Saturday, July 30, 2016

Countdown

This WWE action movie is bad. Pretty damn bad. Ziggler is not believable at all as a police detective, although Kane surprisingly is as his captain. Neither of them look the part though, so I was feeling this seemed ridiculous from the start. There's this long extended section of the film that actually takes place at a WWE event, complete with an inside joke at Ziggler's current feud at the time. This whole plot was lame from beginning to end, with a little decent action along the way, but not much even of that. I don't know who's been doling out these writing assignments lately, but they need to be fired. I certainly hope "Marine 5" is better than this, because I enjoy The Miz in those roles. But this? Don't waste your time with this. 2/5

Countdown on Netflix

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

I have mixed feelings about this movie and this series as a whole. I enjoyed the first film, but I felt the second veered too far into the "main character as a Christ-child" trope. This last film in the series doubled down on the Christ-child imagery and didn't give me enough of the people and city in which I had developed an interest. I appreciate knowing more of the story, but I felt it was at the expense of everything this series had worked so hard to build up. I saw every turn coming and every plot point the script was going to hit way before it did. However, in spite of that, I was engaged by the film and did enjoy it on some level. I would be interested in seeing the fourth installment if it ever gets made, as this really wasn't a satisfying ending for me. Overall, it was okay, but nothing spectacular. 3/5

The Divergent Series: Allegiant on Netflix

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lullaby

I hadn't know much about Garrett Hedlund before watching "Mojave" recently, and, on the strength of that performance, I wanted to seek out more of his work. This was a beautifully tragic story made near perfect by Hedlund's acting in the lead role. I loved all the nuance between the characters, and the whole cast gave tremendous performances. I had to take a star off for a really odd subplot with a dying 17-year-old girl and the inane subplot with Hedlund's girlfriend, who might as well have been a lamp for all the worth her character brought to the plot. Still, a strong story with a really solid performance by Hedlund. I think I'll seek out more work by this talented actor. 4/5

Lullaby on Netflix

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Midnight Special

This sci-fi thriller was not your average fare. It was thoughtfully composed and never obvious in its intent. We are never given easy answers to the questions being asked, which was refreshing. The tone and feel of the film was very modern, but the direction felt a throwback to movies like "Close Encounters", which was, again, very thoughtfully done. The script was a bit barren at times, and there was no character development to speak of, which is why this isn't getting a higher rating. Still, a solid sci-fi film - I enjoyed it. 3.5/5

Midnight Special on Netflix

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In the Realm of the Senses

I had heard many tales about this film and finally decided to watch it. I was frankly stunned by the explicit nature of it, given it was shot in 1976 in Japan. I found the first half hour somewhat erotic, but the movie quickly took on very disturbing tones. The intensely graphic sex lasted for virtually the entire film, which dulled the effect of it in my view. The ending was just profoundly disturbing. I had no idea how accurately this film displayed details of a true incident that happened in Japan until a couple of minutes ago when I read the article in Wikipedia. If you don't mind really explicit sex, this is an interesting film to see, and certainly an important one in the history of Japanese cinema, but be prepared to be disturbed by much of it. 3/5

In the Realm of the Senses on Netflix

Monday, July 25, 2016

Light and the Sufferer

I have no idea how this oddball, no budget, shot on video, arthouse, genre-bending film got on my queue, but I'm glad it did, because it was different. There was no money at all here, but oddly I didn't end up minding, even when it was important. Paul Dano looked all of sixteen or so, but gave a solid performance as per usual. I'm going to think about this for a bit. 3/5

Light and the Sufferer on Netflix

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Miles Ahead

I get what Cheadle was trying to do with this film, I do. I feel it's much in the same vein as Spacey's ode to Bobby Darin, "Beyond the Sea", in both style and form. And, like Spacey, Cheadle wrote, directed, starred, and played much of the music in this film. Cheadle's acting was strong, but the script.... not so much. It became cartoonish for the most part and never sat down to tell a coherent story. Cheadle let the direction get away from him quite a bit as well. There was one moment when Cheadle, as Davis, pushed the camera out of the way as he passed through the scene. I was so shocked out of the story I had to rewind it and see it again. It was egregious and just tore me out of the film. I was left not knowing what to think about Miles Davis, which I suspect is the opposite intention of the film. Not great for me. 2.5/5

Miles Ahead on Netflix

Saturday, July 23, 2016

No Way Jose

This mid-life-crisis comedy was funny enough with strong acting from the entire cast, but was a little to surface level and gimmicky for me. I did really like the ending though, so that was a nice touch. 3/5

No Way Jose on Netflix

Friday, July 22, 2016

7 Boxes

This Paraguayan action thriller is tautly paced and quite well directed. The acting was quite solid as well. I was thoroughly engaged throughout - I enjoyed this. 4/5

7 Boxes on Netflix

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mojave

The weight of this movie and whether it succeeds or fails rest entirely on the two lead actors, Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac. If these two fell down on the job, this movie would have been an utter disaster, but it surely was not. Hedlund is smoldering and unerringly fallible as Tom. However, the revelation for me was Isaac as the drifter. He was simply astounding in this. He delivered his dialogue as poetry, and he burned so brightly in his intensity that I couldn't look away. It was an amazing performance that totally sold the film. This is a solid piece of work by two actors in their prime - I recommend this one.  4/5

Mojave on Netflix

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Unbranded

I wasn't sure about the direction of this movie at the outset, but it morphed into a really nice buddy film with some great information about the state of wild horses in America to boot. I enjoyed this. 4/5

Unbranded on Netflix

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Way Back

This extraordinary tale of survival is in the legacy of films like "Papillon" and "Midnight Express", but focuses almost entirely on the escape rather than the gulag. Breathtakingly directed and solidly acted throughout. Well done! 4/5

The Way Back on Netflix

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I Saw the Light

So, here's the thing. I don't know anything at all about Hank Williams, so I was looking forward to seeing this film so I might learn. But I've just finished it, and I'm sorry to say I still don't know anything about Hank Williams. He seemed to be a mess of a man, but there's no indication why, or what happened, or how he moved from point A to point B in his life. There's no character development at all, so, if, like me, you know nothing about Hank Williams, you'll be left scratching your head after this. I also felt that Olsen and Hiddleston's accents were a bit unbelievable, which didn't help me in immersing myself in this film. This just didn't work for me. 2.5/5

I Saw the Light on Netflix

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ratter

I liked the camera work and the fact that we know very little going in and leaving this story. However, it's a short movie that felt loooong. It dragged a lot, and the acting was shaky at best, and I'm being somewhat kind. Decent premise, but the execution was off. 2.5/5

Ratter on Netflix

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Twinsters

I ran across this title on a list of great documentaries, and I wasn't disappointed. It's both a heartwarming and, at time, emotionally complex and heartbreaking story, that I found captivating. I was glad the documentary was captured as the events occurred, it brought an immediacy to the emotional content that was needed. Well done. 4/5

Twinsters on Netflix