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One certainly cannot accuse the V/H/S series of not wanting to evolve. Each film serves as a horror anthology based around the idea of genre directors using the 'found footage' to put together some extremely messed up films, but this series has also attempted to grow its mythology and find new and wilder approaches to the short films. The first V/H/S was marred by its long runtime and general nastiness as far as a majority of the characters, both protagonists and antagonists were concerned. V/H/S 2 was a major step up, as it was shorter, scary, well-produced, and still very extreme. Now we have this third feature which is a bit of mixed bag. On the one hand, it is very well-produced and shows a lot of creativity. On the other, a large focus on the connective tissue between the individual films really brings things down, along with the very evolution of the central conceit, which may be controversial to 'found footage purists.'
Viggo: He's the guy you send to kill the Boogeyman.
This is just great. In a time where we get a lot of action movies designed to build into some sort of franchise, here comes John Wick, a film most likely designed to be a one-off attempt at showing an older Keanu Reeves kick ass in some very brutal ways. The film is bound to become an American cult action favorite, but the unexpected, yet the best thing that could happen is to see this film become a breakout success and lead to at least a reteaming of Reeves, writer Derek Kolstad, and directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. While John Wick is straight to the point with its story, there is enough in the way of character and world building (not to mention terrific action) that would make me happy to see these guys continue to make slick action flicks such as this.
So Ouija is a total bust. Not that I expected much from a horror film based on the spooky toy, once mass-marketed by Parker Brothers, but it amounts to nothing all that special or entertaining, just laughably dull. Something interesting to note is how so many old slasher films and even the recent Saw franchise, among other horror franchises, end up receiving similar bad review scores, but will go on to be remembered by cult audiences. No one will remember Ouija. That is the kind of movie it is. This is a thing that will come and go. It may have allowed work for some young actors and a decent job for the filmmakers involved, but that's about it. Good on them for getting the film done, but yeah, it's just a silly horror movie.
Mitch: It's like Oprah and Spike Lee had some sort of pissed off baby.
I don't think there is any real way around me saying that I am of mixed-race and have certain views towards humor that delves into race. Obviously I could just not mention this at all, but that seems like more of a disservice, when it comes to a review that focuses on a film satirizing racial politics on a college campus. While my experiences do not reflect the events that take place in Dear White People, I did have a level of understanding of the circumstances and walked away both very satisfied and somewhat angered, given how the film works in its provocation. The best way to look at Dear White People though, is as an examination of identity. It leans on certain points for the sake of a particular story, but this is a film about understanding one's self versus what the masses understand. It also happens to feature some very fine filmmaking on display for a directorial debut.
As if I needed more reasons to want to love Michael Keaton as a performer, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has given the actor a fantastic role that puts him back in the spotlight, in a film that puts heavy emphasis on what it is to mean something to many, only to want to redefine one's self. That is just one of the many ideas that Birdman tackles, as the film plays as a very entertaining dissection of Hollywood, Broadway, and the notion of fame in our modern culture. Additionally, Inarritu was far from content with treating this project as a simple satirical exercise, so the film is made to show us the weeks that go by in this story within nearly one long take. This shot is of course many shots carefully stitched together, but the screenplay is also a careful assemblage of ideas, themes, and great moments for all the actors to shine. This makes Birdman an ambitious and unpredictable ball of energy that just so happens to be a spectacular film to watch.