For all we know this probably isn’t going to be the last adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express but after having already been adapted for the screen as a theatrical film in 1974 and twice for television, one can only expect that a recent spin would at least feel distinguishable because it would at least try to find a way to introduce the story to a newer audience. In some sense it would seem that Kenneth Branagh would be both the perfect choice not only to direct but also to star in the film as Christie’s Hercule Poirot, but quickly enough I was asking myself who exactly was this film being made for. For as appealing as the idea of a stylized period piece based on Agatha Christie can be, the marketing gave an idea it didn’t seem to know who it was for from the inclusion of an Imagine Dragons song. For as much as I’m thankful that awful song isn’t in the movie, it still rings off as exactly what I described prior; a new adaptation that has no idea who it’s for.
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At least a whole day has passed since I had seen Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer in theaters and I am still struggling to put together how I actually felt about it. After a rewatch of The Lobster had gone horribly for me, I was rather skeptical that his next English-language effort would end up leaving the same effect on me but I didn’t get exactly that. Perhaps there’s something about this that I had missed because I know Lanthimos’s films are characterized by social commentary under the guise of incredibly morbid humour and for every moment that I laughed in The Killing of a Sacred Deer I also felt like I wasn’t fully within the moment. But for everything that I admired about The Killing of a Sacred Deer there was also so much that I could not get behind at the exact same time.
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If by this point you were expecting so much more out of a franchise whose prime gimmick is the gory death of people within otherwise elaborate traps then you’re only set to be very disappointed with Jigsaw. But for a film that succeeds a franchise whose supposed final chapter was seven years ago, I’m pretty sure that a sense of self-awareness would have been present so that at least expectations before coming in can already be set. To what extent does that make the Spierig brothers’ own Saw movie anything more than the previous entries, though? Perhaps it would be present in the fact that it seems to know how the best Saw films have worked and just seeks only to exploit said aspects however they can. Does it always work? No, but is it wholly boring? Surprisingly, the answer is again, a “no.”
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Woody Allen’s career has only brought out highs and lows all over the different eras which he spans, for the days of thoughtful romantic comedies like Annie Hall and Manhattan are evidently long gone. Having consistently directed one film a year, there was only a point to which Allen’s experimentation doesn’t seem to find itself working nearly as much as it used to and at its worst, the redundance has only come to a point of annoyance and films like Irrational Man come out. But knowing Allen’s trademarks could have also called for Irrational Man to work in an almost self-reflexive manner, knowing how he writes the dialogue and exchanges between his characters. The case with Irrational Man could be that maybe what’s being sought here is far too on the nose and almost to the point of boredom, reminding its own viewers that gone are the days of Allen consistently offering an insightful perspective about the world around oneself and now he feels like a wannabe of himself.
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Taika Waititi makes his first step into Hollywood with directing a film as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But at the same time, it isn’t without him playing around with the familiar mythology to the point that he even shows a sense of self-awareness regarding the state of these films from the film’s opening sequence. It was something that I wished to see from more of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, just this sense of self-awareness and creative freedom that felt lacking in many of their films. It’s nice enough to see that Taika Waititi is willing enough to play with what we can recognize to turn out what is easily the best film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in quite some time, because it was a film that clearly had fun from the roots in which it was stemming from almost like Waititi would have brought to us for vampire mythology with What We Do in the Shadows.
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“Man on the Moon” has always been one of my favourite songs from R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People, because it was as beautiful a tribute to Andy Kaufman as one can create. It was only fitting that when Milos Forman were to direct a film based on Kaufman’s life, he wouldn’t only take the title from the R.E.M. song but he’d also have them score the film. And to play Andy Kaufman himself, he’d cast a comedic actor who’s already odd in his own ways, Jim Carrey. But as I’ve never known so much about Andy Kaufman prior to watching Man on the Moon for my first time as a younger kid who would look up to Jim Carrey’s comic persona, only to find myself appreciating the man all the more after looking into his performances and my appreciation for Man on the Moon had only grown stronger. And it still remains a side to Jim Carrey that I wish was more common.
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Joseph Kosinski’s eye for visuals has always been more interesting than his actual narratives and it was among many reasons I was rather skeptical before coming into Only the Brave. But I had known nothing about the actual story that the film was based on and when I sat down to watch it, I must say, I was taken by surprise. I was taken by surprise at how tragically the actual event had turned out to be and how the film handled such an event, because I had no real expectations before I had come into Only the Brave. All that I recognized from the marketing was Joseph Kosinski’s name and the most I could ever really make of it, it’s a true story – I had thought it only seemed melodramatic. Even worse, the title seemed rather distracting around its subject matter. But for what it’s worth, it’s as fitting a tribute to the hotshots as they can receive.
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How exactly can one describe what Suburbicon is about? Is it a satire of the ideal “peaceful neighbourhood community” along the lines of Pleasantville? In some sense, but maybe you can also give Suburbicon the fitting name of Unpleasantville in the meantime. At the same time, it also happens to be a commentary on race relations in America, as they call themselves the “greatest nation on Earth.” But not until it is also a murder mystery about one family, and what it leaves on a mild-mannered man, his son, and the boy’s aunt. It’s easy to ask oneself how all of these three manage to tie up together with one another and the only way you can answer it is by saying that Suburbicon tries to be all three at once and ends up becoming a much bigger mess.
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A good deciding factor in what you will end up thinking of Shut Up and Play the Hits is your own opinion of LCD Soundsystem. With the release of american dream last month (a great album if you were to ask me), I figured that I would go ahead and watch them deliver a final blow for many fans to see them for the last time in 2011. The whole time I watched Shut Up and Play the Hits, to say the least, I would have wanted to be there to see an incredible show being put up – just as I can only imagine an LCD Soundsystem concert would be like. But knowing they were bound to reunite, it would still be interesting enough to see what they had done for fans one last time. To say the least, it really seemed just like what any final show should have been like, a truly great live performance.
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Probably the closest that we’ll ever get to a giallo film being made as part of the science fiction genre but when something like Beyond the Black Rainbow has used its own influences in this manner to be such a distinctive work, I can’t help but feel taken in by the experience. To describe what it is that Panos Cosmatos has created with Beyond the Black Rainbow is simple enough, it’s a film that pays homage to the horror and science fiction genres from the 70’s and the 80’s – but given the links that tie back to the artist behind such a dense work only showcase the film’s effectiveness on another level for Cosmatos happens to be the son of George P. Cosmatos of Rambo II and Tombstone fame. Nevertheless, the final results of Beyond the Black Rainbow are sure to baffle, and for the patient viewer, will provide enough to be an all-around fascinating experiment altogether.
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