Movies You've Seen Recently | February 2020

n8 dogg

Member
Oct 25, 2017
625
Jojo Rabbit

Trite, twee, cliched and toothless nonsense. I'm not exaggerating here; I didn't laugh ONCE.

Constant one-step-forward, two-steps-back approach to filmmaking.

+ Oh, here's a novel idea! Taika Waititi, whose previous work has shown an adeptness at fluctuating between silly comedy and heartfelt sentiment, has written the script.
- Oh wait, that script is chock-full of zero-effort puns like 'OMGott', another example of 'Nazi with a heart of gold', nonsense sentiment about how love can conquer all and how we should just accept the Holocaust because there's good days ahead, and jarring tonal shifts that aim to shock the audience into thinking this one is having its cake and eating it when actually both cakes are fucking shit.
+ Got some good actors in this one, boys, and some of them are doing a great job; Scarlett Johansson is giving a paper-thin character with all the depth of a Pringles tube lid some life and vitality, and Roman Griffin Davis is an admirable young actor with some stage presence.
- But we also have Rebel Wilson being Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell lazily doing Sam Rockwell schtick, and a little fat Harry Potter lookalike who simply cannot read a fucking line.
+ Off-screen context: Waititi playing Hitler is amusing because of his race and religion.
- On-screen context: Waititi's Hitler is god-fucking-awful. Unfunny, unthreatening, parodical. And sure, we might argue Hitler is deserving of ridicule (look at Springtime for Hitler!). But playing him for laughs with a charming performer (as shit as they are) threatens to make him an endearing character, so what exactly is Waititi's intention here?

Just so lazy. It's lowest-common-denominator stuff. When Doctor Who has dealt with Hitler more powerfully, you done fucked up.

Only avoids being my least-favourite 2019 Oscar film because Ford vs Ferrari is so fuckin' forgettable.
 

radosiewka

Member
Oct 29, 2017
92
Warsaw, Poland

Finally The Farewell got its premiere in Poland!

This movie has been recommended for me so many times that I've gladly gone to see it - although I don't think that it should be considered as a comedy (for me it was a pure drama. Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (Awkwafina) comes back to China after many years to attend the wedding of her cousin. It's actually an excuse for the whole family gathering because the beloved grandam of Billi is diagnosed with cancer and doctors give her only weeks to live. As much as it is a family drama - it's about the different cultures of West and East, who we are when we are on the crossroads of cultures and we are not sure where we exactly belong. It's also a glimpse into the rapidly changing cities and society in China.

One scene is especially memorable - when the members of the family, currently living in China, the US and Japan) start a conversation about their roots, choices that they've made and the countries they live in. That is an interesting statement and though there is a lot of nostalgia for the Chinese homeland, the director manages to give us a glimpse of the dilemma, that many Chinese people encounter - about the differences between living and perspectives in the US and China.

I really liked that one moment, when asked about whether the US or China is better - Billi answers, that they are just different.

PS. It is saddening that Awkwafina did not get nominated for the Oscars (at least she got a Golden Globe), because she gives here a solid performance and the role itself is so different from her noisy, over-energetic Peik Lin Goh in Crazy Rich Asians.
 

maigret

Member
Jun 28, 2018
332
Repulsion - Having heard of this movie but not reading up too much, I didn't realize going in to this that it was basically a horror movie. This 1965 film still feels very modern as a psychological horror movie less rooted in the tension created by an external threat and more about the symbolic nature of violence. Catherine Deneuve spectacularly plays a young French woman misplaced in a London shared with her indifferent sister and strange, leering men. Her psychic break from reality takes place slowly over the course of the movie and then develops into a tectonic seizure as her apartment literally tears at the seams and groping hands come through her walls. This movie still manages to terrify with effective jumpscares and by showcasing the ever present dread of a vulnerable person caught up in an uncaring society.

The Ninth Gate - A compelling thriller in the noir vein about a book detective (Johnny Depp) who has been hired by a wealthy client to track down copies of a 17th century book that supposedly contains the key to summoning His Majesty Himself, Satan. Depp's hair looks good for the whole two hours as he tracks down this satanic macguffin, globetrotting from one location to another in which Polanski was allowed to film. The worst part of the movie is the direction with several scenes feeling uninspired and effortless in what is an otherwise interesting story in which Max von Sydow definitely does not have a role and he is most definitely not the Devil.
 

srsly?

Member
Feb 24, 2018
3,734
Children of Paradise (1945)

Finally, finally caught up to the much-heralded 4K restoration of this apotheosis of classic French filmmaking. Old, battered prints cannot obscure Jacques Prévert's peerlessly-exquisite dialogue nor Marcel Carné's masterly control of both actors and mise-en-scène. But seeing it for the first time as 1945 French cinemagoers saw it, with the wear of mere days on its surface, as opposed to several decades, it gleams with a recaptured brilliance. Being able to take in Roger Hubert's evocative chiaroscuro and Alexandre Trauner's magnificent sets with all their detail and verisimilitude freshly reconstituted is to restore to our appreciation the full miracle of its creation during the Nazi occupation. (Many actual Resistance fighters posed as extras during the production as a way of hiding in plain sight.) Despite unprecedented obstacles, the film evinces a classy elegance which shows up your commensurate Hollywood product as insufferably vulgar.

A masterpiece of "costume" filmmaking.
 
May 24, 2019
3,811
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hydruxo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,499
Jojo Rabbit

Trite, twee, cliched and toothless nonsense. I'm not exaggerating here; I didn't laugh ONCE.

Constant one-step-forward, two-steps-back approach to filmmaking.

+ Oh, here's a novel idea! Taika Waititi, whose previous work has shown an adeptness at fluctuating between silly comedy and heartfelt sentiment, has written the script.
- Oh wait, that script is chock-full of zero-effort puns like 'OMGott', another example of 'Nazi with a heart of gold', nonsense sentiment about how love can conquer all and how we should just accept the Holocaust because there's good days ahead, and jarring tonal shifts that aim to shock the audience into thinking this one is having its cake and eating it when actually both cakes are fucking shit.
+ Got some good actors in this one, boys, and some of them are doing a great job; Scarlett Johansson is giving a paper-thin character with all the depth of a Pringles tube lid some life and vitality, and Roman Griffin Davis is an admirable young actor with some stage presence.
- But we also have Rebel Wilson being Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell lazily doing Sam Rockwell schtick, and a little fat Harry Potter lookalike who simply cannot read a fucking line.
+ Off-screen context: Waititi playing Hitler is amusing because of his race and religion.
- On-screen context: Waititi's Hitler is god-fucking-awful. Unfunny, unthreatening, parodical. And sure, we might argue Hitler is deserving of ridicule (look at Springtime for Hitler!). But playing him for laughs with a charming performer (as shit as they are) threatens to make him an endearing character, so what exactly is Waititi's intention here?

Just so lazy. It's lowest-common-denominator stuff. When Doctor Who has dealt with Hitler more powerfully, you done fucked up.

Only avoids being my least-favourite 2019 Oscar film because Ford vs Ferrari is so fuckin' forgettable.
Damn, you really missed the point of the movie. Also calling the actor that plays Jojo's friend "a little fat Harry Potter lookalike" is pretty fucked up.
 

djinn

Member
Nov 16, 2017
4,228
Shin Godzilla. Pretty fun, though that last grotesque shot of Godzilla's tail caught me by surprise.
 

Creamium

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,004
Belgium
Burning: mesmerizing, ambiguous and beautiful. One of those slow burn movies that had me glued to the screen for the entire runtime. Now even after reading some interpretations like how his abandoned greenhouses are actually a metaphor for the lonely girls he kills, Ben is still an enigma but that's fine. This is not for people who like having everything wrapped up though.
 

Deleted member 49179

User requested account closure
Banned
Oct 30, 2018
4,140
Burning: mesmerizing, ambiguous and beautiful. One of those slow burn movies that had me glued to the screen for the entire runtime. Now even after reading some interpretations like how his abandoned greenhouses are actually a metaphor for the lonely girls he kills, Ben is still an enigma but that's fine. This is not for people who like having everything wrapped up though.
It’s good to hear that the movie isn’t wrapping up everything for you. I was a huge fan of Haruki Murakami when I was younger, and it looks like this adaptation is faithful to his style. I should definitely get around to watch this.
 

n8 dogg

Member
Oct 25, 2017
625
Just saw 1917. Liked it a tad more than I thought I would - was expecting just technical bravado, but that bravado was pretty fucking impressive. I also thought the lead performance was very good; Leo won an Oscar for less physical exertion, whew.

Was basically video game: the movie tho. Here’s the opening cut scene. Here’s the night level. Here’s the water level. Here’s cameos for two minutes from celeb actors.

Although I realise literally as I’ve been writing this review I’ve forgotten most of what’s happened.

Anyway, final Oscar rating

5/5
The Irishman

4.5/5
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite
Little Women

4/5
Marriage Story

2.5/5
Joker
1917

2/5
Jojo Rabbit

1.5/5
Ford vs Ferrari

help me bong joon-ho, you’re my only hope
 

bomma man

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,696
It’s good to hear that the movie isn’t wrapping up everything for you. I was a huge fan of Haruki Murakami when I was younger, and it looks like this adaptation is faithful to his style. I should definitely get around to watch this.
It’a not super faithful to the source material (for the better), but it’s very faithful to his vibe.
 
Oct 25, 2017
302
Snowpiercer - Wasn't really enamored with Snowpiercer. Solid enough, but was expecting more from it. I think it's a case of some friends hyping it up a little too much.

Snowpiercer is a solid, middle-of-the-road action film from director Bong Joon-ho. Having only seen one other movie from him -- the recent, wonderful Parasite -- I wasn't sure what to expect going into this. It's fascinating that Bong Joon-ho seems to have a continuing interest in exploring class through physical spaces. Parasite explores it through architecture and housing, while Snowpiercer explores it through train cars. It may be a little off base compare two wildly different films, but it is abundantly clear that Bong Joon-ho gained a stronger sense of subtlety and nuance in the time between the two. Snowpiercer is extremely explicit with its themes. The train as a physical manifestation of class -- specifically the futility and impossibility of upward class mobility -- is an incredibly overt, obvious metaphor, but it works well enough for the kind of pulpy story that's being told. It's broad enough that it won't alienate anyone from enjoying the film, but it unfortunately lacks the sharpness of something like Parasite.

The script also suffers from being pretty broad, from the dialogue to the characterization of the actors. It's loaded with cliched lines such as "I'm a shadow of my former shadow" and other similarly loaded, unspecific phrases. This lack of specificity is also felt in the characters themselves. Pretty much everyone is paper-thin and one-note. Some of them are memorable because of the performances -- Tilda Swinton, Alison Pill, and Song Kang-ho specifically -- but they are still mostly caricatures without any meaningful depth. I don't know if this stems from the source material or not, but the writing doesn't work very well here. It feels like the film unsuccessfully tries to split the difference between embracing its pulpiness and taking itself seriously.

The script problems manifest themselves in the worst offender, Chris Evans. He felt so wooden and unbelievable as a scrappy underdog. Some of his line readings felt incredibly off putting and didn't sell the emotion of the story at all. His reading of "I know that babies taste the best" -- another incredibly obvious class metaphor -- near the end of the film was incredibly off base and unintentionally funny. Again, I'm not sure if it's the script or him that didn't fully gel together here, but something just felt weird about his performance in the movie. On the other hand, Song Kang-ho manages to hit the right notes that Chris Evans misses.

The action in the film was fine for the most part; it definitely built momentum as the film went on. The fight scenes early on relied way too much on blurry shaky cam and frenetic, messy editing. The claustrophobic nature of the scenes felt like a hindrance rather than suspenseful. It's clearly a purposeful choice that just didn't land as intended, as the scenes near the end are much tighter and more thrilling. Snowpiercer would've worked better if Bong Joon-ho leaned more into the pulpy elements of the story and the script rather than trying to play it both ways. The film has its strong moments, but it is often marred in the broadness of the script. Still worth a watch, just to see the seeds of what would come from Bong Joon-ho.
 

Doggg

Member
Nov 17, 2017
5,370
Parasite -- Excellent film, ; just finished watching it. Glad I went in blind. I haven't seen that many films this year, so I have no idea if it is the best of 2019, but it's the best I've personally seen.
 

Sunster

The Fallen
Oct 5, 2018
4,220
Doctor Sleep
was pleasantly surprised by this. movie was engaging minus the 1st act and once it became clear they were
going back to The Overlook
it became a great flick.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,095
Good win for Bong and Korean cinema. Can’t complain. Would have liked Tarantino to get director but honestly cannot complain.

I think I’m about as high on it as most. The twitter hive can get obnoxious though, honestly.
Shoplifters and Burning are both superior in my mind, to name a few recent movies that cover similar ground.
 

LazyLain

Member
Jan 17, 2019
1,847
I was gonna watch Parasite immediately following its Best Picture win, but due to other circumstances I ended up watching Knives Out instead.

And, uh... holy shit.

What a fantastic movie. I've seen some great movies this month, including the likes of Uncut Gems, Ford v Ferrari, and the first two Alien movies... but Knives Out is easily my favorite of the bunch.

(I'll be getting to Parasite ASAP)
 
Oct 27, 2017
15,867
Seattle
Only had time for a shorter movie, so I watched Frances Ha. Really loved it, Man, Frances gets into some messy relationships. Just goes to show, that friendship/love can be challenging. The connection between Sophie and Frances was off the charts.
 

More_Badass

Member
Oct 25, 2017
17,949
Making my way through the Body Snatcher films. Two down, two to go, plus the recent Little Joe since that seems like a modern Body Snatchers riff. Kaufman's version was incredible; it's close to dethroning The Thing as my favorite "remake of '50s sci-fi"

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - ★★★½
Essentially an 80-minute Twilight Zone episode, and like the best of those, Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers still resonates today through its eerie blend of social allegory and high-concept sci-fi. The movie suffers from shallow characterization and classic ‘50s melodrama, but neither detract from the timeless sci-fi horror premise.

Limiting our perspective to McCarthy’s Dr Bennell is an smart choice that keeps the creeping dread in the background until it’s too late for our protagonist. 64 years later, the panicked cries of a young boy that his mother is not his mother are still creepy. Sci-fi and horror have always reflected the fears of their era, and the Red Scare parallels of Body Snatchers are sledgehammer-blunt yet offer a perfect foundation for the film’s sci-fi paranoia.

If only the movie had ended two minutes earlier. Thankfully, despite a poor attempt at a happy ending, the dread remains.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) - ★★★★★
The gooey body horror of early Cronenberg
The unsettling conspiratorial paranoia of Rosemary’s Baby
The unrelenting overwhelming pursuit of Romero’s hordes

Acting as a precursor to the famous remakes of the 80s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers takes the harrowing premise of Siegel’s 1956 classic and filters the dread through a grander, more oppressive, more modern lens.

If the original is a Twilight Zone episode, then this remake is a 1970s conspiracy thriller. By expanding the setting from small town to San Francisco, the dread grows more potent and pervasive than ever before, shifting fears from Red Scare panic to urban anxiety. Crowded city streets become a disorienting suffocating threat, cold eyes everywhere, a population mobilized towards enacting your assimilation. The vast reach of authority becomes a means to gaslight the fearful and corner any resistance. The domino effect of inevitable unstoppable doom begins early and never ceases; few films radiate a sense of hopelessness as effectively as Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Sutherland, Adams, Nimoy, Goldbum: a murderer’s row of character actors capture the confusion, panic, and desperation of the movie’s existential terror. Similarly, disturbing practical effects transform the pod people into a sci-fi menace for the ages. The transformed masses are terrifying as both relentless shrieking hordes and methodical pod-spreading infrastructure. The concept was always eerie but Kaufman’s approach adds a layer of visceral fleshy horror that would make Cronenberg proud.

Thematically, this version comes across as a reversal of the 1956 film. While the original was entrenched in fears of “we’ll all be the same” cultural invasion, the remake plays more like a critique of US: the American cultural leviathan, the inescapable mire of capitalism, the fear of urbanized homogeneity.

Among the pantheon of great remakes, Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers stands alongside The Thing as a stunning update of 1950s science fiction. This is a dread-inducing masterclass, a time-capsule amalgam of ‘70s genre filmmaking: conspiracy thriller, restrained serious sci-fi, zombified hordes, burgeoning body horror, psychological horror and paranoia.
 

Gigglepoo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,953
I saw The Killing on Sunday (old Kubrick movie) and it was kind of incredible. It's about a group of guys planning (and finally executing) a heist and I was so tense for the last hour. Kind of like Uncut Gems if it had a hairy dude fighting cops.
 

bomma man

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,696
Am I missing something or is Letterboxd broken? Tokyo Story is the only movie that comes up in my “recent activity” despite definitely not being the only movie I’ve logged as watched and rated this year?
 

Psychoward

Member
Nov 7, 2017
24,561
Do Knives Out, Little Women and Jojo Rabbit benefit from being seen on a theater screen at all?

Trying to decide what to see tonight and if they don't then might just wait for digital rents and see Birds of Prey or The Gentleman instead
 

overcast

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,455
Do Knives Out, Little Women and Jojo Rabbit benefit from being seen on a theater screen at all?

Trying to decide what to see tonight and if they don't then might just wait for digital rents and see Birds of Prey or The Gentleman instead
Knives Out was really fun with an audience and Little Women is wonderful overall. I’m sure those are the two best movies out of your four options and know for a fact they are much better than JoJo/Gentlemen.