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Moloch (2022)
4/10
Totally boring.
16 August 2022
Run of the mill witches doing witchy things that no one believes, then understands, then can escape. Because... ancient evil.

So many interesting witch stories out there and they do the same thing over and over and over again.
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7/10
Form over substance, but well done
16 August 2022
The story is something you've met before: assassin decides to not kill a target, therefore is pursued by their former allies while getting into some kind of local fracas in which they play the hero. There is usually an innocent involved, like a child, a romantic interest that accepts him/her as they are, and a villain. The difference for this film is the style, which is like a cross between 300 and Sin City: crisp scenes, thematic visuals, overstated character traits, exaggerated action scenes and speed and slow motion combined to direct the viewer's gaze towards particular things. That part is great!

Unfortunately, that's almost all there is to it. It's a beautifully crafted visual action fest where you couldn't care less about anyone. Mysterious Asian clans with absolutely no back story, a silent assassin hero who doesn't emote and doesn't generate any emotion, a caricature of a beautiful woman - red hair, funny Southern accent, playful and passionate, immediately falling for the strong silent type, a mustache twirling psychopathic villain with no mustache who is as generic as they can be (although I think Danny Huston did great with what he had) and a random American town with colorful characters that have no real history and are never expanded beyond "the town folk". Acting was decent, but nothing to brag about.

The result is a really beautiful, although derivative, visual experience mixed with a complete lack of involvement in any of the characters or stories and a completely predictable plot. I rate it average.
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The Gray Man (2022)
8/10
Better than most "trained assassin is betrayed and gets angry" films
15 August 2022
I don't know why this film is so hated. Is it because it's Netflix and they must pay for what they did with our stock portfolio? The Gray Man is a kick ass action film with charismatic actors and a really tight plot. There is no time wasted on exposition, just action action action punctuated by glibness and Evans clearly having a blast playing the bad guy. Ana de Armas was kind of wasted in the role, though. They could have done better with her character.

Anyway, the film is based on a book published in 2009. There are eleven more books!! So it makes sense to push as much value in this film in hope of a bankable franchise. Bourne did it, James Bond did it, so why not ... Six? Why Six? Because 7 was taken by Seven of Nine. Clearly the author is not GRRM and there will be more material to adapt than movies they can make.

The story is the same as a billion other films where the skilled action hero gets betrayed by the people controlling him therefore he has to take things into his own hands. For once I would like to see one agent who struggles to implement command and strategic functions that for his entire career he had other people taking care of. You know, like an engineer trying to be a CEO... Hahaha! Make that movie, Netflix!

There is not much more I can say about the film because there isn't much there. It's a fun, very fun, action film with a predictable plot and the same logic holes that all films of the genre have. But it's a tiny little bit better, so I liked it and rated it high.
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7/10
A concise walk through Shania Twain's professional career, with some bits that didn't belong
15 August 2022
All I knew of Shania Twain was that when I was a hormonal teen she looked amazing and she teased me with that You Don't Impress Me Much song. I liked her songs, but I would never have considered myself a fan. This documentary starts from her humble beginnings, goes through her explosive years, approaches the great trauma that she experienced immediately after and comes out at the same time as a compilation album from 2022 containing a new track as well.

Is she making a comeback? I don't know. It certainly feels too late, but then again, you never know.

This was a very informative film, although not one that made me feel closer to the person. It was heartbreaking to hear about how Lyme disease derailed her entire life, but after watching the documentary I don't feel I understand Shania more, only that I know a lot more about her. Other than that, it was a good documentary.

I hated the talking heads who were trying to slap their political agenda on Twain's career, even after she herself said she only wanted to express her personality, not enter in some political piss contest. Personally I admire her steadfastness and I do feel like she is a decent human being. She was a true feminist before it was fashionable, and did it leading by example, not by pushing talking points in unrelated conversations. Unfortunately, that's exactly how those few minutes of slap-on social agenda bits feel, completely out of place and annoying as hell.

Bottom line: ignore the talking heads and focus on the story and you will get to admire Shania Twain more.
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Rubikon (2022)
8/10
True sci-fi on a slow burn
14 August 2022
Science fiction is not defined by space battles and transporters, but by simply asking "what if?". Even if the premise is hard to swallow, the point is to go through the thought experiment and see what is on the other side. From this standpoint, this film is almost perfect. It is a European film, with the original European mind set: skilled civilians, trapped in a realistic scenario, trying to go on using their own set of competences and solving problems with science. Reminds me of the great sci-fi literature I was reading when I was a child, before everything became "assemble the team of heroes and punch through the problems".

Unfortunately, the ending almost seems to say that humanity doesn't deserve to survive. All three main characters are incredibly difficult to enjoy. They are all selfish, arrogant people, thinking they know what's best for everyone, while being driven by emotion. People on the ground, of course, are not better in any way. The scene of the end is there just to not leave a bitter taste for the viewers, but I am willing to bet that the original idea did not end happily.

The plot is simple: people stuck on a space station witness the end of the world. Then they make multiple attempts to research the situation and find a solution. Every time they try, something gets in the way, and it's not like in typical movies where some random malfunction adds artificial tension to the story, but it's something personal, something that makes people trained in science and military efficiency to act like pouting toddlers. Yet it's also not easy to believe people would behave any other way, considering the enormous pressure and emotional pain.

We all want to believe we are better people, but when push comes to shove, people rarely reveal extra qualities. I do believe this is the reason for the low rating on IMDb, because it rubs people the wrong way.

Bottom line: a realistic science fiction end of the world eco-thriller, with competent acting, direction and production qualities. And, being realistic, it makes you hate the human race. I liked it.
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Prey (I) (2022)
7/10
Strange mix of great and awful
12 August 2022
I liked the direction, the effects, the design and the lead actress. I even liked the concept. However there was always something small breaking the illusion or grating, just enough so I can't enjoy the scene.

I would have rated this film higher if it weren't for the animal portrayals. In fact, for all portrayals! All native Americans are clean and noble, the French are dirty and disgusting and the animals always make a sound when the camera moves on them. It felt like a book for children to teach animal sounds: the dog goes woof, even if hunting or just sitting around, the wolf goes grrrr, even if he stealthily hunts a rabbit, the hawk goes aaaah, the bear goes roar, even if running. And, BTW, bears run really fast, not like that lazy CGI abomination.

You probably already know that the protagonist is a teenage girl - as is tradition, but what I liked about the film is that she kind of fit the narrative. Yet there were some scenes where she acted like a spoiled brat or like a psychopath or running and jumping after her foot got caught in a bear trap. While her people were engaging the Predator, she just stood and watched, gathering information. Same with the sympathetic Frenchman. That's not how a young girl from an isolated tribe behaves. I like Amber Midthunder, she is beautiful, although in a rather American way, and she was great in the action scenes. Yet when it came the time to emote, she was too much of a blank wall. And I don't blame her, I blame the direction here.

Probably the best character was her brother: loyal, kind, skilled. Kind of like her dog. As for the Predator, I liked the more primitive design, although he pulled his punches at the end, even if until then he killed everything with efficiency and ruthlessness. Especially annoying was the tooth scene. Really?! That's not how anatomy works.

The plot is interesting, but after half of the movie you get all kinds of coincidences and scenes that seem to only exist to propel the story in a specific direction. After escaping a bear attack and seeing the Predator for the first time, the hero meets a party from her tribe (who always appear out of nowhere from offscreen!) who came to find her, then she immediately decides to return to hunt the beast. Why did she leave if she wanted to hunt it?! Then there is the flower that lowers the temperature of the blood. Now that would be great medicine, only it doesn't exist! Nor does it really help the script. It could have been removed from the story and gain some more time for character development.

Another thing that was difficult to buy was how the invisible predator tricked wolves, dogs and bears as well as highly skilled forest hunters. I can believe that in a city or even in a jungle (as long as you stick to the trees), but in the environment where the film takes place, the Predator would have smelled, made sounds and left tracks all over the place. A creature that can lift a bear is heavy, it can't sneak up on you, even if you're blind.

Bottom line: little inconsistencies and a lack of emotional involvement made the film feel either bland or ridiculous at times. And it's too bad, because overall it was a decent film. Like a good quality bathing suit, only beige and with a bit of sand in it in all the wrong places.
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5/10
Boring film misusing cast
12 August 2022
If you expected Gina Carano or Matthias Hues to kick ass or Nick Searcy to act, you will be sorely disappointed. Instead you will get Carano as a mother of two sitting in a lone house waiting for her husband when a band of sadistic ex soldiers come and attempt to capture her. I don't know how military service was back then, but five armed men should have done the job in five minutes. Instead, they try to wiggle themselves into the house, trick the woman, wait her out, convince her, etc.

That's the entire film. It feels more like a really bad date than a western. And poor Hues. How the mighty have fallen...
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1/10
So incredibly bad it broke my rating system
12 August 2022
Usually I reserve one star reviews to things so bad as to be funny. I wanted to rate this 0 stars, though, as in bad as to not be worth being called a film.

Why do they use Lovecraft stories in idiotic student quality movies? Because they are out of copyright. And therefore morally, creatively and financially bankrupt people attach their filth to Lovecraft's name simply because they can.

You can see how Lovecraftian this story is when I tell you the protagonist is a bisexual physics student moving in the attic of a house because some guy was stalking her. She moves around in her underwear, she has sex with a girl in the house, the starts dreaming of dark rituals, there is even a kind of tentacle rape scene in it. The only thing remotely Lovecraft is the rats, which in his works would have inspired loathing and disgust, but in this movie they are just really cute.

The sound is atrocious, the acting really bad, the plot nonsensical, there is no horror (except the gory desecration of Lovecraft's name), the editing is stupid and there is no directing to speak of.

Bottom line: I think the guy just wanted to have sex with young actresses. Avoid this like the plague.
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8/10
A movie about the meaning of intimacy
26 July 2022
This film is about intimacy being different for everybody. Almost completely dialogue driven, it gives a little "sex weirdo" vibe, but uses sex just as a pretext to discuss meaning. Other than that, there is not much I can tell about the film at all. It's just people talking, an early Soderbergh which influenced entire generations of indie film makers and put him on the map.

I mostly liked it, all except the little revenge scene against Peter Gallagher's character who, nasty as he was, was not more or less at fault than any of the others. The scene also didn't bring anything to the story. It was like the director wanted to stick it to someone and perhaps there is something slightly autobiographical in there. I don't know.

Roger Ebert said this movie was more intellectual than emotional and that is it full of eroticism that is verbal only. I have to agree and also say that that's one of the film's greatest strengths. A lost art, almost.

Bottom line: not boring but rather cerebral. It requires a specific mood and no distractions. I liked it.
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8/10
Mumblecore warning! Good, though.
25 July 2022
Even if theoretically the genre was inspired by stuff like Clerks and Before Sunrise, mumblecore is now more of a statement genre, with intentional low production values and improvised dialogue and scenes. So you might forgive people if they don't really like most of it. I didn't even know it existed and if you google this film you will get a lot of watch online pages and very few actually discussing the film. However the film does expose the core (heh!) of the characters through this dialogue driven road movie. You won't learn grand things, instead getting the nitty gritty of personal relationships between ordinary people.

So if you are looking for something light and entertaining, with a classic plot structure, you are going to be disappointed. The characters are nothing special and not even very likeable, the situations they go through are not terribly instructive and the ultimate purpose of the road trip is irrelevant. However, if you are interested in more subtle explorations of human nature, this film might be good for you. My wife loved it, I am somehow on the fence.

Bottom line: watch it if you feel a little experimental and take the time to examine the little details of human interaction. You won't get much else than that from this film.
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Spiderhead (2022)
7/10
An interesting premise, good acting, but a mediocre movie
13 July 2022
Miles Teller again shows he is a very good actor in Spiderhead, where he stars with the always charismatic Chris Hemsworth and a Jurnee Smollett that for once doesn't (completely) play the angry token black woman and is actually quite good in this, too. The premise is also very interesting: an isolated island where mood altering drugs are being tested on inmates in exchange for shorter sentences. The beginning of the film sets this up, together with some interesting characters, then... does absolutely nothing with them.

Instead of exploring the darker implication of drugs that make you afraid, feeling awful, feeling instant lust and love or making you euphoric or forcefully jovial or the tragic nature of a doctor who believes in his project so much that he is willing to cross any lines, we get a formulaic plot of good vs evil, of strong vs weak and a morality lesson that no one asked for. Characters are defined by flashbacks or confessions and then a sudden moment of growth, if they're lucky. So much potential was wasted on this film, that I suspect somewhere along the way some idiot from the studio and their focus groups messed it up. On the other hand, maybe no one actually gave a damn, except the actors and perhaps the director.

Bottom line: an offensively lazy ending for a film that had a lot going for it.
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Julie & Julia (2009)
8/10
What a sweet little film! I loved it.
30 June 2022
I just randomly found this while channel surfing and therefore I did not know what it was about or how good it was supposed to be. So I just watched how the lives of two women from different eras are improved by their love of cooking. There is a certain charm in such transitive stories, where we follow one character, Julie Powell, research another character, Julia Child, and get inspired in their own lives. And while Meryl Streep does a fantastic impersonation of Julia Childs, Amy Adams is just amazing.

A long time ago I had a crush on Amy Adams. I don't even remember in which movie I've seen her in, but I remember I always liked her beauty and cutesy demeanor while also being a very good actress. Well, in this film she blew me away. She is cute as hell while basically reinventing the character of Julie Powell, who let's face it... was not so fun. But the film itself has the charm, the idealized relationships between Julia and her husband (Stanley Tucci at his best when he didn't phone in his work) and Julie and her husband (played by the usually annoying Chris Messina, but who was good AND likeable in this).

Bottom line: a movie made about the writer of a blog about a famous television cook while she was writing her cookbook has no right to be this good. The acting was good, the mood was good, the story was better than the original material and the entire film exuded warmth and an invitation to allow yourself to be passionate.
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9/10
A lost gem with great story and acting
30 June 2022
Oh, 1961! Not a year well known for its science-fiction films, unless you count Nude on the Moon, Mothra or Reptilicus. And yet, in November, this film was released. And until I've watched it on Netflix I hadn't even heard of it. Which is a terrible pity, because it should have been at least remembered, if not revered.

The plot is simple: Nations race on who blows more stuff up and they cause a global disaster by mistake. But unlike the crappy, moralistic, cardboard charactered films that droned on the subject at least two decades later, this film features complex characters, well acted and directed, with well done special effects and using extreme climate videos of the era to paint the scale of the devastation. Instead of a band of survivors after an apocalypse fighting to go on against other people and all other odds, you get a bunch of London newspaper reporters: flawed, human, but dedicated and keeping up with their job in the face of imminent doom, fighting to find out what the government is hiding.

Directed by Val Guest, who also directed another criminally underrated sci-fi: The Quatermass Xperiment, and starring Edward Judd, who does a decent job as the alcoholic reporter who is emotionally scarred by a divorce but rallies on to get to the bottom of things, and Janet Munro, who is not only amazingly beautiful, but has a smart charisma and a way of being that should have propelled her to stardom, even before her regrettably early demise at 38. The story is subtle, slowly increasing the tension from presenting the characters and their interaction to when the world literally starts burning. There is little of the crazy violent overacting of the era, the shouting, the exaggerated gestures. Instead it shows a plausible (well, if you ignore the science) whimpery end of civilization, slowly building from the politicians' "oops, not our fault" to the final "stiff upper lip, we're gonna die" and featuring normal people, doing and feeling normal stuff.

The vague ending is beautifully framed by the two (last?) draft editions of the newspaper. One announcing that the Earth is saved and the other that it is doomed. A really nice film that I warmly recommend.
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8/10
A true sword and sorcery film
29 June 2022
This isn't a good film, but it's great. It has that '80s feel, where every scene, regardless of the budget, was shrouded in adventure and smoke and oiled muscled skin and glorious music. Today's films feel clinical and soulless compared to this.

Conan is hired by a queen to take her daughter and find a sacred jewel that only she can touch then return with both. In return, she would resurrect his dead Valeria. But it's all a scam, in order to resurrect Dagoth instead, an evil world destroying god that she hopes she can control. A party gets created first: the warrior, the thief, the wizard, the princess and the princess guard. Also, Conan's guard, a random black female warrior that swears allegiance to Conan on their way. Together they must complete the quest. This is the heart of sword and sorcery, one can only watch it and enjoy the adventure.

Grace Jones is weird and attractive at the same time, although not much of an actress, while Olivia D'Abo is young and beautiful and perfect for the role of the horny innocent princess that has to remain a virgin. Schwarzenegger had to take center stage in almost every scene, so all of the other actors were kind of just following along. Therefore Mako and Grace Jones and Tracey Walter have almost no roles. A more interesting character was played by Wilt Chamberlain, who I feel had a more complex arc planned, but it got butchered in budgeting and editing.

The acting is amateurish and the production values are low, compared to what we are used to, the script and story fare not much better. However, Richard Fleischer managed to capture the feel that such a movie should have and it is clear that people have worked quite a lot to make this good. I enjoyed the film. It's a simple recipe that it got right: find a quest, create a party, adventure to complete the quest while highlighting each character for their particular skills and showcase the actors' skills, in a story that makes sense. How do so many attempts get it wrong?

Bottom line: Less than Conan the Barbarian (1982) but much better than Conan the Barbarian (2011). If you are in the mood for good old fashioned sword and sorcery fun, this is a film for you.
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Blasted (2022)
6/10
A silly fun action comedy, but have to switch off brain for it
29 June 2022
You've seen this before: a silly comedy about aliens invading some isolated place where quirky people find the tools to repel them. And you've seen comedies that rely almost exclusively on the charm of their stars. The actors were charming and fun enough and the premise amusing. The effects were adequate.

However, it was way too silly and unstructured for me to enjoy. Other commenters have suggested I stop overthinking it and just enjoy it. Well, I am an overthinker, so this film is clearly not for me. Not that it wasn't funny, but I had to skip large portions of it and in the end I just wanted to get it over with.

Bottom line: adequate, but not recommended.
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Spaced Out (1979)
3/10
Might be hilarious if you are drunk enough
28 June 2022
This film is a soft porn British sci-fi comedy. It's really bad, but in a way that might be humorous if in the right state of mind. I can only imagine that the deleted scenes make a much better movie, only it would not make it on Netflix (of all places). The girls are really cute, in that 1970 kind of way, when women were both beautiful and feigning naiveté while wearing pleasing rather than comfortable outfits. Not much more I can say about it, because that's basically it. There is no story that makes any sense, it's just alien beauties having sex with human males.

I wonder how that would play as a modern taking itself seriously movie: a human starship lands on an alien planet, only to discover that they are perfectly matched for intense, although highly unusual, sexual activities with the natives. Oh, they did that already in Alien in the same year!

Bottom line: might be fun, but it's pretty bad.
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3/10
Kevin Hart at his most annoying in a movie with no story
27 June 2022
Was Kevin Hart ever funny? Because I can't remember a single moment when he was. And now he has created this "actor" persona which does the same thing in every movie: talking non stop in a whiny voice and pointing the obvious like it would be amusing. But it's just not.

So in this clone of clones assassin buddy comedy film, Kevin Hart is an annoying idiot and Harrelson is a top notch assassin. And that could have been somewhat interesting, or captivating, or funny, but it just wasn't. The movie was simply awkward, a stain on Woody's career and, worst of all, plain boring.

Avoid this like the plague.
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8/10
A mix of nostalgia, some really funny stuff, but also less funny than I had expected
26 June 2022
How hard must it be to bring a '90s concept to 2022 and make it both relevant and funny? A lot! From that viewpoint, this film is a great achievement. It manages to create a coherent story of time-travel, interdimensional beings, gender studies, social satire and total stupidity. But it's kind of uneven. There are moments that were hilarious, even humorous and jocular, but also some that are clearly contrived, anachronistic or both.

You will probably not understand anything unless you are already a B&B fan. And if you are, the part of you that was amused by imbecilic commentary hiding deep social satire has also moved on in 30 years. For that reason, it is almost impossible to rate this film. Different people will see different things.

Bottom line: might be the best B&B movie so far, but it's come too late. It shows, though, that we still need straight silly humor to instruct our world view.

P. S. The part where Beavis and Butt-head decide everything is permitted to them because they were told they have white privilege was the best part of the show and a hint of what direction future films might take.
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8/10
Fun ride, people had fun, but it feels like a movie version of What If
25 June 2022
Do you remember the more or less misguided What If? Marvel animation series? Well, this film references that and is pretty much a full movie version of it. A lot of characters and alternate characters introduced and at such a terrific pace that they get no development whatsoever, instead they mostly die. But the visuals are well done and I felt like the special CGI effects guys had all the fun! The actors seemed to enjoy acting as well. Also... was Wanda supposed to be so powerful? Why is she always the villain who everyone forgives at the end ?

We get a mix of fun madness and great effects at the expense of a coherent story. Isn't that what a Marvel film always was? The problem is that I can't remember anymore. There were so many movies and I barely remember a few of them. I remember there was a time when people were praising Marvel films for great characters and story, nominated them for Oscars (though mainly for special effects and the likes), but I don't remember which. We already are in the multiverse of madness. Nothing makes sense and we forgot what that even means.

Bottom line: enjoyable ride, but that's all it was. It barely registered as a part of the existing MCU, other than some common characters and many references.

P. S. So tired of the cliché of the grieving mother who is allowed to do anything because she lost her children. If only there was a way to make more! No, let's break the universe instead. Much easier.
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6/10
Very informative, but extremely biased as well, taking away from the experience
12 June 2022
As many reviewers noted, the film has a fantastic start. It explores the inhumane and criminal behavior of the U. S. in the Marshall Islands. If you didn't hate America before, you will now. The documentary portrays a country built upon savagely abusing and dominating other people which they don't even consider human enough. That's the truth, it's history, no argument there, and most of it is propaganda-ed away and slowly washed to protect the image America wants to project. One can get behind that.

However, the rest of the film continues in the same sensationalist way to attack American exceptionalism and disregard for other nations, portrays China as an innocent victim and the U. S. as an imperialist aggressor, filling the Earth with military bases that can only lead to a devastating war. That part is pure propaganda, too, and the quality of the content drops immediately and stays down.

If this would have been a 45 minute documentary about the rape of the Marshall Islands by the U. S., it would have probably won awards. As it is, it feels like a CGTN news item, created by a person who is clearly biased against America. A man can hope, but how wonderful it would have been to make a miniseries in which each episode was so viscerally against the military jingoism of a specific country? Start with the U. S., continue with China, go to the U. K., move to Russia and then down the list. Or to at least make an analysis that views all countries from the same lens. Alas, this documentary is not it.

Bottom line: the first 45 minutes is a must watch. The rest is a waste of time, even if some of the content continues to be highly informative.

I liked the way Japanese and Korean people protest against the military bases that mar their islands. In Romania we can't even protest against log cutting without protesters getting seriously injured and their families threatened. I cannot imagine us protesting against American bases.
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9/10
Full of novel information it shines light on how the world is run. Can't do much about it, though.
8 June 2022
One of the thrills of my childhood was to watch political thrillers, the French ones in particular, because they would be merciless. In the end the hero would die without accomplishing anything more than our entertainment and the death and suffering of everyone he loves. Americans like to finish with a completely unlikely happy ending (pardon the pun), but the gist of it remains the same: there is no way a normal human being can do anything about this.

Now here comes a documentary that gave me kind of the same feeling when I am an adult, describing how the city within a city, hiding in plain sight and dealing in the shadow, controls most of the planet's finances through offshore colonies that are getting too fat to ever want to escape colonialism. And it's not a conspiracy theory documentary, either, it's just facts. Imagine little ants doing a docu about how brazenly elephants walk around the world, smashing ant hills indiscriminately and with impunity and you get the image of what this film is about. But it's extremely informative and frankly explains a lot of the behavior of politicians in countries such as the U. K. and the U. S. as well as the mechanisms that led to the current global crisis.

You see, when you are rich and lazy, you stop producing, you just handle the money like a boss. Or like a bank. Or like old decrepit money. It's called financialization, a new step of evolution for rich countries, moving from industrialization to just shifting money about and stealing, consuming, buying and selling the resources of others. Once the supply chains are disrupted, though, they are as useful as a crusty old lord during a zombie invasion.

Brexit makes sense now, why would a small island want to become even more insular? Because they have the money. Even stuff like the sudden aggression against China are easily explainable now. No one cares what they do to their citizens or who they invade. They do care about becoming an alternative to a virtual and hidden economic system that sustains the great powers. You learn stuff like how Africa has 5 times more resources in anonymous offshore accounts than it has international debt; they are effectively creditors for the world.

Bottom line: a must watch and a good starting point for examining what the world is really about. Also, why you can't do anything about it.
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Knuckledust (2020)
6/10
The Usual Suspects meets John Wick
7 June 2022
Or at least this is what the writer/director was probably dreaming his movie's reviews would sound like. Unfortunately the entire film is derivative and badly made, despite a cast with fantastic potential. Maybe the story is not that terrible, but it was telegraphed since the first few minutes. Then the killeresque stylish mystique, complete with individual quirks, contrived dialogues and complicated rules that don't mean much at the end. It would have been great if it would have been accompanied by good action scenes. Alas, they were shot from odd angles, cut at wrong places and censored for PG-13. This could have been a decent film with better actor direction and good editing.

Bottom line: it's not a terrible film, but it is a failure compared with its goal and considering the untapped potential of the cast. There are other films that merit your attention more.
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8/10
A surprisingly grounded and entertaining film
6 June 2022
The movie is part of a particular genre in which an actor, usually one towards the end of their career, makes a self referential "meta" film in which they are both themselves and characters in fiction. I haven't seen many, probably because they never end up getting made unless they're good. It would be embarrassing to do badly at playing yourself.

This film, though, has more going for it than a redemption story for Cage's personal life or a fun parody of how movies are made. Cage and Pascal, both actors reportedly difficult to work with at times, have immense chemistry together. The introduction of action-based spy intrigues usually hurts films like these, but somehow the beautiful location and the way the two lead actors work off each other is great! The references to other movies, the self deprecation for Cage's misplaced vanity, his daughter's love/hate feelings toward him, even the baddies work just fine.

Bottom line: every time a self referential movie pops up, the marketing machine inundates the web with how funny and meta it is. Usually, this leads to people watching the films, but then feeling underwhelmed by the final result. This film is not a masterpiece, nor is it amazingly ironic or intelligent, but it is a good and very entertaining movie, with actors doing a very good job and a story that is both heartwarming and fun.
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Interceptor (2022)
5/10
A poorly done female led Die Hard clone
6 June 2022
I thought that Elsa Pataky was OK in this film. She was not great, but she did well enough. Luke Bracey as the villain kind of takes the spotlight for charm, too. But that's as much as I can say that is positive about the film. The plot is ludicrous, from the main story to the smallest details that they get so wrong. The acting, other than what I mentioned, is bad. Some characters are completely useless, you see them then they just vanish. The dialogue is clunky. The budget must have been minuscule, too. And producer Chris Hemsworth's cameo in it is pretty much offensive. Not more than the ending, though.

What is it about? A female U. S. captain who speaks English with a heavy Spanish accent is reassigned to a nuke interception station in the middle of the ocean as punishment for metooing a three star general. There she has to pretty much singlehandedly foil an assault by hostile forces that want to nuke the U. S. In the middle, we get to talk about the state of the nation and touch on important things as sexism and red neck racism.

The problem with the film is that, other than the main plot of bad ass woman, fails on every other level. The idea that the continental U. S. is defended by just two stations that can be taken while no one can get to them in time is stupid, but let's roll with it. The idea that one could sink one of the stations at any time, but chooses to burn through two thick steel doors in order to burn the circuits with acid is even dumber, but OK, the guy has a burning fetish. Having not one, but two different ways in the command center other than the door after literally saying that's the only way in an out is indefensible, but having the villains taking those paths in only randomly and ignoring them otherwise is pathetic. And the piece of resistance: having more villains than there are people who are not on a military platform.

Perhaps the worst part is that it touches on some things: the greed that makes people harm themselves, cultism and sexism and racism in the army, the inherent weakness of regular people who are invested in the lives of others. But then it bungles those things up with a redemption story that validates business as usual and relegates the hero to another thankless job that she is, of course, thankful for. And this film is now number 1 on Netflix, which pretty much explains why the company is dying.
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Sully (2016)
9/10
A heartfelt drama, but also exposing some disgusting aspects of our society
1 June 2022
It is no question that the pilot who saved a plane that lost all of its engine trust is a hero. Or is it? After "eyeballing it" and safely putting the plane in the Hudson river, after the euphoria of New York coming together to save the passengers as the plane was sinking, there are numerous inquiries to see what went wrong, as it should, right? Only the seem to focus a lot on Sully's personal life and past, his problems and any possible thing that could have lead to him making any mistake a lot more than on how the system works or why the plane failed.

Clint Eastwood directs this very nicely, with Tom Hanks playing Sully and a very decent supporting task. But we've seen this kind of setup before, for films about real cases, where the "boringness" of real life has to be offset by great directing and acting. It's the depiction of this modern scrutiny that at times approaches a witch hunt that makes the movie difficult to watch. It's a very good film and it makes you feel the stress that our hero goes through. His fight did not end at the end of the crisis, instead it is just beginning and he has to defend against everyone at once.

As a technical person, I was appalled by the entire story. I didn't see the hero (that's a given being that he chose to be a passenger plane pilot), I saw the administrative and bureaucratic hell that Sully is forced to go through. I can't stop thinking that if some of the passengers would have died or the analysis of the wreck would have been less conclusive, the system would have buried Sully as a culprit and not a savior. The real answer is that if the survival of so many people depends on one or two people, then the system is flawed and if you want to scrutinize a person's life you have the responsibility to do it before something bad has a chance to happen, not after the case. But that's not how the movie ends. It's based on real life, remember?

Bottom line: pretty good film for its genre and subject, difficult to watch because the main character goes through hell after saving lives. What does an airliner pilot feel when watching this, though? What about people that planned to become one? Why are we treating our heroes like that?
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