forty-eight things tagged “hollywood movies”

Homefront (2013) · IMDb · D

Shit. Stallone wrote it. Background-watched because it looked revenge-y and Netflix listed it as a Top 10 movie in the US. Jason Statham is B+ as Jason Statham. This time, he growl-mumbles through this shit movie as an undercover DEA agent (with Special Forces training of course) who speaks with an English accent, presumably because he became a naturalized citizen beforehand.

Well, he was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, which is between Stoke-on-Trent and Sheffield so that would be a mix of accents but closer to Yorkshire, but he grew up in Norfolk… which would give him an East Anglian accent. He then moved to London I believe… which gave him his slightly unusual not quite Cockney accent or Mockney as we call it.

Source

Kate Bosworth was excellent and looked like she subsisted purely off the aura of vegetables a few months before playing her role.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) · IMDb · A

Watched with CK. This was Hitchcock’s favorite movie:

This was my father’s favourite movie, and it was because he loved bringing the menace into a small town1, into a family that had never known any bad things happen to them. They adored this uncle. They just adored him. Yet they had no idea what he is like. The whole suspense of the movie is, “When are they going to find out?”

Patricia Hitchcock

And then there’s this exchange 🤣

CHARLIE
Oh, what’s the matter with you two ? Do you always have to talk about killing people?

HERB
We’re not talking about killing people.

JOSEPH
Herb’s talking about killing me, and I’m talking about killing him.

ANN
It’s your father’s way of relaxing.

CHARLIE
Can’t he find some other way to relax? Can’t we have a little peace and quiet without dragging in poisons all the time?

  1. The thick black smoke at Uncle Charlie’s arrivals is meant to be a bad portent. He uses this a lot. ↩︎

Tenet (2020) · IMDb · B

Watched with CK. The plot doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But very, very entertaining. Anyone who claims to understand what’s going on after the first 32 viewings is a damned liar. A perfect one-line review:

So suit up […] for what may not be Nolan at his best, but is definitely Nolan at his most.

Honest Trailers

Excellent soundtrack by Ludwig Göransson (first came by his work when watching The Mandalorian and just knew he was something special.)

Also the Sator Square for a standard dose of Nolan apophenia1. See also: The pitch meeting.

  1. It has no goddamn ‘meaning’ other than being a middle-school palindromic curiosity (and contributes nothing other than names to the plot.) ↩︎

Man on Fire (2004) · IMDb · D

Watched because Denzel and Revenge. Not sure why I bothered finishing it. Absolutely awful. The cinematographer appears to have borrowed the ghastly verdigris-like palette from this terribly photoshopped poster, and keeps twitching the camera with the giddiness of a raver who’s taken two of them Mitsubishi pills that were in vogue at the time.

Dakota Fanning is the only other reason to endure this. She was only ten in 2004 but acted like she’d been at it for at least three decades.

Dream Team (1989) · IMDb · B+

Michael Keaton and Christopher Lloyd were excellent. But Peter Boyle steals the show as “Jack McDermott. Christ fixation. Megalomania.

BILLY
Hey, Doc, isn’t it true that if even one of those tiles were to come loose, millions and millions of gallons of water would come pouring down on us and squash us like tiny little bugs? Is that a leak up there? You see those tiles? They’re leaking water right there!

DR. WEITZMAN
Bill. Cut it out. Oh, my God!

JACK
I will hold back the waters.

DR. WEITZMAN
Thanks, Jack.

.

BILLY
Dr. Verboven can be such a perfectionist.

JACK
Yeah, but that’s what makes him such a great diagnostician.

HENRY (DR. VERBOVEN)
Vital signs are good. Zip code checks out.

.

JACK
Let me hold the gun.

HENRY
No.

JACK
I let you sit in the front seat.

(HENRY HANDS GUN TO JACK)

PSYCHIATRIST
Jack, Jesus Christ would never point a gun at another human being.

JACK
Stay out of my psychosis and get your ass in that van.

and finally (even though there’s a lot more understated gold)

JACK
I drove the moneylenders from the temple. I can handle a ten-spot.

🙏

The Rhythm Section (2020) · IMDb · C+

Am a sucker for a good revenge story. This one was very slow and kinda haphazard. But I didn’t think it was bad enough to deserve this:

The film received negative reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb, having the worst wide opening weekend of all-time, the biggest drop in theaters, and is projected to lose Paramount $40 million.

Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Good grief Basel! Blake Lively put in one of those “triumphant” performances 👏💯🏅

The Foreigner (2017) · IMDb · C

Ireland. Liam. Mick. Belfast. Mary. IRA. Patrick. Belfast. Liam Hennessy. Sean. Sinn Féin. “You should try a real whiskey. Two Jamesons, Single Malt.” Belfast. Belfast.

Also Jackie Chan. But watch for Orla Brady 🇮🇪

There Will Be Blood (2007) · IMDb · A+

Finally saw this with PLG. Daniel Day-Lewis’ best performance IMO. Astounding, really.

Mr. Day-Lewis’s outsize performance, with its footnote references to Huston and strange, contorted Kabuki-like grimaces, occasionally breaks the skin of the film’s surface like a dangerous undertow. The actor seems to have invaded Plainview’s every atom, filling an otherwise empty vessel with so much rage and purpose you wait for him to blow. It’s a thrilling performance, among the greatest I’ve seen, purposefully alienating and brilliantly located at the juncture between cinematic realism and theatrical spectacle.

– Manohla Dargis “An American Primitive, Forged in a Crucible of Blood and Oil

Paul Dano is great as an ageless vampire-pastor 😑 The excellent soundtrack was written by Jonny Greenwood (!) and features works by Arvo Pärt and Brahms.

A Vigilante (2018) · IMDb · B+

The first two-thirds are brilliant. As for Olivia Wilde and her riveting performance:

[. . .] it’s still good to see a cunning and capable actress rise above her usual projects, such as stupid fodder like Tron or Cowboys and Aliens, or labels like “Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2010.”

After Enough and five Death Wish movies, the revenge genre is not without its recurring clichés, many of which get defrosted and microwaved again in A Vigilante. The point, if there is one, is that “heinous criminal felonies are acceptable if they are justified by a woman driven beyond the limits of reason.” As one battered wife says, “Every graveyard is full of people who didn’t make it.” The same is true of old movies gathering dust in Hollywood film vaults.

– Rex Reed, Olivia Wilde Goes Full Charles Bronson in the Brutal Revenge Thriller ‘A Vigilante’

Aquaman (2019) · IMDb · C+

Fell asleep about three times trying to finish this visual overload. Ended up taking a walk right after this exchange

“You expect me to call you Your Highness?”

“No, I expect you to call me… Ocean Master.”

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) · IMDb · C

I don’t understand the ratings and the hullabaloo over what was affluence porn with a tired Bollywood plot (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham came to mind but I’m sure there’s something else that aligns better with CRA.) Might be a satirical, over-the-top take on new and old money in Singapore, though I wonder it was construed as such by the target audience.

And then:

Racism against minorities is endemic in Singapore. Job advertisements frequently only ask for those who can speak in English and Mandarin, and even if minorities are able to do so, they are told that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. Muslim women in hijabs are kept out of certain civil service jobs because of their headwear. While there are police bans on speaking in Tamil, there are yearly tax-funded programs to promote speaking in Mandarin. Minority representations are rife with stereotypes and the idea of the quintessential Singapore girl is one that embodies only East Asian beauty standards. The country’s ruling power has stated that Malay-Muslims in Singapore cannot be trusted in the armed forces due to their divided loyalties between religion and state. It has further accused them of being unable to ‘integrate’ an irony considering that Malay people are considered the original inhabitants of the land. The founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, holds views on genetics that would seem disconcertingly similar to eugenicist and white supremacist ideals, as he has touted the genetic superiority of the Chinese as stronger and hardier, with Indians not being as bright, but still better than the lazy, un-driven Malays. Chinese people wear Indians in ‘brown face’ and many elite public schools are reserved for them.

[. . .] Given this context, this movie is actually perpetuating the state of racism and Islamophobia in Singapore. The only Brown people in the movie are opening doors or in service of the elite Chinese in the movie. Minorities only exist in the periphery of the film. Why is this being lauded as revolutionary?

What people celebrating this movie are doing is bringing a Western racial framework to bear upon a Singaporean one.

– Sangeetha Thanapal, “Crazy Rich Asians” Promotes The Ongoing Systematic Erasure And Oppression Of Singapore Minorities On A Global Screen.

Bird Box (2018) · IMDb · B-

A slasher version of A Quiet Place except The Monster gets you when you open your eyes (but only at key moments that further the plot.) Snoozefest after the first half. Had no idea that the lanky, highly tattooed extra is a famous rapper. A few plotholes that bugged me:

What exactly constitutes a safe barrier between your vision and the outdoors? By the movie’s standards, a thin-fabric blindfold and a sparse canopy of leaves count, but a security camera does not.

How did Trevante Rhodes manage to keep such a defined six-pack over the course of five home-bound years, and would he be willing to share that workout routine?

Elsewhere, Gizmodo on how the unseen monster is an allegory for the pernicious effects of social media on our lives. Huh.

Venom (2018) · IMDb · C+

Venom goes from evil alien mastermind who wants to take over the planet to Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon” in about five minutes.

His new motivations make no sense whatsoever.

But in the case of Venom, the action follows nothing. There’s no reason for Venom to risk his life because he doesn’t seem to care about people, and it’s never been his arc to learn about why caring for humanity is important. Venom is not about an alien symbiote coming to Earth and learning that people are worth saving. It’s about a cannibalistic, violent force who merges with a hapless shmuck and decides to stick around. Venom’s sacrifice means nothing because even if you buy that he’d be willing to save Earth, that’s different than being willing to die to save it.

– Matt Goldberg, “The Ending of ‘Venom’ Is Familiar Except It Makes No Sense

Honest Trailers on the movie. I suppose it’s all forgiven if you make $0.9B. Of course there’s a sequel. Of course I’ll watch it.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) · IMDb · A-

Dan Fogler is as awesome in this one as he was in the first. A role he was born to play:

Did you feel like you had an advantage while auditioning because you’re actually from New York?

I think I brought some real authenticity to it. I grew up in Brooklyn. When I read the part, I thought, “Oh, man, I know this guy. He’s one of my ancestors.” I have a great-grandfather, Isaac, who was a baker in New York on the Lower East Side. It’s really surreal stepping into the role. I felt like it was written for me. I felt like he was family already, so I loved him.

Then I paid homage to a lot of my favorite actors from that era, like Chaplin and Buster Keaton. When Eddie and I are together, it’s like Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello. I tried to infuse him with all of that great, elegant kind of comedy, that real physical kind of comedy. Also [James] Cagney. I liked how Cagney stood. He was very conservative in his motions – because I’m such a broad, wacky guy, I thought that it helped me stay in the period. Cut to me flailing and running like a maniac. [Laughs.]

– From an interview with The Los Angeles Times’ Meredith Worner

Lutz Ebersdorf

As if I needed another reason to fall in love with Tilda Swinton

Swinton penned a phony IMDb biography to keep the secret, and wore fake genitalia, created by makeup artist Mark Coulier, while in character. (“She did have us make a penis and balls,” Coulier told the paper. “She had this nice, weighty set of genitalia so that she could feel it dangling between her legs, and she managed to get it out on set on a couple of occasions.”) Both she and Guadagnino were miffed when their secret got out. “Frankly, my long-held dream was that we would never have addressed this question at all,” Swinton told the Times. “My original idea was that Lutz would die during the edit, and his ‘In Memoriam’ be the final credit in the film.”

Vulture

😳

Hereditary (2018) · IMDb · A

Deeply upsetting. One of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker on what gives it its potency

Should you want to measure the psychological disturbance at work here, try comparing “Hereditary” with “A Quiet Place.” That recent hit, for all its masterly shocks, is at bottom a reassuring film, introducing people who are beset by an external menace but more or less able to pull through because, as a team, they’re roped together with enough love to fight back. “Hereditary” is more perplexing. It has the nerve to suggest that the social unit is, by definition, self-menacing, and that the home is no longer a sanctuary but a crumbling fortress, under siege from within. That is why there are no doctors in Aster’s film, and no detectives, either, urgently though both are required; nor does a man of God arrive, as he does in “The Exorcist” (1973), to lay the anguish to rest. Nothing, in short, can help Annie, Steve, and the kids, and they sure can’t help themselves, stationed as they are inside their delicate doll’s house of a world. There is no family curse in this remarkable movie. The family is the curse.

The amazing Colin Stetson did the soundtrack which is somehow even more unsettling than Brian Reitzell’s Hannibal.

Update 25 Oct 2018: If this was a movie:

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) · IMDb · B+

This is the jingoistic view of American force so familiar from films like ‘Black Hawk Down.’ This is American power as an unstoppable beast.

Yep.

You would be forgiven for asking what religious extremists have to do with a film series that previously focused on Mexican drug cartels. You would also be forgiven for finding this film problematic as it focuses next on a craven terrorist attack in a grocery store. Three suicide bombers enter the crowded building and commit mass murder. We are not spared the image of a mother begging for the life of her little girl. We discover that the terrorists are being smuggled across the border by the cartels. Two of our greatest enemies have now become one.

– Joshua Ruth “Sicario: Day of The Soldado’ is Violent, Problematic and One of the Most Satisfying Sequels in Years”

Watch for a masterclass in tension, Benecio Del Toro being a badass again, and for Isabela Moner’s excellent performance.

Isle of Dogs (2018) · IMDb · A-

Michael Cavna at The Washington Post with a roundup of the cultural appropriation controversy around the movie. Steve Rose at The Guardian:

Some critics are barking “appropriation!” on Twitter and online, but where Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange (and there are many more) took a Japanese story and cut-and-pasted in white people, here Anderson engages with Japanese culture and references on an almost scholarly level, while the cast is filled with Japanese names1, from Ken Watanabe to Yôjirô Noda, lead singer of Radwimps to, er, Yoko Ono.

Isle of Dogs is a movie that seems custom-made to set off appropriation dog whistles but, for all its questionable moves, the result is a story that’s one of a kind. If we police boundaries too strictly, we’re stifling the possibility of cross-fertilisation and invention. If you do it well enough, it’s not appropriation, it’s conversation.

Also from that article: “cultural Pinterestism”.

I can watch stop-motion “making of” videos all day and here’s a dismayingly short one on Isle of Dogs:

The sushi scene took 8 months to craft!

  1. Numbers alone aren’t compelling arguments but I counted 26 Japanese actors out of 49 on the (partial?) cast list here ↩︎

Child Endangerment

A mother in suburban Chicago breathes a huge sigh of relief this week, as she was reunited with her 8-year-old son Kevin, who was accidentally left at home alone as the family went on vacation to Paris. Apparently no one had noticed the boy was missing on their drive to the airport and through airport security and while boarding the plane.

Only once when they were in flight did the mother sense that a cherished family member may not have been present. She then shrieked, Kevin. She would rush home where she, along with police, found the boy unharmed physically, though he may deal with abandonment issues for years to come.

In addition to the boy, the police also found two career criminals who appeared to have suffered great bodily damage while attempting to rob the house. One man had been shot in the groin with a BB gun and had his hands severely burned by a hot doorknob. The other man had a nail and pieces of glass Christmas ornaments lodged in his foot. Both men also miraculously survived being hit in the head with a paint can that was apparently swung from a rope at high speeds, something which would normally crush a human skull.

Child Protective Services say they will not remove the child from the family since they believe it to be only a one-time occurrence, and certainly not something that could happen again the next year.

– Hari Kondabolu on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!