I didn’t hooked to all the fantastic stuff, but the fire lizard frog is very cute.
Max Minghella’s directional debut looks like any good directional debut. Sensitive, great acting, some good ideas here and there, some awkward moments here and there, not very significant overall.
The story is interesting, but the many action scenes are really outdated. Long shot of one character shooting pew pew pew. Long shot of the other character shooting pew pew pew. Damage and havoc created by vehicles boom boom.
Pretty consistent with the first one: I spent a good time!
Stop saying the movie is one long shot for fuck sake! (Not because it was actually filmed in multiple shots, I don’t care how the movie was made, but because:) There are 2 shots in the movie, with a clear, black-screen-for-multiple-seconds pause between the 2 scenes, and this transition is narratively significant, and the second scene starts with a visual and auditive moment of cinema that is out of this world. So this is the reaction of a director who just made a movie in 2 shots, who was the grand favorite for the Oscar for Best Director in all betting sites, and who just lost (to Parasite’s director).
Margot Robbie was so hot in this! /s
Finally a movie that offers a sensitive perspective of Hitler and not some cliché based on his few missteps that unfairly depicts him as some sort of devil /s
Christopher Nolan: "Hey my Batman movies are realistic takes on the Gotham universe". Todd Phillips: "Hold my beer". This is a phenomenal telling of Arthur Fleck's (the Joker real name) fall into madness and violence. The movie starts so realistic and dark, it doesn't even feel like it is in any way connected to the DC universe. The connection to the universe is made as Arthur embraces his Joker persona, which is sort of an elegant progression. Pussies won't like the movie because they confuse ideological validation with the plausible depiction of an unfortunate mechanism (or they're condescending enough to think they're smart enough to make the difference, but others might not, and somehow this is the movie's responsibility). Instead of enjoying the irony of an “applause” sign blinking when the Joker is invited on a TV show, they would like a “this is bad” sign blinking at the screening of the movie.
A24 strikes again.
Such a strong and well-constructed story overall.
I continued on my animated spree with this non-Disney which I had heard about multiple times. I found it just really boring. The lead character, Anastasia, has no personality.
It is astounding that this is an animated movie from 1940 and that it is the second movie Disney made. The animation has nothing to shy about in comparison to modern classics. Talk about setting the bar high. Damn.
Still struck by Kuzco’s poor visuals, I rewatched one of my favorite Disney, that I hold dear ever since I saw it in theater when I was a child: Tarzan. It perfectly stood the test of time. It is visually brilliant, the music is great, the story is so well-paced, well-crafted.
It had been sold to me as “The best Disney” or “not like the other Disneys”. Here’s a notice: if you usually like Disneys, and some people tell you about a Disney that is not like the others, well, you probably won’t like this specific one. Kuzco looks like it was written by some interns at Disney, with an entertaining voice-over sounding like some YouTuber, an endless flow of easy jokes, and an absolutely ridiculous plot where a dictator becomes (spoiler) a good guy because he took a stroll with a good daddy. Long gone the time where the morale of tales was pragmatic advice on how to make the best of real life in spite of its ruthlessness. The truth is that it wasn’t made by interns, but by artists in a hurry, which also explains why it’s visually so poor.
Steven Spielberg says that he watches Lawrence of Arabia again before starting shooting any new movie. “It pulverized me”, he recollects when thinking of when he saw the movie at the theater. Even though the effect on a young spectator like me was not as intense as what Spielberg must have experienced back then, I can definitely understand what he’s talking about. A lot of it has to do with the sheer visual power of the movie. It is a cinematographic masterpiece on a massive level.
First, there is the desert, which is vast, which has beautiful sand dunes and giant sandstone buttes. The cinematography embraces this display of nature on a very impressive way. You can feel the weight of the frame. Then, there are battle scenes with hundreds (if not thousands?) of extras, charges with lots of horses, etc. All of this is of course done for real without digital effects, and is edited in long, well-composed shots. Finally, there are all the little details, either in cinematography or editing, which ices the cake. The mirage on the horizon in the incredible well scene, the cut from the matchstick to the sunrise. All those fundamentally visual elements is what I found really striking in the movie.
As for the story itself, I found it rather interesting and easy to follow, but not extraordinary. I was afraid of the runtime, 4 hours, but it turned out to be okay. There is an interesting take in the story, though, which is the delusion in which Lawrence falls as he progressively thinks of himself as a prophet. From a movie from the early 60s, I expected a proper display of the white-savior trope, but the story is smarter than that. In fact, I could have guessed right from the personality of the lead character, Lawrence, which is a sophisticated, a bit exuberant, academic lieutenant, and not your traditional big guy from the army. Now, in spite of the screenplay’s best effort at being smart, I wouldn’t be surprised if the depiction of Arabian tribes happened to be rather cliché and awkward. I’m not knowledgeable enough to say.
Lawrence of Arabia belongs to a kind of cinema that is now dead. No production company would actually shot in the desert in the green screen age, nor would they hire hundreds of extras now that we can use GCI. They wouldn't allow a charge scene to be edited in one long shot, because that would mean wasting the 5 other camera angles. A movie cannot last 4 hours anymore, because then it means you cannot screen it enough times in the day to win all the dollars. It is said that director David Lean only filmed master shots, so that he had indirect power over the editing (what else than the master shot are you going to use if there is no coverage), so in fact I think David Lean wouldn't be allowed to walk on a film set today. We have contemporary directors like Christopher Nolan who try to apply some recipe for epic films (no CGI, shooting in film instead of digital, etc), but seeing Lawrence of Arabia, it really doesn't come close. So even if the movie doesn't get to me as much as my favorite modern movies can, there is still this weird feeling that I'm watching some incredible, grand movie, that is basically untouchable.
All pumped up for epic classics after Lawrence of Arabia, I jumped in head-first into the three hours and a half of Seven Samourais and… well… I’m writing those lines a few weeks after having watching it, and, to be honest, not much have sticked with me.
Alec Guinness is the boss. End of story. What really blows my mind is that <spoiler>they actually built the bridge for the movie, but then at the end, they blew up the bridge for the movie.</spoiler>
The movie that apparently was an inspiration for Lawrence of Arabia, as David Lean was fond of John Ford. Well, Lawrence is vastly superior at all levels.
Scorcese makes movies so big and so rich it’s hard to get a handle on them and summarizes what was good. So here is a bit at random: the long take where Irish immigrants get enrolled in the army and go from one ship to another is brilliant.
Charlize Theron / 10. She is unrecognizable, and incredible. Other than that, the movie looks like a TV movie and is equally boring.
Brad Pitt plays an astronaut which is trained to be absolutely stoic in any situation. He does not panic. He does not fear. He analyses, reacts, overcomes™. As the movie progresses, cracks start appearing in this fortress of pragmatism, so we can peek at the emotions that lie beneath. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen to the movie itself, which is consistently cold and terribly distant to its main character, paradoxally to the fact that he occupies the screen most of the time.
I experienced exactly zero emotion while watching this movie. Pitt plays a silent and secretive character, a type of role that Ryan Gosling thrived in with Drive, Blade Runner 2049 or First Man, except that we don’t feel anything for Pitt. One reason for such disconnect is that many scenes are too pictorial and not immersive. Cinematography director Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk) produces many gorgeous shots, but they are edited in such a clip-esque way, along with the grandiose music of Max Richter, that many scenes felt like attempts at cinematic poetry rather than actual scenes you can follow the main character in and therefore identify with him. This kind of symbolic narration is clearly not my thing.
Overall I felt like the whole movie took itself way too seriously, as if its story, which is some illustration for Psychology 101, was particularly subtle or grand. The ridiculous physics at the end only confirmed my dislike for this mediocre sci-fi drama.
I was skeptic at first, but Will Smith comes out as such an awesome genius! So much in fact that I started liking the movie when he appeared, adding such a fanciful presence to compensate for the soppy romance between Aladdin and Jasmine.
What an incredible consistency on delicacy and gentleness, supported by brilliant directing and acting. In a narration without judgment, which seeks feelings and sensitivity in flawed characters, the line between good and bad becomes blurred, such that we feel torn between ethical concerns and sheer compassion. Very well deserved Palme d’Or from 2018.
This is the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde. I like watching directional debuts. This is a teen movie, which, apart from a few particularly well-made scenes (the pool scene then the argument at the party), is a conventionally teen movie, although top of its league. Now here is a twist : Beanie Feldstein, on the right in the poster, is Jonah Hill’s little sister. You can’t unsee this.
The documentary draws a line between “pro” porn actresses who, historically, played “girls next door” types of role, and new young actresses who are are actually girls next door who just decide to go into porn. Because maybe the latter category should be more “protected” than the former? Or remain pure? Interesting anyways.
pew pew pew
The fact that characters are always singing feels so awkward. Especially since some of them appear not be great singers. Since I never read the book nor studied it at school, this movie provides an easy access to know the story of the novel. However, it is rather over-the-top and flamboyant, which I’m sure is consistent with Hugo’s style. The “I Dreamed a Dream” scene if by far the peak of the movie, providing solid ground for all the awards Anne Hathaway won for her role.
What a delight to watch!
❤ The cinematography is wonderful. I keep reminding myself of this scene where Sharon Tate is waking up in her bed in a sunny morning. It feels retro yet so contemporary because of such warming light.
❤ Brad Pitt plays the coolest character in the world.
❤ The various locations in Los Angeles : Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, the hippies’ scrapyard. When Cliff is fixing the antenna on top of the house, we’re overlooking Los Angeles, with an highway in the background. It feels eclectic and vibrant, makes you wanna play GTA V.
❤ The scene in the hippies scrapyard is masterful. It is creepy as fuck, you fear for Cliff’s life, it is straight from a horror movie. Yet no horror code is present : there is no suspenseful music, the main character is chill, it happens in broad daylight. This is brilliant.
❤ Leonardo DiCaprio skillfully plays a character who plays characters with varying talent. This is impressive. It’s like he has a setting on how good he must play.
❤ Awesome alchemy between the two main characters.
❤ The final pay-off.
Honestly I was bored for the most of it.
Oh man… this is so fucked up. The movie makes you identify with the killer and at moments use suspense to make you fear for him getting arrested by the police. I can’t even say it’s bad because it is actually well-made. So weird.
There is actually not that much material, and most of the movie keeps rambling the same things thought testimonies of various veterans who basically lived the same hell.
After Get Out, Jordan Peele continues proving he is one of the best contemporary director for horror and suspense. There really are lots of good, original, ideas, and it is actually scary. Excellent.
I liked the character of Rick Blain at the beginning: unfriendly and cynic, but with a lot of sensibility hiding behind. As the flashback told the tale of his love story, it all crumbled down to another middle-aged man going with a pretty girl in her mid-twenties and not being disturbed by her lack of maturity in comparison to him. <spoiler>The finale of the movie, where he makes a life-decision for her in her place, assuring her that this is the right thing to do, only shows again this difference in maturity and how infantilized she is. Why would a mind as strong as him have a love interest for such a young spirit, I don’t know</spoiler>
What I get from watching the movies of Joon-Ho Bong (Parasite): weird shit happens in the basement.
I was on the edge of my seat during the whole of it. I was so pleased with the absence of narration and interviews, which gives such a “raw” touch to it. Although this is clearly not optimized for conveying as much information as possible, it is the closest you can be from actually living the thing as it was happening. Image restoration is beautiful, sound editing and mixing are awesome, editing is magnificent, the music from Matt Morton is so exciting. The documentary sets his own style and rules, inside which it is basically perfect. I think it is rewatchable ad vitam eternam.
As with other Gaspar Noé’s movies (I’ve only seen Irréversible but my predictions are set for the rest of the filmography), the characters already display a behavior I’ve trouble identifying with, to the point where the exercise of watching them evolve under extreme psychological pressure is of limited relevance (if you’re the kind of person who brings your child in such a setting, your decision-making process is already fucked up, of course I guess that under influence it’s gonna get worse).
The nightmare-ish aspect of it all reminded me of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!, which, contrary to this one, I find wonderful, because I could identify with Jennifer Lawrence’s character.
In spite of my lack of identification and overall revulsion towards the experience, I must recognize the incredible cinematic performance, including the awesome opening, long shot, featuring a beautiful choreography. This movie is really unratable.
So when Disneyland gets bloated it becomes Dreamland, and it is getting destroyed by failing to integrate icons from the former. Bravo Burton. This is actually a nice flick to watch, notably because Dumbo is sooooo cute with his big eyes (hmmm “Big Eyes”, another Burton) and all his giggling and reactions. It is, however, visually ugly, as any scene can be spotted from being filmed with a green screen, and at times very awkward, for example with the terrible daughter character, who behaves more like a cyborg than like a child.
History Educative Package #42187. Not great, not terrible.
You can somehow feels the lack of budget through the rather uneventful story and cheap costume design, but this little western-on-another-planet won my heart with thoughtful character development. I actually rooted for the main character to safely get through her adventure all along.
The lack of budget actually serves the movie. At the beginning, when the ship separates from the main vessel, everything is seen as from inside the ship, and it is very well made. Contrary to fat science-fiction movies which tend to show things from a vantage point in space, in this scene you get to see the action on a human scale.
There are also discussions where characters discuss their situation in the movie’s science-fiction society, and I thought it was impressive how, with a few lines of dialogs, the movie opens a tiny window to a universe that appears to be very rich. Again, there is no great exposition of such universe, but rather hints of it on a human scale, which I found very likable.
<spoiler>I was expecting a twist where we learn that the kid was stealing the poems from his nana, who the teacher considers to be a "nuisance". I don't want to brag, but this version would have been better by all accounts. Fucking psycho teacher kidnapping kids and patronizing lower social classes.</spoiler>
Because I liked Everybody Knows very much, I decided to dig further into Asghar Farhadi’s filmography. Unfortunately, I was way less convinced by this one, where every character is more or less depressive or hurtful. I miss the Spanish upbeat mood at the beginning of Everybody Knows and the ensuing heart-wrenching events. I resent this French gloomy setting and the ensuing depressive revelations. My reading of the morale of the movie is that the character played by Bérénice Bejo is such an horrid person, it’s the reason any man she goes with eventually leaves her.
I think Woody suffers from the sitcom syndrome where the main character is less interesting than the side characters. I didn’t like that the movie was so focused on Woody. I think Woody is boring. There is not as much team work and adventures as in the previous movies. The mood is too sentimentalistic and existential, and not as upbeat and funny as in the previous movies. It is rather enjoyable, but clearly not up to the franchise’s history.
Props to Ed Sheeran for the self-deprecation. Nice little flick.
I mean, yeah ok, that’s kind of funny. Ahah.
I don’t trust Michael Moore. His documentaries are usually based on a pile of archive videos and interview pieces taken out of their context, which would require hours of homework to check whether I’m being bullshitted or not, which I don’t have the energy or time to do. Without even checking I can spot the moments where things that must be up to interpretation are presented as facts, which is bullshit already. I learned that there is a water crisis in Flint, so there is that.
The movie goes in all sorts of directions, which kind of unhinged me, but it is overall interesting to watch, going from funny to thrilling in a very oddly way that has a fascinating touch to it.
The epic musical moments made me shiver with delight, but that wasn’t enough to compensate for the overall forgettable screenplay. The story’s structure is this of a very conventional biopic, and the character development is entirely based on the overused trope of substance abuse and lack of affection from a father figure. I’m pretty sure that Elton John holds a richer personality than just being the product of those circumstances.
That was some shitty editing and direction. I felt disconnected from the movie for the most of it.
After the viewing I started tidying and cleaning my flat with calmness, dignity, and focus. This became boring as quickly as the movie.
This is just like a rather bad episode of Black Mirror. Coming from Andrew Niccol, the man who wrote the masterpieces which contributed so much to the genre (The Truman Show, Gattaca), this is quite sad.
This is the second movie I see from Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) and, well, I have a filmography to watch. He captures with so much intensity the characters’ emotions and psychological complexities. I like that he doesn’t use music. In front of the camera, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are brilliant. The reason so much talent makes for a just a “fairly good” movie is because the ending is narratively disappointing. I use “narratively” because it is actually very plausible and not badly written at all; it’s just that as a spectator you want something more exciting. I guess it’s the price to pay for such raw naturalism.
The most-loved episode of “In fact the true monsters are men” by Guillermo Del Toro. I rather didn’t like it because I have trouble identifying with the sort of tale-like parallel world the action takes place in (the mill in the middle of the woods). As it happens, it is the exact same reason I didn’t like The Shape of Water (the secret military basement). I just don’t feel it is real and it makes me lose my bearings, such that I don’t feel much emotions. It’s like there is just too much distance between the story and me. Also I thought it was visually ugly; everything is orange-ish like in a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie. What remains is the soundtrack of Javier Navarrete which is truly wonderful.
Like the person who recommended it to me said: it’s a movie you don’t understand yet you still like it for some reason. This is like Alice in Wonderland, except that the wonderland is Hollywood’s high society.
There is quite a gap between the terms in which the contract is discussed and the practices that are then shown on-screen. The writers were like "oh boy this scene is only words so we can go WILD" but then for the scenes of actual sex, they realized they already had exhausted most of their allowed transgressiveness because the actress was naked anyway, and so they couldn't push it further than blindfolds and whatnots.
Christian Grey is cold, impersonal, unfunny, creepy, manipulative, and no matter how pretty his face is, he constantly looks like an overall douchebag. So I can definitely believe the part where he finds women (most likely hires them) and make them sign a contract to do weird shit with him in his basement; but I definitely DON'T believe the part where a young normal woman finds he has any appeal.
Absolutely crappy shit anyway.
The directing is very clean, camera-work-wise, but the movie contains a lot of clichés which makes it not up what David Fincher was able to deliver in the previous installment. Claire Foy, who has my full esteem after The Crown and Unsane happens to be less suited for the role than Rooney Mara was. It’s no more than nice flick that is easily forgotten.
The humor tells me this a movie for children; the language tells me this a movie for adults. Somehow in this void it is vaguely enjoyable and is apparently the best Marvel can deliver nowadays – that is a low upper bound.
Free soloing is the act of climbing a wall, alone, without artificial holds, and without safety ropes. For big walls, falling means dying. This documentary is about Alex Honnold's project to free solo El Capitan, the famous gigantic rock formation in California that you might know for being the default background image of MacOS X Yosemite edition. El Capitan is 914 meters in height.
Although I didn't know that it was called free solo, I knew about the practice, and always have found it stupid. From my ignorant perspective, I saw no difference between succeeding a free solo climb and succeeding a safe climb when you just happened to never fall and be saved by the ropes. I guessed that the statistics of success for free solo climbs were about the same than the statistics for safe climbs without any fall. For good climbers, such statistics is generous enough to allow free soloers to achieve a fair amount of climbs in their career, before they fall and die.
This documentary showed me why I was wrong. It does so by exposing the intricate psychology of the climber, Alex Honnold.
1. Free soloing is stupid
For something to be stupid or not it needs to be measured against a goal. Nothing is clever or stupid in a void. Free solo is stupid when your goal is survival. There is no doubt about that. However, Alex Honnold literally says in the documentary (while his horrified girlfriend is listening) that his goal is not to optimize lifespan. For him, free soloing is an achievement of epic proportions. It's what he thrives for. His mother explains that she basically abandoned trying to reason him when she realized free soloing is when he lives the most. Forbidding him free soloing would be like taking back his freedom. What would be the point of survival in those conditions.
The documentary hints at something deeper about Alex's psychology. The climber says that anybody can spend one's life having good times with friends and laughs, but that it doesn't accomplish anything. Free solo does. This is, of course, a pretty hypocritical statement, since such a life is not a given, and to have it, one must first have some degree of prosperity (financially, socially, psychologically, etc). We could say that by saying that, he gives away the fact that he has a privileged life anyway. But that is not the case.
From what the documentary shows, he's a rather melancholic, barely sociable, quirky, person. He lives in his van. When he's filling a psychological evaluation form, he freezes over the question "Are you depressive?". The movie has great compassion for Alex's girlfriend, and shows multiple times that he's not quite fit to be a good boyfriend. Alex admits that having her makes his life better by any measure, which is quite a confession from a dork like him, and makes his lack of devotion towards her irrational.
But when he free solos, everything lightens up. He's having the time of his life. The emotions kicks in. After a successful climb he calls his girlfriend, thank her, cry almost. He becomes human.
2. Statistics of success for free solos must be the same as statistics of rope-backed climbs without any fall
This was very naive of me to think that. Climbers use safe climbs to train themselves until they feel ready for the free solo, so of course free solos have way better statistics than rope-backed climbs. Broadly speaking, when there are ropes the climber is willing to take more risks and be less careful; whereas the climber knows there is no room for error in the free solo climb.
The documentary explains that Alex Honnold climbed El Capitan about 40 times with ropes before doing it in free solo. In the weeks before the climb, we are shown him training on the most difficult passes of the climb, with ropes. It becomes quite technical, and is very interesting because it then creates dramatic tension for the moments when he will reach those specific point when he will climb freely.
TL;DR: You must approach this documentary with compassion and openness if you want to see beyond a crazed weirdo who eats vegan meals before risking his life for nothing. If you roll with it, then you're in for a very interesting exposé on climbing and a thrilling finale.
You know what is a distinguishing feature of good character development? Characters should be predictable. Like an acquaintance, you should be able to tell what their reaction would be to some situation. How they would think about it, what they would say, and what they would do. Each moment when you don’t really know how they will react is an opportunity to learn more about them. If you never know, if you can’t predict anything, then it means there is no character development; the character is just a tool.
Mr Nobody, like the equally crappy Butterfly Effect from 2004, uses lack of character development to try to convince us that life is chaotic and can be totally altered by ridiculous details generating grandiose consequences. Characters end up in totally different lives, and totally different mindsets, in the tree of possible storylines. Characters are just set pieces enduring the circumstances of their storylines. I won’t take a philosophical stance on the butterfly effect philosophically speaking, but I can say for sure that I find this approach of chaos awful to watch, narratively speaking. What can you hold on to if characters are just tools? This is useless.
OH THE U.S. MARSHALLS KNEW ABOUT IT ALL ALONG AND SO THE PLOT IS SOLVED AND THIS IS POINTLESS BECAUSE WE HAD NO WAY TO GUESS THAT AND THIS IS SO MUCH USELESS THAT EVEN THIS SPOILER DOESN’T SPOIL THE MOVIE.
Some guys go to South America to steal some money from a drug lord so that they can be rich. It’s a nice movie to watch. Simple, to the point. It is nicely directed, but not quite up to the existing filmography of director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost, A Most Violent Year)
My little birds told me that this was a movie adaptation from an outstanding documentary on the same subject (which I haven’t seen) and that the movie is to the documentary what The Walk was to Man on Wire. So that’s what it must feel like watching The Walk without knowing about Man on Wire: a so-so movie with a visually brilliant director behind the camera.
Today I learned that Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan are married. They were married when they shot Ruby Sparks and they wrote Wildlife together. He is 34 and she is 35. What a lovely couple they make! This directorial debut from Dano isn’t outstanding, but it is very promising. There is definitely someone smart behind the camera, and some talented comedians in front of it.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the star who shines in this otherwise clumsy drama. She is really good in this.
I'm sorry but the first Transformers from Michael Bay had more texture than this movie. This is true at every level, but especially at the most detailed level and the most general one. At the most detailed level because of the design of the robots. Michael Bay's robots looked like they were actually made of metal. They were dirty, mechanical, brutal. Bumblebee's robots look like they're made of plastic. They're slick, clean, almost organic. The opening sequence on Cybertron is a perfect example of action I dislike, because it doesn't look anywhere near real; it's almost cartoon-like.
It lacks texture at the most general level because Bumblebee desperately lacks action, but it is an action movie. It therefore suffers from the same problem any action-less action movies suffer from, which is a crappy screenplay that leverages verbosity, clichés, and gimmicks to tell whatever banal story it wants to tell. I'm bored. I'm never bored during a Michael Bay movie, and especially not during Transformers, because when Michael Bay isn't filming a sunset, a supercar, a sexy model, or throwing crappy jokes (which is still better than banality, the guy is like an auteur on his own planet), at least he makes great, lengthy action.
See the scene where Bumblebee goes into the house and awkwardly breaks everything because he is too big, too violent and too goofy? See how this an enjoyable moment as a spectator? Well, this is what Michael Bay did to cinema with Transformers and this was also very enjoyable. Bumbleebee is more like the scene where Charlie puts a tape from The Smiths and Bumblebee rejects it because it's overrated boring sentimentality.
The story desperately lacks obstacles. The entire police investigation, for example, is pointless, because it is way too much straightforward and doesn't encounter any significant difficulty. This is almost true for the rest of the movie as well. Even when the screenplay is about to hit a climactic point that could have generated great dramatic tension, it choses the peaceful road instead.
Yet, because maybe that's how life feels when you're 88, and because Eastwood's character literally says it in the movie, he "just wants to enjoy life", there is a strange and poetic feeling that comes with watching such conflict-less and absurd story, which, overall, is somewhat enjoyable.
 <spoiler>When Earl learns from his grand-daughter that his wife is dying, if he decides to go see her, he takes the risk of leading the cartel to his family (they didn't know he even had a family); yet this is the final chance of his life to prove to his wife that he cares. The screenplay avoids this conflict by making the cartel guys "lose him", and even more ridiculous, having them being emphatic about his wife's death when he comes back. (Other movies have teached me that the cartel aren't emphatic about wives' death, as they're usually the ones killing the wives.)</spoiler>
I thought 12 Years a Slave was an exception in Steve McQueen’s filmography, as a conventional history drama, and as a multiple-words title (after Shame and Hunger). Don’t get misled by the single-worded Windows, which is, as it turns out, a conventional crime film.
Damn Woody Allen can really be boring.
Kathryn Bigelow consistently is the queen of filming the atmosphere of a specific turn of events in a very immersive and gripping way. Mark Boal consistently delivers a “fact-based” screenplay out of unknown facts. I’m not sure about the purpose of such detailed and procedural depiction of the incident when a lot of it falls under the umbrella of artistic license because of holes in what is historically known. For someone who mostly didn’t know about the 1967 Detroit’s riots, this was a rather edifying watch nonetheless.
Because apparently Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie don’t have enough work with the Mission Impossible franchise, they’re also working on Jack Reacher. The ode and emphasis on Tom Cruise’s perfection and God-like character reaches a point where it is hilarious. In spite of it being obviously for the lulz, I can’t help but imagine that it must nonetheless boost Cruise’s ego as an actor. Beyond the best scenes where Jack Reacher is delivering insane quotes for intimidation, and one or two big action scenes, the movie is mostly very verbose and would have benefited from a more even distribution of action.
There are three things to learn from this movie:
1. A24’s horror productions are basically all the same (I’m thinking about Hereditary and It Comes at Night).
2. A scary atmosphere isn’t sufficient to make a good scary movie.
3. In colonial America, they burnt witches.
I introduce the new Zz rating, which I use when I fall asleep in front of the movie. This happens only if two conditions are met: 1/ I’m tired and 2/ The movie is boring. This usually happens around the 20th minute, and lasts for about 45 minutes, at which point I try to understand the rest of the movie as an investigative challenge. For some movies, like The Lord of the Ring, it feels like I haven’t missed anything at all about the plot. For some other movies, like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it is quite disconcerting, although the lack of substance seemed to be stable.
The animation of this movie has been the subject of much praise. If not it, then I don’t know what to blame for my lack of interest into the action sequences (and God knows I like good action stuff). It is just too slick; the physics are all rigged; stuff flies around and spider-man gracefully escapes the situation; and I can’t care because none of this feels real or even consistent.
⚠ Spoilers ahead
There are two scenes in this movie which astonished me.
The first one is the opening scene. It features the beginning of a music class which is interrupted by an armed student from the school who proceeds to shoot the teacher and other students. It is such an impactful beginning because it is so wonderfully directed and played. The teacher, played by Maria Dizzia, is so nice. She looks kind, professional, level-ahead. Out of a minute a screen-time, and with just a few mundane lines, this character is already so likable, you hope that she will play a role in the rest of the movie, and you are eager to discover what it is. When the killer enters the room, he is filmed from behind, so you don't see that he is carrying a weapon. As far as we can tell, he is lost, or maybe late for class. But the face of the teacher, terrified and shocked at his sight, is an indication that something is wrong. What about this student could possibly upset such a seemingly composed teacher? We don't have the time to think of an answer before she gets shot. This is a truly horrific moment, and the brilliant directing conveys the horror authentically. A movie starting like that has my entire attention from this point on.
The second scene happens near the end of the movie. Celeste, another victim from the same shooting who has suffered a non-fatal injury to her neck, is now a big pop-star. In fact, she has been noticed by a music producer when, after the shooting, she sung a song as a tribute to the victims. A few years later, the famous Celeste is now a cynic, often disrespectful, depraved pop singer.
In this scene I liked, Celeste has been doing drugs with her manager, just before a big live performance, and she is having an emotional break-down. It is filmed in one long take, in her dressing room, while her sister tries to comfort her. She says something of high importance, I think, which is that "they" can be so mean to her. "They" being, most likely, her detractors among the general public. It is important for two reasons. Firstly because it is most likely true, as any show-business star is inevitably the target of ferocious criticism and mockery, especially those who has been pictured in scandals of debauchery. Secondly because it is very hypocritical of her to say such thing to her sister, since no later than the previous afternoon she has been terribly mean to her, saying that she was a retard. Her sister doesn't pick up on the hypocrisy, she continues to comfort her. Celeste is destroyed, harmless, hopeless. One of the most accomplished role of Natalie Portman in my opinion, not only this scene, but the entire role.
What I get from this scene is that the way Celeste deals with spitefulness from her detractors is by wearing an armor of nastiness herself. The only way she has found not to adsorb the hate is by reflecting it all around her, making her an unbearable person. The only time she drops her guard is when she experiences the fall-out of an heroin trip. There she isn't mean anymore, she isn't even confident. She just cries from the suffering of all the crap she has to put it with.
The movie has received some criticism for its sense-less structure (is it about school shootings or is it about pop stars?) as well as lack of clear morale (what is the lesson to learn here?). I have no problem about any of those points. First, I'm alright with absurdism. For example, the fact that the Titanic sunk for real should not be fundamental to how good the movie Titanic is, even when it's a love story with a boat that sinks at the end, which would be completely far-fetched from a story-telling architectural perspective. Second, I'm also comfortable with morale-less movies. In fact I especially like movies which don't take a stand as I find pushing any sort of ideology to be a crude way to tell a story; it usually over-simplifies the raw information that the story contains.
That being said, it's possible that there might actually be structure and morale in Vox Lux. Even though we have no information about the school shooter from the beginning, we can reasonably imagine that his profile is similar to real cases. That is, the student likely was persecuted, rejected or mocked by others. In short, they were mean to him. I can't help to draw a parallel between Celeste and the shooter's reaction to unkindness from others. Both reflect it around them by being violent themselves. Both end up wanting to make a big show about it. For the shooter it is catastrophic and gruesome. For Celeste it is artistic and electric. Those scenes respectively open and close the movie. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from the movie, and it is as simple as: be kind. Of course, this is a banality, but that doesn't make it any less true. Just as the content of any pop song.
Any movie with Fabrice Lucchini automatically gets a pass with me, but if in addition there is Gemma Arterton, oh boy!
There are 4 segments* out of 13 that caught my attention or made me laugh. That’s about 3 out of 10.
*The Catch, Homeschooled, The Proposition, Truth of Dare