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To the Wonder (2012)
6/10
Beautiful cinematography, but no story
28 May 2024
This is an "experimental film", meaning you will not get it. Sorry to be blunt, but in a film in which each scene feels imbued with deeper meaning, this movie leaves you with no meaning whatsoever. If you subscribe to the theory that life is a string of consequential events separated by insignificant pauses, To the Wonder seems to try to remove the pauses and just construct a narrative from the meaningful moments, the emotional ones, not what was said, but what was felt, how the world felt and looked and maybe smelled. It is an interesting technique, but it ultimately leads nowhere. Some people derived satisfaction from watching the film mostly because they felt some reflection in characters of the movie, but it could only have been that, because the film provides almost no narrative structure, just a string of pearls from which you can understand anything.

Olga Kurylenko looked absolutely smashing in this, but the obsession of the film to show her playfully running, dancing, laughing while being drenched from a water hose, lying in the grass and lasciviously stretching like a cat in the sun felt like a tired cliché. And when Rachel McAdams' character did the same it really became one.

Bottom line: it was a decent try, but an ultimately unsatisfying one. There was almost no benefit from having celebrity actors playing in this, since there is almost no dialogue. It's a "bring your own meaning" kind of thing.
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Atlas (2024)
4/10
What a dumpster fire
28 May 2024
This is like a direct mix of Shang-Chi and the Humans series. Someone blended them together and then just threw that onto an empty canvas and called it modern art. The good parts in those shows missed the canvas completely. The result is bad in almost every aspect: the story, the details, the characters, their names, the acting, the logic. AIs would have never written this script because they have their dignity.

To understand how badly this film misses the mark, it starts with a woman - named Atlas by her own mother - who plays chess with a computer in the future. The computer checks her, so she makes a magical move that checkmates the computer, then the computer displays that she has won 71 times in a row. If this doesn't scream: run away! I don't know what will. And it gets worse from there.

I have no idea who comes up with these things, then convinces other people to give them money for them. They must be checkmating from a check position chess geniuses, because in every other industry if you come with a stupid idea, people throw you out into the street.

Bottom line: regardless of your personal feelings towards J-Lo, AI, movie making or truth and reality, this film is simply very boring. It's entertainment value can only be perceived while truly inebriated and perhaps not even then. Here's to Planty the plant!
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4/10
A boring stream of cliché and a waste of good talent
24 May 2024
This is the third Guy Ritchie thing I am watching in the last two weeks and the worst by far. It's not that the actors played any badly or that the production values weren't good, but everything about this movie has been already done to death and so it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. It doesn't even feel like a Ritchie film.

This is what you get: Sadistic Nazis, check. Legions of them dying stupidly like NPCs, check. Quippy and cocky protagonists complaining about the death of their loved ones by Nazi hands, then killing as many Germans as possible in an as brutal a manner as possible, check. Team of specialized weirdos making plans that never work as expected, but then adapting like pros, check. The handpicking of "the team", even if most of them haven't received any meaningful screen time, check. Arrogant and uber-sadistic Nazi officer that gets tricked by beautiful woman who is also Jewish, check. A handpicked cast of actors that would bring people in theaters, but that barely use their personal attributes in the film, check. Unescapable situations from which every hero escapes really easily, check. Doing things "undercover" because their own country wouldn't approve of their actions, check (also completely made up).

And look at the cast: The first eleven listed there are people I easily recognize from movies and series as serious actors. And what do they do with them? Nothing. It's all basically a heist movie, in its most derivative form, that uses none of the actors even close to their full potential. And for what? The story has the slightest semblance to the actual operation, but it's complete fiction. It has more in common with Ocean's Eleven. It's the difference between strawberry flavored water and a strawberry! And Kinnear's Churchill was abysmal! I love the man, I know he can act, but in this movie he was awful. And it's not even his fault, he should never have been cast in such an incompatible role.

What makes it even worse is that there was a perfectly good template for the type of film this should have been: SAS Rogue Heroes, which is a lot better, it's a series, it's also based on real people and it's really really fun. No way can you watch that and then enjoy ... I am not going to try to type its name, it's stupid.

Bottom line: The title should have been "Ocean's 1942", it misused its cast, it misrepresented real historical facts, it was bland, it was needlessly nasty, it was boring, it was derivative, it was bad. I think the only good stuff Guy Ritchie does is when Vinnie Jones is in it. Whenever Ritchie gets stupid ideas, Jones slaps him across the head back to reality. What other explanation is there?
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The Fall Guy (2024)
8/10
A bit of everything, held together by Gosling's charisma
24 May 2024
This film is a meta-rom-com-action-thriller movie. That says it all.

Seriously now, how can you go wrong with Ryan Gosling and Emma Blunt's first collaboration in a story about a lowly stuntman who goes through several very intense days in order to achieve his ultimate goal: a coffee?

Even more serious now: this film celebrates the lowly stuntman by putting one in front of the camera: Ryan Gosling! Never really appreciated because of famous people like Aaron Taylor-Johnson taking all the spotlight.

OK, for real now, it's an entertaining movie, set in the world of movie making, focusing on a stuntman, a little bit of romantic tension and love interest going on, a mystery, a lot of action, some comedy, a lot of meta nods to the film industry and references and the like. A little bit of everything, but made with a lot of taste and the little foreshadowing followed by the reveal done in a way that shows someone thought the scenario through before starting to make the movie. I really appreciated that.

But it's not ideal. The film is overly long, I imagine a lot of people skipping it because it's two hours long and they have an hour and a half time budget. Also it didn't need to be that long, the last act is really dragging and it also feels like people weren't that much into it. Emily Blunt is not as ravishing as before and I didn't really feel she was enjoying the production that much. I know it's harsh to start criticizing women just over 40 for not looking rugged and handsome like their male counterpart, but it was also the attitude. Perhaps she was upset for getting so little screentime.

It was fun, the credits scenes show actual stuntmen doing the stunts that Gosling's character was supposed to do, so at one time there is a scene with three people who look almost identical and are dressed the same. The very last scene was fun, too. I wonder if actors are just as disdained in real life on set like implied by this movie. That would kind of suck for everybody. I hope it's not that bad.

Bottom line: Ryan Gosling really inhabited the role very well and infused the film with a lot of charm. Without him, this would have been an average situational comedy. But I see how it would be a great start for the blockbuster season.
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8/10
Flawed, but a lot better than recent Godzilla films
23 May 2024
After it started as a clear metaphor for atomic warfare, which the terms of their defeat precluded the Japanese from openly discussing, Godzilla got translated into a few dozen rubber suit monster battles, then crossed the ocean to become American entertainment. I had lost all hope that it could become anything else than meaningless monster bashing. Yet 2016's Shin Godzilla showed that, no, the big guy can still serve as a symbol, in that case one of the insane human belligerence, and you don't need billions of dollars to do it. And now Gojira -1 (because Godzilla 38 didn't have the same dramatic effect) kind of does the same.

Yet this is a different beast. The largest part of the film is about a young man who feels very modern, a guy to whom things happen, lacking the maniacal nationalist courage expected of a kamikaze pilot, lacking agency and manliness. He is just a nice guy who wants to live, during and after the end of WWII. Even his girlfriend and his child are things that just happen to him, without his control. But he can't remain like that, because Godzilla keeps popping up in his life, like a crazy ex. In this film, Godzilla is a symbol of the crushing weight of life, survivor guilt, powerlessness, insignificance. Not a good giant protecting the planet against invented other monsters, but something overwhelming, terrible, indomitable, that yet needs to be defeated.

It's not a film without flaws, though. It's overly long and some of the acting, as far as I am concerned, felt like a tribute to the original Godzilla. In fact there were a lot of scenes that hinted at that original film. It is saying "hey, we know who Godzilla is, let's do it justice". Yet in 2024, Godzilla is no longer Japanese, it's international, like a weathered actor falling out of fame in Hollywood, it returns to the stage to try to find meaning again. It focuses on people, not special effects, on national dramas that got swept under the rug at the original film's release. Did I like it? Yes, but it also dragged along too slowly.

Bottom line: This is a great film just in comparison with all the crap they recently made about the subject, otherwise it's a rather decent reboot of the original Japanese Godzilla.
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The Gentlemen (2019)
9/10
I bit pompous, but I liked it a lot
14 May 2024
Typical Guy Ritchie thing: London gangsters, outrageous dialogs, flamboyant cast, randomness messing up everybody's well laid plans, a broad and cynical view of the criminal underpinnings of our "polite society". I would love him to make a political thriller, with just the darkest humor possible sprinkled in.

Anyway, even if Matthew McConaughey was great and Charlie Hunnam was very charismatic and sympathetic as the loyal right hand man and Colin Farrell is sprinkled in for good measure, and even if they do most of the work in the film, it's of course Hugh Grant that steals the show. The man just can't help it. He strolls onto a set, says some lines over five days and then, when an army of people finally finish up the movie and you watch it, all you remember from it is his charming mug.

So what happens to Hugh Grant's character? You don't need that. What you need is a sequel! Well, I hope he will be part of the new TV show The Gentlemen, which I was planning to watch, but had to watch the film first.

Bottom line: it was really fun. In fact, it felt... polished. Everyone remembers Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, but this film felt smoother, more refined, without losing anything of the entertainment. I see Ritchie veered into war movies. I will have to watch those too, now.
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8/10
A good remake
26 April 2024
Six year after the black and white Kurosawa movie, the Americans give it a go. The cast is stellar, the production quality is a lot better, the script is trimmed and changed to fit American sensibilities, but the result is quite good. The few additions to the plot, like the confessed vulnerability of Vaughn's character, improve the story - well, most of them. Frankly I think Calvera was foreshadowing when he said no good deed goes unpunished. In Seven Samurai, even if you kind of guessed where people were coming from, there was almost no character development. TM7 (as it would be named if remade today - OK, I am being naughty, I know there was a decently named remake made in 2016, but I haven't seen it) has a lot more character development. Yet the Japanese film still is better in many ways.

A good remake, I found it instructive to watch Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven back to back.
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10/10
BRAVO! This was entertaining, fun, smart, and brought joy into my life
26 April 2024
Imagine if someone were to make the Roadrunner cartoons live action, but in the style of black and white silent movies, with references to everything from Laurel and Hardy to Star Wars and with strong Canadian vibes. I had so much fun with this film! Watch it. It's a joy. And obviously people making the film also had a lot of fun, which is something I value in a production.

It's not just the idea, though. Everything not human was done with puppets and people dressed in animals and Papier-mâché. There is a lot of creativity and effort in this. Almost two hours of pure joy. I really recommend it. Best film I've seen in months.
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Dreams (1990)
7/10
This is what happens when you let a famous director do whatever they want
26 April 2024
My wife somehow liked this, but I can't understand why. It's a bunch of small stories that either have a strong moralistic idea or don't have a story at all. Some of them have scenes that shake (unintentionally) and some actors (like the child actor) are really really bad. Honestly, I couldn't wait for it to be over. I had watched Seven Samurai just before and I liked it a lot. This is what the same guy does 46 years later? I don't get it.

Also, the concept is that Kurosawa dreamed these and then put them on film. However none of the stories have the structure of a dream. Instead they feel processed, like "I had this dream where I met a demon", then he makes an entire piece about other demons and a long discussion and some reference to nuclear weapons in a devastated land. Not only was it boring, but it felt really pretentious.

What I think happened is the old "let the master work". Sometimes this produces amazing masterpieces. This was not it.

I think the Van Gogh one was probably the best fragment and it actually felt like a dream sequence. The fact that Martin Scorsese played in that one was a hint on how and why this film was made. If you know the right people and have the right reputation, you're allowed to do anything.
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Mad God (2021)
7/10
Beautiful grotesquery with no story, just an overwhelming sense of dread and disgust
25 April 2024
Was it worth it? Working for three decades so that jaded 2022 people go into a collective WTF? I would say no.

The stop motion animation that goes on for almost an hour and a half doesn't have a story. You might imagine there is a story, but there is none. A story has structure, characters, goals, development. This is just stuff happening while a guy walks through this world of horrors. I don't even know if the Leviticus quote at the beginning explains something or was just something that the film maker added as a whim after everything was edited.

The work was great, the art is beautiful and disgusting and exhilaratingly grotesque. A lot of effort went into this, but in the end it just feels like one of those YouTube videos that people string up from horror game cinematics.

I wanted to like it, but without a narrative structure and characters I could relate to, the whole artistic thing bored me to tears. Imagine a painting made out of plastic, meat, excrement, pipes, wires and blades, one of those avantgarde art installations. And it also moves. And you sit there and watch it for more than an hour. That's Mad God.
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Seven Samurai (1954)
9/10
Trailblazer
22 April 2024
Just a few days ago I was watching the latest film inspired by Seven Samurai: Rebel Moon. What a difference in class! Seventy years later, a decade for each samurai, the characters are cardboard, the plot automatic and the only working things are the special effects and production budget. Yet the original film, with no color, a low budget and many production mistakes (see the guy hit by the horse, ouch!) is so much better. It shows that someone put a lot of effort into the story, the characters, each scene. And this in a time where probably film was expensive as hell and the only way to edit anything was by actually cutting and using paste to put things together.

It is pointless to talk about the story. We all know it. Not only it is a classic, but it was remade and reimagined so many times that it has become part of our global identity. What shines through is the dedication, not only the director or the main characters, but also the supporting cast. People that look so much like peasants or samurai or tragic buffoons are so different in other movies. I guess one could call the movie part of the "golden era" of something, but it's not. It's just art in which people have put their hearts and souls. And it worked.

One of the movies that is still watchable and enjoyable and awesome after 70 years, I recommend it highly.
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4/10
So much wasted potential
20 April 2024
The visual effects were really good, the actors were decent, the potential for this movie was off the roof. And they wasted it all. The battles were stupid. The people were stupid. The strategies were stupid. The motivations were stupid. The technology was stupid. The economics were stupid. The politics were stupid. Everything in this story was stupid. I understand they wanted to remake Seven Samurai, but they basically took the samurai, removed their fighting skills, gave them a compulsion for overtalking and gave them stupid laser guns. And the ending was spectacularly stupid, as it was revealed that they risked everything to defend a village, when there were higher stakes involved.

Even if you have no idea how to write, how difficult was it to set up a realistic battle with a military instructor. Just give the guy some money and he will tell you what they would do if they had a bunch of soldiers backed by a few tanks and several flying gunships or if they were besieged by the same and all they had were guerilla fighters. I can suspend my disbelief in the story if you show you actually gave a damn about the rest. Or you can set up really dumb scenes if you have a good story. But if you have none of those, why even try?!

What is even worse, many of the events in the second part invalidated much of the first. The more I wrote in this review, the more stars I removed. I wanted to say that the naysayers were a bit harsh and it was a watchable movie, but then my brain switched back on. This wasn't even entertaining. It was boring, pretentions and overwhelmingly stupid. Agh!
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Split (IX) (2016)
8/10
Very well made, but it is too opaque
20 April 2024
Unbreakable was a weird little movie, but it had the sort of classical character arcs that people are used to: a hero who changes because of extraordinary circumstances. Split kind of breaks this pattern because the leads are not the kidnapped girls, but James McAvoy's character. Through the eyes of victims we see who the villain is and what he becomes, but they don't grow in any meaningful fashion. Hell, the two girls kidnapped with Anya Taylor-Joy's character are basically extras.

Yes, both films are, in fact, focusing on the villains, yet Split offers nothing revelatory in its last act. The film starts with girls kidnapped for unclear reasons, then you get an explanation somewhere in the middle, with the idea of what is going to happen. Then it happens. No "I didn't see THAT coming!" here. And the ending is really unsatisfactory, with no resolution in any direction, just a scene to let us know that it's connected with Unbreakable, which otherwise you would have never known. Imagine how ridiculous it would have been if the third movie would not have been made.

That being said, the film is very carefully made. McAvoy is his usual brilliant actor, Anya is weird as usual, but all of the other (few) cast members did a good job, the tension is always there, the sets are good, the sound is good, and so on. This is a good movie, but with an unclear story.

I watched Unbreakable in 2000. I kind of liked it. Then, *16 years later* there comes a pair of sequels. It took me 8 years to even convince myself to watch Split and I guess i will watch Glass now, but if people felt like me, no wondered this trilogy ended up as an obscure reference MNS fans like to obsess about.
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Fire and Ice (1983)
8/10
A classical fantasy story with great animation
13 April 2024
This is a must see animation. It does so many things right. The setup is a sort of Conan the Barbarian world in which two warring nations battle for supremacy. The ice people led by Nekron, which uses as his greatest weapon his mastery of ice, crushing everything under an ever advancing glacier, and the fire people, led by the worst father in the history of film. Anyway, the hero is a blonde proto-He-man guy whose people have being killed by Nekron's forces and who vowed revenge. A beautiful princess, a prehistoric Batman and a Grendel's mother type witch are also there. Complex stuff, but the end result is the typical good vs evil, beautiful vs ugly, kind vs tyrannical.

However, what struck me was the way the story was told and graphically represented. Teegra, the princess, is unabashedly feminine and her scantily clad body would bring "modern audiences" to apoplexy, yet she is almost never a victim. She uses cunning and her femininity to great effect, even if most of the time she is ineffectual in physical conflicts. The blonde hero is a strong courageous man, but he fails often and has to learn and recover from mistakes. The evil Neanderthal looking ice men are savage and brutal and ugly, but they are not stupid, their attacks always terrifying because they use not only their strength and numbers, but also tactics and coordination to defeat their opponents.

The Batmanesque character felt like from a previous story that someone has forgot to tell, as well as the evil queen, who was presented through exposition and has like 3 scenes in total. However the evil prince Nekron was a gem: an immensely strong mage, manic, weirdly disturbing and apparently so beyond humanity that normal behavior was hard to maintain. His reaction to being presented with a gorgeous semi-naked princess is "get this filth away from me", although he finds the hero interesting and doesn't kill him. A homosexual suggestion, perhaps?

Anyway, the animation was very interesting: beautiful matte paintings, very normal looking animation, but with simple lines, emphasizing shape and movement, not detail. The story was a bit fractured, things happening fast one after the other, making the landscape seem a few kilometers wide. One can imagine king Horrible Dad, Juliana and her evil son Nekron having started the war because a common parking lot dispute or something.

My takeaway is that such a film would be impossible to make today. The handcrafted animation would be computer assisted or generated. The self sufficient woman would be fighting in armor and the hero would be a smart talking romantic trying to live up to her expectations. The evil army would be dumb and sadistic and the good army would be heroic and empathetic. And so on. It's not that Fire and Ice is some kind of perfect artistic masterpiece, but that in the past we had the option to have it made. Only by watching things from the past can we expand our vision of the future.

So get it and enjoy it while you can. Recommended for fantasy and Conan the Barbarian fans.
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Old Dads (2023)
8/10
Entertaining and sometimes brutally real comedy.
10 April 2024
Imagine a buddy-dad comedy, you've seen those: several dads figuring things together, mixed with a Bill Burr special and you get this movie. It's not like it's a brilliant piece of cinema of unfathomable originality, but that's what makes it work. You have no expectations and, fifteen minutes in, you're cringing at the things happening to those poor people and laughing at the same time. Because what else can one do when faced with pure reality than laugh-cry?

So depending on your nationality, mood, political leaning and generation, you will either love this, hate it, be really terrified by it or any combination of the above. The movie takes a really kind and conciliatory path (which is what Bill Burr really does with all that apparently offensive talk) so it suggests we do have hope. So many things in the film are presented as absurd, but they do happen, which is terrifying to me, especially since I see it happening in my country, too, not just in crazy America.

The people in it look like they had a lot of fun, there are many cameos, silly stuff, real stuff, emotional stuff. You get a bit of everything. I liked it.
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Dersu Uzala (1975)
10/10
A particular type of beauty
9 April 2024
A weird Russian movie filmed on film of various quality and directed by a Japanese director trying to get back in the scene, Dersu Uzala has a special kind of beauty that appeals through subtlety to people who love the wild. Based on real people from the memoir of Captain Arseniev, it depicts the friendship woven between two vastly different people while traveling the Siberian taiga together. It's also a "twilight" film, about cultures that were simply erased by our incessant technological encroachment on the wild and an examination of our lives and their meaning.

Beautiful scenery, some gorgeous shots, a heartwarming and heartbreaking story, although a bit more bright than the actual material and a main character that inspired Master Yoda.

My wife loved the film, I also liked it a lot, I guess it's something that must be recommended on the chance that you would like it just as much, but enjoyment might vary a lot. In a way it's a very layered experience, watching in 2024 a movie made in 1975, by a director who dreamed of making it since 1950, from a memoir written in 1923, about the life of people in 1902, every new layer adding more distance from the original experience, erasing it, just like Dersu's grave.
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8/10
Good film, but I felt something was missing
7 April 2024
Denis Villeneuve is a great director, one who is not afraid to take risks, as proven by this second of part of Dune, in which he took quite some liberties with the story in the book and added a lot more flesh to the parts that Herbert paid little attention to. But in the same time he changed the meaning of the gestures some characters made. Stilgar comes off as a mindless fanatic, rather than a great friend, leader and strategist, Chani feels like a modern woman, trying to judge and control Paul's path, rather than someone completely loyal to him, the Fremen themselves just violent savages, the Bene Gesserit are given a much more deliberate agency than simply the vague future blending vision driven prophecy making mechanisms in the book and so on.

The result is something that feels like a disconnect for someone who read the books and also loves the Lynch version of the story as well. I understand what the director is trying to do: make the story more grounded, less nebulous and spiritual, and maybe the rest of the books can be adapted to something that the regular viewer can get behind. Yet so many things come off as spectacle, done for no good story reason and bringing inconsistencies in it. Like the battles, which use quick sword and knife movements that should be stopped by personal shields, the very reason why people don't use long range weapons so much, or Fremen getting into spaceships in stillsuits and knives, when they have no idea how to use them and their close range weapons are pointless. There are a lot of examples, the point I am trying to make is that while adding flesh to spectacle and world building, Villeneuve skimmed over important parts relevant to the story, like who the people really are, what drives them and their world and how technology and culture shapes how things are done. In trying to ground things for the current audience, he loses the magic, the awe brought by seeing what humanity becomes tens of thousands of years into the future.

Bottom line: great visuals, sets, decent acting, but both character and story subtlety and grandness are sacrificed on the altar of accessibility and even rationality.
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4/10
Informative documentary marred by a disgusting style of making a movie
5 April 2024
To be brisk, there are two categories of documentaries: the ones that are trying you make you think and the ones that are trying to make you believe. This is in the latter one, something that does not documents, but judges. China bad, U. S. good, follow the playbook, don't think too much, listen to the nicely made up (both meaning of the word) people that narrate whatever they want you to believe. I am a big fan of medical scientific documentaries, but I couldn't continue watching this. It felt like pure propaganda poured into my ears and eyes.

Imagine conversations you have with your friends and family over a few days or weeks. Then imagine that someone would pick and choose whatever anyone had said and string up as a representation of reality. Ridiculous, right? When you uncle says aliens destroyed the twin towers or whatever, you can leave the room, you can tell him he is wrong, you can laugh your heart out or maybe agree with his perspective. Not with this documentary, which takes individual opinions, fragments them into small pieces then strings them up in a pathetic joke of a narrative. This is bad because I recognized the pattern. This is the norm now, not the exception: montage beats narrative flow. There is no argument you can think about or proof you can analyze, just a vague idea repeated ad nauseam by fragments of talking heads, spouting platitudes nicely, slowly and facing the camera while the soundtrack tells you what you should feel about it.

Now, the apparent intent of the show is to explore how transformative the domain of public health has become and how it is not a matter of monopolist decision or of money or even governments, but of people coming together and doing a public service. Which is a beautiful fantasy. The very people interviewed are empowered bureaucrats that believe policy and laws have saved lives more than the individual people who risked their lives to determine what the problem is, then fight AGAINST the norms to implement a solution then even more to enforce it. In their attempt to empower the people who are on the invisible front line against disease, the one that people notice only when something goes wrong in their manufactured reality, the makers of the documentary have eroded the very thing that makes the system work: brave people willing to take individual responsibility and replaced it with a nebulous "we the people" which never ever did anything except as a battering ram inspired by these rare influencers.

It's always painful to see ritualistic narratives, generated almost automatically by using formulas that worked on the majority of previous watchers of other films - it's the reason why most content today is awful and derivative, but imagine how painful it is to see this by the numbers documentary done on the very thing that keeps us safe and sound. Now I am not the kind of wild eyed nut that adores the lone wolf hero, but if you think about it, most of the people that pushed out of the status quo aren't even regarded as heroes today, they are either ignored or declared villains. And if that weren't bad enough, halfway through the first episode, it goes on with how the Western society of pencil pushers noticed "something that we really needed to pay attention to" when the Wuhan epidemic flared. And what they did was follow "the playbook" and set up an international screening program. For those unfamiliar with the lingo, that's covering ass language. But before you try to understand what they are saying, they switch again the narrator, the context, talking about the Middle Ages and the Black Plague, then back again.

Perhaps the next three episodes will be better, but if it starts with this kind of crap, I probably won't get to watch them.
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Road House (2024)
7/10
Misses the mark a bit, but McGregor is a delight
24 March 2024
Set in Florida, it depicts an invincible MMA fighter coming to work as a bouncer at a bar that is targeted by rich land developers. I think Jake Gyllenhaal was great, Daniela Melchior really cute, Billy Magnussen best cast for an entitled rich kid villain, the fights were pretty good, too, but the delight of the film was Connor McGregor. Because how can you counter an invincible MMA fighter except with another invincible MMA fighter, who's also Scottish?

Really, the ideas in the film are not as impactful as the original Road House, mostly because the connections between people were not as strong. Most characters are pretty cardboard so why should we care what happens to them? However the psychopathic glee that McGregor brought to the film actually elevated it to a classic. I can't wait to see the guy in other movies, because he clearly has the charisma and physicality for action movies.
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Madame Web (2024)
6/10
Wasn't THAT bad
19 March 2024
You know you're in for it when most of the reviews are either 1s or 5s, but you expect it to be a film that you either love or hate. Instead you get a mediocre superhero movie.

I don't really care about the politics of the thing, the extensive reshoots, the changing of the story by committee until there was nothing artistic left, I only care if I enjoy watching the film. And it wasn't good, but it wasn't unwatchable either. It made just as much sense as The Flash, but it featured young women and there were no cameos from famous actors or characters. If it were not a "spider-movie" and it was just a random studio making a film, I would have said "meh!" so this is also my rating.

It has a lot of pacing and editing issues and very little actual action, but its greatest sin as far as I am concerned is that it's boring. Honestly, it's got the structure of a video game: the plot is linear, the characters are barely sketched and everything that you see has some direct and immediate impact on the plot. If you need something to happen in another place, the movie instantly goes there, unless there is some interest in heightening the drama, in which case you get a scene that makes no sense like the one with the log truck. And obviously, the ending sucks, because no one in Hollywood seems to be able to write one anymore.

I would have rated it lower, but I see it was hatefully rating-bombed already, so there is no point in it. My advice is to relax, grab some food and a drink and enjoy this like any other silly TV movie.
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10/10
An adult film to cleanse your palate of all the adolescent fantasies nowadays
12 March 2024
You've seen the plot before: tough guy gets something taken from him, so he sets out for revenge. But the way in which this film was done was perfection. There is no smirking vengeful discussion with the enemy, no killing of hundreds of people by skill alone, no pleasure or release in the act of retribution, no random coincidences to push the plot further. This is an adult film, where the characters are adults, even - ironically - the narrating character who is a kid. No adolescent fantasy playing out, but instead complex characters interacting according to the rules of their world and weaving a predictable, but very nice story.

It's a beautifully shot film as well, filled with great actors playing some of the best roles of their lives. I am usually a very critical person, finding issue with things and focusing on them, but for this film, I swear, I can't think of anything. Not the sound, not the music, the plot, the pacing, the story. Everything was great! Bravo!
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Damsel (2024)
7/10
Another Netflix feminist film featuring Millie Brown that actually works
12 March 2024
I have to say that the story is interesting, the sets are great, the effects are good, the acting and the cast quite competent. Just like Enola Holmes before, it has high production quality and it's quite entertaining. All but the ending.

One complaint against this film was the pacing and I agree. This is basically a collection of three parts that have nothing to do with each other: a very long setup, a creature feature and a "moral of the story" ending that fails miserably because it negates a lot of the rest of the film and goes so far down the girl boss path that it just cleanly breaks off and feels like a slap on.

So I have to rate this average. I would have liked it a lot more with a well thought out ending and not just random revenge porn.
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Halo Legends (2010 Video)
6/10
It looked cheap as hell
11 March 2024
I always applaud companion content to a beloved story, so I was kind of having high expectations about Halo Legends. Unfortunately, it all felt really cheap and uncoordinated.

You get seven animated stories in two hours, with various animations styles, various directors and so on, made by Japanese animators. With the considerable talent they've got over there and the resources of 343 Studios and Microsoft, this should have been amazing. Instead, the 2d animation felt like some 1980 anime and the last one, a 3D animated segment that looked like made with the Halo engine, was pretty weak.

But the problem was not really the animation, because I don't care about that, it was the stories. There were not bad per se, but they were not even close to special either. Probably the one with the Arbiter was one of the best, but the animation style was weird and took me out of the story - also it needed a lot more context to be understood, even if you know the lore. I liked the sniper mission one the best, but the childish dialogue again ruined it.

Bottom line: some entertainment value, but ultimately cheap looking and boring.
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Argylle (2024)
5/10
Unfortunately, the naysayers have it. This is a bad movie.
11 March 2024
One might consider a bad movie something that didn't reach a particular vision, they tried and failed, but I feel more offended by movies that are created exactly as intended and still are filled with flaws. I don't blame rickety old boats, but I do blame vast ships hitting icebergs. And unfortunately, Argylle is a very bad film because it squanders almost every resource it has.

Number one: the actors. Henry Cavill is first billed in the movie and he is followed by an impressive list of celebrities: John Cena, Daniel Singh, Dua Lipa, Richard E. Grant, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Boutella. Well, NONE of these actors has any role above the level of a cameo. The only actors are Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell and Brian Cranston. It was a criminal underuse of the cast. And I know they would have to pay them, but really, there was no reason for any of them to be part of the film with the roles they had. Another wasted cast member: the cat. YouTube videos make more use of a lovely cat than this film. And by the way, whoever put Bryce in that yellow dress at the end of the film should be fired and never hired again. I am all for hiring people with disabilities, but blind people don't belong in the film fashion industry.

Number two: the story. A light and fun combination of Mission Impossible and Romancing the Stone, it should have been a slam dunk. In this era of people tired of all the remakes, it is time for remixes: take two unrelated films and mix them together. It required no brains, it was so easy. And still they botched it. The plot makes no sense, the twists are obvious and many times redundant, the movie doesn't know if it wants to be fun, action, thriller or romance.

Number three: no art. The final nail in the coffin, this film was utterly predictable. The glaring mistakes, grating tone changes, tasteless style and fashion, story issues, plot holes, the bad CGI, the misuse of actors, the bad acting and sets, none of that was actually unexpected. From the very beginning, the film is SCREAMING at you "I am a silly movie, my makers didn't take me seriously, so why should you?". It's not an endearing quality, but a screeching painful alert that no one actually cared even a bit for the quality of this film and that they knew from the get go it was a by the numbers product, not an artistic endeavor.

Bottom line: Sam Rockwell was great, as always, and that's the only reason I don't rate this into oblivion. However it is an insultingly bad film considering the resources available and you should simply avoid it.
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5/10
Two words: self indulgence
10 March 2024
Many a time, in pursuit of a more dramatic or artistic result, filmmakers take license with the truth, add stuff, change the order of things, make things up. And what's very mysterious to me is that they tend to overdo this especially when celebrities are involved. Look at the latest biographies that gained a screen adaption: they are drastically veering from factual events. More often the defense for such practices is that art is a form of expression, not of reality, but of the vision of the author. Surely, though, that vision must be predicated upon some amount of fact.

So here we are, watching a film about Freud debating God with C. S. Lewis for one hour and a half, but that seems to say more about Mark St. Germain - who wrote the play, based on a suggestion by someone else who died in the interim, then managed to turn it into a movie where he is the screenwriter - than either Freud, C. S. Lewis or the invented cameos/name drops of Tolkien and Einstein. It might even be more about Anthony Hopkins than anybody else, because all I saw was him being him and not the person of Sigmund Freud. Especially revealing is the small font paragraph at the end of the movie that says Freud met with a young professor right before his death, who might have or might not have been C. S. Lewis. Other than that, so the entire film, is pure conjecture.

How presumptuous and self indulgent, but also unintentionally ironic, to invent something that involves actual famous people who lived, and that thing being talking about the verisimilitude of religion and how people changed the story of a real life carpenter from Nazareth. Then not actually focus on Freud's work, Lewis' work or even Anna Freud's work, but on Freud's fear of death, the Christian reconversion of Lewis and Anna's lesbianism all on the background of the German invasion of Poland and England declaring war. For the entirety of the film, Anna Freud's character runs around London to get medicine to her father, only to arrive with female lover in tow and do a silent scene of determination and acceptance, all while her father was in terrible pain and she had the morphine on her. And there are so many scenes just like this.

Bottom line: haven't seen something so lazy and self indulgent except in movies about actors, meta constructions that feed back into themselves, with no beginning, end, or connection to reality. It's a movie in which Hopkins orates most of the time and everybody else is an extra and that has, as far as I can see, little relation to the actual people depicted in the film.
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