Spider-Man: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
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Frozen has weighty themes that it could have explored: the incredible weight of shame and how you can hurt people even if you aren't intending to, how loving someone can be very difficult, and the immediate contrast between the pros and cons of duty fulfilling vs. pure individualism. The story starts to explore these but then doesn't. It points out they exist and there are no weighty consequences for anything anyone does so none of it seems to matter very much. I admire that everything wasn't misogynistic, that the love interest was just as quirky as the protagonist, that Elsa doesn't have a love interest, that the *SPOILER ALERT* villain is conventionally attractive *END OF SPOILER*, but none of these themes are explored as they should have been. Theme exploration involves scenes that grapple with the central issues. You can't just state that a theme exists. We as an audience want the theme to be fleshed out. Frozen isn't horrible. It has a couple good songs, the voice acting is great, and the animation is very polished (if not stylistically very distinctive). I don't know if this is the third Disney Golden Age but it certainly isn't the Disney Poop Age. I hope Disney continues to mature because if it goes up from here it will do well.
All three of the lead performances are incredible but what should I expect from these three actors? The film's complex look at sexual repression and psychoanalysis is still a controversial film. It dispalys the dangerous pitfalls that psychology can fall in to if it doesn't question itself too readily.
I can't relate to the drug addiction but I can to the isolation, depression, and seeming meaninglessness of life. I've rarely seen a character in a film I related to so much. Not necessarily in personality but his problems are ones I've had before. Where I've thought that nothing I did mattered or that every moment had no impact on what I was. Life just was. And I knew, most of the film, that the protagonist would probably go back to using. Because I've understood the need to maintain the status quot at the end of the day.
The quiet shots in this film are incredible. And it takes its time showing the world from the protagonist's perspective. It isn't just his pain. He tries to see the world around him as a place worth being a part of. But it doesn't matter, ultimately, how much the world is ready for him. His lens is skewed.
The dialogue, too, is very naturalistic. We really feel the weight of a day as the protagonist travels from place to place. Much of his struggles are discussed and we see the way he views the world through the people he observes. The film feels very lonely because the main character is lonely. He is no longer apart of the world. He left it a long time ago and never came back. His journey seems doomed to culminate in him being addicted again because he never tries otherwise. The film isn't about his struggle. There isn't as much suspense in the final scene where he shoots up as much as there is a sort of chilling calm. The audience knows that this was going to happen, but we care about this man. The course of August 30 is the countdown, not to a decision, but to an inevitability. But that doesn't mean that the character's life isn't valuable. I think that is what is important. The character is never made out to be a failure. His shooting up in the end is incredibly sad, but it doesn't mean that the protagonist's time away from drugs wasn't valuable. Or the time he spent in melancholy wasn't valuable.
Amazing. The second best Monty Python movie.
The quiet atmosphere in this film captures the South in all its loneliness and quiet darkness. The small town mentality is endearing and refreshingly good spirited but is also shown to be unaware of itself. Billy Bob Thornton's seemingly effortless portrayal of a mentally disturbed man is good. That goes without saying. How his character perfectly disrupts the dynamics of a Southern town is more of a revelation. His character is seemingly a foil for everyone, revealing their true nature and also serving as a commentary on the different ways in which mentally challenged people are treated. The town's wackiness, however, makes it clear that everyone has some sort of oddness to them. Thornton's character, Karl Childers, initially seems to be utterly out of touch with what is happening around him. Karl, in reality, sees what is happening more than most and is willing to do something about it in the end. He serves as a judge of humanity. His heart beats with goodness, however, and it becomes clear that Karl is not immune to the judgement he inflicts on those he deems to be evil. He seems to be remorseful of the murder of his mother.
The supporting cast is great, too, and even though this is Thornton's film, the town is given a life of its own. Much time is spent on developing the characters that populate this film. Because otherwise this would just be an Oscar bait showcase for Thornton's acting skills. I respect him because he has the maturity and skill to avoid that.
The only disappointing aspect of this film is the climax. It seems very inevitable and isn't as pulse poundingly satisfying as the story warrants. The initial scene where Karl describes the murder of his mother in a room literally bathed in darkness is eerie and foreboding. That scene is still exhilarating but it promises a showdown it doesn't deliver on. But that is a minor qualm with this film. In fact, the climax's inevitability makes it so that the audience isn't distracted by what is going to happen and instead focuses on the fine performances on display. The character interactions are natural. The themes consistently engaging.
Nicolas Cage was good in this movie. He was also good in Adaptation. Other than that he hasn't put out any other good performances. That's all I want to say. Raising Arizona is typical Coen Brothers genius and features traits contained in all of their films: oddball characters, a distinctly Western vibe, quietly hilarious dialogue, unexpected darkness/violence, and John Goodman.
Dumb dumb dumb. I mean, it's watchable. It isn't boring, but its only entertainment value lies in how easily it can be mocked. It is completely unaware of its stupidity or homoerotic subtext, but it never pretends to be anything resembling depth. Great eighties tunes guide the plot along and tell the audience what is happening, in case the plot didn't explain itself thoroughly enough. And Tom Cruise is on auto-pilot (no, I wasn't intending to make a pun). Tom Cruise has an intriguingly manic stoicism that he exudes in many of his films. He yells occasionally which lets me know that his character experiences human emotions.
"The Cider House Rules" storytelling is unpredictable, weaving from one scenario to the next all underscored by painfully obvious themes being constantly reiterated by the characters, especially from Michael Caine. Caine playing a truly insufferable character in that he is barely more than a symbol for stubborn resoluteness mixed with, of course, the wisdom gained from many years of experience. Tobey Maguire's character is the foil to Caine. He is naive and idealistic + opposes abortions. Unfortunately, his performance is static rendering him an archetype as well. Charlize Theron is the only character who exudes any sort of color but since she is forced to play out the inevitable second half to a love story, presumably, meant to teach Maguire a lesson, what does it matter? The film seems to try to make up for its sorely singularly purposed scenes by stuffing the film with characters who we are supposed to care about. They only serve as people for Maguire and Caine to talk to. They populate a world rather than influencing it.
The story doesn't really start for 40 minutes, where Maguire leaves the orphanage to be predictably disillusioned by the world. The first 40 minutes annoyingly reiterate the central conflict between Maguire and Caine over and over again. After an hour I realized I didn't need to see the rest of the film because I knew how it would play out. Or if I didn't know exactly, I didn't care to know. I predict that both of them will learn a bit from each other and that Maguire will stand on some hilltop pondering his youthful idealism. He will realize that the adult world is not what he thought it was. Barf.
Django Unchained isn't quite as superbly clever or wonderfully odd like some other Quentin Tarantino outings but Django Unchained contains enough of the seemingly effortless style that Tarantino injects in to his films that I was thoroughly satisfied. The dialogue is, as always, masterful and the cast is superb, especially Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter masquerading as a dentist. Leonardo DiCaprio puts in in a fittingly over the top villainous turn and Jamie Foxx is the coolest black cowboy ever. There isn't as much humor as I expected (although there are very funny moments). In fact, the film is very bitter in its heart. Dr. King Schultz, Waltz's character, is the only sympathetic white character. This is very telling. Not only does this film serve as another reminder as to how horrible rich white males (not to mention white people in general) can be merely because they have the privilege of not being persecuted constantly. Django Unchained allows for the audience to be uncomfortable with white privilege without going so far as to shock too badly with a modern setting. Ultimately, Django is the triumphant cowboy archetype for the black man. Tarantino might create a slightly more ideal world than what existed but the fantasy portrayed is a call for the audience to examine society's casual white hegemony...all through extravagant bloody violence.
Amour is undoubtedly meditative and hyper realistic. The marriage portrayed has no romance because all of the love is under the surface. It is deep. Maybe that is something I don't have a good grasp on because parts of the film were very dull for me. The acting is tremendous (Jean-Louis Trintigant was snubbed an Oscar; especially considering that Emmanuelle Riva was nominated for one), but the film leaves me wanting. The film never seems to give a profound reason for its existence. It has interesting themes that it explores. It is subtle in its depiction of love, heartrending in its depiction of old age's loss in mobility and consciousness, and depressing in how it depicts the loneliness that accompanies the end of our days. This film is technically marvelous, but I would never watch it again. Frankly, it's boring. But it's worth having watched to reflect on. It is much better in retrospect than it is when I am experiencing it in the present.
Tragic and infinitely human, The Bicycle Thief illustrates the inherent inequalities that exist in the world. Morality is sometimes not as much of a necessity as survival, but morality still exists. The world is a cruel judge of character and the poor suffer the most. A Catch 22 of Catch 22. The protagonist becomes a Bicycle Thief only because he was a victim of one. A struggle everone can relate to to some degree. Simple but fantastic.