Movie Reviews

See also Videogame Reviews.

This is a (perpetually incomplete!) personal list of movies I watched at some point in my life, arranged in the order in which I remember them. It is also a vehicle for personal, one-paragraph reviews for each movie and a rating system purposefully built to be as vague and inconsistent as possible. If I were to make entries any longer I would necessarily have to write a long-form version of my thoughts, which would be more adequate for a separate article anyway. The list also includes documentaries because documentaries are film after all.

The List

-Polar (2019): Based on a graphic novel, it's Mads Mikkelsen being Mads Mikkelsen in an action-comedy film about a soon-to-retire assassin being chased by his own organization over a nefarious plot to withhold every employee's retirement funds while he also begins to bond over his orphan neighbor in the middle of rural Montana. Likeable character design and not entirely boring but nothing to write home about. 2/4.

-Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003, dir. Peter Jackson): I guess it's good, but with like any derivative work the filmmaker has to break through the notion that the baseline appeal will be young people exposed to the franchise for the first time or people already exposed to the books, and from there make it appealing for the rest of the audience. Because I don't fit in either of those categories (when I was a kid a friend invited me to watch the third movie and it never occurred to me to tell him I haven't watched the previous two, only watched the first two as an adult, and couldn't get through the books at all), it's up to Jackson to try to convince me they're good movies. They kind of are —they're a great cinematographical example of worldbuilding and exposition, and indubitably grandiose for a movie series of that time— but I don't have the deep-seated connection everyone seems to have with them. Maybe you will, if you're willing to sit through the ~11 hours of the combined extended editions of each. 2.29/4.

-John Wick (2014): The return of not only Keanu Reeves, but western Wuxia as a whole. Titular John Wick is a retired assassin that goes on a bottom-to-top rampage against the Russian mafia because they killed his puppy. The message here is that revenge is good, I guess. Very fun, enthralling worldbuilding through a predominantly-visual exposition. 3.6/4.

-John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017): John Wick is dragged back to the killing business due to more worldbuilding technicalities set by the network of the Assassins' Underground and is quickly dragged as the fall guy in a conspiracy to overtake said Assassins' Underground. No message here, just ramping the violence and the martials arts coreography up. Lawrence Fishburne shows up in this one which is always a pleasant thing to see. 2.8/4.

-John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019): John Wick is now on the run after his excommunication from the Assassins' Underground. He goes to Morocco, rides a horse, gets shot at, the usual. At this point you're expected to like the character of John Wick so don't expect much else from the movie other than fun and rooting for the protagonist. 2/4.

-Joker (2019): A new origin story for the Batman villain set in fucked-up early 80s New York Gotham City. What was touted online before release as some sort of incel manifesto in video form turned out to be a rather competent piece of commentary on class struggle and mental health. Joaquin Phoenix kills it. 3.2/4.

-El Camino (2019): Breaking Bad's epilogue. Pointless if you haven't watched the show, it's really just a longform episode. 1.8/4.

-Brat (1997): Russian neo-noir at its finest and a cult film both in and out of the country. Peripathetic protagonist Danila finds his way through a (realistically) derelict post-Soviet Leningrad Saint Petersburg and is dragged into his brother's hitman business. Feels very slow because most of the movie consists of Danila stumbling around the city but doesn't necessarily translate as boring. 3.55/4.

-Midsommar (2019): Certainly not Ari Aster's best and certainly not A24's best, but still an pleasantly unsettling horror experience. A bunch of Americans go to a traditional rural village in Sweden and murderous hijinks ensue. Because the plot itself reveals painfully little the whole thing is open to a lot of critical interpretation, from the clash of American urban hyperrationalism and the traditionality of the foreign and the rural, to some inconsequential analysis of white supremacy or whatever. In reality it turns out the director was inspired after breaking up with his girlfriend so the whole thing is actually an allegory of grief and crumbling relationships which I guess only works if you're coming in with a “men are trash” mentality because otherwise it just falls flat. 2.1/4.

-The Lighthouse (2019): Two guys (Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe) tending to a lighthouse, filmed in black and white and 1.19:1 ratio somehow without being pretentious about it. Arthouse psychological thriller, I could go on and on about the quotes and memes that came out of this but it would really take away from just how gorgeous and fantastic this movie iHURRAH ME YALLER GIRLS DOODLE LET ME GOOOOO. 4/4.

-Jean de Florette (1986): French period drama about two guys in rural Provence trying to fleece an nouveau riche urbanite out of a farmhouse he inherited so they can grow carnations on it. From quaint to funny to sad in record time, you're bound to come out of it *feeling*, though it's as slow as a 1981 French movie can get (which isn't necessarily bad in this case, but that's where your personal sensibilities apply). 3.66/4.

-Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019): Tarantino's characteristic style-over-substance methodology applied to the turbulent history of the bubbling movie industry in 1960s' Los Angeles. Pure cinematographical expertise at play, director's vision applied in every single detail, but probably pointless if you don't know about movies in general or the history of (American) film. A ton of memorable scenes but not memorable as a whole. 2.2/4.

-Parasite (2019): Korean director Bong Joon-Ho is no stranger to transparent references to social inequality, but this one is probably the best-executed one. A poor family bullshits their way into being employed by a bourgeois family as a final push to escape their socioeconomical fate. There's a precise before and after in the movie where it switches from comedy to thriller drama which does wonders for keeping engagement and connection with essentially every single character. If you can feel a connection with the facial expressions of the protagonists then you know this movie got you. Won Best Movie at the Oscars but considering all the praise it received from the people the movie was supposed to admonish and ridicule I think it was the Academy congratulating itself for the discovery that Koreans are human. 3.9/4.

-Color Out of Space (2019): Adaptation of the Lovecraft tale, I remember several attempts at trying to get this on film falling flat in several different ways but this one was an enthusiastic shot at it that paid off well. Nicolas Cage stars in this one and absolutely kills it. I watched it on a CRT so I missed out on the insane visuals at the end though. 2.15/4

-1917 (2019): Good story, good acting, good cinematography (the movie is, essentially, two continuous shots) and good representation of WWI trench warfare. Two guys lads go on a shellshocked adventure to call off a British offensive bound to fail. Gripping through and through. 3/4.

-Ford v. Ferrari (2019): Sports drama about the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans and Ford's attempt to beat Ferrari's hegemony in the race. Probably still geared for car enthusiasts as the surrounding historical drama underperforms and overextends itself but they sure made those races look interesting. 2/4

-Knives Out (2019): The spiritual sequel to the Clue movie. Fun. 2/4.

-Jojo Rabbit (2019): 10 year old Hitler Youth kid with Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house. I get that it's supposed to be a satiric message about how hate is bad but there isn't much to write home about, which is pretty much the same you can say about all Taika Waititi films that aren't What We Do In The Shadows. 1.1/4

-Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): I don't remember almost any of it but hey, I liked it. Jim Carrey as Robotnik has been the greatest casting decision of all time. 2/4.

-A Quiet Passion (2016): Biographical drama about the life of Emily Dickinson. I don't know how much of Emily Dickinson's life is movie-worthy but the film's tranquil yet trascendental mood is a picture-perfect reflection of her poetry. 2.5/4.

-Ex Machina (2014): A billionaire makes a very convincing AI robot and gets one of his employees to evaluate whether or not she (of course it's a she) passes off as human. Obviously it gets a bit more detailed than that, but this is probably what Black Mirror is about. 1.2/4.

-Vivarium (2019): Horror thriller (scifi thriller, I guess?) about a couple stuck in a suburb they can't escape from. The film opens with a small exposition about the parasitic lifecycle of cuckoos so you know it gets even worse, but done so subtly and insidiously. 2.25/4.

-Kwaidan (1964): An anthology of four “horror” ghost stories first compiled by Lafcadio Hearn, it's a gentle yet profoundly theatrical affair that's more an invitation to medieval Japanese folklore than an attempt at unsettling the viewer. Exquisite, its 3-hour runtime a minor inconvenient as a result of exquisitely drawn out shots. 3/4.

-All Quiet on the Western Front (2022): The German response to 1917, doing a better job at reminding you that war, particularly WW1 trench warfare, sucks. You know nothing will ever go right but you'll remain gripped to it nonetheless. 3.4/4.

-Sans Soleil (1983): Cinematographic poetry in the guise of a documentary. A deep meditative contemplation of everyday survival and its inextricable relationship with memory, philosophical musings conveyed through sight. A sleeper subverter of the genre by an almost involuntary documentation (almost an afterthought of thought itself) and an explorer of its boundaries through the use of careful metanarrative fiction. 4/4.

-The Batman (2022): Doesn't really hold up. Pattinson kills it as a recently-Batmanized Bruce Wayne though. 1.3/4.

-John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023): At this point it banks on neat locales, including the mandatory Japanese scenes complete with the token cast of the two Japanese sensations of the moment (in Hollywood's eyes, anyhow). The creative focus on martial arts takes a nosedive here; ultimately disappointing if meant to be the franchise's conclusion. Keanu barely seems to try at this point, script and actor both probably knowing full well that John Wick is a meme at this point. I miss Lance Reddick so much it's unreal. 1.1/4.

-Bullet Train (2022): Black comedy with a lot of Deadpool-esque humor from the mind that brought you… Deadpool 2. Retired hitman with incredibly bad luck Brad Pitt is tasked to steal a briefcase from a Shinkansen, with the entirety of its passengers soon after him (and after each other) for a plot that (thankfully) sacrifices being cerebral for being fun, all the characters entertaining and engaging each in different ways. It aims to entertain and that's exactly what it does, with a dose of actually well explored concepts of fate, blame and responsibility. 3.2/4

-Evil Dead Rise (2023): Complete abandonment of what made Evil Dead fun by rewriting the formula into a soon-to-be-condemned apartment building instead of a cabin in the woods. Both prologue and epilogue are hamfisted scenes that had no purpose other than to show a dead guy, who is evil, rising. Trash. 0/4.

film/movie_reviews.txt · Last modified: 2023/08/10 13:27 by Curator
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