Offline Blanko

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1520 on: January 19, 2016, 05:12:43 PM »
Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, 2001)

The film opens with a gorgeously staged 10-minute long unbroken shot, portraying a young idealistic man composing a dance of the solar system on drunken bar patrons. It's a perfect setup for what very well could have been a masterpiece, but sadly it was not to be.

Viewed as a whole, the film could be understood to be a metaphor for struggle and societal decadence in Soviet-era Hungary, but sadly there's not enough material giving credence to that effect - Tarr would rather have the bulk of his film be about characters walking, greeting each other and having one of the characters do a menial task, until the same sequence of events is repeated in the next scene. Many of these scenes are shot in a very similar structure as well, undermining Tarr's undoubtedly vast talents as a director. The struggle that is manifested by a threatening migrant force takes a backseat to these mundane scenes until a violent confrontation near the end of the film, and it feels unjustifiably dramatic to a near-comedic extent - where was this struggle in the rest of the film? Another reoccurring element of the film is the portrayal of a decaying whale, trapped inside a trailer and parked in town square for attraction. The scenes accompanying this whale are easily the best beside the opening scene.

I can't say I'm a stranger to films grounded in reality, but if Tarr decides to shroud his reality in mundanity, who am I to say that this film is anything but mundane? It isn't ever really boring, because if there's one thing Tarr is really good at, it's moving his camera in such a way that captures the viewer's attention very effectively - but it did leave me wondering why I was watching what I was watching. There is undeniably a lot of underlying beauty in this film, but if Tarr's intention is to keep it buried within, so be it. 7/10

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams, 2015)

Good and serviceable action movie that is mostly faithful to Star Wars mythos, but not much else. Abrams continues his trend of reviving beloved sci-fi franchises with bombastic action thrillers, and this time he managed to make something that's neither offensive nor terrible. The good: the action is well directed, the film is never boring and is mostly well paced, and the audiovisual aspects of the Star Wars aesthetics are spot-on. Also, Han Solo was fun to watch as a grumpy old guy and Kylo Ren was easily the most fleshed out character in this whole film.

...And the not-so-good: first of all, this film is all action. It moves too rapidly for its own good. The characters can't have quiet scenes for themselves, to the extent that the characters of Finn and Rey are almost entirely based on comedic reactions they make during the action, and a huge amount of plot points are resolved purely through contrivance just so we could get back to the action faster. A key aspect of a successful action movie is to pace the action with moments of calmness, for both the sake of the audience and the characters. The characters need moments of rest to maintain the illusion of vulnerability and allow them to brace for more challenges, which drives the tension in the action, and the audience needs rest so all the action doesn't blur into a visually exhausting mess. Even Mad Max: Fury Road understood this concept very well, and that film was essentially one long chase scene. It becomes difficult to internalise the struggle the characters go through and what their motivations are when they're given no time for contemplation.

Second of all, this film is too safe. If there's one good thing that can be said about the prequels, it's that Lucas wasn't afraid of expanding the Star Wars universe. This film, on the other hand, is almost entirely about retreading old ground. We're all aware of the "A New Hope remake" meme at this point, but even beside the obvious narrative symmetry, the story introduces very little that sets this film apart and gives it its own identity. It is serviceable in giving instant gratification for the "Star Wars vibe" and reintroducing old and familiar characters, but I have to wonder what kind of lasting legacy this film is going to have. I think this film will be seen as too much of a nostalgic riff on the original trilogy, and I hope they can steer the franchise in a more original direction for Episode VIII.

Leaving this review on a positive note, like I said in the beginning, this is a good film. It's well directed, well acted, mostly well written and overall I enjoyed it. But it's hard to give this film much praise beyond "technically competent". 7/10

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Offline beardo

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1521 on: January 20, 2016, 07:25:43 AM »
You just hate f...
oh.
The Mastery.

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1522 on: January 24, 2016, 01:27:34 PM »
Hard to be a God (Aleksei German)

It's a difficult film to talk about because it is very much something to experience, it cannot really be related back to someone through text or speech, it's something you have to see for yourself. My main complaint is the duration, after about the first two hours it gets to be a case of diminishing returns, the excesses which at first combine into something spectacular start to become less and less interesting, every scene following a pattern of incomprehensible conversations, barf gags, spit takes, someone getting covered in mud or blood or a mixture of the two, naked dudes running around and falling over into mud or piles of bodies or shit or whatever. It's a very intense experience, but it loses a fair amount of that intensity to a lack of variety, what discernible plot events there are being spread too thin over its three hour duration. I feel like there's a two hour masterpiece in here, but in this three hour format all I can say is it's gorgeous to look at but boring to watch.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 03:12:52 PM by Crudblud »

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Offline spoon

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1523 on: January 27, 2016, 05:56:22 AM »
I have been watching Dragonball Z Kai for the past few nights.

Although I didn't expect to enjoy it, I find its universe compelling in a goofy way. 7.5/10
inb4 Blanko spoons a literally pizza

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Offline Снупс

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1524 on: February 06, 2016, 07:39:57 PM »
A Serious Man (Coen brothers, 2009)

I don't know why I love black comedies so much when their very foundation tends to male me incredibly sad.

Don't get me wrong, I laughed plenty over the course of this film. Be it at lighthearted scenes or at people's lives going to shit, I laughed. And I appreciated the ending greatly. I'm not sure how to take it yet (I'd like to discuss it with Crudblud), but either way it's wonderful, painfully poignant, and delightfully abrupt.

I don't know the actors' names, but I'd also like to point out that the guy who plays Larry, the main character, is absolutely fantastic. I don't think the movie'd be a third as good without him. Everyone else did a great job as well, but he stood out to me.
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Offline Blanko

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1525 on: February 08, 2016, 04:14:16 AM »
2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)

This film is a direct sequel to In the Mood for Love, and no, the title is not the year the film is set in. Instead it picks up where the previous film left off in 1960s Hong Kong, where Tony Leung's character has yet to get over his previous love interest and tries to capture meaning in his life with fleeting relationships and by writing a self-reflective story about a mysterious futuristic world of 2046 where people go to recapture lost memories. With his juggling of faithful 1960s aesthetics and an abstract sci-fi world, Wong Kar-wai is essentially making a more experimental version of In the Mood for Love, with many scenes and story elements being mirrored to a tee. While this film is expertly made with some excellent performances and is undoubtedly a great film in its own right, to me it unfortunately feels too much like an unnecessary sequel to an already excellent and self-contained film. 8/10

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Offline Снупс

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1526 on: February 08, 2016, 08:24:45 PM »
Mr. Robot (Season 1, Episodes 1-5 / Sam Esmail, 2015)

The first episode of this was really, really painful. It takes a while to adapt to the (what seems to me like) overexaggerated techno-talk and awkward uses of computer jargon to sound much more complex and intelligent than it actually is. Which isn't to say the show isn't smart, because for the most part everything seems really accurate. It's just the difference between writing a sentence to convey meaning and writing a sentence and swapping out every word with something with more syllables using a thesaurus.

Once you get used to that (though, to be honest, there's a level of cringe you learn to accept, especially with the technology metaphors and similes), the show is pretty fantastic. The main character's severe social anxiety and awkwardness is actually portrayed extremely well. And, weirdly, the show does gay relationships really well too. It's not a focus or anything of the show, but they sort of just occur and show up realistically. It's nice. Doesn't feel like they're just ticking a box to say "yeah we got a gay in here now: diversity!" and it doesn't feel like they're trying too hard.

Anyway, the thriller aspects of the show are the best part because it does tension really, really well, thanks in large part to the wonderful electronic soundtrack by Mac Quayle. It's when the show goes for drama that things get iffy. That seems to be a huge problem for me after watching more artsy obscure films that portray life in a much more...lifelike way. The manufactured drama of most TVs and movies sticks out like a sore thumb. This works fine in things like Fargo that embrace coincidence, serendipity and horrendous luck, but when a show is trying to pull of realism and believability and can just spiral out of control. Not to mention the show suffers from making all the women wallow in self-loathing and cry every twenty seconds. It's like bad stereotypes in a show that can't seem to decide if it wants to embrace or stay away from stereotypes.

That said, though, the show's worth a look (so far) and the hook didn't really catch for me until episode 3, so if you have a couple hours I'd give it a shot. A handful of the performances are what really have the line taut for me, particularly Martin Wallström (who I literally thought was Aaron Bruno from AWOLNATION at first) as Tyrell Wellick. There's a scene in either the second or third episode that really sold him for me.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2016, 10:47:56 PM by Snupes »
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Offline rooster

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1527 on: February 09, 2016, 01:38:27 AM »
Carter has been trying to get me to watch that for awhile. Guess I'll give it another shot, the first episode was definitely awkward though.

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Offline Снупс

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1528 on: February 09, 2016, 06:15:46 PM »
^ Do give it another shot

Mr. Robot (Season 1, Episodes 6-10 / Sam Esmail, 2015)

This show has defied my expectations and gotten rather insane, in a bewilderingly wonderful way. Decided it wanted to go the psychological thriller route and was much better for it. I'm gonna be interested in watching the show again with my nephew and seeing how much different it is knowing the things you know by the end.

The flaws I pointed out in the first post remain, but I'd still recommend the show. It's pretty great. Not a huge fan of the last episode, the tone was just so...weird. But maybe season 2 will help make some sense of it.
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Offline Blanko

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1529 on: February 13, 2016, 02:45:39 AM »
Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)

If there's one thing the Coen bros are particularly good at, it's writing characters with realistically flawed humanity - characters who can't catch a break but who also don't evoke sympathy, because you know they deserve what they get. This film is all about one of those characters, a glimpse into the life of a struggling folk musician. It's a film where it's very difficult to tell how to feel about it, because it has no lessons of morality to teach or people to feel sorry for - you're just left wondering, what led to his character acting this way, and why does he do the things he does. It has a very delicate sense of melancholy that creeps up on you rather than forcing it upon you with cheap emotionalism - it mystifies you and sticks with you, a sign of an unforgettable film.

While I did enjoy this film a great deal, I must say I wasn't a fan of the visual style. Very drab, desaturated and gloomy lighting, that to me seems almost antithetical to its narrative accomplishments. I have nothing against mood-establishing lighting, but to do it on this scale feels almost as if the film is forcing a very specific kind of mood and tone on me, and thus distancing itself from the authenticity and realism of the characters and the narrative. I find it self-defeating, and from a purely aesthetic standpoint I don't find it very pleasing to look at. That aside, it's undoubtedly a great film with some fantastic performances and writing, so I don't have much to complain about. 8/10

Offline Blanko

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1530 on: February 25, 2016, 12:18:26 AM »
Barton Fink (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1991)

A more disjointed and meandering effort than I've come to expect from the Coen bros, although I reckon much of it can be attributed to this film being early in their careers; their trademark style of writing is here, but a lot of it comes across as sophomoric and unrefined. 6/10

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Offline Rama Set

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1531 on: February 25, 2016, 03:11:51 PM »
Barton Fink (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1991)

A more disjointed and meandering effort than I've come to expect from the Coen bros, although I reckon much of it can be attributed to this film being early in their careers; their trademark style of writing is here, but a lot of it comes across as sophomoric and unrefined. 6/10

I like John Turturro, but I felt he was not up to carrying this movie either.  I thought his performance was a little unfocused, sometimes feeling obligated to the emotion more than the story or the other characters in the scene.
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Offline Roundy

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1532 on: February 27, 2016, 09:18:19 AM »
So I saw Zoolander 2.  Even knowing that sequels are almost always a letdown I was looking forward to this from the moment I found out it was in production since the first was so funny (really, it's one of the funniest movies of all time) and most of the original actors were taking part.

So...

It wasn't bad, exactly.  It just wasn't particularly good.  A lot of jokes just fell flat and often those jokes came one right after the other and it left kind of an uncomfortable vacuum of humor through much of the movie.  It gets better once Will Ferrell makes his first appearance, but even then it's still not great, and Ferrell is only in about a third of the movie if that making you wonder why they squandered so much potential (Ferrell's schedule would be my guess but I can really only guess).  And much of the climax is taken up by talentless (from an acting standpoint) leaders in the fashion industry which made me wonder if the film's creators understand who its target audience actually is. 

On the positive side, Ferrell really is a scream, Kristen Wiig's character's ridiculous accent is a hoot, there are actually some jokes that land, and some of the cameos are fun (no, I'm not talking about Bieber).

Bottom line, I give it a "C" but think it might be one of those movies that is better viewed at home on TV rather than on the big screen.  If you are a fan of the first I recommend it, but with the caveat that you need to be satisfied with taking what you can get from it and that you should probably prepare to be disappointed.
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Offline Снупс

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1533 on: March 01, 2016, 02:24:21 AM »
Black Mirror (Season 1, Episodes 1-3 / Various directors, 2011)

An anthology series much like Twilight Zone, though generally facing much more real (or possibly soon-to-be-real) scenarios. This season is only three episodes long, but they're each 40-60 minutes and each exceptionally well done. I don't want to say much about it, because I really suggest you give this a shot knowing nothing about each episode. If you just want one to check out, I'd recommend either episode 3 or 2, since I find those two the most harrowing and fascinating, but they're all amazing. Give it a go.
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Offline Roundy

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1534 on: March 01, 2016, 02:35:41 AM »
Black Mirror (Season 1, Episodes 1-3 / Various directors, 2011)

An anthology series much like Twilight Zone, though generally facing much more real (or possibly soon-to-be-real) scenarios. This season is only three episodes long, but they're each 40-60 minutes and each exceptionally well done. I don't want to say much about it, because I really suggest you give this a shot knowing nothing about each episode. If you just want one to check out, I'd recommend either episode 3 or 2, since I find those two the most harrowing and fascinating, but they're all amazing. Give it a go.

Ooh, wait til you get to "White Bear".
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Offline Shane

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1535 on: March 02, 2016, 02:28:30 AM »
Just saw The Martian. It was OK/10. Not great
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Offline junker

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1536 on: March 02, 2016, 04:03:57 AM »

Just saw The Martian. It was OK/10. Not great

I also liked it okay.

Will Smith should have won best actor and Big Short should've won best film.

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Offline Shane

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1537 on: March 02, 2016, 06:45:09 AM »

Just saw The Martian. It was OK/10. Not great

I also liked it okay.

Will Smith should have won best actor and Big Short should've won best film.
.

Leo should've won for What's Eating Gilbert Grape. And 5 other films, including the one he finally won for. Will Smith is a terribly overrated actor (though I haven't seen his latest film)
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Offline Blanko

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1538 on: March 09, 2016, 08:49:31 PM »
Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2015)

Malick is a painter of memories - fragments of pictures, moments and feelings that stick with you, in a disjointed and glorified form. Malick's only purpose seems to be to invoke the feeling that a memory invokes, even at the expense of narrative coherence; when it works, it's absorbing and beautiful, and when it doesn't, it's a frustrating experience. It's no wonder his last few films have been so divisive, and to top it off, even the most hardcore fans of Malick's style might start to find his use of fisheye lenses, wandering actors and golden hour photography a little too repetitive.

It's perhaps a little ironic that out of his last several films, this one seems to make the most narrative conceits despite having practically zero narrative framework. It's overshooting on a delicate balance that was in my mind perfected in To the Wonder. Without a basic structure to work off of, the simplest character traits become all the more prominent, and Malick is perhaps too reluctant to expand their narratives to a point where they feel like real people with real experiences. Instead they seem to only be there to serve one purpose, represent singular themes, and it feels too forced, artificial and arbitrary. For all his disregard for proper narrative, Malick still seems reluctant to let his character exist in a blank slate.

The premise has its issues as well - it's the same old Hollywood affluenza that we've seen plenty of already. A writer with an existential crisis that sinks his worries into fleeting relationships and a chase for experience, scenes that move like a sightseeing tour of LA - at some point you realize it's essentially an arthouse version of Californication and you snap out of the illusion.

So where do all these criticisms leave me? Well, I loved it. I can't help but love it. Nobody makes films like Malick does, or makes me feel about a film like he does - and even when I see the cracks on the surface, it's an experience I get lost in. It's easier to pinpoint criticisms than it is to put an intrinsic quality to words. The film has its flaws for sure, and it's not his best work, but it is still quintessentially a Malick film. If you like what he does, it's simply very difficult not to like. 8/10

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Offline Ghost Spaghetti

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #1539 on: March 10, 2016, 09:09:39 AM »
Black Mirror (Season 1, Episodes 1-3 / Various directors, 2011)

An anthology series much like Twilight Zone, though generally facing much more real (or possibly soon-to-be-real) scenarios. This season is only three episodes long, but they're each 40-60 minutes and each exceptionally well done. I don't want to say much about it, because I really suggest you give this a shot knowing nothing about each episode. If you just want one to check out, I'd recommend either episode 3 or 2, since I find those two the most harrowing and fascinating, but they're all amazing. Give it a go.

Ooh, wait til you get to "White Bear".

God, 'White Bear' is terrifying - it's exactly the sort of grisly revenge-fantasy porn that I can imagine The Daily Mail campaigning for.

My favourite is a really close toss-up between 'White Bear', '15 Million Credits', and 'White Christmas' the end to all three sub-stories and the arc are horrific, like, keep you up all night thinking about the consequences horrific.