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 » 08 Aug 2018, 13:30

24: Big Hero 6 (2014) - An animated superhero film directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams

Hiro Hamada is a robotics genius, who creates robots to fight in illegal robotic street fights. His brother convinces him to apply his talents to joining a robotics program, but a sequence of events leads to him taking on a man in a Kabuki mask who uses the power of one of Hiro's inventions, and teams up with Baymax (a robotic health-care companion), and an assorted team of science students.

I really liked this film for a number of reasons. If it was just a superhero adventure comedy, it would still be a very entertaining film. The action is thrilling and visually inventive, and the comedic moments are inspired, particularly those involving Baymax. However what makes it special is how it deals with some tough themes. The idea of dealing with grief, and depression and melancholy that can result, but also the possibility of it leading either to anger and revenge or of channeling it into something positive. The film also balances a mix of tones including comedy, adventure, horror, drama and melancholy and intense heartbreak. Baymax is a key to this, as he is initially a slapstick character, but his strange speech-patterns, his innocence, and likeability let the film let the film slip in some ideas and emotional moments via subtext that would be very on the nose if stated directly.

My main criticism is how the supporting characters aren't very developed, although they are a nice mix of characters. I think this is probably inevitable as the film is focused on Hiro's story.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 08 Aug 2018, 14:43

25: Dunkirk (2017) - A war film directed by Christopher Nolan

Dunkirk portrays the evacuation of Dunkirk during WWII from three different overlapping perspectives: Over a week on the "mole", a pier the allies are using to evacuate the soldiers from Dunkirk; over a day following one of the "little ships" that crossed the English Chanel to help with the evacuation; and one hour of a Spitfire squadron sent to protect the evacuating ships from enemy aircraft.

I really like this film and I think the particular perspective is a key part of what makes it work. The fact that we see the film through a limited set of characters is important, as we see the horrors of war directly through their eyes, at a personal level. Some of the more powerful moments are presented almost like a horror movie. However, we see enough of the larger picture to give a sense of the stakes involved. I think the film strikes the right balance in avoiding sentimentality, showing the desperate situation, touching on the harsh realities of the situation and honoring the bravery of those involved.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 26 Aug 2018, 17:03

26: Charade (1963) - A romantic comedy mystery directed by Stanley Donen.

After returning to her home in Paris after a skiing trip, Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) discovers that her husband has been killed on a train fleeing the city, and that he had a number of passports in different names. It soon becomes clear that three men are determined to collect the money that her husband had, the location of which is unknown. She teams up with Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) and tries to stay one step ahead of the trio, but Peter's motives are unclear.

This film didn't work for me. I think the key problem is that I found the humour too wacky and broad, and I just didn't find it funny. Also the fact that much of the film is played for laughs means it is hard to take the threat posed by the trio seriously. Also, I didn't feel that Grant and Hepburn had the necessary chemistry. I don't think this means this is a bad film, just one that didn't work for me.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 02 Sep 2018, 13:33

27: Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - A mystery drama directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh

After a holiday, detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) returns to London on the Orient Express. During the journey, one of his fellow passengers is murdered. While the train crew work to dig the train out of a snowdrift preventing the train traveling on, Poirot works to uncover the murderer.

I already knew the solution to the mystery, so this probably loses something, and I can't really judge the mystery element fairly. However, I think the film still has quite a bit to enjoy, and it has a very interesting conclusion.

Bearing this in mind, I found the beginning a bit slow, perhaps because it was focused more on establishing characters and going through evidence. Things get more interesting as we get into the motives of the various characters, and as further events unfold. I think the key to the film is Poirot himself, and I think Branagh is very good at portraying the way that the case challenges his ideas of justice and morality. I think this makes the film very interesting and satisfying even if you know the solution to the mystery.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 02 Sep 2018, 14:08

28: Hail, Caesar! (2016) - A historical comedy directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

In 1951, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a "fixer" for Capitol Pictures, who deals with the many potential scandals and other events that beset the film company. His biggest task is to deal with the abduction and ransom of Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) the star of the company's prestige picture Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ.

This film is a strange one for me. There are some very impressive scenes, but overall I didn't find the film very satisfying. In particular, there are very well shot pastiches that are as compelling and funny as appropriate, but seemed to be more exercises in imitation, and don't really add anything to the film as a whole. There are a couple of other very funny scenes, but the film is a bit of a patchform, without anything to tie things together. They did try with Josh Brolin, but I didn't find him a compelling character, and he is the only common elements for the many plot strands. Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle seemed like he might be getting a more interesting role, and he does get more of a chance to show his range than some of the supporting actors, but I didn't feel that his character arc really goes anyway.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 29 Sep 2018, 15:01

29: Black Panther (2018) - A superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa, the son of previous King T'Chaka, returns to assume the throne of Wakanda. Meanwhile, there are others who oppose Wakanda's policy of isolating itself from the outside world and support another claimant to the throne.

I really like this film. The action is exciting, at times visually inventive, but also has weight, both physical, but also in the stakes involved. It feels like the events of the film matter, in a way that they often didn't in Civil War (where the conflict felt insubstantial and arbitrary). This carries through to the discussions of the nature of Wakanda itself, its relations to the outside world, and the loyalties the characters have to it, and to their King. The film also has a range of interesting characters (I was particularly fond of Shuri) and it gives nuance to the villain so he has interesting motives, and isn't purely one-dimensional.

I also thought the film did a good job of showing what makes Wakanda an interesting setting without treating it as inherently foreign and strange. We see things mainly through the eyes of T'Challa, and those of other Wakandans. It is interesting that Martin Freeman, who often plays an everyman character, who provides a way into a strange situation or universe, here is treated as a fish-out-of-water, but we don't seem to be expected to sympathize with him.

My main criticism is that the ending seems a little too busy, with too many characters and plot strands. Overall that doesn't detract very much from a very good film.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 29 Sep 2018, 16:09

30: Their Finest (2016) - A wartime comedy drama directed by Lone Scherfig

In 1940's London, Catrin Cole is interviewed for a job at the Ministry of Information, which she thinks is a typing job, but discovers that she will be joining a team of writers of short information films. The team are set the task of creating a morale-boosting based on the Dunkirk evacuations, and Catrin and the team work to make their film while beset with difficulties, and while the dangers of the Blitz rage around them at night.

At first, I found the film a bit too arch for me to warm to. However, I found the relationship between Catrin and fellow writer Tom Buckley crept up on me, and it was surprisingly moving. Also, I think the film portrays the horror of the Blitz very well, and at times hints at some of the everyday indignities and prejudices of the time.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 07 Oct 2018, 14:59

31: Ex Machina (2015) - A science fiction psychological thriller directed by Alex Garland

Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is a programmer for tech company Blue Book, who wins a trip to visit the home of CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). He is told that he has been brought in to perform a test on a humanoid robot (Ava, played by Alicia Vikander) he has built, to verify if she really is intelligent. However, it becomes clear that there may be other motives at play.

I really like the film. As a thriller, it is very good at playing on issues of who can be trusted, and what motives the characters have. From early on we are aware that the house is filled with cameras, which is quite a paranoid idea, as it leads to the thought of who might be watching who. Also, all the actors play their parts very well, which is very important when people's motives are hidden. The cinematography is stylish, and the storytelling deliberately keeps exposition fairly minimal, which I think contributes to the sense of paranoia, as we don't know very much about any of the characters.

The film also veers into horror very effectively at times, while also playing with ideas of the nature of humanity, and of intelligence, consciousness, and morality.

I don't think this would have worked if it focused on the philosophical issues raised by AI, but as a thriller with philosophical ideas blended in it is very effective.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 22 Oct 2018, 14:49

32: The Disaster Artist (2017) - A biographical comedy-drama directed by James Franco

This film is a dramatization of how Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau, their friendship, and how they end up making The Room, hailed as one of the worst movies of all time.

This movie did very little for me. It didn't annoy me, but it just left me cold. The first scene was actually very interesting and funny, as we see Greg's performance (restrained and wooden), compared to Tommy's (bizarre and over-the-top). However nothing after this really involved me. In particular, for the rest of the movie, I found Franco's performance as Tommy felt more like an impression that an acting performance, so I didn't really feel invested in his story. There are moments when it felt like there was a genuine character being portrayed, but these were few and far between. I also didn't feel invested in Greg's side of the story either.

As a film based on a true story I also felt it suffered from seeming to be more a collection of facts and anecdotes, without any logic to tie them together. Many of the scenes are just either a real thing mentioned (e.g. Greg watches Gilmore Girls for the sole purpose of allowing him to comment that he auditioned for the role of Dean), or with someone giving a sly wink to the audience (e.g. When Tommy films in front of a fake wall rather than the real wall in the alley outside, and Seth Rogen's character says something like "why don't we film in front of the real wall"). It seems like a better approach would be more of a documentary/discussion as that would have lent itself to allowing the cast and crew to discuss the events surrounding the film without trying to make it into a story.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 22 Oct 2018, 15:27

33: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) A fantasy adventure comedy directed by Jake Kasdan

Four assorted high-school students are all put in detention and are assigned to remove the staples from the large collection of magazines that are due to be recycled. They find an old video game console and a game, and intend to play it to pass the time, but find themselves transported to the world of the game, and they must restore the Jaguar's Eye jewel to its statue in order to save the world of Jumanji, win the game, and escape to the real world.

I really liked this film. Firstly, it is very funny. There are some funny moments as in the real world, but the bulk of them are in the virtual world of the game, as the character play as avatars who are very different from themselves. I think Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan are the most entertaining, as the contrast between them being really stereotypically attractive (Johnson is Dr. Smolder Bravestone, essentially an Indiana Jones type, and Karen Gillan is Ruby Roundhouse, who is a martial artist who dresses similarly to Lara Croft) and the characters who play them being awkward nerdy types, works really well. Jack Black as Professor Shelly Obero (played by Madison, the popular girl) was entertaining as well. Kevin Hart is entertaining, but this feels like a fairly standard Kevin Hart performance.

The comedy also helps with the sense of fun and adventure that the film has. It has a sense of magic, and seems to recall kid's adventure films from the 1980s and 1990s (the original Jumanji amongst them). The video game concept is a good conceit in that it lets it get away with some of the over-the-top action set pieces, as well as some of the more formulaic elements. It also allows for a degree of fun with meta-gaming, as players have lives that can be sacrificed. As well as the sense of fun, it can be very tense at times, and also smuggles in a few serious observations of high-school life.

In retrospect, it isn't clear what genre the game is supposed to be, as the film picks a number of elements that fit the purposes of the story. However it seems to remain true to its own rules, which I think is all that is necessary in this sort of film.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 Nov 2018, 16:05

34: Nocturnal Animals (2016) - A psychological thriller directed by Tom Ford

Out of the blue, art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is sent the manuscript of her ex-husband's new novel, which is dedicated to her. She becomes absorbed and shocked by the raw and disturbing content, and she reflects on her former life, and the life she leads now.

It was strange watching this film, as it seemed determined for the first 10-15 minutes to do nothing to make me care about any of the characters. This was strange, as I find Amy Adams a very interesting actress, and while I've seen less of Michael Sheen and Andrea Riseborough, I've seen enough for me to expect them to be at least very watchable. Perhaps this was deliberate, as the initial section is showing the present day life of Susan, who is becoming detached and distant from the life she is leading, but it seems a waste of talent if so.

The point I became invested is when Susan starts to read the novel. A major strand of the film is her imagining of the novel, which is presented as something resembling a revisionist western. In it, Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal, who also plays Edward Sheffield, Susan's ex-husband and the writer of the novel) is powerless to protect his wife and daughter as their car is run off the road by three criminals. This strand of the film is bleak, disturbing and shocking. It is told through Tony's eyes, and Gyllenhaal powerfully portrays a feeling of helplessness and terror as event unfold. This section is probably the most effective strand of the film. We also see Susan become obsessed with the novel, and this is powerfully portrayed by Amy Adams.

We also see flashbacks of Susan and Edward, and I enjoyed this section as they have chemistry together, but you also see the cracks in the relationship, as Edward is artistic and optimistic, but Susan is more critical and cynical. Unfortunately, while we are told of the connection between this and the novel, for me it doesn't convincingly join the story told in flashback with the novel, or Susan's present-day life.

I think this is a compelling film, but it feels like a collection of parts, some of which work better than others, and I don't think they feel like they belong together.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 07 Dec 2018, 15:22

35: The Greatest Showman (2017) - A musical directed by Michael Gracey

This movie is a biopic based on the life and career of showman and entertainer P. T. Barnum.

With this movie, I liked the beginning, probably off the back of some interesting songs, and as we see Barnum's struggles to make a success of his museum of curiosities and "freaks". It also portrays the poverty of his upbringing well, in contrast to the wealth that his wife is used to. However, I think it lost my interesting when he obtains the success he desires and aimed to court high-class respectability and prestige.

I think the problem with this section, which forms the bulk of the movie, is it isn't clear why Barnum cares. We do see little vignettes of either threats of violence against the "freaks", or of prejudice shown by members of the upper classes, but it is very fleeting, and overshadowed by the bombastic visuals and songs. It also isn't clear what "upper-class" entertainment means in the world of the movie. We see opera singer Jenny Lind as a representation of it, but her song seems very much in keeping with the rest of the songs. I think the film needed a clearer antagonist to represent either the respectability that Barnum craved, or the prejudice he faced. The nearest we have are Barnum's father in law, and a solitary critic. Neither of which are developed enough to act as a suitable counterpart.

Also the movie seems to be presenting Barnum as losing touch with the "family" of the "freaks" in his show, and at one point he symbolically closes the door on them, but it doesn't really seem to do anything with this idea, as Barnum is played as at-worst slightly indifferent, rather than actively neglectful.

Overall, the songs carried me through the initial part of the film, where the story was also strongest, but the story lost me part way through. I think the success of the film is probably from people who really like the songs, rather than because of the story and characters. In my case the songs weren't enough.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 07 Dec 2018, 16:38

36: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - A superhero film directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

As Thanos aims to collect the 6 infinity stones, that will give him the power to wipe out half the population of the universe, a disparate group of heroes band together to stop them.

SPOILER WARNING

I am going to assume that everyone who wants to has seen this, or has probably already been spoiled. Certainly, I knew more than I wanted to from twitter and other sources, thanks to catching this on Blu-ray rather than in cinemas.

Overall I really liked the beginning, as we get some nice emotional moments between Vision and Scarlet Witch; and Hulk and Black Widow. Also the various fight scenes are kept relatively small scale, with only a few characters on both sides, so it is clear what everyone's role is in the fight. I particularly like the way the different characters are brought together, it feels very organic, and I think the banter and arguments between the different groups (and within the groups, in particular, the rift between the Guardians of the Galaxy when Thor turns up) is very funny, but there are nice moments of drama.

I think towards the end the movie lost me to some extent. I think there are some plot threads that didn't work for me. I didn't really get invested in Thor's quest to get a new weapon. It didn't seem to have much to do with anything else, or really have much pay-off in the final battle. I thought Gamora's plotline seemed very telegraphed, as when we are told that the Soul stone is missing, and Gamora tells Starlord that she has a secret, there really is only one possibility. Also Gamora's declaration that Thanos loves no-one seemed like a really thuddingly obvious way of leading to the "revelation" that Thanos loves her, and chooses to sacrifice her to obtain the Soul stone. Also, the climactic battle in Wakanda just seems too big for any one person to matter, which didn't really work for me.

One bit from the end that I did really like is the confrontation at Titan. There is a moment when Thanos is on the brink of defeat, but Starlord throws it away in anger at the death of Gamora. It is powerful as it is both an obvious error, but also a very believable and human response to anger.

I think the moments leading directly to Thanos's victory, and the aftermath, didn't have the impact they should have, but I suspect this was because those were the moments that had been spoiled the most, as I knew a few key people who died and that Thanos won. Also, we don't see much of the effect on the universe at large, that I suspect will be interesting to see in future movies.

Overall there is a lot to like about the movie, and I think if I had seen the film unspoiled it would have had more impact. I think that it largely delivers on the promise of the movie as being the culmination of the MCU movies to date. I also think Thanos makes an interesting villain.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 07 Dec 2018, 17:09

37: Tootsie (1982) A comedy directed by Sydney Pollack

Michael Dorsey is an actor in New York who repeatedly fails to get work due to his perfectionism and his abrasive personality. In a moment of desperation he disguised himself as a woman and is cast in a soap opera, and now has to maintain his disguise as Dorothy Michaels, while negotiating sexist behavior and his own feelings for one of his cast-mates.

This movie did nothing for me. The comedy fell flat, with only a few lines being quite funny. I didn't find the dramatic parts engaging, and the attempts at either satire or earnest examination of the gender-politics of the time felt very superficial and didn't have any impact for me. It is possible that this movie has just aged badly, or I just find Dustin Hoffman annoying, but I just thought this movie was a dud.
Silverfish
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Re: Year 3: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 08 Dec 2018, 15:48

38: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) - An action spy movie directed by Brad Bird

After an assassin steals nuclear launch codes from an IMF agent, agent Ethan Hunt and his team infiltrate the Kremlin to find out the identity of "Cobalt" a man with links to the assassin. When Cobalt implicates IMF in an attack on the Kremlin, the IMF Secretary is forced to initiate "Ghost Protocol" and disavow IMF, leaving Ethan Hunt and his team to track down Cobalt and prevent him starting a nuclear war.

I really like this film. I think the action is inventive, thrilling, and surprisingly varied. The spy-craft used mixes up cons and subterfuge, disguises, gadgetry, and stunning stunts and gunplay. The finale, in particular, is really excellent, as the tension rackets up, while it is always clear what is happening (juggling two or three plot threads). The section involving Hunt, Cobalt, and a briefcase, is particularly well choreographed.

The plot itself has a nice balance of credible geo-politics, escapist fantasy, and personal drama. When the film needs to be serious we feel the weight and importance of events, but there is enough of a sense of humour to smooth the transition to the more escapist elements, while also helping to emphasize how outrageous some of the things the team attempts really are.

Also, the heroes are distinct and well-developed, and all but Benji Dunn have their own demons to face, while Dunn is more of the comic relief, but is still a very engaging character. The main villain is given an interesting motive, which is actually not too far away from Thanos'. He isn't very developed, but he doesn't need to be, as the plot hinges on his actions rather than him sparring with the team directly.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It is probably my favourite of the series so far.

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