Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Movie reviews lightning round

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look! 
I used the winter vacations for follow up on a few movies I hadn't seen yet that I had on my to-do list for quite a while. So, here is my list with short reviews in a lightning round! Maybe you'll find inspiration as well. 
- Shaun of the Dead
I'm currently on a quest to complete the Cornetto-trilogy. I've seen Hot Fuzz like a year or two ago, and I finally watched Shaun of the Dead. Edgar Wright sure has one weird sense of humor, and I'm not really a sucker for the genre here, but the movie is still meticulously crafted and shows more skill and craftmanship than most of the other stuff out there, especially talking zombie-movies. This one actually has something to say, which is a nice change. Looking at you, The Walking Dead. 
- Annihilation
This is a very recent move that I can only recommend. Its metaphors are easily accessible and yet interesting, it's style is mesmerizing and its construction and characters very well done. I don't want to give anything away from the story, so suffice to say you're in for a treat with this one. 
- Jupiter Ascending
This movie popped up on Netflix, I decided to give it a try. It's not like I had a burning desire to watch this before. I was kind of blown away. This is a train wreck of a movie, but in interesting ways. There's so much in there, so much going on! If ever a movie cried out "I want to be a series!" it's this one. The layers of plot and world building are awfully paced with the action scenes, and Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis as leads is...a choice, but there are so many cool and intriguing ideas in this one that it pays to watch it for that alone and to marvel at how it fails. 
- Baby Driver
Another Edgar Wright movie, this one fits my genre preferences much better. It's a great piece of cinema, again meticulously crafted, with a great eye for detail, strong characters, surprisingly tender themes and, of course, great action and music. What I like especially about Wright is his subtle inserting of how police should work in his movies, to establish them as protectors and defenders rather than badass heroes that kill the bad guys. 
- Pacific Rim Uprising
I always liked Pacific Rim for its silliness and coolness, and I didn't really expect much from its official second incarnation, especially given del Toro's absence from it. It's surprisingly decent in its harmless and generic way, but two things stand out. One is the complete lack of the physicality that made the Jaegers interesting in the first one - here, the robots are essentially doing martial arts. And second, the extent to which this movie is a Chinese propaganda piece is staggering. I really need to educate myself more on the ways that China influences Hollywood. 
- Rambo
This is technically a rewatch spurred on by rereading Sean T. Collin's piece on the movie and relistening to our podcast on the topic, but I didn't remember the movie all that well and decided to give it another go. While I agree with my illustrous co-host that the movie is indeed relevant for today and interesting to analyze, I was off-put by the amound of homophobia that's in the movie, to be honest. The bad guy is a gay pedophile, and the badass mercenary taunts his captors as "ladyboys". And I do not get the feeling that the movie isn't playing these parts straight. 
- Don Jon
This little gem I knew nothing about until I stumbled over a YouTube video analyzing it, and it sounded interesting. And goddamn, it was! It's a great movie about the nature of relationships, romance, sex and porn. While it seems to move very fast in last third, it has some things to say, and it says them very well. I can only recommend to watch this, although given the topic (a porn obsessed stud), you might want to use some discretion as to with whom you watch it. 
- Gone Girl
This is also a movie that consistently pops up in my beloved YouTube analysis sections, and it's by David Fincher, so it was high time that I watched it. While it was very suspenseful and a breeze to watch, I'm hesitant to recommend it, really. I'm still unsure as to what it actually wants to say, and Amy as this murderous, manipulative being hits a bit close to misogynistic stereotypes to let me be comfortable. I like the angle about the media and how they're exploiting the story, to be used by the actors in turn, but the resolution of it...it feels weird. I also feel that the section with Amy getting mugged doesn't really fit in. 
- Sausage Party
This was surprisingly great. It is very, very silly, and very, very offensive, so if you have problems with a barrage of jokes about sex and religion, stay away from this one. But it's a comedy that actually has something to say and does it well, that has a cool concept, great characters and even a story that's working out fine. 
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
Another classic I haven't watched yet. It's very intense and well acted, and you're on the fence the whole time. Is the danger real, or isn't it? Which danger is worse, the one inside or outside the bunker? All the people are doing tremendous work here. I'm not sure how much I like the twist at the ending, but it's executed well enough. It just feels that it makes the stuff that comes before a bit redundant, but that may be my own preferences speaking. 
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
I never was hot for the original Ant-Man (in fact, I've by now rewatched it as well and went on a Marvel-rewatch-spree) and have been hard-pressed to recall specifics of its plot, which is a major detriment in this movie, I have to say. If you're not up to speed with the events of "Ant-Man" and "Civil War", you'll have a hard time, and even then the plot relies heavily on implying what happened between movies. The movie itself is fun, entertaining and a perfectly valid addition to the Marvel canon, but it's not like it would be ground-breaking or anything. It's just kind of there for when you have two hours to kill. 
- Mother!
I've been hesitant to watch this one because I'm decidedly not a fan of horror movies, but the praise it got and the fact that it's an Aronofsky movie got my senses tingling. I really love "Noah", so I was interested to see what he did here, and it's a visual trip, to say the least. Like "Annihilation", it wears its motifs on its sleeve and isn't really difficult to decipher, which, given the power of the imagery, is all for the better.

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