1Q 2018 Twitter Film Reviews

Back from the post-Oscar break. Here’s my quarterly roundup of film reviews for your perusal (or ignore-ance. That’s a word, right?)

I feel like this is my longest one of these yet…lots of stuff to see in the last three months (I guess?)

I’m a huge fan of #ReadyPlayerOne, the book. The film is massively different, but keeps the spirit and wonder of the source material. Some forgiveness of movie “shortcuts” is needed. Seeing the DeLorian and Serenity in the same film is like a religious experience for me. 3.5/5*

#It is just boring, to me anyway. But then I’m very hard to please when it comes to horror – I like the psychological stuff, not so much with the effects. Pennywise wasn’t scary at all, just annoying. Great casting though; all those kids have a future in the business. 1.5/5*

#TheGift isn’t a bad film, but it just needed way, way more than we were given. Each step in its story felt like an eternity, but the ending is well done and definitely earned. Great performances by its three leads. 2/5*

#Downsizing felt like the first draft of a potentially much more interesting story – in the first act. Then it completely tossed that aside and essentially rebooted the film into what could have been something interesting – but instead it just meanders around pointlessly. 1.5/5*

#Unsane was one of the creepiest and intellectually scary films I’ve ever seen. Soderbergh does a masterful job building the suspense and keeping us off balance, with a mix of clever plot devices and cinematography. Claire Foy owns every inch of her character. 4/5*

#Annihilation is one of the most challenging movies – thematically – that I’ve seen in quite some time. It’d be easy to drop this into the typical sci-fi tropes, but it doesn’t belong there. Garland’s directing is quickly equaling his writing; a return to form for Portman. 4/5*

#OnlytheBrave was surprisingly subtle. They sneak up on you; these characters. You think they’re not spending enough time on character development but that just ain’t true. Not a false note in the performances. They explained enough without being expository. Stunning visuals 4/5*

#GameNight is pretty enjoyable with some great cast chemistry that doesn’t (fully) resort to stupid cliches and has surprisingly no fart jokes. Does try too hard to set up one liners/jokes at points. Plot is ridiculous, of course, but isn’t that the point of the game? 2.5/5*

#Demolition Best understood if you try to experience it viscerally, as a steady stream of a series of emotions. Like water on parched earth, it’s a bit messy, but if you let it do it’s thing it’s most welcome. Vallee’s imagery amazes. Gyllenhaal gets better every time out. 3.5/5*

#Ghostbusters I tried, I really did (75 minutes worth), but man that is just not a good movie. From the forced, lame jokes to the lack of cast chemistry to the abundant cliches and the non-sensical story, it’s just completely unwatchable. Kate McKinnon is the lone bright spot. (No grade since I didn’t finish it).

#TheKillingOfASacredDeer If you didn’t think it could get worse than The Lobster, buckle up. The pointlessness and pretentiousness of this film can not be overstated. Farrell and Kidman are great, as always, but this was among the longest two hours of my life. 0.5/5*

#BlackPanther Disappointing. I much more enjoyed the villain, the supporting characters and the subtext than the story. Bozeman’s character was one-note with little development, the plot ill-paced and just not very interesting. It’s a standard Marvel origin story, no more. 2.5/5*

#ThePost Decent, but disappointingly superficial. A strong, compelling story that is almost too timely, but lacks in execution. First hour convoluted and repetitive. Doesn’t fully dig into its characters or their motivations. Streep and Hanks are terrific, as always. 3/5*

#LastFlagFlying Just another amazing outing by Linklater. Cranston delivers the performance of his career in the deceptively deep, heartbreaking, hilarious, heartfelt road trip film. Hits on so many points without you even realizing it. Best film of 2017, hands down. 5/5*

#12Strong A damned compelling and interesting story with some first-rate action and performances. Reasonably well-shot, though nothing ground-breaking. Characters aren’t developed, and overall film lacks nuance and gravitas, but still a great watch. 3/5*

#PhantomThread This one really sneaks up on you. It starts strange, but it subtlety builds while also continuing to evolve into a compelling meditation on relationships. Great detail, both in the writing and in front of the camera. Fantastic performances and photography. 4.5/5*

#RomanJIsraelEsq is Denzel Washington at his best – maybe ever. His earnest performance keeps the film going, even in rough patches. It has far too much exposition, no third act development and a strange final turn. Like the titular character, the whole thing is kinda odd. 2.5/5*

#Mudbound In a weaker narrative, its split focus would be its undoing, but here it just adds to the strength and power of the story it has to tell. Rachel Morrison’s photography is stunning, and the entire cast just fantastic. It’s a crime it’s not nominated for Best Pic. 4.5/5*

#ITonya is unquestionably one of the best films I’ve seen this #Oscar season, and it’s a crime it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. Robbie was transformative; Janney and Stan were amazing. The story was heartbreaking yet funny. The photography and editing top notch. 4.5/5*

#VictoriaandAbdul is a fresh, funny take and take of the British monarchy. (Interesting to watch in conjunction with The Crown). Dench is fantastic. The story gets a little melodramatic at points, but very enjoyable overall with some great scenery to boot. 3/5*

#AllTheMoneyInTheWorld is full of powerful performances, especially from Michelle Williams, who seems to have been forgotten in awards season. The photography is far too dark and dour, and the storytelling choppy – characters other than Getty lack development. 2/5*

#WarDogs is at times hilarious and others damned interesting, but vacillates between the two so much that it distracts from the overall story and journey of the characters. Teller is solid, Hill sometimes too over the top. Feels like a missed opportunity for a better film. 2.5/5*

#TheDisasterArtist is The Brothers Franco at their finest in front of the camera – this is actually more Dave’s film than James’. It’s an interesting trip – weird, lacking in structure and direction, much like The Room itself. It works, but only because it’s true. 3.5/5*

I’m a big Matt Damon fan, so I took a shot at #TheGreatWall this afternoon. The opening sequence is actually pretty damn entertaining, but then the film just drags and drags…couldn’t finish it. (No grade since I didn’t finish it).

#TheFloridaProject Somewhere soon in a textbook, a student will look up “Slice of Life Film” & it’ll show this as an example. Paints such an intricate portrait of the life of its subjects that it could be mistaken for a documentary. Compelling, heartbreaking, superb acting. 4/5*

#CallMeByYourName The story is interesting, the acting compelling, the scenery gorgeous, but far too long. I like slow burns, but the filmmaker couldn’t seem to decide what the film was at many points, giving us 60+ minutes of unnecessary scenes and ~5 different endings. 2.5/5* (Revising this up to a 3/5 upon further consideration)

#TheShapeofWater is visually thrilling from beginning to end. The callbacks to old Hollywood, the music and the setting really do a lot to give color and depth. Hawkins’ performance is mesmerizing. Ultimately, the story comes up flat, empty and far too black and white. 3/5*

#DarkestHour runs on Gary Oldman’s absolutely transformative performance, which is just amazing from the word go. There’s some wonderful scenes in the film and the acting is top notch, but the narrative is poorly paced and often repetitive and lacks sense of urgency. 2.5/5*