Displaying Category: Rating_5

The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist ticketstubDo you remember that spectacularly bad movie The Room by the now infamous writer/director/producer/star of the film, Tommy Wiseau? No? It's okay, these days, it's mostly known for being bad and having a sort of cult following in the vein of Rocky Horror Picture Show. People go to midnight screenings and do callbacks and have props, I hear it's pretty amazing. I've never done that myself, I saw it being riffed on a live RiffTrax show. Anyway... The Disaster Artist follows Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero as they meet, become friends, move to Los Angeles, and, after some rough years of trying to get work in Hollywood, decide to make their own damn movie. The reason this is such a spectacle is that Tommy, played cringingly by James Franco, is such an inexplicable character, and Greg, played by James' real life brother, Dave Franco, is such an ordinary guy. Greg is puzzled by Tommy's quirks, but also kind of enamored by how completely oblivious he seems to the world's standards of normalcy. He wears outrageous clothing (for example, five belts of various types and styles and positions around his waist) and will run lines loudly in a crowded restaurant. He seems to not give any fucks about how the world sees him, yet desperately wants to be seen by the world, and he wants to be seen as the hero of whatever he's doing. As Greg tries to be an adult and score acting gigs, Tommy feels more and more left behind as he fails to find any success at all in Hollywood. This growing divide prompts Tommy to suggest the two of them make a movie, and that's how we get The Room. We watch them go through writing and casting and hiring production people and right into the filming of various iconic scenes. They go to great effort to recreate the sets, scenes, acting styles, and lines with excruciating detail. In fact, at the end of the movie, before the credits roll, they do side-by-side comparisons between scenes from the original movie, and scenes shot for The Disaster Artist and it is a beautiful thing. I would say my favorite scene of the movie is the post-credits scene in which James Franco is playing Tommy and is approached by the real Tommy playing a different character, and the brief conversation that ensues, in a way, caps off the whole experience, like the cherry on a grand sundae.

Was it good? Fuck yeah it was good. Franco captures the weirdness of Tommy and Dave Franco plays a great starving actor, hungry for work and attention, but also a grounding force for Tommy, though, as he learns, Tommy can't be grounded. He will always be floating in skies of his own creation. The Room is not a good movie, but a story about The Room is amazing, filled with hilarious scenes, cringing scenes, reality, fantasy, and heart. Absolutely worth a watch, even if you haven't seen The Room, but it will definitely be better if you have.


Your name

Your name ticketstubI'll admit up front that I have a particular affection and awe of Japanese animated films. I think it comes from the details that ooze from every millimeter of the screen, whether set in the city or the country, it's all about how a place is captured that makes me go all gooey inside. By captured I mean, there is a love of Japan and Japanese culture demonstrated in films like Your name that I don't see in any other style of films. The way we see a character's bedroom, with books and erasers and the next day's clothes hanging up for morning. The way a family gathers for breakfast and how the steam pours out of the rice cooker when first opened. The sounds of traffic in the city streets. A close-up of a bug crawling on a leaf in the woods. The way the rain splashes into puddles during a storm. Everything from the luscious visuals to the perfectly replicated soundtrack of the world, it always moves me deeply.

But there's more to this movie than just beautiful drawings and amazing sound design, it follows a teenage girl living in the country and a teenage boy living in Tokyo who mysteriously swap bodies a few times a week. There's the obvious elements of feeling lost in a world one doesn't know, whether it's the city or the country or the gender difference, or the family dynamics... they each have a lot of adjusting to do. And just as they think they have it down, they have an understanding between them, there are ground rules, there's routine, they communicate by leaving diary entries to each other so they know what each has done for the day, there's a shattering turn.

The movie is filled with sentimentality, as is common for films in this genre. It always feels like a fantasy to me, events and emotions, they may not work out for the best, but they occur in a way that perfectly plucks at your emotional core. I love it, though it's certainly not for everyone.

But it should be.



Arrival ticketstubThere was very little buzz about this movie approaching its release, and therefore, not a lot of talk about its themes and plot points. This is good. With that in mind, I won't be saying much about that here, for this is a movie that must be experienced to understand. No description I give here will do it justice. What I can talk about is the quality of the movie. Arrival is sumptuously deliberate and notably sparse. The way shots are framed, there is typically only one thing happening in each. Even when there is background activity, it's muted, either out of focus or the audio is tamped down so your attention is on the character(s) in this scene. This is not Independence Day despite the presence of alien spacecraft hovering over many parts of the planet simultaneously. This is a complex puzzle that slowly and deliberately unfolds in front of you with a sort of Zen simplicity that gives you space to roll it around in your mouth after every step. As the movie progresses, the ideas layer on top of each other and combine like the flavors of a perfectly seasoned meal. While there are dozens of nuanced flavors to experience, the dish is exquisite when taken as a whole. The sparse presentation tugs you through a journey of discovery both external and internal and you come out the other end both knowing exactly what just happened, and seeking out all the fascinating little bits that lead to this conclusion. It's basically a very complicated stew made up of very simple ingredients. Grab yourself a bowl and savor every morsel.


Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road ticketstubI should first explain that Fury Road is not a reboot or retelling of the original Mad Max story. Instead, this movie follows Max in one of his adventures in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Australia. For the most part, Fury Road is a chase sequence. Or, more precisely, several chase sequences, but that's pretty much it, and that is definitely not a bad thing. The story is tight (though there isn't much), characterization is interesting and conveyed mostly with actions and very few words. The action is incredible and mostly practical with very little CG. I can't comprehend everything that must have gone into filming these scenes and keeping the actors and crew safe, that alone is a noteworthy feat. While there is graphic violence, the disturbing scenes are rare and brief. Language isn't bad, in fact, I can't remember any swearing. It's intense and fun and filled to the brim with technically mind-blowing action sequences. There are even several emotional scenes that round out the experience to make it feel like a complete journey. I loved it, I think you will too.


Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy ticketstubI have never read any of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, in fact, I didn't know they even existed till hearing about the movie, so I can't make any comments on how well the movie adheres to the source material. I did, however, absolutely love the movie. It's not overly complicated, it's not trying to force any philosophical concepts, it's just having fun in a neat science fiction universe with lots of really great humor to make it all go down that much better. The writing is great, the acting is good (and the voice work, with two completely digital main characters), the story is good, the pacing is great, and the laughs are numerous and satisfying. If this movie looks like the sort of thing you'd be into, don't hesitate, just watch it.


Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow ticketstubThere's one really serious issue with this movie, I can't come up with anything bad to say, it feels like a pitch perfect action movie. There's an interesting plot that requires you to think just enough, well acted characters, amazing visuals, and excellent pacing. There's a chance I'll come up with a weak spot over the next few days, but for now, I think it's earned this.


12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave ticketstubYou guys, this movie... Wow. First, though, the qualifier, this movie is pretty much just a series of horrific examples of man's inhumanity to man. Normally I would see myself sobbing throughout a movie like this, but I think the unbelievable intensity and horror of everything I saw scared the tears away. So, fair warning. Also, there's a fair bit of nudity, not sure if you want to bring the kids. With all that said, it's an incredible film filled with unbelievable performances from everyone. I won't say it's a must-see, because it definitely isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you think you'd get something out of it, don't hesitate to check it out.



Gravity ticketstubTalking to someone who had only seen trailers of Gravity, he described it as "two people floating around in space, sounds boring." And I am here to tell you it is anything but boring. At its core, I feel like this movie is about the drive to survive and understanding why you want to survive. It's intense and it's heartbreaking. I probably should have brought tissues, because this movie makes it very hard not to cry. My buddy was correct that the entire cast is basically just Sandra Bullock and George Clooney's characters, but they carry it so well. Bullock is amazing and I could listen to Clooney read the ingredients off cereal boxes and still think it's the most amazing thing ever created. I did see it in IMAX 3D and while it did cost me $19(!!!) it was completely worth it to be enveloped by the scenery and action. What I think is particularly noteworthy about how this movie was filmed is how much effort went into showing the audience what it's like in one of those space suits, floating in space. You think you could grab on to the hull of a space station in zero gravity? Here, let me show you how hard that actually is... Those first person sequences were amazing. Go and see this movie.


The World's End

The World's End ticketstubIn really simple terms, if you liked Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz you are going to feel completely at home with The World's End. It features the same style of snappy, curse-filled dialog, fast cuts, stupid characters, and the ongoing theme of small towns being taken over by the townspeople themselves. On the surface it may seem like a stupid "guys on the town crossed with alien robot invasion" film, but it's really about not living in the past. And also that alien invasions are bad. Basically, it's filled with hilarity and heart and you should really go see it. Really.


The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way Back ticketstubThe Way, Way Back follows 14 year old Duncan and his Mom along with his Mom's boyfriend and his daughter as they try to function as a family for the summer at a beach house. Like most at that age, Duncan doesn't really know who he is or where he's going. Up till now, he's probably just gone in whichever direction he's been pushed, but he's at a point where he's being pushed too far by this annoying man trying to shove his way into his already broken family. Duncan escapes by spending his days at a nearby water park, owned by Owen, a man-child in his own way, who dispenses wisdom sprinkled within rapid fire comedy "bits" that inexperienced Duncan generally fails to comprehend.

Really, this summary isn't necessary. It all comes down to one simple question, have you ever been a teenager? If yes, then you should go see this movie. Bring some tissues and have fun.