|This has become my go-to feel good movie; I've watched it every month like clockwork since I first saw it over the summer. The first Jacques Demy film I ever saw was actually The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which is similarly jaw-droppingly gorgeous and full of color, but much more restrained and tragic. Les Demoiselles is done in a much more traditional musical style, with normal conversations occurring between dances and musical numbers (as opposed to the entirely sung yet dance-free Umbrellas). What makes this movie truly remarkable to me is the balance it maintains between mundane, day-to-day events, and spectacularly exuberant bursts of songs and choreography. It celebrates the beauty of normal lives, of dreams, and of silly coincidences, with characters flitting about town expressing their yearnings to everyone they meet. The soundtrack is an absolute favorite of mine, with the twin song being possibly my second favorite song from a musical of all time (the first is obviously Don't Rain On My Parade). And have I mentioned Gene Kelly is in this?? I consider this a masterpiece and I cannot recommend it highly enough as it always puts me in a brighter mood.|
|Amazingly this shit is legal. It drives women insane with lust. Now, I have enough problems. Spray this on and I got a whole lot more.|
Before my actual review of this movie, a few observations I made about the series as a whole while viewing:
1. Mark Hamill is Star Wars, and the very notion that they'll continue making these movies without him is atrocious. I don't think this series is going to work like the James Bond movies... which, if we're being honest, aren't anything more than a novelty act anyways.
2. In NBA terms, the zeitgeist around release dates for these are much more like a Harlem Globetrotters game, and much less like a game 7 in the finals. The latter is clearly a more rewarding experience, but again, novelty.
3. If you remove the relevance of a title crawl from the series itself, it's really kind of redundant at this point.
4. If the Millennium Falcon is on screen, you can count on me to be on the edge of my seat. Period.
In short, the movie itself is, ironically, exactly what its themes are talking about: a balance of very good and very bad. This thing is a mess, enjoyably so at times, but far from a coherently satisfying narrative. And I know in the coming weeks, as the same complaints I have are listed out across the internet, many will point fingers at the studio. They should. However, for all of its tonal issues, lack of successful humor, and identity crisis caught between what the fans want and what a good story would actually look like, the filmic aspects of the Last Jedi are lovely, a certain scene with two spaceships in particular will give me goosebumps for a while, and I deeply respect Rian Johnson for his vision.
Each character takes their own identifiable place within the story arc, so I'm going to talk about all of them, starting with Rey. Her development in the last movie was successful yet formulaic. We essentially saw every turn from a mile away. They got it right this time. The aspects of the hero's quest matched together with all of the inner conflict resulted in someone I genuinely could root for without feeling like a cheesy sellout. Thank creator-deity that her parents are nobodies. What a relief. She has chemistry with everything on screen, be it a far more accomplished character like Luke, or another developing interest like Kylo. Even if I'm not necessarily as invested in her arc at the end of the film as I was in the second act, I'm still looking forward to seeing Ridley in the next movie.
Kylo is another figure from the last film I thought was brought about in a predictable and shallow way, particularly when they neutered him at the end for the sake of Rey. I love the mesh of conflict they worked into him this time around. It felt more raw and understandable than when he just killed Han at such a base level. I'm honestly cheering for him now. I think there's a lot of great backstory with his relationship to Luke and the Jedi, and I wish the story had taken a couple more turns in that general direction. Again, going to go ahead and blame the studio on this one.
Mark Hamill is an icon, and deserves every bit of praise anyone could ever endow him. When Harrison Ford was on screen, I didn't really feel like I was watching Han. When Fisher was on screen, I didn't really feel I was watching Leia. When Luke was on screen, we had a winner. My mind instantly contextualized him within the older films, and I was hooked. I love how flawed he is. I love his bitterness and remorse. I love his redemption. And his death was perfectly executed. He was easily the best part of the experience.
Poe is a tonal mess of failed humor, predictability, and unrelatable boredom. I love Oscar Isaac, but some of the things he did on screen felt like filler that could've made this movie decisively shorter had it been cut. Finn and Rose had solid chemistry, despite the current perplexing uselessness of his character on the whole. Benicio del Toro is the most specifically fun thing about the whole movie. Leia is just sort of there, though I guess she's an unkillable super-hero now, so that's cool. And Snoke got what he deserved.
The opening space sequence was great, and it helped acclimate viewers to the world again, despite kicking off the most abysmal quest of the story (Poe's wrestle with being a badass or doing the right thing). From there, the set-up for the main setting on the Resistance ship became a bit drawn out and uninteresting, and I should probably admit that the only truly engrossing part of the movie for me was the relationship between Rey, Kylo, and Luke.
To that point, we arrive simultaneously at the most and least successful narrative points of the Last Jedi: to subvert or not subvert? Rian Johnson's vision of the force, its ambiguous nature, and the relationship between good and evil in the space between was poetry. Some will probably want a little bit more explanation given to the force's limitations and uses. No thanks. This movie calls back to the roots of Brahman that Lucas initially pulled from so many years ago. Nirvana, Enlightenment, and connection with the non-temporal are the backbone of what made the force intriguing and conceptually wonderful, as Yoda painstakingly explained to Luke when he was in Rey's shoes so long ago. If Leia wants to fly through space and live forever, let her. If Luke wants to astral-project himself across the galaxy, go for it. If Rey and Kylo want to shake hands through a spiritual wormhole, I'm in. Johnson took me for a ride, and I loved every second of it.
The part that is so perplexing about where the story finishes is that all of this disregard for true good and evil, the ambiguity, and beautiful way Luke describes all of it to Rey, is forgotten. We got a clear-cut formulaic conclusion when the dust settles. The journey was thrilling, but the destination disappoints. I wanted something else. And maybe this is just me, but doesn't the same hero-villain complex get old? Don't we grow tired of cops and robbers? For a moment in time, Luke Skywalker was a pretty messed up person, and Kylo was more or less a protagonist of sorts. Rey was caught in the crossfire, and the blend of varying motivations and perceptions of the past and future flowed like milk and honey. Then Rey said no to Kylo, so now he's just a villain again. I don't want to shut the door on this chapter of wonderment, J.J. might call it a mystery box, because there is a final movie coming in two years, but things don't look as interesting as they could, and maybe should.
For all things in the realm of actual cinema, there were entertaining sequences of action and sound scattered throughout the Last Jedi, but the failure to take a new direction, despite an aching tease of such storytelling given during the second act, causes a bad taste to be left in my mouth. Viewers should be invested in the characters going forward, as the actors put on a great show this time, but be wary of Disney, Abrams, and a ravenously influential market that longs for something they can't ever have again.
|Everybody is all on this Porg hype train like they are the best thing to happen in cinema since Harvey Weinstein decided it was high time to stop watering the local Hollywood fern population with his semen, but I would disagree. The Last Jedi holds something much more culturally important than yet another cute CGI creature with big eyes. Hold onto your discount penguins ladies and gentlemen I'm about to blow your Alderaans.
That's where the real merchandise value is. Disney obviously has not the slightest inkling of what their target audience enjoys. Look at how unsuccessful minions and Zootopia were. After a quick glance at the data here, it's clear little kids frankly just don't give a shit about cute little creatures with big eyes. The market has moved to heavily religious frogs passive-aggressively fucking Rey's shit up in a made up language.
Everybody is wondering what Rian Johnson's new trilogy is about. Well, I can't tell you it will necessarily be about CGI Jedi frog nuns, but I can guarantee it won't be about these fucking Porgs despite how much Target's toy section claims it will.
This seems to be to literally everyone else, a love it or hate it movie, because as my friend explained to me yesterday, "With Star Wars it's either the pinnacle of cinema, or it's the worst fucking garbage you could possibly imagine. There is no middle ground."
Well, fuck you Michael, I AM that middle ground, I am the middlest ground there ever was, because I am not a real human person, and this movie is severely whatever. If I opened Reddit tomorrow, and the first thing on the front page was,
BREAKING NEWS: "NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT STAR WARS AND ITS ALL DONE K THANKS GOODBYE" SAYS KATHLEEN KENNEDY
I would be like oh ok good I am not the only one. Literally every time anything remotely interesting might happen in this movie, it doesn't and it's this constant light-speed hyperdrive cockblock of creativity. My biggest complaint about the entire star wars franchise is how cut and dry everything is. It's so blunt. Kylo Ren is the BAD GUY who does BAD THINGS because he wears black and has a red glow stick. And Rey is the GOOD GUY because she is the PROTAGONIST and she has pulled-back hair and on and on and on. There is a point in the film where this massive shift in characters is about to happen, and it could have been so cool and interesting, but they are all just like nah and that's the movie. The only character that has an inner struggle about action and consequence is Luke, but it's locked behind one of the worst performances of the year. I don't think Mark Hamill is a bad actor, but it felt like watching some kid struggle through his lines at a middle school drama production. He gets the job done but... it was a hard fought battle to say the least.
As for cool things I noticed:
- Rey has three buns; didn't notice that back in 2015
If anything it's a fun movie, but I am now the first person to have rolled their eyes nonstop for two hours and 35 minutes, and thus now am actually blind and luckily don't have to subject myself to any more of these.
|The Life Aquatic with Sally Hawkins, or how I hid a S E X Y fish-man from The United States Government in the bathtub I use exclusively to masturbate while my eggs boil.
I was wondering how they were going to make the relationship between a sea creature and someone who can't speak compelling or believable... and they don't, so there is that I guess.
Seriously the movie just jumps from
"Ah the fishy is so cute let's feed it raw eggs"
to Octavia Spencer making casual jokes about how many flaps of skin the cute fishy's boner has to push through before it's down to fuuuuuuccckk.
Michael Shannon's fingers give the best performance of the year imo.
|Imagine an episode of Scooby-Doo where the gang drives one of those plastic cars that grocery stores have for little kids, and they all get brutally murdered within the first act, so the rest of the episode is just poorly dubbed greedy Italian people murdering each other in increasingly grotesque ways and making poor analogies about humanity using cockroaches and octopuses.
Also, Daphne is German and there is a 180-minute long sequence near the beginning of the episode where she swims in nasty lake water naked, culminating in a dead body tying itself to her ankle, right before she gets axed while running up a hill, but she is still visibly heaving afterwards because, you know, she just ran up a hill.
This movie is... amazing, too bad they recorded the audio with a broken microwave.
|Perrier Lime without the lime. Genius!|
|The final sequence at the doll factory traumatized me as a child. This was one of the first horror movies I could watch.
Funny that nowadays, my cousin of only 5 years saw the box art of a "Child's Play" collection in my uncle's house and went crazy to watch it. But we aren't in the 90s anymore, so his parents said no.
This demonstrates the power of this franchise that it still appeals to fans of the genre in its seventh film (2017's "Cult of Chucky") and also still catches the attention of the new generation.
Chucky has so many iconic moments in this film, like killing a teacher with a ruler and so many amazing quotes, always with his dirty and hilarious mouth.
In addition to being a good slasher and a really funny comedy, "Child's Play 2" also becomes a body horror movie in the final part. Or should I say, a "plastic body horror" movie.
|I watched this movie when I was 12 or 13 and I remember that even though I noticed the horrible CGI and the weak plot, I had fun watching. This is probably due to the strength that these classic monsters possess.
Unfortunately this power is often badly used. The latest example is the infamous "Mission Impossible: Mummy Protocol" aka "The Mummy". A fiasco that had the mission of restarting the franchise yet again and also of starting a whole new cinematic universe. It failed at both.
The impression I had while rewatching "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was that it is the true inspiration behind "The Mummy" and its "Dark Universe".
I just can't understand how in a world where we recently had "Penny Dreadful" (perhaps the best use of the classic monsters ever made), Universal decides to use this failure of 2003 as its source of inspiration. Even more knowing that whoever watched the TV series considers it as a mature, rich, clever version of this dumb action movie.
I love "Penny Dreadful" and I'm still mourning it. Unfortunately I can't say the same of Universal's "Dark Universe".
"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is probably the best example of what "The Avengers" of Universal's "Dark Universe" would look like. A mess of bad CGI, clichés, and dumb choices.
|This film is a difficult review because it's so out there and operating on a much different plane than anything I've seen in at least 5 years.
There are the amazing charms of its first half... a relationship parody on such a farcical level that it could almost be considered Pythonesque (specifically Meaning of Life).
Then there is an abrupt turn into something deeply cerebral and pitch black in tone. Something so beautifully abstract in nature that I was a bit gobsmacked and have been turning it around in my head ever since.
I love John C. Reilly in this so much... his lisp, the way his hair flops sadly as he is angrily hunting prey with a rifle in super slo-mo, the idiotic dance he does with the woman I dubbed "cold hard bitch" in my mind.
Farrell too is magnificent doing a bastardized version of the sad sack schlub he played in True Detective. I love how the characters seem to talk in their own special language of absolutes without the least bit of subtlety. I love the bombastic Kubrickian orchestral bellowing and Barry Lyndon-style narration. I love when Farrell kicks a child in the knee and this is used as comic relief!
I could go on and on about all the imaginative quirks this film uses as its currency. Yet the specialness of this film truly lies in the angle it takes in the age old question - are we really just dumb animals pretending to be sophisticated?
The only film I can remotely compare its neckbreaker tone to is Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Much like that film we enter a deeply cynical but hilarious initiation sequence where the characters are so rich and so believable that we don't want it to end. Then a very violent act occurs and we are sent spinning out of our orbit and thrust into a "world of shit" with little to no hope for redemption. There is no redemption in The Lobster either, only survival... for the audience and for the characters.
The last fifteen minutes or so are a complete riddle to me. A challenge to my brain like I haven't had in a good long while. I will continue to decipher that ending. I will continue to ponder life ...and be amazed by the fact that it will never be something with a distinct three act structure.