For as many films as the Alien franchise has managed to spawn, only Ridley Scott’s original film has maintained where it was at its very best. That’s not to say James Cameron’s Aliens isn’t fantastic in its own right, but it sets up what’s brought the franchise down as more films had come along: the whole universe ended up becoming far too big for its own good and thus it began to progress far too much like a video game. Now with Ridley Scott’s prequels coming along, we have Prometheus only being as broad as ever and adding to this problem even with my own enjoyment of it, so that’s where my skepticism for Alien: Covenant had rose higher. But I wasn’t merely disappointed with Alien: Covenant, I was so frustrated with what it wanted to be, even to that point it managed to leave a rather bitter taste in my own mouth by the time it was over, because of what it wanted to be all at once, and overall, how little I ended up caring for the final product.
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Ridley Scott’s Alien remains one of the defining works in both the horror and science fiction genres, a film that, like any of the best of their genres, invented a whole new universe by starting small. From the many films that the Alien series has spawned, Ridley Scott’s original film still remains my favourite of the bunch for good reason. It remains my favourite because it shows how little is necessary in order to start a universe of its own from scratch. Although eventually this rule was broken by eventual sequels (as much as I love James Cameron’s Aliens), it’s already impossible to deny the impact that Ridley Scott’s original film would have left behind on science fiction and horror within years to come. In itself it would easily have been just a “haunted house movie in space,” but perhaps there’s a whole lot more that results in the final product actually turning out to be all the more clever.
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Now for one of the most underrated films of its own time we talk about Olivier Assayas’s Demonlover, which has found itself categorized as a part of the New French Extremity movement. This erotic thriller drew a wide range of reactions going from great dislike to high praise. On behalf of the latter half of its own audience what I can only come to say about Demonlover is that it might indeed very well be one of Olivier Assayas’s best films. If there was anything to be proven with Demonlover it was that Assayas was certainly amongst the most versatile filmmakers of his very own kind, going from experimental drama films now to a cyberpunk erotic thriller – it’s a shame that this film has gone underseen over the years but here’s hoping it gets a critical reevaluation that I believe it deserves. Perhaps it may prove a baffling work for some but I still think there’s something all the more hypnotizing about that quality to Assayas’s work: and it’s absolutely brilliant.
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Warren Beatty’s first onscreen appearance in 15 years and his first directorial effort since Bulworth would be met with fairly lofty expectations but knowing how long he has been gone, there’s a question being raised by what effect has his own absence laid upon what more he could do. Did this story about Howard Hughes come so many years too late? What exactly was he aiming for with Rules Don’t Apply? Was it a romantic comedy, a satire about the Hollywood studio system like how Bulworth (I’m one of the few that considers this to be his best film as a director) was for the political climate at the time? I’m still unsure what it was that Warren Beatty even wanted to tell with Rules Don’t Apply and it’s disappointing when one comes to consider the wonderful talent he has put on display all his career.
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It’s a shame that the films of Éric Rohmer are not talked about nearly as much as the likes of Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut because his filmography has kept such a great streak of consistency and even at his weakest something so intriguing. There’s always a sense of thoughtfulness to be found within what he covers in his work especially from how he masters the art of a conversation. In yet another one of his “Comedies and Proverbs” (the sixth and final of such), he has already found himself at the hands of some of the vastest his ideals can reach. While not at the heights achieved by Pauline at the Beach what has come by in Boyfriends and Girlfriends is yet another thought piece about the extent to which we value our own relationships under the guise of what could easily have been a standard romantic comedy. But that’s already become so easy to say about Rohmer, considering it’s so hard to describe that feeling of his style leaving its mark in one’s head as Boyfriends and Girlfriends continues to prove.
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Probably a “not for me” case that we’re coming to look at here because there was so much about Going Places that seemed almost appealing to me in some way, yet I found so little coming out. This sexy comedy-drama by Bertrand Blier has a lot to say, but I can’t help but feel like whatever it was that Going Places had intended for only ended up getting lost. And I’m not going to deny that there were moment during Going Places that have ever had me waiting for something more, but then there was another point to where I was wondering why all of that joy only had made a really sudden stop – the last thing I would have wanted a film with this sort of premise to do. I still kept hope for where Going Places would head with its stance on the actions of its characters and how it defines them but then came the point I just decided it was completely not for me after all.
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In the same year where Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood have formed a name for themselves through the iconic Dirty Harry comes something of a much slower, more melodramatic pace in The Beguiled. But unlike their usual pairing this wasn’t an action film, just a slow-moving wartime drama. If anything had come out from watching what it was that The Beguiled had presented though, it comes from how this transition had proved more on behalf of Clint Eastwood’s end as an actor given as he would already have been made a more recognizable name from the fact he was made a star from western films or action films. In The Beguiled, a more refined side to him is shown and the results from this rather unexpected Seigel-Eastwood collaboration are at the very least, extremely pleasing. Maybe in some extent it’s from the point of view I’m less interested in, but nevertheless it was nice to see another side to Clint Eastwood here.
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As far as my own opinions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have gone, I think it would be clear enough that I’m not a fan. This was perhaps a prime factor regarding why my own opinion of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy had turned out more favourable than my general opinion of their output and after having gone without seeing it since its theatrical run, it was nice enough to find that it still remained as strong as it did. With this and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 has proven itself to be the strongest year for the MCU because their offerings then didn’t end up feeling like they were constricted by the grating formula to which Marvel has been sticking to over all the years, which was really refreshing to have found for films that have carried their name. This freedom was what the MCU had needed after all these years and James Gunn only utilizes it in the best manner.
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For once I found myself skeptical of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film because the first Guardians of the Galaxy actually proved itself to be something that stood out amidst the rest of the crowd because it surprisingly happened to be one of only two films thus far from them that I really liked (the other being Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Naturally, the thought of a sequel would actually be met with warmth compared to the rest of their output but skepticism would also rise in regards to what it would end up turning the film into, and to some extent it’s what I got as always from the most typical MCU film. As promised from the return of James Gunn as writer and director another vibrant and colourful film would come back like the first but perhaps sticking to the same schtick that the first one carried only wore out the charm it had, at the film’s very worst moments.
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“The greatest story of the west ever filmed!” is what the marketing insists you, but as to be expected from the hyperbolic labelling George Stevens’s Shane carries enough in order to prove itself an entertaining ride while it lasts. Although I’ve not yet been blown away by any of Stevens’s films, he was always a filmmaker whose work has consistently remained engaging and Shane continues a long streak for him. On some count this is arguably George Stevens’s most famous film and it’s easy to see why, for it shows a beautiful portrait of the American West as occupied by a highly political environment, together with the iconic closing sequence – but I’ve found still carries another particular tendency with Stevens that has always bothered me, but that’s not to say it makes Shane any less of a great western than it is.
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