Spider-Man: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
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Don't expect answers, just scares and questions. It's not entirely mysterious by the end, but the biggest question of all remains, what does it all mean? What do the Tethered represent, if anything?
I will pat myself on the back for one thing - the big reveal about Wilson/Red at the end was pretty obvious to me from the beginning, and I'm usually not that bright about these things.
The villain makes the movie, sometimes. Jake Gyllenhaal has great snarky attitude, and I appreciate his motivations, but there's something so absurd about his plot that I couldn't swallow. Makes sense, right? I mean, it was totally plausible that a big blue guy could assemble a glove with 6 stones and snap his fingers to wipe out half of all life, but drones with projectors? Too nuts. Meanwhile, I really liked the teenage angsty stuff that Peter and his friends are going through, but Ned and Betty were too over the top.I dunno, can I just conclude that not everything worked for me, but it was fun overall?
Something about this film snuck up on me. It didn't seem to have much going on for a while, and it appeared to be heading in a cliched direction - the surliest inmate paired with the orneriest horse. Bruce Dern could get annoying sometimes. Actually, there were so many little provocations in Roman Coleman's life that it was amazing that such an anger-prone man could hold it together as much as he did.
Then the film changed into a meditation on restorative justice, between inmates and those they've indirectly harmed by their crimes. It ends with a beautiful instance of redemption. An optimistic film.
The brilliant Baz Luhrman-esque musical sequences more than made up for the insufferable therapy culture framing.
Is this really Joe Talbot's first film? It's directed like visual poetry, with several jaw-dropping scenes of beauty. I'll never forget watching Jimmie skateboarding down a long steep hill, with the Bay Bridge looming behind. Or how Bayview/Hunter's Point looked from the shoreline. Jimmie and Monty are as close as two men can be, it seems. But there's a reality about Jimmie's belief regarding his grandfather's former house in Fillmore that he won't accept, until Monty metaphorically strikes him in the face, during a climactic dramatic presentation in the attic. This isn't a polemic about housing in SF, and that might actually disappoint activists who watch it. There are no villains, not even Finn Wittrock's realtor, who is sympathetic to Jimmie's feelings for the house. It's a much more personal story, that doesn't even dwell heavily on race, despite the provocative title.
What a kick it was to see my theatre's marquee showing through the window of a realtor who is discussing the house with Jimmie and Monty.
A quiet, slow moving film. I love the ending,which is really an invitation to consider the different possibilities in store for Rafi and Miloni.
Superb ending to the Avengers series. The Marvel folks know how to wrap up a series well. Too bad they couldn't do the same for GoT.
Self-indulgent pretentious crap.
This is the second week in a row I have been snookered by overhyped praise for a Chinese arthouse flick. I cannot describe the plot, because it was incomprehensible. A man with a photograph, searching for a woman, flitting between different time frames, and intersecting pointlessly. Gan Bi is being compared to Tarkovsky. My loyal reader(s) know that I love Tarkovsky. What others consider tedious in his films, I regard as poetry in the service of a comprehensible, or at least debatable, story. "Long Day" is a mess. There was no thread to follow. Even impressionistic cinema doesn't set out to confound and irritate its audience. Now imagine two scenes, not just one, of a man sobbing while eating an ENTIRE apple, core and all. Sniffle crunch chew chew blubber munch munch repeat for 3 to 4 minutes for EACH SCENE. I could have screamed.
Two aspects of this film have been singled out for praise: the uncut tracking shot that comprises the film's second half, and the 3-D photography during that hour long shot. Sorry, neither are remarkable. The 3-D is entirely forgettable, second rate in comparison to "Despicable Me 3." The tracking shot was impressively worked out, but utterly meaningless. Two stars are awarded, in recognition of some beautiful photography, much of it involving water, which was probably meaningful to the director, but lost on me.
The trailer for this film is damn impressive. It reeled me in. Avoid the film, and just watch the trailer 3 or 4 times. "Shadow" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" will be featured prominently in my "Emperor List" next February.
OK, so this one also sucked. BUT, I got to see the Boboli gardens, the upper floors of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Baptistry, all of which we missed in our trip to Florence. Outstanding!
Shakespeare retires after his last play and the Globe burns down, which provides the film with its best shot. He tries to re-establish relationships with his wife and two adult daughters, which keeps stumbling over the memory of his son Hamnet, who died many years earlier while William was in London.
That's a basic summary, and there are many strong emotional encounters within the family, and an extraordinary scene with the Earl of Southampton (McKellan), and there's no point in trying to summarize them all. I'll make a point about myself though. I've always cried at the movies, but it seems to come much easier now. I shed tears at least twice here. I don't know if that's a function of age and perspective, but whatever the cause, it's a happy gift I've received.
These movies are only entertaining as much as they give us original world-building and action, and on both counts, I thought John Wick 3 was a bit behind the other two. The opening knife fight was astonishing, but it got less clever from there. For example, the motorcycle ninjas paled in comparison to similar antics in the Matrix films.The final fight with Zero in the big glass room at the Continental was again very derivative from a much better, and mercifully shorter, fight from Skyfall. And I wasn't all that interested in John's journey to reinstate his status with the High Table.
Speaking of Zero, I spent over half the film trying to place him, until I finally nailed it - he's the Chairman from Iron Chef America. That made me happy.
I enjoy Wuxia films, and particularly Yimou Zhang. I can accept absurdity, and embrace gravity defying action, while watching stylized overacting. I'm the only person I know who really enjoyed "The Great Wall," which at least had giant cockroach lizards and no arthouse pretension. But the ridiculous activity in this movie was too much for me. The killer blade umbrellas, which doubled as turtle shaped transports, the out of nowhere Thunderball scuba action, and the baloney philosophical talk about how to fight your masculine enemy with hip swishing feminine training, led me to shake my head in disbelief by the last half hour. Furthermore, there was so much bloody sadism that Mel Gibson was asking the director to "tone it down a bit." The giggling assassinations and gurgling massive blade wounds was pretty sick stuff.
It was Shakespearean in scope, with gorgeous washed-out rain soaked imagery. Some nifty juxtaposition of belligerent zither playing and mayhem. But I can't imagine who I would recommend this movie to.
This was pleasant enough, with several good laughs. The dual roles of Billy Batson and Shazam were both well acted, which made too much of a contrast with the underwritten parts for Mark Strong and Jack Dylan Grazer. Strong had little interesting to say, and Grazer was pretty irritating most of the time. Still, I may go into my local 7-11 someday, try to look impressive, and state to the cashier, "I'll have some of your finest beer, please!"
This is a pretty rough film, definitely not some dumb Liam Neeson revenge flick. Some deeper and dark questions about the nature of abuse are explored, along with some retaliatory violence. The climax of the film does not follow stereotypical lines at all, and may leave you wondering why Sadie allows something disturbing to happen, but again, this is not a simple tale, but has many layers, like an abusive relationship does. Massive trigger warnings, of course.
This was impressively suspenseful. What kept it so engaging was superb photography - perfectly integrated shots of outdoor mountain ranges with sets covered with very realistic snow. Or maybe it was all outdoors, I dunno. And the monastery was a great set, with a creepy sense of menace.
Like Scarface, but with a fearless and domineering mother-in-law, who rules over the traditions of her Wayuu family, even when drug-smuggling wealth has transformed that family into something unrecognizable.
Raphayet and his non-Wayuu Colombian friend Moises discover how easy it is to make money arranging pot shipments to Americans, and Raphayet uses that new prosperity to materially enhance the lives of his extended family. Moises is a happy party guy, and does not understand how Raphayet remains so beholden to ancient ritual. But the Wayuu are matrilineal, and continue to believe in omens and dreams, even when their traditional dress and living conditions have been updated from years of narcotic based bounty.
It's a rise and fall story, and at the end, you're left wondering about the tragic flaw that brings doom to this family - is it the narcotics trade, the wealth it brought, or the adherence to ancient honor codes which no longer have any power or meaning when so much money is at stake? Or is it the breach of those codes?
This was Colombia's official entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film, and it didn't get a nomination. Neither did Iceland's Woman at War. That was the strongest Oscar category by far for 2019 - the foreign films that didn't even get nominated were better than almost everything else in the other categories that did.
Pretty good flick, definitely passed the Bechdel test.
Iceland is a character in this film, very beautiful and fragile, which makes the audience very receptive to the one-woman war on heavy industry that Halla is waging. This is a kind of superhero movie, where nobody knows the secret identity of this mild mannered upbeat choir director, nor how incredibly resourceful she is finding ways to disrupt economic "progress" which she believes will cause ruin to Iceland. To the authorities, this mystery woman is a terrorist, and they enlist every resource, including American aid, in revealing her identity and capturing her.
Her life is about to be disrupted as well, when she learns that her 4 year old application to adopt a refugee child has been approved, and she's about to be a 46 year old single mother. Just when she has an additional compelling reason to care about the deteriorating future environment, she has to come to terms with restrictions on her ability to affect it head-on.
There's something really goofy in this movie that I should mention. All the music is performed on screen by a Greek Chorus of musicians, who follow Halla around wherever she goes, indoors and out. It takes an otherwise dramatic film (with some comic moments provided by her earthy-crunchy twin sister) and makes it all surreal. It starts out like a joke, but then just becomes part of the fabric of the movie.
This film won't prompt waves of tourism, but for me, the Icelandic countryside was almost as impressive as how the LOTR films portrayed New Zealand. Which was kinda the point.