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Con Men (2015)
Hold judgement till the end
The film holds audience interest throughout but the depth of the movie is only foreshadowed, not substantiated, until the end. By the end It comes off as smart and original. As a native speaker of American English, I was not able to catch all of the dialogue. I'm sure I missed some details, but not enough to detract from my enjoyment or overall understanding.
Well done, especially well cast
Yes, the movie is well composed and definitely has something to say about how we react to life (i.e., how not to react). But thinking from the actors' POVs is so entertaining in this film. Jodie Foster goes all in on her emotional character with face and tendons ablaze. And Christoph Waltz is always just plain fun to watch and listen to--reminds very loosely of his character in Inglorious Bastards. John Reilly is just right, though he has a bit less to do than the others. Kate Winslet, as well, is the right person for her role, but if there's a fault it's her attempt to portray a buzz. Anyone who bought into the film, though, which is plenty eacy enough to do, could easily miss that. It's a keeper.
Good intentions, vision lacking
The first 20 minutes is as if it were character produced, either for Poppy's documentary or via their computers/phones, etc., which has a Blair Witch effect, but that comes with drawbacks and limitations, so it's mostly abandoned, though the style tries to stay consistent. I'm not sure how a WWI British soldier unexpectedly blown forward in time 100 years would behave, but I'm not sure this Allistair is it (though he fleetingly turns into B. Willis). The only mildly interesting developments that might start to signal some type of meaning is the contrasting attitudes of Poppy and Brandon toward homeless people in general and Allistair specifically, perhaps in contrast with the connection Allistair seems to have with/for his wife. But then the outrageous Monty-Python accent of Sophie unloads a sci-fi package not worthy of anyone suspending their disbelief. And since the characters are all paper thin, the attempt at drama over getting Allistair home feels tired. The payoff for all the choppy, poorly-framed footage we suffered though and whatever sense of authenticity or realism it can muster is in the very last, over-before-you-know-it-scene. I won't give it away, but it wouldn't matter if I did.
Fascinating and tempting, but not always tasty
There's a decadent fantasy here and the audience might just want to relate or vicariously share the main character's enjoyment of his power. And the film is also just original and quirky enough that I was tempted to go up to eight stars. However, it's also a bit messy and at times unsavory and, well, just isn't going for eight starts. It set out to be a full-value, I-am-what-I-am, dirty-secret seven.
Hooks brain and emotions
I'm all into movies where some part of reality gets altered or tweaked and while it's been some time since I've seen ARQ I had to come back and review it because this is one of few in that line that doesn't just mess with the head, but also has the tension and, well, story arc like that of any good movie. It's well worth the watch.
If time travel movies are your thing, that makes this a must-watch
I almost exclusively review time travel or otherwise tripped out sci-fi and this is one of my favs in that vein, but about all I can say is watch it. It's fascinating. It's also fascinating to follow up the viewing with fan diagrams of the plot(s).
The Frame (2014)
Composed and worthwhile
While ideas of God or fate may come up, I latch onto the film's address of the controls we necessarily allow to crop our lives. While we watch the character's emotional journeys, the audience's experience is purely intellectual, which is the main limitation of the film. The relationship element of the movie seems more a vehicle for the story than the center, so I'm glad they kept to their real purpose by not including mushy stuff that would have muddled everything. It's about freedom of the self not being fulfilled by others. One other criticism, personally, is that I find it moves rather slow and the scenes of literally fighting the frame seem a bit gimmicky.
Altered Hours (2016)
Decent Idea, Terrible Execution
Positive reviews for this film are forgiving and I think based mostly on concepts only pointed at by the film, not actually realized. Yes, the premise is great, but the impetus of the movie shifts and the acting is spotty at best. I don't mind having to figure things out as I go--that can be the appeal of a film--but the cast and crew seemed to also be developing their vision as they filmed. Most important is that the co-star's character is sorely underdeveloped given the crusader she emerges as in the end. They recall bits of the movie that were to have foreshadowed this, but the effect flops. Somewhat similarly, the main character's motive for using Z has to be stated explicitly at the end. While it makes total sense with the movie content, he's too much of a mystery otherwise to triangulate/confirm. What's less of an issue, but still sticks out is the poor acting of the inexplicable villain and the absurdly, grotesquely incompetent acting of the detective. It's probably not all the fault of the actor, though, as no one seemed to have a clue what was or was not supposed to be driving the film, which also contributed to the empty acting and tedium.