Dude Rates Movies

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Scoop
5
Woody Allen (2006)
Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Jim Dunk
Sunday 10 March 2019 AD

Another output from Woody Allen’s random movie generator.

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Steak
6
Quentin Dupieux (2007)
Eric Judor, Ramzy Bedia, Jonathan Lambert
Sunday 10 March 2019 AD

All the interactions with Eric & Ramzy are a delight. The rest of the plot, as funnily absurd as it is, isn’t as interesting.

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Rubber
7
Quentin Dupieux (2010)
Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Wings Hauser
Sunday 10 March 2019 AD

It is impressive how quickly we empathize with the tire, and the director should receive props for that alone. The movie is a bit too long. It would have made a wonderful short or medium-length movie.

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Oscars 2019 Predictions
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Top Ten 2018
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A Star Is Born
9
Bradley Cooper (2018)
Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD

You can immediately tell that this was a passion project for Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and it elevates the concept gracefully. Their alchemy on screen is all over the place. The exposition and conclusion (first act and final act) are absolutely great. The middle development is a bit mellow. Great overall.

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At Eternity's Gate
5
Julian Schnabel (2018)
Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD

The director went for an immersive experience into Van Gogh’s mind. This means everything is shaky, blurry, and unnerving, except in the scenes where he paints, where everything becomes stable and easy and peaceful. As it turns out, it is quite unpleasant to go into Van Gogh’s mind.

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If Beale Street Could Talk
4
Barry Jenkins (2018)
KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD

WELL THAT WAS FONNY

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
8
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (2018)
Tim Blake Nelson, Willie Watson, Clancy Brown
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD

If anything, this is a warm reminder that beyond their life-is-absurd narrative guideline, the Coen brothers are masters of the cinematic craft. The risk of an anthology, of course, is that some stories will be more engaging than others, creating an uneven experience. I particularly enjoyed the tale of the gold digger and its glorious scenery, as well as the young lady traveling with her dog who won’t stop barking.

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The Favourite
9
Yorgos Lanthimos (2018)
Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD

The competition between Emma Stone’s and Rachel Weisz’ characters is delightful.

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The Wife
6
Björn Runge (2017)
Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD

It’s not clear to me when I was supposed to understand the point of the movie, because I did right at the first scene, when, on a close-up to Glenn Close listening to the phone, the intensity of her facial expression screams the entire plot in the span of a second.

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Vice
Adam McKay (2018)
Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD
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Cold War
7
Zimna wojna
Pawel Pawlikowski (2018)
Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

This is exactly like Pawlikowski’s previous movie Ida: beautiful cinematography, sad and mildly-interesting story, very considerate and touching narration. Those are the most accessible movies from the less accessible movies I watch.

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Green Book
9
Peter Farrelly (2018)
Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

Such a charming movie. It is simple, thoughtful, consistently funny. It just keeps on giving. Move your ass and go see it.

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Isle of Dogs
6
Wes Anderson (2018)
Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

No comment

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
3
Peter Jackson (2001)
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

So this is it. I saw it entirely and properly, and not just some excerpt when it was broadcast on TV. This was insanely boring. Studies should be done on how it is even possible to spread out such simple series of events on such a long duration. I can't tell where is the meat of the story in those never-ending three hours and a half (extended version, bitches). It's actually absurd how the movie begins with the tale of the origin of The One Ring, which takes about 5 minutes of voice-over and rapid flashbacks to describe what appears to be a very rich and eventful mythological story, to then be followed by 200 minutes of a bunch of guys strolling in green hills.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
4
Peter Jackson (2002)
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

After The Fellowship I decided that I wouldn’t watch the rest of the trilogy, but I had time on my hands, and, oddly enough, my curiosity was piqued. No matter how silly-looking Frodo and Sam looked, I wanted to know how their adventure would go. I want to be perfectly honest and say that I slept a good 45 minutes distributed over the most boring segments of the movie, but I didn’t feel like I was missing any important information. The battle at the end was rather interesting to watch.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
8
Peter Jackson (2003)
Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

After having seen the first two, there was no reason I wouldn’t go all the way. At this point I could at least identify with Frodo and Sam on one aspect: their hardship to reach the Mordor and destroy the ring was very similar to my struggle to reach the end of this cinematic trilogy and finally remove it from my watchlist. Because there is no half-measures to be taken, I watched the extended versions of each of them, which pushes the last one to 4 hours. Those 4 hours went faster than the 7 hours of the first two opus united. It’s actually good. We get to see the origin of Gollum and the extent of his villainy. There is a super-scary bigass spider. Gandalf does some badass kung-fu with his stick when he is bored of using it for actually wizardry. The army of Rohan charges with their horses at stupid orcs on bare foot in the most epic of epic battles. Éowyn kills some high-ranked Nazgûl because she is no man, you stupid motherfucker. Then there is the big climatic conclusion in the heart of the Mordor, where you really root for Frodo to succeed because you don’t want to have spent 11 fucking hours in front of your TV watching elfs and wizards for nothing.

I’m pretty sure you could cut 45 minutes out of The Return of the King and replace them with a synthetic edition of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Even narratively speaking, the whole Saruman mess that is dealt with by the first two movies seems useless in comparison to the power that Sauron can yield in the last one.

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A Simple Favor
6
Paul Feig (2018)
Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding
Sunday 27 January 2019 AD

The sparkling personalities of the two main characters is what makes it watchable. Otherwise the screenplay has a very uneven and awkward structure, it’s difficult to get hooked and it was oddly unsatisfying.

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Black Panther
2
Ryan Coogler (2018)
Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
Sunday 27 January 2019 AD

What Marvel has done is quite extraordinary. They have created a global pandemy of fanboys. People don’t even consider Marvel movies in the context of movies in general, but systematically in the context of the Marvel cinematic universe. Such movies are not appreciated for their value as independent entities, but for what they bring to the universe and how they compare to their peers. From an outsider perspective not only it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s stupid as hell. What a wasteland this legacy will be once the fad is over.

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Downrange
1
Ryûhei Kitamura (2017)
Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, Rod Hernandez
Sunday 27 January 2019 AD

A movie with a sniper is a movie with a sniper, but now that really was a bad movie with a sniper.

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Glass
Review
3
M. Night Shyamalan (2019)
James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson
Sunday 27 January 2019 AD

This review contains spoilers.

Unbreakable is one of my favorite movie. This is a betrayal. Maybe I'm too inflexible and just don't accept that the movie isn't what I wanted it to be, but in this case I just don't like what it is.

The first thing I didn't like is that David Dunn plays a vigilante. One of most effective way we could identify with David Dunn in Unbreakable is that he was a level-headed and reasonable person. Sure, he did follow a villain to save the children, but he was experimenting, roaming uncertainly. He was just discovering the possibilities and limits of his powers. Watching him assuming the role of an organized vigilante as if it is his duty seems so unlike his character in the first movie. The absurdity of it becomes even more obvious when pondering over his powers. He has two powers: visions of crimes; and super-human force. Out of those two, visions are by far the most powerful. Super-human force is no match for a properly trained SWAT team, and is dirtier anyway. Visions can spare the work of months of police investigations. He could just roam the streets, follow the bad guys, and make anonymous calls to the police once knowing enough. This is what David Dunn from Unbreakable would have done anyway.

The second thing I didn't like is that the movie was way too didactic. Shyamalan did the same mistake the Wachowskis did with Matrix Reloaded: over-analyzing the base subject with monstrous verbosity in-between action scenes. Unbreakable was a masterclass of "Show, don't tell", and Glass is the exact opposite. The scene from the poster where the three characters are seated while being interviewed by the woman doctor is absolutely clumsy. It is unnecessary, it tells too much, but tells nothing useful. The doctor is trying to explore the possibility of David deducing the intentions of the bad guys he "senses" by subconscious Sherlock Holmes'-like analysis, which is irrelevant because he has VISIONS. He sees things happening in another place he never visited, and which are happening for real exactly like he sees them. The directing and editing proved it to us. What are we supposed to do as spectators? Doubt?

The third thing I didn't like is that the story goes the comic-book way. Once again, what was so great in Unbreakable is that it was super-hero story narrated in a context that was very realist, with setups and characters we could identify with. Glass, on the other hand, leverages all sorts of tropes and clichés that is typical of modern, tasteless, super-hero movies. Everything that revolves around the character of Dr. Staple, played by Sarah Paulson, suffers from this curse. She is mysterious, elegantly clothed. She doesn't feel like a real character you can identify with, she is a comic-book character. She manages a psychiatric hospital in which the three characters are gathered, in a plot mechanism that doesn't make any sense. (How ironic for Dr. Staple to explain to David's son that he was a vigilante punishing bad guys without proper judgment when David lands in this psychiatric institution apparently without any judgment.) We eventually learn that she belongs to a sort of sectarian organization which is comic-book-level conspiracy trash.

I don't understand Shyamalan's process in his trilogy. Why destroy everything that proved so effective in Unbreakable and do the exact opposite? As for the Split continuity, well, there isn't much to take from it, apart from an acting circus by James McAvoy in the scenes where he zaps from one personality to another. It has the virtue of making the movie playful, if not subtle.

Glass was a bad movie until the end, where it became a disaster. Firstly because Shyamalan pulls out a terrible twist which is based on the assumption that people in 2019 believe that videos they see on the Internet are real, and secondly because <spoiler>David Dunn is killed in a fucking puddle.</spoiler> This last bit requires me to take the drastic step of considering that Glass just didn't happen. It was a mistake, and we can all live a good life by erasing it from our brains.

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Halloween
8
David Gordon Green (2018)
Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Sunday 27 January 2019 AD

It comes with tropes and clichés typical of modern, teenagers-targeted stupid movies. Its weakest point being that the main characters are way less endearing than the anecdotal side characters. That being said, it’s overall quite entertaining and delivers a fair amount of suspenseful, well-crafted terror.

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Scientifically accurate: Gravity vs Interstellar
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A Prayer Before Dawn
7
Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire (2017)
Joe Cole, Pornchanok Mabklang, Vithaya Pansringarm
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

I was bored at times during the movie but it left nonetheless a mark on my mind as I was still thinking about it the days after. What I'm realizing is that those kind of naturalistic movies leave memories on you, because you experience them. But this aspect is mostly uncorrelated from a compelling storytelling structure which makes them intellectually engaging as you're watching them.

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Arizona
7
Jonathan Watson (2018)
Danny McBride, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lolli Sorenson
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

The good thing about survivals is that it never gets boring no matter how insignificant it is.

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Beaumarchais the Scoundrel
7
Beaumarchais l'insolent
Édouard Molinaro (1996)
Fabrice Luchini, Manuel Blanc, Sandrine Kiberlain
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

No comment

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Eating Animals
9
Christopher Dillon Quinn (2017)
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

Well, this is edifying. Thanks for the cognitive dissonance.

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Roma
Review
9⁺
Alfonso Cuarón (2018)
Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

With Roma, Alfonso Cuarón achieves what Terrence Malick only ever tried. The semi-autobiographical depiction of Cuarón's own childhood, narrated through the prism of a sublime cinematography, with a tone that tries to trigger some sort of transcendence in the spectator, immediately reminded me of The Tree of Life. However, Roma approaches the exercise very differently: with humility and simplicity. Contrary to its Texan counterpart, the Mexican chronicle doesn't feel awkward or weird at parts. It is complete, sound, and rich.

The children in the movies are only side characters. The main character is Cleo, the maid of the upper middle-class family, and nanny of the children. What makes the movie so peculiar is that it has an extremely non-didactic narration. As such, there is not much dialogs nor context about Cleo's life. She's a rather shy and silent young woman, and we can only try to read her state of mind from the numerous shots where she is pensively taking a break or just working in the house.

As far as we can tell, she is an angel. The archetype of the sweet, innocent, saintlike maid, is in fact so frankly painted that it seems Cuarón wasn't interested in drawing nuance, but rather in reporting his galvanized memories from childhood. In the movie, Cleo has a particularly loving relationship with the children, and the way the narration approaches her character matches the way the children must see her: a loving, pure, and protective angel.

The non-didactic narration goes on to include various elements of Mexico's culture without explaining them. There is a fanfare going on in the street of the house. Why? Is there some sort of celebration? There is a student's demonstration being repressed. Why? What are they protesting about? There is no explanation. The movie only shows, and never tell. I browsed quite a lot of interviews and Wikipedia articles afterwards, and I very much enjoy this procedure: first discover by the power of the image without understanding, and then, once the tale is over, go read about it.

Because the movie doesn't explain its context but only shows things happening, it holds an incredible richness. Since it doesn't explain, it doesn't have to summarize, and it doesn't have to simplify. It doesn't even have to take a side about anything. There is an incredible amount of detailed cultural and historical details that are left there for the spectator to care about and be curious about. And it works so well because those things happens in the movie like they would happen in life: you experience them without understanding all the implications.

The only thematic about which the story does take a stand is the place of women in society. Feminism isn't always found where we expect it, and as much as I think Spielberg's The Post was the most feminist movie of 2017, I think Roma is the most feminist of 2018. The movies draws an incredible, voluntarily non-subtle, harsh contrast between men and women: to all appearances men are strong and solid, while women are fragile and modest. But when it comes to reality, men are weak and cowards, while women are enduring all the pain, and are greatly brave. Cuarón said in an interview that Roma was a "love letter to the women who raised him". This is more than a love letter. This is an ode. The only representative of the male sex who are spared in the story are the children, who are still retaining the innocence of youngness. We can only hope that when they grow up they won't evolve into the kind of men who behaved so badly with the women raising them.

Roma needs to be experienced like a stroll. The first hour is slow, descriptive. It relaxed me. The second hour is way more turbulent, with drama and havoc as immersive as you can expect the craft of Alfonso Cuarón to be. The whole adventure followed me the days after, leaving a taste of peace and melancholy in my mind.

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The Emperor of Paris
5
L'Empereur de Paris
Jean-François Richet (2018)
Olga Kurylenko, Vincent Cassel, Freya Mavor
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

Ah French movies.

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Wind River
8
Taylor Sheridan (2017)
Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones
Sunday 30 December 2018 AD

A humble, simple, clean cut thriller. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen have found roles that suit them pretty well. There are a few sorrowful dialogues which feel a bit phony, but otherwise it is very good.

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Amélie
9
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001)
Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus
Sunday 16 December 2018 AD

Apart from the awful cinematography this is a beautiful gem of creativity and originality.

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Cassandra's Dream
6
Woody Allen (2007)
Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell
Sunday 16 December 2018 AD

The Woody Allen cinematic universe’s thematics’ list is getting more complete as I unroll his filmography. So far I have:
- Very fast flirtatious relationships
- Awkward goofy shy men struggling in the phase of expected flirtatious relationship
- Age difference in love
- The temptation of infidelity
- Murder as something to be considered for a solution
- Financial despair
- Communism
- Narcissists with a genius complex
- Fortune tellers charlatans vs. rationalist scientific minds
- Existentialism
- The absurdity of Life
- Touristic cities

He’s like the intellectual Luc Besson, where you replace the Audis, prostitutes, and guns with touristic cities, lovers, and murder. Gimme more.

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In Bruges
9
Martin McDonagh (2008)
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ciarán Hinds
Sunday 16 December 2018 AD

I love the nuanced profiles of hitmans and their romantic sensibility. Lots of humoristic moments too. Martin McDonagh is Tarantino with a conscience. Such an excellent movie.

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Seven Psychopaths
6
Martin McDonagh (2012)
Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
Sunday 16 December 2018 AD

I found that it was trying too hard to be funny and that it lacked structure. Sam Rockwell is amazing but he’s showing off.

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Son of Saul
Saul fia
László Nemes (2015)
Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn
Sunday 16 December 2018 AD

It follows an Auschwitz’s prisoner who clean gas chambers and transports bodies from the chambers to crematoriums. This is one of the darkest movies I ever saw. I consider this viewing as useful since there is no other thing that has made me realize with such impact the sheer, indescribable horror of how death had been industrialized. But this was not, of course, a pleasant viewing by any measure. There are movies about the subject like Schindler’s List which are softer and enjoyable as a drama. But this made wonder: is this even legitimate to enjoy a movie about the subject? Aren’t neutrality and rawness the only responsible registers? I’m not sure.

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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
6
Woody Allen (2010)
Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin
Sunday 16 December 2018 AD

I noticed the 16:9 aspect ratio, which I guess is how Woody Allen admits that he’s basically doing a TV movie with A+ actors.

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Breathe
7
Andy Serkis (2017)
Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

Everybody knows there is a romantic sensibility behind the savage facade of King Kong, and it is good and charming, although anecdotal.

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Café Society
9
Woody Allen (2016)
Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

This and Wonder Wheel, the last two movies of Woody Allen, share a beautiful cinematography and very enjoyable vaudeville-like comedy.

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Irrational Man
8
Woody Allen (2015)
Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

I spent some time wondering whether he was actually rational or not, will probably write an article about it some day. Nice flick.

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Locke
8
Steven Knight (2013)
Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

A very steady and methodical man has made a huge mistake and must now handle the consequences, which he does with 90 minutes of phone calls to various people while driving. This is really well made.

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Magic in the Moonlight
6
Woody Allen (2014)
Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

Woody Allen’s morale: love can’t be explained so you should dump your wife for any young bird who makes an impression on you.

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Midnight in Paris
6
Woody Allen (2011)
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

WOODY ALLEN WOODY ALLEN WOODY ALLEN WOODY ALLEN WOODY ALLEN WOODY ALLEN

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Silence
8
Martin Scorsese (2016)
Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

Comparing Daniel Plainview's relationship to church in There Will Be Blood with the one of Rodrigues in Silence says a lot on how atheism works in comparison to faith. Those two movies share an epic sense of artistry and storytelling with the drawback of having a few dragging sections.

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post
9
Desiree Akhavan (2018)
Chloë Grace Moretz, Steven Hauck, Quinn Shephard
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

What I liked very much about this movie is how it deals with rebellion. The main character doesn’t try to stand up to make a point, she doesn’t oppose resistance and is rather apathetic to the whole process. When she does things that appear as rebellious to the establishment, it is because it is her natural behavior to do so. It is simply human, just a sane expression of her freedom. She doesn’t even try to rebel, it just happens because she lives. Cinema is about putting the spectator in someone else’s shoes, and this is beautifully done here. Chloë Grace Moretz is a great actress.

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The Night Eats the World
7
La nuit a dévoré le monde
Dominique Rocher (2018)
Anders Danielsen Lie, Golshifteh Farahani, Denis Lavant
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

It was interesting to see an horror movie with such a methodical and organized survivor. There are many very good ideas throughout the film. The major drawback is that it’s very flat, emotionally speaking.

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To Rome with Love
6
Woody Allen (2012)
Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

If I continue going down the 48 movies of Woody Allen like that, it will become difficult to write anything insightful at some point. I have nothing to say.

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Whatever Works
5
Woody Allen (2009)
Evan Rachel Wood, Larry David, Henry Cavill
Sunday 2 December 2018 AD

There are a lot of recurrent themes and stereotypes in Woody Allen’s movies, and it’s hard to sort out what he’s making fun of, and what is part of his own personality. This director is a true mystery.

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Bohemian Rhapsody
Bryan Singer (2018)
Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee
Friday 9 November 2018 AD

It is actually very good to watch, but oh boy does it fail the History vs. Hollywood test.

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Breakfast at Tiffany's
7
Blake Edwards (1961)
Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal
Friday 9 November 2018 AD

A bag of two-cents at random: The color palette is typical from the 50s and 60s with such flamboyant pastel colors, which is refreshing in comparison to today's cinema pseudo-subtle dark tones. Some shots are beautiful in the way they are classically and simply composed. Incredible how a movie as harmless as this one still carries on gruesome racist characterization duty with the most ridiculous side-character ever. Surprising that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl stereotype was already a thing in the 60s. I will now hang the famous picture with Audrey Hepburn on my wall. The cat is the best character. Rather average overall.

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Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
7
Gus Van Sant (2018)
Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara
Friday 9 November 2018 AD

Jonah Hill deploys emotions I wasn't aware he had in his range.

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RoboCop
5
Paul Verhoeven (1987)
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy
Friday 9 November 2018 AD

No comment

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Wreck-It Ralph
3
Rich Moore (2012)
John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Friday 9 November 2018 AD

Very hard to enjoy unless you have the arcade references, I guess.

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Airplane!
4
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker (1980)
Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen
Sunday 21 October 2018 AD

This looked like the U.S. equivalent of our French OSS 117 so I'm giving a consistent rating.

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Eighth Grade
5
Bo Burnham (2018)
Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson
Sunday 21 October 2018 AD

5 is the average between 10 for depicting with an impressive sharpness the anxious times of middle-school, and 0 for absolutely not wanting to experience those times again. This belongs to what could be called the "inconsequential accurate" types of movies, which render a truthful portrait of a time and age, with no ambition of hinting at anything useful or even entertain. If I want to watch life I can look by the window.

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First Man
Review
9⁺
Damien Chazelle (2018)
Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke
Sunday 21 October 2018 AD

First Man is no movie to show to kids who want to become astronauts. If anything, it illustrates how perilous and hard space exploration is. It follows the entire decade of the 60s, from the first NASA missions to Apollo 11, and shows that working as an astronaut in those times is no safe trade. People die. From the T-38 crash in early Gemini tests to the fire in the Apollo 1 cockpit, the film doesn't ignore disasters. Narrated entirely from Neil Armstrong's point of view and his family's, those people who are gone are colleagues, friends, or even neighbor. And as the others lose their lives, Neil continues advancing to the next level, riskier than the previous one.

One can imagine what kind of bravery and morale fortitude Apollo-era astronauts must have had to continue towards their goal. The popular image is the one of hot-shots and cow-boys so excited and with some much self-confidence they happily hop on the rocket ready to launch. We learn that that this is not the profile of Armstrong. In his case, death is not only a risk ahead, it is also a shadow behind. He lost his 2-years old daughter to a brain tumor before enlisting in the NASA space program. He is surrounded by death, and deals with it using total rectitude, coldness, and expertise. Such overall professionalism which certainly contributed to him having been selected to command Apollo 11. Ryan Gosling is absolutely suited for the role, which might be the peak of his career. He projects so much intensity, yet inspire so much calmness. His composure and silence form a fortress to an internal storm that is palpable.

The movie soars when it demonstrates the perilous nature of space exploitation from inside a spaceship. Those scenes are so masterfully done they are enthralling. You don't even observe it, you are in it. Director Damien Chazelle uses all the tooling at his disposition to immerse us into the missions, and it works impressively well. First-person shots entering the confined cockpits reproduced to incredible detail. Close-ups to nuts and bolts to show that this thing is fundamentally a pile of scrap that is going to be shot into space. Various distant metallic cracks when it is about to get alive. This is the most incredible rendition of what it must feel to be in a rocket I ever experienced.

We like to impress ourselves with the anecdote that states that the Apollo program sent men to the Moon with a computing power that is less than what is available today in a single cellphone. So we should also impress ourselves with the fact that First Man was made with a budget of $59 millions, which is about a third of what is usually available to those kinds of movies. The lack of budget sometimes shows. When the crawler is bringing the Saturn V rocket from the hangar to the launchpad, we only get to see the crawler. The astronauts, by-standing, are looking up and commenting on the impressive size of the rocket, but we never get to see what they see. Chazelle therefore needs to employ wonders of creativity to convince us, and he delivers. By filming the astronauts taking the elevator to the top of the rocket, we get to see the big cylinder going by vertically while we gain scary height as we can tell by the Cap Canaveral early morning scenery. There you understand the sheer scale of what is happening. They intend to launch a high-rise building into space!

First Man is about war as much as it is about space. The reasons the U.S. were fueling the space program was solely to beat the Soviets at it. Those astronauts entering spaceships to go to space were really entering heavy machinery to go to war. And those who lost their lives in a test were fallen brothers of a battle. Add to that the stern, stoic personality of Armstrong, and "Cold War" would have made an alternative title full of sense.

For Armstrong though, it seems to be an escape. When saddened by the loss of a colleague, he desires solitude from his wife, or rather the company of the Moon, which he observes with a sextant. When the Saturn V is headed towards the Moon and the interstage ring separates from the rocket's second stage, the sustained shot of the ring falling back to Earth rhymes with the way a man would remove his own wedding ring before leaving his family for a get away he might never be coming back from.

First Man is not a crowd pleaser. Neil Armstrong's detached behavior would be a mood killer for those who expect the movie to be a modern revision of The Right Stuff with hot-shots. The absence of joy, however, is not to be confused with the absence of character development. Of all the characters that are presented to us, Armstrong is certainly the one on whom the idea of going to the Moon has the deepest impact.

When they accomplish an achievement, Armstrong's colleagues congratulate themselves for getting closer at beating the reds. But when, at his initial NASA interview, Armstrong is asked why he thinks space exploration is important, he answers that it is because it provides a shift in perspective. He is describing what is now documented as the overview effect. His mates are warriors. He is a sailor. When him and Buzz Aldrin has set foot on the Moon, Aldrin is shown jumping around as if it was playground time. Armstrong is experiencing a profound emotional meltdown. It is eerie, in this moment, how, behind the opaque silver-plated visor of his helmet, we can almost understand more about his internal state as we ever could during the rest of the movie on Earth. And as we start being able to peek through this impenetrable facade, he seems to finally have found a way to commune with himself.

The movie is unconventional on various fronts. It is a saga on an entire decade yet you don't have the usual montages to show progression. This doesn't prevent the rhythm of the movie from being fantastic. As soon as you think the story might be about to develop a segment that is going to be a bit boring, it moves on without further ado to the next interesting chapter. There is not a single second in those almost 150 minutes that is useless. The music is from outer space. When the lunar module is about to land, Justin Hurwitz drops an incredible melody made of strings and brass instruments going stronger and stronger in an almost jazzy mood. As the narration focuses on Armstrong flying the module and doesn't show the conventional tour of the world with people listening to the live feed on the radio or TV, the music alone, with its originality and wonder, conveys perfectly the greatness of what is happening.

This is a film made by people who decided not to take the traditional paths, and who designed their own beautiful ones. They are true artists, and this is a masterpiece.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
3
J.A. Bayona (2018)
Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall
Sunday 21 October 2018 AD

The movie pays tribute to the original Jurassic Park with various references, so much in fact that it achieves being "one big pile of shit" as a whole.

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
8
Ol Parker (2018)
Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep
Sunday 21 October 2018 AD

It made me happy, so there is that.

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Braveheart
7
Mel Gibson (1995)
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan
Tuesday 9 October 2018 AD

The Mary Sue aspect of Mel Gibson's character is a bit too obvious, but overall the story unrolls smoothly and the scale of the battle scenes, seemingly without CGIs, is very impressive.

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Mandy
5
Panos Cosmatos (2018)
Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
Tuesday 9 October 2018 AD

Is Cage hirable anymore? Kinda sad seeing him in a movie that can't even afford decent cinematography or sound mixing. Although what is a seemingly art student post-graduate project filled with bullshit might be the closest to an acid trip, it certainly isn't close to a good movie.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado
7
Stefano Sollima (2018)
Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner
Tuesday 9 October 2018 AD

The movie possesses those thrilling vibes that will comfort fans of the first installment, but the enjoyment becomes voided as the story makes less and less sense as it progresses.

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The Children Act
6
Richard Eyre (2017)
Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ben Chaplin
Tuesday 9 October 2018 AD

The second part is dangerously close to an afternoon TV movie for soccer moms in need of strong sensations, but the sheer talent of Emma Thompson and the rather elegant directing makes it overall pretty decent.

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BlacKkKlansman
8
Spike Lee (2018)
John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
Monday 24 September 2018 AD

Delivers just the right amount of comedy and entertainment on a crime genre background. I would have preferred if it had let us the task of drawing parallels with some crazy old man on Twitter rather than hammering it to our face. As an example, Spielberg was quite clear about how The Post needed to be released when it was, considering how much of a callback it was to the current events, yet this isn't hinted at at all in the movie itself. Let the spectators do the math by themselves, especially when your movie is about what happens when people blindly gulp down ideologies presented in a plate instead of thinking by themselves.

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Hereditary
4
Ari Aster (2018)
Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
Monday 24 September 2018 AD

I'm starting to more frankly dislike movies that raise lots of intrigues in the air and then barely do the work of closing them, as if the screenwriters themselves decided they didn't know and would let the spectators figure it out by themselves because, well, the story exists as an independent entity and there is no correct or incorrect answer anyway. Yeah sure, but what about you try being less lazy and deliver a compelling story instead.

I can give a pass to that if the movie is emotionally powerful enough to move me (that's what happened to me with Mother!). I could see that this one was trying that, with quite frightening sequences. Yet the directing, although meticulous and neat, still comes out as somewhat bland, as does the rest of the movie. This seems like it's becoming a leitmotiv for A24 productions.

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Lucky
5
John Carroll Lynch (2017)
Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston
Monday 24 September 2018 AD

I watched it Friday and it was so boring and forgettable that I needed to concentrate one good minute on Sunday to remember what movie I had watched two days before. It's not even bad though.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story
6
Ron Howard (2018)
Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke
Monday 24 September 2018 AD

The cinematography was so under-exposed it must have triggered a melatonin release because I fell asleep at the 45 minutes mark. I'm happy Solo eventually found back his girlfriend.

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Barry Lyndon
9
Stanley Kubrick (1975)
Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee
Tuesday 11 September 2018 AD

It's so simply told and tactfully presented, you don't watch it, you sip it. Cue the classical music, picture the paintings. We're talking 5 minutes eye-game between a pretender and a Countess covered by Schubert Piano Trio; 10 minutes duel setting on Handel's Sarabande. Sophistication balanced by simplicity, grandeur canceled by coldness. A pleasure to watch.

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Crash
4
Paul Haggis (2004)
Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton
Tuesday 11 September 2018 AD

What a crude and didactic discourse on racism. Dialogs are used literally to talk about it, the story is just a side-component of the dissertation and all the characters are impersonal portraits gathered to form a catalog of profiles on the subject. Although with such analytic tooling the film succeeds in explaining how major social tensions are mostly the result of ignorance, misconception and inertia of violence rather than fundamental malice or incompatibilities, it certainly doesn't succeed in building a compelling story made of actual, nuanced characters.

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I Feel Pretty
2
Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein (2018)
Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski
Tuesday 11 September 2018 AD

No comment

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Swimming Pool
7
François Ozon (2003)
Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier
Tuesday 11 September 2018 AD

François Ozon's specialization is taking the premise of an adult movie and turning it into an auteur movie. I have no strong feeling about this one way or another.

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The Death of Stalin
8
Armando Iannucci (2017)
Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor
Tuesday 11 September 2018 AD

Dark humor has never been so delicious. Steve Buscemi is brilliant in this, and his character represents the film so well, joking around but so cold inside.

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The Great Escape
7
John Sturges (1963)
Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
Tuesday 11 September 2018 AD

Old classics often come with a theatrical style that creates some distance between the story and a young spectator like me. This is particularly true for this one. I will nonetheless recognize its big quality, which is that it becomes better and better, the last hour being the best, and you don't get tired in spite of the duration.

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Adrift
6
Baltasar Kormákur (2018)
Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Thomas
Sunday 26 August 2018 AD

The only thing holding me from giving a higher rating is the cheesiness of it all. Quite a lot of potential there. Although if it had been better done then it would have been pretty much redundant with All is Lost.

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First Reformed
6
Paul Schrader (2017)
Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer
Sunday 26 August 2018 AD

People complained about the baby in American Sniper, but this dead squirrel tho

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Super Dark Times
7
Kevin Phillips (2017)
Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, Elizabeth Cappuccino
Sunday 26 August 2018 AD

This is one hell of a sneaky tricky title. Sends you friendly Stranger Things vibes and then suddenly it gets real dark real fast.

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Peppermint Soda
6
Diabolo menthe
Diane Kurys (1977)
Eléonore Klarwein, Odile Michel, Anouk Ferjac
Thursday 16 August 2018 AD

I'm trying out a quota system where I watch 1 French movie per couple of weeks, so that I can look sophisticated in society. I wonder how much time it will take to be used to cinema that distills an atmosphere in research of poetry in the banalities of life. I'm more used to cinema that tells stories.

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Nosferatu
None
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
F.W. Murnau (1922)
Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim
Sunday 12 August 2018 AD

No rating as this doesn't really compare to movies I watch on a regular basis. I watched this for educational and documentary purposes on the birth of the vampire genre. As boring as homework can be.

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You Were Never Really Here
7
Lynne Ramsay (2017)
Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov
Sunday 12 August 2018 AD

This is basically a modern revision of Taxi Driver. Didn't quite understand the whole purpose of it nor where the film was going, but Joaquin Phoenix is captivating.

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Mission: Impossible - Fallout
6
Christopher McQuarrie (2018)
Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames
Friday 10 August 2018 AD

It seems that the way they made this film is by choosing some fancy action scenes to make and then interpolates a story that would somehow involve those scenes. The amount of ridicule this movie subject itself to is too big to fit in this short review. I have a preference for the repetitive shots of the helicopter's indicators that blink red, with more and more of them displaying red as peril intensifies.

Now, it's true that the cinematic quality of action scenes is great, especially the whole arc in Paris. The dedication (and insanity?) of the crew to their craft cannot be understated. In the end it looks like the true Mission: Impossible was happening during shooting, and that the making-of might be more interesting that the movie itself.

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It Comes at Night
8
Trey Edward Shults (2017)
Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo
Wednesday 8 August 2018 AD

✓ Characters communicate explicitly with each other and tell what they see
✓ Characters are cautious and take reasonable decisions
✓ Characters stay with each other for security, they don't split
✓ The atmosphere is scary, without artificial jump scares
❌ The story has a clear resolution

This film gracefully avoids all the horror tropes and proves that it's still possible to make a frightening movie without them. It also throws a lot of intrigues in the air and finishes like they never have been raised. It actually got under my skin, making me imagine all sorts of theories and hypothesis to explain its mystery, even though it's a lost cause considering that the author himself said he added elements to challenge the spectator, without having himself a clear explanation for their purposes in the story.

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On Chesil Beach
8
Dominic Cooke (2017)
Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan, Andy Burse
Monday 6 August 2018 AD

A young couple suffers the two most important perils of marriage, lack of communication and over-reaction, under 6 hours of being wed. Many critics praised the acting of Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, which is surprising considering that their style of diction comes out as very explicit and roman-esque, contrasting with modern naturalistic acting that is usually appreciated from indies. It is, anyway, absolutely consistent with the overall mood of the movie, which explores the nature of love and its complications with an approach that is both simple and epic in its sensibility.

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Spectre
6
Sam Mendes (2015)
Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux
Monday 6 August 2018 AD

The traditional Bond formula never fails to deliver a solid entertainment, although Bond's behavior toward women characters still comes out as creepy, and the capabilities of the franchise's budget gives way to too-much.

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Hot Summer Nights
8
Elijah Bynum (2017)
Timothée Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe
Sunday 29 July 2018 AD

Since it's 35 Celcius (S.I. units bitches) where I live I figured from the title that this would be an appropriate viewing. So I guess to complete the picture I now need to get into dealing weed, seducing the hot girl, and be a bad boy with my Corvette. All pumped up with a hysterical editing and soundtrack, this mixtape of genres succeeds when it doesn't take itself seriously and fails when it does. The result isn't necessarily memorable, but it makes for a pretty cool movie night.

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The Abyss
8
James Cameron (1989)
Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn
Sunday 29 July 2018 AD

No comment

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The Hollars
6
John Krasinski (2016)
Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day, Richard Jenkins
Sunday 29 July 2018 AD

Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins, seniors among the cast, who play the family's parents, save the movie from the mediocrity of the younger part of the cast. We can understand why John Krasinsky followed this by a movie where he doesn't have to talk since his only dramatic technique seems to exclaim "Whhhat?!" when hearing shocking news. As it turns out, the acting style of The Office isn't perfectly suited for cinema. The story doesn't deliver anything truly remarkable, only the bare minimum for a light-hearted dramedy.

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True Lies
9
James Cameron (1994)
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
Sunday 29 July 2018 AD

Set years before 9/11 when Hollywood could still joke about terrorism, this masterpiece of a 90's action flick elevates itself way over its French source material, without forgetting to pay tribute to it. After Aliens, The Abyss and T2, it marks the end of James Cameron's nuclear warhead tetralogy, and a turning point into his insane budget and profit ascent, paving the way for his further titanic projects.

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Lean on Pete
8
Andrew Haigh (2017)
Charlie Plummer, Amy Seimetz, Travis Fimmel
Saturday 21 July 2018 AD

The first act misled me into thinking that this was just a story between a boy and a horse. It almost became boring before I realized that this is a full-featured saga on a lost teenager trying to find his marks. This is a good story, simply told, simply poetic. Boyhood the hard way.

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Disobedience
4
Sebastián Lelio (2017)
Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola
Friday 20 July 2018 AD

I need to stop adding movies on my watchlist because of their poster, just like I need to stop clicking on YouTube videos because of their thumbnail. That was as heavy and gloomy as a tank launching rockets that spread clinical depression when they hit their target.

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Cars 3
6
Brian Fee (2017)
Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper
Sunday 15 July 2018 AD

The Cars franchise is probably the most lucrative production of Pixar, thanks to the merchandising around it. For fans it’s anecdotal but for them it’s big money. Fair enough.

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Icarus
6
Bryan Fogel (2017)
Thomas Bach, Sebastian Coe, Bryan Fogel
Sunday 15 July 2018 AD

This is about a journalist who uses himself as a test subject for doping. Apparently he also injected steroids into the documentary itself, because its sensationalism sometimes hinder proper informational conveyance. It’s fast-paced editing, dramatic soundtrack and catchline interviewing all around. Unnecessary considering how crazy the base material is in a first place.

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Incredibles 2
7
Brad Bird (2018)
Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell
Sunday 15 July 2018 AD

This is a Monsters University or Finding Dory type of situation. The universe is deepened with some arbitrary story that I’ll forget about in six months. It’s at least well made and entertaining.

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Woman Walks Ahead
3
Susanna White (2017)
Jessica Chastain, Louisa Krause, Boots Southerland
Sunday 15 July 2018 AD

Jessica Chastain typecast as the strong independent woman, Sam Rockwell typecast as the racist American with a loose walking style, the spiritual journey of the white among the natives typecast as boring as hell.

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Dial M for Murder
8
Alfred Hitchcock (1954)
Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings
Friday 6 July 2018 AD

The incredibly clever screenplay seems more suited for a play (which it originally is), than for a screen. The movie eventually confesses its didacticism by going as far as letting the police inspector literally describing out loud the climax.

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Groundhog Day
7
Harold Ramis (1993)
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Wednesday 4 July 2018 AD

So what happens if Bill Murray feeds a mogwai just before 6AM.

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Molly's Game
6
Aaron Sorkin (2017)
Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
Wednesday 4 July 2018 AD

Too bad Molly didn’t succeed in her Olympic career because this introduction sequence is stellar in comparison to the rest of the okay movie.

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A Quiet Place
6
John Krasinski (2018)
Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds
Friday 29 June 2018 AD

I have two main problems with the movie.

The first one is the usage of a soundtrack, including during scenes where diegetic sounds are important. I’ve already complained about that for Arrival. This movie shouldn’t have a soundtrack at all; everytime the music started I thought it perturbed the otherwise tense and interesting silence.

The second problem is a list of unclear things about the danger at hand and the lifestyle of the characters which range from questionable to inconsistent. The movie can’t explain everything without being too didactic so the benefit of the doubt and suspension of disbelief are working at full thrust, to a level that isn’t really satisfactory[1].

Fortunately the movie offers a great, long, tense, final act where it marks a few points and becomes at least an enjoyable suspenseful flick.

[1] My principal concerns are:
<spoiler>
- If the creatures can’t distinguish little sounds if there is a greater source of sound (explained with the waterfall) then there is no reason the characters couldn’t at least whisper when inside the house. From outside the house such whisper is of extremely small intensity in comparison to nature’s sounds, just like is a clear voice in comparison to a waterfall.
- The characters seem to live quite a reckless lifestyle. They hang out outside, leave their house’s door open, etc. My understanding is that the creatures may be roaming a few hundreds meters from there, searching for sound. Really all the characters should be dead by then; it’s unrealistic to survive that long without making any mistake.
- There are two times where the movie shows that the creatures are absolutely strong and indestructible: it can rip a grain silo open, and a newspaper headline mentions their indestructibility. Then there are two times the movie shows effective defense and attack against them: when a car proves to be an effective shelter for at least a few seconds to the kids, and finally the shotgun. Fair enough, the shotgun may work only because the creature is already weakened by its deadly sound frequency (and unfortunately this choice reminds me of Mars Attacks!, and triggers a more parodic reading than a dramatic one).
</spoiler>

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Jackie
5
Pablo Larraín (2016)
Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig
Friday 29 June 2018 AD

This movie has no plot. It is a clinical examination of a woman in state of shock, followed by her subsequent mourning. The directing and editing is reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s style, with the camera filming the actors’ face 2 inches away from them, cuts from one shot to almost the same one to show fractured continuity, and dialogues about God and whatnot drifting to a voice-over. Also there is a creepy soundtrack. I have no idea what all this is trying to achieve. It was too cerebral for me, I guess.

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Revenge
7
Coralie Fargeat (2017)
Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe
Friday 29 June 2018 AD

When in doubt, apply a dose of rape-and-revenge exploitation garbage to your watching schedule.

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Tomb Raider
3
Roar Uthaug (2018)
Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins
Friday 29 June 2018 AD

So this is it, I never watch an adventure blockbuster ever again. The whole movie is so dull. There literally is a bicycle race and then a race between Lara Croft and petty thieves. WTF is this shit.

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Transformers: The Last Knight
2
Michael Bay (2017)
Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel
Friday 29 June 2018 AD

The editing of this film looks like the cinematographic equivalent of incorrect grammar. It’s a nonsensical mixture of establishing shots, over-stylized composition and hand-held tracking shots. The constant changing of aspect ratio from one shot to another is obviously not helping. This is a feature-length clip whose narration is un-followable whatsoever. Michael Bay started his career as a clip director. He has then proved his ability to do decent cinema, first Transformers included, muzzling his clip-making OCD into reasonable limits that actually defined his style. He has expressed his wish to depart from the transformers franchise since the third installment, and this fifth one feels like an artistic burn-out. Let’s cherish the recent announcement from Paramount that production of the sixth has been abandoned, and look at what Bay can do on new grounds.