movie reviews

Elle

by Cap'n Carrot on January 13, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

elle-movie-reviewIsabelle Huppert is marvelous as the sixty-something head of a successful video game company who is raped in her apartment by a stranger in a ski mask. Refusing to tell the police, Michèle instead continues on as if nothing happened even as she begins to suspect that one of her resentful employees may be her attacker. Filled with mostly depressed and confused characters, somehow the film is never as bleak as its subject matter might lead you to believe.

Despite being raped in the movie’s opening scene, Michèle is anything but a victim; she’s smart, successful, and in complete control of both her company and libido. Elle isn’t a revenge fantasy or a drama focused on our protagonist coming to terms with the attack. Director Paul Verhoeven, no stranger to erotic or psychological thrillers, has something much different in mind in screenwriter David Birke‘s adaptation of Philippe Djian‘s novel. And Michèle is no angel, sleeping with the husband (Christian Berkel) of her best friend (Anne Consigny), and lusting after her neighbor (Laurent Lafitte) despite their age difference and his wife (Virginie Efira).

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A Monster Calls

by Cap'n Carrot on January 6, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Reminiscent of other movies about a kid losing himself in his imagination rather than deal with the difficulties of his life, A Monster Calls is a visually impressive adaptation of the book of the same name. The story may not offer a darkness as palpable as “The Nothing” (points for all who get that reference), but there’s plenty of real emotion beyond Conor’s (Lewis MacDougall) struggle to hide from both the constant bullying at school and his mother’s (Felicity Jones) deteriorating health.

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13th

by Cap'n Carrot on December 30, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

13th-posterTaking its name from the 13th Amendment, the documentary from writer/director Ava DuVernay examines the role race plays in the criminal justice system of the United States and how it is used to continue the subjugation of African Americans following the end of slavery. DuVernay makes a compelling case with his film, documenting the racial inequality within the United States with statistics and facts while examining the self-enforcing logistics of the problem.

Connecting Jim Crow laws with higher arrests and convictions of African Americans, DuVernay attacks the system which was designed to continue to view those with a darker skin color as worth only three-fifths of a white man. Along the way he also touches on Southern propaganda and political maneuverings which turned racism into a war on crime.

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Fences

by Cap'n Carrot on December 28, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

fences-posterAdapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, Fences is notable more for its impressive performances than plot. Denzel Washington, who does double-duty as both lead actor and director, does all that he can to make the stage play fit the big screen but there’s little doubt what venue the story is best suited. As a film the story certainly works, but I wonder how much better it may have appeared on stage.

The talky script, adapted from the stage by playwright August Wilson, offers a slice of Americana in a low income area of Pittsburgh where former Negro League baseball player turned criminal turned garbage man attempts to make the best of the life he’s carved out for himself. The small cast focuses on Troy’s (Washington) relationships with close friends and family including his wife Rose (Viola Davis), son Cory (Jovan Adepo), troubled brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson), and best-friend Bono (Stephen Henderson). The more we learn about the outwardly charming Troy the less we like him. Troy is a bully, alcoholic, adulterer, and an all-around son of a bitch. The film’s first hour is a slow boil under the which pressure continues to rise until it boils over when the conflict between Troy and his family comes to a head.

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Sing

by Cap'n Carrot on December 21, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

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In a year without a true standout animated feature it seems fitting that Sing, an animated film as average as they come, closes out 2016. With a paper-thin plot to allow various characters multiple opportunities to perform popular songs and dance around, Illumination Entertainment offers up a film version of American Idol by offering one lucky contestant fame and fortune. Of course the fact that the person offering it can’t actually deliver does through a wrench into the plans of the would-be stars.

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Assassin’s Creed

by Cap'n Carrot on December 21, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

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Stop when this gets too silly for you. For hundreds of years a creed (which is the franchise’s term for ill-defined shadowy group) of assassins has been in a secret war with the Knights Templar over control of a divine object know as the Apple that has to power to remove free will from all humankind. The Templars wish to use it to subjugate the human race. To find the lost artifact, the Templars steal a career criminal (Michael Fassbender) from his execution and hook him up to a machine which reads genetic memories from his code so he can relive his ancestor’s experiences while jumping around tied to a giant metal arm with those experiences manifested around him as ghostly visages.

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jackie-posterThe goal of a biopic is to offer insight into its subject, to explore the life of an individual and share something new or interesting about its central character. By that definition Jackie is a complete failure. The only takeaway from director Pablo Larraín‘s film is that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was upset by the assassination of her husband. That’s hardly worth the price of admission (let alone the film’s $9,000,000 budget). Natalie Portman may shine in the role, but to what purpose?

Oscar-bait, the film is notable only for its recreation of the time period and for Portman’s peformance. The problem with the former is the glamour is wasted as window dressing on a film without a reason to exist (other than grab Portman some statuettes). The problem with the later is Portman’s performance is undercut by both a questionable accent and Noah Oppenheim‘s script which is never sure who Jackie was, as it jumps from portraying a vapid creature out of touch with reality (as seen in the flashbacks) to a woman of cunning and guile completely controlling an interview with a journalist (Billy Crudup) looking to find the real Mrs. Kennedy.

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La La Land

by Cap'n Carrot on December 16, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

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I enjoyed La La Land; it’s fun, light-weight entertainment with likable stars and straightforward (largely predictable) storyline. It doesn’t ask much of the audience other than to enjoy the ride. During the award season release of heavy dramas, the film works well as a palate cleanser. However, I object to the growing consensus that it’s one of the year’s best films.

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The first of the standalone Star Wars movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set just prior to the events of the original Star Wars as a struggling Rebellion learns about the newest Imperial weapon capable of destroying an entire planet. Just as memorable for what it keeps from the Star Wars template as what it chooses to change about the formula, Rogue One offers no opening crawl, no screen wipes, and the unnecessary need to name every planet shown on screen in subtitles (something George Lucas’ original films allowed the dialogue itself to deal with).

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Gleason

by Cap'n Carrot on December 14, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

gleason-dvdOriginally intended as a video diary for Steve Gleason‘s unborn son, director Clay Tweel takes audiences along for the ride on the heart-wrenching journey of Gleason’s slow decline after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Going from a local football hero who helped rejuvenate the New Orleans Saints football team in the season following Hurricane Katrina to a man fighting to speak, move, and even breathe on his own is often difficult to watch. Refusing to give in, Gleason and his wife Michel continue to fight the incurable degenerative disease every step of the way including forming their own foundation to support others in need.

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