Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

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Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 14 Jan 2018, 14:34

1: American Hustle (2013) - A crime comedy-drama directed by David O. Russell

In 1978 Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are two con artists who are entrapped into helping Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to catch 4 other con artists. Gradually, what seems like a simple con becomes a more elaborate one with much larger stakes and scope.

The story has a hypnotic quality as it draws you into the world of the con artist. In particular, we see that Sydney is attracted to the romantic side of adopting a new role, which helps explain how she ends up with Irving. The whole film has a glossy feel to it. If that was all there was to it I don't think the film would have worked. It has enough of a sense that Irving and Sydney are exploiting the desperate, and also of what effect Richie's sting will have, as well as the dangers involved.

Amy Adams in particular puts in a very compelling performance. Her role is a subtle one, as her loyalty to Irving, or possible relationship with Richie, is a key strand to the plot. In a sense Sydney herself is an actor, playing a role. I think everyone puts in a very good performance and we get a clear sense of everyone having an agenda or a perspective on the unfolding scheme. Irving's wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) is an interesting example, as she is mostly kept in the dark, but knows enough to threaten to disrupt the scheme.

Overall I think this is a very good film. There are a few flaws. Perhaps it is a bit too glib and simplistic in its moral stance, but it does a reasonable job of unpicking some of the moral ambiguities.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 21 Jan 2018, 13:48

2: The Girl on the Train (2016) - A psychological thriller directed by Tate Taylor.

Rachel Watton (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic, who "commutes" every day to and from the job she no longer has, watching her ex-husband and his new wife from the window of the train, and also watching another couple who live nearby: Megan and Scott, who become a symbol of the perfect couple. One day she sees Megan with someone else, and becomes angry at her disrupting the "perfect" relationship. After a drunken binge, she goes to confront Megan, but wakes up unable to remember what occurred the night before. Megan has meanwhile been reported missing, and Rachel desperately tries to piece together the events of that night, and whether she was responsible.

I think the key to this film is Emily Blunt's performance, which feels naturalistic and grounded in reality. She invests Rachel with a sense of vulnerability, regret, and anger, that all seem plausible, and I think that gives the film the ring of truth. The film is an effective thriller, even if the pace flags a bit partway through, and the final reveal is chillingly believable. The rest of the cast put in good performances, but I think Blunt's performance is the anchor of the film.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 21 Jan 2018, 15:09

3: Arrival (2016) - A science-fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguistics professor, who is recruited by the US military to help translate the language spoken by the alien beings housed within one of twelve gigantic alien spacecraft that have suddenly appeared around the globe. She works with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to gradually find a way of communicating with the creatures, while the military wants to answer the crucial question of what purpose the aliens have in coming to Earth.

I found this a very compelling film. Firstly, I think the visual and sound design of both the aliens and their spacecraft is very interesting and other-worldly. The craft look like gigantic black eggs, while the look of the alien resembles a large foot, or a squid with multiple arms or tentacles. Their speech resembles whale song or the call of the elephant. The combined effect is to give the scenes inside the craft a feeling of entering a strange otherworld.

The film raises some intriguing ideas of how we would begin to try to communicate with beings that think in a very different way to us, and what the consequences of their different perspective are. As Louise learns more about the aliens she also starts to see things that could be memories, visions or dreams. I find that sort of thing intriguing as well. The film also has a personal tragedy involving Louise that is explored throughout the film, and it does something interesting with it, without undoing it, and it ends with a sense of melancholy which I like.

I really like this film. I have a couple of niggles. The film does skip over some of the practical issues of understanding an alien language, but I think this was probably a necessary concession to pacing and focus. The race-against-time element of the ending is a bit contrived, but it didn't really bother me.

The acting is very good. In particular, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner give very good subtle performances.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 23 Feb 2018, 13:39

4: 88 Minutes (2007) - A thriller directed by Jon Avnet

Dr. Jack Gramm (Al Pacino) is a Forensic Psychiatrist, who provided crucial expert testimony at the trial of the "Seattle Slayer", a prolific serial killer. Nine years after his conviction, when the Slayer is due to be executed, a similar string of murders begins, and the authorities open an investigation and question Dr. Gramm about the new murders, as well as re-opening the investigation into those from nine years ago. Meanwhile, he receives a sinister message saying he has 88 minutes to live. He has 88 minutes to solve the case and save his life.

This film starts reasonably well. I think the quick pace of events, and fairly stylish filming and editing help keep things going for a good chunk of the film. However, I think in the end this does not disguise the many flaws, which leave this a film that doesn't add up to anything.

In the end, the plot is full of holes and feels like just a random series of events rather than a coherent story. The supporting acting is pretty universally flat and unengaging, which makes it difficult to care who is behind everything. It also doesn't help that Al Pacino's forays into righteous indignation or vulnerability are over-acted and fall flat.

It seems there are a lot of potentially interesting ideas, of miscarriages of justice, over-reliance on expert witnesses, and of the psychology of serial killers, or of dealing with grief, but none of them are developed at all. In fact, we get very little background on the past murders, and the evidence involved in those cases, which seems like a fatal flaw in a film where a key element is about discrediting a key witness.

I don't think this ultimately rises to the level of a well done formula thriller.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 23 Feb 2018, 15:22

5: Ant-Man (2015) - A superhero movie directed by Peyton Reed

After his release from prison, thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has difficulty finding legitimate work, and ends up taking on a safe-cracking job, only to end up being recruited by scientist Hank Pym to use his Ant-Man suit to shrink to microscopic size and steal the yellow-jacket suit, and preventing its potential being exploited by his protege, the amoral Darren Cross.

I really like this film. I think it mixes a lot of different elements and tones, and does it without missing a beat. Tonally, it mixes rye, acerbic wit with goofy comedy, inventive and thrilling action, and moments of genuine pathos and sadness. Plot-wise it combines issues of ex-criminals having difficulty finding work, two touching mother-daughter relationships, the relationship between mentor and protege, and of the dangers of technology.

I think what makes the film work, as well as the sharp writing and directing, and the nuanced acting, is that the characters and their plot-lines are given time to breathe, and things are kept at the character level. This does lead to some plot-contrivances to give everyone a meaningful role in the finale, but mostly works well to develop the various themes of the movies.

This is now one of my favourite of the MCU, although I have some catching up to do.
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Wonder what Matt and James will say.

Postby VileTerror » 23 Feb 2018, 18:08

Nice to see a positive review of Ant-Man. I'm not entirely sure why, but that one gave me the most firm feeling of having "honest fun" of any of the M.C.U. movies. All the other ones gave me a sense of "manufactured fun," like they were too perfectly scripted and didn't have enough flaws to feel genuine . . . even though I know that's probably a preposterous feeling to have about any of their movies.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 06 Mar 2018, 15:46

6: Fracture (2007) - A thriller directed by Gregory Hoblit

Theodore "Ted" Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), an aeronautical engineer, shoots his wife in cold blood, and confesses to the police officer who comes to the scene. The case appears to be open-and-shut. The prosecutor is William "Willy" Beachum (Ryan Gosling) an ambitious lawyer who is keen to finish the case and start his new job at prestigious law firm Wooton & Simms. He initially takes the case lightly, but gradually finds that the case is less straightforward than it seems, and is drawn into a cat-a-mouse game with the cunning and manipulative Crawford.

It seems that Anthony Hopkins is the obvious choice for a manipulative and cunning individual who enjoys toying with people. He plays his role well, and is a very effective and threatening villian. The interesting thing here is that Beachum doesn't take Crawford, or much of anything, very seriously. This means that initially, the scenes of Crawford are tense, but the scenes of Beachum (even with Crawford) are more off-beat and comical, and it seems like the focus on Beachum and his cushy new job at the start distract from the serious tone of the case. I also find the cocky, wise-cracking side of Gosling a bit annoying.

It seems that this mix of tones might be partly deliberate. There is a sense that the film is as distracted by Beachum's new job as Beachum himself is. As he realises that the case is not going to be straightforward, and is drawn into a battle of wits with Crawford, his tone becomes more serious and intense, and he starts to realise the stakes of the game he is playing. He also starts to re-evaluate the merits of his career path, and the nature of his new employer.

Overall it is an effective thriller. As the tensions escalate, the paring of Gosling and Hopkins works very well, and I like the way Beachum's confrontation with Crawford leads to him become more intense but also more thoughtful. The resolution to the mystery is elegant and fits together well, although I'm sure someone with legal knowledge could challenge some of the legal procedure. It feels like more than just a thriller by-the-numbers, I think elevated by the standard of the acting, which makes the characters come alive. It's not particularly deep, but it doesn't really try to be either.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 07 Mar 2018, 15:42

7: Your Name (2016) - A Japanese animated comedy-drama

Mitsuha is a high school girl in rural Japan, who finds her small town boring, and longs for the hustle and bustle of the big city. One night she dreams of being Taki, a high school boy from Tokyo, but soon she realises that the dream is real and that they are both swapping bodies with each other at random.

The film starts as a charming and funny body-swap and slice-of-life comedy, as both protagonists navigate their part-time lives and their "relationship" without meeting or talking to each other, by leaving notes for each other. I think even if this was the tone and plot throughout, it would have been an interesting take on the body-swap film, if a bit slight.

However, partway through it takes a detour that gives the film more dramatic weight, and resonance. At times it is hearbreaking, but it is also uplifting and heartwarming. I think it is fundamentally an optimistic film, that I enjoyed quite a lot. I don't know if it's a classic, but it is warm-hearted and very enjoyable.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 31 Mar 2018, 14:24

8. Copycat (1995) - A psychological thriller directed by Jon Amiel

Dr. Helen Hudson Sigourney Weaver) is an expert on serial killers. She is attacked by serial killer Daryll Lee Cullum (Harry Connick Jr.) at one of her lectures, and survives, but the trauma leaves her agoraphobic and prone to panic attacks. Despite being housebound, when a new serial killer emerges she contacts the police with her theory, and ends up reluctantly teaming up with police officer M.J. Monahan (Holly Hunter).

I think this is a very tense and disturbing psychological thriller. What really makes it work is the acting. Both serial killers are creepy in interesting ways. Daryll Lee Cullum is more playful in the manner of a predator toying with his prey, while the new killer is superficially likable, disguising a very nasty side. Weaver in her turn is convincing as someone suffering the effects of a traumatic ordeal, and being both trapped in her home, but also treating it as a sanctuary from the outside world, which makes any intrusion into it all the more traumatic. She also convinces in her analysis of the mental makeup and tendencies of serial killers.

I think because Weaver is the emotional heart of the film, and the character we are introduced to first when we see both the attack she suffers and the isolation she is in, it takes longer to warm to Holy Hunter's M.J. She is portrayed as being a bit of a wisecracker who doesn't seem to take things seriously, at least on the surface. I think this is a believable way of portraying cops, particularly as M.J. is skeptical and dismissive of Hudson's theories, but it means that there is an emotional distance between us and her. I think she ends up as more relateable later on as she forms a partnership with Hudson, and other events lead to her (and the other cops) taking things a bit more seriously. When the nail-biting conclusion arrives both Weaver and Hunter have a key part to play, and have a satisfying conclusion to their story arcs.

The plot is generally well-executed and feels like an original take on the genre. There are a few contrivances that didn't really bother me when watching, but only really when thinking about things afterwards. The only one that I think bothered me at the time involved attributing motives to the killer based on his quoting a song by The Police (Murder by Numbers). I don't think it really contributed to the plot, and it felt unconvincing when the rest of the psychological profiling felt more ground in reality.

Overall I think it is a very good thriller with a very satisfying conclusion.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 01 Apr 2018, 16:43

9. Event Horizon (1997) - A science-fiction horror movie directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

In 2047 a crew are assembled to investigate the distress signal of the starship Event Horizon, which disappeared on its maiden voyage. As they investigate the starship the discover the crew of the Event Horizon has been massacred by an unknown entity that has taken over the ship, and now turns its attention on the investigators.

I think this is a very effective horror movie, that conjures an atmosphere of dread and foreboding. I think the acting talent involved is a key to this, as the crew of the Lewis and Clark who are sent to investigate are initially prone to banter and good humour, but become a lot more sober and serious as the seriousness of the threat becomes apparent, and they suffer from hallucinations that torment them based on their individual fears and personal guilt. I think the way the movie shows the effect that events are having on the crew members, and the conflicts it leads to, is the main strength of the film. I think this is helped by the fact that the characters are believable and distinct (even if some are not very developed).

The plot is a bit disjointed, and perhaps sacrificed at times for spectacle and horror, but I think not knowing what is happening ends up contributing to the atmosphere and the sense of dealing with an otherworldly force. Personally, I think I prefer horror movies where the threat is more well-defined (as in It Follows), or where the nature of the threat is revealed over the course of the movie.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 20 Apr 2018, 15:47

10. Cloverfield (2008) - A found-footage horror movie directed by Matt Reeves

Rob Hawkins is planning to leave New York for a well-paid job in Japan. His friends throw a surprise party to celebrate his move, but it is interrupted when a gigantic monster attacks the city, forcing the guests to flee for their lives. The film is presented as the footage of one of the guests, discovered in the wreckage of the area "formerly known as Central Park",

I think the spectacle of the movie and the atmosphere are the key selling points. The design of the monster is well done, and the devastation that it causes is shocking and portrayed with visual panache. The first-person perspective is distinctive and gives it a feeling of being there. I'm not sure if the hand-held camerawork adds anything, but it didn't really bother me either. I think the important point is the limited point of view, so we only see things from the perspective of the characters and thus know very little about the nature of the monster, which I think adds to the atmosphere.

The characters and their plot are interesting but fairly lightweight. They seemed to be written mainly in service to the unfolding events in the city. The plot is also a bit contrived to justify the viewpoint character carrying around a video camera.

I think Cloverfield is an enjoyable movie that works as a rollercaster ride that engages on a visceral level, rather than being invested in the characters and their stories.


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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 26 Apr 2018, 12:28

11: Captain America: Civil War (2016) - An American superhero film directed by Anthony and Joe Russo

Collateral damage due to The Avengers' previous missions leads to a movement to impose oversight on them. While some of them are keen to sign the Sokavia Accords, and agree to act under the authority of the United Nations, others disagree, and the resulting argument leads to a rift between the former allies, with Captain America and Iron Man leading opposing factions.

I think this film has its moments, but I think it is let down by a few elements.

Firstly, the idea of the Avengers giving up their autonomy is an interesting idea, but I don't think it is very developed. It isn't really clear what the stakes of both sides are. We never seem to get to the point of the Avengers being given orders that they disagree with, only of fairly nebulous philosophical arguments. It seems that the main effect is to divide the Avengers in two. I think the characters make convincing and heartfelt arguments for their respective sides, that fit their characters, but given that much of the thrust of the opening of the film is the Sokavia Accords, it could have done with having more substance.

The rest of the opening has two main threats, the Winter Soldier, who I don't find an interesting villain, and the shadowy Helmut Zemo who barely seems to appear.

I think the first half has some nice character moments, but the pacing is slow, and the plotting seems rather aimless, due to the lack of stakes. The second half of the film is more effective, as the battle-lines are drawn and tensions rise between the Avengers, and Zumo's plan unfolds. I really like the ending, which makes everything personal between Captain America and Iron Man.

The introduction of Spiderman and his personal motives to join the fight, is surprisingly poignant, and I like the fact this incarnation of Peter Parker is a different approach from the previous film versions.

This isn't a bad film, but at the beginning is somewhat slow-paced and directionless in plot, and I think the faultline between the Avengers should have had more tangible results to trigger the division it does.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 02 May 2018, 14:43

12: La La Land (2016) - A musical comedy written and directed by Damien Chazelle.

La La Land is a love story about Mia (Emma Stone), a struggling actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jobbing musician, as they fall in love, and attempt to follow their dreams in Hollywood.

I really liked La La Land. It has a certain dreamlike quality, and it had me under its spell from the beginning. It is a fundamentally nostalgic and hopeful portrait of Hollywood, but it is also down-to-earth when it needs to be, and has a lot of wry observations of life in Hollywood. It is heartbreaking and poignant at times, and I really cared for the characters and their struggles.

The music is woven into the film very smoothly so doesn't jar at all, but feels like a natural part of the way people express emotions. It also fits with the loving way the film is shot, full of beautiful scenery and imbuing the scenes with a sense of magic. It also helps that Emma and Ryan are good at maintaining their characters in musical numbers.

I think that both leads are very good in their roles, and are both very funny, but also very empathetic.

I think the only point where the film threatened to lose me slightly was the Planetarium sequence, which was perhaps a bit too disconnected from reality. I suspect if I watched it again it probably wouldn't bother me at all.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 20 May 2018, 14:12

13: Baby Driver (2017) - An action crime film directed by Edgar Wright

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver who has been coerced into working for Doc (Kevin Spacey) Baby has had Tinnitus since childhood and uses music to cancel out the ringing in his ears, and so he has a constant soundtrack to his life. While initially he manages to keep away from the dirty side of the heists he works, he gradually is drawn more into the grim reality of crime, as the big score looms and the stakes and tension amongst the gang escalates. Meanwhile, he meets a waitress that he starts to fall for, and does everything he can to avoid her being drawn into his life of crime.

I found this underwhelming, which was a surprise for me as I am an Edgar Wright fan. I think a big part of this is the use of music to drive the story. At times, particularly in the more tense moments towards the end, I think using music to heighten the mood works well. However I get the impressions that the music is supposed to be a constant reflection of Baby's emotional life, but I didn't have the necessary emotional response for this to work. It seems to me that Edgar Wright usually tells his stories visually, and there are some nice visual storytelling moments in this film too, it mostly uses music to convey emotion. Perhaps I am more emotionally affected by visuals in films than the soundtrack.

In turn, I think this left Baby as hard to empathise with, as he is very taciturn and detached. He becomes more engaging as things start to spiral out of control, and he is unable to stay detached, but this is a bit too-little-too-late.

I thought the chase scenes were very well done, and I like the ending, but overall the film didn't really work for me.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 May 2018, 13:23

14: Doctor Strange (2016) - A superhero fantasy film directed by Scott Derrickson

Stephen Strange is an arrogant surgeon. When he is severely injured in a car accident, his hands are crippled, and when conventional procedures do not work, in desperation he seeks healing at a temple in Nepal and discovers that the temple acolytes have access to powers beyond his understanding, and is drawn into the temple's mission to protect the earth from mystical threats.

I like this film, and I found it interesting, but it didn't engross me like some of the others. The visuals as imaginative, in particular, the way that buildings and cities are shifted and rotated at will. Also, I like the way the characters have debates and disagreements about the nature of their power and how to use it. All the perspectives feel reasonable and make sense. This film also introduces a new side to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it will be interesting to see how it fits into the larger universe.

I think my main complaint is that I just wasn't as engrossed in Strange's journey as I think I was supposed to, perhaps because he is (at least initially) not very easy to like.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 May 2018, 14:04

15: The Lego Batman Movie (2017) - A computer-animated superhero comedy directed by Chris McKay

When Batman's nemesis discovers his obsession with Batman is not required, he devises an audacious evil plot to impress his nemesis. Meanwhile, the new commissioner (Barbara Gordon) is determined to remove the need for Batman, and Batman inadvertently adopts an orphan
(Dick Grayson). Events conspire to lead Batman to see the value in friendship and teamwork, as he works together with Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson to foil Joker's plot.

I really like this film. I think it works as a very sharply written and fast-paced parody of various portrayals of Batman and his allies and enemies, and assorted other characters. It's possible we are meant to be more involved in Batman's character arc, from loner to keen team player, but
I didn't really, and just enjoyed it as a really funny comedy..
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 03 Jun 2018, 14:08

16: Moana (2016) - A computer-animated musical adventure film

Moana is the daughter of the chief of the Island of Motunui. She feels a bond with the ocean, and find a stone (the heart of Te Fiti) that was stolen by demi-god Maui, taking away the goddess's life-giving power.

Moana is eager to voyage on the oceans, but her father is convinced that it is too dangerous to leave the safety of the island. When she discovers that the food on the island is becoming scarce, she sets out to find Maui, to convince him to return the heart and restore the goddess's power.

I really enjoyed this. I thought Auliʻi Cravalho played the role of Moana with subtlety and nuance. She is a complex character, at times headstrong and confident (possible over-confident), but also at times vulnerable and unsure of herself. In turn, it shouldn't be surprising to know that Dwayne Johnson can play and egotistical and charismatic Maui well, but he also brings surprising vulnerability to be role when needed. Also, the standard of the songs is very high. I don't think there is a song I don't like, and they all move the story forward.

The plot can be a bit aimless at times, but the performances, songs and plentiful moments of comedy more than make up for any plot issues. Also, the plot is an interesting contrast to some previous Disney offerings in that it has no real overall villain, being focused more on the two leads. Also, Alan Tudyk plays a chicken, and along with the animators gets a lot of comic mileage out of it.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 03 Jun 2018, 14:52

17: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - A science fiction adventure directed by James Gunn

The Guardians of the Galaxy successfully protect valuable batteries on behalf of the Sovereign race, but when Rocket Raccoon steals the batteries, he angers the vengeful Sovereign, who set off in pursuit. Peter Quill's father intercepts the Guardians and takes Peter to his home planet to explain his complex ancestry. Meanwhile, the Sovereign continue their pursuit and recruit Yondu Udonta and his Ravagers to find the Guardians.

I think this film is a major misstep compared to the original. The introduction of Ego, Peter Quill's father, leads to a lot of exposition and father-son bonding, which takes up much of the film but there is very little drama until near the end. This also robs the other storyline involving the Soveign and Ravagers of momentum or tension. I think there are a few nice character moments, particularly towards the end, but the focus on Peter Quill and his father really hurts the pacing, and I really wasn't interested in it for most of the film.

This contrasts with the original, which I thought kept the pace up throughout, and juggled a number of different characters all with their own motivations and agendas. It had quiet moments, but they seemed to serve to provide context to the action and provide more motivation to the characters. It seems that Peter Quill works best as a desperate man trying to survive in a hostile universe.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 08 Jul 2018, 14:20

18: The Simpsons Movie (2007) - An animated comedy directed by David Silverman

After Greenday die in Springfield's polluted lake, the town makes an effort to clean up the local environment, which is scuppered when Homer carelessly dumps waste in the lake, leading to sanctions being imposed by the corrupt head of the EPA.

I enjoyed this quite a lot. It was touching at times, but mostly it was very funny throughout. It wasn't a non-stop stream of gags, but there were a lot of laughs, and the irreverent and satirical tone (with some more heartfelt moments), seems to carry over from the TV series well. Also, the plot seems to fit with the style of the TV series, and it doesn't suffer the problem of some sitcom to film adaptations where the writers have to use a contrived reason to expand the scope of the plot to justify the extended running time. In this case, the TV series frequently drew from films, and had larger scale plots, so having a plot with a larger scope seemed natural.

Compared to the TV series episodes I don't think this would rank with the best of all time, but it would probably rank fairly highly. Perhaps it lacks the pace of the better TV series episodes by being movie length.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 09 Jul 2018, 14:16

19: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) - A superhero film directed by Jon Watts

After Peter Parker's brief stint as part of the faction of the Avengers lead by Tony Stark, he goes back to high school, but still feels he belongs as one of the Avengers. Eager to prove himself, he tries to help those in his neighboorhood and stumbles on a gang smuggling highly advanced alien weaponry.

I found I didn't really get into this movie for the first half or so. I think the turning point is when Peter proves he is out of his element and is reprimanded by Tony Stark. This leads to Peter engaging more with the school, but also soon afterwards learns of the Vulture's real identity, I think the second half works better as you see Peter engage with his community and the people he cares about more, which I think is probably his main strength as a character. Also finding out about the Vulture and his motives makes him a more interesting character. Perhaps this makes the Peter Parker more interesting than the Spiderman alter-ego, or perhaps what makes things more interesting towards the end is that Peter sees the consequences of the action set-pieces that he is involved in.

In other news, it seems that I have great difficulty telling Michael Keaton apart from Kevin Costner. Also, I now know where that Captain America meme comes from, and the final post-credits scene is a masterful troll.
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 17 Jul 2018, 02:53

20: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - A space opera directed by Rian Johnson

The First Order have destroyed much of the Resistance, and control a large section of the galaxy. The Resistance are forced to retreat, with the First Order in hot pursuit. Due to their desperate situation, Poe Dameron enlists Finn and mechanic Rose Tico to embark on a secret mission to disable the First Order's tracking device, to allow the fleet to escape.

Meanwhile, Rey has found Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Order. She believes he can lead the Resistance to victory against the First Order, and teach her to understand the nature of the Force powers she is developing. However Luke is reluctant to pass on his knowledge of the Force.

I really like this. As with the Force Awakens, it has the right blend of wonder, humour and drama. The space battles are visually inventive but also feel meaningful and have weight to them. I like the character of Rose, she is an interesting mix of optimistic and world-weary. Holdo isn't very likable at first, but we later see things from her perspective. The section of the film on the casino planet Canto Bight is the part that seems like it could have been out of place in a different director's hands, but here we are reminded of how someone gets to be rich enough to be a high-stakes gambler, which gives it context. I was reminded of The Fifth Element, and its bizarre leaps of tone, that The Last Jedi avoids even in this section.

The section involving Rey, Luke and Kylo Ren is probably the part that I like the best. Luke is interesting as a very reluctant mentor, and the reveal of his role in setting Ren on a dark path is very affecting. Also, the connection between Rey and Kylo, and their attempts to sway each other to their side is interesting. I also like the way their mental connection is portrayed by the simple exercise of cutting between two different views and using the magic of editing. I like Ren more in this film than the previous one. I don't think the character has changed drastically, I think I just know what sort of character they are going for.

I did have some doubts. It felt like the dire position of the Resistance in this movie is somewhat at odds to the fairly triumphal tone of the end of The Force Awakens, and the fact that this movie follows on almost immediately from that one. I think it makes sense plot-wise, but it is a bit odd to start a movie with the Resistance in peril when the previous one ended with a Resistance victory. One of the battles involves bombers which are a bit too literal, in the sense that in space a fleet of "bombers" wouldn't need to approach from "above" their target. Also, it feels like the Resistance's retreat is a bit long. Overall, I think this is a very good addition to the canon, that retains the spirit of the originals, while not being afraid to take the series in new directions. The ending seems to be hinting that is the approach they will be taking in future movies, and I am fully in favour of this approach.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 17 Jul 2018, 03:31

21: The Game (1997) - A mystery thriller directed by David Fincher

Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is an investment banker, who is given a gift of a voucher for a "game" run by the company Consumer Recreation Services. He reluctantly agrees to partake in it, but soon finds that he can't tell what is real and what is part of the game.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. I find that films that blur the line between reality and fantasy, and are built around not knowing who the trust, really get to me. This is a really well-executed version of that sort of film. I thought the acting from Michael Douglas was good, but Sean Penn as his brother is prone to over-acting at times, although that may have been deliberate. I think the directing, cinematography and editing are what carry the film.

In retrospect, it is rather preposterous, but I found it very enjoyable, and I think it is a movie where you just have to go along for the ride. I think the ending cleared up any misgivings I had about the plot.
Silverfish
Posts: 195
Joined: 22 Jan 2011, 17:14
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 17 Jul 2018, 04:01

22: Love & Friendship (2016) - A period comedy directed by Whit Stillman, based on the novel Lady Susan by Jane Austen.

In 1790s England, the film follows Lady Susan Vernon's calculating exploits in securing a husband for herself and her daughter Frederica.

I enjoyed this as a witty comedy, and in particular, Lady Susan's lines are frequently utterly false or nonsensical but are delivered as those she utterly believes them. I also found Tom Bennett played the role of Sir James Martin, (an amiable but idiotic potential suitor to Frederica) with great aplomb, and I found the character very funny.

It feels like the dry delivery of the lines suggests the sort of movie that some people would find absolutely hysterical, but while I found it consistently funny, it felt like I was missing something. This was my feeling with The Grand Budapest Hotel, although then it didn't work for me at all, whereas here it was frequently very funny. Also, it only worked for me on the level of a comedy, but I don't know if it was trying to be anything deeper.
Silverfish
Posts: 195
Joined: 22 Jan 2011, 17:14
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 29 Jul 2018, 11:44

23: Bullitt (1968) - A thriller directed by Peter Yates

Ambitious politician Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) requests for police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) to be assigned to protect his star witness. But when the witness is attacked under police protection, Bullitt's determination to root out the culprits puts him at odds with Chalmers.

Going into this film, I think I was expecting more of an action film (rather than a thriller), and it took a while to get used to the pacing and the style. Once I did, I found the built up of tension very effective, and the action scenes (in particular the justly-famous car chase) similarly start slow and built up to a climax. At the beginning, I didn't think I would get into this, but as it went on it drew me in, and I really enjoyed it.
Silverfish
Posts: 195
Joined: 22 Jan 2011, 17:14
First Video: The Gay Chicken

Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 29 Jul 2018, 12:16

23: Thor: Ragnarok (2017) - A superhero film directed by Taika Watiti

On Odin's death, his daughter Hela, the Goddess of death, is freed from her Prison, and is determined to take back the throne of Asgard. Thor escapes her attack but crash-lands on the alien world of Sakaar, where he is imprisoned as a Gladiator forced to fight by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). He is forced to find allies in order to escape, and protect Asgard from Hela.

While there were a few funny moments, I have to admit that this film didn't work for me at all. I think this is one of those movies that has a very particular style and tone that either works for you or falls flat.

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