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Kinda dopey but it tried hard
16 March 2019
I like heist and action movies, and this looked gritty, but ultimately failed on some underbaked plot points like the underbaked heist plan. Oscar Isaac carries the preposterous plot like a bag of overweight money, but its main failing point is when they decide to carry too much of the money over the Andes in a helicopter that they knew couldn't handle it... why not stash half of it somewhere in the endless jungle they're hanging out in? Also they had plenty of other places they flew over where they could have stashed it for a few days.

Instead, the "best" end up trudging through failure we all know is going to happen, and end up tossing and stashing most of the money anyway except in a much harder to reach location.

A lot of the decisions made by the team were just dumb, and it's hard to believe these top-level actors weren't cringing through the doomed dialogue and petty bickering like I was. There still could have been a lot of good drama and conflict without these dopey decisions, but maybe we can all blame the guy who bit the dust anyway... so much potential and so much letdown, I'll forget about this movie soon enough.
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Skyline (2010)
I actually liked this movie
4 July 2014
It had a good sci-fi plot (almost old-fashioned), special effects, and a driven story. I liked the idea of being hypnotized by an alien force that makes you sympathize with it and starts controlling you so it can take your brain and absorb you into itself to further its species. That's a way cool concept that does seem right out of the 50's but I don't see those good old-fashioned kinds of concepts that often in many modern sci-fi movies, just a lot of simple plots and explosions and little threat beyond death or dismemberment.

It did languish on some of the hypno-scenes too long and too often though, didn't explore the interplay between characters that were escaping the mind control, the adolescence of some of the characters and their dialog and actions, and the ending seemed a little too fast even though I loved the twist that set it up for a sequel. I wish this had been more popular and I could see that sequel.
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Informant (I) (2012)
Ostracized movie whose point is overlooked
23 January 2014
I think the message of this movie is lost in the left/right side-taking that many viewers will feel the need to take. Above it all is Darby's simple aspirations to help people and do the right thing, which is transcendent to any side and is the side everyone should take.

Unfortunately this makes him a complex character in a world that likes to take sides and trumpet ideals to the detriment of undeserving and unawares people. He did the right thing for Robert King Wilkerson by going back and fighting for his survival, and tried to help people by creating the Common Ground foundation and rebuilding a divided community. His activism was fueled by anger from the neglect of the Federal government's lack of response to the Katrina disaster, and his flair for radical protest was egged on by an ambitious ego that wanted to do more than the average man.

He may have stoked a fire that caused a couple of kids to try to do something violent to make a message, but he did the right thing by trying to stop it. I can't think of one liberal that would be willing to put themselves in one of those cars that could have caught fire and maimed or killed them. While it may be frustrating to try to pin down a guy that seems to be playing both sides, he's really taking the higher road by refusing to be a part of a violent protest and disrupt it.

As negligent and profiteering as the right-wing power is today, harming innocent people and destroying collateral property is not the answer and only strengthen's the power's resolve to suppress it. Brandon was right to fight against the powers-that-be that contributed to the mess in Katrina and other suppressive powers, but he was more right to stand in the way of violent protesters who felt innocent people getting harmed or their property damaged justified the means to the end.

While I feel he hasn't gotten deep enough into the right-wing to see their corruption and the misguided souls (much like the left) of many of their followers, I do believe him when he says his ultimate motivation is to help people and do the right thing, which is evidenced when he left the FBI due to their negligence, and he just may leave his own party when he realizes they can't live up to his two simple ideals of doing the right thing and helping people, which is something we all should be living up to. That's what our common ground should be.
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Beautiful, frustrating, pretentious naval-gazer
29 June 2013
This had a fantastic idea in it... but then languished in interrupted thought and drawn-out emotions. I felt like I was watching a mystery, then a sci-fi, then a relationship drama, then an abstract art film, then an animal rights movie. There was so much disparate communication and cut-scenes I felt like there was supposed to be some kind of narration going on or I was just supposed to "know" and "feel" everything that was happening, like I'm some kind of psychic.

I enjoy a movie that doesn't say everything, that leaves some mystery or lets the mood tell the story, but this felt very pretentious and naval- gazing, like someone that has heavy thoughts but can't put the words together to form a sentence. I felt by the end like the writer didn't have a clear understanding of what he was trying to get at.

The premise is amazing, but I think the writing and directing just couldn't pull it off. There were several moments where there could have been real clarity and a convergence of all of the abstract moments, but this just kind of walked off in a starry-eyed gaze. You can put the pieces together without it being over-exposed, but this was just over- blown and underdone.

By the way, I saw Primer years ago, and I didn't even realize this was made by the same person, but that movie is far better, even though it is much harder to understand. I felt like I got a better story told out of that one even though I don't fully understand it and this one I did understand. I just wanted more story told, in a better way, with less abstract stops and starts that frustrate the flow.

Enjoy it for its beautiful music and scenery (and the actors are great too), but don't expect a consistent movement in the story-telling.
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