The Painter and the Thief
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I can never understand why Disney puts out these blatantly awful, money grabbing sequels to their originals. The damage they do the legacy of the franchise can't possibly be outweighed by some meagre direct-to-video sales? Surprisingly a lot of the original cast returns, but the story is somewhere between poor and offensive to both the Chinese culture and women. The songs are just lazy recycling of the originals.
Inception is a visually stunning and mind-bending thriller from Christopher Nolan who has become one of the most interesting and visionary auteurs of our time. Inception is especially exceptional after watching some of the extra features on the stunt work and sets that were created to create the incredible effects without lots of CGI enhancements. The entire ensemble cast shines, led by a wonderfully, tragically conflicted Leonardo DiCaprio. It's really interesting and engaging film, but I guess I wish it had pushed a bit harder in the story department - I thought of a hundred different twists and connections that would have been more interesting and unexpected than how the film ends. I liked it, but I guess I was expecting something more unexpected.
An enduring classic that's lovingly and truly adapted from the classic Jane Austen novel. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet are perfect as dutiful, reserved Elinor and passionate, unrestrained Marianne respectively. In fact, the entire cast is perfect - Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Gemma Jones, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie, Harriet Walter, and Elizabeth Spriggs - I can't imagine anyone else in these roles. Ang Lee did a beautiful job highlighting the yearning, loneliness, desperation, hopefulness, and disappointments of women of this time and it makes it very palpable for modern viewers. Which is why I don't mind that Thompson is a bit old for Elinor, because would a modern audience understand she's pretty much an old maid at 19? There's a few other liberties with the story and I support all of them, but Austen's story of love and sisterhood is still wholly evident. Beautiful sets, cinematography, and the score is achingly beautiful. This is epically rewatchable and I cry every time.
Totally fun dark comedy satirising the American middle class puritanical ideas of sex combined with greedy, consuming capitalism that makes people feel they "deserve" things at any cost. Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov are amazing as the perfectly named Blands. Heaps of great character actor cameos and a visceral performance from Robert Beltran. This was such a fun discovery.
I can see what this film was trying to do, and the ‘90s high school scene definitely felt nostalgic (although much more advanced than what was happening with the majority of my classmates). The Chumscrubber really felt like two films - a Stepford Wives social satire involving the self-absorbed adults and the chaotic, violent, pill-popping frenzy of the "young adults". With a stunning cast of stars it seems to get pulled into many more individual directions, but Jamie Bell absolutely carries it. He's really one of the most underrated actors out there. He also benefits from the best writing, the teenagers do actually feel like real teenagers with their angst and misdirection to cover for their insecurities. When Bell breaks down at the end and then talks about her dead son to Glenn Close (also a great performance) it is the truest moment in the film. I think the film just got too ambitious and pulled in so many directions that a lot of the message got lost. I am interested in revisiting this one in the future.