Hello, everyone! I’m back at home for Thanksgiving break, which means I’ve had lots of time to sleep all day and write all night, and of course, catch up on my movie viewing. Last night I watched The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and also his most self-indulgent. Now I love Inglourious Basterds and Django and the Kill Bills because they have a slick, stylized violence to them, as well as clever dialogue and dynamic characters you can’t help but root for, even in their debauchery. But Hateful Eight is like a recipe gone wrong. On the surface you have all of the Tarantino trademarks, the blood, the punchy dialogue, the memorable protagonists, but the end of the film leaves you feeling empty and a tad robbed. Why, you may ask, does Tarantino’s latest film fail to satisfy? I say it’s because of bad editing, both of the actual footage and of the concept. Tarantino is certainly an auteur, and usually his quirky touch is heavy in all the right ways, but in this film I finally felt the weight of his ideas crashing down. So let’s dive into some of the reasons that Hateful Eight succeeds, and some of the reasons it really, really fails.
Continue reading The Hateful Eight Is Tarantino Run Amok
Hello, everyone! More than a year ago, I wrote a review of Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, which I praised for being a straight-forward recollection of Walls’ neglectful and border-line abusive childhood. While the film adaptation, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton of Short Term 12, is a lovingly made, often touching film, it doesn’t carry the same boldness of its source material. Neither work points fingers, but Cretton’s adaptation tries to find forgiveness in a story that doesn’t deserve it. In trying to force a sappy happy ending, Cretton turns a blunt, complex memoir into a boilerplate Hollywood sob story.
Continue reading The Glass Castle Is A Rose-Tinted Adaptation
Hello, everyone! Having just seen The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola’s latest film for which she won Best Director at Cannes, I’m left feeling confused. To say the film is good or bad oversimplifies the matter; it simply feels half baked. Coppola’s take on author Thomas Cullinan’s novel is lush, beautiful to behold, and potent with tension, but it’s held back by flawed pacing. Coppola is skilled at crafting slow, atmospheric movies like Lost in Translation, but while that film’s anti-climactic ending was a perfect period to its meandering plot, The Beguiled has an explosion of climax with too much rising action and almost no resolution balance to it out. Whether the fault in pacing is due to the source material (I’ve never read the book so I can’t comment) or due to Coppola’s own directorial choices remains to be seen, but the result is a film that feels as incomplete as General McBurney’s amputated leg.
Continue reading The Beguiled Values Style Over Substance
Hello, everyone! In light of the mockery resulting from the leaked Joss Whedon Wonder Woman script, I thought I would focus on the reasons why Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman works as a showcase of empowered female independence, instead of all the reasons that Whedon’s does not. Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, once to watch it without criticism, and the second time to watch it objectively. And while I agree that the film has a few flaws, I’m hard pressed to call it anything less than a fantastic movie. It’s beautifully, energetically shot, the characterization is compelling, the relationships are realistic and engaging, and the aesthetic details from the set design to the costumes to the hairstyling are a feast for the eyes. These elements, however, are only part of what makes Wonder Woman worth the watch. What separates this film from the rest of the billion dollar superhero movies is that, for perhaps the first time, Wonder Woman portrays a woman as she might see herself. That’s a perspective that’s not only rare to see in superhero movies, but in any Hollywood film.
Continue reading Wonder Woman Is The Hero We Need And The One We Deserve
Hello, everyone! I’ve written before in my posts about how I think Marvel movies have all become formulaic, heartless, soul-sucking cash grabs, so I guess it’s no surprise that the Guardians franchise has succumbed to that paint-by-numbers scheme too. The first film was surprisingly witty and heartfelt, and managed to make the origin story of a group of unfamiliar, oddball assholes endearing. Not to mention, the soundtrack was fantastic. Vol.2 also has a killer soundtrack, but the wit and heart are harder to find. There’s a great movie in here somewhere, but it’s lost amidst $200 million worth of special effects and a plot so familiar that even the journey isn’t very fun.
Continue reading The Second Guardians of the Galaxy Is A Muddled Sequel
Hello, everyone! Sorry for the extra long gap between posts. I hate to leave you hanging with a strange ode/critique to Taylor Swift. After writing that article I listened to Swift’s entire discography. Whether you find that to be sweet or alarming is really up to your opinion on the singer, but I gotta say, she makes sad bus rides go a lot faster. On a completely unrelated topic, tonight I watched Colossal for the last screening of my film analysis class. It’s such a bizarre, unique film that I’m not sure whether it deserves praise or ridicule. Perhaps that’s why it succeeds. It doesn’t play it safe or even try to be normal. Colossal wears its heart on its sleeve, with endearing and annoying results. In a marketplace filled with lukewarm comedies and robotic blockbusters, Colossal is more than sincere enough to make up for its flaws.
Continue reading Colossal Is Weird, But Worth The Watch
Hello, everyone! Sorry for the month long delay between posts. If you couldn’t guess, it’s because my spring semester has been as chaotic as Donald Trump’s presidency and I’ve only just found my footing. Last Friday I saw Rings, the third installment in the American adaptation of the Japanese Ringu. A completely mediocre movie through and through, Rings adds nothing to the franchise but derivative storytelling, lousy acting, and a serving of warmed-over creepiness. By updating the premise for the digital age, the film draws attention to its own fading relevance.
Continue reading Rings Is A Movie Without An Identity
A continuing segment in which Lily, intrepid blogger, goes head to head with the most dastardly of foes: Rotten Tomatoes. Group-think be damned! In this segment, we look at the panned Morten Tyldum movie Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. Who will win? Hint: it’s Lily.
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Passengers proves Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence work well together — and that even their chemistry isn’t enough to overcome a fatally flawed story.
Continue reading Screw the Critics #3: Passengers
Hello, everyone! A few days ago I watched The Dressmaker, which is a perfect example of a movie ruined by a single scene. Apart from that single scene, the movie is eccentric and unwieldy, but still a jaunty story to follow. A story of fashion and fiery revenge, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film is beautiful, but marred by mistakes.
Continue reading The Dressmaker Is Haute, But Messy
Hello, everyone! Today the somber task falls upon me to write a review about a movie that I wanted to love, but couldn’t. That movie is La La Land, a musical drama that is neither wholly musical nor wholly drama. Damien Chazelle’s sophomore feature is not a bad movie in any way, but it doesn’t have the passion or originality of its predecessor Whiplash. Its homages to iconic musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg show the film’s adoration for the magic of Old Hollywood, but they also prove that loving references can show how a movie like La La Land pales in comparison to the fantastic originals. The film is beautiful, fun, and witty, with powerful performances from both leads, but unlike other musical classics, it doesn’t transcend.
Continue reading La La Land Brings The Music, But No Musical