You do know how Godfather movies work, right? I mean, I suppose they could have Die Harded the franchise and given it a PG-13. They didn't. It's R for violence, but they also have some blasphemy and incest in case you were interested.
DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola
Aw geez. I'm the Catholic film teacher who seems to really like The Godfather Part III. That, in itself, seems to take away my credibility card. Everyone hates this movie. Everyone. It's a punchline to so many snobby references that it almost seems impossible to like this film. But, c'mon! The movie isn't that bad. It's not perfect. But I also don't hold the Godfather films in as high a regard as many people do. Perhaps it's because I'm not super in love with these movies that I can appreciate it for a film sooner than being yet another letdown as a closer for a trilogy. I keep coming back to expectations. The expectations for this movie were abysmal. So what did I get out of it? A fairly solid Godfather film.
I am always torn about Coppola. Coppola is often lumped in with the genius directors, especially of the modern directors. But when I watch Coppola, I always take his movies on a case by case basis. Part of me absolutely loves his Dracula. It is dark and brooding. The colors in it are awesome. There is this epic feel to the look and sound to it that just makes it awesome. But at the same time, Coppola is so obsessed with the scope of his film that it comes across as a bit silly at times. This is also the same film that has Keanu Reeves acting across from Anthony Hopkins, which is one of my most cringeworthy moments in film. But then there's Apocalypse Now!, a film that is universally loved. I admire that movie so much, even if it doesn't ever hit my top films list because it is so proficiently great. The first two Godfather movies are also proficiently great, but that movie suffers a bit from the fact that I find it paced rather oddly. (I will say that watching Part III makes me want to rewatch the first two film again with the new understanding of the franchise. The original plan was to rewatch the first two before jumping into the third, but I kept getting through Parts I and II and then taking year long hiatuses before watching III.) I find it odd that I critique Coppola because I acknowledge that he is a genius in some right. There's a cultural line that I have a hard time getting around because I acknowledge that I'm critiquing someone who is leaps and bounds smarter than I am. That's a tough place to come at. But I also know that Coppola has a little bit of his friend Lucas in him. He has become something bigger than what can be managed. I remember seeing Youth Without Youth and thinking that I was going to be the guy who was going to like this unheard of movie. I didn't love it. I really wanted to love it, but I remember seeing cracks in the pavement. But Coppola has something beautiful in Godfather Part III. Perhaps the only reason that I can see that is that it is looking at Coppola in a lens of flaws. He has fallen a bit and seeing Part III not as his first big commercial upset, but in the frame of a movie among many that did not meet audience expectations gives it a greater validity than it had before.
A lot of the criticism for this movie rests on Sofia Coppola's performance. She's not great. I can understand that sometimes directors don't mind bad performances despite the fact that it weakens the overall product. *coughcoughKEANU* She's not abysmal, except when she actually needs to be great, which is why people are probably so mad at her. (On a side note, this movie made me stick Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette on my Amazon Wish List. *hint hint*) But can a movie really have legs even if it has such a glaring error? I guess the answer is "yes". But again, I was prepped for that performance. I even like the fact that she's in the movie. It makes the film somehow feel more personal, even though it is a glaring example of how nepotism can backfire. The movie actually was more uncomfortable for me when it came to the blasphemy within. The idea of the Church as an extension of the Mafia didn't really sit right with me. But that narrative element really works with the overall theme of redemption within the story. I love the idea of the last film in the franchise exploring of how Michael Corleone, a man obsessed with avoiding his fate and doing the right thing, having to go back and attempt to save his soul while maintaining face. If anything, this is a look at how pride actually serves to be a deadly sin. Yes, it paints the Catholic Church in a negative light, but I'd like to think that choice in intentional. The irony of placing what should be the least corrupt institution in juxtaposition to the Mafia creates this very cool parallel. (Again, I have to establish that I wish Coppola and Puzo didn't take this route, but I'm going to explore it in a literary / cinematic sense.) Michael keeps making these choices in an attempt to save his soul (perhaps not overtly worded like that, but again...this is insight!), but with every small step that he makes that is a shortcut, he only goes deeper and darker. The same thing is going on with the cardinal who is stealing from the Church. He knows he has done wrong and returning the money would do a great service to the Church. But having Michael solve his problem is making the Church all the more corrupt. That parallel is super interesting, if not a little sickening.
I don't know if I get the choice to have Mary and Vincent in an incestuous relationship. It feels very shocking. The odd thing about the whole relationship is that it seems disgusting for the audience, but Michael breaking that relationship up makes him look like a villain. Then there is Kay's thoughts on the whole relationship, which she seems kind of fine with. My theory on this choice doesn't really have the solid foundation that I want it to have. I suppose it is meant to be as a way to stress the term that Michael and the mobsters have. They keep calling the relationship "dangerous." Occasionally, the term "wrong" will slip in there, but the word that keeps getting repeated is "dangerous." Stressing that Michael can't see the difference between right and wrong might be the issue. He sees it not as a moral issue, which is Michael's internal conflict throughout the story, but rather as a PR issue is very revealing about his character. The bigger issue is how it plays in a narrative sense. I don't know what I'm supposed to feel in terms of emotions when it comes to Mary and Vincent. It feels like the movie is almost using that relationship as something shocking, which does feel very cheap. Shock always plays a bit odd for me, so I can't exactly affirm that aspect. I will say that incestual gnocchi making does make a memorable scene though.
The end I really like, but I also have to call a bit of shannanigans on the movie for it. I have to say setting the murders during an opera is a bit too on the nose for my liking, but the execution (pun intended) of that sequence is very cool. The issue is the same that people had with The Force Awakens (another loose Lucas tie!). These beats have been hit in previous Godfather films. The murder montage contrasting to a seemingly innocent sequence is now cliche. That sequence works really well and I suppose that people want that in their Godfather films. But there has to be another way to explore that element. But, again I said that the movie really works in this last sequence. The one new addition is the fact that Michael is one of these targets. I like the fact that Michael has become somehow more vulnerable the more powerful is a cool dynamic. The suspense of that sequence, balanced across from Michael's son singing, is phenomenal. SPOILER: I don't know if Mary's fate is necessarily earned or realistic. It seems like a John Steinbeck ending, but in a world that really tries basing its world in a heightened version of reality, it does feel a bit gimmicky. It's oddly preachy. The concept is cool, but it does feel very cinematic versus any world where this could actually happen. It's not beyond the world of reality, but it does feel like the cosmos aligned a little too closely to give Michael his ultimate come-uppins.
So I liked it. I'm that guy. The guy who liked The Godfather III. I guess I'll turn in my reviewer card and shut this website down because my opinions don't matter anymore. Or I'll just keep doing this in an attempt to counteract my eventual spiral into dementia. (Whoa...dark. Also, is that at all based on science?)
It's going for R. Like, there was no plan for a PG-13. Heck, I'm sure they were worried about an NC-17 if they kept pushing the line any further.
DIRECTOR: Don Coscarelli
I'm the common denominator in most of the movies I don't love. In college, I would have been all about this movie. Heck, less than a decade ago, I think I would have preached it to everyone I knew. I loved Bubba Ho-Tep. LOVED IT. I thought it was one of my favorite horror movie because it was just so tongue-in-cheek. I didn't realize that John Dies at the End was also made by Don Coscarelli. I never got into Phantasm, but I liked the direction that this director was going. (Direction for a director seems a bit on the nose, right?) He seemed to really have fun with Bubba Ho-Tep and I suppose the same could be said for John Dies at the End. But if I had to give a criticism for Bubba Ho-Tep is that it is very afraid to be emotionally vulnerable. The characters are so over the top that there is no real humanity in these characters. John Dies at the End has the exact same problem, only add the fact that the movie knows that it is clever. That's a dangerous combo.
I like clever stuff a lot. As a fan of genre, clever sometimes can take precedence over substance. I tend to like stuff like Doctor Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but those shows really know how to not sacrifice the meal for the dessert. John Dies at the End really does have clever moments. But these moments are extremely telegraphed. Really, from the opening of the movie that can be seen in the trailer, the movie is very self-aware of how clever it is. While I love clever stuff, the movie feels almost smug about how much smarter it is than its audience. The real kicker is that a lot of the stuff that is bragged about isn't all that impressive. Some things really got me, which is like an addiction for me. But many of the reveals that were lauded as genius just left me in a "meh" mood. That's no good because with such a shaky foundation like cleverness isn't one that can really stand without proving it really works. SPOILER: I will say that my favorite clever moment is the title not proving to be true. That was more about gutsy than being clever, so I will give points to that. There are other moments that kind of work too. The revelation of Paul Giamatti's character is pretty great. The setup for that was well planned and the execution works pretty well. But the Paul Giamatti thing is a fun structural thing and isn't really central to David's primary conflict. The main conflict is actually pretty dumb. Things are weird for the sake of being weird and fun. I'm not going to go full on Twin Peaks on John Dies at the End, but there are some moments that just relish in the fact that they are being weird. Perhaps it's because I'm married with kids, but the nudity in the movie was extremely dumb and it felt childish. I guess that's what I'm trying to say with this extremely meandering paragraph. This movie is very childish and I think I've grown out of it.
I don't know what Don Coscarelli's story is. He keeps making these low budget horror movies. He's never achieved the fame of a Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson. Considering that he's made so many beloved cult horror movies, I'm amazed that it seems that his movies seem more and more cheaply made. This movie, a lot of the time, looks like absolute garbage. It's one of those movies like The Room that over-relies on really bad green screen. It is very odd to see a poorly dressed Clancy Brown standing in front of a digital background. I'm not saying that Clancy Brown needs the red carpet, but it definitely feels like he's slumming in this movie. I have no idea how the movie got Paul Giamatti for this movie. I noticed that he's only in two scenes, which are admittedly long. I wonder if they had Giamatti for a day and they just knocked out all of his scenes in that moment. None of Giamatti's scenes are green screened. He gets the practical effects and low spectacle moments. It's odd that such a chincy movie can pull in someone like Giamatti. Maybe Giamatti is just a fan of Coscarelli's. I don't know. But Giamatti is what makes the movie kind of grounded. I remember seeing Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula and watching Keanu Reeves acting across from Anthony Hopkins. There's a little bit of that going on in this movie where Giamatti is giving his all in his scenes and the other actor, Chase Williamson, not holding a candle to him. It's not nearly as bad as Hopkins and Reeves because Williamson kind of holds his own and is watchable. But there is such a jump between Giamatti's performance and Williamson's. Williamson, like most of the movie, doesn't really have the emotional intensity so much as he plays cool for most of the film. He does emote, but in not subtle ways at all. Upon further thought, Giamatti is playing Giamatti, but that's fine because I really like that product.
The middle of the movie might, for once, be the most interesting part of the film. There's a period where Dave is running from the cop. The cop is the mayor from
The Wire, Glynn Turman. Turman is great and it really helps that I'm on season five of The Wire. (I know, I haven't finished it yet. I have stuff to look forward to still. Leave me a lone.) The mystery of this sequence weirdly works, despite the fact that they payoff isn't fantastic. The movie kind does this implicit promise that there is a way to figure out everything that is going on. The problem is that it doesn't really pay off on that promise. Things are weird just because and if I can move past that point, I can at least appreciate the fact that they got me intellectually invested in the plot on screen. As much as I crap on the cleverness, when I did invest in the cleverness, it worked. There were a couple of really solid chuckles that came out of the cleverness. The hot dog? That's fun. But the movie really liked making up a lot of the rules as it went alone. I read the Wikipedia article on this and it was based on episodic graphic novels online which were never meant to be one cohesive story. You can kind of tell with that attitude that not everything was exactly meant to fit together in retrospect. I don't love that.
I'd also like to add that Dave and John aren't that compelling characters in a sea of uncompelling characters. I'd like to swear, but I'm going to censor. There's a character named "Sh*tload." Other movies have played this card, but they don't necessarily lean so heavily on that being the only character trait they have, being a silly name. The Jerk earned that name. Another movie based on a character by Mark Millar also kind of pulled that off because it was earned. Instead, John Dies at the End gives a one line explanation about that and we all had to live with that. Playing that character across from the very bro-ey Dave and John seems silly. I have to give some credit to Coscarelli who gave Dave the internal C-story of trying to get his one-handed girlfriend back, but it was invested in so lightly that I just didn't care. It took me a while to even figure out who she was and of course she had to have a gimmick.
The movie isn't the worst. I'm really painting it out to be truly abysmal. But it also wasn't very good at all. There are fun moments and if I was really in the mood to shut off my brain, there would be something here to enjoy. The violence is great and I giggled quite a bit at it. Some of the creature designs are fun. But the weak moments are so many and so lauded as genius that I just can't help but roll my eyes. Again, and I can't stress this enough, my younger self would have preached this movie to everyone I had known. Think about how many more people would have rented this at Thomas Video had I watched it back then. But if there's one person whose taste I don't trust, it is younger me. Man, that guy got obsessed with some absolutely terrible movies because younger me loved gimmicks. There could be something truly genius here, but I do think that Coscarelli is afraid of making his characters human and vulnerable. Instead, he likes being grossly funny. It's not to say that the ideas are mutually exclusive. There can be gore and laughs while making the people real. I keep citing Shaun of the Dead because I love that movie. It knows where to laugh and creep out and and it knows when to breathe. That breathing is important sometimes. It's knowing when not to joke and when to let a story tell itself. John Dies at the End doesn't really get that. It's a shame, because like Snowpiercer, I really wanted to like this one. But I'm a different person than I was, which is kind of a bummer. I don't want to grow...
There's a lot of decapitations and dismemberment for a PG-13 film. But I like that PG-13 can have people's heads being chopped off and their intestines thrown about willy-nilly and still manage to attract an audience. Why? Because I'm a hypocrite.
DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson
I keep starting The Lord of the Rings movies over and over. I want to review all of them, but I just keep watching the first three-quarters of The Fellowship of the Ring (my favorite of the group). These movies, especially in their extended format, are just so long. I get a little burnt out on these movies over time, so I can't ever sit down and review them. This time, I just said start with The Two Towers. Why? Because it's been forever since I've watched it and I know everything that happens in Fellowship. It was a weird choice on my part because The Two Towers was always the weakest of the series for me. What would it be like starting from what I considered a weak spot?
The answer? This movie's pretty great. The only reason that I lumped it in as a weaker film is because I kept on watching it immediately after the one I loved so much. Not having watched The Fellowship of the Ring in at least a year-and-a-half, this reentry to the Lord of the Rings is great, if not super somber. What mainly makes the movie work is the fact that it crushes its four hour runtime. Let's all call a spade a spade: a long movie needs to be great to really be watchable. Someone tells me that the runtime of a movie is over two hours, I'm sure my blood pressure goes up a little bit. For a guy who loves movies so much, I also know that being lazy and looking at my phone is an option. Also, ever since I turned 30, I now havea harder time staying awake during movies. It isn't a commentary on the movie. I love movies. Something just switched off and now I have to be wide awake to enjoy a film. I used to scoff at people like me. Now I'm one of them. What makes the four hour runtime work is the fully developed plots that run simultaneously. I love character development, but the character development of The Lord of the Rings movies comes from indirect characterization and character actions. Very little time is spent wholly on developing character in isolation, but rather in the midst of plot. I'm taking a grad course right now that really stresses the value of character development over plot in great literature. I can kind of agree with that, but I think the Lord of the Rings novels and films show that character development can happen within the context of narrative storytelling. Jackson really gets that with this film. Sure, there are moments where Sam and Frodo are just talking about the burden that the ring is and discuss their thoughts on Gollum, but these scenes are precursors to awesome moments like the journey through the swamp. Similarly, there are characters like Eowyn who are new characters, who get their entire arc through their actions. Eowyn once begrudgingly confronts Aragorn about her position having to defend the women in the caves and that's it. Her entire love for Aragorn is shown through her actions and her lack of action. It's very cool, because that character could be considered burdensome in a movie that already has a love interest. There's no scenario where Eowyn and Aragorn end up together, but by giving her dimensions of willpower, it makes the character so much more interesting. She takes what she needs to take and sacrifices herself for a greater good.
I always knew that Peter Jackson was a stylistic director. I loved The Frighteners (from the one time I saw it) and I didn't care for Dead Alive, but the guy always had an artificial form of reality. (I just wrote "artificial form of reality." I'm a turd.) His world is something that is narratively functional. The story is easy to understand and he never really does any "look at how clever I am" moments, but there is a definite style that I'm surprised the casual moviegoer got behind. I love all of the performances, but the performances themselves are kind of weird. I saw Sam Raimi do the same thing with his Spider-Man films. Both of these guys made really stylistic independent horror movies for a long time and then were given huge budgets to make blockbuster films. They used a lot of their tricks from their indie days to make these movies and there are just these moments where you can see that. The ghosts in the swamp, for example, are straight up creepy as heck and I can just see the creature effects at work. Because of these choices, some of the cooler moments in the movie are allowed to happen. I think the most memorable performance from the movie is Andy Serkis's Gollum. Gollum still looks pretty good for a digital character, but time is starting to show on some of the edges of that character. Regardless, Serkis's performance, especially when the character is speaking to himself, is such a Peter Jackson move that can only work in the context for a stylized blockbuster. (I feel like I'm overselling how stylized it is. It still is a straightforward film, but there is a tint to the movie that still feels like old Peter Jackson.) That moment, where Gollum and Smeagol are yelling at each other, is so bizarre that I'm floored that New Line let him get away with it. (I'm floored that New Line even made these movies, but that's a whole different story.)
There's a ton going on in this movie. There's almost too much to talk about. I want to analyze every major plot point in this movie, but I'm worried it will get to fanboyish. I also have responsibilities to deal with, but I 'll see what I can look at. Sam and Frodo are the A story, but don't necessarily always feel like it in this movie. The Lord of the Rings almost has a television like storytelling method due to the length of all of the films combined. Very rarely do I get to see genuine character changes over the course of a film, but Jackson gets close to that kind of change that we occasionally see on episodic television. After reviewing all of the Star Wars prequels, I can see how hard the line must be to have a character have a light switch moment. Frodo has major jumps into corruption, but these all seem fairly organic. He's also very critical of his own emotional outbursts. We never really see Anakin attempt to fight that element of himself. Frodo doesn't want the ring to corrupt him and that moment when he attacks Sam is terrifying. But he gains a moment of clarity, setting up for The Return of the King. As part of that, the movie does a nice job of teasing the next movie while having The Two Towers stand on its own legs. (I acknowledge that The Two Towers only works as the middle part of a trilogy, but it was still a great movie in itself.) Gandalf, similarly, really gets his moment in the sun. I always thought I understood the Balrog fight with Gandalf, but paying close attention this time had a very different story. It's interesting that McKellan plays Gandalf the Grey differently than he plays Gandalf the White. (As a Doctor Who fan, I get it. I'm sure Peter Jackson, another Whovian, also gets it.) There's a line that Gandalf says about passing through history. He has a vague memory of who he used to be. That's a cool concept. I always prefer Gandalf the Grey, but having that transition into a new character is great.
There's something that sat with me better this time than it had with other times. I never really cared for the Rohan plot before. The world of men is always kind of a letdown in the Lord of the Rings movies, despite the fact that Tolkien was doing his most overt commentary in those moments. I always liked the Battle of Helm's Deep (who doesn't?), but the other stuff always rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know why I liked it so much this time. It's a very simple part of the movie, but there was something noble and majestic. I will question, though, Aragorn's fear of moving to Helm's Deep. That initial place they were seem pretty easy to destroy and surround. Yeah, you are putting your back against a mountain, but the bad guys can't surround you then. You are fighting a one front war. Look how the two front war worked for the Uruk-hai. The answer is "not well." I get that Aragorn can get mad at Theodin for not communicating with Gondor, but the other stuff didn't have a much better plan. The Treebeard stuff, oddly enough, wasn't as entertaining as normal. I love Merry and Pippin, but they didn't grab my attention as much as normal. I, too, grew frustrated with the ents. It didn't help knowing that I just wanted to see them tear down Isengard. Question for you, the reader: Was Saruman kind of neutered in this one? He's not a terrifying foe against the ents. I know, they're giant tree shepherds, but I kind of expected a pretty fantastic fight. Regardless, that sequence is fairly great.
I loved this movie and I'm really excited for my watching The Return of the King, the one in the franchise I've only seen twice or so. It's been some time, so hopefully it will be like a new experience. If I keep feeling it, I might rewatch The Hobbit movies (I haven't watched the extended cut of The Battle of the Five Armies yet, so I'm excited for that.)
Or maybe I'm setting myself up for the same burnout. Who knows?
It's PG-13 in the sense that nothing checklistable happens. The content and the morality in this movie are horrendous. Mental R, checklist PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Woody Allen
I, along with discerning film buffs, have an odd relationship with Woody Allen. There was a time where I consumed everything that Woody has ever made. That's no small task. For those not in the know, Woody Allen makes a movie a year. That's a lot of movies. But since he writes and directs a movie a year, many of these movies might be lacking some degree or another. He tends to plagiarize himself. Some of his movies simply are a compiled carbon copy of his favorite aesthetics from other movies. Since he's older now, he tends to find avatars to play him in these movies. It's more interesting to see whom he chose to play his neurotic characters. This film's carbon copy is Jesse Eisenberg.
Woody Allen has this obsession with justifying infidelity. It is really icky knowing his personal history. In an attempt to find a romantic comedy for my wife and I to enjoy together, I really just brought home one of the most unromantic movies of the year. Woody always makes the assumption that everyone is in a constant state of infidelity. But he does write these characters that are the victims of these situations. Blake Lively in this one has done nothing wrong to deserve what happens to her. This is where Allen is really his weakest. He tends to ignore the fallout of these indiscretions. It is very causal about the damage that Jesse Eisenberg places on the world around him. Allen has to realize that he has created characters that would be completely destroyed by the actions of the selfish protagonists. In this one, Allen ends the movie on a bummer. SPOILER, no one ends up with the person that is implied from the beginning. I don't get this as a message against infidelity so much as Woody Allen just wanted to make a bummer ending because he tends to do that from time to time. Allen's world is one where love really doesn't exist so much as temporary obsession. You know what really sucks the life out a romantic comedy? (The answer is a world where love doesn't exist and everyone cheats on each other and everyone is unhappy.) Part of what makes that not work is that characters make insanely sadistic choices without a care for how normal people work. No one really has a sense of empathy for what other people feel. Lauren said that none of the dialogue feels real, but that it feels like a play. (Many plays have excellent dialogue, but I get what she's getting at.) The reason is that the motivations for all these choices are very superficial. Characters just state what they want without framing it within the basic social contract. There's a moment where Eisenberg comments on the flippancy of Kristen Stewart's forwardness. This moment is so key, but it just flies by on screen. It's very bizarre. Why can't people be human? I know that Woody is known for intellectualism and I love him for it. But he used to make genuine romances. I love Annie Hall. I love Manhattan. These movies are genuinely movie while being slightly surreal. This movie just seems to hate on romance while setting the movie in a very nostalgic era.
There is one part of the movie that I really liked. It was Woody Allen being silly and I really wish I had more of this. The brother gangster stuff really works. The movie is sold as a comedy, but most of the movie wasn't that funny. I laughed out loud for a couple of Woody style jokes, but even those were few and far between. Instead, to break up the awkwardness of the whole situation, there is a subplot where Jesse Eisenberg's brother, Ben, played by Corey Stoll, continues to murder people willy-nilly. I'm currently watching The Godfather Part III, so I'm very into gangsters for the next 24 hours. The absurdity of these moments is desperately needed because this movie almost should be considered a drama. Oh, I'm the kind of guy who would use the term "dramedy". I said "drama" with a straight face. (Mainly because I'm not very expressive while typing. Can you imagine what it would be like if I was?) The movie is awkward. I can't pin too much on some of the actors. Steve Carell is always absolutely fantastic. I suppose Jesse Eisenberg does the job. I think Blake Lively is solid. But then this script just paints everyone as a huge turd. How do we laugh when these characters that are meant to be likable are just bad people? I don't mind a movie about bad people, but those characters know that they are bad people. Woody presents these horrible portraits of humanity and expects us to root for them. Mom is okay, I guess, but she's secondary character in the whole thing. It's odd, because the tone of the movie is whimsical nostalgia. But there's nothing really whimsical with people cheating on each other left and right. The movie could either embrace the fact that it is a drama or it could play up the whole debauchery of the matter by embracing the slapstick elements that show up in one moment of the movie (The next door neighbor sequence). But this movie felt a little lazy. Things didn't work, but it felt like Allen just yelled "cut" and "print."
There was one actress that I've been lying to myself about. I know that people rip Kristen Stewart's acting apart, but I always chalked that up to the fact that people were haters on the Twilight franchise. Then she just kept getting these low energy roles and I didn't think that was her fault. But Café Society isn't low-energy. Kristen Stewart's Vonnie is supposed to be full of life. She's supposed to inspire both an uncle and a nephew to fall madly in love with her. She says things that are supposed to be endearing, but her delivery on these lines is so off. I don't know why anyone would like her. She just plays apathy the entire time and that does not work for this character. This character moved out to L.A. because of her love for the city, but she describes these locations like she was a tour guide. It's odd because the one thing that the movie really had going for it was a love for Tinseltown during the Golden Age. That means that these guys are falling for Stewart because of her attractiveness, which just cheapens the movie even more. It's odd that Eisenberg would be pining for her, especially considering that Lively (pun unintended) brings so much life to each of her lines. She seems genuinely to be in love with Eisenberg. She's joyful and charismatic and a little rebellious. These were all the traits that the original Vonnie were meant to possess. If the actresses were switched, maybe the movie would make sense. But it just seems like Eisenberg is more concerned with not being accepted that motivates him to see her and fantasize around her. Remember, this is meant to be a romantic comedy. I just felt icky.
I really don't like crapping on Woody Allen movies. The man is one of the greatest geniuses of all time, but he can't stop hitting the same beats over and over again. If he quit his annual marathon of movies, he would be chalked up to losing step and I don't want that to happen. But the quality definitely has suffered a few times. There are so many of these movies that I just have no desire to see anymore and Café Society didn't help at all.
A solid R. A clean, solid R. Oh, in no way is this movie clean. It's violent as heeeeeeeeccccckkkkk. It's like a clean cut R. Like an ax going through a neck kind of clean cut. That's what I mean.
DIRECTOR: Bong Joon Ho
I don't want to write. I have too many of these to write. I forever renounce film and I won't watch anything again. It has nothing to do with you, Bong Joon Ho. I just want to gripe and get under a blanket and eat a bunch of junk food. I'll have to exclusively watch episodic television so I won't have to write a review about it afterwards. "But, Tim," my wife will say. "You don't have to write these." I KNOW THAT I DON'T HAVE TO WRITE THESE, LAUREN! But I do. [breathes out] I do.
I first discovered Bong Joon Ho with The Host. That movie blew my mind. It got me into both Korean horror and Korean filmmaking all around. The Host had this weird creepiness and this simultaneous beauty that I would have a hard time describing. I remember wanting to recommend it to everyone and wanting to recommend it to no one because I'm sure the demographic for that movie is tiny. But I loved that movie and haven't really watched it a ton since then. When I found out that Bong Joon Ho was going to do Snowpiercer, I ran out and got the first volume of the graphic novel series and devoured it in a day. Admittedly, it wasn't very long, so digesting it wasn't a huge chore. But I didn't get a chance to watch it in the theater. Then my wife bought it for me on Blu-ray. This was at a time where I was desperately trying to cut our expenses. Knowing it was on Netflix, I returned the movie only to find out that it had left Netflix by the time I could sit down to watch it. So what mistake did I make? I had overhyped it and got myself chomping at the bit for it. I knew that there was no way that the movie was going to live up to my expectations, but that's okay. The movie is still pretty good and I had a good time. It just wasn't the mindblowing movie that I needed it to be.
Is it weird that Chris Evans has now been in four comic book adaptations? He's Captain America, he was the guy from The Losers, he was Johnny Storm, and now he's in Snowpiercer. What works most from Chris Evans's story is that his character is an awesome mystery. There are a bunch of separate mysteries that work to varying degrees of success. Oddly enough, even though Evans's story is a fairly minor one, his mystery really works the best. I'm doing the worst thing for you right now, hyping it up. But the reason it works is that it is wonderfully character building. The other mysteries kind of have a world building element to them and it is dependent on that mystery. But I don't really care about Wilson's background. I am the kind of guy who likes the first Predator movie. I don't always need a ton of explanation. But the movie is intentionally cryptic throughout. So the movie gives answers and the movie doesn't always have the best answers. I think I'm just going to have to go into SPOILERS. Sorry, it's a movie about solving mysteries and finding out everyone's secrets. I don't want to analyze a film without talking about what works and what doesn't. Ed Harris is always the big reveal at the end. He will forever be the architect archetype. He's the man behind the curtain. I'm sure if MGM considered going back and reworking The Wizard of Oz, there's a solid chance that Harris would be the man behind the curtain. The movie has this cool reveal, but it is almost entirely based on how cool that reveal is. That reveal, unfortunately, is not very realistic. It makes very little sense for John Hurt's character to be in on the events of the story. It's borderline silly. Similarly, having Ed Harris recruit Evans makes very little sense. He's so cocky about the whole thing and knows that it is going to work.
But it doesn't. Of course it doesn't. Why would he be cocky about that whole plan? The fact that the plan didn't work and you were cocky about it makes the whole plan kind of dumb. I know, I know. He assumes that the world outside is uninhabitable. Let's also establish that just because people leave the train for a bit (which is its own moment of shutting my brain off, because c'mon.) doesn't mean that the world is habitable. Temperatures change, especially at night. But ignoring all of that, this is one of those stories where the overcomplicated plot clearly won't work. It's always put on the nobility of the protagonist to move past the obvious temptation. But the fact that the simple answer of "maybe he just won't go for it" never crosses the villain's mind. That's a bit silly.
The real disappointment that I had with the movie (and, again, I state that I really like the movie) is that my favorite aspect of the film is a rush job. When Chris Evans and company open doors, they enter a new financial class. These door opening reveals should all be new worlds. That does happen. And for a while, it is very effective. There's this tension that comes with opening doors and wondering what is going to be behind each one. That is awesome. But I think that everyone involved realized pretty quickly that it is going to be hard to trump the previous door every time. I get it. There's a tipping point to the awe of what is shown. But there is a good chunk of the film where the characters are just speeding through the doors. But the doors provide a separate element to the film. If the entire film is an allegory for class structure, there isn't a ton of sense to just the sheer difference between the haves and the have-nots. This is a future where the rich become even more self-involved. It makes the villainous extremely villainous. There is no sympathy for the back of the trainers. I can't imagine the front of the train having their hair done and enjoying sushi without someone protesting the back of the train. Rather, the proletariat has to rise up without sympathizers. But that is the only real dynamic that works in a movie like this. It allows for ultra-violence and that's where the movie gains its legs. Like The Host, Bong Joon Ho paints that pretty picture that is super gory. The movie looks the most beautiful in the scenes of violence. There was a Crazy-88like sequence in the movie that was super cool. This is where I let my brain shut off for a while and simply enjoy how cool the sequence could be. It was scary and well shot and I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff. When the movie is focusing on the sheer odds of these underdogs who like chopping up rich people that works. Having Tilda Swinton as the embodiment of the establishment also works. Having her in the center of the violence kind of has that Joffrey / Game of Thrones effect. There is always hope that a random ax would get her in the head. Sure, she plays the part a little more Hunger Games than I would have cared for. But this movie doesn't really mind going over the top and that is probably a good decision.
The movie is Les Miserables with a lot more violence and a sci-fi setting. (And, no, not every version of Les Miserables has singing in it. I stand by my initial statement.) I like it. Heck, I had a lot of fun with it and it stuck to my bones for a while afterwards. I just don't think it really hit the expectations I had. I remember reading that the Korean version is a far better cut and that we never really got to see that movie. If it ever comes out, I might give it a whirl. But the movie does the job and that's all I can really ask.
It's an action movie with kaiju. It's going to be PG-13 for cool, gross stuff. A giant monkey is going to fight a bunch of other monsters and it is going to get gross. That's the attitude you should go in with. Also, swearing. The monkey doesn't swear. At least, I don't think he does. I don't speak gorilla.
DIRECTOR: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
When I was a kid, my dad and I watched the 1933 Fay Wray King Kong on repeat. I never really got into Godzilla, but King Kong used to be the coolest. In the basement, we had a poster of the Linda Hamilton King Kong where he's strattling the World Trade Center. (It's 9/12 today. Complete coincidence.) My father passed away before the Peter Jackson film, but I liked that one too, despite the fact that I might be the only one. I can't say I'm a King Kong fanboy, but I do weirdly enjoy these movies. When I heard that Kong: Skull Island was amazing, I got really jazzed. But then I remembered the new American Godzilla movie and how it was going to blow my mind. That one didn't really do much for me and the marketing campaign kind of seems very similar. So what is the deal with Kong: Skull Island?
The movie has one main thing going for it: it isn't the same story as the other movies. I love that story. It's really fun. But I can't watch it again. They are learning that the story of "Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World" is only so interesting. Yeah, we all love to see this giant ape leaping between skyscrapers and pancaking 1930s taxis. We like watching him bat biplanes out of the sky, but the other movies have already done it. Jackson's Kong isn't even that old of a movie. It does the job just fine. Telling a new story is definitely the way to go. It's not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Many of the same beats that were in the other films are still there. There is a hint at "'Twas the beauty that tamed the beast" moments, but it isn't as intense as it was in the other renditions. I do like that Skull Island is almost a magical world and acts as a land that time forgot. One of the best parts of the original film is that dinosaurs did exist on this island. This one doesn't full on transport dinosaurs here, but the creatures on this world make it something special from the other films. Honestly, that water buffalo was one of the coolest creature effects I've seen in some time and I don't get why it is blowing my mind. It just felt different enough from other fantasy creatures that I've seen that I can appreciate it. Outside of the skulleaters (I think that's what John C. Reilly called them), the creature designs are on point. Seeing Kong wrestle the giant squid was super cool. (The dude just eats it after he kills it. That's right, Kong. You earned it.) Vogt-Roberts focuses on world building sooner than allowing tradition to dictate what he had to include and I really respect that.
But outside of that cool world-building, the movie really has some problems. This movie felt ultra forgettable. It seems like another attempt in a long line of attempts to get this franchise off the ground. In this case, it is the need to create a cinematic universe. Admittedly, Kong is no stranger to being in-universe with other kaiju, but it has never felt so blatant with their inclusion of the concept of Monarch. I swear, one day Tom Hiddleson will be able to do a movie that is self-contained and doesn't force him to do an after-credits sequence. I have the vibe that this is Sony again. It just feels very corporate. Maybe I'm finally starting to see what others are saying about the Marvel movies. I don't really care about Godzilla or Mothra. Having to take time aside to establish that there are other monsters out there is slightly distracting to me. I get the vibe its because we are now all very hyperaware of corporate structure and synergy and that means that every choice onscreen reflects a memo from a higher up. That takes a little bit of the fun out of it.
On top of that, this movie just hits every Vietnam trope I've ever seen. Let me say first that I applaud them pulling the movie out of the '30s and setting it in a different era. It's odd that they chose Vietnam because the movie definitely is pushing an anti-war theme. I don't know if Kong is the best vehicle for that message. It kind of works towards the end, but even while writing this, I don't really remember how it all ties together. I remember having to meet the movie halfway with some of their antiwar stuff. The odd thing is that the movie vocally antiwar, even having Bree Larson's character describing herself as an "Antiwar photographer." I don't mind there being a message, especially in big budget films. But it also really has to hit the nail on the head and not be preachy. The movie was very preachy about being antiwar (even bordering on anti-military), but it doesn't really fit with the rest of the narrative going on. Building off of that, that is where I think Samuel L. Jackson's villain is pretty lazy. There were some moments where I was rooting for Jackson's character, despite the fact that the movie clearly didn't want me to. He was going back for one of his soldiers. He was respecting every life, spitting in the face of the protagonists who were worried about their own skins. But then they had to make him full on evil and I've seen that character before. In fact, I've seen that character out of Samuel L. Jackson before. It was typecasting. He's a better actor than that. (Sorry, Lauren.) A two-dimensional villain always dominates these disaster action monster movies. I wanted him to have more depth. His soliders, actually, were far more compelling.
Outside of the evil military guy trope, we had too many Vietnam movie tropes. Look at the color palate of that still I put on top. C'mon, we can do better. Slow motion hueys? The Vietnam film soundtrack? The soundtrack is great. But we've all seen Apocalypse Now! and Forrest Gump. We know what that sounds like. The movie went out of its way to make it feel not like a unique look at the Vietnam War era, but what other Vietnam War movies had done. There was just too much that screamed unoriginal. I will give points that they applied these aesthetic choices to a King Kong film, but I want to see an original production, not a "Best Of" mixtape of other Vietnam War movies.
The cast is kind of wasted in this movie. I love Bree Larson. I just wrote a review of Short Term 12 and talked about how she is always amazing. She does a fine job here and really nails the part. Too bad there really isn't much of a part that is worth exploring. Similarly, John Goodman seems super cool in this movie. I've grown to really appreciate John Goodman, but he is the info-dump of this movie. Hiddleson doesn't have much to chew on. (Is Conrad a reference to Joseph Conrad? Mmkay.) These are all characters who are just filling in archetypes. The only actor who really had a playground was John C. Reilly, who sells the movie. He's really good at being the fool in an action movie and he builds his fool archetype into a lovable fool. Reilly has yet to let me down and I'm glad to see that he had something to do with this movie. I guess the final performance comes down to Kong himself and I did dig that. They made him huge. Like, he would dwarf other Kongs. He is almost a superhero in this movie, which I like and dislike simultaneously. It's fun seeing him defend the island from the many uglies that want to take him out, but he doesn't have the depth. Again, this is a fine line to walk because we've seen that too many times as well. But the action in this movie is great, but I suppose that was traded in for a fun film.
Kong: Skull Island is great in the sense it isn't memorable. It tried something different, but was wildly safe while doing it. Would I watch other Kong movies? Probably, but I want something special and Skull Island didn't deliver it.
This one is a pretty hard R. I'm not saying it's brutal or anything, but there is some very uncomfortable content. Also, the protagonist often considers having an abortion. It's one of those "light in the darkness" movies, which means there has to be quite a bit of darkness.
DIRECTOR: Destin Daniel Cretton
I had never heard of this movie before one of my students listed it as one of her favorite films. I'm scrolling through Hulu and there it was. Sorry, Lauren, we're watching this movie. (I was far more tactful than that and she ended up really loving the movie.) I have seen versions of this movie before. If you want to know what you are getting into before really knowing too much about it, this feels like a director's passion project and he's got some indie cred to him. He ended up directing The Glass Castle this year, but just to tell you how hip he is, his first major film was a documentary called I Am Not a Hipster. The title alone should give you insight into his aesthetics. The good news is that it really kind of works.
Short Term 12 handles mental illness in adolescents the way I wanted To the Bone to handle it. If you read that review, you'll know that I mostly liked the movie, but thought many of the moments seemed a little Hallmark-y for me. Life was dirty, but not too dirty. This movie kind of has the same problem, but approaches it from a more realistic perspective. There are moments where Bree Larson's Grace has almost magical ways to crack the exterior of these kids, but I like where Cretton takes this character instead. These characters aren't repaired for long periods of time. Whenever Grace makes headway with these kids, the next moment is another challenge for her. That may sound like this movie is devoid of hope or joy, but the movie's overall message is that help is possible as long as everyone is willing to work for it. That's kind of important. I know To the Bone fans will argue that the same message is in that movie as well and I can't deny that. This movie just managed to sell it a little better. Also, focusing on an adult as the protagonist kind of helps. (Maybe I'm transferring actually validity into something relatable. Maybe the only reason I think this is better is because I relate to Grace and Mason more than I do to Jaden.) The movie is about joy and pain and having these concepts that may come so easily to some and not to others is heartbreaking. Adding to the fact that Grace herself is permanently broken is interesting. Grace has her life together so much that she can help these kids who have been broken, but she lives with the fact that she was broken at one point and she can never be repaired. LIGHT SPOILER: There is a conversation at the end of the movie talking about one of the kids that Grace and Mason took care of and it is so touching. But keeping in mind all of the sadness that Grace was experiencing, that story maintains a bittersweet quality, knowing that this character who was so trouble will have to work so hard for the rest of his life. That's a bummer, but it also rings true compared to having people yell the f-word in the rain.
The structure of this film handles exposition like a champ. There is so much that needs to be explained about the nature of this facility to its audience. The rules at Short Term 12 are very specific and it would be tempting to offer a ton of direct exposition. They do some, but having Rami Malek as Nate serve as an avatar for the uninitiated is pretty genius. Nate is such a great stand-in for an audience that I have to applaud it. I know, his convention has been done before. But outside of the fact that Nate is inexperienced at this job, his heart is in the same place as the audience's is. He wants to help to the best of his ability. He is feeling the same things that we feel, only with more spit. He doesn't understand the rules and he makes natural mistakes. He makes the same mistakes I made working with troubled teens. I saw me in him and that was awesome. He's definitely not the center of the story. Grace and Mason hold the audience's attention more than Nate does, but having Nate's B story in there keeps the story rooted in its setting. The only real bummer part was that Stephanie Beatriz's role was fairly undefined. Part of this was that I really like Stephenie Beatriz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but also the fact that she was just kind of hanging around and "yes-anding" everything. She served more as a conjunction for Mason's stories and that's not very fulfilling in the end.
If I had to criticize the movie harshly, I have to say that Jaden as the focus was perhaps not the best choice. Grace recognizes similar patterns in Jaden, which makes her the perfect person to listen to her. I get that. That is interesting and develops Grace's character in a way that makes the movie engaging. However, Jaden is a bit too lovable. (There is one really cool moment with Jaden where they risked making her unlikable and I loved this part.) But there is a balance. Jaden has to be a troubled teen who is in desperate need for help, but she's a bit too cool for school. On top of that, she is being contrasted to Marcus, played by Lakeith Stanfield, who crushes it. I get it. People dealing with mental illness have varying degrees of severity. Marcus is at a 10 and it seems like Jaden is at a 5. Jaden's problems are very real and need to be addressed immediately. But when Marcus's disorder is juxtaposed to Jaden's, it is hard as an audience member to sympathize for Jaden. Marcus's B story (C story? Is Nate really the B story?) is so heartbreaking that I want to scream at Jaden. And that's probably pretty true. That's where I would make my mistake. Trying to rank people's problems is the wrong move, but I can't help it when I don't have a personal relationship with these characters. So is it a mistake? Maybe. But like I do with most of my reviews, this is probably more my fault than it is anyone else's.
Is this a love story? Maybe. I may have accidentally shown my wife another rom-com. It is a far removed rom-com though. The movie genuinely made me laugh a lot, but I would have to be generous to even label it a dramedy. Grace and Mason's relationship is extremely touching, especially with the knowledge that Mason and Grace both were children of a similar program to the one's they are now mentoring. I didn't know what to think about Mason when I first started watching the movie. I thought he was going to be the loser manchild, but I was really glad to see him step up to be the most self-actualized character in the movie. He grounds the movie with something solid when everything seems to be constantly shifting. It is odd how strong of a character he is throughout this movie. Perhaps he has grown strong just constantly being in this environment. We need Mason to be the character he is for the movie to work, but I do sympathize with him. I see how much he is hurting, but he is not allowed to break for the structure of the movie to work. We often see this in romantic comedies, when one character has to be completely understanding of the other's quirks or idiosyncrasies. In this case, Grace has genuine psychological trauma and that goes beyond what comedies provide. Regardless, the movie works as an examination of relationships. I stated in the intro that the abortion issue comes up. I'm vocally pro-life and I'll always be vocally pro-life. The movie does encourage empathy for Grace for one of her background stories. It's a moment of love the sinner, hate the sin. There are times I begged a fictional character not to go through with it, but that might just be a human thing sooner than a pro-life thing.
The movie is very solid. I can see how this can be someone's favorite movie. I don't think it'd ever make my favorites list, but it is great. Bree Larson always knocks it out of the park (except in Skull Island, which I'll be talking about soon) and the indie vibe really hits a sweet spot sometimes. Be ready to laugh and cry because it will be dark and light. You've felt this before. Just be ready to feel it again.
See? Now I'm trying to remember why it's rated R. I've become deaf to foul language, so I'm trying to think how hard they cursed. I think there's a moderate amount of f-bombs in the movie. Oh, also the inside of the President's head. That ol' chestnut...)
DIRECTOR: Pablo Larrain
Everything now makes sense. Natalie Portman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and the rest of the movie doesn't get attention. I kept seeing clips from this movie and it looked great. But I didn't hear much about this movie outside of Portman's performance. I think that's a pretty accurate assessment of this movie. It's a movie that is outshined by its performances.
The movie isn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination. It's actually kind of good. But the problem is that it turns the assassination of JFK and the mourning that is associated with it into something that gets on the wrong side of criminally boring. This is one moment in time that needed to be analyzed. Jackie Kennedy was this icon, perhaps the most looked to First Lady until Michelle Obama. (Fight me, Nancy Reagan!) Seeing how this very public figure dealt with something that is so inherently personal is fascinating. But there isn't much driving the movie in that direction outside the performance, which really does capture it. Instead, the movie takes a very indulgent time with having Portman emote. And she does it. She does a fine job of it all. One of the major ideas behind the movie, and this isn't unique for the movie, is the look at the Kennedy's time in office as Camelot. (Read your history, kids.) If this was a new idea to you, then the movie really has this amazing message and I could probably get the gears grinding a little more than they were during the movie. But I know about Camelot. Watching the majesty of the White House didn't really knock my socks off. Also, the Camelot stuff doesn't really hit the nail on the head. The Camelot stuff was about Jackie being engulfed in a sea of Kennedies, but still developing her own alpha personality among that. Instead, the movie focuses on Jackie and Bobby. Bobby is a fairly sympathetic Kennedy in this one. He is a force of nature, similar to Jack, but he is very human in this role. I don't blame Peter Sarsgaard (I had to look it up.) because he really works for the role. He is the necessary balm to Portman's very caustic Jackie. (I'll get to that later.) So Camelot rests on the shoulders of both the White House set and the very on the nose soundtrack. We've all seen the White House so many times. I mentioned earlier that Jackie was an icon and that it would be neat for the kids to learn about Camelot. But the actual focus on Jackie's fashion influence is only hinted at. When the movie acknowledges the influence that Jackie had on the nation, that's when the movie really gets interesting. But it only teases that with the White House tour.
But Portman! Can we talk about Portman? We're talking about Portman. How the heck do you figure out what to do with this character? Jackie was a public figure that just kept her secrets close to the vest. That's what the movie is about. The movie is framed as an interview with Billy Crudup (heh) and Jackie telling him all the things that he cannot print. Keeping that in mind -and I'm assuming that's accurate -how did Portman create an uncomfortable character of Jackie without actual insight of what she was actually like. I love this version of Jackie. I would never want to be friends with her because I kept getting mad at her, but she is a far more interesting character to watch because the sanitized version that I always thought she was was dull. I hate biopics that adore their protagonists. Jackie is very flawed, yet sympathetic in this one. She seems to really love her husband and constantly seems lost while controlling those around her. That's a confusing sentence to write, but an even harder concept to perform. There are a few movies that deal with the stressful aftermath of death. I have buried enough family members (they've died naturally, I swear!) that I know how brutal that entire experience is. Jackie compounds the whole thing by making it a historic event with processions. JFK wasn't just her husband. He was the nation's father, love him or hate him. On top of that, there is the added element that gets added when the Secret Service has to get involved. And the thing I love? She handles a lot of it poorly. How great is that? Death isn't about grace. Death is about making enemies and doing insensitive things in attempts to make both yourself and everyone happy. Portman nails this paradox. She wants the best for her husband, but she understands the political landscape that comes with the death of a President. Add to that the duality of Bobby. Bobby seems to have lost a brother and is her shoulder to cry on. He is the only one who comes close to understanding what Jackie is going through, but he is also Jack's inevitable legacy. (Spoiler: History doesn't work so well for him.) Watching him balance between being warm and sympathizing and cold and calculating is bizarre. Finally, Jackie has to be a mother while being booted out of her house. She is watching a man she doesn't seem to particularly like replace her husband in front of her. There's a moment where I realized that the First Lady, for a brief moment, was technically homeless. I crapped on the movie in the last paragraph, but it does give her a lot to play with.
I'm fascinated with death movies. Not like I'm happy with them, but views of death is very challenging to pull off. (I still swear to Manchester by the Sea.) One of the framing devices is really an excellent, if not simple, choice. John Hurt, whom I genuinely miss, is fantastic as the Catholic priest counselling the grieving Jackie. Jackie is a tough cookie throughout most of the movie. She maintains the strength that is associated with this force of nature, but she also really doubles down on her humanity in the moments with Fr. John Hurt. (He's unnamed on IMDB, but there has to be a record of the priest who performed the funeral rites. Am I funeral right?) This is where I give a few points to the writing. My wife woke up and really found much of his advice genuinely touching. I don't know the filmmakers' views on God, but there was this cool element of truth that Fr. Hurt mentioned. (Fr. Hurt sounds creepy. I'm backing off of that nickname.) I'm never going to directly cite Jackie if someone is doubting the presence of God, but I do like the sentiment attached to it. I'm sure I've heard the message before, but I like the way it was worded here.
I'm listening to the soundtrack right now and I really don't like it. The best part of the soundtrack, I suppose, is that I didn't really notice it during the film. It's supporting the images pretty well, by that logic. The main theme is only really noticable when the Secret Service officer is riding the back of the car covering the body. I think the song is in the trailer, but it is overused in the soundtrack. I don't normally comment on a soundtrack, but between being too much of a bummer, it is way too repetitive.
The movie is fine, but Portman is phenomenal. I don't know if I could recommend the movie as a whole, but it would be worth watching clips of Portman in her different modes. Also, was I always aware that the upstate New York accent is grating sometimes?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.