The Films of 2018

Discuss films of the 21st century including current cinema, current filmmakers, and film festivals.
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hanshotfirst1138
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The Films of 2018

#51 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:36 am

Skyscraper was perfectly acceptable action movie junk food. It’s nothing more or less than that, and mostly coasts on Johnson’s charisma, but it’s a decent time-killer. Unlike most blockbusters these days, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome; the running time is pretty lean. It’s more a disaster movie than an action picture. It’s infinitely superior to The Rock’s collaborations with Brad Peyton. Thurber does occasionally give you a good sense of vertigo from the heights, but there’s little of the tight suspense or memorable characters and quotable dialogue from Die Hard. Campbell’s damsel in distress does at least get to do something somewhat useful, but the Hong Kong setting brings to mind the Golden Era of Hong Kong action cinema, and this movie doesn’t come anywhere near those classics.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was disappointingly dull. It desperately tries to shake things up with a change in the setting, and it’s hard to talk more without spoiling too much, but the paper-thin script and characters don’t do it any favors, and Bayona’s direction can’t do much to spice it up. The whole franchise is one-note: dinosaurs escape. Chase humans. Rinse, lather, repeat. There’s just not much that’s new to do. It’s just Harryhausen with pixels, and none of his retro charm. The wow factor novelty value is totally gone, and it hasn’t been replaced with anything resembling good storytelling or compelling characters.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: The Films of 2018

#52 Post by Dr Amicus » Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:26 pm

Re Skyscraper - I much preferred Rampage in all its glorious silliness, but this passed the time pleasantly enough. However, it seemed to me to be a very close-up oriented film which was really strange (unless it was being filmed primarily for a home viewing audience) and seemed to limit the impact of the FX and setting. And don't get me started on the idiocy of huge crowds standing AT THE BOTTOM OF A BLAZING SKYSCRAPER with no worries that it might, you know, collapse....

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The Films of 2018

#53 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:42 am

Dr Amicus wrote:Re Skyscraper - I much preferred Rampage in all its glorious silliness, but this passed the time pleasantly enough. However, it seemed to me to be a very close-up oriented film which was really strange (unless it was being filmed primarily for a home viewing audience) and seemed to limit the impact of the FX and setting. And don't get me started on the idiocy of huge crowds standing AT THE BOTTOM OF A BLAZING SKYSCRAPER with no worries that it might, you know, collapse....
I liked Rampage more than the Rock’s previous collaboration with Peyton, the dull San Andreas. It at least embraced its own silliness, and the Rock’s central relationship with George did offer genuine amusement in places. Johnson can sell fist-bumping with a giant albino gorilla in a way that I really don’t think any other actor could. But most of it’s action sequences feel like video game cutscenes without much suspense or style. Regarding the people standing at its base, that didn’t altogether bother me that much and seemed rather depressingly realistic. How many news reports do we see nowadays of people standing by recording disasters with their cell phones?

Mission: Impossible: Fallout- While Christopher McQuarrie doesn’t have the almost musical sense of cutting with a touch of screwball that Brad Bird did or Brian DePalma’s beautiful precision and operatic camera work, on his own terms, there’s a lot to admire. His clean lines and sense of spatial geography are certainly better than JJ Abrams frantic cutting. Anyway, this isn’t as good as the original or Ghost Protocol, and as with pretty much all blockbusters these days, the length could use a little trimming. But Cruise commits to things 100%, and the movie rolls out one set piece after another with lots of panache and style. Compared to the vanity project that is John Woo’s crushingly disappointing second film, Cruise has widened things out to more of an ensemble, and giving his co-stars room to shine too. Not quite up to the breathless hype of being “one of the best action films ever made,” it’s still an immensely enjoyable popcorn movie. On a side note, this was one of the worst cinema experiences I’ve had in a long time, I moved to another seat and still couldn’t get away from people talking. Nice that this is one of the last big franchises which still shoots on 35mm. Go down swinging, Kodak. Go down swinging.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#54 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:28 pm

A Floresta das Almas Perdidas (José Pedro Lopes)
The title for this Portuguese "horror" film translates to the Forest of Lost Souls, but a more accurate title would be Hipster QT Stabs People. The film contains two disparate but promising ideas and discards both for a third, non-idea. First we get what appears to be a dark comedy, in which two people, a young indie music-loving girl and an old man, lock horns in criticism of each other's life choices and ending life choices as they meet in a large forest known for suicides. The film isn't clever and the interplay isn't funny enough to sustain this, but it's at least an idea and I could see another, better movie take this kind of interaction into a comical long-winded two hander. Soon thereafter we get the second idea: the young woman is a serial killer who murders people who come to the forest to commit suicide as a way of offing people guilt free. That's also an idea. Now the film will quickly ignore this idea as the girl slowly tracks down the old man's family at their home, kills them, and then blames him for their deaths, making it look like a murder-suicide. That's not an idea, that's typical zero-motivation slasher bullshit that hasn't been fresh in thirty years no matter how many coats of artsy black and white photography and rampant "spooky" ambient music is overlaid on top. Oh man, the score for this is obnoxious, highlighting every last moment when the girl walks in the background inside the family house, and moments that could have been eerie are made completely rote as a result. There is no point to this movie, and at 70 minutes including about nine minutes of beginning and end credits, the film feels padded when it should be lean. There's no escaping that this was a short someone stretched out to feature length, but there's also no length at which a film that goes for narrative option three was worth making at all.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#55 Post by Never Cursed » Thu Aug 02, 2018 3:42 pm

Speaking of Portuguese-language horror, those of you with a particular interest in contemporary fantasy should keep Good Manners, a Brazilian werewolf movie, on your radar. This is a fascinating little two-parter about the anxieties of becoming a parent and the sacrifices that parents make as realized through the lens of well-made genre horror, kicked off when a pregnant woman's new live-in maid begins to notice her employer's unnerving behaviors every full moon. At 135 minutes, it might seem somewhat long for genre horror, but it uses its twists and tonal shifts and haunting musical numbers (captured in beautiful neon colors by Zama's Rui Poças) to fantastically illustrative effect, to the point where the second part of the film threatens to become the nameless fairy tale alluded to in the first part. Ultimately, I found some contrivances of the plot, particularly in the second half, a little hard to buy, and the CG is not particularly good (though the vast majority of the effects are practical, surprisingly), but I'd wager that if you liked The Lure warts and all, then you'd get great mileage out of Good Manners, too. This isn't my favorite film, but it's bound to be someone's idea of a masterpiece.

Go into this movie relatively blind - it depends in part on your ability to be surprised in the larger sense.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#56 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:20 pm

I wrote up some of the 2018 films I saw at the Fantasia Film festival here.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#57 Post by Brian C » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:06 pm

The Spy Who Dumped Me (Susanna Fogel, 2018)

I imagine one's tolerance of this is entirely dependent on one's tolerance for the two leads. I love Kate McKinnon, so was happy to check it out. But of course, this kind of spy humor has been done to death a million times over, and this one too is basically a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. A few laughs work, a few don't, and a good (enough) time is had by all, or at least those predisposed to like it in the first place.

I will say, though, that the film is just weird enough that I would have appreciated seeing the weirdness really pushed a lot harder. Feels like with these two leads there was an opportunity to get something really gloriously, transcendently surreal. At times, it almost gets there, but never quite commits to being more than a programmatic time-waster.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#58 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:40 pm

I generally like McKinnon too but I've never been a fan of Mila Kunis's comedic roles.

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Brian C
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Re: The Films of 2018

#59 Post by Brian C » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:36 am

The Meg (Jon Turteltaub, 2018)

Truth be told, I only saw this because I'd never been to the AMC Navy Pier IMAX before, and felt like checking it out since it's basically free under their A-List plan. It's not like I expected the movie to be good, and of course it's not, but still I was perhaps a bit surprised by how indifferently put together it feels. I've seen worse, but this is not a film that shows much sign of actual effort being made - even the big climactic beach attack is bafflingly generic in its conception and execution. The feeling I got from most of the film was that, while it's not grievously incompetent, basically no one could be bothered to make it any better. Straight off the assembly line.

There is one minor detail that stood out, though - some enterprising CGI artists actually added some remoras attached to the shark. Given the scale involved, these must have been gigantic remoras, so it raises some questions about whether they were native to the meg's deep sea zone or attached themselves later. Although then again, as is often the case with big CGI monster movies, the scale of the meg seems to change throughout, so it's probably an unanswerable question.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#60 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:10 pm

How was the IMAX?

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Brian C
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Re: The Films of 2018

#61 Post by Brian C » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:17 pm

Venue-wise, it was fine. I’d guess it was built back when IMAX was still a distinctive thing and hadn’t yet started to slap their name on any megaplex auditorium with a slightly bigger screen than normal. Watching an actual IMAX movie there would probably be a good experience.

But I continue to believe that “large format” releases are generally an industry scam. This movie obviously wasn’t made for IMAX - it’s just the same DCP projected with no 2.35:1 masking and a hefty upcharge. Big whoop.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#62 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:35 pm

I've been an apologist for Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg's collaborations in the past - preferring Lone Survivor with all its flaws and inaccuracies over other equally jingoistic but less kinetic Forever War features like American Sniper, and enjoying Deepwater Horizon as a fairly grounded big budget disaster movie - but their latest, Mile 22, is absolutely atrocious. The action sequences, plot, politics, and InfoWars-long-time-listener-first-time-caller ramblings of Wahlberg's character that serve as a framing device for the entire film are all utterly incoherent, while Wahlberg's performance as an autistic murder patriot emphasizes all the most irritating elements of his personality to the point that I was dying for the nuance and complexity of Ben Affleck's character from The Accountant.

I mistakenly believed that my expectations were low enough going in that Mile 22 couldn't piss me off too badly, but Berg's mind-boggling waste of the talents of Iko Uwais (martial artist and star of The Raid films) on choppily edited and impossible-to-follow fight scenes more than did the trick - and that came long before he spends the final quarter of the runtime on a lifeless and repetitive rip-off of the first Raid movie that only heightens the deeply unflattering contrast between the films.

That this was apparently supposed to be a franchise starter is laughable enough on quality alone, but the idea that anyone would be chomping at the bit to see the next chapter in this particular story is dumbfounding when
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the film ends with literally every member of a deeply unlikable team led by a deeply unlikable Wahlberg (the, uh, lone survivor) killed because they were all outsmarted by the Russians, who are seeking (a not totally unjustified) revenge after Wahlberg callously executes the teenage son of a Russian official in the opening scene of the film. The film is so inept that despite all the pseudo-realist jingoism and nationalism in the script, it actually positions the Russians as the clever heroes who wipe out the amoral American death squad.
A couple of other minor notes:
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*This film continues the weird trend of fetishizing suicide bombings in American action movies, which are always cowardly and terrifying when committed by jihadists - but so stoic and cool when done by wounded American heroes grittily taking a few of the evil bastards with them before they can be taken alive.

*Also not interesting: killing your primary antagonist with a drone strike. Could there be a less visually interesting climactic moment for an action movie than calling in a missile from the sky without having to so much as break a sweat?

*I really can't emphasize enough how moronic Wahlberg's character sounds throughout this entire debacle of a movie; it's a perfect storm of a completely clueless performance and transcendentally insipid writing, like an over-caffeinated Jonah Ryan from Veep reading aloud something John Bolton scribbled down in a fever dream about geopolitics and modern warfare.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#63 Post by Brian C » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:59 pm

Alpha (Albert Hughes, 2018]

I don't know if I'd go so far as to recommend this, but it's at least watchable, and there are some things here that I liked. It has an interesting premise - a prehistorical young man gets separated from his tribe during a dangerous hunt and is left to his own devices to survive - and at its best, it's evocative of a time when the whole world was nothing but open wilderness. For my tastes, the film gets stuck in between being a harrowing survival story and a campfire story for Boy Scouts, and I'd have liked for it to feel a little more rugged and urgent, but others might like the more fantastical feel of it. And despite some beautiful places being listed in the credits as presumed filming locations, the settings mostly feel like CGI creations, which is unfortunate.

Still, it's imaginative enough not to need an actual antagonist, and the drama never feels especially forced or the scenarios particularly outlandish. And I admire the decision to have the characters (in what relatively little dialogue there is) speak in an invented language. I did not know this about the film going in, and I spent the first half wondering what language they could possibly be speaking before it occurred to me that maybe they just made one up. It works, though.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#64 Post by TMDaines » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:47 pm

Cold War was real good. Refreshingly, leanly edited. Gorgeously shot. A couple of great central performances, especially from Joanna Kulig. Paweł Pawlikowski has got his newly found style of filmmaking down to a tee.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#65 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:06 pm

Watergate - Or, How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President is in many ways very much in line with Charles Ferguson's prior work on Inside Job and No End In Sight — he lays out his evidence in the layered, thorough fashion of a prosecutor making a case to a jury, with shifting onscreen diagrams illustrating complex relationships, repeated coverage of key moments and concepts, and targeted, judicious use of talking heads, all building to a strong historical and thematic conclusion — but adds two notable elements not present in those earlier documentaries (to varying degrees of success): a sense of humor and reenactments of vital White House conversations between Nixon and his staff.

Ferguson went out of his way while introducing the film to emphasize that the reenactments were a necessary evil so as not to subject the audience to what cumulatively would add up to probably 45-60 minutes of Nixon tapes rife with poor audio quality and discursive, confusing conversational asides, but assured us (as does the film in its opening titles) that while some irrelevant comments were removed for clarity and brevity, everything said in the reenactments is accurate and in order to the word; to further underline that point, these segments often start with a snippet of audio repeated verbatim by the actors as the lead in to a longer scene. The reenactments are fine, but are primarily valuable for getting across the content of the tapes of internal White House conversations in unobtrusive interludes between the interviews of key figures and contemporaneous news footage. Some performances are better than others; while recognizing how hard it is to do Nixon — one of the most imitated public figures of the 20th century — without coming off as a caricature, Douglas Hodge is at times uneven, while John Hopkins, Will Keen, and Elliot Levey do solid work as Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Kissinger respectively.

Probably the most pleasant surprise of the film — and one particularly noticeable in viewing with a large audience — is how funny much of the film is, both in just the simple absurdity of some details of the scandal (as when John Dean recounts having to explain to Nixon's staff why firebombing the Brookings Institution to facilitate the stealing of some of their documents may be inadvisable) and in Ferguson's choice of footage and juxtaposing of strident assertions by the Nixon team with the documentary editing equivalent of Ron Howard's Arrested Development narration. These humorous moments also set up a contrast with the seriousness of the situation that helps the more somber moments of eloquence on the part of players like first-term House Judiciary member Elizabeth Holtzman or Representative Barbara Jordan resonate more deeply than they might have if the proceedings had been more one-note throughout.

While the film is long - I believe the intention is that it will air on cable later this year - it is packed with detail and characters, and though Ferguson spends more than 30 minutes of the opening of the film setting up the context for Nixon's presidency, Vietnam, and the Pentagon Papers, many of the people and details sprinkled throughout these early table-setting moments pay off two or more hours later when their stories sometimes unexpectedly intersect with the final stages of the Nixon presidency.

Where Ferguson's prior work addressed hot-from-the-presses issues of the moment that were fresh in the memories of its audience, Watergate is a 45+-year-old story that still happens to be infused with topicality, though the director noted that he took on the project five years ago to get away from contemporary issues only to find himself forced to reckon with unpredictable present-day recurrences and echoes throughout the development and editing process. The parallels between Nixon and Trump in their paranoia and attitudes toward presidential power, the press, and objective truth are hard to ignore, but I think Ferguson mostly avoids the pitfall of weighing down his story by overemphasizing the overlapping themes, more often letting the connections go unstated and allowing the audience to primarily focus on the specific peculiarities of the Watergate saga. As to how it speaks to our current moment, it certainly inspires some hope to see how a handful of individuals committed to good government and the rule of law can overcome the reckless, imperious behavior of a president adrift in his own paranoia and hubris, but it's also deeply disconcerting how key inflection points in the process of holding the president accountable for rampant misbehavior relied on only a handful of individuals acting against their own personal best interests or the best interests of their party. How much faith one has in whether the individuals in similar positions now will put the country's long-term best interests ahead of their own myopic goals will determine whether one finds Watergate a promising reminder of the resilience of American democracy or a melancholic indication of how decayed our institutions and how cynical our populace has become in the half-century since Nixon stepped down.

Ultimately, the film doesn't break any new ground in terms of form or new information on the subject matter (I tried hard not to hold Watergate up to an unflattering comparison to Errol Morris' Wormwood, which had the ambition to do both in this same Telluride slot last year) but is one of the better summaries of Nixon's downfall I've seen or read, and is edited and structured in such a way that its four hours fly by as entertainingly as possible (I hope the film eventually becomes available in this consolidated form even if it is initially presented in a more episodic format for television).

Some fun moments from the world premiere screening:
*I sat directly in front of Jill Wine-Banks and Richard Ben-Veniste - special prosecutors on Archibald Cox's team who continued to show up for work and press the case forward even after the Saturday Night Massacre, both of whom were interview subjects in the film - and they seemed as enthused as anyone by the final product and the appreciation from the audience.
*The woman sitting directly to my left mentioned during the intermission that she remembered vividly being part of a crowd outside the White House in the summer of 1974 cheering at the sight of Mayflower moving trucks — and she nearly jumped out of her seat when news footage of that scene popped up 90 minutes later in the film, whispering intensely to her husband, "That's me, that's me!"
*To illustrate the point above that the reenactments had to be accurate to the syllable, Ferguson told the audience in his introduction how Douglas Hodge (playing the notoriously foul-mouthed Nixon) would coyly request precise line readings from the very proper British transcript supervisor, who would be forced to repeatedly say some version of, "The end of that line, Douglas, as you surely are aware, is 'those cocksuckers'."

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Re: The Films of 2018

#66 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:22 pm

I was a defender of Karyn Kusama's last feature, The Invitation, so it's with a fair amount of disappointment that I found her latest, Destroyer, to be a disappointingly mixed bag of uneven writing and execution. Amid the largely unnecessary split timelines and the distractingly aggressive aging/de-aging of Nicole Kidman's former undercover cop now LAPD detective, certain sequences and moments work quite well, but too many fall flat. A leaner, nastier, less stylized version of the film with much of the fat cut away would be a worthwhile thriller with a strong, difficult central character, but as is too much weight is put on the convoluted presentation of a relatively straightforward plot and the central performance for either to entirely hold up. The film improves on a shaky opening twenty minutes as it goes along, but the script (by Kusama's husband Phil Hays and Matt Manfredi) makes multiple missteps throughout that are ultimately fatal to the film's loftier ambitions.

The film centers on Kidman's Erin Bell, an exceedingly grizzled LAPD detective who believes an old undercover case that changed her life a decade and a half earlier has resurfaced; her stringy, thinning dark hair and the many sun-damaged creases on her face are given too much close-up screen time (we get it, it's like Charlize in Monster!), but Kidman embraces the opportunity to inhabit a character whose inner ugliness and damage have become her defining external trait as well. It's a promising core setup for a director like Kusama to work with — and her star clearly relishes having a messy, deeply flawed character to dig into — but the details and polish that might have made this a genre-exceeding awards contender just aren't there. We're left with a few excellent core scenes and an intriguing protagonist adrift amid a muddle of undercooked supporting characters, poorly calibrated narrative detail, and unsupported tonal and stylistic shifts.
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Perhaps the film's most prominent flaw is in overly illustrating the earlier part of this timeline with repeated flashbacks that stall the momentum of the main contemporary narrative thread, when a single well-timed depiction of the key event with some of the key details made less explicit could have shaved the least successful twenty minutes off of the film and made more room for the contemporary timeline to hit harder. De-emphasizing the ultimately dispensable details of the early stages of the undercover operation in favor of devoting more time to other key relationships would have been a wiser investment. For one key example, Kidman's relationship with her daughter — which culminates in the film's best non-action scene, and the finest moments of Kidman's solid, risk-taking, and yet not award-worthy performance — should have been more front and center, especially given the importance placed on the closing moments. On the other side of that coin, Sebastian Stan as Kidman's partner in the flashbacks isn't provided enough characterization to leave a substantial impression anyway, so cutting out most of their scenes together and leaving him a pure cipher wouldn't have been a substantial loss.

Perhaps the best illustration of the frustrating contrast between the director's strengths and the material she's working with is Kusama's most successfully executed sequence, the film's centerpiece bank shootout and chase that unfortunately is undermined by the screenwriters backing themselves into a corner resolved by just pretending it doesn't exist. Kidman's detective disappears from a scene with multiple dead and wounded and suspects running loose — and no one seems to be particularly concerned about it for more than a few hours! She leaves the scene and we hear a montage of ignored voicemails from her partner and increasingly high-ranking superiors demanding she report in — a reasonable request given that she killed at least one person at the scene, among other reasons — but we never get any indication that there's a concerted effort to find her over the next several hours, despite what would seem like a concerning possibility she'd been abducted during the chaos ... and when she runs into her partner the next morning, he doesn't even mention it! "Hey, remember the major shootout yesterday? Glad to see you're alive and everything, but you should really make a report on that to somebody!"

Another key failing of the film is in far overselling the primary villain as an evil mastermind, when both the performance and Kusama's framing of that character in the flashbacks utterly fail to match what the dialogue and some of the directorial flourishes promise to be the second coming of Keyser Soze. Neither hidden from view until absolutely necessary nor fully fleshed out as someone worthy of the bloody pedestal the film puts him on, Toby Kebbel's Silas is left stranded in a middle ground; a violent but unremarkable asshole who is given too much exposure to be mysterious or enigmatic, but too little to be more fleshed out than an indistinct stock bad guy.

Finally, the film ends with a bit of timeline trickery that isn't particularly surprising and another flashback that is well-visualized and might have worked as an emotional conclusion to a better film, but here feels like a largely unearned and out of place stylistic flourish.
The script also goes out of its way to emphasize how nasty this world and these characters are, sometimes visibly trying too hard to do so
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(as when Kidman's character gives a bedridden, sore-covered, cancer victim a grim handjob for information)
and at other times not trying hard enough to be convincing
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(to illustrate how TWISTED the villain is, one flashback has him coerce one of his minions into an overly familiar game of Russian roulette that is not nearly as suspenseful or shocking as the film wants it to be).
Where The Invitation stayed right in its B-movie lane all the way across a satisfying finish line, Destroyer veers back and forth across those lines, unable to choose between being a sleazy, gritty noir with a nasty edge or a more emotional, character-based drama and unable to be fully satisfying as either. As disappointing as this latest effort is, Kusama still has a lot of the strengths and skills necessary to produce noteworthy genre films — but she's going to need better scripts if she wants to try to push the boundaries of those films or escape them entirely.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#67 Post by cdnchris » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:27 am

I rather liked A Simple Favor. I mean, it's story is, you know, a wee bit ridiculous and not too hard to predict but the movie at least just goes with it. I didn't know anything about it going in, just that it was a thriller. So I was shocked to see Paul Feig was the director, which probably explains the biggest surprise: the film was really funny. And it's not in a wink-wink manner or making fun of the film's overly complicated plot, which would have been the easy and cheap route. The plot plays pretty straight and the film is essentially a thriller but the humour comes out just naturally through the characters and the situations, which then may come up as a plot point later (like a rather graphic painting). The film balances that humour and the thriller aspect rather well (short a couple moments like a chase scene whose only purpose to exist is to have a punchline) up until the end where the climax plays one character's comeuppance straight for a laugh where the film really tried to avoid that before. Kendrick and Lively were also both good in this.

My wife pointed out that there was at least one other film geek in the audience since I and one other person were the only ones to laugh at one line:
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"Are you trying to Diabolique me!?"

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Ash Is Purest White (Jia Zhangke, 2018)

#68 Post by Cronenfly » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:43 am

Anyone know when Cohen is putting this out, or if it’s getting a UK release? I’m remorseful about missing it at TIFF and am hoping the wait will not be all that long.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#69 Post by alacal2 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:19 am

Cronenfly. Ash Is The Purest White is showing at the London Film Festival on 12 and 13th October. New Wave Films have distribution rights so a Blu Ray (and limited theatrical release?) cannot be far behind.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#70 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:12 pm

Peter Bogdanovich's The Great Buster is a mostly delightful, if somewhat slight, overview of Buster Keaton's career — and to its credit, the film really does limit its focus almost exclusively to his work, with only the necessary details regarding his personal life — that I give extra credit (despite not containing any major revelations about or reevaluations of its subject) for two main reasons:

One, Bogdanovich's editing ably shows off the best of the physical comedy, stunt work, and attention to detail that made Keaton so entertaining while also imbuing the documentary itself with a pace and sense of humor to match the work, of which we get comprehensive coverage — from the earliest Fatty Arbuckle shorts to the late commercials and game show appearances. That deft touch made a viewing of the film in a packed house delightful; it's so rare to see silents with such a large audience, and to hear the crowd react uproariously to the gags and stunts really enhanced the experience in a way that a drier, more biographical documentary likely couldn't have matched.

Secondly, Bogdanovich makes a structural choice that I'm going to spoiler tag totally unnecessarily but which is the key to the film working as well as it does and might come as a pleasant surprise for anyone reading this:
SpoilerShow
While going chronologically through Keaton's life and career, Bogdanovich chooses to glide past the five-year, ten film pinnacle of Keaton's work to get to the story of the downward spiral of his career and personal life before ending the documentary with a joyous analysis of each of those films and some of their key sequences, sending the audience out not on the downslope of the melancholic final years of a fading and forgotten star but on the heights of his finest and most deliriously entertaining contributions to the world of film and comedy. Capping this ecstatic overview with a description of the standing ovation Keaton was stunned to receive at a career retrospective at the Venice Film Festival late in his life — not having realized that he was viewed as an iconic master of early film by a substantial and growing segment of the cinematic community — delivered some genuine emotional payoff to the documentary while keeping the spotlight on the brief but amazing pinnacle of Keaton's career and not the more familiar story of the decline of a film star.
I have no idea what the distribution plan is for this, but I imagine at least some will have the opportunity to see it in a theater and I highly encourage those who can to cajole as many friends and acquaintances who know little about the man or that era as possible to come along to see a broadly appealing, feel-good documentary. The experience of watching a film like this alone on the couch at home — which would still be enjoyable or valuable to a degree depending on your familiarity with the subject — can't possibly be as unexpectedly exciting and fun as watching a crowd react to seeing what made Keaton so singular a talent.

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