Toy Story 4
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A heady film that boggled my mind. An art house thriller of the metaphysical and the existential, that wrestles with a number of things, not the least of which is the relationship of father and son. I could see shades of the master Tarkovsky, another russian, but The Return is much darker than his work but still affecting.
A concise, well-directed thriller with a fantastic story, Shallow Grave is merely passable as a film but proves a fit debut for Danny Boyle, who would go on to have a wildly successful career over the next two decades. Present are Boyle's eye for precision and never is it more apparent (or more glorious) than in the finale of the film. In fact, the finale is such a violent, brilliant culmination of the themes of the movie that it's too bad the rest of the film is merely good, not great.
Ambiguous, visually striking, and at times just plain silly, The Man Who Fell To Earth works better in theory than in practice. Bowie is perfectly cast as the titular man and the films narrative decisions are quite original and eschew the typical alien-comes-to-earth plot points. In fact, the film is more about our world and the way we live effecting him than it is about him effecting our world. Sadly, the movie comes across as incredibly dated and there's really no strong conclusion to the story. The Man Who Fell To Earth is a curious and original science fiction movie but not an entirely successful one.
After seeing it twice, I figured I was finally ready to put The Force Awakens into review form. Taking place 30 years after the events of Return Of The Jedi, The Force Awakens shows that not much has changed since the destruction of the second death star. Before too long, characters old and new are teaming up to once again take down the bad guys. It all feels very........familiar. And that's because The Force Awakens takes a large number of story beats from the original movie, A New Hope. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's been 10 years since the last movie and 30 since the events that precede this movie. it makes sense, then, that the movie would borrow elements from the others to bring us back into the world of Star Wars. What's more, even with all that borrowing, The Force Awakens is a great movie on it's own. The reliance on practical effects and sets give the movie some much needed weight, something the shiny, clean surfaces of the prequels did not try to do. Even better, the new characters are all fantastic. Adam Driver and John Boyega both play interesting, complex new characters (especially Driver's Kylo Ren who I enjoyed quite a bit) but it's Rey, played with fantastic wide eyes by Daisy Ridley, who steals the entire movie. She is the driving force behind the entire plot and I cannot wait to see what future movies have in store. The movie also introduces a whole host of other new characters but many of them have limited screen time so their impact is not as strongly felt. Besides all the new characters, the movie also does a fine job of bringing back it's old characters, especially Han Solo who, other than Rey, is the main protagonist in the show. The biggest complaint I have about The Force Awakens is it's insistence on borrowing plot elements but I will give it a pass this one time simply because it's looking to set up a whole new chapter of this story. Future installments will not get this same pass because they now have more incentive to make something fresh and unique after the resounding success of The Force Awakens.
An unremarkable looking movie about a remarkable group of people. Spotlight is well made, compelling, and stacked with some of the best working actors out there. Tackling the church sexual abuse scandal of the early 2000s, Spotlight has a barn burner of a story and it knows. The best praise I could give this movie is that it plays like All The President's Men. The film shows the nitty, gritty of investigative journalism and it does so with zero fanfare or pompous preaching. These journalists are simply doing their job and attempting to tell a vital, damming story. Even when it's characters get overworked and angry about the various road blocks in their way, it's always in service of the story they are working on. They aren't looking to change the world or get credit for exposing a story that needs exposing. They simply want this story told for the victims' sake and sanity and to deter future victims.