Jabs at the movies

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Also answers to Jabba
On paper, this sounded like something I would really enjoy, as I am a big fan of WWII films. Craig is pretty solid throughout but Schreiber's performance was pretty annoying, although this may be because I really don't like him as an actor. The worst thing about this, which ruined the experience for me were the accents. They were pretty bad all around, alternating between Germanic, Slavic and Russian (many times within the same sentence) which made it jarring to watch.

Still, the fact that it was inspired by true events and didn't go overboard with the dramatization was a big plus. You spent quite some time seeing people dealing with very real problems like weather conditions, food shortage and disease which in many other films of the genre hardly get a mention in lieu of battles. This augmented the realism to a satisfying extent, so I am in this gray area of not liking it too much, but can't saying I disliked it either.

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Not having played the games this was based on I can't offer any insight on the references the film included or how right it got the things it was supposed to get. There was a very obvious scene when it turns into a 1st person shooter rather than a film, and I suppose the weapons and creatures would have been familiar on the fans of the video game franchise, but that's as far as I can go in that respect.

As a film, it was a very generic sci-fi riddled with cliches all around. The characters were shallow and filled in those usual predefined categories that accompany these types of films. The performances from the leading cast were no prize either. Not even the score or the special effects help make this an easier viewing. In general, it was just a bad sci-fi film like dozens of others that come out every year.

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Jeux d'enfants
A great example of contemporary French cinema, this combined a romantic story with very dark elements superbly. Filled with surreal imagery and vivid colors it reminded me a lot of Amelie.What started out as an innocent story, transformed into a codependent corrupted romance between two people may seem crazy and destructive to some, but still perfect for each other.

As a European film, it doesn't even glance at all those Hollywood cliches that we have come to expect from romantic comedies and instead builds its own unconventional and unique story about two people who love one another. Marion Cotillard gives an above average performance in this, and although Guillaume Canet doesn't exactly measure up, he is still doing a very decent job here.

As far as the score goes, it is mainly comprised of different renditions of La vie en rose, which sets it up to be the undisputed theme of the film. There is of course a high number of character decisions that seem to be illogical and out of place, but as far as I am concerned, this only contributed to the charm of the story.

All things considered, it is a very unique film and one that definitely deserves a watch.

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Joon-ho Bong deliver yet another good film, again with sci-fi elements (much like Snowpiercer) but the protagonist is the -not so subtle- underlying message about animal abuse. A heartwarming story, that manages to touch on the disturbing at times, it really makes you care for Okja and the turmoil she goes through.

Nicely directed and very well cast, this is an enjoyable film in every respect. Tilda Swindon gives a great performance both as a caricature villain and her stricter twin sister, while most of the supporting cast also performs well. I also appreciated the fact that half the movie was in Korean, instead of following the usual formula of ignoring the language barrier and using only English.

Credit to those who handled the special effects. I was impressed by how well the CGI was rendered, especially considering it is present in almost every scene and has a lot of characters interacting with Okja constantly.

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Man on the Moon
A very interesting biographic film about an eccentric personality like Andy Kaufman. Carrey does a very good job in an admittedly hard role, and De Vito provides very solid support there. Forman's direction is very good and the score, focused around REM's song with the same title, is fitting. The comedy was not for everyone, which was very appropriate as the same can be said for Kaufman himself, but the film's theme was interesting in either case, in the sense that it gave you some insight on the inner workings of Kaufman's mind, as well as several behind the scenes incidents that have been a part of television history.

The conclusion of the film, which reflected the rumors about Andy faking his own death, leaves a sense of ambiguity in the air and it was a perfect way to end this homage to one of the most well known comedians of the 70s.

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Boyz n the Hood
This was by no means a bad film. However I expected a lot more from it. Laurence Fishburne gives a great performance but the rest of the cast is not as impressive. I assume this was considered a gem in the 90s, but watching it today you can't help but feel it's a story you've seen many times before. Growing up in a bad neighborhood, with danger on every corner, trying to get out of it through education and right before you manage to do it a tragic death comes to put everything in perspective. A formula that this one followed to the letter and as a result there was a complete lack of suspense and/or surprise.

Still, as I said, it wasn't a bad film, just one that will probably not live long in my memory.

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The Siege at Jadotville
Based on a true story, this was a pretty decent war film, especially considering its budget. Very grounded, which added to the realism, it strayed from the usual unrealistically heroic stories that are usually shown. It didn't stay to the military action but also explored the political intricacies behind the events that took place in the Belgian Congo in the 60s, which I appreciated.The performances are nothing to write home about, and although in general nothing really stood out in this film, nothing was particularly a con either.

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I Confess
An early Hitchcock film that was all about the story. Pretty straightforward from the beginning and abiding by the rules of the era, this was a predictable but nevertheless enjoyable film. Clift and especially Malden give great performances, with a chemistry that vaguely brought to mind Valljean and Javert. There wasn't much room for anything else, with a score that's rarely present and nothing standing out in the direction or cinematography departments, the clear protagonist was the plot itself. If you enjoy films of that era, this is one you may want to check out. If anything, you'd at least get a glimpse of how much Hitchcock evolved as a director over the years.

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Avengers: Infinity War
I will try to express some quick thoughts on the film without delving into any spoilers since it just came out. It was the culmination of 10 years of Marvel building up to a single moment and honestly it was worth it. If this was the end of the franchise I'd honestly be happy. The effects and score were always on point and for a film that included so many different characters, most of them had their time in the spotlight.

The big players

Through this one and Ragnarok, Thor has been turned into a much bigger character in the MCU than he was just a few months earlier and the series of events we have witnessed make him one of the more likeable characters out there. Stark's role proves to be pivotal and I have a feeling his screw ups are about to lead him to redemption in the Infinity War sequel. Rogers on the other hand doesn't get as much screen time, which I expect will change in the sequel since we also need to get some closure on Civil War and the feud between him and Stark. Brolin does an amazing job with Thanos, who gets a lot of face time here. Credit to the writers for presenting the character in a great way, especially given his complexity, and giving him a very humane and logical side that you rarely ever see in a villain.

The "secondary" players
Strange gives a great performance and his cold and calculated style mixes in with his wit to provide a great counterpart to Stark. His major decision during the film was no doubt the key to the sequel itself although at the time it must have confused several viewers. Star Lord gives his usual comedic relief (especially during the unilateral pissing contest with Thor), but his arc is an important one and we see him change as a character significantly during the events of the film. It seemed like they tried to elevate him to the same level as most of the A-listers but for me he is just not there yet. His story arc however, along with Gamora's (since the two are actually intertwined) are the most interesting parts of the film. Finally, Spiderman reaches the final part of his growing up stage, again through this father-figure relationship with Stark, and his constant attempt for approval within the Avengers. Probably the most emotional scene stems out of this relationship and the effect was on point. Vision and Scarlet which, although part of another big chunk or the story, felt a bit more isolated that the rest, as their arc revolved mostly around themselves. Don't get me wrong, it was a very important role they played, but at times it felt a bit disconnected.

The rest
It is absolutely normal that even in a film that is 2.5 hours long, not everyone is going to get their fair share of the spotlight because of the sheer volume of characters. We see little of Hulk, more from Banner, but the overall feeling is he is just there and nothing more. The same can be stated for Black Widow, Bucky and War Machine, while Black Panther's time is actually allocate to the whole of Wakanda which was a pretty decent thing to do. The rest of the Guardians as well as Nebula get enough time but they don't really make as much of an impact as the rest. Finally, Thano's children play the part of the indie band that's opening for the main event, which is kind of a shame, because their fate was determined and it didn't suit their true potential.

In general
The film does everything the MCU is well known for very well, with the extra element of doing it when the stakes have literally never been higher and with almost 20 movies of emotional investment from its followers. The overall result is very good and the decision to go with the ending they chose showed a lot of balls. The problem was that this kind of felt like an empty gesture, even while it was happening, because we already know a lot of information about the future of the franchise as well as the existence of a direct sequel to this story. This made what was supposed to be a gut wrenching effect feel a lot less real and sort of took away a lot from the experience overall.

If a lot of the events described in this mini-review don't make a lot of sense, it is because I desperately tried to keep it spoiler-free so vagueness was essential.

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Netflix has been dipping its toes more and more into the sci-fi genre lately and this shows why the streaming platform has long ways to go before making something significant in this area. Low budget and a mediocre cast were only the secondary issues with this movie. First and foremost, the problem stems from the story itself. Trying to present the threat as a fantasy element and then twisting it into science fiction, by stretching a well known theory to unbelievable proportions is only the beginning. The way things move and the speed with which cutting edge, never-before seen technology (even within the realm of this world) is constructed is ridiculous and helps make this as unrealistic as possible. It's sort of like what if MacGyver had to build a super-powerful weapon out of a box of supplies...within a very limited amount of time...and mass produce it...and take it to battle without even testing if it works.

The direction was pretty bad, with many needless cuts within the same scene, as well as quick back and forths between scenes for no reason at all. The editing room must have been a mess in this one. It kind of makes sense, since the writer/director Nic Mathieu has never worked on films in that capacity before, and I don't see anyone lining up to hire him either. The dialogue is stale, riddled with cliches, from the scientist that is sent on a black ops mission (because Hollywood has raised us to think that PhDs also go through basic training) to the locals warning of legends, to the disapproving hard-ass soldiers that change their minds later on, this film manages to show a remarkable lack of originality throughout its run time.

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Batman Ninja
I normally enjoy DC animated films, but I feel mesmerized by the sheer stupidity of this. Transferring the story of Batman to feudal Japan seemed like an intriguing idea, but it all depended on the execution. We see an abundance of villains that are merely there and get just a couple of lines, and instead we spend most of the time trying to make everything look more Eastern Asian than focusing on a story. This served more as an excuse to pay tribute to all things Asian, than actually tell a story. So here is highlight reel of shamefulness that comes out of this: samurai legions, castles that can walk (Howl's Moving Castle style), then those castles changing into robots (Transformers style), then these robots combining into one (like Voltron). On the other side, we get an army of monkeys that also combine to create a giant monkey (because physics did not exist back then), an army of bats combining to create a giant bat-signal-like creature and then the two of these combine to create a giant Batman to fight the giant ancient Japanese Voltron-like robot (because...er...why not?). This was essentially an exercise in eye-rolling and very hard to watch.

The animation itself is bad, perhaps due to the uncanny valley effect, and it also changes quite a bit during the film, I assume as an homage to kabuki theater as well as various anime styles. Still the effect was jarring and hard to follow. The lines are usually comprised of stupid puns and any attempt to be taken seriously is quickly forgotten when the next ridiculous subplot comes along.

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This was a great film and one of Hitchcock's best. Before the master of suspense mad some of his biggest hits, this was the clearest indication of what he could achieve. A highly intriguing plot mixed with some great performances and a romance ahead of its time, Spellbound reaches new heights as it plays out. Until Brulov's involvement it bears some resemblance to the famous director's later North by Northwest, but after the brilliant psychologist is added to the mix, the film takes a form of his own. Sure, the theories and concepts in regards to this complex science don't age as well, but this takes nothing away from the mystery itself.

The dream sequence that could be interpreted in a number of ways is a very smart choice for a plot point, because at any time you can offer an alternate interpretation that turns out to be true, and that is exactly where the twist of this film is based. Very ably crafted as a story, this alone could make the film stand out. What makes it great though is Hitchcock's touch: the direction is impeccable and there were 2 sequences specifically that drew me in and impressed me. The first one is the scene with Brulov and Ballantyne, in which Hitchcock shows how important camera angles are and plays the whole scene in a single shot, always keeping only what is necessary on screen. The transition through the glass of milk, is excellent as well, especially given the symbolism behind it. The second shot is one of the very last in the film and it is essentially a POV shot including a firearm that cuts to the credits.

In general, this was a great film, and definitely in my top 3 Hicthcock.

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I was far from impressed by this one. It seemed to drag way too long and spend the majority of its run time rehashing the same ideas it presented in the first 20 minutes. Though it is based on a real story, most of the events depicted seemed awfully predictable and never really drew me in. Hardy gives a decent performance as Ron, but Reggie as a character was tedious. The direction annoyed me to no end as it became increasingly obvious that they did not use CGI that much to portray Hardy's dual role on screen, and instead used body doubles. This resulted in many cuts from different angles and the result was jarring and plainly annoying.

Overall, it was a mediocre movie in every respect, with some serious flaws that hindered the experience.

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The Boss Baby
The only reason I gave this a watch was that I had caught the first half during a flight, and felt like the least I could is finish it. I was clearly not the focus group for this type of film, but sometimes films like this might surprise you. This wasn't the case. Unimaginative in its jokes and general plot, this movie desperately tried to get an emotional response out of you but to no avail. There isn't much to say about this, since it is the definition of a film you will have forgotten all about in a month or so. Mediocre through and through.

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A Simple Plan
A quintessentially 90s film, a decade I am very fond of, this was a nicely done thriller with a very interesting cast. Billy Bob Thornton shows his acting chops, with Brent Briscoe, Bridget Fonda and Bill Paxton as worthy co-stars. The atmosphere had something out of Blood Simple, while the film in general brought Fargo to mind. Compelling story about three people finding a considerable amount of money followed by the usual implications and mistrust that come with the territory.

Raimi's direction is good and the score ever subtly helps make the film eerier. Every mistake from one of the protagonists makes you empathize with the situation, and has you thinking that only Paxton is functioning logically. The tragic irony that comes with the conclusion of the film and is taken right out of the pages of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, only makes this more enjoyable.

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Julius Caesar
Advertised as a Marlon Brando film, I was excited to see this one. Brando however features in less than a third of the Shakespearean classic only having one big speech to show for it.True to the English dialect of the era, the beginning was hard to follow, but after 20 minutes or so, I found myself acclimated to it.

A lot of long sequences and the editing that seemed to clearly segment the film into acts give this the appearance of a televised play. That sadly meant that we were not treated to any battle scenes which are instead mostly implied. It is not a film for everyone, and it is something that those who watch can probably appreciate, but are not going to love.

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All the King's Men
Political films of the 40s and 50s are usually very good and it never seizes to amaze me how they are still on point and relevant today. Crawford gives a great performance as the honest-turned-rotten politician. In a sense, his performances reminds me that of Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, which may have very well served as his inspiration for portraying Wilie Stark. Stark does some pretty horrible things to everyone around him, and the transformation drags with him everyone associated with him. It was extremely interesting to see everything spiraling out of control as well as see his stronger supporters never swaying from his influence no mater how many reasons they had to do so. Finally, the end of the film is a very realistic one and it accentuates the message.

Well directed and with a very grabbing plot, this is a good choice not just for fans of noir and political dramas.

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I saw this sci-fi film on Netflix and I thought I'd give it a watch on a lazy evening. About 2 minutes in I realized my mistake but I went through with it anyway. Terribly cheap production riddled with all kinds of cliches and amateur acting. The characters were annoying, the futuristic element was laughable, the writing was lazy and half the plot didn't even make sense. There is seriously nothing to like in this. You've been warned.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Normally I am not one for coming-of-age stories, but I fell in love with this one. Some nice performances accompanied a story with many layers and fleshed out characters. An incredible soundtrack dressed the whole thing and the result was a mixture of sadness and hopefulness which perfectly describes someones teenage years.

The cast is a mosaic of interesting characters and the film leaves out cliches as much as possible. An adorable film which, if you are in the right mood, you are going to love. We could be heroes, just for one day...

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The Post
I was very excited for this Spielberg-Streep-Hanks collaboration, since it combined one of the best directors and two of the best actors of our generation. No doubt that years from now, this film will be watched if only for the gargantuan collaboration of talents. The film itself was good as far as political dramas go. It did feel like it needed more time to flesh out some of the secondary characters and present a more detailed story, but it was good nonetheless. Streep gives one of her above average performances (for her standards) but Hanks is the one that steals the show. He encapsulated perfectly the image of a newsman of that era and it showed in every scene. Spielberg's direction doesn't shake the world, but I guess the theme of the film didn't allow for anything extravagant. The way they introduced Watergate right at the very end was a nice touch, as it connected the events of the film and accentuated their significance.