Film Reviews, page 5

  1. Midnight Special 2016

    Watched 3 March 2017

    Like a lot of mystery stories, some of the excitement starts to fade as the curtain is pulled back. And then it almost becomes a matter of taste: you may or may not like where it goes. I wasn’t amazed by the destination, but I quite enjoyed the journey on this one.

    For an admittedly small film it dares to feel big, and for all its tension it manages to find some serenity. And it does those things without appearing contrived. It feels balanced, distinct, and personal.

  2. Passengers 2016

    Watched 1 March 2017

    This film is the cinematic equivalent of clickbait: begging you to look at it while having nothing to say.

    Few films have given me a harder time suspending disbelief. No part of it has any depth. Not the plot, not the dialogue, not the sci-fi, not the romance. And it has the nerve to acknowledge its hollow meaninglessness when that crappy Imagine Dragons song comes on in the end.

    I really enjoyed Morten Tyldum’s other films Imitation Game and Headhunters, but this is some lowest-common-denominator garbage. It does look pretty, tho.

  3. Redbelt 2008

    Watched 24 February 2017

    Supporting characters could have been a lot better, and some of the dialogue tries so hard to be “realistic” that it goes right back down the uncanny valley. But overall this is a solid 90-minute gem that can keep its intrigue from start to finish. Tightly plotted, executing well on its themes.

  4. The Girl with All the Gifts 2016

    Watched 19 February 2017

    Nothing this film attempts to do differently manages to set it free from the curse of zombie sameyness.

  5. Nocturnal Animals 2016

    Watched 12 February 2017

    I’m a sucker for dark, velvety thrillers, and this one worked pretty well for me. The bleak tone had me completely hooked within five minutes. Though it sometimes feels a bit derivative (some moments were especially on-the-nose Lynchian), I cannot deny that it’s effective. It is a dexterously unsettling film.

    Tom Ford is, no doubt, a sharp aesthete. What I wasn’t expecting was a very palpable feeling of futility and hopelessness as the other side of the coin, and impostor syndrome as a plot device. It works well in adding some substance to the style.

    Pretty great for a film about spiteful, vengeful assholery. It’s not an easy theme to pull off.

  6. La La Land 2016

    Watched 6 February 2017

    Not being a fan of musicals, I often found myself wondering if La La Land would work better as a more straightforward drama without all the singing and dancing. But it managed to convince me that the music is what makes it work — it’s the otherwise unattainable mix of spectacle and candor that makes it so compelling.

    But I’m not convinced it’s as timeless as it clearly wants to be. I’m curious to find out if this one ages as well as I’m sure Ryan Gosling will.

  7. Inferno 2016

    Watched 27 January 2017

    I would complain at length about the cheap twist (and quite a few other things) if it weren’t for the fact that the entire premise is based on a bafflingly convoluted evil masterplan treasure hunt for which there is absolutely no attempt at an explanation. “Dan Brown wrote it” doesn’t count.

  8. The Lobster 2015

    Watched 23 January 2017

    Very impressive how this ends up working as a Rorschach test of sorts. I was expecting a funny artsy film, but there’s some sharp edges here.

  9. Hell or High Water 2016

    Watched 22 January 2017

    This was unexpectedly charming, and I think I get what it’s trying to do, but in the end, it didn’t leave that much of an impression on me. I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing, though. Maybe I’m just not enough of a cowboy to let it hit me.

  10. Casino Royale 2006

    Rewatched 8 January 2017

    “Yes. Considerably.”

    This is the best one, isn’t it? No other Bond film comes close.

    While some other entries in the series succeed on a sort of meta level of being good for a Bond film, this one dispenses with any rose-tinted glasses requirement. It’s the real deal.

    The absurd poker gets a pass. One sympathises.

  11. Titanic 1997

    Rewatched 2 January 2017

    Ah, Titanic. James Cameron proves that everything about a movie can be cheesy in one fell swoop. It’s an astounding cinematic achievement. Cheesy love story, cheesy dialogue, cheesy music… Even the editing is cheesy. Example: near the end, when the shot of the sinking necklace fades to the sleeping old lady, the necklace is briefly positioned over her head before it disappears. Do you get it? It’s like she’s dreaming about it or something! Truly poetic stuff.

    I congratulate James Cameron on making it all work — Titanic is a Good Movie. It brims with personality and is unquestionably memorable. Plus, I have to applaud his ethos in the search for complete cheesiness with the 3D conversion. Wish I’d seen that one.

  12. Prisoners 2013

    Watched 28 December 2016

    Just harrowing. This film hit me like a brick.

    Denis Villeneuve has definitely got a good thing going — he is proving himself to be a master of both tone and detail. Despite being two and a half hours long, the film never lets up. Not a moment feels wasted; every shot is packed with information and detail. The soundtrack is perfect. And my god, Roger Deakins.

    Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in this, like I was promised. People should stop complaining about the quality of “new-school” American actors, because this guy exists.

  13. The Accountant 2016

    Watched 25 December 2016

    So much potential was wasted here, it’s kinda hard to watch. I had to deduct half a star to account for the simply insulting writing-numbers-on-windows math genius montage. This film should have learned something from its main character: focus and terseness.

  14. The Handmaiden 2016

    Watched 9 December 2016

    What an awe-inspiring juggling act. Not just in terms of story, but (more impressively) in structure, characterization, and tone. And yet, not a single ball is dropped. This film is excitingly original and delightfully well executed.