Da 5 Bloods
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I May Destroy You
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From the impression that I received, several reviewers that I trust thought that Knives Out was an excellent movie, and given that 2019 wasn't exactly an astounding year in film, I was convinced to watch it as the diamond in the rough I was led to believe it was. The good? An all-star ensemble cast of A-list Hollywood actors headlines this piece, and with exception to Jamie Lee Curtis (whose last acceptable performance was in True Lies), they all play rather well the part of the cartoonish characters that this film needs in the setting it constructs. And wow, the house in which most of the film takes place beautifully illustrates the ugliness, dysfunctionality, and schizophrenic nature of the family at the heart of the story, so when the film is setting itself in the beginning, the camera allows the audience to see strange statues, odd architectural structures, and rather mundane items all right next to each other. The bad? The movie lasts an hour too long; the "truth" is revealed less than halfway through and all of the wind is taken out of its sails, but Rian Johnson keeps dragging the movie along to force the audience to see that "No, that's not really what happened" to showcase his faux cleverness as Daniel Craig plays the detective that conveniently figures everything out in record time. The injection of pop politics (i.e. lines like "They're putting. Children. In cages.", "Anchor baby.", "Your mom is still undocumented", multiple usages of the phrase "the help") took me out of what was occurring in the film, making me think of real-life events but not the movie while realizing that that'll inhibit its shelf life when people watch it 10+ years from now. Lastly, Ana de Armas' allergic reaction ("if I even think about telling a lie I start to throw up") takes an intentionally absurd plot and blasts it into ridiculousness when she begins lying by omission early in the movie yet doesn't vomit. By the end of this, I was more than ready for it to be over as I had long since grown tired of its American Beauty level of pretentiousness. If you want a better film with similar tone and tenor, go watch Clue, and if you want to watch a mystery that takes its material more seriously yet has lots of twists and turns, I strongly suggest watching the first two seasons of Broadchurch, but avoid this movie if possible.
I've been a fan of Alex Garland's writing for a while. From his book The Beach to movies like Dredd and Ex Machina, his material has always found a way to quietly captivate me. However, Annihilation bucked that trend. Based on a novel of the same name, the concept and initial trailer caught my attention, and I had high hopes for this film. I will say that there's a bit of eye candy (e.g. the Shimmer, the fractal object at the base of the lighthouse) that may make your jaw drop and some spooky dooky body horror aspects. The rest of the movie is largely nonsensical, unintentionally hilarious at times, and so boring that I had more fun pulling apart the plot holes than watching it. Why is the team composed of only women? Don't know. Why can't the team just be parachuted into the lighthouse's vicinity instead of walking to it from the Shimmer's perimeter? Don't know. Why does the team composed of only scientists with presumably no weapons training enter a mysterious area where only one person has ever returned from alive while bringing almost no supplies, no hazmat suits, and no military backup? Don't know. Despite the strong "girl power" vibe, why isn't any character developed beyond tired tropes (e.g. self-harming woman, angry lesbian, regretful wife) that feminists perennially rail against? Don't know. I could keep going on listing flaws, but I'm sure that anyone reading this review has something better to do... like not watching this movie.