One of my films of the year so far, no monkey business.
One of my films of the year so far, no monkey business.
Despite promising to myself that I would more carefully audit the quality of the films I watch for pleasure/personal edification, I still managed to watch one of the worst things I’ve seen in many a year. Must do better in July.
Never mind the silly title: Edgar Wright’s new one is a real treat that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
Trying something a little different here, based on Khoi Vinh’s monthly movie diary roundups. Rather than clumping my Letterboxd reviews here at random, as I remember to reblog them, I’ll do a single post every month, starting with last month. Even less a couple I’ve already posted here, May 2017 was a busy one.
This animated short did the rounds a month ago so you’ve probably seen it already, but I like it so it’s here. [c/o io9]
Studio Ghibli’s first non-Japanese production, and a beautiful one it is too. Plus a few words on the latest entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The third entry in the Freddy franchise trades the inventive gore and straight-up weirdness of the original, and the sexuality allegory of the unfairly maligned second effort, for a more fantastic scenario that nevertheless has its queasy moments (the ‘string puppet’ scene near the start, especially). It’s not as well paced as you might remember it (Freddy’s barely in it; I doubt Robert Englund had to wear the makeup for more than a week) and pretty much runs out of steam in the final act, where it’s more a showcase for the technical skills of the special effects artists than a story worth following. Indeed, I forgot about the Harryhausen tribute at the end; I burst out laughing, but not in a bad way.
Plus a few words on literal shaggy dog story A Dog’s Purpose.
Technically skilful and visually accomplished, with a great performance by the lead, but dubious themes indeed.
It does the remarkable job of making me want to watch his movies.
What a treat this is: a genuinely funny, sweet and touching comedy-drama about a non-traditional family and the unique creature who shakes up their lives. But it arrived before most people cared about such things, and doesn’t fit neatly into the Disney canon, so is unfairly overlooked (even by me, hence why it’s taken me so long to see it).
The first ‘straight’ genre pastiche from the Astron-6 collective, The Void is a film very much in thrall of its influences in lieu of its own worldbuilding: it’s basically Carpenter’s The Thing, Prince of Darkness and a few others crossed with Fulci’s The Beyond, by way of Hellraiser and Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft flicks. What’s more, the awful lighting makes it largely impossible to appreciate the practical effects, which are Empire Pictures weird-veering-on-hokey rather than other-worldly terrifying, so I don’t know why they bothered. I didn’t hate watching it, though.
Yoshitoki Ōima’s slice-of-life manga perhaps naturally loses some of its plot clarity and character development in the translation to the big screen, compressing an 18-month-long story into a two-hour movie and all that. But the spirit is intact, as a disconnected group of teenagers – one of them deaf – try to mend the wounds they inflicted on one another when they were younger and knew no better. Emotionally genuine, and beautifully animated. Very much recommended if you liked Toradora!
Tim MacGabhann’s essay for Fallow Media on John Boorman’s 1967 noir Point Blank. Beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen the film (which I just watched for the first time tonight).
Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that genre filmmaking is a more welcoming place for women to get a foothold, whether telling their own stories or just telling good stories full stop. But I’m not a filmmaker or a woman, nor do I know any in the industry.
That’s a good question. Certainly there are films that grow better with age, and multiple viewings can reveal new things with each experience. But does that mean said films need to be seen more than once to be fair in judgement about them? I don’t think so, and if that’s what the filmmaker intends, then that’s a bad filmmaker. Speaking as a reviewer? It’s not a prerequisite to watch more than once, since the vast majority of people will pay to see a movie only once. That doesn’t, however, preclude reappraising a film after the fact. (Also: I’m not a re-reader of books, and I don’t think it’s fair to compare books with films in that respect; the investment of time and mental resources is completely different.)
The name rang a bell, indeed. Dwayne Johnson knows what side his bread is buttered on.
My first film review in weeks, for various reasons mostly related to not being able to make it to press screenings. Shame it’s for another dud, and that’s coming from a fan of the people involved.
I really wanted to like this. I really did. I was even willing to forgive the handful of creaky moments in its first half hour — paper-thin characters, hackneyed set-ups and more — because the pace is so exciting. When the titular giant ape makes his first appearance, it’s at a genuinely unexpected moment, and the chaos is handled beautifully by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer). I was ready for a thrill ride.
But it’s all downhill from there. You see, it’s one thing to reference other movies, to pay visual or thematic homage; that’s something the otherwise narratively impoverished A Cure for Wellness does to its credit. It’s another, however, to simply mash-up the plots of a few different movies and hope that nostalgia will fill the cracks.
So James Mangold finally got to make his R-rated Wolverine. And? Strip away the air of ‘serious film’-ness surrounding this super-anti-hero flick and it’s a fairly ordinary road movie, gussied up by a gritty pomo western style, relatively extreme violence, and uncharacteristic potty-mouth dialogue. All very cute, like when Jackman says ‘fuck off’ in that Avengers cameo. Fanboys can shove it.
A review blog with a singular obsession: movies in which a helicopter explodes. I can get behind that. Then walk away while ignoring the explosion behind me.
The writer and script editor collecting tweeted thoughts on various TV and film type things. Can’t say I agree with everything, and certainly not his take on the Ghostbusters reboot (it’s not a fraction as funny as it thinks it is, and I fucking hate the Holtzmann character). But his tweets on Rogue One get to the nuts and bolts of why it doesn’t really work. My own review is superficial in hindsight, too forgiving of its flaws, but it’s a fairly superficial movie that I was evaluating in the context of a greater disappointment.
This video gets a bit too cute in its definition of passable (focusing on certain film tropes ‘passing’ for genuine human interactions, but ignoring that such tropes have an important role to play in the medium). Still, the bigger point stands; I’ve seen far too many passable movies lately — and been permissive about it, too. My film diet needs greater nutritional value.
Macon Blair’s directorial debut, a blackly comic revenge film, suffers from first-film-itis for much of its running time. Its obvious influences (mostly his old filmmaking pal Jeremy Saulnier, with a smattering of Edgar Wright) get in the way of a story that’s unevenly focused as it is, one minute a me-against-the-world drama, the next a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style cringe comedy. Things improve markedly in the final act, however, with an explosion of violence that brings a film with quirky, flighty tendencies back down to earth hard. David Yow (he of noise rock legends The Jesus Lizard) is a revelation as the primary heel of the piece, and Elijah Wood brings his usual charm as the oddball sidekick, but it’s Melanie Lynskey in the lead who holds it all together, just about, as the woman who decides she can no longer bear to let the bastards get her down.