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There's a lot to like about The Butler, including some really good performances, authentic set design, music and costumes, a really interesting trip through Americana of the 1920s to present day and some real insights in American race relations. It is a bit cheesy at times and a little uneven. I have to admit some moments seemed a bit too convenient and almost "after school special-like" for me. But, it's enjoyable enough and does look at race in America from an interesting perspective. Whitaker is definitely very likable (if a bit confusing at times) and Oprah Winfrey very strong here as well. Sometimes, I wish characters were a bit more developed, but overall, I recommend it.
This is one of the most compelling and powerful films I've seen in a while. It's beautifully shot and well acted, with a story that sheds light on the all too tragic phenomenon of a family breakdown. Like many divorces, it's tempting to look at "who caused it", but this film plays with the idea that there are just things beyond people's control that cause couples to detest each other.
It's also important to note as much as this film is universally applicable and relevant to anyone, it's particularly interesting being an Iranian film. The socio-cultural norms of Iranian society, the role of Islam and the Iranian justice system were fascinating to me. It's a world we don't see often. It's also really interesting how "real" this movie feels. It honestly feels like a "day in the life" of ordinary people and it's awesome.
Oh boy. As a fan of the first Taken, I have to admire how 1980s this franchise really feels. You have the hero who's basically just the action star playing himself, the typical kidnapped wife/daughter storyline, the vaguely ethnic villains and bare bones plot. This movie would have been pretty comfortable if it came out a few decades ago. And, Liam Neeson (playing the every man's action hero) is always a pleasure to watch. He's an inherently likable lead.
BUT...that's where the positives end for me. Taken 3 is pretty terrible. The action scenes are dull and uninspired, but made worse by the terrible direction. Oliver Megaton cuts so frequently, it's hard to understand what's actually happening, whether it's a shoot out or a car chase. It's as if they expect you, the viewer, to fill in the blanks with your head. It doesn't help that the editing is poor, the sound is muted (to make way for bland "action movie music") and the film has headache inducing close ups every ten seconds.
Furthermore, most of the performances here are pretty awful. Forest Whitaker is almost incoherent for most of the role, Famke Janssen is laughably bad and everyone else just phones it in, with the exception of Neeson. Some of the dialog is so ridiculous, I actually laughed unintentionally a few times. And the villain? Aside from his Jim Carrey style bowl cut, he could have literally been anyone.
Taken 3 is bad. If this really is the "end of the franchise..." I really don't think anyone would mind too much.
Undoubtedly, one of the best films of the year. The Imitation Game is beautifully directed, emotional and powerful. Cumberbatch does a truly excellent job here and while I basically saw him as playing a variant on the Sherlock character, I can't deny he does this sort of stuff very well. Unlike Sherlock, however, he was far more tormented and emotional here and like Turing himself, he was an endlessly fascinating character. I feel like they did an awesome job with pacing and telling his story in a non-linear fashion; especially since everything tied together so nicely. Keira Knightley was good again! I'm so happy she came back and had a strong performance, something that I feel like we haven't seen in a while. There are some big British names in this and everyone does a pretty good job. Mark Strong is a perpetual badass, so he's always a delight on screen.
Thematically, the film is just so clever and everything falls in place. It never hits you over the head, it's always subtle and it makes you want to analyze it more. It tackles ideas like repression, secrecy and deciphering messages and does it in such a brilliant way. But what makes this film work is that it's fundamentally a human story. It's about a man, his rise and fall, the people who were with him and the government that betrayed him. It's the only film in recent memory where I welled up at the end.
I don't think I've seen a movie with such squandered potential. There are few films out there about female sexuality (comedies no less) and it would be a genuinely interesting and potentially really funny premise. We don't see it from this perspective enough. BUT, The To Do List is tepid on pretty much every level. It's not particularly funny, the jokes are obvious. And some editing choices and performances were just truly bizarre. To me, the worst thing were the characters, namely, their inconsistency. Aubrey Plaza's Brandy is at sometimes endearing and at others insane and completely unsympathetic.
I get the whole "inexperienced, confused teenager" thing they got going and I can even buy her newfound voraciousness concerning hitting sexual milestones...but there were things she said and did that made her seem like she was a different person in every scene. The rest of the characters were pretty much tropes on tropes: the nerdy best friend, the hot airhead dude, the slacker boss, the way ward sister, the conservative Dad etc.
I couldn't say any of them were actually characters at all. There wasn't a single relationship in this film that felt human in the least. Typical of many bad comedies, the people act in ways to get laughs, not develop characters into believable people.
Also, the film inevitably discusses female sexual liberation, but the message is a little muddled. It's just all over the place in that regard and the final message of the film basically comes out of nowhere. It's one of those "tossed in at the end" sort of messages that is just there because, well...there's gotta be a moral, right?
BUT, there were a couple things I liked. The cast is excellent. Plaza (whom I usually dislike) was endearing if confusing. Maybe it's because she didn't play an emotionless robot. You have Donald Glover, Johnny Simmons, Clark Gregg, Rachel Bilson, Bill Hader...all around, a pretty solid cast and some good cameos too.
Why was this set in '93? Who knows. But there's something about a "Summer of '93" movie that just gets me. I loved the fashion, the pop culture references, the technology, the general vibe of the time. I'm actually relieved to see a raunchy sex comedy that DOESN'T have kids constantly texting or talking about social media or any teen trend of today. It was weirdly refreshing to see it set in the early 90s and I'm a sucker for it.
So all in all, I can't say it was a good movie. And the characters, the general plot, the relationships and even the weird editing are major problems. But, I'd say simply because we have like no mainstream American comedies about female sexuality and losing virginity from that perspective, it's worth a watch. I wish it was better though, but it's passable.