Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

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Silverfish
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 17 Jan 2019, 12:49

5: Jurassic Park (1993) - A science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg

This is another film that "everyone" has seen, that I'm catching up on. It was a bit of an odd experience. In the first half, I thought the dinosaurs were well done, and they set up the sense of threat they can pose while giving a real sense of awe to the occasions when we see them in the flesh. However, I thought the characters were fairly annoying, particularly Jeff Goldblum, but most of the cast as well. I think the issue is that the comedic tone of the dialogue seems rather ham-fisted, or perhaps it just doesn't date very well.

In the second half, when things start to go wrong, it is a really good action horror/thriller. The sense of danger and tension is maintained throughout, and the dinosaur effects are both believable and characterful. The raptors are a standout for me, as they are convincingly played as playful but highly dangerous predators. Also, I found the characters a lot more likable when they have to face up to the threat that the dinosaurs pose, and the tone of the conversations becomes more serious. Richard Attenborough in this section is excellent, at one point combining absolute terror that his grandchildren are in serious danger, and misplaced faith that the mistakes in the Jurassic Park project can still be corrected. I still don't think Jeff Goldblum adds anything to the film, although he is less annoying in the second half. Laura Dern makes a more convincing case than he can that the project was always doomed to failure, as she forcefully argues this to Richard Attenborough.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 10 Feb 2019, 09:32

6: A Ghost Story (2017) - A supernatural drama written and directed by David Lowery.

I found this an ultimately frustrating film by the end. At the beginning, the film has an intriguing atmosphere, and it has a sense of quiet and stillness, which emphasizes the intricate soundscape it conjures up. The film also plays with the idea of a ghost story in interesting ways, as we see some events from the perspective of the ghost. Also, the quiet moments really pay off when the intensity builds, and the film deals with grief in a powerful way in Rooney Mara's performance.

The issue is that the film takes a detour partway through, and I just lost patience in it. Perhaps this was inevitable, as for me the film worked more as a mood piece, rather than a traditional narrative film, and it would have been hard to sustain that for a full film. Or perhaps it's just that I wasn't really interested in the things the director wanted the film to talk about.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 10 Feb 2019, 09:51

7: Psycho (1960) - A psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock

There's not much to say here. I agree with the critic consensus, this is a very accomplished thriller by a master of the form.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 10 Feb 2019, 10:12

8: Ocean's Eleven (2001) - A heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh

This is another of the films that "everyone has seen" that I'm catching up with. I really like this film. My impression through pop culture osmosis is that it was going to be a very glossy film with an emphasis on style, but from the start it drew me in, and it steers a fine line between style and substance, between a light-hearted tone and the events of the film having real weight, and between a feeling of believability, and of escapism. A lot of this is down to the cast, in particular, George Clooney, who know how to maintain the necessary tone.

The film maintains the tension throughout and has an excellent twist that is both a surprise but also is skillfully foreshadowed. The heist itself is intricately plotted. Another surprise was that the heist is run more like an elaborate con, with less emphasis on breaking through the security directly, and more on subterfuge and deception.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 10 Feb 2019, 10:14

Out of curiosity, are many people reading this? It seems fewer people are commenting than before, which might be because the forum is less active with the discord becoming more important.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 10 Feb 2019, 14:00

9: Identity (2003) - A psychological thriller directed by James Mangold

For the record, I knew of the twist of this film going in, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I knew the twists to Psycho, but it still worked anyway. In this case, the beginning was well done, but it ultimately fell flat.

There are two strands to the film. One involves a defense attorney and a psychiatrist attempting to convince the judge that a murderer should not be executed, due to insanity. We see a slice of this at the beginning, which is intriguing, but ultimately it doesn't make any sense.

The other strand forms the bulk of the film, and involves a disparate group of people forced to seek refuge in a motel during a storm, and being killed off one by one. The beginning of this was interesting, as someone is hit by a car, and we see multiple overlapping viewpoints, which made me think this was going to be an interesting film, where you have to pay attention to what is happening. I was thinking of the likes of Memento, which has a similar structure.

However, this is abandoned for most of the film, in favour of a mystery thriller, in the vein of And Then There Were None. However, the problem is that the story doesn't make sense. No-one is given a motive for killing the others (And Then There Were None gives everyone a clear motive), and the characters get themselves killed by running around the motel for no apparent reason. It didn't help that I didn't care about the characters. Even given all that, the final scene is audaciously nonsensical in a way that almost warrants applause.

I'm going to spoil the film, to explain in more detail.

Partway through it is revealed that the murderer has multiple personalities, and the story at the motel is happening inside his mind as the psychiatrist is staging some sort of intervention to try to eliminate the personality responsible for the murders. The framing story doesn't make sense, as the film seems to take the line that somehow this will prevent the murderer being executed, as the murdering personality will no longer exist. It seems to be a hamfisted way of adding to the stakes, as the intervention must be concluded to stop the murderer being executed.

All of this might justify the motel storyline not making sense, but this seems like a cop-out. Even if it isn't real, it should have some sort of logic to it, especially as it makes up the bulk of the film. Alternatively, there should be something that ties the events to the real world. Inside Out, for example, does both very effectively. The final scene involves the apparent survivor of the motel incident being killed by the boy, who is assumed dead, and we have a very quick flashback to show how he is responsible for killing everyone, but it is completely out of left-field.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Jamfalcon » 12 Feb 2019, 09:10

Silverfish wrote:Out of curiosity, are many people reading this? It seems fewer people are commenting than before, which might be because the forum is less active with the discord becoming more important.


I am, at least for the movies I'm interested in! But yeah, for the forum is getting quieter and quieter, and I know for myself, I'm checking it less often just because there's so rarely anything new. Most of what I do here now is report spam.

(Which I accidentally did with this post instead of quoting, because it's been so long since I've needed to. Oops. Mods, please ignore that report :P )
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Dutch guy » 14 Feb 2019, 04:26

Same goes for me.I come here every once in a while, but not very often anymore.

*sometimes.. I come here to think*
Last edited by Dutch guy on 05 Jun 2019, 03:32, edited 1 time in total.
THE DUTCH!! THE DUTCH AGAIN!!!!!
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 26 Feb 2019, 14:48

10: Tully (2018) - A comedy-drama directed by Jason Reitman

I really enjoyed this. I knew something of the twist, but it didn't really detract from my enjoyment, and I didn't know the full details anyway.

I thought Charlize Theron was very convincing as the mother of two, with another on the way, at the centre of the story. Both through the performance, and the cinematography, we get a real sense of the extreme pressures she is under. She also delivers the acerbic dialogue with aplomb. I think the dialogue overall is one of the strong points of the film, at times very funny, but also painfully honest at times, and very well observed. One thing that really resonated with me is the way characters dance around difficult topics, and how they try to read the subtext in what other characters are saying.

I thought Mackenzie Davis as Tully was an interesting counterpart to Theron's world-weary Marlo.

Regarding the twist, I thought it was well-handled and in keeping with the realistic feel of the drama. Quite a few of Jason Reitman's films have an emotional bombshell to them. In this film, I thought this was less the reveal that Tully wasn't real, but rather than Tully was leaving Marlo.

I've watched the film twice now. I don't think the second watch reveals a lot that I missed the first time, but there is enough to warrant a second look, and it is a good enough film to justify a second watch anyway.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 24 Mar 2019, 08:38

11: The Third Man (1949) - A film noir directed by Carol Reed.

I don't have any fresh insight into this film, but I really enjoyed it. The sense of our protagonist (Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins) being stuck in a hostile and unfamiliar city is powerful, conveyed by the stark cinematography, the use of music, and the use of unsubtitled german. What also interested me is the way the film focuses on the unseen Harry Lime, and the various characters have their own experiences and perspectives of him, as a ruthless criminal, as a lover, and as an old friend, and how the film reconciled these various accounts of his character.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 24 Mar 2019, 10:49

12: Ponyo (2008) - An animated fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki

I enjoyed this film, but I didn't quite connect with it in the way I have with some of Studio Ghibli's other work (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service in particular). Perhaps this is because much of the focus is on Ponyo herself, a fish who decides to become a human girl, rather than the human protagonist, a young boy that Ponyo befriends. The animation is beautiful, and the depiction of the ocean as an alien landscape is very well done, but is also somewhat, well, alienating.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 24 Mar 2019, 11:12

13: Zootopia (2016) - A computer-animated buddy cop comedy film directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore

This film really didn't work for me. I think a bit part is that I didn't get on with the two leads (Ginnifer Goodwin as Officer Judy Hopps, and Jason Bateman as Nick Wilde). In particular, I found Judy somewhat smug at times. It didn't help that the film is a strange mash-up of genres, veering between buddy comedy, adventure, mystery thriller and godfather parody. I found the running gag of sloths talking very slowly unfunny, and patience-testing.

The film attempts to look at issues of diversity and prejudice, but ultimately I don't think it does anything interesting with this.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 Mar 2019, 14:49

14: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) - A stop-motion action fantasy film directed and produced by Travis Knight

I really enjoyed this. First off, the animation is beautiful and inventive. In particular, we see Kubo telling dazzling stories with his Origami.

The story is well-told, mixing action adventure with genuinely creepy villains, and poignant person tale of the importance of storytelling and of honoring those we lose. The villians have an interesting motivation, with the conflict being between embracing cold uncaring immortality, and the richness of human life.

If I have a criticism, then the pace is a bit slow in the middle, and sometimes the themes of the story are laid out a bit too directly, but that is only a minor issue, and importantly this isn't an issue with the reveal of the importance of the two strings of the title, a key moment in the film.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 Mar 2019, 15:13

15: Eye in the Sky (2015) - A thriller directed by Gavin Hood

I thought this was a tense but thoughtful thriller. It focuses on the decision over whether to launch a drone strike on a house in Kenya, eliminating Al-Shabab terrorists but risking civilian casualties.

On the tense side, the film is really good at building up the tension, both regarding the consequences of a strike, and of not doing so. We see the effect both on the ground (focusing on a girl who will potentially be caught in the explosion) and on the various individuals that are part of making the decision.

On the thoughtful side, the film does a very good job of presenting the various sides of the debate, both in terms of the moral calculus of the individual act, individual responsibility, political consequences (both party politics and propaganda), and the legal issues involved. Occasionally I lost a bit of sympathy for some of the characters, but overall I think everyone gave a good account of themselves.

In retrospect, there are some issues with the film, but they are perhaps inevitable with this sort of film. The scenario is probably a bit too contrived to raise the range of issues that it does, and it is hard to believe that in a live scenario there would be quite this level of debate and discussion, but then the point of a drama such as this is to draw attention to issues in this way. Similar, everyone seems to be treating this event with supreme focus and with little humor to lighten the mood.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this, but it is a grueling watch.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 May 2019, 15:47

16: Ocean's Twelve (2004) - A heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh

I really liked the original, as it had a finely judged balance of tone, built the tension expertly, and is intricately plotted, where every element of the heist seems to fit perfectly into place. This film, by comparison, is a huge disappointment.

The beginning is interesting and promises to make things more complicated for the group, as they have to deal with a vengeful casino owner, the police, and a rival thief. If the heist scheme was as satisfyingly plotted as the original, it could have made a very satisfying sequel. Unfortunately, it ends up being a sequence of events that due to a plot twist end up being irrelevant.

There are two rather eye-roll inducing moments. The first is the Tess (played by Julia Roberts), impersonating Julia Roberts. It is fairly self-indulgent and tips the film into farce territory. The biggest flaw of this element is it exposes the fact that nothing from this point on can have been planned in detail, as any plan would have to account for a number of unpredictable elements. The other is a ridiculous sequence when one of the characters dances his way way through a laser security grid.

I think ultimately the film is let down by lazy plotting, and poorly judged tone.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 25 May 2019, 16:35

17: Spectre (2015) - A spy film directed by Sam Mendes

I was a bit apprehensive about this film, as it was the second Bond film directed by Sam Mendes, and Skyfall really didn't work for me, beyond the excellent opening sequence, and the introduction of the new Q and Moneypenny. This, however, I found to be an excellent entry in the Bond series.

The opening sequence of Spectre is really great. It has a real sense of danger, and the crowds are used to great effect to make the action more tangible. The later action sequences aren't quite as good, but only because the initial one sets a very high bar. I really got involved in the plot. I think a key part of this is that in this film, I cared more about the characters that Bond allies with. Here, he relies more on Q, Moneypenny and M, and is assisted in the field by Dr. Madeleine Swann, who makes a lively and capable ally.

The film also introduces Spectre and Blofeld in an interesting way, that both captures the feel of them from previous films, and makes them feel larger than life, while still fitting into the modern world.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 09 Jun 2019, 14:24

18: Halloween (1978) - A horror film directed by John Carpenter

I really liked this film. It starts slow, building a sense of dread and foreboding, and really cranking things up towards the end.

I think the acting is well done, but the key to how the film works seems to be the way it is constructed, both in terms of how it is shot, and how the plot is revealed.

The film is sometimes shot from a character's point of view (particularly Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode), and in those moments we only see their perspective, and the film emphases the limits of what they can see. One scene in particular, where Michael Myers is visible behind a hedge, is a perfect example. We see him disappear, and one of Laurie's friends going ahead says he is there, but when we see past the hedge Michael is gone. It is a really tense scene, as we have no idea what is waiting at the other side of the hedge.

In other scenes, there are unnatural camera angles, suggesting that someone is watching the characters, which is further emphasized when we actually see Michael step into frame.

On the way the plot is revealed, we see a variety of points of views but are only given a partial picture of what is going on. The film also throws in a number of ambiguous elements that could be Michael Myers, or could just be accidental or "just the wind", etc. I think this is important to get us in a similar headspace as the characters, who often don't know what is happening either.
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Re: Year 4: 1 year 52 Movies challenge

Postby Silverfish » 11 Jun 2019, 14:06

19: When Marnie Was There (2014) - An anime drama written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

I think this is an interesting film, and a bit of a departure from what seems to be the usual Studio Ghibli mould, which could be attributed in part to it being the first film after the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki.

The heroine Anna is withdrawn and self-conscious and harbouring self-doubt, all aspects that are convincingly portrayed, and painful to watch. The emotional arc of her opening herself up to others helps ground the film. The story involves Anna discovering an abandoned Mansion, but one night finds the mansion apparently occupied, and befriends Marnie, a girl from lives there. The mystery surrounding Marnie leads to Anna discovering more about her life, and meets a few friends whose lives have been touched by Marnie.

Overall, the tone is a bit more nuanced and grounded than some Studio Ghibli films (such as My Neighbour Totoro or Kiki's Delivery service), and it perhaps doesn't quite have the same sense of magic, but I think this is an interesting film that will stay with me a while.

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