characters would be the bully and the father, but they are such caricatures that one cannot enjoy the humor.

I didn't even finish the film. I couldn't. It wasn't because it's in Spanish, it wasn't because of the subject, it was just plain boring. I couldn't be bothered to invest one more minute into watching it.

Even now, trying to fill the ridiculous imdb character quota, I feel cheated because I have to spend the time and effort to do it for a film that wasn't even drunk funny.
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Blonde (2022)
Beautifully shot film, but focused more on the drama than on the person
30 September 2022
I don't know anything about Marilyn Monroe so I cannot compare the film to the actual person, but I do think Ana de Armas is one of the most beautiful people on the planet and she does great acting in this film. However, this is a Hollywood biopic of a Hollywood iconic star with the typical Hollywood issues: overfocusing on the drama, making each scene as impactful as possible thus deifying the characters, rearranging the story so that it fits to the message that the film wants to send.

So if you are looking for an accurate depiction of Marilyn or her life, I doubt you'll get it here. You will get a beautifully shot and acted film pushing all of your buttons, making you rage against the way women were treated in the past and allegedly today, making you pity this woman who only wanted to find her family again and instead was used as an object, repeatedly getting a little hopeful only for everything to come crashing down, losing herself while her character is adored by a nation.

As for the nudity, this is not a film you watch for that. You see a lot of Ana's boobs, but that's about it. Instead be ready for a lot of psychological abuse (and maybe even pathology).

Bottom line: this film felt like when you pick up a woman way too beautiful for you by far, only to get to know her and decide she is totally off the rails. So in that sense, Blonde is crazy-hot.
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Just like the manga, the ending is disappointing, but necessary
26 September 2022
I don't remember much of how the manga was, but I know that I was both disappointed with the ending and angry because the story did not continue. So much universe, so much magic and interesting ideas and what... it was just over?! Something similar I felt for this third and final film in the trilogy, two hours and a half to tie up all the open story ends, which was both too little and too much. However I did not experience the same sense of loss when the film ended. It was necessary, just as it wasn't to make a live action film of any anime :)

The film was epic, I give it that, with all the characters coming together to defeat the final boss. Unfortunately, the story gets rushed, inconsistent with some ideas in the first two movies and with the same almost horrible acting as the first two movies. Can I rate it higher? Should I rate it lower because after all that setup it gets to a stupid all character fight where everybody talks too much and everything feels weird? Nah, it was just below average.

I highly recommend you read the manga or watch the anime. The films are for people who, just like me, felt a terrible loss when those ended and are able to watch anything, even the same story told horribly, just to not end. Hmm, the Alchemist Stone as a metaphor for our desire for our favorite stories to never end? Could be.
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A flawed Die Hard clone
23 September 2022
And no, Mel Gibson is not the main actor, as the poster might indicate, only supporting cast. If not for the bait and switch I would have rated this film average. The cast is pretty good: Mel Gibson, Emile Hirsch, David Zayas, Kate Bosworth, and the story is that a bad guy is trying to find valuable stuff inside a locked down building in which some cops are also trapped, and there is also a kind of deadline. And if it sounds familiar, yes, it's exactly the plot of Die Hard.

Unfortunately, while Emile Hirsch has charisma and might have carried the film on his shoulders, the script is rather bad and bland. Convoluted scenes and set up, inconsistent action scenes, characters that survive for no good reason while others die only to show "badness", that kind of thing. And the ending, telegraphed from the start of the film, instead of bringing much needed catharsis, brings an off screen death because they wanted to make it PG-13? In fact the whole film is "sanitized" which pretty much makes it pointless, an exercise in dialogue perhaps. Also, I felt like Bosworth's character was cardboard and had no real chemistry with Hirsch, which removed the only other possible attractive side of the film.

Bottom line: if you're looking for a Die Hard clone, if you are that bored, try this film.
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One Way (I) (2022)
One of those "Phone Booth" films
23 September 2022
A guy is on a bus, making phone calls. There is a lot of tension, people in the bus that somehow get involved, he sitting around people that can hear him call in a bus that is totally empty, and a lot of people answering the calls. That's the whole movie.

I guess the film was constructed as an actor vehicle for Colson Baker (aka Machine Gun Kelly). Pun not intended, even if the entire film is happening on a bus. I can't say the acting or direction were particularly bad, but the film was a snooze fest with no characterization at all. I mean, the bland overused cliché of someone stealing money and coke from dangerous criminals doesn't arouse interest, especially if you care nothing for what happens to any of the people in the film. Add to this the limited background of the action and you get something really boring.

I haven't watched Phone Booth, but I heard of it when deciding not to watch it. If I knew this film was in the same vein, I wouldn't have watched it either.

Bottom line: only watch it if you like Machine Gun Kelly, as both Kevin Bacon and Travis Fimmel are supporting actors with little screen time.
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I, Monster (1971)
A better version of Jekyll and Hyde
22 September 2022
We've seen a bunch of adaptations of the classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, each one trying to one up the previous ones, shock more, add more drama. The 1971 version is actually very believable, with normal people doing normal things, to their doom.

In the film, a doctor is researching a substance that would release the id and block the superego, thus removing all inhibitions and promoting psychological healing. Of course, he tries it on himself, creating an alter ego who at first is just a bit of an ass, indifferent to social norms and only at the end does he murder someone (with a pretty good reason, too). He finally attempts to abandon his experiments, only to discover that his alter ego just won't disappear.

It is a tragic story, told from the standpoint of regular upper class people of the period, starting from a desire to do good, only to terrible outcomes. Because it didn't try to (excessively) shock, but rather tell the story, I found it a lot more appealing and also more educational. The acting is good, with giants like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing leading the pack, the direction is good, the atmosphere very Victorian. I liked the film.

Of course, the high quality of the story might be because the film was more faithful to the original material. I've read it so long ago I don't remember anything. Anyway, a movie I did not remember existed and which I enjoyed quite well, 50 years after its release.
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Another Round (2020)
A mix of genius and cliché
20 September 2022
The screenplay is so detailed and the characters so well done that I thought it was one of those "based on a book" movies. It is not. The direction is good, the acting terrific, the story quite educative. But not everything is rosy.

As others have noticed, the story of four high school teachers trying out a theory that moderate alcohol in the blood makes one more open and creative goes wrong in the most predictable ways, making it hard not to interpret the film as a moralistic tale of dubious intentions. I mean, is the story realistic? Quite so. It's quite possible that this could happen. Unfortunately it happens bluntly, with no finesse and seems to damn any drinker to social suicide. Even the positive effects come out of nowhere, only to then be replaced by really negative ones, following the tired formula that nothing good comes for free.

In a way, it's an unfunny Trainspotting, where drugs are replaced with alcohol, with remarkably similar effects. It is impossible to not take the film as a critique of the Danish propensity for heavy drinking, which diminishes the great performance of the lead actors a little.

Bottom line: a midlife crisis examination of alcoholism with great performances but a formulaically moralistic viewpoint that takes away from the experience.
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