Dude Rates Movies

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The Bridge on the River Kwai
B
David Lean — 1957
William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
Sunday 15 December 2019 AD

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>

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The Searchers
C
John Ford — 1956
John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles
Sunday 15 December 2019 AD

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.

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Seven Samurai
D
Shichinin no samurai
Akira Kurosawa — 1954
Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Sunday 15 December 2019 AD

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.

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Lawrence of Arabia
B
David Lean — 1962
Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Sunday 15 December 2019 AD

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.

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The Lion King
F
Jon Favreau — 2019
Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen
Saturday 16 November 2019 AD

Zero emotion in the eyes and ears. SAD!

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Monster
E
Patty Jenkins — 2003
Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern
Sunday 10 November 2019 AD

Charlize Theron / 10. She is unrecognizable, and incredible. Other than that, the movie looks like a TV movie and is equally boring.

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Gangs of New York
B
Martin Scorsese — 2002
Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis
Sunday 10 November 2019 AD

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.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
E
Shane Black — 2005
Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
Sunday 10 November 2019 AD

No comment

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Little Woods
E
Nia DaCosta — 2018
Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby
Sunday 10 November 2019 AD

No comment

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A Rainy Day in New York
C
Woody Allen — 2019
Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Liev Schreiber
Saturday 12 October 2019 AD

No comment

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Ad Astra
E
James Gray — 2019
Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga
Monday 7 October 2019 AD

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.

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Aladdin
C
Guy Ritchie — 2019
Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott
Monday 7 October 2019 AD

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.

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Shoplifters
A
Manbiki kazoku
Hirokazu Koreeda — 2018
Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki
Monday 7 October 2019 AD

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.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
C
Chad Stahelski — 2019
Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

pew pew pew

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They Shall Not Grow Old
D
Peter Jackson — 2018
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Starship Troopers
E
Paul Verhoeven — 1997
Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

Honestly I was bored for the most of it.

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The House That Jack Built
C
Lars von Trier — 2018
Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
A
Quentin Tarantino — 2019
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Booksmart
C
Olivia Wilde — 2019
Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Us
B
Jordan Peele — 2019
Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Hot Girls Wanted
B
Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus — 2015
Farrah Laurel Abraham, John Anthony, Rachel Bernard
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Les Misérables
E
Tom Hooper — 2012
Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway
Saturday 14 September 2019 AD

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.

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Casablanca
D
Michael Curtiz — 1942
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Friday 16 August 2019 AD

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>

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Long Shot
C
Jonathan Levine — 2019
Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael
Friday 16 August 2019 AD

Cute.

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The Sisters Brothers
C
Les frères Sisters
Jacques Audiard — 2018
John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal
Friday 16 August 2019 AD

No comment

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The Host
E
Gwoemul
Joon-ho Bong — 2006
Kang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, Hae-il Park
Friday 16 August 2019 AD

What I get from watching the movies of Joon-Ho Bong (Parasite): weird shit happens in the basement.

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Memories of Murder
E
Salinui chueok
Joon-ho Bong — 2003
Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim
Friday 16 August 2019 AD

No comment

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Barking Dogs Never Bite
D
Flandersui gae
Joon-ho Bong — 2000
Doona Bae, Sung-Jae Lee, Hee-Bong Byun
Friday 16 August 2019 AD

No comment

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Climax
B
Gaspar Noé — 2018
Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

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.

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Yesterday
C
Danny Boyle — 2019
Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

Props to Ed Sheeran for the self-deprecation. Nice little flick.

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Toy Story 4
C
Josh Cooley — 2019
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

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.

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The Kindergarten Teacher
E
Sara Colangelo — 2018
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael García Bernal, Ato Blankson-Wood
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

<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>

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Apollo 11
A+
Todd Douglas Miller — 2019
Buzz Aldrin, Joan Ann Archer, Janet Armstrong
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

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.

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Dumbo
C
Tim Burton — 2019
Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

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.

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Prospect
B
Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl — 2018
Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

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.

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On the Basis of Sex
C
Mimi Leder — 2018
Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

History Educative Package #42187. Not great, not terrible.

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The Past
E
Le passé
Asghar Farhadi — 2013
Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa
Thursday 18 July 2019 AD

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.

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Parasite
B
Gisaengchung
Joon-ho Bong — 2019
Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo
Sunday 23 June 2019 AD

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.

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Dikkenek
E
Olivier Van Hoofstadt — 2006
Marion Cotillard, Dominique Pinon, Jean-Luc Couchard
Sunday 23 June 2019 AD

I mean, yeah ok, that’s kind of funny. Ahah.

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Fahrenheit 11/9
E
Michael Moore — 2018
Jim Acosta, Roger Ailes, Brooke Baldwin
Sunday 23 June 2019 AD

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.

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The Remains of the Day
D
James Ivory — 1993
Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, John Haycraft
Sunday 23 June 2019 AD

After the viewing I started tidying and cleaning my flat with calmness, dignity, and focus. This became boring as quickly as the movie.

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The Legend of Tarzan
F
David Yates — 2016
Alexander Skarsgård, Rory J. Saper, Christian Stevens
Sunday 23 June 2019 AD

That was some shitty editing and direction. I felt disconnected from the movie for the most of it.

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Rocketman
D
Dexter Fletcher — 2019
Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Sunday 23 June 2019 AD

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.

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Anon
E
Andrew Niccol — 2018
Clive Owen, Afiya Bennett, Morgan Allen
Sunday 9 June 2019 AD

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.

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Under the Silver Lake
C
David Robert Mitchell — 2018
Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace
Sunday 9 June 2019 AD

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.

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Everybody Knows
B
Todos lo saben
Asghar Farhadi — 2018
Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín
Sunday 9 June 2019 AD

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.

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Pan's Labyrinth
E
El laberinto del fauno
Guillermo del Toro — 2006
Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López
Sunday 9 June 2019 AD

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.

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The Girl in the Spider's Web
E
Fede Alvarez — 2018
Claire Foy, Beau Gadsdon, Sverrir Gudnason
Sunday 26 May 2019 AD

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.

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Mary Queen of Scots
C
Josie Rourke — 2018
Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden
Sunday 26 May 2019 AD

The story lost me near the end. I was moved by Margot Robbie as Queen of England. Max Richter delivers a solid soundtrack; the Finale has been on my heavy rotation playlist for quite some time now.

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Fifty Shades of Grey
F
Sam Taylor-Johnson — 2015
Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle
Sunday 26 May 2019 AD

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.

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Deadpool
D
Tim Miller — 2016
Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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.

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Mr. Nobody
F
Jaco Van Dormael — 2009
Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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.

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Triple Frontier
B
J.C. Chandor — 2019
Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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)

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The Spanish Prisoner
C
David Mamet — 1997
Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Campbell Scott
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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.

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Free Solo
Review
B
Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi — 2018
Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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.

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Wildlife
D
Paul Dano — 2018
Ed Oxenbould, Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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.

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Welcome to Marwen
B
Robert Zemeckis — 2018
Steve Carell, Falk Hentschel, Matt O'Leary
Sunday 5 May 2019 AD

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.

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Widows
E
Steve McQueen — 2018
Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez
Tuesday 16 April 2019 AD

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.

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The Mule
B
Clint Eastwood — 2018
Clint Eastwood, Patrick L. Reyes, Cesar De León
Tuesday 16 April 2019 AD

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[1].

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.

[1] <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>

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Bumblebee
E
Travis Knight — 2018
Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena
Tuesday 16 April 2019 AD

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.

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All About Nina
D
Eva Vives — 2018
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford
Tuesday 16 April 2019 AD

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the star who shines in this otherwise clumsy drama. She is really good in this.

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Anything Else
E
Woody Allen — 2003
Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci
Sunday 31 March 2019 AD

Damn Woody Allen can really be boring.

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Jack Reacher
D
Christopher McQuarrie — 2012
Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins
Sunday 31 March 2019 AD

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.

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Detroit
C
Kathryn Bigelow — 2017
John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith
Sunday 31 March 2019 AD

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.

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The Witch
E
The VVitch: A New-England Folktale
Robert Eggers — 2015
Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Sunday 31 March 2019 AD

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.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
E
Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman — 2018
Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld
Monday 18 March 2019 AD

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.

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Vox Lux
Review
B
Brady Corbet — 2018
Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Stacy Martin
Monday 18 March 2019 AD

⚠ 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.

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Rubber
C
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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Steak
D
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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Scoop
E
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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Movie 43
F
Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken — 2013
Emma Stone, Stephen Merchant, Richard Gere
Sunday 10 March 2019 AD

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

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Gemma Bovery
B
Anne Fontaine — 2014
Fabrice Luchini, Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng
Sunday 10 March 2019 AD

Any movie with Fabrice Lucchini automatically gets a pass with me, but if in addition there is Gemma Arterton, oh boy!

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

WELL THAT WAS FONNY

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At Eternity's Gate
E
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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Vice
D
Adam McKay — 2018
Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell
Sunday 24 February 2019 AD
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A Star Is Born
B
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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The Wife
C
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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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
B
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
B
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 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
B
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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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
E
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 Fellowship of the Ring
E
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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Cold War
D
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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Isle of Dogs
E
Wes Anderson — 2018
Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Sunday 10 February 2019 AD

No comment

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Green Book
A
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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Black Panther
F
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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Halloween
B
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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Glass
Review
F
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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Downrange
F
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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A Simple Favor
D
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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Beaumarchais the Scoundrel
D
Beaumarchais l'insolent
Édouard Molinaro — 1996
Fabrice Luchini, Manuel Blanc, Sandrine Kiberlain
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

No comment

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Arizona
C
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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Eating Animals
B
Christopher Dillon Quinn — 2017
Sunday 13 January 2019 AD

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

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The Emperor of Paris
E
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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A Prayer Before Dawn
C
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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Roma
Review
A+
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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Wind River
B
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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Cassandra's Dream
D
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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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
D
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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Seven Psychopaths
D
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.