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Archive | September, 2019

Ad Astra Review

26 Sep

Of two minds about this one – on the one hand, you can absolutely tell where the studio execs butted in, and that absolutely brings down the film. The constant on the nose voiceover, the on the nose dialogue, the useless Liv Tyler character who deserved better…it’s all in service of an emotional journey that would have been better off with more showing than telling. Regardless, though, Pitt does a wonderful job with a tough character and, in my opinion, accomplishes what Ryan Gosling was trying to do in First Man but couldn’t. The fact that Gray still manages to draw out so much emotion from a constantly hacked at story is a testament to his talent – this is one of those rare films where the emotional crux of the story doesn’t quite land 100%, but everything around it makes it feel like it does. It doesn’t hurt that Hoytema and Richter do an incredible job, as expected, and that Pitt carries the film on his shoulders. It’s good, not quite great, but I’m really glad this got the release that it did.

GRADE: B

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Hustlers Review

14 Sep

This is a really solid piece of entertainment all around, though it starts to get a bit tedious and repetitive once the actual hustling begins. I know it’s necessary to an extent, but I’ve always found the police angle, ie characters getting investigated/caught, to be a form of dramatic tension that filmmakers just take at face value – when in reality, there’s a lot that needs to be done to make that resonate. Here, we don’t get enough insight into most of the characters’ lives aside from broadly sketched personalities, resulting in the audience not feeling the full weight of some of the major developments in their lives (financial crash, hustling going wrong, getting investigated, etc). Even Wu’s character is pretty rudimentary, and the whole flashback framework the film uses with her character is ill advised and unnecessary.

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Ford v Ferrari Review

7 Sep

Think of everything you know about this movie, then close your eyes and imagine how it will play out. Congrats, you’ve pretty much nailed it!

This is as formulaic structure-wise as they come, and even some of the more emotional moments feel manufactured according to a sports biopic manual. The film makes a mediocre attempt at fleshing out the characters outside of their relationship to racing, but it eventually realizes that its strengths lie in the racing itself. The racing sequences are legitimately thrilling. It’s immaculate on a technical level, with the sound mixing, editing, and score responsible for most of the overall experience. On screen, Bale also elevates the material with yet another smarmy but likable performance. Overall, as cliched as it is, it’s still entertaining, and it still knows how to hit every predictable beat with full force.

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Brittany Runs a Marathon Review

5 Sep

Yikes. I’m all for giving first time filmmakers a chance, but at least make sure he or she is a right fit for the project (and knows how to write a screenplay). Being friends with the subject isn’t enough, sorry. It’s painfully clear that this is a debut – the dialogue is terrible and chock full of heavy handed exposition throughout, scenes end at strange times and are stitched together awkwardly, and the screenplay really struggles to organically weave all the supporting characters into the story. It’s also tonally all over the place. Bell is decent and there are some funny moments, but everyone and everything is just kinda…bad. It’s also uncomfortably mean spirited at times and strays way too close to undercutting its own message, so it’s an even harder pass for me. What a ridiculous overspend by Amazon. Also, Michaela Watkins just makes me miss Casual.

To the cast and filmmakers: please stop your “it was never about the weight, it was about what was inside the whole time!” spiel. I’m sure it’s well intentioned but it’s actually quite problematic.

GRADE: C

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