Upgrade Your Movie-Going Experience

I wasn’t expecting much with Upgrade, thinking it would be just another bionic man / Limitless re-take.  In a way, it is — but plenty of original material including a refreshing sci-fi vision and design sense combine with a brisk plot to move Upgrade beyond the ordinary. This is a fun movie.

Something else completely unique about Upgrade: the first ever SPOKEN entry titles (that I’ve ever seen/heard).  At one point there was just a bit of lag, but I liked the end.  Those involved with putting out Blade Runner could learn a thing or two from the Blum-House Boys.  8/10

Comparison Notes (recommendations mixed): the aforementioned LimitlessLucy, Blade Runner I & II, The Matrix, The Terminator, John Wick, Ex Machina

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A Quiet Place among the Pines

A Quiet Place, or:

Don’t Make a Sound or You Might Be Dead in the Morning, or

Whisper Softly, My Dear or It Will Be Your Last Whisper, or

I am Woman, Don’t Hear Me Roar, or

Do Go Quietly Into That Good Night, or

Have I Told You How Much I Love You Lately?  No?  That’s Coz We’d All Be Dead, or

Hush Now Baby, Don’t You Cry… or You’re Really Gonna Cry, or

Silent Running II, or

Silence is Golden

or… you get the point… is full of premise holes, like the idea that people can go about their lives without ever sneezing, snoring, or coughing.  Or that an entire family walking around barefoot outside for miles and miles every day could ever happen.

A sort of cross between Alien and Don’t Breathe from a couple years back, A Quiet Place would have been a lot better had it not taken itself so seriously.  Because once you take everything so seriously, so literally, your film peels open and is exposed to the logical errors.  Had it taken the obvious path of a farce, e.g. Grindhouse movies, Fido, Teeth, Zombieland, etc., we’d be doing a lot better here.

But John Krasinski wanted to demonstrate that he can be a serious actor and filmmaker, so we don’t get to see that farce.  Only his sober non-reality.

And despite all that lead up, I can say I was largely engaged.  That it all works anyway… until the conclusion.  The movie does a good job of conveying the feeling of getting into hotter and hotter water, and the atmospherics aren’t bad.  Krasinski & Blunt provide solid performances.  But, that conclusion.  Without giving anything away, part of the conclusion I liked, and another part of it served to re-focus all the fundamental flaws of the picture.

Some movies require a suspension of disbelief.  The successful ones allow that suspension of disbelief to happen.  But when a movie is trying so hard to be hyper-realistic in all other ways, it defeats its purpose.  The trailer is good, though.  Maybe just watch the trailer.

5/10

Comparison Notes: besides the above-mentioned films, 10 Cloverfield Lane, It Comes at Night, Jurassic Park, I Spit on Your Grave, John Dies at the End, The Last House on the Left

P.S.  The Purge is a film that on a dramatic level might be right up my alley.  But the whole premise is so utterly nonsensical, I refuse to watch it or any of the various sequels.  Point being: premise is important.

Happy Groundhog Death Day

Surprise!  Rotten Tomatoes gets it right!  The consensus:

Happy Death Day puts a darkly humorous sci-fi spin on slasher conventions, with added edge courtesy of a starmaking performance from Jessica Rothe.

So, yeah… I liked this movie.  Fun.  I’m on the cusp of a 7, but my main issue was it never really scared me, and achieved dramatic tension only a couple brief moments.

Something that normally irks the heck out of me is no starting credits, but with this it’s understandable… the title is practically a spoiler.  And it’s compensated for by two factors: The Universal stuttered roll-out, and fun end credits.  On the high side of 6/10.

Comparison Note: Emma Roberts’ TV show Scream Queens

Stalked by Nocturnal Animals

nocturnal-animals-poster

When I saw in the credits Isla Fisher, I had a feeling that would create confusion — she’s easy to mistake for Amy Adams.  Luckily Amy Adams has blue eyes, Isla Fisher brown — because that casting, and that confusion, was no accident.

Nocturnal Animals may be criticized as a pat or cliched story married with another, somewhat less pat story, but the film was no less compelling, and it grew on me to yield a top-ten film in this exceptionally weak movie year.  Bravo on a long opening credit sequence where too many films eschew even putting up a title.  And can we see more Michael Shannon?  He’s  a perfect grizzled Texas detective, and was just as gruff in 99 Homes.  8/10

Comparison Note (recommended): I Spit on Your Grave

Film Brief: Don’t Breathe

dont-breathe-poster

Don’t Breathe isn’t always credible, nor as compelling as the best in the genre (“Riveting Rentals”, e.g.), but it’s certainly not boring.

There’s something juicy about protagonists who get in way over their heads when they themselves are not entirely innocent.  Criminal Lovers represents the best execution of this idea.  Don’t Breathe: on the low end of 7/10.

Comparison Notes (all recommended): The Visit, Vacancy, The Last House on the Left

The Walk: A Dream Come True

The Walk - poster

A breathtaking film that brought me to tears.

A rare matinee viewing on an insufferably hot day: the best movie of the year

I don’t really need to say more than that, but a couple notes.  First, this is movie magic.  I think Robert Zemeckis was inspired by this story, because he instilled in The Walk the same type of giddy wonder that he rendered way back when with Forrest Gump.

And the visuals — ahhh, the visuals.  There’s some vertigo in this film.  Just a tad.  I don’t know how well the film will convert to home viewing, but I strongly recommend seeing it on the big screen.  I suppose watching in 3D is the default here, and that’s how I experienced it, but I’m not sure it’s necessary, oddly enough.  But try to see it in the theater.

One final note.  I had seen the documentary (Man on Wire) a few years ago — but there is no comparison.  Familiarity with the story will not diminish your experience with The Walk in the slightest.  That’s because Zemeckis has so expertly crafted his movie, bringing to it all the wonder that Hollywood can muster when set on a divine purpose.  So often great true stories are botched: look no further than Everest or Black Mass.  Thank goodness, not here.  Zemeckis does this story justice, in only the way a movie can.  Best of the year so far.  9/10

PS I’m thinking about sneaking in the theater just to watch the final 30 minutes again.  Don’t tell the authorities!