Saturday, February 28, 2015

Another mass dump (phrasing)

I"m obviously incapable of maintaining any consistency of posts anymore (Cocaine's a hell of a drug) so here's some quick hits:

Top Five

Generally enjoyed it, but the plot is the least interesting part. The 'Chris Rock does Woody Allen' description that's been floating around is apt (and a good thing)


The further I get from it, the less impressed I am. There's some strong performances, and its technically interesting, but ultimately comes off as a biiiit too pleased with itself.

The Gambler

Wholly watchable and forgettable.  But I kept getting thrown by the scenes shot on the USC campus. In particular the placement of a parking lot and bus stop where there is only a pedestrian walkway.


Well done, though the cameos get out of control.

American Sniper


Inherant Vice

I would have to be in a very particular mood to get through this, and I ended up walking out 45 minutes in. I'll give it another shot when it comes on HBO, and this is the third PTA film in a row I haven't been that impressed with. On the other, this (and to a lesser extent Birdman) is exactly the kind of thing I would have loved (or professed to love) when I was in college. I was a pretty douchey undergrad.

Jupiter Ascending

A mess, but at least the Wachowski's tried. Actually way more incoherent than Cloud Atlas (which I actually enjoyed) and it seems like quite a bit was cut (not that it would have helped). Still prefer a fiasco like this to something rote and boring. Like your mom.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A whole bunch of stuff

Okay, I've been under a rock the last few months. Here's some quick hits.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Really good, see it.

Gone Girl

Actually saw it twice. I'm still not sure it really makes any sense, but reasonably compelling.


Entertaining and surprisingly funny, and most importantly sticks to its vision, even going as far as sort of taking the side of the main protagonist. It also makes the two leads realistically unlikable and reinforces the idea that obsessed people aren't that pleasant to be around in real life.

My only quibble with the drumming is that it waaaayyy overused someon eplaying so much their hands bled.

Hunger games Mackingjay Part 1
I actually think this book gets a  bad rap. Still not worth making into two films but moves pretty well for what it is.


Really strong opening hour or so that's almost undone by a ridiculous ending and completely unnecessary plot twist involving a cameo. Still ambitious and well worth seeing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The fact that this film exists is pretty remarkable. It doesn't quite live up to the hype but the fact that its essentially plotless and doesn't feel like a drag at almost three hours is quite an accomplishment. The biggest problem is that the actors who play the main character (and his sister) don't grow into their acting ability at the same rate as their physical growth. They're not horrible, but the relative lack of ability becomes more glaring as time passes (particularly as the film casts new friends that are older and better actors). That said I was never bored and left generally impressed.

Lucy, on the other hand, is a completely ludicrous sugar rush that actually sort of works. It's basically Scarlett Johannsen playing a mix of Bradley Cooper's character from limitless, her character from Her (there's a weird sentence), and Leon from the Professional. Director Luc Besson is smart enough to not take the premise that seriously and keeps the whole thing moving at a tight 88 minutes. Look, if you think about the plot at all it doesn't make any sense, but I really appreciate how they acknowledge this fact, ignore it, and keep things moving enough so you don't get many chances to reflect. It's not art, but I admire the economy and self-awareness. I'd be much more likely to watch it again than most of the bloated action films that typically come out in the summer.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Snowpiercer/22 Jump Street

Snowpiercer is a film that has gotten almost universally positive reviews (here's an example) but pretty much fails on every level for me. It's also tremendously odd and constantly veers between trying to be a super-intense action film and a cartoony satire. While there are elements that almost work (particularly on the satire side), the constant whipping back and forth in tone ended up ruining the whole thing. The 'serious' dialog is cringingly bad, and the acting is all over place - particularly in the more 'emotional' and 'intense' scenes. Given how farcical some of the satire is I almost suspected this might have been some big meta-commentary as well, but the last scene indicates that the filmmaker's intent was all too serious.

Obviously I'm in the minority here, but the whole thing is just a fiasco. Cabin in the woods did the mix of action and satire much more effectively. All that said, it is a really weird film, and its sort of amazing that it even got made. As a result I can't completely dismiss it but I can't see ever watching it again. (Though if you see it don't even start thinking about the plot, no part of it really makes sense).

22 Jump Street on the other hand is pretty much what I expected. Overly long, not all the jokes hit, but it works way better than it has any right to. The chemistry between Hill and Tatum is still fun, and the film definitely does not take itself too seriously. I don't need to see any more installments (and thankfully the film seems to agree), but the filmmakers deserve a lot of credit for getting two pretty entertaining films out of a really thin premise.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Immigrant

Saw this before taking off for a couple weeks (world cup yo) so my impressions are a little foggy. This review calling it the greatest american film in years piqued my interest (especially because the AV club usually hates everything), but ultimately The Immigrant is probably going to end up being a film I respect but will probably never watch again. It looks great, and is impressively committed to sticking to its world, but I did feel that the 'metaphor' sign was flashing a little too brightly by the end (if the acting wasn't so solid it would have tipped into melodrama at around the midway point). Still, its a solidly made, ambitious film that is worth checking out. It may not redefine american cinema, but at least it makes the effort to be interesting.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

X-Men: Days of future past

I'm going to be lazy and just link to another review that I think does a nice job covering the big issues in this film. I don't have a lot more to say so I'll continue my trend of laziness and just do bulletpoints.

1) The film is essentially the 2009 Star Trek, using time travel to completely wipe away everything that happened before. It was entertaining enough, but you can't help that feel the whole thing is a little pointless. I'm not sure if I prefer this approach, or the Spider Man tactic of just recasting and starting over (since I haven't watched either of the new Spidey films I guess its this one), but it does get a little tiresome.

2) Whatever enjoyment I get from the X-men films is the exact opposite of what I get from the Marvel Universe. In the Marvel films I really like the main characters, but usually find the plot and action sequences to be a bit tedious. In X-men I don't find the characters to be that interesting on their own (maybe because the films try to hard to make them walking metaphors) so my enjoyment has to come from the plot. Here I'd say it was about 70% successful. Good enough, but not anything I'm going to revisit anytime soon.

3) Most of the auditorium clapped at the end of my screening. I will never understand this.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Script - Meh
Acting - Underwhelming
Monsters - Good




Oh you wanted more? Event though the answer is no, here's three more sentences.

1) The movie is watchable because it really delivers on the giant reptiles hitting each other.

2) Also there's some nice moments of humor with the news coverage.

3) Everybody's using this as an opportunity to rip on Pacific Rim, which I do't think is completely fair, its not like this was great art or anything either.