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Author: Subject: 2019 Movie Round Up
Flash
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posted on 1-11-2019 at 10:03 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
2019 Movie Round Up

2019 is off to a start... and that's the first time I've written "2019" which just still feels like a crazy future far off date to me... I mean in 1982 they set Blade Runner in 2019... and now we're here... in the future.

No flying cars of course, no autonomous AI androids running about that we know of, but tech is so much more advanced in other ways then we thought it might be, and really we're on the cusp of those more far out things being here soon enough.

In a completely different vein in the inaugural movie round up review for 2019 we go to the past with MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

I wouldn't call it a dud... If movies like Elizabeth or tv shows like the Tudors are your jam then this is apt to be up your alley; but they do try to condense a few decades worth of religious persecution/upheaval, throne intrigue, and civil war into a couple of years. For those not in the know you had Mary a Catholic on the Scottish throne barely holding it due to protestant England (ruled by her cousin Elizabeth) interference... This backstory goes back a ways but largely became a thing thanks to Elizabeth's father Henry the VIII forming the Anglican church; at this point in time the bodies had piled up on both sides so neither were in a hurry for another religious war, but still lots of hate and accusations of bending the knee to Rome. Things are further complicated because Mary has a fairly strong claim to the English throne on top of her Scottish one.... THEN just to really pile on you've got that whole pesky it's the 1500's thing and the menfolk still weren't that keen on ladies ruling them.

Ultimately it's the differences between Mary and Elizabeth that makes the movie enjoyable; Mary is very much in the foreground of every conversation about her country whereas Elizabeth remains detached and makes use of endless emissaries... Where it goes well in this movie is that behind that aloofness you see that Elizabeth lacks confidence... Mary is both a threat to her throne and perhaps the only other person in the world who understands her. This is carried out really well by Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie. Ronan immediately jumps into the role and is very capable the whole way through... For Robbie the first quarter of movie just looked like her in a wig; Once she goes through a bit of a physical transformation due to pox you really see her come to life and become the character, even if it means becoming more detached.

I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these two ladies up for some oscar nods as they do some fine work... I don't think either would win as there's nothing truly challenging here; although the "Heat" moment when the two leads finally meet has some great acting.

Verdict: Skip it in the theatres... If you dig history it's a good watch; beautiful scenery, gorgeous costumes, and great acting, but the plot itself will madden you if you're detail minded and if you aren't then it won't hold a lot of attention... The whole movie generally comes down to men are bad, and one crisis after another.

Here's a weird thing though that I'd be curious to hear others thoughts on: Okay we all know how terrible it is when they cast white actors in roles that are either historically or in the source material described as being of colour (and I'm being sincere); Or there's been some heat on Bryan Cranston lately for playing a disabled man because he's "taking away" the role from some actually disabled actor.... But what happens when it goes the other way? Don't get me wrong this isn't a criticism and I truly do hope that movies like Black Panther do lead to a see Hollywood producers you can cast black people in a movie and white audiences will show up... But in some cases it can make for some odd casting when Hollywood does try and make something diverse when it's not necessarily so... Case in point this movie features some black actors in prominent roles as well as an Asian actress... Immediately suspecting that there probably weren't a lot of black and Asian nobles in 16th century England and Scotland I looked it up and the source roles were white.

Anyway not a complaint; more observation... We as viewers of course know that we aren't looking into the portal of some wayback machine and I'm all in favour of opening up the human palette on the big screen... I guess it just struck me as odd to go to such lengths to get costumes and sets right but then cast people in roles that made them stand out in a way that was almost as if the producers could say "see we didn't just hire whites only".

Is there a time and a place to use only certain actors... honest question.

Lol, also why is it that every time I write something like this that's intended as a sincere discussion topic on race that I feel like because I'm white I need to immediately apologize, pre-face, or add and extra layer of explanation as to why I'm not racist... I'd question myself harder if it wasn't for the fact that you often see white people doing some kind of pre-amble with several apologies attached whenever race comes up... it's like we know how shitty we've been as a race to others for so long that we don't want honest discussion to be mixed up with some shit Steve Kind or the Proud Boys might spout out, or hell even just the usual white obliviousness to other peoples problems.

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posted on 1-12-2019 at 10:34 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
For race/gender/sexuality, there is a fine line in movies/TV shows.

I hate when it is obvious there are creating a character to meet a quota. The old joke of every sitcom in the 90s have a white lead and the black 'best friend'. It's obvious and pandering and takes away from whatever they are trying to do. A historical movie showing characters that wouldn't be present or making a character gay that historically wasn't drives me nuts.

But, honestly, I don't pay attention to it unless it is being thrown in my face, and, if it's being thrown in my face in a way that I notice, it usually means that I am dealing with some sort of bad writing. Case in point: I couldn't stand Hondo in the Last Jedi because she didn't look military, made one of the characters I am supposed to like to look like a fool and was an arrogant ass. Gender was mostly irrelevant here, but I had someone jump down my throat for it on these forums, pretty much calling me sexist. It was shitty writing that turned me off of Hondo, not gender.

On the flip side, rewatching Infinity Wars, I realized how many hero moments there were for the women. I didn't notice it on the first showing because I cared about the characters and it was good writing.

So, generally, if you notice gender/race/sexuality, someone has failed their jobs in the movie.

As far as casting Cranston in "The Upside", well, they wanted a name actor and Cranston is a name actor. They aren't interested in making a star, but using an established star to make money. It's not an art film, it's a film they hope to open up to a $40M weekend opening.





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bigfatgoalie
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posted on 1-12-2019 at 10:53 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Discussion on forcing gender/race in movies and tv, and no mention of Token, the token black kid? Shame.

And yeah...it sucks that you can’t look at things simply “is this the best actor for the role” and not “is this person filling a quota” but let’s be honest, history has shown if you don’t go out of your way to support diversity, you don’t get a diverse group.

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posted on 1-12-2019 at 11:22 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
If they're going to flood a story (for example) from Elizabethan England with black characters then by default the story can't be taken seriously. That's because in reality, in real factually provable history, the only black people in England at the time would have been the exotic servants of the idle rich or the enslaved crewmen on foreign trading ships stopping at British ports. If the producers of the film or TV show that do this kind of diversity-casting, that's done for the sake of diversity only, do something like this then their story shouldn't be taken seriously. Enjoy it as entertainment if you want. But as a serious work? Nope. It's not gonna happen. Actual real history doesn't change what it is just because of the lazy thought-processes of today's entertainment community, or to placate the politics/feelings of the modern gender/race obsessives in the audience that they're trying to impress.





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bopol
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posted on 1-13-2019 at 06:01 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bigfatgoalie
Discussion on forcing gender/race in movies and tv, and no mention of Token, the token black kid? Shame.

And yeah...it sucks that you can’t look at things simply “is this the best actor for the role” and not “is this person filling a quota” but let’s be honest, history has shown if you don’t go out of your way to support diversity, you don’t get a diverse group.


I don't know about that. My brother, who is a higher up at an accounting firm, got recognized for his diversity in hiring. He isn't a liberal at all, but said that he thinks it happened organically because he tried to hire people that didn't think like him. Basically, he was confident enough to allow his employees to challenge him or approach problems in ways different than he would.

On the other hand, I work in higher ed (bastion of liberalism, right) and my current boss thinks so small that he does not want anyone around who doesn't think exactly how he does. End result: my department has lost 3 women in the last year and we're having trouble replacing anyone.

I think a lot of issues with diversity have more to do with weak leaders/hiring managers than prejudice.





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bigfatgoalie
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posted on 1-14-2019 at 11:38 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Not a review, but they’ve announced a new director for the Uncharted movie.



As a big Totally Rad Show fan, this news is 100% rad.

And for non-TRS fans, Dan’s the guy who directed the under appreciated 10 Cloverfield Lane.

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posted on 1-18-2019 at 07:20 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Let's talk about movies coming out this year, and what you want to see:

Here is a list of the movies I am looking forward to, with the added bonus if I am going to see it in the theater:

Glass - probably seeing this in the theater, very soon
Lego 2 - Liked the first one, probably will wait
Happy Death Day 2U - The first one was surprising, but will wait for the disappointing sequel (probably disappointing)
Captain Marvel - Theater, maybe first weekend
US - Could be a theater movie...
Pet Cemetery - Waiting
Hellboy - will see it, but waiting on reviews to decide on the theater or not
Avengers: Endgame - Theater, first weekend
Detective Pikachu - Waiting
John Wick 3 - This one is interesting, because I don't think we saw either of the first two in the theater...
Godzilla - Probably waiting...
Dark Phoenix - Waiting...
MiB: International - Waiting
Toy Story 4 - waiting
Spider-Man: Far from Home - Theater
F&F: Hobbs and Shaw - Maybe waiting...
It: Chapter 2 - Theater, maybe first weekend
Joker - Waiting
Zombieland 2 - Waiting
Star Wars IX - Waiting, since I haven't seen Solo yet, doubt I will go to the theater.

I am sure I missed some... but this year looks pretty good for movies... with 7 or so movie trips...





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Flash
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posted on 1-18-2019 at 10:01 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
That's a nice list Mike... let me maybe save you some money though...

I was incredibly disappointed with GLASS... I won't go so far as to call it terrible (like say The Snowman), but for anyone who reads these little reviews I put out you've probably notice I generally try and find the good in even the clunkers... A movie can be bad but still fun, it can lack intelligence but still qualify as a roller coaster ride popcorn flick... My bare minimum threshold on movies being good or bad is did it entertain me or at least let me shut the brain down for the 2 hours I paid for.

I'll try to do this in as spoiler free way as possible:

Normally my guiding principal for judging most movies is does it follow it's own "rules" it sets out for itself and I think this is where Glass fails... It goes out of it's way to hide later plot points to the point of sacrificing earlier movie logic... Case in point as we can all see from the trailers that Dunn, Crumb, and Glass are all locked together in a mental institution with a doctor telling them that this is all in their head... and yet each one is locked in a special room geared towards thwarting their individual powers/abilities... If it's make believe then why take extraordinary steps to contain them... Does that not reinforce the very delusions you are trying to cure?

The movie also suffers from being overcrowded... There's 9 POV characters with maybe 5 of them getting a sub story with many of them basically amounting to "I googled some shit". It over devotes time to scenes like this only to under develop key characters they should have gotten more attention because of stuff that happens later leaving you just not caring. Far more interesting scenes, showdowns, and story elements are teased and then not delivered leaving you feel a bit like you're watching a movie that's always telling you about a far better and more interesting movie you'll never see.

I like Shyamalan; I think he's a clever film maker and movies like Lady in the Water, The Village, and The Happening that got derided by audiences and/or critics I generally enjoyed and could chalk it up to stuff like a lack of imagination/storytelling whimsy, or the studios marketing something the movie wasn't, or it being a homage to Hitchcock... But here it's like wearing two different pairs of socks that just don't match and then pantsing oneself to show that they at least match your underwear... kinda. Unbreakable worked because it was such a small movie without answers... it was a start of something bigger but we always knew that the "bigger" in question would never be any bigger than some pummeling after the fact of street level crime and Dunn putting his family back together. Split worked because... well MacAvoy was a brilliant distraction when and where the story lagged and there was a deeper mystery... the is it real or not element; Throw in a humdinger of a teaser ending with Dunn showing up and I think the potential outweighed any weaknesses in the movie... By the time we get to Glass though Shyamylan is bent on teasing us with going even bigger and giving us answers to questions while denying us the most obvious questions hanging over the whole movie and then doing so with nothing but talking heads.

Oh and The Overseer is a really shitty superhero name given the that the only other time you ever really hear that word is when it's slave trade related.

I'd say see the movie... you (and by you I mean anyone) won't walk out thinking they just watched the worst movie ever, and for completion sake it's worth watching... but it just disappoints at almost every turn.

Maybe a C- or a 2/5 if I were to give a ranking?

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posted on 2-6-2019 at 11:40 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Hasn't been much out lately to see as Hollywood and the theatres try and milk as much money as they can out of the awards seasons nominees and the few blockbuster hold overs from Christmas release... and really, this has been an odd year for the awards as it contains some big blockbuster summer movies but also a slate of "huh" type movies.

I've seen Green book and couple of the other big nominees so I was pleasantly surprised to see THE FAVOURITE show up at my local theatre as I'd missed it the first time it came around some of the theatres in adjacent cities that play more artsy stuff (My local theatre generally follows a rule of family pics, or must have booze, blowing stuff up, and boobs to run a movie). THE FAVOURITE is tied with ROMA for most nominations this year, particularly best actress (Coleman), best supporting actress (Weisz and Stone), director (Lanthimos), cinematography, screenplay, and best picture... All in all a nice, and having now seen it, well deserving slate of nominations for a fairly entertaining picture.

The movie tells the story of Stone's character, the cousin to Weisz character who is the de facto voice of the throne to Coleman's Queen Anne; a reclusive, plagued by gout and maybe a bit neurotic woman. Stone's character comes from a fallen house and she's had a bit of a rough go of it. However she a bit of an opportunist and slowly finds ways to elevate herself and ingratiate her way into the queen's trust setting off a rivalry between her and Weisz as they duel over who will be the queen's favourite via a number of underhanded means. There's an element of class warfare, and some other social intrigue going on via others like the prime minister and royal opposition trying to use the escalating situation to their own benefit with a backdrop of an unpopular and costly war between the English and French going on at the time. Throw in some good old fashioned love affairs into the mix and you've got a great movie.

I know some were surprised that Stone bares her breast(s) in the movie but honestly it works quite well because in that moment it works as a kind of metaphor as Weisz character finally sees Stone's stripped away to what she really is... This contrasts nicely with some male nudity later which is played for laughs and is mostly farcical... I guess some can get off on seeing a boob, but this is one time when I think any sex or nudity in the movie is relevant, has something to say, and in every instance furthers the characters and story.

It's a bit of a black comedy, and not really intended to be historically accurate... It's shot in a very strange, almost surreal way, but it also very much highlights all the work that went into the sets and costumes (both of which I do believe it's up for some awards for too), which are gorgeous. I could honestly see this movie turned into a play at some point with how it was shot and staged, and that it is largely carried by three very capable female roles. It's not laugh out loud a lot, but there is a kind of gentle amusement and intrigue that runs through the whole movie so that you are entertained... But really this is the a showpiece for beautiful visuals and three extremely talented ladies who appear to be something quite different at first, but as the movie runs each of their roles, motivations, and characters evolve into something quite different and complicated.

I've seen 4 of the 8 best picture nominees for this year (Black Panther, Favourite, Green Book, and Bohemian Rhapsody) and of those I think I'd probably give the nod to The Favourite for best picture... I mean Black Panther was fantastic and I think the academy would do better giving wins to stuff like Black Panther that are more reflective of movie going audiences, but they tend more towards the artsy less commercial stuff... Roma seems to be the only other one on the list of best pictures nominees that's getting the same kind of buzz as The Favourite so odds are it will be one of these two.

Worth watching I'd say, but it's a quiet kind of movie that if you saw on the small screen you wouldn't miss much, but all in all I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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posted on 2-8-2019 at 11:00 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
For tonight's offering I give you COLD PURSUIT; the snowplough (or is that snowplow?) driving revenge flick that will make you wonder why more movies don't feature revenge seeking snowplough drivers.

Kidding aside this was actually a pretty good movie, kinda seamlessly blending the expected usual Neeson bad assery with quite a bit of dark comedy... Before I jump into this one itself let's take a step back first, as there's something kinda unique going on here.

So several months ago I came across another snowplough driver revenger called IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE starring Stellan Skarsgard; It was if memory serves a Danish flick that while pretty entertaining I had a hard time moving past the English dubbing not featuring Skarsgard doing his own dubs, which is weird because the dude speaks flawless English and the voice they matched to him just didn't quite fit with what I heard in my head. It too was a black action comedy and I enjoyed it quite a bit as it had a nice style to it. It's on at least Canadian Netflix still, and I recommend it.

Now why this is a bit unique is that maybe not since Hitchcock directed The Man who Knew Too Much first in England and then later with Jimmy Stewart in Hollywood a decade or so later do you get to see directors get kind of a mulligan on directing the same script again... If you haven't caught up yet both COLD PURSUIT and IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE were directed by the same director. While there's a few things missing in the Neeson movie (Mostly a touch of xenophobia... which is a shame as in our current climate I think you could have worked it in still) and the newer version features (if I remember right) a bit more blood, I'm a bit disappointed to say that the director didn't really break out too many new tricks; Hell he even works in the same dick jokes into the script as in the original the leads name is Dickman, and in the US version it's Coxman so if you've seen one, you've essentially seen both minus a bit more character development time in the original, and things being a bit more broad in the newer... In saying that both are quite excellent and I think if the director does stay stateside he's got a bright future.

In a nutshell COLD PURSUIT features small town everyman Neeson looking into the drug overdose of his only son as he's adamant that his son was not a drug user. After uncovering a lead pointing him towards the crime family that killed his son he starts taking revenge one body at a time. Now in reality we know that Snowplough drivers rank only slightly behind ninjas and lumberjacks as the planets most grizzled tough guys Neeson plays more of a novice revenge seeker in this one, and actually benefits quite a bit by being the unknown everyman that no one suspects and instead sets long simmering crime feud... Helps to up the body count in a believable way.

The movie does a good job of milking the laughs out of some dark moments as one death kind of sets of a chain reaction of killing, and the director is not afraid of some quiet moments in there too. There's plenty of action to go around and probably my only complaint is that in this version Laura Linney's talents are wasted as the couples marriage is underdeveloped.

It's a shame that Neeson has probably delivered one of his better movies but it's likely not going to be what people remember this movie for... In case you missed it during interviews for the movie when asked about revenge he told a story of a friend who was raped by a black man about 40 years ago; For about a week after he talked about walking the streets in a rage carrying a cosh that he intended to use on the first "black bastard" that dared pick a fight with him.

Now understandably people are upset, latching onto this idea that he was going to bash some innocent black man... As someone who's been called an SJW many a time this is something that bugs me a bit about the left; that we latch onto a twitter rage or name and shame kick instead of looking at the bigger picture... Yeah the individual who Neeson would have bashed would have been innocent of rape, but he was talking about someone who attacked him was going to get it... Still bad, but here's the important part... No one was hurt; Neeson basically said that after a week he found a way to let go of his anger and was, and remains horrified by his state of mind and wrong thinking.

Don't we want people to change for the better? Yeah his thoughts, and actions at the time were wrong and probably racially motivated, but what about the 40 years since... what about him saying that was the wrong thoughts to have? If we want people to be better don't we have to welcome and support that change? I think Terry Crews (and a few others) kind of said it best when they talked about how everyone has a choice of a path to be one when confronted by violence and race ideas; Neeson started on one path but has since chosen a better one. I think there's a better lesson here in talking about the thought process that still exists in our society as a broad example more than there is in trying to shame Neeson for admitting to bad thoughts 4 decades ago.

Anyway... COLD PURSUIT was pretty good and worth watching; Nothing too big in it to warrant the big screen, but it is a fun night out.

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posted on 2-11-2019 at 10:16 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
I saw Fighting With My Family (AKA the Paige movie) a few weeks ago at a preview screening. It was fun seeing it in a packed theater of what I assume was mostly wrestling fans.

Pros:
- It's the best cinematic portrayal of what wrestling actually is that I can remember.
- Some decent comedy
- Pretty good cast
- Did a decent job hinting at the underbelly of wrestling. For a movie made with their cooperation it does a good job showing that Paige's family are carnies and con artists at their core.

Cons:
- The plot is such a generic paint by numbers sports movie story. Feels like it was produced to death to make sure every stereotypical beat was included in proper order.
- The Rock scenes got a little annoying since be came across like we have to have as much Rock as possible for the movie to be a hit!

Overall I'm glad a watched it. Fun but I wish they had taken a riskier swing as opposed to going so paint by the numbers.





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posted on 2-15-2019 at 06:40 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
I know it came out in 2018, but holy shit, Into The Spider-verse was fucking awesome. It may very well be both the best Spider-Man movie ever and the best animated superhero movie ever. It was gorgeous, had a lot of heart, and some great action. It was just a joy to watch and I’m glad I got to see it in the theater
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posted on 2-15-2019 at 10:18 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Oh I definitely highly recommend Spider-verse... It comes at Spider-Man in such a fun and original way while still also playing into all those expectations you might have about what a Spider-Man movie should be.

I caught ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL tonight and I'm a touch split on it as visually it's spectacular... I saw it in Imax 3D and it was gorgeous; the action was top notch and the Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner movies, and most recently Birdbox) was both incredibly cute (the CGI enlarged eyes, slight overbite, and freckles give her a deliberate innocence that plays well against her toughness) and Kick ass all at once... I really can't say enough good things about the action, and really the 3D Imax was put to good use.

Sadly... the action is about the only reason to see the movie as the plot was a bit muddled and the movie ends on kind of a low note... Not necessarily a downer note, more just a confusing and ill conceived way to end the movie; which I think owes more to them seeing franchise dollars should this be a hit; and I think that's why I'm so split on the movie because IF there should be further movies than I think this one would require some further re-examination... If not, well then judging on it's own there's a lot of good in there, but it's also a movie that's easily distracted and lacking much in the way of nuance.

Basically Doctor Ido finds the remnants of a cyborg young woman; Her remains seem to come from a sky city that hovers above their mostly industrial city below; This arrangement comes centuries after a massive war destroyed most of the rest of the planet... It would seem that Alita may have ties to that ancient war. Ido, a robotic specialist, repairs Alita; bequeathing both a name upon her and a body that was intended for his daughter. He also harbours a few secrets of his own that will play out over the course of the movie. The movie also introduces a massively popular sport called murder ball, and a whole caste of bounty hunters and criminals (or maybe it should be cast...?). Trying to shoehorn the whole sport thing, a love story, some father daughter stuff, old wars, revenge, and a bounty hunter thing makes for a crowded movie, and I think at times it feels pulled in far too many directions to effectively work... Some of it like I said above might be redeemed as effective world building, or it might just be a distraction... Time and further movies will tell.

I was curious about Alita for awhile now; James Cameron has had the rights to the anime or manga (can't remember which) it was based on for years now... Like even before Avatar if I remember right, and I think within the movie you can see a kind of evolving thought process, or probably different stops and starts as the movie was developed and then redeveloped again and again. Robert Rodriquez does a great job with directing.

If you're an action or sci-fi fan I think it's worth catching... the action more than makes up for most of the short comings and it's fun enough... I just don't think it's going to hold up well in Cameron's Pantheon of movies...

Just for fun to rank Cameron's movies (written, directed, whatever)

1. Aliens
2 Terminator 2
3. Terminator
4. True Lies
5. Abyss
6. Titanic
7. Avatar
8. Strange Days
9. Alita
10. Rambo: First Blood part II.

Some I ranked lower are better movies than some ranked higher, but be it iconic-ness, or just fun I think they get the nod over the better movies.

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posted on 2-15-2019 at 01:39 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Watching the previews I was getting a strong Avatar vibe, in that it would be visually stunning, but the story was weak and doesn't hold up to repeat viewings.

So should I go to see it how it should be seen, but be prepared to be disappointed with the story (go matinee) or just wait and watch it on my 32" HDTV?





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posted on 2-15-2019 at 06:43 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Flash
I was curious about Alita for awhile now; James Cameron has had the rights to the anime or manga (can't remember which) it was based on for years now... Like even before Avatar if I remember right, and I think within the movie you can see a kind of evolving thought process, or probably different stops and starts as the movie was developed and then redeveloped again and again. Robert Rodriquez does a great job with directing.


I remember way back in the late 90's reading something about Cameron doing a movie based off of Battle Angel Alita (which was the title of the manga), so it's kind of crazy that it took 20+ years for that to actually happen.

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posted on 2-16-2019 at 10:19 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Hey Mike... Its a bit of a weird one in that I'd say go big or go home... Like the IMAX 3D was gorgeous, but if you can't see it in that format then I don't see a good reason to spend money on it (saving a few bucks on a matinee or discount Tuesday is a good thought). The action is top notch so I don't think anyone is going to walk out hating it, I just don't think they found a good balance between serving THIS movie while also trying to set up the desired franchise.

I had a thought about the movie afterwards and that much like Ghost in the Shell it could be that the filmmakers are conciously trying to capture a very japanamation/manga vibe... Which is its own style onto itself while also trying to do the expected American style popcorn movie; so it could be that if you are dialed into the Asian style you might get more out of it.

As to the long gestation period for the movie... Yeah it's funny how long some scripts take to shape up, or even post production revisions can take.... Case in point my understanding is this one has been in the can since 2016, or next week's How to train your Dragon iii since like 2015... I still remember hearing about Ride Along like a decade before it came out with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, but back then Ryan Reynolds and the Rock were attached.

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posted on 2-21-2019 at 04:07 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Bit of a different one last night, as I wound up catching THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD; Peter Jackson's WW I documentary.

Firstly this is just a gorgeous movie; what Jackson and his crew were able to do with 100 hours of century old footage is nothing short of a miracle as they transformed it from grainy, dim, spotted rough footage into something nearly high definition and 3D. Yes; they recreated some sound, pulled a few tricks to take static shots and allow for some tilting and close ups akin to Ken Burns on steroids but it remains entirely original footage (The showing I saw included a 30 minute post documentary making of documentary which was pretty cool).

Secondly I really appreciated what Jackson did here in that he unfolds it a bit like a story highlighting the lives and experience of these brave men using their own words (They took like 600 hours of WWI veteran recordings and overlaid them with the footage) to whittle down the hundred hours of footage they had available to them into more of a 2 hour snapshot of their lives on the Western front as opposed to a statistical in depth analysis of what happened... More a who than a what type movie that as he kind of said in the making of documentary that this was a world war and there were so many stories you could tell, but by focusing on the soldiers lives at the Western front you could kind of acknowledge that all over the world these were often the conditions and feelings that they all faced.

A couple years ago I came across a series on Netflix called WW II in colour where they colourized a bunch of old footage; while it gave it a bit more life I think what Jackson et al did here is truly remarkable and something I'd be curious to see them open source their techniques with smaller museums and historical foundations so that we can see other once thought lost or diminished glimpses into history once again brought to life.

I think if you are like me and have a fascination with history then this is worth checking out; oddly enough there's even some laughs in there, and while these men are heroes, I think in their own words you realize that most soldiers are pawns to larger issues played out by others far above them over issues that are at times irrelevant... That they didn't hate their enemies, and didn't necessarily understand what they were fighting for; but ultimately came to fight for those beside them.

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posted on 3-1-2019 at 02:18 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Caught FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY the other night and I think Town's assessment is pretty spot on; fun, a bit paint by numbers, and probably one too many scenes with the Rock (although I loved the postscript about how this little known wrestler named the Rock became Dwayne Johnson...).

I think what probably hurts the movie a bit for me is that while the movie stops pretty much exactly where you'd think it would, and cinematically it makes for a good jumping off point, we know that the reality of how Paige's last few years have kind of gone that all the happy she found herself stuff was a bit of a lie, and that she's got a few dark years ahead of her before her career comes to an early end. I mean it doesn't stop you from enjoying the movie, as it is quite enjoyable, but it's probably the way anyone who remotely knows the real history of Queen or Dr. Shirley probably just felt.

Underrated was probably Vince Vaughan's character... The recruiter, and trainer who's been down this road probably made the movie as while Paige and her brother Zack offer contrasting storylines, I think Vaughan's character is the lynchpin to this and in a round about way gives both a happy ending... er, not the kind you get a jack shack.

The real stars are Paige's loveable and flawed carny family... Nick Frost and Lena Headey are quite good in a carnival kind of way in that everything is an opportunity to make cash, but there's a heart of gold in there where they embrace their flaws. Jack Lowden was really good in this; took me a moment to recognize him from both Dunkirk and Mary Queen of Scots; he's probably a guy to watch as he blends into his roles quite well, but has that star quality as well. I'm not as familiar with Florence Pugh, the girl who played Paige, but she was quite good; I'd be curious to see what she gets up to next.

While it seems to have gotten decent reviews it looks like it's not a big hit (I just checked and it's still a million shy of breaking it's budget), but then again it did just open wide in North America, and may do well in other markets... I hope it does well as I think there's definitely more story you could tell.

While I enjoyed it I think this one is probably a watch it at home... You won't miss out on anything seeing it on the smaller screen.

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posted on 3-8-2019 at 06:36 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Captain Marvel tonight; and while I enjoyed it overall, it does have some problems.

I guess a bit of background on the movie, as it has caused some commotion online. Basically some folks thought that much like sending some black kids to see Black Panther because of the absence of black heroes they'd try and get something off the ground for this movie too except for young women. A noble enough endeavour that the movie's star Brie Larson joined in on... Not so fast says man babies... Clearly Larson is organizing all of this to make money (you mean like how every company that gives kinda does?) or what about the boys (there are plenty of male driven heroic movies... like 10 a month), yeah well look at all of these movies with heroic female leads (they came up with about 10, half of which were from tv... and they had to stretch out over like 40 years to even get to 10).... I think they settled on how you should give money for food, not movies... but yeah again; there's tonnes of other charities that do this already, and really the whole thing seemed to be a case of "it's not about me, so I'm going to hate on it".

FYI the whole kerfuffle seemed to be started by a comic book artist who was turfed by the bigger publishers for starting a little hate group that harasses people of colour, women, and trans comic writers for forcing diversity onto their comics.... Heaven forbid comics be reflective of our current society. The same fellow spends his time making videos bitching about Star Wars while cutting the heads off Rose Tyco figures while his followers go on masterbation strikes to save up their... uh... "spirit" for some coming war because politics have no business in comics! (despite the fact that they've always been there... Nixon was a major Marvel villain, the X-men are a sub in for the civil rights... ect).

So long way around they started review bombing the "want to see" section of Rotten Tomatoes, which in turn shut off the advance reviews for those who haven't seen it, which in turn became evidence of a conspiracy to support this movie completely ignoring that it was probably a rationale reaction to a bunch of irrational basemen dwellers.... Way to own those libs.

Was Marvel trying to create an "Iconic" female role model hero... probably? But really is that a bad thing? I think they ultimately fall short of engineering an iconic character akin to Wonder Woman for most of the movie largely because of a bit of an uneven plot: Larson's Captain Marvel doesn't really know who she is for most of the movie, and as the centre of the film this kind of leaves her as the least interesting person or thing going on... The not knowing who she is does payoff with some nice moments and lines that do bring her Captain Marvel close to reaching the level they grasped for, but this isn't something that really materializes until the end, which creates a bit of a quandary BECAUSE she's ultimately interesting at the end because of how boring she was along the way, and not really because she overcame anything beyond being a blank slate.

Don't get me wrong, while I don't think the movie is subtle in its intentions I also don't think it beats you over the head with it either (okay maybe a bit with the music choice); It's actually quite a lot of fun along the way with a number of good laughs and some top notch action. I think it suffers a bit from feeling like they want to launch a franchise around it, but it also does all the heavy lifting that will put Captain Marvel into next months Avengers End Game where I think she'll greatly benefit from having had a good backstory. I think the character is great and has a lot of potential; potential that I think now that she knows who she is will stand a better chance of being realized.

Larson is a great lead; I've never seen Room, but have enjoyed her in various smaller roles like on Community, 21 Jump Street, and a couple others. I think she was meant to be more of a lead in Kong Skull Island, but thanks to a big cast and the titular ape got a bit lost in the shuffle. She's all kind of kick ass in this and funny to boot. Sam Jackson is great as always; and for long time fans of the Marvel movies it's kinda nice to see him as a much younger and less certain Nick Fury before he becomes THE NICK FURY. Jude Law steps up from some of his more recent character pieces and back onto the big movie stage again and is great. The standout here for me though, and he's quickly becoming so in almost everything I see him in was Ben Mendelsohn; Yeah he's buried under make up most of the time but his wit and talent shine through.

I think this one's definitely worth seeing, even as a nice appetizer for End Game... I saw it in 2D and didn't see anything worth plunking down an extra bunch of cash for the various bells and whistles versions like 3D or Dbox. It's pretty enough on it's own... Take your daughter, or niece... They could use more female heroes in their lives, even if they are fictional... Plus it would probably piss off some seriously shitty people.

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posted on 3-22-2019 at 06:50 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
"Us" tonight and I really dug it; Jordan Peele knocks another one out of the park with this disturbing horror that's filled with plenty of laughs.

I was talking to a friend today about that Paul Bettany movie Legion from several years ago, and how often times you can kind of figure out the genesis of a movie... IE whatever the filmakers said when they pitched the movie; How sometimes that genesis is a just an image (which in the case of Legion I believe was an entire movie written around getting a show of an angel totting machine guns) or how better movies are often framed around a question... and I think that's what happened with Us; What would you do if someone you looks exactly like you just showed up in your driveway one day? That's not to say the movie doesn't add some more meat to that premise, but that intriguing dilemma is at the crux of the movie.

The movie very much succeeds in terms of answering that question; and the answer is pretty much "try and survive", and makes for an entertaining night full of terror.. If anything the spots where the movie generally loses steam is when it tries to answer the "why" of the predicament; because in doing so it robs a bit of the horror from the situation if there is a reason for it. In saying that Peele is a pretty masterful storyteller (one reason I am very much looking forward to his Twilight Zone relaunch), so he doesn't entirely hold the audiences hand to connect all the dots, and while there is some exposition, it's horrific enough in it's own right that it remains intriguing. Still I think sometimes less is more; or let the audience decide on what the why is.

The cast lead by a couple of Marvel movies alumni in Lupita Nyongo'o and Winston Duke are fantastic in dual roles of predator and prey, with the two kids often stealing the thunder. Peele much like in Get Out very much knows how to tell a creepy story and makes the most out of his directing skills daftly leaving it up to the audience to either laugh or be filled with horror. Honestly I think a movie like Get Out, Black Panther, or now Us do far more for black filmmakers and movies lead by largely black casts do far more to advance equality than a movie like the best picture winner Moonlight ever could... Moonlight is an artsy film that is already going to engage a more artsy and privileged audience that might be more attracted to a film like that... in short it's already speaking to the converted. I think with movies like Us that put an emphasis on entertainment while still delivering quality without pandering are very important and should be showcased more because they will draw in more average movie goers who in turn might be more inclined to more broadly support other movies featuring people of colour or outside of the whites guy saves the world again mentality... Not saying white audiences will ever get Tyler Perry, but maybe Hollywood will be more inclined to not see casting a black man or woman as a risk.

Anyway; Us is very creepy and enjoyable; You could probably get the same mileage out of it on the smaller screen and with the Summer Blockbusters starting earlier and earlier (Remember when the end of May was the big kick off?) it will probably have to compete for some dollars if people are looking to save their cash for the next several weeks worth of movies (Dumbo, Shazam, Avengers). I'd say see Us in the theatres; it works well with an audience and deserves some love.

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posted on 3-22-2019 at 12:41 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
All I have to say that if you are a black woman and friends with the actress who stars in A Handmaid's Tale, you need to end that relationship.





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posted on 3-29-2019 at 03:23 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Captive State

Smaller scale movie from Rupert Wyatt; who has a bit of a spotty record in my opinion; I really enjoyed his Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but his remake of the Gambler was outside of maybe the always great John Goodman, a pretty abysmal movie.

Captive State probably falls in the middle; It's not bad, and is at times fairly intriguing, but suffers from some muddled handling of the POV of its various characters, general lack of action, and at times wasting it's fine cast which includes Goodman, Vera Farmiga, and Ashton Saunders (whom I don't know, but looks like he's from last years Moonlight). Lot's of familiar faces like Kevin Dunn, Alan Ruck, Ben Daniels, Madeline Brewer, DB Sweeney, and Kevin J. O'Connor in smaller roles.

10 years before the movie starts the Earth was invaded and soundly lost to an alien species called the Legislators; In lieu of annihilation Earth's governments surrendered and have yielded rule to the invaders; who rule by proxy via various provisional collaborist governments and various big brother secret police forces in each city. In the 10 intervening years there have been various unsuccessful attempts at an uprising, but with weapons confiscated and things like the internet and communications technology destroyed on a global scale they were doomed to fail. There are hints that the aliens, who've largely gone underground are up to something and that time is quickly growing short, requiring the resistance to make one last desperate attempt to spark a bigger resistance by showing that the Legislators are vulnerable.

It's not a bad movie by any stretch, but I think the audience knows where it's going long before the movie gets there, and perhaps the only reason why it delivers is because it generally takes the long way around to get to it's point, so you kind of forget how you got there... Like not a twist or spoiler ending, more of a "oh yeah" type thing.

Problem is I don't know what would have helped "save" or at least fix the movie... Go too far into action and I think you lose what's unique about the movie; which at times comes close to other smaller scale alien movies like District 9 in delivering something original... I think the problem is they never quite find a balance between selling the collaborator side and the resistance side; They could have given you an unique entry point or commentary on terrorism, but often played it too safe.

Worth watching, but definitely a Netflix one I think.

3/5 maybe?

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posted on 3-30-2019 at 02:23 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Dragged Across Concrete. Jesus FUCK what chore that was. Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson (yes, that Mel Gibson) in a film about older, non-PC disgraced cops trying to make ends meet in this dandy cotton candy world of ours made by the director of gritty, manly man fare such as Bone Tomahawk and Brawl In Cell Block 99?! Sign me right the fuck up!

Yeah no, no yeah what a tedious, mean drudgery that was to get through. It played like a David Lynch film absent all his flair for the psychotically dramatic and without an ounce of his lunatic charm. Interminable shots of mundane conversations and looooooooooooong, poorly lit highway highway shots aplenty. SPOILERT!: Besides the aforementioned disgraced cops looking for a payday I previously mentioned, there was a converging plot of an ex-con looking to get in on a big score and him eventually hooking up with some heavy-hitting sociopaths for a big bank heist. Vaughn/Gibson eventually catch wind of some of the heist and it's almost a comedy of errors how they all wind up interacting with each other.

But the real kicker is how the film would deviate off into tangents regarding bit players that were only around long enough to further the shitty happenstance that fell upon some poor saps along the way. Besides a miserable sequence involving a neurotic new mother getting ganked by one of the psycho bank robbers, we are also shown that same clearly trained and professional hitman psycho PRE-high dollar robbery shooting the FUCK out of innocent people with a whisper silenced and magically infinite re-load machine gun and robbing them with no explanation. Is the viewer supposed to infer some sort of menace and Wrong Place At The Wrong Time nihilistic ennui from all this quick, crude, and violent death? WHOMST THE FUCK KNOWS?!?

The director, S. Craig Zahler, must have been wearing a rainslicker or bulky coat to keep everyone on set from seeing him masturbate in between yelling "cut" on his wandering, meandering, pointless opus. Poor, poor Mel and Vince.

0 Jans out of 5.

At least I have these two Old Fashioneds in Woody and Costner to look forward to. And surprise, surprise, apparently they treat Bonnie and Clyde like the criminal scumbags they actually were!







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posted on 3-30-2019 at 11:02 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Not a theatrical release, but I caught The Dirt on Netflix last weekend. I enjoyed it well enough, but as a Crue fan, it skips over a lot of the music stuff and instead focuses more on the sex and drugs ("Home Sweet Home" is really the only song that it halfway shows the creative process behind). Plus it pretty much disregards everything post-2000, when Tommy Lee left the band for a few years, and pretends like the Crue got back together for good when Vince returned to the fold in the late 90's. For a band that's had a crazy 30+ year career, it really seems like a miniseries would have been the way to go as far as cramming as much of their story as possible in.

Historical discrepancies aside, it's a fun way to spend 90 minutes and if you want a movie filled with tits and drugs, this is for you. Also, Machine Gun Kelly, who normally wouldn't be anywhere near my music radar, is surprisingly good as Tommy Lee.

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posted on 4-1-2019 at 09:05 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
I enjoyed THE HIGHWAYMEN; it doesn't pull any punches (or bullets) come the infamous and climatic finish, and along the way kind of provides a nice meditation on the closing years of the wild west and the birth of a new era of policing.

I thought how they handled Bonnie and Clyde; often shooting them from afar or off kilter, or just pretty much everyway but a straight on narrative set up was well done... It visually told the story about how the criminals were always just out of reach; and also made the moments and conversations before they caught them all the more poignant (I'm thinking of the scene with the clothes on the bed for those that have seen it). It also helped with establishing the movies ongoing commentary on celebrity... that all these people have this image of the duo from afar which allows them to celebrate them as folk heroes, as opposed to the bodies in the streets image that the two hunters have.

It's slow... I don't think in a bad way; but it functions like a mystery in some ways which suffers a bit because we know they, or at least someone catches up to the criminals; so while they are always just out of reach and talked about you know this story ends in only one way... blood.

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