Showing posts from 2018

The Shape of Water Review

The Shape of Water is a movie that is almost impossible to review objectively because the entire reason for its existence is based on a deeply held set of socio-political ideologies designed to appeal to those who share these beliefs and alienate everybody else. Thus, no matter how I review this I'm going to end up pissing off half of you because I do actually need to give my opinion.

If you haven't heard about this one or just didn't watch the Oscars (which at this point is understandable) The Shape of Water is about a mute janitor named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) working at a laboratory in 1960s America where the scientists and military have just captured a fish monster that they believe will help them in the Cold War. However, Elisa begins to form an attachment to the character to the point where she falls in deep, and explicitly consummated, love with it.

Let's get the good out of the way first: it's a Guillermo Del Toro film so it's not only aesthetically pleas…

Carrie Review

Looking back on it now Carrie can pretty much be seen as a template for Stephen King's entire career onward: psychotic bullies, traumatized kid characters, mistaking cultic behavior with what he supposes to be fundamentalism and so on. However, Carrie wasn't just the blueprint for every book King would write for the rest of his life; it was also a pop-cultural touch stone that had a lasting effect on the rest of the horror genre, inspiring everything from Nightmare on Elm Street to Chronicle. When a film has that kind of legacy the question becomes not whether Carrie is a good movie in its own right, but whether it holds up after everything in the entertainment industry has picked its bones clean over the last 30+ years. The answer, thankfully, is absolutely.

The setup is that Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a timid girl who has been turned into a forceful shut-in by her cultic mother (Piper Laurie) and the constant torment of her sadistic classmates, barely kept sane by the ki…

Why, Christopher Robin?

This week, Disney released the first trailer to their upcoming film Christopher Robin, which I discovered, to my disappointment, was not a Finding Neverland style story of how the Winnie the Pooh books came to be, but rather a live-action sort-of sequel to the Winnie the Pooh mythos (I can't believe I just wrote the words "Winnie the Pooh mythos"). Normally, I would be all over another Winnie the Pooh movie; I've always had a soft spot in my hard, cynical heart for that stuffed bear and his other animal friends. They're all well-defined characters with big personalities, charming designs and go on wholesome adventures. However, I have a sinking feeling about this new Pooh movie and it's not just because Disney's live-action output since 2015 has been nothing but bland cash-grabbing. There are a few discomforting parts of this trailer that make me think that the Disney executive board (for that is who's actually making their movies nowadays, not the fi…

Red Sparrow Review

Bioshock Infinite Review

I've never actually reviewed a video game on this blog before, but it was either this or watching the 4 hour long director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven and I was not in the mood for that, not when there's Avatar to be binged.

The reason I've never reviewed a video game is because 1) I don't know a thing about game design whereas I've at least taken classes on film production and 2) even though I find video games to be an enjoyable pastime in and of themselves I have never found a game that was worth really digging into thematically or story wise. That is, until I played Bioshock Infinite. This isn't just a game I think is good; it's the game that I play when I need to remind myself that despite all the micro-payments and mindless multiplayer shooters flooding the market, gaming has just as much potential to be a platform for high art as any other medium. It's my gaming equivalent of Citizen Kane, the game that made me realize just how engrossing, crea…

Fight Club Review

I was originally going to do this weekend's review on 2001: A Space Odyssey, but between school and catching a decent night's sleep I couldn't really find time for watching a 3-hour long meditation on the existence of humanity. Then, I thought I could do a review on The Dark Knight, but nothing I could say about that felt too revelatory; everybody and their grandmother knows why that film was good and they don't need to hear it analyzed by everybody and a lackluster film student. So I was sitting around wondering what I could possibly do for this week's post when I saw my Blu-ray of Fight Club, untouched since the day I first took it out of the Best Buy bargain bin. My mind thusly made up, I popped it in and was treated to one of the bleakest film experiences I've ever had.

The premise is that our unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) is nihilistically tired of life and looking for something more fulfilling than sitting on his couch all day and ordering more furnitu…

Battle Royale Review

My immediate thought after watching Battle Royale is that it's a lot smarter than it needs to be from a financial standpoint. No matter how intelligent and sophisticated humanity likes to think it is it takes very little for us to be taken in by art with no value past fulfilling our most basic, primal desires. This can be evidenced by the popularity of such mediocrity as the Spartacus TV show and, alternatively, Sex and the City. My point in explaining all of that is to point out that if Battle Royale was just about a bunch of Japanese high schoolers forced to brutally slaughter each other in a dense forest with guns, knives, crossbows and swords it would've been a smash hit regardless of how little it had going on thematically. This makes the fact that the writers and director decided to make what could've just been another Japanese action film a sophisticated satire all the more admirable.

The premise might sound strangely familiar to those of you who were around during …

The Florida Project Review

I would describe The Florida Project as Lilo and Stitch if they took the sister dynamic in that movie to its realistic extreme. Both films are about a relationship between an adventurous and emotional little girl and their older, unstable female guardian that ultimately ends in tragedy. However, whereas the tragedy in Lilo and Stitch was diverged into a happy ending by typical Disney logic of "all endings must be happy endings", Florida Project almost feels like a slap in the face to that very concept and not just because it takes place right next to the Most Magical Place on Earth.

The premise is a lot more like a setup since the film doesn't have a plot or even story to speak of until the last 20 mins. Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) live in a dilapidated motel, managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), right next to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. The film chronicles the steadily declining emotional and mental states of its characters until it…

Planet of the Apes Review

I am of the mind that no matter how good Planet of the Apes is nothing would have come of it had the first film not been released in America during the 1960s, a time of massive social upheaval that sought to throw off traditional American standards held by the previous generation in favor of... well, nothing in particular. The film is fairly unsubtle about it's desire to appeal and pander to the beliefs and aesthetic tastes of a late 60s young adult American audience, who were more than likely looking for rebellious media that their parents definitely wouldn't approve of. Thus, when they heard about a film with an anti-fundamentalist message told through the imagery of monkeys, gun fights and women in animal-skin bikinis they turned it into a huge hit and ended up unintentionally launching a franchise.

Just in case you've been in a five decade long coma and are unfamiliar with the franchise the setup is that an astronaut named Taylor (Charlton Heston) crash lands out of hy…

A Fistful of Dollars Review

A Fistful of Dollars is a 1964 Spaghetti Western written and directed by Sergio Leone and cowritten by Adriano Bolzoni/Mark Lowell/Víctor Andrés Catena/Fernando Di Leo/Duccio Tessari/Jaime Comas Gil. The film is the first installment in what has become known as The Dollars Trilogy, though it was intended to only be a stand alone film. Though it was received negatively by critics upon its initial release, the film has since become viewed as a definitive work of the Western genre.

A mysterious Stranger (Clint Eastwood) wanders into a town in the midst of a war between two rival groups: a band of outlaws lead by two brothers and the family of the Sheriff. Thinking that he can make some profit off this battle, he starts playing both sides in the name of money and survival.

The first thing I should note is that unlike The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which had some swipes in the direction of anti-war messaging, this movie doesn't really have its eye on anything higher than to briefl…

Memories of Murder Review

Memories of Murder is a 2003 South Korean mystery drama written/directed by Bong Joon-ho and co-written by Kwang-rim Kim/Shim Sung-bo. The story for the film was based on the unsolved Zodiac murders from the 1970s.

A group of police officers try to solve a collection of sexually violent murders in the South Korean countryside. That's pretty much it as far as setup goes. According to Roger Ebert's review of the film the setup is used as an excuse to explore and critique different parts of South Korean society during the 1980s, but I never really picked up on that outside of a few instances like the constant abuse the police use in interrogating suspects and a demonstration against then president/dictator Chun Doo-hwan.

The characters are well-realized, but oddly developed. When they're first introduced they all have very definable personalities and attitudes towards their job. Detective Park (Kang-ho Song) is lazy and cuts corners to solve the case. Detective Seo (Kim …