Monday, December 5, 2016

Winter 2016 - Spring 2017 Movies Preview - Part 2


I'm writing again when I should normally be sleeping before an early morning flight, so I'll cut this as short as possible ( anyway, these previews are more about trailers, right? ;) ). So, in March we have a bunch of blockbuster releases, starting with "Logan" = a sequel to the solo Wolverine line besides X-Men. I thought I heard at some point that Hugh Jackman will give up on this character. If the new release is as "good" as the previous it would've been better ...

"Kong: Skull Island" is a reboot of the giant gorilla. In this case I doubt it's possible to be worse than the last attempt ...

To stick to the deja-vu area on subjects, the next one is "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword". The interesting part - this is directed by Guy Ritchie. I don't hope much for such combination, but if it manages to work there are chances to see this in the "best of 2017".

In Aprile we move from box-office to very indie. At least this is what "Sleight" seems to be. The only title for now in that month with a trailer out and worthy of mentioning.

In May we have the sequel of the best Marvel movie by now (say whatever you want, I'll strongly keep my vote on it). I'm not very convinced that "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" will level with the first, but if it gets closer it's still good.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales" is the fifth part of the series, bringing in Javier Bardem. For what purpose, you can check the trailer ;) ...

I've kept again for the end the "spring" title which is #1 on my waiting list. I think that since "Pandorum", at least based on the trailer, "Life" has the highest chance to get in the same "space thriller" zone where we have "Alien", "Sunshine" and not many others.

That's it for this preview round ;).

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Winter 2016 - Spring 2017 Movies Preview - Part 1


We have lots of interesting releases this December, but as usual I'll just mention a couple. We start with one "made in China", which actually premiered at some festival earlier this year. "Old Stone" ("Lao shi") it's a debut thriller of Johnny Ma, a Chinese director with a Canadian education. IMDb gives a slightly higher than average rating for now, but we'll see. Based on previous experiences I tend to trust more the Far East productions ...

We'll stay on the Asian continent with "The Great Wall". This time we have an established director - Zhang Yimou ("Hero", "House of Flying Daggers", etc.) and a cast lead by ... Matt Damon, for something that looks like a sort of fantasy ... The first trailer (which didn't give so much info) seemed more promising. The second, however, made me doubt. Still, again, we talk about the guy who was behind "Hero", which I think it's the best wuxia (Chinese fantasy) ever made (and no, I didn't forget about Ang Lee).

Although I typically tend to get over the box office targets that already have enough publicity, I'll stop a bit on "Star Wars: Rogue One". The reason is simply that last year's "The Force Awakens" was so disappointing that I'm expecting something much better now, even though it's a spin-off, secondary story thread, SW branded money maker, tell it how you want... I still have higher hopes than I have for the "main story".

The fifth "Underworld: Blood Wars" enters cinemas tomorrow. The first two movies in this series made the difference from what else we have starring vampires & werevolves ("Blade" series, "Twilight" shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence, and others). The last two "Underworld"(s) unfortunately dropped to a much lower level. Maybe we'll have a comeback now ...

In January we have "Sleepless", a remake of "Nuit Blanche", a very good French action from 2011. Remains to be seen if the US version can top that.

"Split" is a horror by M. Night Shyamalan who, after a very long series of failures, incredibly enough (really, I don't know how he still got a budget) seems to get back in the shape he was in the beginnings of his career ("6th Sense", "Unbreakable"). At least that's what the critics say after several screenings in festivals...

"The Lego Movie" was a very pleasant surprise. High expectations for "Lego Batman" next February.

"John Wick" was a very unpleasant surprise. Low expectations for "John Wick 2" (so theoretically I should be pleasantly surprised now, right?).

We're closing February with "A Cure for Wellness", the title that seem to me the most interesting and #1 on my waiting list from this series. Gore Verbinski is a good director. Justin Haythe is a good writer. The only problem is that the trailer says a bit too much...

Soon, the Spring season ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Inferno (2016)


... by Dan Brown, or "Torture" (of the viewer) by Ron Howard, is the last piece of the trilogy that started quite ok with "DaVinci Code" and continued less ok by "Angels and Demons". Tom Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, probably the person in academia who had the most thrilling life since Indiana Jones ...

The guy wakes up somewhere in Florence in a hospital which is so obvious is not a hospital that giving a spoiler warning is totally useless. Partial amnesia and a medic from UK who we don't know how she got in a ER in Florence, but we know that she was a little prodigy. Obviously Mr. Langdon doesn't smell any issue in all this context, somehow similar with him forgetting the name of that dark drink that wakes you up in the morning (a subtle excuse for giving credibility to an intrigue that's hard to cope with). However, Mr. Langdon is able to build up the path towards a virus hidden by a demented billionaire who wants to erase half of the world population for providing Earth with a brighter future (it's me, or this subject gets scarily overused lately ...). Well, so we get to a ride that spans the entire film, with an ending that makes you ask why you needed all that. Or how a demented billionaire who apparently is genius enough to design such a biological weapon (and also to become a billionaire) can have such a lame failsafe for his evil plan ...

There's not much more to say. The best part of the movie I think was the presence of Irrfan Khan who stole every scene he was in. That and also getting to see a bit of Florence and Venice. Besides these too much eye-rolling and spontaneously asking yourself "seriously?...", way too much ...

Rating: 2+ out of 5

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Accountant (2016) + 9 years of movie blogging



I have a theory, empirically verified ... best movies come to you when you need them most. At least karma hit me with this often enough to get convinced. Examples are too personal for this blog and I didn't count all of them, but just to give at least something... I've seen "A Beautiful Mind" in the Spring of 2002, at a moment when I really really needed something motivating to get me on track for my high school graduation exams. No need for more details. Another minor example... I've watched "The Accountant" two weeks ago when I was thinking that I didn't have yet a top rated entry this year on my blog + nothing seemed coming also. Well ... here it is.

The problem is that I postponed writing this enough to lose lots of ideas. The story's focused on a guy with a particular type of autism, who ends up making a career in bookkeeping for very shady people. Freelance work, middle men connections, temporary identity. But the job hides much more behind it ... Starting with a not so happy childhood, but special in a way that I don't want to spoil, up to the relations with close relatives and the reasons for picking such a "grey" job instead of anything else. The latest client seems though a movement into a brighter area. He's a guy running a giant company of medical engineering who seems to record losses somewhere in the midst of tones of financial reports. So things appear to get more legit. Unfortunately a retiring director in the financial crimes department of the Treasury decides to task an analyst with tracing our "accountant". Which seems to be the main problem of our financial guy...

I guess the movie script is by far the best built piece of dramatic writing of anything I've watched in 2016 regarding the way the action develops. It might have predictable parts, maybe some dialogues could be improved, maybe the first part seems too lengthy, but ... The way the twists are interleaved, the way (maybe a bit annoying in the beginning) of how the background story is given to you in small pieces, the at least three ending surprises (maybe not that big, but many), and above all the fact that in the second half "things are not as they seem to be" comes back so often as hidden tagline, this is what shows what good writing really is. Despite all critics that seem to pick exactly on this.

I'm at 9 years of blogging (counting also the Romanian version) and I'm more and more disappointed of what I see that cashes in at box office and is also appreciated in the media... Honestly, it's deplorable to witness over-inflated ratings for a blockbuster that has the simplest story and puts a lot in catchy visuals when something else that requires a bit more than two neurons to understand what's going on is bashed on the reasons of too many plot lines, too complicated, too boring and convoluted ... No it's not, but it needs more than two neurons - it's frightening though that more and more critics (authorized) seem to have a limit of brain cells around that number. And unfortunately the movie industry listens... Contrary to the TV, which seems to do much better in the series area (guess less $ for explosions VFX compensates with better stories). On the other hand, 9 years ago my life was more calm, much less stress, better health and more time for movies. So maybe the present situation might have an impact in finding hard something that I can rate with a 5/5 (and even when I do like now it still seems a bit subjective ...).

I have to admit (again) that I'm thinking on closing this blog. Besides the facts that my writing got awfully repetitive, I'm always doing it on the run, I'm not really able lately to keep my "standard" average of 1 entry/week, now I also notice the above. Still ... as long as we have some movies that deserve a bit of fighting against the mainstream criticism, maybe it makes sense to go on :) ...

Rating: 5 out of 5 (usor subiectiv)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Doctor Strange (2016)

No time, short entry ... "Doctor Strange" = "Diablo" meets "Inception" - for who played the Blizzard game I guess it's impossible not to see a link (from the colors to relics/artifacts, everything's there), and about Nolan's movie, well ... we don't have dreams, but we have an alternate dimension + time + others are there. What's not part of the sum above is the context/subject where everything is set. More precisely another Marvel super-hero, an ex brilliant surgeon, who irreparably damages his hands in an accidents and finds again his life somewhere in Tibet. But not as a doctor .. as a wizard/sorcerer who must get the world rid of dangers coming from other realms. That's the story. About the movie ...

It alternates between brilliant moments and abysmal scenes (somewhere at the intersection of cliche, childish and out of place = ex. "the comic relief" is way off way too often). Unfortunately the last category is dense enough to bring down the movie, but fortunately the first category is sometimes so good that keeps it above average. It's either bits of the script like thoughts on the end-of-life or more deep conclusions like - controlling time beats having an eternity in your hands. And still ... it could've been more. Or my usual issue with Marvel, too much box-office oriented :) ...

Rating: 3+ out of 5