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Yet Another Blooming Bunch of Reviews...

Deadpool (2016)
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Best thing: The action sequence with the numbered bullets was very cool.
Worst thing: The villain is played by Ed Skrein, the guy who was rejected from Game of Thrones before being a terrible knock-off Jason Statham in the failed attempt at a Transporter reboot. He's a terrible actor with no charisma and he plays an incredibly boring villain here.

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The humour in Deadpool was really hit or miss for me. There were a lot of gags with pop culture references that I didn't recognise like when he calls someone "less-angry Rosie O'Donnell". Rosie O'Donnell is apparently one of the hosts on the American daytime television show The View, which seems like a pretty odd reference to expect to play for an international audience.

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I quite liked the references to the X-Men universe, but Deadpool's story is boring. While I enjoyed Ryan Reynolds in The Voices, I don't think he had a terribly good script here.I know a lot of people had way more fun with this film than I did, but in a film that relies on one-liners I either need an interesting story or interesting character interactions to keep my interest. I didn't feel this had either of those.

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It might be fun to have Deadpool break the fourth wall in the superhero world, but in this solo movie his own story did not feel interesting to me.    

D-





Sicario (2015)
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Best thing: The film often looks beautiful and our introduction to the world of the cartels as understood by a desperate American task force with carte blanche to do whatever is necessary is really tense and powerful.

Worst thing: Our protagonist doesn't get much in the way of answers and at a key moment Benicio Del Toro's character takes over as the focus of the film even though we know practically nothing about him. But my big issue is the scene where Blunt holds Del Toro at gunpoint. She has no idea what is really going on, yet she sees someone getting into a car and instantly reacts by pulling a gun on him? How does she know he's not just following the orders he was given?

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Overall this is a solid thriller with some great performances and tension. The message feels a bit hazy by the end, but the central theme of a police officer frustrated by the task force's complete failure to follow any typical procedure was interesting. When the strict procedures of policing are ditched to allow some real progress to be made against the cartels, Blunt is troubled by the consequences.

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I feel like the film seriously loses focus in the second half, but it's still a really interesting film all the same.

B+



Fright Night (2011)
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Best thing: Anton Yelchin being charming and quite funny particularly alongside Toni Collette as his mother.

Worst thing: While I was very annoyed to find that Colin Farrell didn't feel terribly intimidating until they pulled out the crazy CG effects, he wasn't too bad. The real weak link here for me was David Tennant. He is so over-the-top and so completely failed to charm me. And he's not a patch on Roddy McDowell.

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I like how Evil Ed's arc comes straight from the character's classic sarcastic quote from the original film: "You're so cool Brewster. I can't stand it." He represents the dark side of the geek. Our protagonist became less of a geek and is now friends with the popular kids while Ed resents him for it and that's what leads Ed to become a vampire to get back at him.

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I found the third act of this film tedious and because I wasn't feeling invested the shoddiness of some of the visual effects work became more starkly obvious. (I'm glad they kept the distinctive ultra-wide toothy smile of the vampires, but fire effects seemed rather unconvincing.)

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For me, this is another unnecessary remake  (and by "unnecessary" naturally I basically mean "I didn't like it"). The original Fright Night just seems so obviously superior to this bland studio film.

D-




Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
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Best thing: Olivia Cooke is great as the character with conflicted feelings about her illness and her unexpected friendship with the nerdy protagonist.

Worst thing: The protagonist is a quirky budding filmmaker, which feels very self-indulgent of the makers of this film. It's never very clear to me that their small parody films work very well with the rest of the story. It all feels somehow both pretentious AND a rip-off of "Be Kind Rewind". What is perhaps especially annoying about this is that the black friend seems thoroughly undeveloped. He clearly seems to be from a rough area, yet he is fully invested in working on pretentious art films. Outside of those two things we learn very little about him and our first introduction to him is hearing him confidently but inappropriately blurt out "titties". Compare that with Mos Def's character in "Be Kind Rewind" refusing to do a remake of Driving Miss Daisy and we can see a clear difference in the levels of characterisation in these two projects. The black friend here ends up falling into the wise black man trope (though fortunately not magical) and while it's nice that he has that level of character at least, he's still very much a sidekick and not a full character in his own right.

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"Me, Earl and the Dying Girl" has a good cast trying to deliver a sweet and quirky movie and as a result it is very obvious that it is desperate to be a sweet and quirky movie. Every step of the way the film comes across as a film that wants to be sweet and quirky. It also wants to be funny, but rarely actually is. (Full credit to Nick Offerman for his remarkably amusing comic performance as what seems in context like a very contrived character. Then again, he’s basically doing what he did in the second series of Fargo and he was funnier there.)

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Is it fatigue at having seen too many "creative, imaginative misfit male teen" movies? Or is it just that this is another dramedy that is neither very funny nor much of a drama? Whatever the problem, this really didn't grip me. It's fine and perhaps others will enjoy it more. Certainly there's nothing wrong with the performances. But it's a filmmaker trying to tell a quirky story about a kid who loves filmmaking - and the self-indulgence shows.

C-



Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (1993)
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Best thing: The Phantasm is a pretty cool villain. It's never really clear why he has magic powers, but he looks cool.

Worst thing: Incredibly dull and not helped by the way it flicks to regular flashbacks that entirely fail to increase the drama.

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I must admit, I always found the Batman animated series pretty unengaging. I quite enjoyed the Spider-Man animated series even though it was a little naff, but despite enjoying the Batman movies that cartoon failed to interest me.

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So perhaps it's not surprising that a full length movie didn't work for me either. It really is what you'd expect from the cartoon. To help the kids keep up with the story, there's endless expositional dialogue. But on top of that it's not even that exciting. Some of the scenes involving the Phantasm are quite cool, but for the most part this was remarkably boring.

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The story of this incredibly uncharismatic Bruce Wayne punctuated with the occasional action scene feels like it is missing a whole bunch of commercial breaks. Also this is "tv show" artwork not "beautiful animated movie" artwork involved here.

E


Someone's Watching Me! (1978)
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Best thing: Lauren Hutton's central performance is awesome.

Worst thing: The opening theme and some of the music is more than a little dated. Couldn't John Carpenter have done the theme himself? Any tension set up in the opening scene is ruined by the cheesy opening titles sequence (though actually, I think the film could have done without that prologue scene anyway).

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The final film to complete my John Carpenter filmography was the made-for-tv thriller "Someone's Watching Me". Leigh Michaels, played by Lauren Hutton, is a very interesting protagonist because she has a smart sense of humour, a consistently bouncy self-confidence and, even when put under pressure, this side of her does not deteriorate. She's interesting precisely because she isn't the sort of character to give in. Certainly, she is made to feel scared, but she is never hysterical. She's a very rational character and the story is more grounded as a result.

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After the Elvis film had suffered from biopic-itis, feeling long-winded and bland, I was worried that this made-for-tv John Carpenter film would involve the same sorts of problems. But actually this film relies on the ability of the director to build tension and John Carpenter rises to the challenge. And he doesn't rely on showing extreme distress from the actress to bring out the tension. This is a realistic story about a true-to-life villain and Carpenter clearly takes inspiration from Hitchcock's filming style to produce this thriller. I actually felt that Lauren Hutton's character somewhat reminded me of Tippi Hedren's character who likes to pull pranks in Hitchcock's "The Birds".

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Also this passes the Bechdel test. Adrienne Barbeau from "The Fog" and "Escape From New York" has several conversations with Laren Hutton where men are not the subject. Passing the Bechdel Test doesn't always mean a film has a less objectifying view of women. (Just take the 2009 "Star Trek" movie where it passes by virtue of Uhura and Gaila (the green girl) who talk about something other than men while Kirk is spying on them changing...) But in "Someone's Watching Me!" I think praise for the depiction of a strong female protagonist would be well-deserved. The protagonist is a live tv director, she's a successful woman and she's never passive.

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Surprisingly enough, I think this final movie to complete John Carpenter's filmography may actually be one of my very favourites. Tv movie or not, it's a great film and I would highly recommend it to any John Carpenter fans.

A+




Doctor Strange (2016)
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Best thing: The crazy visual effects. I mean sure, you expect great effects, but the kalaedoscopic patterns produced by the buildings are amazing. This may be similar to some of the effects found in Inception, but they are taken to such an extreme that this becomes something very different. Also when we have a fight scene while time is going backwards and the inventive effects make it one of the more effective third-act fight scenes in a Marvel movie. Oh and that awesome cloak-with-a-mind-of-its-own is visual effects too isn't it?

Worst thing: There's a big visual effects set-piece in the middle of the film where they really let things go a bit barmy and the suggestion is that in that moment the evil sorcerors have the upper hand. For that reason I'm a little puzzled as to why our protagonist isn't squashed like a bug. If your antagonists can bend buildings and the entire city scape is morphing around you, how can you possibly hope to run away. That moment of the film seemed to spend so long wowing us with effects that the filmmakers forgot that our protagonists were supposed to be in genuine peril.

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I've often judged Marvel movies on how much they make me laugh and this Marvel film is chock full of jokes. Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton all get their funny moments. There's also real heart to the film.

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Okay, so Mads Mikkelsen is another quiet villain and as a result he seems under-used, but I think we are left with the possibility that he could come back. When he's giving the "actually my evil plan makes sense when you think about it" speech, Mikkelsen is able to be much more convincing than a lesser actor could.

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In some ways this feels like a re-tread of the story from the first Iron Man movie, but Doctor Strange is still a distinct character and the third act is a lot smarter. Consistent pacing, inventiveness and an awesome cast make this perhaps the best Marvel movie yet. I really wasn't expecting that from the director of "Sinister".

A+


Gone With The Wind (1939)
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Best thing: The female protagonist turns into a bit of a badass, doesn't she? Tough businesswoman with a no-nonsense attitude and prepared to kill a guy if threatened. It's good to see that change after her initial whiny character at the beginning. It’s just a bit odd that the film often seems to want me to dislike her for what seem to be her most positive traits.

Worst thing: The rape isn't a good moment obviously. And it's awkward that we are seemingly supposed to dislike the protagonist more than her dickhead rapist husband. But in the end the worst thing has to be all the title cards saying, "Remember the good old days of keeping slaves in the south? Isn't it terrible that it's all gone?"

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There were some good moments but my goodness this film is so very long. There are old films that I think hold up very well, but Gone With The Wind feels incredibly dated.

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I'm glad that the film perks up in places but there are so many parts of the film that drag like crazy. I was gripped by “Citizen Kane” all the way through (after the intentionally stilted fake broadcast at the start) but while the performances in ”Gone With The Wind” are great, the storytelling failed to keep me on board.

D+

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
deepseasiren
Nov. 23rd, 2016 01:10 am (UTC)
She was raped? I thought you can't rape what's willing.
fatpie42
Nov. 23rd, 2016 01:23 am (UTC)
She pretty clearly says no. How she felt about it the next day is another matter entirely (and pretty weird too), but that evening she definitely wasn't willing.
deepseasiren
Nov. 23rd, 2016 02:02 am (UTC)
She could have easily fought him off. I don't buy that rape shit and never did. And if you read the book, you'll see how she really felt about it.
fatpie42
Nov. 23rd, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
She tries to fight him off in the movie. She's shown actively resisting him. With him insisting that it's her duty as wife to sleep with him and her clearly refusing. It's textbook marital rape. You can "not buy that rape shit" as much as you like, but in the movie it is clearly non-consensual sex. Non-consensual sex is rape, plain and simple.

Perhaps it plays out differently in the book, but in the movie the change of mind by the morning is bizarre. That evening her husband threatens to kill her and then forcefully carries her to the bedroom against her will. Yet in the morning she's so happy they had sex and she loves him. In the movie that transition comes off as completely contrived and I'm reviewing the movie here.

But rapist or not, Clark Gable's character really is a bit of a dick.
deepseasiren
Nov. 24th, 2016 11:02 am (UTC)
I'm going to disagree with you until I'm blue in the face because I've acted that way with a guy and it wasn't rape...it was playful resistence. If it was rape, she sure as shit wouldn't have gone and been happy the next day, she would have been crying and going to the cops. Just because a woman acts like she did in the movie...and by the way, sir, a movie IS based on a fucking book, and since you haven't read the book, you have no reason or right to be stating that you know for 'sure' in the movie she gets raped.

I'm fucking sick of arguing this point with you over a damn movie and something you clearly don't know women play their role of resisting with a guy to get more ooph out of the fucking. And YES IT DOES play out differently in the book, and if you haven't read the goddam book then don't sit here and give me a fucking lecture about what constitutes rape and what doesn't. You're talking to a former adult sex worker here, and trust me I KNOW what constitutes rape. Been there, done that.
fatpie42
Nov. 24th, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC)
I'm not arguing that it's rape in the book. Perhaps it isn't. That's fair enough. But in the movie she fights him off and clearly indicates that she doesn't consent and that is straight after he gruffly and angrily threatens to kill her by strangling her (to which her response is pretty clearly "enough of this, I'm outta here").

Based on what you are saying, it sounds like they adapted that part of the book seriously badly, because the husband seems all too genuinely threatening and the wife is all too genuinely NOT interested or excited for me to interpret this the way you think I should. And as a result, yes, the scene where she's all happy the next morning doesn't make any sense in the movie. That's precisely why I thought that scene was bad.

Whatever the book describes in that scene, I'm afraid it doesn't translate in that scene in the film.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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