mercredi 21 décembre 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — A worthy member of the saga — 7*/10

  • Overall: Great entertainment with strong special effects and lots of action. Epic adventure with an epic ending.
  • Who is it for? Anyone who like sci-fi even a little bit, and, of course, the fans.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen.
  • Cameos: James Earl Jones.
  • Setting: A long time ago in a galaxy far far away...
  • Style: Epic sci-fi adventure.
  • Pacing: Fast. Even a bit too fast.
  • Intro: One of the weak spots. We jump from place to place without having a good feel of where we are or where we're going. Some emotions are also lost. Beyond that, it's pretty interesting.
  • Story: Lots of things happening, but all in a very linear fashion. Still, it's difficult not to get into it and be transported. It made the rebellion and the socio-political framework a lot more real than Episode IV ever could.
  • Ending: It's strongest part to be sure. The choices are epic. Extremely satisfying.
  • Epilogue: None. Yeah!
  • Dialogs: Solid. Nothing imaginative. Loved the new android, although not giving percentages felt wrong for his character.
  • Characters: They steered away from the archetypical stereotypes, for the most part. That felt really good. Although it's difficult at first, by the end of the film, you have a great feel for them.
  • Acting: I'm not sure if it's due to the fact that things were so compressed that almost no scene, to a few exceptions, really did not allow the actors to show their natural emotional depth, but it gave me the impression that they underperformed. Even though they were satisfactory, I've seen them do better in other movies. It was great to hear James Earl Jones once again, but he seemed to have lost some of this aplomb. His lines were delivered a little more mushily. All of that being said, best Star Wars acting ever, better than Episode VII (read my short review here).
  • Visuals: Well done, sometimes breathtaking. The best was the tropical battle.
  • Special Effects: Great, to the very notable exception of the animation of Tarkin. The other characters they brought back from Episode IV fared much better. They were more simply cut and pasted.
  • Score: Loved the old parts. Not so sure about the newest ones. Hated the new title score, awkward at best.
  • Afterthoughts: My initial slight disappointment turned into delighted entertainment and I do not regret paying full price.

mardi 20 décembre 2016

Collateral Beauty — Beautiful sentimental piece that could have been more — 6*/10

  • Overall: You'll be touched, you'll be captivated, but you might be disappointed if you’re expecting something different.
  • Who is it for? Anyone looking for something emotional, but simple and slick.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Michael Peña.
  • Setting: New York middle upper class.
  • Style: Emotional story designed to give you a sad smile.
  • Intro: It's not bad, per se, it's just straight from the standard mold and it's that particular trick woefully unnecessary.
  • Story: Extremely interesting ideas, full of nice details and even a few side stories that are well built. Touching.
  • Ending: Weak. Not because it's not good or uninteresting, but really, why? That was a good idea, but not nearly imaginative enough to be as good as the core of the story.
  • Epilogue: Could have done without that. It was already pretty clear without it.
  • Dialogs: Solid. Intelligent. Sometimes witty or funny.
  • Characters: Well developed. Nice depth, even if a few of them are archetypes.
  • Acting: Excellent, although Will Smith looks like he has been there and has done that and I think the little girl's father-hating phase sublimated too quickly, but I blame the director for that. Loved Edward Norton and Helen Mirren.
  • Visuals: Beautiful, on the too-slick side.
  • Afterthoughts: I loved it, but I was still disappointed because the ending just wasn't up to the quality of the rest of the flick.

dimanche 18 décembre 2016

Office Christmas Party — The kind of crazy thing that's perfect to pick you up — 6*/10

  • Overall: Turn your brain off and enjoy this fun ride. You won't be able to help yourself, you'll laugh. 
  • Who is it for? Anyone in the mood for some Holiday cheers.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer and Abbey Lee.
  • Story: Extremely simple, silly, wacky, crazy, oft time impossible, but always funny. There's some action, a lot of booze, many naked people and urinal jokes, literally. 
  • Ending: Of course, it's a Christmas story, so you can imagine. 
  • Dialogs: Witty, funny, stupid.
  • Characters: Simple, but very funny. Lots of crazy people.
  • Acting: This is where the movie shines, this is how all the silliness and craziness get sold, and how!
  • Afterthoughts: Great entertainment, I absolutely had the best of time.

mercredi 14 décembre 2016

Miss Sloane — A powerful piece about a powerful woman — 9*/10

  • Overall: Great psychological tension and superb intellectual puzzles that features a strong female model.
  • Who is it for? Everyone. 
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Jessica Chastain and John Lithgow.
  • Cameos
  • Setting: The high power political arena.
  • Style: An intrigue or suspense, but quite either and a mostly both. It's great. Very intellectual.
  • Pacing: Perfect. You lose yourself in it.
  • Intro: Even though it uses an old trick, it does it with great impact. 
  • Story: Captivating, full of details, suspenseful, powerful, a great intellectual battle with amazing plots and counter plots. The mood is amazing and enveloping. 
  • Ending: Excellent. If you're quick enough, you'll see it coming a little while beforehand, just long enough to appreciate the stratagem.
  • Epilogue: Short, to the point. Even though it doesn't serve any purpose, it does settle us back down, which should be the only goal of any good epilogue. 
  • Dialogs: Powerful.
  • Characters: Strong female lead, powerful women's voices, lots of depth to them all, well developed and very realistic. 
  • Acting: Amazing.
  • Visuals: Powerful.
  • Camera Work: Some really superb work here.
  • Costumes: Slick, chic and perfect.
  • Afterthoughts: I was stunned, even if I anticipated something good. What surprised me the most was the way it passed its ethical stances without sounding preachy.

I loved the fact that male sex work for female clients was so simply presented without drama or judgment. The male escort is kind of an incompetent and invasive, but at least it turned out alright.

I can't believe this is rated so low. Patriarchy at its worst again?

Manchester by the Sea — For those in need of an emotional flick — 8*/10

  • Overall: Very emotional drama with interesting ideas and unusual choices. Great, but for a single detail.
  • Who is it for? Anyone wanting to feel something powerful.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Casey Affleck.
  • Setting: Low-middle class small town America.
  • Style: Emotional drama.
  • Pacing: Slow.
  • Story: Well told, with strong emotional ties between the characters. However, there's barely any change in them as the story progresses. It kills the possibility of a story, it turns the film more into an anecdote than a movie.
  • Ending: It ends too realistically. I rarely say that, but it made me think too much of a biography, because there is no real ending. It sort of just stops. Even historical movies do better. It might be courageous to do so, but you still need to be able, as an audience, to be left with something or else you have no attachment and you just forget about it.
  • Dialogs: Very realistic. Powerful.
  • Characters: Impressive emotional depth and solid realism.
  • Acting: Perfect. Very realistic. Casey Affleck's best performance to date.
  • Score: Very classical with great effect, but sometimes, it can take you by surprise or be a bit repetitive.
  • Afterthoughts: As I watched, I could sense a great movie in the making, with only a few weak spots, but the ending, just... I won't say it ruined it, but it did diminish its accomplishment.

mercredi 7 décembre 2016

Bad Santa 2 — So much better than I would have ever thought — 7*/10

  • Overall: If you can get through the first 30 minutes, then you'll discover a twisted crass comedy.
  • Who is it for? Anyone that's not too easily offended. You'll have a lot of fun.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox and Christina Hendricks.
  • Cameos: Mike Starr.
  • Setting: Low-life criminals.
  • Style: Irreverent crass criminal comedy.
  • Intro: Very bad. You can think of all the worst clichés about a sequel you can imagine and they've all been put there.  The first 30 minutes is awful and pathetic.
  • Story: Once you get over the boring big hump in the beginning, then you get to the juicy funny part. It's a riot, it doesn't care what it's doing, it's very much sex-positive, very empowering for women and there's plenty of surprises.
  • Ending: I liked the final twists. They're fun.
  • Epilogue: Loved it. There's the predictable stuff, then there's the hilarious bit, although I would have left out the pillow grabbing that's just a stupid awkwardly done misdirection.
  • Dialogs: Very funny.
  • Characters: Stupid, simple and very interesting. By the end, you finally understand the kid, but at first, it's totally dumbfounding. I especially loved the female roles.
  • Acting: Solid for the most part.
  • Afterthoughts: I only saw it because I like the irreverence of the first one (read my review here). I'm glad I did, it surprised me a lot and I laughed aplenty. An excellent surprise.

Hacksaw Ridge — An amazingly well-told story of World War II — 9*/10

  • Overall: Much better than the previews let on. A captivating story from end to end. A superb work by director Mel Gibson.
  • Who is it for? Anyone not afraid of violence.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington.
  • Setting: Working class America and one World War II Pacific island battle.
  • Style: An inspiring war movie and biography.
  • Pacing: Nice and smooth transition from one event to the other, slowly cranking up the heat.
  • Intro: It's probably its most grievous weakness. The initial scene is an overused stratagem that is not used to its best here.
  • Story: I was riveted. I forgot I was in a theater. Let me be clear, though, all the elements of a cheesy story are there, but they're deconstructed, or maybe I should simply say they were put back together for the benefit of the preview. In a way it's a good thing, because by watching the it, you're not spoiled the really delicious elements. No single things follow the usual script, they're always a wild card or . It's touching, it's gut wrenching, it will make you spill a few tears. It's inspiring.
  • Ending: Solid. Worthy of fiction.
  • Epilogue: One of the rare occasions where I didn't mind the comparison with the real people.
  • Dialogs: Great.
  • Characters: Amazing. Great depth and well rendered. Even though the main character is religious, it doesn't turn into a preachy flick. More than that, even though those are American troops, it doesn't turn into a USA rally. It's a personal story. The story of one man dedicated to his principles and the battalion he's in with.
  • Acting: Can't ask for more. Near perfect.
  • Visuals: Excellent.
  • Special Effects: They're good, but there are a number of occasions that you do feel that you are in a studio. Hugo Weaving’s best performance to date. Probably not Vince Vaughn's most convincing, but pretty good.
  • Afterthoughts: I wasn't going to see it because it looked preachy and full of clichés. I would have missed a gem.

jeudi 1 décembre 2016

Nocturnal Animals — A psychological movie you should open your mind to — 10*/10

  • Overall: A masterfully brooding, riveting, yet beautiful film by Tom Ford.
  • Who is it for? Anyone who likes a good moody movie.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Isla Fisher.
  • Cameos: Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen.
  • Setting: The very successful. Way above the masses.
  • Style: Brooding, psychological near suspense.
  • Pacing: An incredible almost continuous stop-and-go. It feels slow, really slow, like being stuck in thick molasse, because what happens is so tense and it doesn't happen all at once. Nonetheless, things proceed at a steady pace, inescapably, sometimes against our will.
  • Intro: The credits are difficult to watch, because we don't like that kind of harsh reality, but also because movies usually convey only beauty even when it's ugly.
  • Story: It takes you to the edge, tensed, and suspends you there for what seems like a long time. You can't help, but be on this edge... and finally jump. Then, it takes you down slowly into reality, making you see that not everything is as you'd like it to be. I love the way the stories are mixed and paralleled. The mood is masterful. Some scenes are difficult, gut wrenching. You would want to do anything but what happened. Still it is riveting.
  • Ending: Absolutely perfect.
  • Epilogue: None, whatsoever. Love it!
  • Dialogs: Powerful, simple, to the point.
  • Characters: Great, realistic, extremely deep and well developed. 
  • Acting: Amazingly strong.
  • Visuals: Incredibly beautiful in a very pure manner,  but also in a realistic way.
  • Costumes: Beautiful.
  • Score: Very moody. Perfect.
  • Afterthoughts: I was blown away by this production and absolutely loved it. Only two little things bothered me. Unfortunately, it panders to two ideas we too often circulate in society that are completely false and make a lot of people miserable. First that we always turn into our parents. Second, that if we love someone we should try everything to make it work. Beyond that, I think it's perfect.

Moana — Colorful animation full of laughs that could have been much better — 6*/10

  • Overall: The setting is interesting, beautiful and captivating, but its story is simple. 
  • Who is it for? The kids will love it, but adults will be able to appreciate it.
  • Synopsis & information
  • Known actors: Dwayne Johnson.
  • Cameos: Alan Tudyk.
  • Setting: This is where the strength of this film resides, great presentation of the Pacific island culture.
  • Style: Colorful adventure animation for kids.
  • Intro: Nicely done.
  • Story: Rather simple, too many songs. Funny, though.
  • Ending: Interesting resolution, if simple.
  • Epilogue: Interesting. There's even a little thing after the credits, which is not really necessary to see, it's just a nice joke.
  • Dialogs: Very funny.
  • Characters: Strong female lead as heroin. Extremely funny sidekick and companion, even the companion's sidekick idea is great.
  • Acting: Good.
  • Visuals: Colorful. Very strong. Full of details. 
  • Special Effects: I saw only one mistake.
  • Afterthoughts: I liked it and was pleasantly entertained, but I was also disappointed that the story, including the ending, felt so light.