More or Less

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I don’t remember the last time I watched a My Cocaine film where he was the main lead. Actually, the only time where I did was back in The Italian Job. I think I’ll probably go try to see more films with him as the lead. I’m sick of seeing him as random supporting roles so it was really refreshing to see him play the lead here. This movie attracted me cause Paul Dano and Rachel Weisz is in it and to be honest, if they were I’ll be even more impartial to this. Fortunately, this film was enjoyable and insightful.

I haven’t seen This Must Be the Place so I can’t say much of Sorrentino’s second English feature film though it is a pretty standard drama film; nothing to write home about. So largely, this film depends on if you care about the actual premise and/or interested in the cast.

Paul and Rachel were foils the two old guys well.  Paul is always an interesting watch, really hope he gets a breakout role and gets widely recognized.  Though Rachel’s arc somewhat flounders and doesn’t get flesh out as much as I would like as more things are inferred rather than shown.

Keitel’s role is also kinda strange as the 3/4 mark, it solely focuses on his career and his issues but its a very abrupt transition from his story to Mike’s. I would have likened it if his presence was bigger as he feels like a supporting but when the transition happens he is the lead and Mike is just off to the side somewhere.  He brings the humor and the chuckles and its a highlight as most of the movie is rather dry and just insightful.

My Cocaine’s acting is what you expect from him so no complaints as it largely depends on how you feel about him which really isn’t saying much. Then again, most people would only watch this for him more than watching it for Sorrentino’s second English feature.

Anyway, to the actual plot.  The core premise is dealing with being old and how the world gets stuck on one specific achievement rather than your entire career.  It’s a pretty obvious discovery though it is littered throughout smaller arcs about dealing with age and how family relationships are.  It is all over the place and its not a good thing as it detracts from the focus. I mean its an interesting premise but the execution was just rather lackluster.  It does have a good pacing in regards with the subject matter and few scenes are rather memorable but the movie overall is forgettable.

I think the trailers for this doesn’t help either as it seems to paint it in a rather raunchy light with the nudity which doesn’t bring much to the table.

So what am I trying to say? Nothing much really.  Good premise but lackluster execution with acceptable performances with a memorable scene here and there. Does that interest you? If so, totally go check it out. If not, then move along.

 

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The Twin Effect

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So once again we have another based on real people movie. And once again, I wish this was a documentary instead.  At least it’s not as bad as the Black Mess, but still pretty uneventful.

The only draw to this film really is Tom Hardy and him playing the two twins. Both roles were great though Ronnie was much more entertaining to watch despite him not having as much screen-time as Reggie. Reggie is pretty atypical gangster who’s the one in charge whereas Ronnie is the loose cannon. I wish they dwell on their relationship on a deeper level.  I mean the movie IS about the two of them but it still fell pretty flat despite the fact.

Emily Browning is pretty bland here and brings nothing to the table.  With that said, everyone else in the movie is also like that.  We have Taron Egerton from the Kingsman here and I only remember him because he was in that movie; he was pretty forgettable here and I can actually say that for the entire cast excluding Tom and Emily.

It just boggles the mind how they could have made the world that this movie takes place in so bland and average. Every time they mention London or gang activities, I seriously do not know what they were talking about.  I mean they hardly ever show it. I think the gang stuff was them being an enforcer but I’m just making a blind guess here and this movie is suppose to be about gangs?  Like everything feels empty with no depth whatsoever.

So yes, this movie is average if you watch it for Tom Hardy’s performance.  And sadly, it’s not him on the screen-time the entire movie. So you got to bear with it all.

Lincoln Letter

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So the other day, I caught an advance-screening of this on 70mm and it was great.  From the overture to the intermission to the credit roll, this movie was just pure and full of Tarantino goodness.

So yes, if you don’t like his movies, you won’t like this one either. BUT! You still should go see it strictly on the notion of its cinematic value of using 70mm and using the same lenses they filmed stuff like Ben-Hur on.  Seriously, go watch it.

Anyway, on to the movie.

Plot is straightforward and simple. It ends up being a mystery type of who done it sort of thing. I enjoyed that aspect greatly.  I was just really playing the guessing game straight from the beginning when the characters are introduced and it was fun.

The sound here.  Great sound.  The score is just really awesome and it fits with this movie really well. I seriously could listen to the overture over and over again, no questions asked.

The cast here is also great.  I’m so glad to have Samuel L Jackson play the main main guy. Sure, Kurt Russell is here but this movie is more about Jackson than him despite circumstances.  Jackson is just great. It’s like a reminder to all that he can still act and that he’s not just simply a supporting character, I mean seriously, most of  his recent stuff he’s played supporting.

Everyone else is great on their role but I would have to say that Walton Goggins knocks it out of the park with his performance.  Goggins has always been in the background playing great background or side roles but here he is amazing as a supporting character.  It was just enjoyable to see his range and what he did on screen.

Tarantino does it again with his great direction with dialogue. This movie essentially takes place in a huge cabin and that’s it. Despite that, the cast can bring such a great performance and make things constantly interesting.  To me, there was never a dead beat.  If no one talked, the camera did the storytelling and it was just great/

Okay, the 70mm. Is it a fad? No. Definitely not. 48 FPS is a fad. Seriously, if 48 FPS is the ‘future’ of cinema I rather them just make 70mm cheaper and more accessible so more films can even consider doing that and not losing a huge chunk of their budget.  The landscape shots here just sets the tone and mood so much more.  It’s just great.

So praise all around.  It was really awesome to experience the overture and the intermission.  It was a nice touch to make you experience the same thing that people did back in the day.  So yeah, go watch this.  Don’t wait.  Seriously, don’t wait till this comes out on normal format. The 70mm is definitely a treat worth your while.

Landscapes have feelings too, you know?

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Just look at that. Man, the landscapes here were just spectacular!

I recently re-watched 2008’s Bolt and I was surprised how much detail animation were put into that film back in the day and it still holds up today (for me, anyway).

When I first heard about this project and the development process I was wary of the quality of this movie.  Being pushed back is not that huge of a deal but when the director is gone and the entire cast except for one person is recast? That’s a different story.

But regardless, I went to this because it’s Pixar.

So yes the best thing about this movie is the landscape and the texture design for all the close ups.  The quality is top-notch and it was awe-inspiring when that rock looks so detailed and just really great looking.

I really wish I could say the same for the rest of the movie.

Let’s start off with the good stuff.

Spot.  He’s great. No lines but still convey a lot of emotion and attitude. I enjoyed every part of it with him in it.

Next we have is the atmosphere. I don’t remember the last time a Pixar film was this dark (The Storm provides) and sad (Run, Arlo, run!).  I mean sure, Up‘s opening is pretty sad and I can’t think of a parent dying like that in a Pixar film (though it’s a complete rip-off of The Lion King without all that greatness). However, the atmosphere is different but not amazing and I’m really being optimistic when I’m adding this to the good stuff of the film.  It’s snippets of the atmosphere here and there where I wished they did more with it; sadly, they didn’t.

Okay, the other stuff.

It just lacks.  It lacks in every department except for clichés.  I mean coming off a movie like Inside Out, this just cannot compare.  Sure, it’s the first time that Pixar had two movies in one year but it doesn’t mean it can totally drop in quality in the second one. I mean look at Studio Ghibli,  The Wind Rises and Princess Kaguya both came from different teams and were totally different films but they both can stand alone on their own.

This lacks in the most crucial department and it’s in the name.  Dinosaurs. I mean seriously, Pixar has always created vibrant atmosphere and settings that just felt real and authentic and actually operational despite how big or small the actual narrative is.  This movie just felt empty and felt like each set piece was written individually and was never meant to be brought together. (Brontosaurus farmers? Sure. T-rex cowboys? Sure.  Pterodactyls as religious nuts (I say the worship the storm)? Sure.   A stoned triceratops simply there just for laughs? I guess? .)   But how they meet? How they help each other? Did no one really think of that? It just comes off random and not organic.

Maybe that’s the best way to describe it.  Things felt random and it was not a natural progression of character.

Speaking of characters, it was just boring and full of cliché.  I didn’t care for anybody except for Spot in the sense I just wanted to see him being animated; I didn’t really care about him as a character. And that’s just too bad for this film.

I don’t really have much to say really.  The Good Dino is totally forgettable.  I mean even with Cars, at the very least that concept was interesting and an update on an old idea and its memorable in a sense.

I guess you can blame this largely on production and their insistence on doing a dino movie despite all the setbacks they had for this. I read how the original story had a dino society. They didn’t want to do that because it felt like the society was the bad guy when it shunned Arlo but whatever. I would be more interested in that rather than this.

Anyway, I’m done here.

The Alien and the Farm Girl

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True story. Here we go again. It seems lately that’s the rave. True stories galore.

So here we go.

First off, all cinephiles should go watch this film. Why? Because its about a dark time of the film industry and how we got out of it.

Secondly, Bryan Cranston is really enjoyable to watch here.  He had a bit of Walter White in him but not too much to overbear Trumbo, if that makes any sense.  I just like watching him do anything really, so I’m biased.

The supporting cast is a hit or miss. Sometimes they’re really great and other not so much. I was pretty excited to see Louis CK in this but I felt like he just played himself a bit too much so it was just seeing Louie in Trumbo rather than the person he was playing.  I wish he played someone else just so I could see another side of him. But regardless of that, the Louie and Cranston did have chemistry and had a great scene about a farm.  Diane Lane had great chemistry with Cranston and really sold the whole ‘I will support you no matter what ‘ type of wife.  I really enjoyed the scenes with Elle Fanning and Cranston; I really dug their relationship.  I also really enjoyed Helen Mirren’s performance because it was a side of her that I have not seen before.  I mean sure she was tough and serious in the Red series but to see her being so conniving is interesting. John Goodman was himself again, nothing wrong with that as his temperament was a good foil against the rest of the cast.

This film was not as enjoyable as I hoped it to be but it was enjoyable nevertheless.  I guess it was just the whole waiting of getting to the meat of it.  The slow burn of getting into the state of mind of that era and the issues at hand.  It started off well when characters and things were introduced.  But the pacing was a bit off when Cranston was behind bars.  Perhaps, it was the lack of his performance but I remember him showing up from time to time but it just didn’t feel the same as the beginning when he was not in jail.  Fault of the supporting cast?  Perhaps.  I mean the first half had some good performances but the latter half was much more entertaining.  There is a clear conflict form the beginning but it felt like they were telling you the simple progression of Event A to Event B.

In terms of cinematography, I really enjoyed some of the transitions they did in here.  Picture a shot where its looking at a black and white tv (it totally just feels like you’re watching tv) and then it transitions to being actually in that scene but in black and white and then the fade to full colour. It really added a sense of realism to the times.  Beyond that, dialogue scenes were pretty standard though I am surprised that this is the guy who directed those Austin Power movies.

I mean all in all, this is a movie for performance rather than a piece where you can appreciate the whole thing.  Again though, this movie makes me wish it was a documentary rather than a dramatization of a real life event. I think that’s the actual trend now.  People will only watch movies about these topics if they are movies rather than documentaries.  With this comes the danger of merely showing you what happened during those events and not having an actual film for entertainment.  One could argue that you can’t change the truth or else someone’s gonna get offended; which is the reason where I highly preferred INSPIRED rather than based so then at least the writers’ have some legroom to like make things a bit more exciting.

With all that said, Trumbo is worth your while.

 

Baby Creed

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I don’t remember the last time I watched a Rocky movie but I still appreciated what they did here. I really wonder how true die-hard fans of the franchise think of this movie. I hoped they liked and enjoyed it because I, not a die-hard fan, did.

To be honest, I liked this film a lot more when I first exited the theatre compared to writing this right now.  It’s not a huge issue but it is still one. The issue is, that this is your typical underdog movie. I’m feeling a trend.  Well it’s not really at trend since Southpaw is the only boxing film I’ve seen this year or in recent memory.  This all stemmed from the fact that when talking about Spotlight, a film with great performance, the narrative was actually really flat.  And for me, I felt it here as well.  Yes, there is the whole chemistry with Uncle Rocky and all, but it goes back into the normal underdog story and the whole cliché of misunderstanding and I no longer support you. I really hate that cliché. So all in all, narrative wise this movie is predictable and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.

That being said, I would say it did bring new things to the table in terms of how to handle a spin-off movie from a franchise.  If the Die Hard people were smart, they’ll do this rather than a prequel for Die Hard 6. But I digress. The narrative here is an realistic and natural one after the whole Rocky franchise.  It works here because Rocky is around but as a mentor and he is included in the film rather than just being mentioned.  Had a buddy who said that he would enjoy the film more if Rocky wasn’t around and I would disagree (though I do wonder how that film would have panned out)  as the chemistry of Rocky and Baby Creed both helped this new spin-off have its own identity and also helped flesh out a bit more of the Rocky lore and a quick update on how the folks of Rocky are doing.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.  Yes, the narrative is simple but the direction was great.  The cinematography was great.  The long-shot fight was shot masterfully and was a spectacle to witness. The constant tracking shots throughout the film gave a sense of realism as we, the audience, experience whatever Baby Creed was experiencing, be it the excitement and anxiety of going into our first boxing match or even just the morning exercises.

Michael B. Jordan saved himself after that disastrous F4. I mean I guess it helps to work with a director you worked with before and having a legend alongside you.  I do wonder if this will gather enough steam to have a new franchise called Creed Part etc. cause having another long time franchise of boxing stemming from Rocky would be very interesting.

Stallone here plays Rocky and he’s fine here.  Plays the old man convincingly enough and still has fight in him.  Though the whole narration about his health fell sideways for me, it seemed like a direction for motivation.  Again, I’m sick of the whole I’m sick, so do it for me cliché and one misunderstanding or something I didn’t tell you makes you hate me clichés.

Tessa Thompson’s introduction and chemistry was nice and it was believable but it got soured when the who misunderstanding cliché hit but beyond that I liked there relationship as it was an authentic one where both parties have baggage and they’re coming together regardless of that.

So all in all, I enjoyed it. Narration could have done something new but it did what it needed to do.  If you are looking for a ground-breaking boxing narrative, it has somewhat of that here due to its legacy. But if it was a true stand-alone film, we all have seen something of this sort before.  Now that’s merely the narrative, the cinematography on the other hand, is definitely something for you to check out.  So yeah, go watch Creed.

Elon Musk

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I will be there for a biographical film about that man.  But first let’s talk about Steve.  So yes, another Steve jobs film.  Actually there has only been 2 biographical films so far: this one and Ashton Kutcher’s 2013 Jobs, all the other ones are all documentary films (PBS’ 2011 Steve Jobs: One Last Thing, BBC’s 2011 Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy, 2012’s Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview and lastly, 2015’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine). So it is quite possible that the general audiences is fed up with Steve but I highly doubt that general audiences even saw half the films listed above.  I rather think it’s due to the fact that Steve’s name is thrown around so much that it’s hard to think of a time when Steve Jobs was a faint memory.  And that is why this movie didn’t do well in the box office, people were fed up with this name and it’s really too bad because this film was just a great watch and done well.

First off, the screenplay was done by Aaron Sorkin (he did The Social Network) and it’s great.  Secondly, the screenplay is also inspired by Walter Isaac’s 2011 biography of the same name and that book was a good read as well.  And lastly, it’s Danny Boyle. What could go wrong?

Nothing.

This film is solid.  From the cast to the direction, this film is alive and a real slice of life of Steve Jobs and what he went through to get to where he did.  That being said, it largely depends on the audience and their own motivation to come to this film.  If you were like me, and were coming in to witness another Sorkin screenplay, to see how Isaac’s book was being adapted and how Boyle was going to direct this genius during conferences, then you’ll be fine.

However, if you were coming in hoping to learn more about Steve Jobs, you will learn more about him but the narration does not pander to those who are not informed previously.  With Sorkin’s screenplay, we are thrown in the thick of it; three conferences pertaining to Jobs’ career. People come in and out and introductions are not really made as everyone in the film has been working with each other for years.  Motivations are not really explored. So if you knew about the launch in 1984, 1988 and 1998 and also know who Steve Wozniak is, then you’ll be fine.  The problem here in terms of marketing for this film is having people who know about that sort of stuff but at the same time are interested in what I was interested in coming into the film.  I highly doubt many people in the general movie-going audience know enough about Steve Jobs want to see how Sorking/Boyle pull it off again.

Anyway, I digress.

The cat is great.  Fassbender and Winslet are really great here.  Their chemistry is just great and authentic.  You can really feel who these people are through their performance.  Fassbender plays a Jobs really well as he seems to got all his mannerisms and attitude down and people around him play it off really well.  Jeff Daniels and Michael Stulberg foil against Jobs really well as they are much calmer and are more down to earth than the genius Jobs.  Out of the entire cast I would say Seth Rogen is the weakest link, in the sense where he just brought himself to the screen and didn’t really act in a way that was different to his other roles.

The narration is interesting as well where I felt it was like Birdman times 3 but at different plays.  I say that because this entire film takes place backstage as Jobs prepares for his keynote for that conference and people come in and out and their conversations ranges from technical specs to personal issues that needs resolving. I’m pretty sure this is a a dramatization cause it would just be nuts for him to deal with so many personal issues while at the same time dealing with so many things going potentially wrong.  But despite all that, it still feels authentic and that’s the magic to this film as you are so sucked into the world of Jobs and his problems that you just go along with it.

This is getting long but I end it here.  Steve Jobs is a solid film if you know what you are going into it for.

Hobbitjay Part ?

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Finally.  We have gotten pass this phase of hunger games.  I swear there better not be any prequels or whatever, you do not deserve that.  But then again, it probably will sell; I mean look at Grey or the HP prequels (those are totally allowed; heck write an entire 8 book trilogy about American wizards; I dare yah, JK!)

Anyway, just like Hobbit Part 3 ( which should not have existed), I ‘had’ to go watch this since I saw the first 3 already, so gotta do this.  And man, it was much worst.

I blame this entirely on people around me who were saying this movie was ‘good’.

To them it might have been amazing or whatever but to me, to sum it up, the entire film felt like it was a VERY high production student film.

Reasons? Screenplay.

The overall premise of this film was fine.  Rebel, go to capital, kill Snow. Easy peasy.  Done deal, it was set from the get-go that this old dude had it coming.

But the process, the trip, the whatever you call it, in getting to him was just horrid.

The acting was just so uncomfortably stiff and character lines were just abysmal. I mean yes I know this is a YA adaptation but do you have to wipe our faces with it to remind us that? Like that scene where the 2 dudes talk about kissing was just….really? Really? Is this straight from the book? Cause if it is, I’m totally glad I didn’t read it.

Seriously, it was only 30 minutes in when I checked my watch to see how much longer I had to sit through. 30 minutes! That’s slightly longer than a comedy on tv nowadays and I couldn’t even stand it.

Characters came in and out and were literally red shirts with nothing to add.  It was just Katniss featuring people to die.  It felt like they just threw a group together and didn’t know what to do with them. Sure, you could argue that those characters were established in PART ONE but no, they hardly were and for them NOT to develop them here is again a huge waste of time.

Though! It had its good moments. I really liked how Katniss couldn’t talk in the beginning and she struggled when she tried.  They should have played that out as that is her ultimate weakness as her greatest weapon is not her bow but her speeches.  I was really surprise how fast she recovered.  Peeta having fits.  I swear that did not require a WHOLE movie to set up.  Part 1 could have been condensed into like 30 minutes and viola! Mockingjay Part NOTHING! It totally could have been ONE movie.  Finnick’s scenes had somewhat of an impact cause he’s been around since movie 2 but how it happen was just lame. And oh, the traps were cool I guess, but then again its not about a game when the movie is about a mockingjaypart2? So that was too bad, the traps were cool and is the best thing about this franchise.

I don’t know. I wrote too much for this already. I would rather watch The Night Before than see this ever again.

And lastly, I appreciate what J. Law brought to the world of female characters but damn, females can get angry too, you know? Ask Theron.

PS: My 2 fav characters in this series were hardly in this movie and I totally disapprove. Effie Trinket saved movie 2 for me. Really, it did.