Tag: Movie Review

Member Post

 

The film that this is based on what is thought of as a classic. “Ikiru” was once listed on “Sight and Sounds” poll of critics as the 12th greatest film of all time. The controversial 2022 version of the poll does not even have it in the top 100, which sounds like another reason to […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Movie Review: ‘A Man Called Otto’

 

I understand why film buffs get irritated when there is an English-language remake of a well-regarded foreign film. It seems disrespectful to the original, and suggests that American audiences are too lazy to read subtitles. The former is always going to be in the eye of the beholder, although most adaptions are probably done out of affection for the original work. If there are too many changes, it would support that conclusion. The latter is, in part, probably true. It does seem that foreign language films have difficulty reaching American audiences because subtitles are distracting and require a different sort of engagement.

The biggest reality, though, is that you need to adapt to the audience. American audiences are not so much unsophisticated as they are locked in their own paradigms. We relate more to familiar surroundings, to experiences that we are likely to encounter. We are a racially mixed culture, but there are enclaves within the broader culture that have limited experience with some parts of the world. Every writer, speaker, and artist who is trying to reach a particular audience knows that they need to craft their work in a way that the intended audience will respond to.

The source material for this Tom Hanks vehicle is a well-regarded Swedish film that was the highest-grossing foreign language film in the US the year it was released. It was nominated as the Best Non-English film by the Academy Awards that year. It brought in less than $3.5 million at the box office in the States. Assuming an average price of $10 a ticket, that means that it was seen by about 35,000 people in a theater in America. That is a small segment of the potential audience, regardless of why so few got around to seeing it. An English language remake gives the story a second bite of the apple and a chance to let the audience find it. If you want to criticize the film and compare its artistic merit to the original, that is fine, but first evaluate the film you are criticizing, rather than its reason for existence.

Movie Review: The Whale

 

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way immediately, yes, it is extremely likely that Brendan Fraser will follow Will Smith as the winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor. I don’t want to take anything away from his performance, but there is a sociological reason for this to happen in addition to the artistic achievement.

Fraser has been largely absent from the film world since his heyday twenty years ago. A story about his physical decline and about abuse by Hollywood entitled power players suggested a career that was largely in the rearview mirror. This is a comeback story, and the guy making a comeback is one of the most likable fellows you are going to encounter.

This is perhaps the perfect counter-programming to last year’s disastrous ceremony, where the eventual winner of the acting prize assaulted the host and was not removed from the venue but actually got up a few minutes later to receive an award that was overdue but was now clouded by controversy. Two years after presuming a win by the late Chadwick Boseman, only to be shown as craven exploiters of the emotional turmoil, the Academy needs a clear win for a popular player that will generate little controversy and much-needed goodwill.

Member Post

 

Director Damien Chazelle is a talented visualist with a love of style. His movies “La La Land” and “Whiplash” are two of my favorite films since I started blogging. So it is with regret that I must say “Babylon” is a misfire of gigantic proportions. This movie is visually audacious and simultaneously repugnant.  There are […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Movie Review: See How They Run

 

[I’m new here, so just to let you know, my reviews do not repeat the story of the film, and they are spoiler free with occasional warnings.]

It’s not every day you get a real farce on the big screen. Lots of films have elements of farce and are quite enjoyable as a consequence. In the last year, I would say “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “Free Guy” are two examples of action films that have farcical moments in them. Most Wes Anderson films also feature the concept of a light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation rather than upon the development of character. “See How They Run” has the advantage of actually being a film about a play, which is eventually revealed to be a sort of play in itself. That is what makes it a true farce as far as I am concerned.

The story concerns a murder that takes place during a negotiation to turn “The Mousetrap” into a movie. Those of you not familiar with the play simply need to know that it is an Agatha Christie murder mystery. It is also the longest-running play in the history of theater, starting in 1952 and still playing on the West End in London to this day. This movie is not a filmed version of the play, but rather a take off on the plot, using “The Mousetrap” as a sort of touchstone or spine for the mayhem. It mocks the machinations of old Hollywood and the manner in which filmmakers try to take material and rework it to their own vision. The real clause in the contract granting rights to a cinematic version states that such a film cannot be made until six months after the play closes in London. See how this is going to work?

Member Post

 

When I was a boy, I wanted to be an astronaut. My favorite TV program was “Lost in Space.” I remember fervently praying that I would be allowed to be someone who could travel to distant stars. [I became a theologian instead. Some may see a connection there. 😊] Coupled with my space odyssey, I […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Movie Review: The Burning Moon

 

What’s the best horror movie tagline?

In space, no one can hear you scream”? “Who will survive and what will be left of them?” “Be afraid, be very afraid”? When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth”? All good guesses, and we could spend this whole post listing these, but I’d like to give the honor to Intervision’s DVD release of German indie, The Burning Moon, which boasts:

Uncut. Uncensored. Unconscionable.

Member Post

 

Warning: Spoilers! !resliopS :gninraW             I don’t mean this as a proper review of Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s time-bending action epic currently in theaters. On most elements of the film I have little to add to what seems to be the critical consensus. It’s a superbly cast, well acted visual triumph that desperately needs subtitles. As […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Gosnell: Averting Our Eyes From a Serial Killer

 

http://wilkesbarrescrantonig.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2013/07/Kermit-Gosnell.jpgGosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer is must-see cinema. It reveals very inconvenient truths, from which we, as a society, have averted our eyes and stopped our ears. For many years, in Philadelphia, poor women, and their newborn infants, were prey to a serial killer, given license to kill by state authorities. When police stumbled upon the killer’s lair, in a prescription drug raid, the powers of the state, and the media, were bent towards denying or disappearing the truth. This is not fiction. The killer, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was convicted on three counts of first degree murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter, and a mind-numbing number of lesser charges. Go see this movie, to understand what is really driving the battle for the Supreme Court.

Be assured, this PG-13 film does not contain blood and gore. Instead, the filmmakers skillfully convey outrage and horror, through the actors’ reactions, to things the camera slides past. Among the talent involved, Andrew Klavan wrote the teleplay, Nick Searcy directed, and the husband and wife team of Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, wrote the screenplay and produced. The movie was crowdfunded through Indiegogo, raising $2.3 million dollars after Kickstarter dumped them, allegedly for political reasons.

Gosnell makes the absolute most of its limited budget. This is no Hallmark movie. It is no Christian schlock movie. It is a small masterpiece.

Desperately Seeking Peter Rabbit: Sony Pictures Misses the Mark

 

Following swiftly upon the heels of Netflix’s much panned Anne of Green Gables: Sturm und Drang (Not the title of the film, but you get the idea), in which her mean adoptive father dies of a heart attack after beating Anne senseless, a creepy man with suggestions of molester or pedophile almost kidnaps her before she is saved by the film’s conflicted and bizarre incarnation of Matthew Cuthbert, the patriarchy is strong in the person of the local vicar who wants Anne to stay at home and “learn proper housekeeping until she marries,” and there are undertones of mania and overtones of lesbianism breaking out all over the place.

OK, that first paragraph wasn’t exactly a sentence (I see that, Ricochet Editor), but I got so worked up about the violence done to a beloved childhood classic that I was in danger of losing the thread (not a feeling I’m used to), or of becoming, at the very least, undiagrammable (a cardinal sin). So, best quit while I’m ahead.

Now we have the new “Peter Rabbit” movie which, as far as I can see, has almost nothing to do with Beatrix Potter, and almost everything to do with “play[ing] to a modern audience for a family film by turning the movie into a joke machine with the subtlety of a manic Madagascar movie,” according to this review from Tulsa World.

Dunkirk

 

I just returned from watching Dunkirk with my eldest.  I refrained from reading any reviews of it in advance, just so I could form my own opinion.  Spoilers ahead, so be warned.

Actual photo of the beach at Dunkirk

The film is somewhat disorienting to watch.  You are following 4 different stories, set at different paces, as they all race towards their intersection.  The stories all begin at the start of the film, but one is set over a blurred week of attempted escapes, one picks up in the middle of the first, one a day before, and one begins a mere hour before the climax (the film informs you of this time difference in captions – 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour).  The stories all intersect at last in the arrival of the first small craft from the UK at Dunkirk, and mostly run contiguous until the end.

Member Post

 

After a longer hiatus this time because of writing projects, SNCFs is back because there is no football on!  Guys, you need me now more than ever to help you maintain your relationships with your ladies. Remember, SNCFs is about movies she will like, and you can at least tolerate. Nonetheless, I found myself liking […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Because You Asked For It, Is Why

 

By popular demand: my review of Fifty Shades Darker. Warning: Spoilers, Dirty Stuff.

This is the second installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, with The Boy Billionaire Who Has Time for All Kinds of Bull[expletive] and The Girl Who Puts On Five Percent Too Much Lipstick. So, it’s no Empire Strikes Back. I’m putting this here because some people evidently thought this was worth reading for the sexy foodie sex stuff. They do eat a few salads and things, but it’s not like this is a food erotica movie. There is one food preparation scene. They go grocery shopping. They bring the food back to make dinner. He’s cutting up a bell pepper and she leans across him in a suggestive way a couple of times. Now if this were a movie from the ’40s, and we hadn’t already seen these two do a dozen weird, kinky things in the first installment, there might have been some energy, some sparks. But it’s just dull and dead.

Also, it’s weird how he cuts up the bell pepper. I wonder if this was a conscious choice on the part of Jamie Dornan, because he hacks it up so clumsily that I thought a cut-finger-blood-drinking scene was coming, but no, he gets through the bell pepper okay. Is he trying to depict The Billionaire as someone who doesn’t do little things like that for himself? I dunno. Then they do the sex and she wakes him up and says there’s nothing but cold stir-fry for breakfast. Which is stupid because they went grocery shopping and she totally could have gotten some eggs or something.

Member Post

 

Brooklyn is a romantic period drama that came out last year, based on the 2009 novel of the same name. It wasn’t a smash hit (the Honest Trailers video for the Oscar nominees made the following crack about Brooklyn: “I’ll be honest. I haven’t seen Brooklyn, and neither have you. You can only see so many movies”), but […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

You Only Live Twice is the fifth outing for Bond and certainly his most uneven to that point. The movie opens on a United States “Jupiter” space capsule orbiting the earth only to have a menacing shape come up from behind. The front opens and the shape resolves into a rival space craft that captures […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

Recently there’s been a recurring roiling controversy in the Member Feed in which Ricochetti have been arguing and commenting on a matter of vital national interest. I speak of the many posts about Bond, James Bond. I am alarmed and dismayed to see so many wrong opinions about this topic on Ricochet and will assiduously endeavor […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

“The Martian” Is Thrilling, Surprisingly Funny, and Scientifically Accurate

 

The_Martian_film_posterThe Martian features Matt Damon as NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who with a six-member crew including commanding officer Jessica Chastain, is on a month-long science mission on the beautifully desolate surface of Mars. Of course, one month is only the planned duration of their stay on the surface; the deep space transit to and from Mars takes several hundred days each way, which becomes important later in the film.

We enter the story partway into the surface mission. The crew is collecting Martian soil samples when NASA sends them an urgent message about an impending storm. The storm is apparently so severe that the rocket which is supposed to lift the crew back into space at the end of their mission won’t survive the harsh winds on the ground. So the crew is forced to abort their surface mission and perform a hasty emergency launch. In the rush and confusion, Watney is left behind, presumed dead. All of this introductory material is completed in a very breezy few minutes, plunging us right into the survival story.

Damon is charming, self-deprecating, full of creativity, and despite the all the rational reasons to believe himself doomed, he remains confident in his training and problem-solving abilities. He shows well-earned pride of accomplishment and just the kind of cockiness you’d expect from a flyboy as he conquers the litany of challenges thrown at him by the deserted red planet, including lack of breathing air, food shortages, transportation, weather, and communication. However, the film seems to gloss over his coming-to-grips with his extremely perilous situation. Instead, it jumps ahead several weeks, thereby depriving us of the opportunity to watch Damon experience the full range of emotions you’d expect from a marooned spaceman, including grief, denial, anger, resentment, loneliness, despair, and hopelessness — especially in light of the events that stranded him there. We see a lot of footage of Damon entertaining himself by making smart remarks into a camera, and he is often hilarious. But there is little sense that he feels alone or lonely at all (in contrast with, say, Sam Rockwell’s performance in Moon), which reduces the euphoria we should feel when he finally re-establishes communication with NASA. Perhaps it is this unworldly optimism that helped keep him alive.

Member Post

 

It turns out there are people who doubt the existence of themselves. Ex Machina sounds like a smart movie. Prof. Anil Seth, the author of this review in the New Scientist, writes smartly about the movie and its take on the field of artificial intelligence. I definitely plan to see this movie, which (according to […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.