The Official Review Thread of 2019

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:52 pm

Dolemite is My Name is very watchable but there's something a bit hollow in the center. Writers Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski never quite make it clear who Rudy Ray Moore is and what creating Dolemite means. They never create an arc where he shifts from making Dolemite for himself to making Dolemite for the people. Instead, he's a do-anything-to-succeed entrepreneur who's largely devoid of personal responsibility other to himself, and Rudy succeeding means everyone succeeds. In that sense, it feels very much like an 80's comedy that Murphy himself headlined. "Where are the stakes or the conflict?" my sister asked, and there are none. The best you can say is that they *would* come from within Moore and between those around him, but the film doesn't want to do anything that would messy Moore's legacy up. If I had to guess, I'd blame Murphy whose entire filmography revolves around surrounding himself with a faithful entourage on film. And Moore himself is free of contradiction. It can't help but feel like a big missed opportunity.

What Murphy's instincts get right is that the film ends up being pretty fun, if not dramatically compelling. It doesn't have the chops of Ed Wood but it has the charm. There's an obliviousness to Moore that reminded me of Kip from Bowfinger. The performances from his entourage are all very good as well. Da’Vine Joy Randolph has been rightly singled out as the standout, as someone who truly does feel the walls closing in on her and Moore's can-do spirit truly does make a difference in her life.

Netflix feels appropriate.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:49 am

KNIVES OUT
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Noah Segan, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson, Frank Oz.
Dir: Rian Johnson.

The family patriarch dies of an apparent suicide. But it could be foul play and everyone in the family is a suspect. Writer-director Rian Johnson brings the classic Agatha Christie style murder mystery whodunnit to the 21st century and really makes the most of it. All the classic trappings of the genre is there: An old-fashioned mansion, a murder, a wise-cracking detective and a family of suspects all played by an all-star ensemble cast. Johnson ratchets things up a bit by layering in some social commentary and a dark sense of humor all the while taking the stakes and mystery seriously. Fans of the genre will find plenty to love. Other people, like myself, will likely find it pretty much a superbly entertaining fun ride.

Oscar Prospects: Hmm. A Best Picture nomination could be tall order but Original Screenplay is possible.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:13 am

FROZEN II
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Jeremy Sisto, Rachel Matthews, Alan Tudyk, Ciaran Hinds, Aurora (voices).
Dirs: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee.

The sequel to the very popular blockbuster animated hit has Queen Elsa hearing a mysterious voice and that voice could be the key to discovering the origin of her powers. The eventual answer to that question is kind of convoluted which is one of the film's weaknesses. It tries very hard to recapture the magic of the first one but it doesn't quite do it. It is still a beautifully animated, charming and very entertaining animated feature. The new songs are no "Let It Go" or "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?" but they're pretty good. The one I love in particular is Kristoff's song ("Lost in the Woods"). If you're a fan of the first movie, there is no reason for you not to enjoy this one. But it's no Toy Story 2.

Oscar Prospects: Animated Feature and Original Song.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:33 am

FORD V. FERRARI
Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracey Letts, Noah Jupe, Josh Lucas, Remo Girone, Ray McKinnon.
Dir: James Mangold.

This is the true story of how automotive designer and engineer Carroll Shelby and British race car driver Ken Miles under the Ford Motor Company to design, race and beat Ferrari at the automotive racing. This is what I personally like to call a "dad movie". Sometimes that is a pejorative but this time, it's actually an excellent example of a "dad movie". I have next to no knowledge of this event, not being a car racing fan nor even a sports fan, so the film did a remarkable job of making me care and understand what's at stake. It features some elegant, very classic, straightforward filmmaking and a strong cast. Though it doesn't reinvent the biopic, it doesn't fall into its traps too often. It's a solid piece of entertainment that's a brisk two and a half hours.

Oscar Prospects: It could easily win Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing even if it doesn't get in Best Picture which it probably will.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:21 am

The best thing I can say about Honey Boy is that it's good enough that I wasn't overwhelmingly distracted by the fact that Shia LeBoeuf was playing his own horrible father. Fundamentally, the main draw of this film is a double-edged sword. There's a charge to watch anyone work out something so achingly personal on-screen in any kind of competent fashion. I don't know if it's possible for someone to go into Honey Boy blind (if only because, why would they see it otherwise?), but I'd imagine even still there's a charge of authenticity underneath that would make it a nonetheless affecting drama.

Honey Boy is more than competently acted, directed, and written (the script doesn't break any new ground, but it's quite good). The flip side is that through no fault of Shia LeBoeuf's, it's difficult to watch his scenes without remembering that this is a therapy. This is a shame because LeBoeuf is playing a memorable douchebag, and his relationship with Noah Jupe as young LeBoeuf have a remarkable spontaneity to them. Much of this is due to Jupe, who is an INCREDIBLE find. Also helping the film is another exceptional performance by Lucas Hedges, playing the adult LeBoeuf, capturing his squirrely, faux-tough guy energy, and again demonstrating new layers of range heretofore unexplored by probably the best actor of his generation.

Honey Boy is a film that seems like it could go wrong at every turn but it doesn't. There's enough talented people on board keeping it from trainwreck territory and instead it's a moving little novelty. Not essential viewing by any stretch but it's clearly a very personal confessional that lands.
Last edited by Sabin on Sun Nov 17, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:53 pm

THE TRUTH
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clementine Grenier, Manon Clavel, Roger Van Hool, Ludivine Sagnier.
Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda.

A famous French actress has written an autobiography and her daughter and her family comes to visit and this reopens some old wounds. I was very much looking forward to this. Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche (along with Ethan Hawke) being directed by one of Japan's current major auteurs, Hirokazu Koreeda in his first non-Japanese film! It turns out to be my least favorite Koreeda film....but that doesn't mean I disliked it. Far from it. This is still a very lovely film, feeling like a sort of less bleak version of Autumn Sonata. It just feels a bit minor compared to his other master works. Binoche and Deneuve are great together of course. It's worth watching just for that.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:46 pm

DOCTOR SLEEP
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Carl Lumbly, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lynd, Bruce Greenwood, Jocelin Donahue, Zackary Momoh, Jacob Tremblay, Henry Thomas.
Dir: Mike Flanagan.

This is the sequel to The Shining has an adult Danny Torrance battling both alcoholism and a religious cult of sort-of vampires called the True Knot who prey upon the "steam" (or life force) of children who "shine". The Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the previous book is now widely regarded as a horror classic and Stephen King famously did not like it (and still don't). This adaptation of King's own sequel to the book tries to honor and reconcile both of them and to me, it was around halfway successful. The first two-thirds or so of the film has pretty creepy and horrific stuff, the kind writer-director Mike Flanagan is great at doing. Both Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson give wonderful performances. But the film goes off the rails when it produces one too many climaxes in an effort to bridge the visions of both King and Kubrick. That said, it's solid enough for a mild recommendation.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:57 pm

Reza wrote:
Yet you don't cite either of the two actors for acting nods?


I don't think the acting branch of the Academy will take to this. Too weird. I'll be glad to be proven wrong. This is basically a two-character piece so before I saw it, I was kind of puzzled why Dafoe was being pushed for SUPPORTING. But I can see the logic: The film is primarily from Pattinson's POV and Dafoe has slightly less screen time.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:10 pm

Reza wrote
Yet you don't cite either of the two actors for acting nods?

I posted about this film on The Lighthouse thread. Robert Pattinson's accent is come and go but he's more than a match for Willem DaFoe. But this is DaFoe's show. I wish he would win for something a little less silly but he's a lot of fun.

I think Willem DaFoe has an uphill battle because it looks like his Best Supporting Actor competition will be big dogs (Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt) in Best Picture heavies whereas The Lighthouse is clearly art house fare. But I think he'll be nominated because his performance is such a show. At this point, if I had to guess, I'd say he sweeps the critics awards for his performance. He's also on something of a hot streak. Admittedly, his Best Actor nomination for At Eternity's Gate likely only happened because of a weak Best Actor field (John David Washington, Lucas Hedges, Ryan Gosling) plus they just couldn't stomach First Reformed. Plus, he's in their club now with two nominations in two years.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Reza » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:07 am

anonymous1980 wrote:The filmmaking here is first-rate and so is the acting. Robert Pattinson continues his rise as one of his generation's finest actors and Willem Dafoe is out of this world as some sort of almost a Shakespearean pirate. He does this long, crazy speeches and you can't take your eyes off him. Yet another great work writer-director Robert Eggers. I'm really looking forward to his next one.

Oscar Prospects: Should be a contender for Cinematography.

Grade: A-


Yet you don't cite either of the two actors for acting nods?

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:33 am

THE LIGHTHOUSE
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe.
Dir: Robert Eggers.

Two 19th century lighthouse keepers suffer cabin fever and all sorts of horrors when they find themselves stranded for longer than expected during a storm. This film is really something else and I mean that in the best possible way. The best way I can describe is it feels like The Shining as directed by David Lynch. It is strange and at times defiantly strange. It has images that I will probably never forget. The filmmaking here is first-rate and so is the acting. Robert Pattinson continues his rise as one of his generation's finest actors and Willem Dafoe is out of this world as some sort of almost a Shakespearean pirate. He does this long, crazy speeches and you can't take your eyes off him. Yet another great work writer-director Robert Eggers. I'm really looking forward to his next one.

Oscar Prospects: Should be a contender for Cinematography.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:07 pm

I had to quit Dolemite Is My Name after about 40 minutes. I understand it gets better, but I could only take so much of Eddie Murphy's "muthafuckas" routine. Golden Globe and Satellite nominations maybe, but Oscar? How many Netflix releases can AMPAS consider for Best Actor nods in one year?

While I still haven't seen Hustlers, I have warmed in my appreciation of Jennifer Lopez. I watched her the other day in an HBO showing of Second Chance, one of her numerous forgettable films of the last twenty years but one in which she nails the down-and-out older woman who refuses to give in to her situation. I can see a nomination coming for her in what has been a very weak year for supporting actresses if indeed she is supporting. I'll have to wait until the film hits DVD early in December to see if she'll make my list, but it wouldn't surprise me to see her pick up a few year-end awards on the way to an Oscar nod. It does amuse me, though, that IMDb. still points to Gigli as her best-known film.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:40 pm

A number of the bloggers are pushing Dolemite is My Name, but, honestly, I don't see why. The film is very reminscent of the same writers' Ed Wood and, maybe even moreso, The Disaster Artist -- all three films have basically the same "the people love us" finale. I found the opening half-hour of this one a bit hard to take -- it felt like being at a party where everyone there had a totally different sense of humor (and outlook on life) from mine. Things picked up some when the actually filming began, but, again, I've seen this movie before, including quite recently, and there weren't enough big laughs to make this worth the revisit.

And, small point: it may well be the truth that Rudy Ray made his "I must make a movie" decision while watching The Front Page, but 1) I doubt white audiences were howling as they're depicted watching the film in 1974, as it was a box-office dud (what white audiences loved at the time was Young Frankenstein, which the filmmakers would not have dared mock); and 2) it irks me that filmmakers who can't hold Billy Wilder's coat would take such a cheap shot at his decline-period work (which was probably still better than Dolemite).

A lot of the push for the film is for Eddie Murphy, because, you know, big star, but I don't see him standing out as much as JLo does in her film. Wesley Snipes is also getting touted, I guess because he's playing something way beyond type, but I just find his performance odd. The one I liked most is Da'Vine Joy Randolph, who brings much-needed warmth to the film. She'd be the contender I'd have the least problem with getting a nomination, but I'm not sure she has quite enough material to climb into a category that seems to have filled up recently.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:09 pm

THE KING
Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp, Tom Glynn-Carney, Thomasin McKenzie, Dean-Charles Chapman.
Dir: David Michod.

This is a loose adaptation of sorts of William Shakespeare's historical plays, ditching the Shakespearean language in favor of a bit more of a modern edge. Basically, it's about the rise of young King Henry V. This has been done before and done far better, most notably by Orson Welles in Chimes at Midnight (which I now feel like watching again). This kind of feels like it's trying to be Game of Thrones without the dragons. That being said, the performances are faultless. Timothee Chalamet is great (of course) but Robert Pattinson is kind of a hoot as the Dauphine. It's also very well shot and designed and undeniably beautiful to look at. It's overall a handsome, well-made production but it doesn't do anything particularly unique or special with the material.

Oscar Prospects: Cinematography, Production Design and Costume Design are possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2019

Postby Sabin » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:39 am

I don't have a lot to say about Scott Z. Burns' The Report outside the fact that I enjoyed it mainly for how it contrasts with other similar films. Not just Zero Dark Thirty, to which it is pretty much a direct rebuke. We've seen Hollywood dress up as politicians in films like Rendition for years. The Report is one of those done really well due to a few small foundational decisions. I think a stronger director (like producer Steven Soderbergh) could have brought it to life a little more. Scott Z. Burns (who collaborates with Soderbergh frequently and clearly took a page from him) seems mostly concerned with actualizing his script.

The first half of The Report is dedicated to the researching of our use enhanced interrogation techniques and the second half is about making the document public. The second half is substantially more interesting. At first, I found it a bit dry and tonally inconsistent with shots of brutal torture (which are the worst moments in the film), but as the film goes along, it finds suspense in the stall of government. Adam Driver's Dan Jones has no personal life to speak of. The film doesn't make a meal out of his drive to finish the torture report. Instead, the film makes a handful of references to his lack of sleep and personal life and plunges forward. Casting Adam Driver was a major coup for the film. He strikes the right balance between conveying an obsessed character and staying out of the way. He's so good, I'm confident he won't win awards for this one. With the exception of Annette Bening's dead-on Dianne Feinstein, that's pretty much the mode everyone in the film is in. Watching The Report doesn't feel dissimilar to watching an audiobook or a scripted podcast -- in a very good way.


Perhaps not for everyone, but I found it very commendable.
Last edited by Sabin on Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR


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