Iro's One Movie a Day Thread

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Although there are a few people here who will agree with you, I just thought I'd mention that I believe that almost every one of Woody Allen's movies is better than Inherent Vice. The fact that you believe the opposite and approach your reviews accordingly makes me appreciate your reviews less than I remembered. I know you don't review movies for me, but we seemed to agree more often than not before, but now we're quite far apart, and the glee you seem to get from tearing down Woody and some others lately makes no sense to me when I read your even-handed review of, say, Patton. Well, it's probably no biggie to either of us, but it's worth mentioning.
"Belief" is a strong word in this context. Given Allen's near-universal acclaim, I think I should keep giving him chance after chance to impress me, though maybe that baggage is what ultimately stops me from even remotely appreciating any of his films. PTA is inconsistent (I think Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love are overrated while also thinking The Master is pretty underwhelming) but at least that means I don't get my hopes up. I knew Inherent Vice would be a mess of a movie when I went in, but it was a well-made mess and reasonably entertaining so I ultimately liked it (though it might end up dropping to
at some point).

Midnight in Paris, on the other hand, wasted its premise with a lot of glaring flaws in its narrative and characters that ruined whatever charm it might have held. The best parts tend to make the film come across as an arthouse version of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (the whole sub-plot where Wilson tries to get help with his novel from famous authors does sound an awful lot like Bill and Ted kidnapping famous people in order to do their history homework, after all). I tear down (or at least shrug off) a lot of movies in this thread - even though I technically liked Edge of Tomorrow, my review did hint at a lot of logical inconsistencies that I could have addressed if I thought they were especially glaring and sufficiently ruined the movie. The same can't really be said of Midnight in Paris.

As for Patton, well, it has the baggage of being a Best Picture winner and being a Best Picture winner hasn't stopped me from criticising the hell out of a film anyway. Patton got an even-handed review because that's what kind of film it is - a very straightforward film that presents its protagonist as he is without leaning too far towards approval or condemnation of his actions. In that same context, I'd consider Midnight in Paris an outright failure, but you can't remotely compare these two films anyway.
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Man, that was a lot reading to catch up on. I continue to be impressed by your commitment to this thread, not just the amount of films you're watching, but the fact that you haven't slacked off with your reviews. I barely watch half the number of films you do, yet I still have a hard time motivating myself to write about them. I admire your articulacy, as well as your vocabulary. I just wish you approached each review with more of a "glass half full" attitude. I'd also like to see you string together more than two reviews without using the terms "trope" or "archetype."

Anyways, way too many films for me to comment on. None of your recent harsh ratings struck me as particularly blasphemous. I enjoyed reading your review for The Zero Theorem, which is a movie I'm very intrigued to see. I'm not exactly a fan of Gilliam, but his films are always interesting.
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#153 - In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai, 2000



In 1960s Hong Kong, a husband and wife from two different married couples gradually develop a strong emotional bond.

In the Mood for Love has been on my to-do list for a long time. I've generally been pleased with all the Kar-wai films I've seen so far (The Grandmaster is the closest I've seen to a dud and even then it's still fairly good), so of course I had high expectations for this, which rather predictably involves another romantic story given Kar-wai's eye for detail and subtlety. Though the film does feature a considerable amount of cast members, it really is all about Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as the two leads. Like many of his roles, Leung is soft-spoken yet charming when he's not dealing with various irritations, while Cheung's polite friendliness manages to mask a growing sense of discontent with her busy life. Both characters are married to spouses that aren't present in both the literal or figurative sense (to the point where any scenes involving either of them involve them appearing offscreen or out of focus, which I thought was an interesting touch). Director of photography and frequent Kar-wai collaborator Christopher Doyle captures the elaborate 1960s setting with lurid camerawork that varies between static shots and subtle movements in such a manner that best conveys the various tensions between the characters. Though the score is probably a bit too repetitive for its own good - Kar-wai frequently reuses the same instrumental score with the occasional era-appropriate song thrown in for variety - one could make the case that it allows the mood to build each time it's re-introduced.

While I don't necessarily think it's going to become my favourite Kar-wai film in a hurry, and it's also hard not to spot instances where he repeats himself for the worse (there's at least one scene that struck me as a less impressive variation on a rather powerful scene from Happy Together), In the Mood for Love is still a solid film. Though I obviously didn't go in expecting a happy ending, the film still proves gripping enough that I was genuinely curious as to how exactly it would conclude. It is anchored by a pair of great leads and, though the apparent lack of a concrete script does show at times, it's still a compelling romantic tale.




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#154 - Big Hero 6
Don Hall and Chris Williams, 2014



A teenaged genius who specialises in building robots joins his older brother's team of inventors.

Big Hero 6 is decent enough as far as modern Disney films go. Granted, it takes a bit of effort to suspend disbelief in some ways - I can buy a teenage boy being capable of complex robotic design but the film's setting being a combination of San Francisco and Tokyo that is imaginatively titled San Fransokyo is a bit too ridiculous. It hits a lot of the usual narrative beats of a Disney film as well - protagonist with a tragic backstory, scene-stealing comic relief, supporting cast full of broadly-drawn and colourful characters, elaborate action sequences, getting really dramatic at the end of the second act - it's all here. However, the inconsistency of the pacing is a little troublesome. The first act is good, moving things along at a brisk pace before ending in a somewhat surprising development. The second act, on the other hand, turns the film into a mystery that isn't all that interesting on its own but at least it provides the chance to show off our heroes getting into all sorts of comical mishaps in the process. The third act, well, given that this is a film based off a Marvel property about a handful of misfit superheroes you can probably guess how the ending is going to play out. It's a superhero movie, so you're not really getting any major surprises when it comes to the plotting.

Fortunately, the film compensates for its familiar narrative reasonably well. The show is naturally stolen by Baymax, the inflatable healthcare robot who is clearly a graduate of Lt. Cmdr. Data's School for Highly Efficient Yet Comically Serious Artificial Life Forms. Other characters are decent enough - protagonist Hiro (heh) effectively conveys a wide range of adolescent emotions, while the ragtag group of students make the most of their limited characterisations. The film looks as vibrant and smooth as you'd expect a Disney production to look, though the action scenes vary in terms of excitement (the car chase halfway through the film is rather underwhelming, though things naturally pick up a bit from there). There are no big surprises when it comes to Big Hero 6, but the film itself shows that such a fact is not necessarily a condemnation of a film. It's well-made in just about every other regard, but at its most fundamental it's merely an alright film, and if you're okay with that, then you'll be okay with this film.




I recorded and started watching In The Mood For Love the other day, but I had to go out for something, I can't remember what. I'll get back in this thread once I finish it, it'll be the first film for me from the director.
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I've also seen Chungking Express, Happy Together and The Grandmaster. The Grandmaster is probably the "worst" of the bunch, but it's still about a
with some interesting visuals even if the plot and characterisation aren't all that great. Chungking Express is his break-through and a solid enough film in spite of it being two barely-connected stories. Happy Together is probably the most emotionally potent of all the films I've seen and I have trouble deciding whether or not to cite it or Chungking Express as my favourite Kar-wai.



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Inherent Vice is soooo boring.
*shrug* It wasn't perfect by a long shot, but I'd like to know what you thought was so boring about it.



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#155 - How to Train Your Dragon
Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, 2010



In a world where Vikings are constantly at war with dragons, the misfit son of a village chieftain captures a dragon instead of killing it and instead begins to train it.

I had high hopes for How to Train Your Dragon. Supposedly the film that marked DreamWorks Animation moving away from the lightweight absurdity of films like Bee Movie and Shark Tale into more creatively mature territory and being somewhere on par with the best of Pixar, it made sense that I would expect this to be amazing. Of course, high expectations are nothing if not difficult to fulfil, and How to Train Your Dragon, good film though it was, didn't quite match my expectations. I guess a lot of that is due to its all-too-familiar core narrative about an unlikely hero doing something completely different to the rest of his peers and driving the conflict as a result. I know I shouldn't expect anything too complex from a family film like this one, but this narrative in particular has been in a lot of the major animated films recently and it's distracting how, for all the visual flair and whatnot on display, DreamWorks and even Pixar have been reusing it without much in the way of interesting variation. It doesn't necessarily mean the film as a whole is bad, but it definitely puts extra pressure on the rest of the film to deliver.

Fortunately, How to Train Your Dragon does deliver in virtually every other regard. The characters are decent enough in terms of development and animation, though none of them are quite as funny as I'd hoped they would be. It was a pleasant surprise to see the credits and note that Roger Deakins served as a visual consultant because the film looks as good as virtually any live-action film he's shot. The animation is nice and fluid and both the settings and characters are well-realised. Though I wasn't as amazed by the film as I thought I would be, I still thought it was a decent film that realised a sufficient amount of its considerable potential.




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#156 - How to Train Your Dragon 2
Dean DeBlois, 2014



The heroes from the first film, having now learned to train dragons, are forced to do battle against an evil warlord who wants to enslave dragons.

One of the best things about the original How to Train Your Dragon is how it built up such an interesting concept and fleshed it out considerably, but still left enough untapped potential to be better realised in a continuation. There's been a spin-off television series, sure, but there was definitely enough there for a proper cinematic sequel. As a result, How to Train Your Dragon 2 delivers a film that is roughly on par with its predecessor, even if it isn't necessarily an amazing film in its own right. With the origin story now firmly out of the way, the series takes the next logical step - the introduction of a villain who serves as an antithesis to the hero. There are also some new developments that may or may not constitute spoilers and cause some inconsistencies within the context of the original film, but they are balanced out by the more interesting plot of this film.

In just about every other regard, it's pretty much the same as its predecessor. The characters have evolved a bit and are either still going through the same arc or have picked up new ones for better or worse (a handful of supporting characters end up in rather one-sided romantic sub-plots, for instance, while Hiccup's father still seems to be as stubborn as ever). There's even a musical number that, though it ultimately fits in well enough with the film's narrative, does come out of nowhere and part of me wonders if I should blame Frozen for that. It's definitely not a disappointing sequel or a disappointing film in general, but it's still not all that amazing.




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#157 - Two Days, One Night
Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2014



When the staff at a solar paneling company vote on whether to earn a bonus or allow one member of their staff to be fired, the staff member in question spends the whole weekend trying to convince her fellow staffers to change their minds.

Two Days, One Night is an interesting little social drama focusing on one woman's struggle to keep her job. Marion Cotillard gets a good role to work with here - her character Sandra is a working mother who is also not-so-secretly coping with depression and has developed something of a substance abuse problem with her medication. It seems somewhat trite, but thanks to the down-to-earth nature of the film and Cotillard's performance it still comes across as sufficiently convincing. She leads an ensemble of characters whose sympathy for her character's situation covers a spectrum ranging from selflessly sincere to downright hostile and all points in between. The dilemma at the heart of the film is a morally complex one and many of the co-workers have legitimate reasons not to give up their bonus; there are multiple instances where their reasons make Cotillard (and by extension the audience) question just how much she really deserves to keep her job - if she does at all. The absence of non-diegetic music and use of documentary-like camerawork both serve to heighten the realism on display to strong effect. The only thing that really seemed to take me out of the film happens late in the film when:

WARNING: "Two Days, One Night" spoilers below
Cotillard, having heard a number of people tell her off for daring to fight for her job, suffers a relapse and attempts to overdose on Xanax during the daytime on Sunday (probably the afternoon) and is hospitalised, only to end up being released and able to talk to the last few workers in the evening. I concede that I don't know exactly what the procedures are in regards to such a situation, but it did take me out of the film a bit to see a patient who had obviously attempted to commit suicide via drug overdose be released within the same day. I guess it did help that she had her husband acting as a supervisor, but still, it seemed a bit odd and underwritten.


Even so, that is a minor complaint in the face of the rest of the film, which is a solid and naturalistic drama anchored by some grounded and believable performances along with a conflict that keeps up the tension all the way through to its final minutes. Definitely worth watching.




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#158 - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Leonard Nimoy, 1984



Following the events of The Wrath of Khan, Kirk and the remaining crew of the Enterprise are forced to return to the Genesis planet in order to find Spock's body.

The odds were not good for me liking this film. Leaving aside the fact that it's an odd-numbered Star Trek film, it definitely didn't help that a lot of its most dramatic revelations were spoiled by the fact that I ended up watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home first. Also, obviously Spock comes back to life. With so much of the dramatic tension gone, how would this particular film fare? Fortunately, The Search for Spock may not be the classic that its predecessor was or even the loveably campy ride that its successor was, but it's still a decent enough entry into the Star Trek canon.

Thanks to it being a very immediate sequel, the film still carries over the same atmosphere from The Wrath of Khan. The regular cast (minus Nimoy for obvious reasons) are still as good at their jobs as ever. The main villain this time around is a Klingon captain played by Christopher Lloyd of all people. It does take a while to get used to Lloyd's trademark hamminess being used in a villainous context, but his character has strong enough motivations and development to make up for it. Otherwise, the film is a bit haphazard in terms of quality. The first act is predictably a bit sluggish, as is the entire B-plot where Lt. Saavik and David Marcus explore the Genesis planet. Things pick up a bit in the second act as Kirk and the crew go against orders in order to find Spock while the Klingon antagonists are introduced. The photography and effects are still as solid as ever, plus the score is appropriately triumphant and melodramatic in equal measure. Despite its foregone conclusion, the film still wrings some serious emotion out of a number of scenes in the third act. The Search for Spock isn't likely to become my favourite Trek film, but it's a perfectly serviceable instalment in the series, even if it doesn't stand out much on its own merits.




I think Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a lot better than the credit it usually gets from most people. Even if you hadn't watched ST4 before ST3, you had to know that they were going to find him, didn't you? Did you think they would call the movie "The Search for Spock", and then just turn around at the end and say to us, "Sorry folks, we couldn't find him"?

The movie has some great scenes, and some very funny one-liners. I thought Christopher Lloyd was great as the Klingon Commander, but you could still see a little bit of Reverend Jim in his facial expressions a few times. And did you notice John Larroquette from "Night Court" as the Klingon Maltz? The biggest problem with the movie was Robin Curtis, who just can't hold a candle to Kirstie Alley as Lt. Saavik.



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I think Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a lot better than the credit it usually gets from most people. Even if you hadn't watched ST4 before ST3, you had to know that they were going to find him, didn't you? Did you think they would call the movie "The Search for Spock", and then just turn around at the end and say to us, "Sorry folks, we couldn't find him"?

The movie has some great scenes, and some very funny one-liners. I thought Christopher Lloyd was great as the Klingon Commander, but you could still see a little bit of Reverend Jim in his facial expressions a few times. And did you notice John Larroquette from "Night Court" as the Klingon Maltz? The biggest problem with the movie was Robin Curtis, who just can't hold a candle to Kirstie Alley as Lt. Saavik.
Obviously, they were going to find Spock, but when I was talking about spoilers mentioned in The Voyage Home I was mainly thinking of how

WARNING: "The Search for Spock" spoilers below
Kirk's son dies. Didn't stop it from being a little gut-wrenching to watch.


Also, I'm one of those young ones who is more likely to associate Lloyd with Doc Brown than Reverend Jim. I had seen Larroquette's name pop up but I wasn't looking for him when I watched it. Curtis is definitely no Alley - I was disappointed to find Alley deliberately turned down appearing in this film.



Obviously, they were going to find Spock, but when I was talking about spoilers mentioned in The Voyage Home I was mainly thinking of how

WARNING: "The Search for Spock" spoilers below
Kirk's son dies. Didn't stop it from being a little gut-wrenching to watch.


Also, I'm one of those young ones who is more likely to associate Lloyd with Doc Brown than Reverend Jim. I had seen Larroquette's name pop up but I wasn't looking for him when I watched it. Curtis is definitely no Alley - I was disappointed to find Alley deliberately turned down appearing in this film.

Actually, Kirstie Alley did not turn down this movie. Her agent did. According to her, she was very upset when she found out that she wasn't going to be in this movie because she would have done it.



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Actually, Kirstie Alley did not turn down this movie. Her agent did. According to her, she was very upset when she found out that she wasn't going to be in this movie because she would have done it.
Huh, I must have misread the Wikipedia article. I thought it was to do with avoiding typecasting.



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#159 - Convoy
Sam Peckinpah, 1978



When a trucker butts heads with his patrolman arch-nemesis, it escalates into the trucker and his friends trying to avoid capture.

Sam Peckinpah is one of those directors who I have very mixed feelings about, but one thing that has always stuck out in my mind is how Convoy is supposedly one of his worst movies, if not his worst. It didn't help how the credits revealed that the movie was literally based on a country song of the same name. Granted basing a feature film on a four-minute song should give one the freedom when it comes to an adaptation but the film closely follows it to the point where snippets of the song will play from time to time, to say nothing of how the background score will reuse the song's hook over and over. Even if I were to leave all that aside, there's no denying that Convoy is, for the most part, an extremely dull affair. The cast may be peppered with a number of actors that have collaborated with Peckinpah in the past - Kris Kristofferson as the hero, Ernest Borgnine as the villain, Ali MacGraw as the love interest, etc. - but they only serve to remind one of the director's better films and do little of worth here. The same goes for the action. Sure, you have a slow-motion bar brawl here, a prolonged highway chase there, but the action drops off hard during the second half.

The second half of Convoy is where things get a little weird as Kristofferson and his companions start to attract a following and their own convoy increases in size as a bunch of other truckers join up. It feels like a ham-fisted attempt at making the convoy's very existence mean something. Unfortunately, it takes more than a few jabs referencing Watergate and Vietnam (plus the American public's disillusioned attitudes as a result of both) or the introduction of Seymour Cassel's opportunistic governor to make any kind of political angle stick to this extremely pedestrian trucker movie. Things don't start up again until a climax that is ultimately rather predictable if you're in any way familiar with either Peckinpah movies or counterculture road movies in general. The main difference is that, unlike the best examples of either of those categories, Convoy doesn't have the guts to go through with its most obvious conclusion. I guess even if the ending was different, it wouldn't do anything to fix the movie as a whole. Convoy certainly isn't the worst movie ever, but anything that's even remotely good about it had already been done and done far better at that. Strictly for Peckinpah completionists and (presumably) people who like trucks and the people who drive them.




Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.
The Search For Spock was a fine Trek adventure and Christopher Lloyd was pretty funny, but like you, I thought it was pretty standard and I really can't think of anything besides Lloyd that stood out for me.
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