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Rating History

It Comes At Night
53 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Because of the big discrepancy between what the critics and audiences thought about this movie, I was curious to find out where I'd land. As it turns out, I'm siding with the critics in a big way. This is an EXCELLENT film. However, I understand why audiences did not like it - this movie is the victim of a marketing campaign that totally misrepresents what it actually is. It was sold as a horror movie, and while it includes some horror elements and sustains a feeling of dread throughout the film that you can cut with a knife, it does not fall neatly into any genre. Even the title is misleading... Spoiler Alert! Nothing comes at night. The "It" in the title is a metaphor that can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but none of those ways are the way the title implies. On the surface, the story is about a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, where a plague has wiped out most of humanity. But really, the movie is about the lengths that people will go to preserve their own survival when their backs are against the wall. It's a study of the dark side of human nature, and how easily fear can break down society. Fair warning: though it's not a horror flick, it's horrific all the same... do NOT watch this movie if you are looking for fun or lighthearted entertainment. This movie is HEAVY and deeply unsettling. It left me feeling like I had a rock in my gut, I had to watch some light TV afterwards just to feel normal again. But the fact that this movie was able to evoke such strong feelings are a testament to how incredibly well it was executed. It's a lean film at exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes, and it's the perfect amount of time. This is not a busy movie, but the deliberate pacing and ominous tone and atmosphere keep you on the edge of your seat. My only complaint is the overuse of dream sequences - by the third one, it was a little laughable. Other than that, the direction is tight and intentional, it's superbly acted, and the movie is beautiful to boot with incredibly rich cinematography. It's bleak as fuck, but it's outstanding filmmaking all the same.

The Red Turtle (La tortue rouge)
59 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

For a movie with no dialogue that's even a little boring at times, it's surprisingly emotionally affecting.

Dunkirk
Dunkirk (2017)
59 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first Best Picture nominee of 2017! Yes, this is a film that is worthy of all the accolades it is getting, and the type of film that Oscar LOVES to recognize. This is not only a fantastic war movie, but a fantastic movie, period. The film details the evacuation of British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk early in WWII, which can be described as a 'shitshow' at best. It's an incredible story that I cannot believe has never been brought to the big screen before. The film does an outstanding job of depicting what a calamity this was - these guys were fish in a barrel... then they got on boats and became more condensed fish in even smaller barrels. The horror and hopelessness of the situation is perfectly captured, as seen through the eyes of ordinary people living out (or not) an extraordinary situation. As war movies go, it's pretty unconventional: there is no main character, no consistent timeline, and very little dialogue. There is hardly any character development to speak of, something I normally heavily criticize film for, but it works in this movie - the main character is the event itself, and the movie only bothers itself with showing how it all went down. It's a simple narrative, told in a complex way. The film depicts the entire debacle primarily via the perspectives of three different people: a boots-on-the-ground soldier trying to avoid German bombs and get back home; an airman tasked with shooting down the planes dropping said bombs; and a civilian boatman determined to rescue as many men as possible. The three perspectives are interwoven throughout the film, using varying timelines that are not always clear and can be confusing, but all become focused into a single thread in the end. The acting is great across the board, but the standout is Mark Rylance as the boatman - he is a genius in his subtlety, I cannot even tell you how much I love this guy. And the direction is pitch perfect, featuring breathtaking visuals, innovative storytelling, and high tension that is sustained from beginning to end. This is writer/director Christopher Nolan at the top of his game. This movie is being heralded as one of the best war movies of all time, and while that's a bit of a tough sell, it's probably the best I've seen since "Saving Private Ryan".

Life
Life (2017)
59 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

This movie has been heavily criticized for being an 'Alien' knock-off... and it is. I mean, come on, it's an alien in space that kills off the crew one by one (see, the title's a pun... it's about new 'life" but also about the crew's struggle to stay alive... get it?). But it was dissimilar enough for me to watch the entire movie without being constantly reminded of that classic film. The movie definitely delivers on the suspense and scares, in particular, the alien's big 'reveal' scene about 30 minutes in. I was on the edge of my seat and my heart was pounding through the entire sequence. But the film never achieves the same level of tension again. Yes, it's loaded with effectively suspenseful scenes, but after that one big one, they are all fairly predictable, up to and including the ending. It gets progressively sillier as the film goes on (for instance, the alien is super smart and knows everything about their space station... I guess it took the time to read the owner's manual or something), the science-fiction steadily becoming more fiction than science. But does that really matter? This movie is designed to be a thriller and little else, and it certainly thrills, so I would say it was successful. On top of that, the acting and direction was good, the pacing was spot on, and the visual effects are striking. It was never gonna win any Oscars, but it entertained me, and that was all I wanted from it.

The Lost City of Z
59 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I KNEW that this was not going to be my kind of movie. But, it kept popping up on all the "Best of 2017" lists I've been seeing, so I thought I would have to at least give it a shot. As it turns out, my gut instinct was correct. It's long and boring and totally lacking in drama, humor, or relatable characters. That being said, I can see why the critics liked it - even if it's dull, it's totally beautiful and even ethereal, in a way. And critics love sweeping, visually lush epics like this. But for me, that wasn't enough... the story just didn't captivate me and the film's traditional (and somewhat lackluster) composition did little to help. The movie is about British soldier Percy Fawcett, who is assigned to explore the Amazon and learns of a lost civilization, which he names The Lost City of Z and becomes obsessed with finding. Charlie Hunnam has garnered a good amount of praise for his role as Fawcett, but I thought he was just ok (and that's a compliment coming from me, as I think that as an actor, he is just a hair better than Keanu Reeves). The length and "epic" nature of the movie smacks of the old Minghella films, who was famous for those Oscar-fodder epics in the late 90s/early 2000s - you know the ones I mean, those films that are loaded with sweeping vistas, tell stories that span decades, and are totally lacking in characters or plot that can sustain anyone's interest throughout their 2.5-hour-plus duration. Twenty bucks says if you didn't like "The English Patient", you won't like this one either. It's not exactly an arduous viewing experience (like "The English Patient" was for me... I'd rather be seared with hot irons that watch that movie again), but it's anything but riveting, and my experience was one of consistent, moderate boredom. It's pretty, but not enough to make it worth watching.