Monday, January 07, 2019

Movie review catchup from somewhere in 2016 to the end of 2017

It's been way, way too long since I collected my reviews together, but unfortunately I don't have the patience to include poster images and links - sorry. I made the recommendations in larger font, and dropped the bad ones to a small font.

Logan - Very, very bloody but a simple plot and decent acting made for a good ride even for non-superhero fans.

The Circle - Much better than I expected, but pretty weak ending. I read the book a while ago and I don'k think the movie ending matched the book. Solid premise, but screenplay lacked real depth. But still, quite entertaining.

Gerald's Game - Wow, not what I expected, but I should have paid attention to the most important credit - based on a Stephen King book. Brought back uneasy memories of Misery. Simple, but disturbing plot with a few easy twists, but there's much more to this one. Superb acting and tension throughout, very effective and creative mind game scenes. 8/10

Cure for Wellness - Great visuals, good doses of tension, but an uneasy plot. Very creepy in a predictable manner. Some pretty disturbing bits were well crafted, but overall I didn't buy it. 6/10.

The Founder - Enjoyed the McDonalds business story, and Keaton was superb in his role as "the founder". First half was nice and light with some good bits of humour, but the second half showed the uglier side of business and Kroc especially.

Other Life - Stumbled on this one while browsing Netflix. I did a quick review drive-by over on IMDB and liked what I saw, especially the reference to Black Mirror. Not as low budget as mentioned in reviews, and it came with quite the punch. Solid concept, decent acting and action, but most importantly, sci-fi content that makes you think.. A few predictable gimics, but very entertaining. 8/10

Bladerunner 2049 - Wonderful continuation of the original with many moody scene similarities. Stunning visuals and FX. Plot took some nice turns and left lots for afterthought. Superb casting - loved Mackenzie Davis and that overlay love scene as well as Barkhad Abdi's cameo.  Strong connections with books I'm reading from Yuval Noah Harari and perhaps even Brown's new book Origin - lots to think about with AI, losing humanity and evolution.

What We Do in the Shadows - Cross between Flight of the Conchords and Interview with a Vampire. Very clever and funny as only Clement and co. can pull off. Some really good bits that work well. Great to see Rhys Darby as the werewolf alpha male.

The Prestige - Liked it very much except the magic trick. Did Nolan really have to go that far ? I think it could have been left with perhaps one less out-of-place twist. Liked the combative passions and recreation of this magical time. But ultimately felt a little cheated. 7/10.

How Do You Know - As I said to the person who selected this "gem" - a shoe string of a plot held together by superstars. The soliquay by the new dad Al was a highlight. Very weird scenes and writing with a few laughs. But overall, I'm glad my wife liked it. Weird music choices too. Bad enough to be almost good. 6/10.

Spy Game - Started out kinda typical smart Alec Redford, got built really nicely with some decent intrigue and drama. Rock star casting helped but I liked the storyline. Was even looking for a photography angle during my search.

Doctor Strange - Strange indeed. Silly at times and even funny on occasion. Very cool FX. Cumerbatch brought it up to a 7/10. Follow on note: also another slide into references to the multiverse (re: Dark Matter).

Dunkirk - Exceeded expectations - superb filmmaking that brought home the horrible precarious nature of fighting for your country and how dire events can become. Perhaps more comparable to Apocalypse Now than Saving Private Ryan - gobs of dramatic acting with minimal dialogue. Stunt work, digital effects and engrossing cinematography were spot on. Storytelling thru synchronized Tarantino like scenes was brilliant. Emotional without a doubt, but a top draw work of art. 9/10.

Innsaei - Wow, lots to ingest and let my right side hemisphere chew on. Why did Stoll think Left Side was a good idea - or was it about the good idea ? Beautifully filmed with a very amiable pace. Hypnotic at times and emotional at other times. Definitely adding to my list of my new education. Does alcohol impede or enhance intuition. I think I know that one. Mediation. What was that mind website again ? Love that word innsaei. 9/10.

Oasis: Supersonic - As my wife said - authentic. A great rock & roll story with the battling siblings to spice things up and smash it to pieces. Lots of swearing, but you kind of get used to it. Funny at times, peels a few layers off their brilliance and shows a lot of behind the scenes and gigs I'd never seen. Brilliant. 8/10.

Snowden- Good compliment to the Citizen Four doc. Liked seeing his background played out with expected flourishes. Gorden-Livet's portrayal was pretty close to the real Mr Snowden. I think there was a stretch or two, but the story remains a very important one that we're kind of still in the middle of. Will we hear of him again.

Food Inc. - Very well made doc on the business of food in America. I understand that Canada may be a little better and European nations, better still, but I imagine no one is immune to the challenges with healthy food and environmental issues. Very disturbing film that takes us into some very dark places in the secretive food business. Really strong selection of interviewees and many an emotional moment. This film was made in 2008. I can't imagine things have got much better and likely could be much worse, but it would be nice to see an update. Important filmmaking 8/10.

Killswitch - Not exactly what I expected, but found another good doc on important factors impacting the freedom of the internet. Covers net neutrality, Aaron Swartz and overlaps Snowden story that I saw in citizen four. A lot is at stake and it needs to be understood.

The Spectacular Now - Well portrayed complex teenage characters that tells a more thoughtful story of growing up than the dime-a-dozen coming of age movie. Subtle, beautiful and melancholy moments help create a rich, meaningful film.

Baby Driver - Superb balance of action, storytelling and comedy. Perfect timing and editing set to wicked soundtrack. Super stylin' throughout that doesn't miss a beat. Solid performances by vets and the youngsters. Lines galore, memorable moments and a really fun ride. Did I mention the car chases - wow. High octane entertainment.

War Machine - Seemed to unravel and lose direction as it went on, but overall I liked it. Pitt perhaps borrowed a little from 5 Monkeys for his McMahon. Careful balance of the comedic and the dramatic worked, but I was hoping for a little more closure (how naive). 7/10.

Fences - Definitely an adaptation from the stage - superb dialogue and life. I lost the essence of Troy's character about half way through and struggled a little with the end. Wonderful performances and a sub plot of the struggles of African American life - connection to the 13th perhaps ?

Keeping up with the Joneses - Part 1 on Qantas flight to Melbourne. Instantly hooked on G comedic brilliance. Lots of funny bits already. Great cast. Got better in the second part. Should have known by the cast - funny stuff and writes itself.

Edge of Seventeen - Another great recommendation from by brother. Great film. Great acting from young and old from solid cast. Simple story with substance and heart that's mostly missing from this genre today. Loved it. Thx bro.

Girl on the Train - I think it was actually better than the book. Followed plot well, but weight of the message seemed stronger (maybe because it wasn't a page turner for me). Well acted, probably kept the unknowing viewer guessing.

Inferno - Not as substantial as Brown's other movie adaptations, but ok in-flight entertainment. Lots of chasing around famous places riddled with ancient clues. Decent twists and turns. Good cast and production value.

Allied - Very well done; top draw star power, beautiful sets and location shots and a strong plot made it very entertaining.

Hacksaw Ridge - Amazing true story well played out as a classic war movie but with today's extremely graphic details of its violence. Well acted and cast. Religious motivations aside, refusing to have a weapon and a truly peaceful disposition is so very relevant in today's knife-edge world.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - A potter fan would probably get more out of it than I, but it was pretty entertaining, a little magical perhaps. Some great casting and wonderful creature creativity.

The Discovery - Convincing characters and well produced. Decent plot, but lagged at times. But why do they accelerate the unveiling when you have so many questions. Maybe they don't have the answers, the writer hasn't thought it all the way through. Maybe a cheat to a perceived good ending. Kept me engaged, but lost me at the wrong time.

Passengers - First, thanks for Evan (Nerdwriter) who recently posted a blog about the movie. I didn't want to see spoilers but I heard enough to suggest this movie was better than the reviews suggested. I was not disappointed. Actually, very pleasantly surprised - I loved it. Simplish plot, but an underlying flawed human element that says a lot. Superb tech and fx, but the human story I really liked. Highly entertaining for a hopeless romantic with a techie heart.

A Light Between Oceans - A classic tale of the hard decisions, family, allegiances and ultimately right and wrong. A kind of film you sadly are trying to predict the next and final turn. Or two or three more. Life can be so cruel (even in fiction). Such a simple tale with such heavy consequences. Tidy end but maybe it was too much.

How to be Single - partial AC viewing. Very rude, but pretty funny (especially ...). Light, fun, with expected moral bits to come.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2018, Best of... (music)

An annual tradition, shared various ways, not all new releases of 2018, but stuff I found in the year and kept rattling around my ears and playlists.  The YouTube playlist has some great finds of the video versions, some didn't have videos, so there's a cover photo stand-in and I also chose some live ones as a preference.  There's a pretty broad variety in this year's list - I hope something for everyone.  I'm definitely more into the beats and hooks, rather than the deeper lyrical content, so apologies if some of these are on the edges of appropriateness for today's times.  Enjoy.