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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I like seeing an entertaining slasher film becoming the backdrop for another film being about finding out what has been done wrong by oneself. As a matter of fact I was on board with the idea of the film’s protagonist being stuck within a time loop to to continuously die before finding out who was her killer as long as the film knew what it was. It was easy enough for me to say that for the most part, Happy Death Day seemed to be exactly that – but considering I didn’t expect much out of the film it also caught me where the film was growing to become, and I was in for what would have been a pleasant surprise. Then quickly enough, a twist that seemed so cheap, rushed, and even predictable rendered everything pointless. It’s a shame, because Happy Death Day wasn’t a movie that really took itself so seriously and created a charm from such, but it never seemed fully utilized.
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I was never bored watching American Made, but all I could ever think of as I was seated down was what this movie would have looked like under the eyes of Martin Scorsese. I feel like Doug Liman was trying to remind his audiences of how much of a blast The Wolf of Wall Street was, by taking a true story and turning it into a breezy adventure. But I’m not entirely sure that Doug Liman completely understands what made said film feel as if it was moving by so fast, because the most I kept thinking of was how much I would much rather be watching The Wolf of Wall Street. It seemed to be the worst recurring thought to have watching American Made because I know already that it isn’t the first film of its sort to be done within this style, and it isn’t made with the same cleverness that made its originators work as well.
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Miss Sloane barely even feels so much like it has something to say, which is one among many of the most disappointing aspects of the film. This Jessica Chastain vehicle, directed by John Madden (who had also directed her in the underrated The Debt) feels like it has something to say, but it doesn’t even have a slight idea how to get its own message across to its viewers. But that’s not the most troubling aspect of Miss Sloane, because it rarely ever feels like a production that’s inviting oneself to come along with its own flow. It isn’t so much like The Big Short in whose case the film is beating down its message with a sense of self-awareness, for Miss Sloane seems to have something agreeable on its outline, then beats down said message without going any further on it. I was hoping for something better, but I’ve only finished Miss Sloane feeling exhausted.
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To the Bone, another Netflix original film with Lily Collins (after Okja) presents yet another frustrating case on their own behalf. It’s easy enough for me to say that Netflix’s original features never have been particularly great ones at that, and after breaking away through Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, we’re left with Marti Noxon’s To the Bone. This semi-autobiographical portrait of anorexia makes clear its good intentions, but there’s a Hallmark-esque feeling it leaves behind that only leaves me feeling cold. Sure, it’s better made and better written than films that anything from said catalogue but at the same time it was also what I feared it would be, something that has an eating disorder placed in the center only to be sidelined in the name of a story that has already been told several times before. Suddenly, all my interest has faded away.
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It’s easy to find influences from Terrence Malick spreading everywhere, for David Lowery’s debut Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is only making itself clear its own homages to Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde among a few. But the fact that it lays upon these influences only is one thing that keeps me from coming closer, for it tries its best to feel soothing as a sight for the eyes and a sound for the ears, and yet on the inside it still feels so thin. I’m not even sure that writer-director David Lowery seemed especially interested in going beyond these stylistic influences to make something all the more compelling. It’s easy to see why Ain’t That Bodies Saints has drawn such a divided reaction towards the manner to which it is channeling Malick for some say it is a loving homage and others say it is a flagrant copy, and unfortunately I happen to be on the other side of the fence.
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I’m still not sure how exactly did something like Atomic Blonde, carrying so much unexpected promise from the idea of one of the original directors of John Wick going solo to helm this, with Charlize Theron leading the way, with a soundtrack that goes from The Clash, New Order, Depeche Mode, and David Bowie – would end up becoming as disappointing as this. After Chad Stahelski has found himself achieving success from directing John Wick: Chapter 2 solo, I’m not sure what is left of David Leitch’s future after this, because the lack of Stahelski by his side shows that there’s still something missing in what could have made itself a female equivalent to John Wick. And given as it was exactly what I was hoping for, I was disappointed that it wasn’t a female equivalent in such a sense, more just a hollow imitator.
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Despite my own love for Pixar’s work, the Cars films have always stood out to me as their least interesting films for I have never particularly been a big fan of the first and I also outright hate the second film (the only Pixar film I’ve held in such a strongly negative light). Now that they’ve come out with a third film, I’d only wonder how much more merchandise would they have wanted to produce from an elaborate universe that also manages to be one of the least imaginative that I’ve seen Pixar sink themselves down to. But at the very least it’s nice that in Cars 3 they didn’t go too far-fetched like they did with the second, yet it still reaffirms how I’ve always felt about the world of Cars from the first day. This doesn’t feel like the Pixar that I’ve loved on a consistent streak, it’s just them doing what’s typical of an animated film for the family out there, and I can’t find myself buying into it.
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There are so many things about The Immigrant that would almost ring as appealing towards my own sensibilities: whether it be from the setting or the film’s leading performances, and yet everything feels only as if half of a promise is delivered. This was my own introduction to the work of James Gray as a whole and from there onward, I’ve only run into a series of disappointments as I try my best to warm up to his own aesthetic but I can never find myself drawn into how they tell their stories. I recognize that James Gray’s films have their admirers but aside from a few exceptions I’m on the other side of the fence, for he has always remained a filmmaker that I try to warm up to rather than one whose work captivates me on the spot. Hoping I’d enjoy The Immigrant more after having been taken back by the theatrical experience of The Lost City of Z, what happened instead as a result was reaffirmation in regards to my general indifference towards Gray’s work.
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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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