Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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I certainly welled-up a little at the end and there's no doubt that Winehouse was a fascinating person who lived a crazy life. This documentary, however, is not as unique. I just would have liked to have seen a little more inventiveness. Is it just me who is becoming a bit sick of the standard biographical movie format?
Winehouse lived a wild life and this film gives a real glimpse into what it must be like to suddenly become famous and to deal with the pressures that come from that. The family dynamic was something that I found particularly interesting- the tense relationship between Amy and her father and his carelessness at times made me really feel for Winehouse.
Further, as someone who isn't particularly familiar with her music, it was good to get a glimpse of her jazz roots and to her more of her other than that annoying Rehab song (which is still a radio favourite, unfortunately).
Anyway, all of that was good but the film never took me anywhere new or different. I couldn't shake the feeling that Winehouse herself would have wanted something far less-conventional but at the same time, how do you go about making a film like that? 'Amy' does the trick but I think it lacked originality compared to some of its Oscar opponents, most notably, Joshua Oppenheimer's 'The Look of Silence'.
Birdman has some moments of sheer brilliance but I was left feeling that so much more could have been done with its brilliant and wacky premise.
In the end, I couldn't help but feel that I'd been promised something more than what I ended up with: sub-plots build up and then disappear never to be seen again, and behind all of the flash, some of the key themes are surprisingly unoriginal.
Still, to call this film unoriginal would be a lie- it's beautifully-shot, well-acted, and thoroughly engaging. For some, it will just be pretentious but that's always the risk when you try and do something new. For me, it was tedious at times but not due to it feeling pretentious but rather because I WANTED MORE OF A SUPERHERO MOVIE.
Say what you will but I wanted Birdman to become the star and he never really did. As I watched, I was sure that it would happen but beyond a few dream-like sequences, Birdman just wasn't featured enough. This film was perfect for Michael Keaton and I just wanted to see him in that ridiculous suit a little more often. SEQUEL.
'Deadpool' leaves a lot to be desired- its low-budget shows and its one-dimensional villain and generic plotline surely relegate it to the superhero film trash pile (right on top of the Green Lantern). Of course, 'Deadpool' refuses to be dismissed in this way- everything that it lacks, it makes up for in spades. If this was an ordinary superhero film, it would suck. So thank Ryan Reynolds that it's a 'Deadpool' movie instead.
Not all of the jokes land (some of them were cringe-worthy, even) but there's so many of them that it's hard to care. You only need a few to really hit for a film to work and the good to bad ratio is impressive here- for every 'meh' joke there was at least a few chuckles in there too. Overall then, 'Deadpool' has the comedy chops to make it unique (it's the 'Wham' references that really sold it for me).
Further, it's clearly a passion project and everyone involved did a great job with what they had- sure, the film has limitations, but it still manages to deliver overall. 'Deadpool' could easily have been a disaster (and I bet that many thought it would be) but instead it turned out to be a game-changer. The R-rated superhero film was born here and it will surely live on for many years to come. Deadpool's success is really a testament to those who stuck with it, and obviously to its fans and their enthusiasm which helped it get off the ground in the first place. It feels different to your Marvel and DC cinematic Universes and to Fox's contributions too. 'Deadpool' occupies a place of its own and that place is filled with dick jokes and Ryan Reynolds in a tight costume. I welcome both of those things.
After hearing Joshua Oppenheimer talk about some of his past projects whilst discussing his ground breaking The Act of Killing/Look of Silence due, I found myself looking into 'The Globalisation Tapes' to see what was on offer. I'm glad I did as this small little film certainly has a lot to say.
It's well-made and, for Oppenheimer fans, it offers some of the strange visuals and situations that you would probably expect from something involving him. This is a collaborative project, however, (not that his films weren't, of course) and so I'm not even entirely sure how much of a role Oppenheimer played in putting the film together. In any case, it certainly fits with his own work.
The involvement of the Indonesian workers is really what makes this film special and particularly memorable- there's a scene where some of them sing a jokey song about the dangers of the pesticides that they use and their lack of protection from those dangers. It's a perfect example of humans adapting to their situation, in this case, one that most viewers will surely find completely horrifying and unacceptable.
The film presents an overall argument around the dangers and negative consequences of global capitalism and it's here where I think it's a little weak. I certainly don't disagree with its points; I just feel that the movie barely scratches the surface of them given its short runtime. It's a bit like the Communist Manifesto in that sense- pretty compelling, but quite short too, eh?
Still, this film has stayed with me and it certainly deserves more attention. It's a rare opportunity to hear from the distant people who are exploited daily in order for those of us in the West to enjoy the standard of living that we do today. It's an example of the revelatory nature of great documentary film-making.
'Argo' - let's face it, we've all confused it with 'Fargo' in our heads at least once, right? Anyway, this is a great film, so much so that I forgive Affleck for 'Gigli' (Yes, it's THAT good!).
I don't have much to say about this one, because it gets everything right, really. The story is based on true events but is so interesting that you wouldn't think it, the performances are great thanks to the film's cast being so superbly well-matched to their characters, the film is slick, stylish, and on point, and it's just the right length for what it offers.
A job very well done. I will say that it did lack the 'wow' factor a little for me (I accept that this is a pointlessly-vague criticism though) as, whilst it was a great watch, I'm reluctant to add it to the list of my favourite films anytime soon. I don't think that's what 'Argo' is really going for anyway though- it simply wants to tell a story, a story that actually happened. In that sense, it is a perfect film.