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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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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Although I wasn’t so much a fan of Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night I had a great feeling from the style that she would only build up to become something more but from her second feature, The Bad Batch, I’ve only found myself growing increasingly cautious in approaching her future work now. For as much as I found myself able to admire A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night as a form of visual experimentation, there seemed to be something far more restrictive coming in regards to what The Bad Batchwas trying to do with its own narrative – for at its worst it either becomes needlessly disgusting or outright boring, yet at its best we have a charismatic performance or two. If anything felt more fitting in describing what The Bad Batch felt like, it was an exploitation film that seemed to overreach beyond what it really was at its core.
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I never felt that the first Kingsman film deserved the praise it received so the idea of a sequel coming this soon had little to no appeal to me. Even less appealing was the idea that Matthew Vaughn was returning to direct based on how he has previously blended action and comedy from another Mark Millar comic (Kick-Ass, which I also find rather off-putting to a degree), so my expectations were never high. And even with my expectations placed at a low, I thought to myself about how much I’d rather sit through the first Kingsman again because it seemed like a more focused piece of work right next to this sequel. Not that it makes the first film any better than it is, but all the better aspects of it shine out when looking at how much of it is done far worse in this sequel.
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I’ve soured on Darren Aronofsky heavily over the years: I remember when I first saw Requiem for a Dream and initially I thought that it was an emotionally draining experience and now it only ever manages to ring me as exploitative of its own characters’ misery at the hands of an agreeable message. But this was not something I found to be exclusive towards said film, because Black Swan, which may very well be his worst film yet, only manages to rub me in the wrong way for similar reasons. But for the many shortcomings of Requiem for a Dream, it never felt condescending in the way that Black Swan was, among many reasons it has only ever managed to leave such a bitter taste in my mouth. It seems so insistent that perfection leads to equally perfect art, and it’s a product so explicitly mechanical its own message only falls down upon itself and the one thought that came to my mind after finishing up read: “this is why I hate Darren Aronofsky.”
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My best guess about how a concept like that for The Belko Experiment was conceived comes from James Gunn watching Battle Royale numerous times and attempting to have at a go at it himself. This doesn’t seem so much like a bad idea because I do think Gunn can actually make something entertaining out of the concept but what I got from here quickly went from being something promising to just flat out unimaginative and monotonous. I don’t want to come down to comparing this to Battle Royale because said film isn’t even the first one to take a similar idea and The Hunger Games won’t end the concept as a whole if films like The Belko Experiment are around, but because of how beaten down it has become, I’m only waiting for the day it becomes exciting once again for Battle Royale helped revitalize interest in such a clever concept.
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I’m not a fan of Lasse Hallström (the only film I remotely like being My Life as a Dog) because I consistently find his work rather sappy and manipulative in the worst sense, so upon the notion he would direct another dog film after especially resentful feelings from Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, I would only expect something along the same lines – a sappy drama that panders towards dog lovers and for kids at the same time, but can sweetness save everything like it did for some moments of Hachi? Whatever there is to say there, it’s unfortunately not the case here for I would have expected from the premise something fascinating with its existence in the vein of Nine Lives (which I’m kind of glad exists), but A Dog’s Purpose sadly isn’t that.
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Oliver Stone’s films have been loud about whatever subjects they wish to carry and in some cases they have been beneficial but me not being a fan of his generally speaking, there’s a level to which they just come off as meaningless shouting. One of the most evident cases of such is Natural Born Killers which quite evidently wants to be something more clever deep down (Quentin Tarantino developed the story) but everything soon enough just goes nowhere. I understand already it’s supposed to play as a satire upon media’s fascination with serial killers but even on that count it never works well enough and instead it takes comfort in an ugly aesthetic.
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The original Blair Witch Project isn’t necessarily a film that I like but I get the appeal it has and I do carry my own respect for it, and in the hopes of finding some surprise out of a new Blair Witch film, anticipation only increased when Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett were directing and writing. Wingard and Barrett have shown themselves to be able to give horror a new voice in a modern age especially with a repertoire of short films as part of the first two V/H/S films and The Guest, so did it all pay off with Blair Witch? I’m sad to say the answer is no.
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Honestly not sure who exactly to feel sad about more in this case, but with Absolutely Anything it’s hard enough: on one end it’s Robin Williams’s last film and on the other it’s the last we’ll ever see of the remaining Monty Python members inside of a film together. But why exactly is it a sad thought in the first place on either end? It’s a sad thought that this may be the last we will see on both ends (certainly the last on Williams’s end) because Absolutely Anything is just a flat out terrible film. If Absolutely Anything turns out to become the last that we’ll ever see of Terry Jones as a director, then it’d only pain me even more to see the Python leaving on such a distasteful note.
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