Last Film You Watched? VI

All non-Nolan related entertainment discussion. Join the fun!
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spade wrote:
August 7th, 2018, 2:26 pm
Dead Ringers might have been Cronenberg's best 80's film had he not made The Fly.
The Fly is indeed top tier. Cronenberg hit all the right notes.

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Joined: May 2017
Location: San Bruno, CA
Slender Man

Much like the Blair Witch, Slender Man has always been scarier as an idea within the lore built around it than as a literal and physical presence of it. We laud what the Creepypasta community has done to up the ante with the character originally created by Victor Surge (properly credited at the end of the film as an early billing), and there have been positively freaky spins on the subject matter such as the YouTube project Marble Hornets, yet there have also been negative effects attributed to the character in the attempted murder in Wisconsin by prepubescent female friends. The tormenting figment of our minds is spooky enough to carry throughout 90 minutes of film with flashes here and there. Apparently Sylvain White (director) and David Birke (screenwriter) didn't get the memo.

I won't pretend like I could have written or made a better film, but I don't know if the right plot was chosen here. This is a story where SM is already embedded in the national consciousness and skeptical friends decide to attempt to summon him, only to bear the burden of his haunting, kidnapping and/or killing. I personally would have liked to see this have gone in one of two different directions: (1) have a tone more like The Ring where the demonic evil is not known as a figure but simply as a watched video with a curse (they even mention "virus" that would be a lot like the Ringu series and get into the anatomy of it), with no alias or concrete image in association to it; (2) let it play out more like a psychological horror, even if it means recapturing elements inspired by the stabbing incident four years ago. There would be larger opportunities to provide a certain cloud of mystery and intrigue to explore something further, rather than simply to have too tangible of a grasp on the subject matter. Idea #2 might glorify and inspire that notion a little more than we need though, and since idea #1 would tie more closely to the film's actual events I'd say that #1 would be my personal go-to. In fact, when the girls watch the video it actually reminded me of The Ring to begin with, and that was a good thing; too bad they did not continue much down that path.

Characters also never really had any kind of realistic dialogue. The opening conversation between two schoolmates just has you thinking: "This feels like they're reading a script." That's never a good thing. Like many horror movies, characters have trouble elaborating what they see and feel with each other, and it comes at an unnerving level here. Only one character ever tries to really cope with what's going on in a verbal manner, but she simply doesn't push enough to bring the others to her side and it feels like a lost cause. I'll admit that she tries, but she doesn't articulate herself well enough and from the outside looking in just comes off as sounding irrational. Well-written horror movies have characters who can actually think and speak rationally, yet still have trouble being able to overcome their villainous adversities.

The way it was shot was another concern of mine. This film is dark, and by that I mean it is dimly lit to a fault. I know they probably opted for more natural lighting at times, but even then there are no carefully-constructed shots to contrast silhouetted characters with some sort of lighter background from a light or a dusk evening sky. Even many interiors seem like people forget to pay their electricity bills as they only light up the bare minimum amount. Forget tone, this was just a slighted level of realism that probably could have resolved a lot of the characters' dumb moments if they just turned on a couple of more lights at times. They're also always going out on their lonesome after sunset, which tends to be a recipe for disaster. White chose to let sound play a major role in the film, but often did not establish a shot for us to sense our place in the scene. Everything looked too same-ish to lack the feeling of impact moments take place as they should. I think the choice of shots got better as the film went on, but at that point it was too little too late.

There were three scenes in the middle of the film that are almost back-to-back-to-back that probably provide the best overall tension. All three scenes have great buildup, but unfortunately only one executes strongly and the other two flatten out rather quickly. This mostly has to do with the fact that they try too hard to show more, and the effect is lessened as a result. That, or like many horror films it is just poorly edited (sorry to stray off-topic, but speaking of poorly edited... in the beginning of the film there is a "One week later" moment that shows up in the bottom right corner of the screen and it fades away the moment it comes on that you might actually miss it). The scene that pulls off its moments well works because of SM really only appearing soft in the background if that, and a lot of mentally-jarring moments for the character that make the sequence feel nightmarish. If more scary moments in the film were like this or if there were less attempts at scaring the audience in general, it would have heightened these moments much more and become extremely effective. Alas, it was not meant to be and we are resorted to cheap thrills. What makes matters worse is that I think some moments would have been great without inserting eerie music alongside them, and I don't want to call them jump-scares because to be honest there aren't too many here (most times they are intentionally telegraphed as they creep into the frame, but the ones that are there could have served better without the score).

Before those three scenes that I mentioned (and outside of watching the main video), the story really had trouble grabbing me; past those three scenes (outside of a great 'mentally disturbing images' sequence and one of the visual shots near the end of the film), the story really begins to whimper out. It tries to work in two other characters to an extent and does not deliver on carrying out their arcs throughout (add in one of the main characters as well), parent involvement is set to a bare minimum and they are useless when present (in fact, there's a weird bit where someone thinks they are at the wrong address because they didn't see any cars in the driveway... ever hear of a garage??), there is little to no conveyed emotion for the loss of people near and dear to the main characters to feel their motivation as a great driving force, nobody ever listens to anybody in the film except when it's a detriment to their cause, and for some strange reason the girls all know the passwords to each others' laptops (just a small nitpick on my end). Worst of all, Slender Man was only slightly imposing and just not very scary, and he appears far too often. When I watch the Marble Hornets series on YouTube and he rarely appears in a quick couple of frames, I get the most unsettling chill in my body. When I play Slender and am traveling the forest as the stomps begin happening, the tension ramps up and gets me in the right mood to freak me out when something actually happens, no matter how scary. As a constant, Joey King was the only onscreen redeeming quality of this abhorrent mess.

They should have gone with "less is more," and they instead went for the reverse tactic. That did not work for Blair Witch (2016), and it's no surprise that it didn't work here as well. This wasn't even in the "so bad it's good" camp unfortunately, and I am someone who will be curious to watch this regardless of any ratings. I do ask that you try and heed my warning when I say there is not much you are going to get from this movie. It wasn't scary, gripping, fun, exciting, or anything like that. Just a morose form of cinematic poppycock that probably came out five years later than it should have, and with the wrong story to boot. I just feel like they missed the mark on what makes Slender Man spooky, or they tried too heavily to rely on his spookiness to tell the story that they did.

Oh, and the first trailer ending shots of the girl in the dress is not in the film. I don't even know who that girl is suppose to be, because she is not in the film either heh. Sorry to spoil you there (more of an anti-spoiler).

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Getting tired and IMDb doesn't have the review section available yet for this film, so I'm going to leave a brief snippet here.

Crazy Rich Asians

An extremely solid romantic comedy entry that treads lightly on both the romance and comedy, and instead delivers a story built around culture, respect and trust, taking pages from Meet the Parents and The Devil Wears Prada. It is an absolutely accessible film for all audience members, even if they might have ehem so good of a time that I can't hear some lines because of the overdrawn laughter from others.

Through framing, editing and choice of music, director Jon Chu finds a way of bringing about action in a film that is entirely devoid of it. He really highlights Singapore as a character in the film full of vibrancy and vivacity, and we get to see the crazy-rich snobbishly entertain us as side-characters such as Awkwafina hilariously basks it all in and takes nothing for granted. We envy their possessions even if we may not envy their lifestyle.

Our main protagonist couple is a duo worth rooting for even though they let those around them bring us most of the character and laughs, and there is nice high tension built between our lovely lady Rachel and her boyfriend's mother. There are over a dozen characters which get the limelight with their own romantic subplots so you have a lot to take in, and even though it lets off the gas pedal after the first third of the film it coasts to a nice even pace where values begin to be established. There is something to be learned from both sides of the fence of rich vs. poor, Chinese vs. American, and want vs. need.

2018 in cinema is strong with Asian persuasion in this film and Searching, which both come out within merely weeks of each other. Make sure to check both out when you can!

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I also saw Ant-Man and the Wasp, but since everyone else has already seen that I'm not going to get too deep into it. It was pretty good, not extremely heavy on the laughs or action but played nicely as a standalone from the rest of the Avengers stuff happening. Kind of a safe choice of film that really seems to work okay. Just like the first film I really don't much care for the ants themselves, and although the blowing up big thing seemed a little off in Civil War I liked when it was used here. Ghost started off interesting but kind of got annoying by the end. This whole film is pretty much carried by Paul Rudd's charm and wit (with shades of Michael Peña); without him I don't think I would much care at all.

Interesting to see how the events in this film carry into Avengers 4!
Last edited by MuffinMcFluffin on August 10th, 2018, 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Joined: May 2010
MuffinMcFluffin wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 5:02 am
Crazy Rich Asians

An extremely solid romantic comedy entry that treads lightly on both the romance and comedy, and instead delivers a story built around culture, respect and trust, taking pages from Meet the Parents and The Devil Wears Prada. It is an absolutely accessible film for all audience members, even if they might have ehem so good of a time that I can't hear some lines because of the overdrawn laughter from others.

Through framing, editing and choice of music, director Jon Chu finds a way of bringing about action in a film that is entirely devoid of it. He really highlights Singapore as a character in the film full of vibrancy and vivacity, and we get to see the crazy-rich snobbishly entertain us as side-characters such as Awkwafina hilariously basks it all in and takes nothing for granted. We envy their possessions even if we may not envy their lifestyle.

Our main protagonist couple is a duo worth rooting for even though they let those around them bring us most of the character and laughs, and there is nice high tension built between our lovely lady Rachel and her boyfriend's mother. There are over a dozen characters which get the limelight with their own romantic subplots so you have a lot to take in, and even though it lets off the gas pedal after the first third of the film it coasts to a nice even pace where values begin to be established. There is something to be learned from both sides of the fence of rich vs. poor, Chinese vs. American, and want vs. need.

2018 in cinema is strong with Asian persuasion in this film and Searching, which both come out within merely weeks of each other. Make sure to check both out when you can!
Thanks for the review. I am pumped.

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Location: San Bruno, CA
Here is a more in-depth one now that the IMDb review page is open (it motivated me to write more):

Crazy Rich Asians

The romantic comedy genre is a flavor that gets a bad rap for being one-note and heavily playing on sappy/silly tropes, even if that is not always the case. I have learned to expand my horizons when it comes to the genre and fit more good titles in there that don't necessary hit that mark, including Deadpool (I mean why not?). Last year, we were graced with the best of the genre staple I've seen in a long time in The Big Sick because of its strong writing. I am pleased to say that we have a winner again this year, and a lot of it has everything to do with how the editing complements the writing and directing.

Crazy Rich Asians is an entry that treads lightly on both the romance and comedy (there are plenty of laughs to be had, I just never got an abs workout or fell out of my chair is all) and instead delivers a story built around culture, respect and trust, taking pages from Meet the Parents and The Devil Wears Prada. It is an absolutely accessible film for all audience members, even if they might have had *ehem* so good of a time that I couldn't hear some lines because of the overdrawn laughter from others. Through framing, editing and choice of music, director Jon Chu finds a way of bringing about action in a film that is entirely devoid of it. He really highlights Singapore as a character in the film full of vibrancy and vivacity, claiming set-pieces to dictate entire acts of the story. There is a lot of symbolism that is foreshadowed very subtly, and almost everything has a payoff instead of making the audience question what a certain setup was meant for. We get to see the crazy-rich invite us to their fantastical routines as side-characters like Awkwafina hilariously bask it all in and takes nothing for granted. We envy their possessions, even if we may not envy their lifestyle.

The first 1/3rd of the film is wide-open throttle on the gas pedal. There are colorful overlays to indicate locations and text messages that mesh with what is going on in the image, and they feel as if they want to arrive to the story about as fast as Get Out. Characters are introduced so fast that you will want to bring a pad and pen to web-diagram the whole thing, but Chu made a smart choice in having the audience remember characters less by their names and faces and more with their actions, like when you play a name game icebreaker with a large unfamiliar group. You start to figure out where people stand on the totem pole (us audience members are clearly at the bottom) and get to enter Rachel's mind as she's absorbing things at a breakneck pace, and we have to do the same. This representation may be that of the 1% end of things, but the wealth is only in your face from a glamorizing perspective and is not too in your face with snobbery constructed from their wallet and purse sizes.

Once this is all enacted we reach the second 1/3rd of the film, which lets off of that gas pedal and coasts for quite a while. It hit me rather fast like brake lights and I wasn't expecting it, so I called the film out a bit on its inconsistent pace and didn't feel the typical story arc of "rising action." Thankfully, what was lost in that art was found in character chemistry and intensity. Our main protagonist couple is a duo worth rooting for as they yearn for a cathartic endgame with one another, despite what morals stand in their way. They drive the story's purpose, but they are on the bland end of personality when it comes to delivering the comedic goods, and this is totally okay; they let those around them bring us most of the character and laughs. A couple of them are thrown in for the cheap shtick, but there are nearly a dozen characters which get the limelight with their own romantic subplots. This ends up being more than just one love story, and normally I would consider this a detriment but this drawn out middle act of the film spends a lot of time establishing tangible and intangible values, and these characters' interactions are a big part of that. We get a lot of conversation regarding the betterment of characters from each side of the proverbial fence that separates rich versus not-rich, Chinese versus American cultures, and wants versus needs. In a movie that could have easily only stated messages for an elite class of individuals or specific ethnic group, they spend a long time catering to the other 99% so we can be a part of the journey and not just seeing it from a particular lens.

I am purposely leaving out the story's pulse of tension between Rachel and Nick's mother, because I would like for you to strap in and see it all for yourself. As the film puts it at one point: it basically starts to feel like the two characters are playing chicken and they want to see who swerves away first. It doesn't quite reach Stiller vs. DeNiro or Hathaway vs. Streep in their respective film roles, but these two characters have a lot more to say that speaks to us and possible predicaments that we may encounter, especially regarding the ideas of family and what it means to be a part of one beyond the surface level.

We transition into the final 1/3rd of the film where I feel the story arc had found its footing again. I was recognizing aspects of resolve taking place, affect brought personal emotions within me to rise more (I started to get the feels when a scene took place where the only thing you hear are the sultry echoes covering an Elvis Presley gem), and although this is a romantic comedy that may hit some of the stereotypes that other ones do, you don't dismiss it as a negative thing because the way we arrive at those points feels organic and validating. I could not predict where this story was going to go or what it wanted me to come home with earlier on, but by the time we hit the credits (there is one minor "mid-credits" moment thirty seconds in, in case you intend on leaving your chair immediately) I was completely understanding of Chu's conveyed intent that he displayed within the two-hour runtime.

Ironically, his statement exceeds that of the film reel and the novel that this film adaptation is based upon. He is playing chicken with Hollywood, and I think he will strike victory here. Like Black Panther earlier this year and The Big Sick last year, we are beginning to realize that 'serving the underserved' is a good business strategy when there is a story to be told that requires exactly that. I am excited that both this film and Searching (please give that a look in a couple of weeks) is garnishing Asian leads without it feeling like an intolerable offense. Yes, one film is based upon that culture and the other just so happens to utilize characters of that background, but it just goes to show that mainstream audiences are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and come out the other side with smiles on their faces, saying that the film is "good" and not needing to bat and eye over the fact that they were not graced on screen with a white male lead. I could have done my review without stating any of this, but I really think this is one part that separates this from many other romantic comedies.

From the earlier marketing, I did not expect this movie to win me over. It did, and I think you will feel the same if/when you decide to check this one out. Story-wise I felt some unevenness, but Jon Chu strikes enough visual flair to make a duvet out of a blanket. What could have been a tedious sitting was instead a raucously good time, and I really feel like there is something for everybody here. It is a recommended watch, and so far stands as my romantic comedy of the year barely edging out Love, Simon. Go check it out.

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Is there a thread for Crazy Rich Asians. I read the book last year and look forward to seeing film

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I watched Bruno last night after not having seen it since 9th grade.

I laughed so much. It's s ridiculous but it also shows how weird straight people can be (saying this as a straight person just so we're clear).

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Late to the party but I just saw Infinity War which I think is a really great movie, and that's coming from someone who has only liked two or three Marvel movies before this. The action and humor are plentiful of course but for the first time, for me at least, Marvel has found a way to make them work together rather than getting in each other's way, and when you add in the feeling of melancholia that permeates the movie - how bold from a CBM - and you have a genuinely emotional experience. Another redress from Marvel is of course Thanos who this time brings a real threat to our heroes, not simply because the plot requires it but rather his qualities are completely antithetical to our heroes' who allow a surfeit of empathy and myopia to stand in their way of making the hard choices and spelling their doom in the process. Thanos is of course not all cold and brute either and Brolin infused the Titan with the sense of guilt and of someone making an impossible decision that you'd be hard-pressed to come away thinking him a heartless monster. It's a miracle that a comic book movie that wallows in so much death and destruction hardly suffers from monotony but rather makes you come out feeling alive and uplifted.
8/10.

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Image
Still perfect, one of the very best action films ever made

and what a wonderful remaster

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Great performances by Kidman, Dunst and Fanning. The tension between sexual negligence and the ever-increasing frustration of the women was palpable throughout. Visuals and score elevated their sense of loneliness and claustrophobia. Phoenix should do more filmscores. 10/10

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Escape from New York (1981)

This is the first time I watched this film and I quite enjoyed it. Kurt Russell is great as Snake and while the story is rather simple and straightforward, you feel the tension and the stress that Snake is under as his own life is on the line and he is forced to do something he would otherwise not do willingly. The ending is quite cool by the way and makes an excellent point as to who Snake is as a character and who we thought he was throughout the film where he behaves as a selfish and uncaring person. The depiction of New York as a dystopian nightmare is actually quite creepy in a number of places and very effective. The only downside is that the antagonists are rather one-dimensional and not given enough time to be really fleshed out as characters. But I like the concept and this is an excellent film overall by John Carpenter.

8.5/10


Incredibles 2 (2018)

This was just fun. Not groundbreaking or genre-defining like the first film but fun. The characters do not have the same kind of deeper, genre-subverting conflicts going on (Mr. Incredible's story here is rather cut off from the main plot and the kids for the most part are not given problems of enough substance to rival Mr. Incredible's midlife crisis from the first movie and nothing comes close to that here even with Helen's character).
The typical 'oho isn't it funny that the guy has to stay home to watch the kids while he's uncomfortable with his wife advancing her own professional career and struggling with trying to be a good dad' has been done before and at this point I don't think this film adds much that has not already been said before. But the jokes are well-done and you believe in the characters who do not just wink at the camera whilst they're going through the motions. The film has fun with their powers and I do appreciate what they try to do with the villain but there is a line of dialogue that gives away the twist too early and I don't think the theme is that novel either. The third act is also not as interesting as the fight against the robot in the first film. The action sequences here are well-animated and fun because they explore the powers of the main characters but we have seen Dash run on water in the first film and I don't think there is anything like that here if one does not count the joke revolving around Jack-Jack's powers but those are mostly part of the lighter subplot involving Bob, which is disconnected from the main plot for a large part of the movie.

Overall, it's a good film but inferior to the first one in a number of ways.

7.5/10
Last edited by Batfan175 on August 16th, 2018, 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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