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Get Smart, Again! (1989)
Almost missed it by that much
Get Smart was a remarkable sitcom. Don Adams' humor and charisma charmed me into watching the series from episode one and on through the five seasons. It was one of the first spoof comedies and you can totally see the influence of that show on Airplane, Police Squad, Hot Shots and Scary Movie to name a few. But I almost missed this great send-off having troubles finding it. I found the 1995 revival series first which was a total disaster and I started to feel a bit worried that this movie might not catch up to my expectations but then I finally found Get Smart, Again! and I can say with certainty that I was loving every minute of it. All of the main characters are here (except for the character of Chief played by Edward Platt who passed away) and their chemistry is still there. Sure, the humor is no longer new and at times a bit stale but not less funny that's for sure. The plot is super childish but once you remember what kind of a show it was in the first place you realize you're enjoing the movie anyway. It was great to see the adventures of Max, 99 & Co. once again for the last time. Would you believe I really liked this movie? Well I did. A good and proper ending to the series.
Dog Years (2017)
A wonderful send-off for Burt
I have never been a fan of Burt Reynolds, I couldn't even tell one movie he has starred in off the top of my head. Since childhood I heard this name but was never eager to see any of his movies for some reason. Right until this movie came along; after this one I am sure I'd check out his earlier works.
"The last movie star" is I guess in a way autobiographical story of Reynolds himself, an aging ex-Hollywood star who made a lot of bad decisions in his days and now is forgotten by everyone except for a small group of die-hard fans of his. I don't know how much true it was in relation to his own life but he made me firmly believe his character's feelings, emotions and actions. Started out as a comedy (with the big help of Chavy Chase's inclusion in the movie) it unexpectedly turned into a drama and I could not have been more pleased with it. Burt is acting his heart out (I loved the scenes where he was cut into his older movies and got to "talk to himself" especially) and so is his partner, Ariel Winter. In fact, all of the supporting actors played strongly. This movie has made me think of how do we spend our lives every single day, how often do we look back on the past regretting the things we've done or haven't done, the things we should or could have done, how much more beautiful or good it was back then and how do we forget that we are living now. Right now is all we have and if we don't realize that we'll be forever stuck in the past missing out all the fun that is happening right in front of our eyes right the very moment. Great movie and I would totally watch it again!
Bergman's Crisis is a solid debut
I'm not a big fan of Bergman's directorial style but his "Wild Strawberries" I adore with all my heart which was a good enough reason for me to get acquainted with his filmography more closely. After watching a couple of uninteresting and weird movies of his I was beginning to lose hope and that's when I decided to dive into his early stuff and start with his debut body of work.
1946's "Crisis" shows only a hint of a future genius of Ingmar as a great playwright and a director. And precisely his remarkable script makes you want to stick with the movie for a while. It tells a story of fallen angels with their demons inside and how just one person can influence so many lives, make them do the things they don't want to do, lie and deceive and remain a human being after all. "Crisis" is a dark and psychological drama where there isn't any character you can really relate to or sympathize with but the plot and its characters will lead you to the ending with your mouth open. This is a good movie that stood the test of time and even 70 years later looks fresh, a bit too theatrical at times but this is Bergman we are talking about.
Creed II (2018)
Straightforward Rocky IV sequel
I didn't enjoy the first Creed as much as any of "Rocky" movies but still it was very heart-warming to see some of the actors from previous installments return to their past characters. I hate to say it but the nostalgia was the only thing keeping me interested throughout the movie: return of Ivan Drago, this time with his son trying to take away Balboa and Creed's fame, was a great move but it didn't bring anything new to the sequel; in fact, if it wasn't named Creed II it could have easily been Rocky VII because it felt too much like the fourth part all the way - the same plotlines, the same character development, even the same locations and movie structure in general. The dialogues are also trying way too hard to be meaningful but in reality are plain dull and pseudophilosophical because we've already had the same problems and the same dilemmas in Rocky IV. And in the end we're left with a couple of well-choreographed fight scenes (as usual) and tons of nostalgia: especially when seeing the characters of Brigitte Nielsen and Milo Ventimiglia, sadly only in cameos. The most touching moment for me was Dragos' send-off, the only characters who really had some growth in development. In short, Creed II works perfectly if you haven't seen Rocky IV; it adds nothing new to the franchise but makes it a very pleasant watch nonetheless.
Double Harness (1933)
Love is no business
Some movies are bound to be watched once. When the story is all too familiar or the heroes are one-dimensional or there are too many characters that you can't even tell one from the other by the end of the movie let alone name them - that's when you realize you have just watched a motion picture you never want to get back to. Sadly this is one of them.
"Double Harness" is a fine movie, no more and no less to say about it. The whole plot revolves around the couple of Ann Harding and William Powell who both played beautifully but couldn't come out of the shelves of thin characters they portrayed. An inveterate bachelor who's being tricked into marrying a nice girl who loves him so much in hope that he will too someday - doesn't it sound too good to be true? Along with feeble plot there are a lot of supporting characters who do absolutely nothing to the story to develop it into something bigger and in the end we are left feeling disenchanted. Just what we thought was going to happen at the end happens and in between there are talks about marriage being a business and you can only be successful at it if you're in it without feelings. Not a very bright idea, isn't it?
May this be a beginning of a new genre?
"Searching" is a unique movie, shot completely with webcams, facetime cams, fake live footage cams etc. As soon as I started watching I immediately reminisced on "Web Therapy", a TV show from a couple of years ago starring Lisa Kudrow that was also shot entirely with web cameras. And I remember how hard it was to adjust to this new kind of way of showing what's going on. But this time I was prepared.
I liked the movie. Not only the storytelling way but also its non-trivial plot which gives a few head scratches and twists here and there. The visuals make you believe the plot is really happening online and I couldn't help but wondering about an incredible amount of work that was put into this movie to be made. What I wasn't fully impressed with was the acting. John Cho wasn't able to pull my strings and pick up the right chord so I was left unsatisfied with his performance. He is simply not convincing at all in his role. Same goes to pretty much every actor and actress who were involved - just wooden, strained and unemotional performances. While watching I kept checking the time and waited for the final resolution of the problem. A solid movie but a one-timer.
Thousands Cheer (1943)
A great deal of stars didn't do a great deal of help to this movie
"Thousands Cheer" was made in 1943 when the second world war was at its peak. Battles came one after the other, people died in millions and MGM executives decided to make a movie to cheer everyone up. And they were succesful in it. But they forgot one simple detail: that a movie should not only be entertaining but also meaningful.
Kathryn Grayson is a fine operatic singer but she is merely a decent actress (her next movie, Anchors Aweigh, would show all her talents in full) and you can see that she tries so hard to be as good as Gene Kelly but she falls way behind him. Whereas Gene is as charming and remarkable as ever; although I am disappointed he hasn't been given enough time to shine - he performs only one dance number and for a movie having him as a main character it is just a crime - he still manages to fire up this dance with his partner, a mop, to a new level of entertainment. In every movie Gene always tries something different and I adore his genius for it.
But the most disappointing part of the movie are the guest stars. Over 30 MGM actors and musicians were invited to do their routines and it takes almost 40 minutes of runtime. It slows down the plot considerably and is simply dull and unnecessary. Could have cut it and the movie would become a masterpiece. But sadly it didn't happen.
The Majestic (2001)
An underrated gem from Jim Carrey
I have to begin by saying I like Jim Carrey; not a superfan but not too critical too. His comedic roles are almost always brilliant (Mask, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty are among my favorites) but he also established himself as a pretty good dramatic actor with The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And it's really a mystery to me how could The Majestic be lost in between those great dramatic performances of his.
You could say this movie is too long, running at around 2,5 hours, but so what? Remember who is the director and everything will fall into place. Frank Darabont could not have made a simple story and no simple story lasts a minute. It wraps up every storyline, and every character grows out of his/her shell by the end of the movie. It is a touching, kind and I should say very "old hollywood" story (considering that the plot takes place in the 1950s), not in the way of telling a story but in the way of what is being shown to us. A man who reevaluates everything he has known before by living a life of another man and by doing so unintendedly changing himself into a better human being - that's the story I would want to see. And I would want you all go and see it.
The Cotton Club (1984)
Elegant but empty
The minute I saw the name Francis Ford Coppola in the "directed by" I thought to myself: this is ought to be good. Maybe my expectations got a little high because of that but I couldn't thoroughly enjoy the movie.
"The Cotton Club" consists of two kinds of actors - those who act their hearts out and those who are just there. Richard Gere's character is sadly one of the latter. His name is the first to appear on the screen but throughout the whole movie he doesn't show any specific reasons why; he doesn't lead the movie, the plot doesn't fully revolve around him and he does nothing to move the plot either. And about the plot - where is one? What was the idea of the movie? You showed us America in its late 20s and early 30s, good colorful picture, brilliant music, beautifully choreographed dance numbers, terrific performance of the duo of Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne, but also the thinnest plot that Mr Coppola had to offer. Pretty much every character is cartoonish and has no development whatsover. Disappointed.
I'll tell you this - if you want to see a movie filled with jazz music, mobsters and the scent of the 1920s you'll love this one. And me? I'll look for something more meaningful than a nice picture.
The only winning move is not to watch the movie
WarGames is a product of its time. Back in the 80s when there was a menace of a nuclear war between the two biggest countries in the world it was relevant. And still is. We are being taught that since day one: don't play with fire, you are going to burn your fingers. The end result of having lots of weaponry is the same, only much more fingers are in danger. That's what makes this movie a skippable one.
It's nothing extraordinary there, nothing that can shake your vision or change your way of thinking because we all already know the moral of the story.
Matthew Broderick gives a fine performance though. His realization that the world might be coming to an end any minute and his starting to regret all the things he wanted to do or hadn't done is priceless. Live in a moment, don't wait for too long before it's too late; that's the things you could have taken out of the movie but the thing is - we already know them too.
I enjoyed this movie. But sadly not as much as I could have enjoyed it if I didn't know the outcome from the very beginning.
Anna Karenina (1935)
Garbo's weakest performance
To begin with I have to admit that I'd never read any of the classics by Leo Tolstoy. Back in high school I tried to touch upon "War and peace" but after three chapters I got bored and gave it up. I guess the classic literature is just not what I like. But I can't say the same about classic cinema.
This adaptation of Anna Karenina is way better than 1948's version starring Vivien Leigh as Anna and wins almost in every way except for the most important part - Anna herself, played by Greta Garbo. Watching her on screen is like watching a fly buzzing and swirming around your apartment and making you nervous and losing your temper. Don't take it the wrong way, Greta is a beautiful actress and I loved her in "Grand Hotel" and "Ninotschka" (where she also played a Russian) but this time it just didn't click. I don't know if it's the great burden of a classic and beloved character but I couldn't enjoy her performance in full because of her overly dramatic performances.
In contrast to her, Fredric March was an absolute gem. His performance brightens the picture and makes his scenes with Garbo bearable to watch. Basil Rathbone's character was a stunning one to watch right until I came to realization that his Karenin was supposed to be russian and Basil, being English, played him a bit too English. But all in all every charachter and every set piece, every detail (from the look of the train to music to the russian signs) was picturesque and pleasantly beautiful. I loved the movie but because of Garbo's underperformance I'll give it 8/10.
Kakushi-toride no san-akunin (1958)
Kurosawa strikes back
With each Akira Kurosawa's movie I'm beginning to love and cherish the japanese cinema. Seven Samurai was a milestone, no doubt, but The Hidden Fortress is completely different. It's got more comedy thanks to the characters of Chiaki and Fujiwara who play a couple of peasants ready to do anything for a piece of gold. They're the main reason why I liked this movie so much; their duo and their chemistry is undeniably attractive and you just can't get enough of their fooling around. Toshiro Mifune (the one I liked the most in Seven Samurai) plays here a somewhat different character, a tough and loyal general who can easily give up his life for his princess. All of the main cast are amazing and there's nothing to discuss here.
The cinematography is as fine as ever, the dialogues are over the top, the fight scenes are a bit flat and they lack action, the antagonists are dumb and their actions are far-fetched but all in all this is an incredible movie with lots of laughs and the plot that keeps you interested until the very end.
The Sisters Brothers (2018)
Those with loaded guns shoot once
I didn't know what to expect from this movie. With time I learnt to see only one thing in the trailer: eagerness. My eagerness to see the movie or simply skip it. And as you can see I didn't skip on this one.
The Sisters Brothers isn't flawless. It has its good and even great moments: wonderful music, brilliant costumes and set pieces, marvellous cinematography (especially the long shots), phenomenal shootout scenes and naturally the main characters played by John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, they all make this movie a very enjoyable ride but sadly the one you'd take only once.
The main reason for this movie to not hit the mark (in my opinion) is the way it goes. Interesting scenes go side by side with fillers and it just loses it narrative. You can easily cut all of the scenes including Jake Gyllenhaal's character (who's very weakly developed anyway) and you will only win by cutting the runtime down to 100 minutes.
I liked The Sisters Brothers because it's full of different genres which makes it so versatile and fresh. But it also contains one of my most hated things in cinema as well - unnecesary and ill-developed characters, that's why it's a 7/10.
The Predator (2018)
Predator. The legacy.
I was waiting for this movie a long time. And you know what? It didn't disappoint me.
Predator with Arnold is a classic. Not debatable. Predator 2 with Danny Glover is a nice follow-up, with a change of place, its own, a bit darker tone and the main protagonist who's "lethal weapon" enough to stay with Arnie side by side. Time tested - passed successfully. Predators with Adrien Brody is a different beast, digging deeper and expanding the Predator universe, not changing the main core of the movie. A worthy successor to carry on the legacy. But what is The Predator? I'll tell you.
If you are a fan of Shane Black's work - you will love this one as well. If you are a fan of the Predator - there it might get tricky. I'm a big fan of this movie and as soon as I went out of the cinema I thought to myself: it is back! I surely have got some questions but it is back... and awesome! After watching it tonight again I still think so.
The Predator isn't trying to be what it isn't. It's still an action flick we all remember since day one, only this time it is a lot darker than all of the previous entries and with more jokes than you would expect from this kind of movie but it is absolutely not making it a bad movie. It's like that arrogant and overly pompous know-it-all older brother of yours - you can't stand his stupidity from time to time but you love him just the same because he's close to your heart.
So, what is The Predator? By the looks of things it is going to be the last entry in the franchise, sadly. But it is a grand one.
I've been upgraded
Personally, I never look up how much budget did the filmmakers have before watching the movie. But after seeing this one I was totally stunned that on only 5 millions they'd done so much more than all of those 100+ million dollar blockbusters could ever hope for.
Nearly everything except the plot is perfect in this movie and, to tell you the truth, the story isn't supposed to be original anymore. Yes, we've seen this plot a thousand times, when machines take over humans and terminate all the best and worst in us, blah blah blah. But as long as the story brings something new to the table, something that makes you think - that's when the movie becomes not "just another one" but a great one. And "Upgrade" made me think of a lot of things.
Cinematography and special effects are all well done (you do not see the budget limitations whatsoever); fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed using camera angles that I've never seen before (well, maybe something of a kind was in "Matrix" but it does the movie even more justice); Logan Marshall-Green is a gem in this one too. Simon Maiden as the voice of STEM makes wonders as well having reminded me of HAL-9000. This movie took the best from many great sci-fi masterpieces by upgrading their ideas and in doing so put itself on the same shelf with them. I didn't expect it to be this good but it is!
Least menacing than the rest of Universal's monsters
This is a good movie but with its flaws. First, the advantages.
The creature's design is beyond masterful; I can imagine how many hours must the actors have spent to get into the suit, let alone move and swim in it. The underwater scenes which are like one fifth of the whole movie are just marvellous; minimum of music and maximum of surrounding sounds makes it even greater experience. The music itself is pretty terrifying and at times you catch yourself scared just because of the music. The actors are doing their best, despite being almost unknown to me, everyone from the main cast, except for Julie Adams who is just there and tries to act like scared but it all goes in vain for a viewer. That brings us to the disadvantages.
The plot is thinner that a sheet of paper. If you put King Kong under water and make it an amphibian no one will notice the difference. Characters with no or minimum back story that we just couldn't care less about them especially Ms Adams' heroine who is so annoying at times with her slow reflexes to shout that are so unnecessary actually. And the main "antagonist", the gill-man, I wish could have been more menacing than it turned out to be.
All in all, this is a no time-waster. But no masterpiece as well.
I cannot believe Rowling herself is behind this
First up, I didn't have any high hopes about the movie. The first one was kind of ok, not superboring but original enough to make me go watch the sequel. And boy, what a blow it is.
No character development whatsoever, messy plot with too many questions raised than answered. Yeah, I know, it's building up for more sequels but 130 minutes of exposition is a bit too much. Literally nothing happens in a movie except for the last 10 minutes which is like the most disappointing minutes in the whole movie which up to that point I could've described as slightly enjoyable and then it took and ruined everything with a twist that I, as a huge Potterhead, took as a spit in the face. A twist in the sake of a twist - no, thank you. I cannot believe J.K. had written it.
I could've closed my eyes on many things that don't add up in this movie but after this revelation at the end I think I will just skip on the sequels. Rowling had better read her own books once again and I advise you to do the same - much more entertaining.
Invaders from Mars (1953)
Just another B-grade sci-fi flick
If you are a fan of such great movies as "The Thing from another world" or "War of the worlds" (1953) do not bother to watch this. The plot is non-existent, the aliens are laughable, the characters have no names or identities, the music is at times compeletely unsuitable, some scenes are overly long (despite its 78 minutes runtime) and this ending like it was just a dream - what a lazy writing. The only thing I liked is that the actors at least try to act like they really care about what's going on and especially the kid played by Jimmy Hunt. But all in all it's a bad movie about invasion from out of space because there wasn't one. If you want to see a good movie about invasion, go watch "Invasion of the body snatchers" (1956) - this one is really exciting!
Last Woman on Earth (1960)
Shoulda coulda woulda
Very rarely you can find a hidden gem in a B-movie. This is not the case. The plot should have been an extraordinary adventure through the new world where everybody's gone besides the three main characters. So many opportunities to grow, so many roads to take but they didn't take any. The actors are doing the best they can but only the main protagonist (let's call him that) Harold is showing some kind of strength in his performance, the other two - eh. The movie is poorly edited, colorized, directed and is way too short. They could have done so much better with the setting and the plot but they decided to lay on the beach and beat around the bush bringing absolutely nothing to the plot since its first establishment in the first 20-30 minutes of the movie. All in all this is an average motion picture but it really makes you think what would you have done if were you there and if you were one of the characters. Pity though that "Last woman on Earth" is just too shallow to give these questions a variety of answers.
Shichinin no samurai (1954)
Reviewing classics is like reviewing the invention of the wheel. The most important thing is that the invention has overgrown its inventor and has become much more than "just another wheel" or probably the beginning of something great.
Seven Samurai was my first movie from the filmography of this wonderful japanese director and I can say only one bad thing about - it's long. Unbearably long. Don't take this the wrong way, I like when the movie pushes boundaries of running time and shows you the greatest story that you enjoy watching every second. Gone with the wind. Ben-Hur. Lawrence of Arabia. Even the silent ones, Dr. Mabuse and Die Nibelungen (which both are over 4 hours) have got that something that glues you to your seat until the very end. It's the story. The story that doesn't allow you to leave for a second. Sadly it's not the case with Seven Samurai. Maybe because the story itself isn't that exciting and the plot is very simple so you can easily skip some scenes, delete an hour of running time and it will be perfect. A masterpiece. And again, don't take this the wrong way, this movie is a masterpiece. The characters (especially Kikuchiyo), music, cinematography, editing, locations; everything was superb. Except for the fact that you could easily fall asleep starting 35 min mark running time.
A must watch for true fans of cinema as an art.
127 Hours (2010)
This otherwise good movie is painful to watch. I liked the hallucination scenes the most and I know they were supposed to show us all that was going on in a trapped person's mind but it's so darn long. Only 90 minutes of runtime but the movie itself feels like eternity. Never liked Danny Boyle and I guess I never will. But James Franco has got that magical delight about him I want to believe and taking in consideration the story is as true as can be makes it so amazing to watch. But just once.
A must watch for all Gattaca fans
Great writer/director Andrew Niccol has made another cult classic. I only hope it won't take 20 years for people to start appreciating it as much as they do his other child now, Gattaca from 1997.
He's got something about identity and how to steal and use it for someone's sake, I have to say. It comes as no surprise nowadays that we are all under surveillance and no one has private lives and that's what I like the most about Anon: it may be shown as future but it's actually our present, the way we live, only a bit fancier and technologically more resourceful. Visuals are over the top, main characters are believable (maybe a tiny bit of drama would have been more enjoyable but I like it the way it is anyway), music is minimum and the picture isn't as bright as we'd have wanted it to be but it doesn't spoil the movie and makes it an astonishingly good ride. I would totally watch it again and recommend.
The Shape of Water (2017)
No more Del Toro
To begin with I have to say that this movie is a walking and talking cliche of a so called Oscar-bait movie and what do you know - it's got some. So did we but it wasn't pleasant.
This movie should be taught in film school under subject "How NOT to make a movie". But everything in order. I'll start with positive aspects, of which I could have found just three: the acting, it's outstanding; music which is superb and Octavia Spencer who was the only one who didn't arritate so much. The rest though....
As I said earlier this movie was destined to win an Oscar from the very beginning. How could it not have won? It's got every possible kind of person who you can oppress: a mute woman, a black overweight woman, an old gay man, an extraterrestrial with a chain on his neck, bad russians. Everyone is this movie is being oppressed by the big boss - "the bad guy" who was portrayed mostly by Michael Shannon. He was not irritating in the first half of the movie but then it went straight downhill. Motivation? Never heard of it. Why am I so bad, you say? Because the plot says so. Six minutes of the movie and you're already know what you're going to get it the end, but I gave it a chance and regreted it. Worst best picture ever.
So much of a wiretapper
Story is not superoriginal but exciting to watch anyway. Bill Williams is at his best performance so far (I've watched six movies with him already), very talented actor. Disappointed with the ending though, been expecting somewhat more realistic outcome, that's why 8/10. Worth watching for everybody who loves drama!