(Dir. Russo Brothers 2018)
PG-13, this is definitely one of the darker Marvel films. If they wanted to, they totally could've made it R.
This is NOT going to be a spoiler free post. So if you haven't seen this movie yet and don't want it to be spoiled, do not read this blog. You have been warned.
This is easily the longest Marvel movie, its two and a half hours long. That length can be a little intimidating, but it didn't feel long at all. The movies events are very tightly filmed and there is good quick pacing. The movie is that long because that was legitimately the bare minimum they needed to fit all the plot into one film. You can essentially think of this film as being divided into four or five groups. There's Thor's group, Cap's group, Tony's group, the Guardians, and then Thanos. For a majority of the film these groups act independently of the other and are each carrying out their own little section of the plot. Obviously they're all connected and come together somewhat in the end, but the movie is so long because it needs to spend time with each of these groups. Honestly I feel like this movie requires an infographic just to keep track of all the characters. And as much as there was going on, it felt amazing to watch what is basically a culmination of all the other movies.
We finally!! Actually!! Get to see Thanos in this movie! He's been teased for literal years and now we finally get to see him in action. Let me just say, that all that build up was totally worth it. Thanks is by far the best Marvel villain. Heck, one of the best villains period. His motivation is really what sets him apart from other villains. Is he doing something utterly evil and despicable? Yes. But not because he himself is inherently evil. A lot of villains their motivation for doing evil things is that they're just straight up evil. They're bad greedy people who don't care about hurting others to get what they want. But Thanos is honestly doing all of this with good intentions. He truly believes that what he is doing is for the greater good and eventually the universe will thank him for it. It's hard to even accuse him of being insane and entirely misguided. He lived through the complete destruction of his own planet and lost everything. After that he decided it was better to destroy half, but keep the whole alive. Is what he doing right? No. But in a sad terrible sort of way its understandable. Speaking of sad, what the heck? They did not pull any punches on who they killed off?! And they did it in the cruelest way possible! I legitimately cried at Spider-Man. I can only take solace in the fact that they will likely be brought back in the next movie by either time travel or the quantum thingy. I cannot wait to see Captain Marvel! That teaser in the post-credits was amazing.
(Dir. Ryan Coogler 2018)
It's taken me forever to finally go see this. I'm not sure why it took so long because I've been excited to see this since before it came out. I finally made the time to go see it because I knew I definitely had to before I saw Infinity War. Which I still haven't seen so consider this a spoiler free blog. Like many others I've gotten kind of tired of origin stories. This, I would say is my exception to that. Part of that is before this movie came out, I can honestly say I didn't know about Black Panther. I knew the basics of all the other heroes so at a certain point watching all of their origin movies just felt like something I had to get through before I could get to the fun movies. I went into Black Panther not knowing what to expect. Was the film a little predictable? Yeah, but honestly most Marvel films are. Heck most superhero movies are. But I didn't mind because the plot and character were pretty much entirely new to me. Plus, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that part of how cool this was was getting to see bad ass black men and women on screen.
This is definitely one of the prettier Marvel movies. They still had that patented Marvel wash out of color, but the vibrancy of the character's outfits and surroundings made up for that. I loved getting to see the variations of cultural dress in Wakanda. Definitely better than the sweatshirt, hat, and sunglasses ensemble that so many of our favorite superheroes wear. I would love to see a short promo video where Thor and T'Challa get together to talk about fashion. I also noticed that this movie used camera movement to infuse scenes with meaning more than other films. They still did the typical actions movie cuts and somewhat shaky camera movements to make you feel the action, but they put a little more symbol into their shots as well. For example, the upside down rotating shot when Killmonger was crowned really captured the feeling of the world being turned upside-down. The only thing I didn't love about this movie was Shuri and her use of memes. I love Shuri, I really really do, but whenever she made a meme or vine reference I could just feel the awkward middle aged script writers forcibly cramming those in there. It just didn't feel natural at all. I love the idea of her being a meme loving teen, but they did not work it in there well.
(Dir. Akira Kurosawa 1962)
Not Rated; some blood but it's nothing super bad
This movie was a lot different than what I expected. Sanjuro features a ronin as its titular main character. After overhearing their plan, Sanjuro decides to aid nine young men who are trying to rid their clan of its corrupt officials. Their efforts are earnest, but bumbling and generally a hinderance their own cause, until Sanjuro steps in of course. Though not a typical or particularly noble samurai, he is clever and proves instrumental to the group. On paper this plot seems fairly simple, but in the film it becomes a little convoluted. Most of the film is the opposing sides attempting to out clever each other and during this process the audience can get left behind if they aren't paying enough attention. Cultural dynamics also play a large role in this film and can leave Western audiences a little confused. As long as you're paying attention though, and maybe do a quick google search or two, it's not terribly difficult to follow this film.
Though quite similar to its predecessor, Yojimbo, from what I've seen Sanjuro seems to be much more self-aware. In Yojimbo, from what I've heard at least I have not yet been able to see it, Sanjuro is much more inclined to resort to violence. In this film he seems to avoid it as much as he can. The wife of a man he is trying to save points out that the best swords are kept in their sheath unless absolutely necessary and Sanjuro seems to take this to heart. At one point he even becomes angry at the nine young men after they force him into killing people when it could've been avoidable. Despite this underlying angst, Sanjuro is quite a humorous film. It is not funny in the way that many contemporary audiences have come to think about comedies however. Much of the humor in Sanjuro is either situational or physical. I love the scenes where the nine young men follow Sanjuro around like a group of ducklings.
I wish that this movie could've been done in color. Not that it isn't very good without it, I just have a feeling that it would've looked amazing. Probably would've helped a lot with those red and white flowers as well.
(Dir. S.S. Rajamouli 2017)
Not Rated but I'd give it a PG-13, there's violence but it's not graphic
You may notice that this is a review for Bahubali 2, but there's been no review for Bahubali 1. No need to panic you didn't miss anything, I just shamelessly skipped the first movie. Before you judge me let me explain, I watched a clip of the second movie that was so insane I knew I had to watch it. One word: tree catapults. I found both of them on Netflix, but they're both almost three hours long. I know the limits of my attention span and it was one or the other.
Luckily for me, the second movie is independent enough from the first that it was easy enough for me to pick up on what was happening. That being said I experienced the normal amount of confusion that any Bollywood movie gives me. Part of that is I don't know enough about the culture to understand all the references and motivations of the characters at first. When watching these, google is my friend.
Anyway, the plot! In the first movie, Shivudu discovers that he is the son of Amarendra Bahubali and is the rightful heir to the throne of Mahishmati. The first movie follows his journey to save his imprisoned mother and to take back his kingdom with the help of a rebel group. The second movie starts as a sort of prequel sequel and follows the life of Amarendra Bahubali (for the rest of the review I am going to refer to him as Bahu because that's mostly what they call him in the film and it's easier), Shivudu's father. Bahu is the crown prince of Mahishmati. Until his coronation the kingdom is being ruled by his aunt, Sivagami, who is acting as a sort of regent (this isn't really covered too much but from what I gathered Bahu's parents were killed at some point). Bahu is loved by everyone. He is brave, clever, honorable, strong, and truly cares about everyone in his kingdom. Basically he's Mr. Perfect and everyone loves him. Well, almost everyone. His uncle, who was passed over for the throne due to his corrupt nature, feels that he was cheated and that his son, Bahu's cousin, should be king. **Major spoilers past this point** Together Bahu's uncle and cousin scheme to take the throne and eventually succeed. Despite having won the throne for himself, Bahu's cousin still feels threatened by Bahu. The people of the kingdom know that Bahu is the rightful king and more than that they prefer him. So Bahu's cousin has him killed. However, Bahu's wife and aunt manage to sneak Bahu's newborn son (Shivudu!!!!) out of the kingdom and into safety in a poor village. **Spoilers are over** Shivudu's background now fully explained, he and the rebel forces attack the corrupt forces of Mahishmati to retake the kingdom!
Bahubali imitates the classic Indian epics and let me tell you this is the first movie I've seen where it feels like I'm watching an epic. Generally movies based off of epics just take the general plot and characters and turn it into a sort of block buster action film (looking at you every single modern version of the Homeric epics). What really set this one apart is that it wasn't based off of an epic (that I know of please let me know if I am wrong) and was made as an original plot with the intent of putting the epic style into film form. Another part of what makes this work so well is the fact that the Bollywood style lends itself to epics. They're both so over the top in the best way possible. One thing I noticed that music played a huge role in this film. There was just enough dialogue to say what needed to be said and pretty much everything else deeper than that was covered in the songs. When characters were scared, tense music would play and the actors would put on their best "I'm scared" face. When characters were sad, sad music would play and actors would put on their best "I'm sad" face. When characters were in love they'd play a love song and actors put on their best "Come hither" face etc.
If you have time on your hands and want to watch something fun, Bahubali is a good pick. Everything is so over the top in the best way possible. And, despite most of it being entirely ridiculous, I still got really invested in the plot. I seriously almost cried watching this movie. That's something that I think is true of a lot of Bollywood films. Are they kind of ridiculous and over the top? Yes. Are you still going to love every minute that you are watching them? Yes. Am I going to watch the first Bahubali now despite it being almost three hours long? Absolutely.
(Dir. Wes Anderson 2018)
PG-13, Anderson typical violence. If you've seen Fantastic Mr. Fox you know what content to expect from this.
I finally got to watch a Wes Anderson movie in theaters and, in case you couldn't tell from the theme of my blog, I really love Wes Anderson. Before I say anything else, I do think that this was a very good movie, but when compared to his other works I can't say that it's my favorite. It's possible that I over-hyped myself before I went to see it because the other two people I went with loved it and they did not have great expectations. I think I was mostly caught off guard because this felt different than a lot of his other films, for one it was much more plot driven than his movies usually. Generally in Wes Anderson's films the plot tends to take a back seat to the characters and their relationships with each other, but in this it almost felt the opposite. The characters had a clear goal driving the plot and, unlike many of his other films, a clear antagonist that they were working against. My main issue is that I think that this movie spread itself too thin. The cast of characters was much larger than is typically found in an Anderson movie and in addition to that a lot of time was spent on world building and presenting excuses to translate everything into english. Because of all this it felt to me like Isle of Dogs was missing I've come to love about Wes Anderson's movies, how much they focus on and explore the identities of their characters.
That being said it was a beautiful story and the plot was original, even for Wes. A dystopian Japan, set in the distant future, has exiled all their dogs to Trash Island due to an over saturation of pups and the pervasive dog flu. Or at least, that's what the corrupt government wants you to think. It turns out that a cure for dog flu is available, but is being suppressed by a cat loving government that seeks to eradicate all dogs. The movie follows a young boy, hellbent on finding his dog, the pack of dogs guiding him through trash island, and a young girl fighting governmental corruption on the mainland. I gotta say I wish that Wes Anderson would've just dropped the romantic sub-plots in this one. It seemed like while writing this they kept going back in forth on how PG to keep this movie, struggling with Wes' natural inclination towards R-rated material and wanting to make this movie as marketable as possible. As a result the romances felt awkward, clumsy, and forced.
Despite how much I've complained about things in this post I really did like this movie. The characters were amazing, which is kind of why I was so upset we didn't get to learn more about them, and it was a well thought out plot. I can't even really say I'm upset about the differences from his past films because he's obviously trying to branch out and try something different from his usual film in Isle of Dogs and I look forward to seeing what else comes from this experimentation.
All in all my main take from this movie is that Wes Anderson is definitely not a cat person.
(Dir. Sergio Leone 1966)
I have had a real hankerin' to watch a Western movie and luckily this was on amazon prime! Even better this was the first movie I've seen with Clint Eastwood. Despite this, I have to say that Tuco was the best part of the movie. Generally, if a movie is longer than an hour and a half I start to lose interest. This film keeps you constantly interested through constant build-ups of suspense with great pay offs. This film follows Tuco, the Ugly, Blondie, the Good, and Angel Eyes, the Bad. Tuco and Blondie, sometimes partners sometimes enemies, stumble upon a the location of a buried treasure. Only issue, they each only know half of the location. Angel Eyes also learns half of the location and is hot non their heels. The events of the film are set with the Civil War as a backdrop. I loved how this was Civil War film, without it being a film about the Civil War, because, let's be honest, Civil War movies are boring. I love how the chaos of the war adds to the feeling of lawlessness in the West.
Another dynamic that worked well was the relationship between Tuco and Blondie. Tuco acted as the perfect comedian to Clint Eastwood's straight man act. A movie that consisted entirely of Clint Eastwood's brooding face would get stale fast. However when done with Tuco to add some levity it worked perfectly. I really enjoyed when Tuco finally got the drop on Blondie and showed that he wasn't always two steps ahead. All in all if you want to watch a Western this is a must watch, but make sure you have a lot of time on your hands.
(Dir. Roberto Rossellini 1945)
NR, mature themes and depictions of violence
Rome Open City tells the story of everyday life in Rome during the Nazi occupation, which lasted approximately nine months. Specifically it centers on members of the underground resistance in Italy, such as a priest, a widow, the widow's fiancé, and a rag-tag group of children. Rossellini began his work on Rome Open City almost immediately after the Nazi occupation of Rome ended. The above picture is from one of the most famous scenes, and one of my favorite scenes, from the film. It is a beautiful scene, the weary group of children return home on a dusty path with the city and St. Peter's Basilica in the background. Considering the fact that Rossellini was filming in post-war Italy and was forced to use whatever scraps of film he could get, the film is surprisingly beautiful. Though a part of that is modern day editing.
This movie is sad in a way that only an Italian Neorealist film can be. The events are definitely not happy, tragic even, but despite this the overall tone of the movie is hopeful and even comical at times. Rossellini paints a picture of what everyday life is like when everyday citizens are fighting a battle bigger than themselves. In the midst of inciting riots and secretly coordinating a group of anti-Nazi fighters, Francesco and Pina plan their wedding. Moments of intense suspense are balanced by the humor and domesticity of their life. Perhaps the best example of how Rossellini balances the two comes when the Nazis raid Francesco and Pina's apartment building. Moments of intense suspense, members of the Resistance escaping or being captured by the Nazis, are interspersed with the humorous antics of the Priest as he tries to hide a machine gun and bomb and quiet an old man before the Nazis reach them. The viewer can't help but chuckle as he settles for hiding the machine gun and bomb under the covers and resorts to hitting the old man with a frying pan to quiet him. Admittedly that last part sounds terrible, but it is quite funny in the film.
(Dir. Phyllida Lloyd 2008)
PG-13 I think this movie wins for the most amount of indirect references to sex
The way this movie played out reminded me a lot of The Greatest Showman. The plot of the movie was very basic and mainly served to showcase the songs. Despite that similarity I liked this movie a lot more than I liked The Greatest Showman. Yeah it wasn't the most thought provoking or best movie I've ever seen, but it wasn't pretending or trying to be either like The Greatest Showman. Also, Mamma Mia wasn't trying to cram its message down my throat like The Greatest Showman was. What I think made all the difference is that Mamma Mia accepted what it is, an ok movie with great songs, while The Greatest Showman tried way to hard to convince others it was more than that.
If you don't like ABBA, don't watch this movie. If you do like ABBA, you should watch this movie. It's as simple as that. If you don't know whether or not you like them, then where have you been for the last forty years cause everyone has an opinion on ABBA. The acting in this movie was ok, about the same as any rom-com. I will say that this was not Meryl Streep's best role. She wasn't bad, but she also wasn't very good. There were a couple times where she really over-acted, which was partially because she was just standing and singing. So her options at that point were either over act or stand and do nothing.
The plot of the movie was interesting, I think. There's the whole mystery of who her father is which I really liked. I feel like the execution just wasn't there. Not to say that I wasn't content with the ending, I like the way things turned out, but the movie felt like a whole lot of build-up for a rushed conclusion. What I liked, and what most people really like, about this movie is that it was very aesthetically pleasing. It's a bunch of good-looking people on a gorgeous island. People watch this movie to fantasize about being on a beautiful island with Pierce Brosnan. Whoever made this movie knew that and played it up, I can't really blame them for that.
(Dir. Peter Jackson 2001)
*Disclaimer* I have not read the Lord of the Rings books. I read The Hobbit and loved it, but I could never get into the other part of the series.
I went into this movie knowing that it was long, but I still wasn't prepared for just how long it was. I ended up watching this film in two sittings and honestly it worked that way. The second half of the movie could honestly be its own film. Typically, I don't care for fantasy movies. I love fantasy books, but there's just something about fantasy in the film media that I don't care for. That being said, I think that this works very well as a film. My issue is that I can never really immerse myself in fantasy movies because there are usually parts that just blatantly look fake. Either super CGI or poor effects, both bug me to the point that I can't really pay attention to the movie. Lord of the Rings is perfectly borders the line of being fantasy but still looking real enough that I can get into the film.
(Heads up this is going to be the negative portion of my review) I do think that this film is very overdramatic though. The lines, the cuts, the acting, everything screams drama. I get it, stuff is going down. The amount of close up zoom-ins is frankly hilarious. I swear 90% of this movie is made up of them and the rest are drone shots of them walking. So much walking. I know that there's some in universe reason why they can't, but for the love of God just hop on a giant eagle and spare me the walking. The scenes in Lord of the Rings are gorgeous and beautifully shot, but the editing kills me. From what I can tell these movies have one main issue, they had too much good content. They had so many good shots and that makes it hard to choose between them. So they ended up cramming them all together which compromised the film as a whole. This is especially true of the music. The scores are amazing and perfectly fit their characters and locations, but it never stops. Leaving some scenes quiet would have contributed a lot to the atmosphere. This also would have given the scenes with music a bigger impact.
(Dir. Keiichi Hara 2015)
PG-13, but I wouldn't really consider it a kids movie. It's something that they could watch, but not necessarily made for them.
Miss Hokusai is an animated biopic of O-Ei, the daughter of the renowned Japanese painter Hokusai. Most people, Japanese or no, would recognize his Great Wave woodblock print. O-Ei is also a skilled artist and often sells them under her father's name. The movie was based on a manga of the same name and is told in a series of vignettes. I liked the overall tone of the movie and use of vignettes, but they were disjointed at times and the switches between could sometimes be confusing. One issue I had with the movie was its lack of closure. Throughout the vignettes there were recurring issues, such as O-Ei's struggle to capture sensuality in her paintings and the man who was wooing her. The movie shows her struggling with these but neither of these issues are ever resolved. I will recognize that part of this comes from the fact that it's based off a real person and real life doesn't have proper closure, but they just left the viewer in limbo. At the end they had a voiceover tell the details of the rest of her and her father's lives, but it just felt rushed and stilted.
The style of animation in the movie is beautiful. It's reminiscent of classic works of art from the time while still keeping a modern edge. The most beautiful shot of the movie is during a boat ride with O-Ei and her blind sister. As, O-Ei is describing the waves to her and how they could swallow boats the waves pick up and mimic the Great Wave wood print that Hokusai is famous for. One part of the movie that really stuck out was the use of classic rock music. Others said that they felt that this music captured O-Ei's rebellious spirit and while I didn't necessarily dislike the music, I kind of wish they had chosen something more traditional or fitting to the time period.