Let me get this straight out: Jojo Rabbit is a sharp masterpiece of satire, hiding its mastery in the appearance of some disneyfied, Wes Andersoniac comercial flick. To understand why this, is so mastery we have to remind ourselves of one of the basic of communications: the coding of the message has to be completely understandable to reach the broader audience possible. And this film is NOT trying to be an Oscar winning panflet, but it is trying to wake up its audience about our actual Zeitgeist in 2019 and beyond.
With that in mind, the first master stroke by Waititi comes in the opening… cool titles with a german version of The Beatles “I want to hold your hand” underlines this movie is not talking only a story set in the 40s nazi Germany, but wants its audience to relate and also to notice that this is a mirror into which we must look to ourselves… Waititi describes nazi Germany as a nation infatuated by the spell of an iconic Adolf Hitler, a leader that used a hate speech to arrive to power, helped by a huge marketing campaign, and that would be today having paralels like Trump or the Brexit (even if sharper minds would also recognise the mechanisms on the idolization of Obama or the Clintons in the USA or Putin in Russia or so many others… the need of an all powerful, charismatic leader that would get away with anything, with people never realizing what they are doing at their backs or even in plain daylight, but sold as “necessary”). Remember that Waititi is not American, but from New Zealand, which has a broader political system that bipartidism. He introduces right away Jojo as this 10 years old kid, who has idealized Hitler so much (with posters at the walls of his room everywhere) that has reached the point of going the extra mile and have Hitler as his imaginary friend, offering him advice and being the avatar of the propaganda that brainwashed Germany for over 10 years, impossible to resist for most, specially the younger minds. It was cool to be in the Hitler Youth… with a great montage, Waititi presents to us the glamourized version through the eyes of a 10 years old child of what that meant… a military training and brainwash that was appealing and exciting, because it was telling children, they were men (and women… but women were destined to be servants and breeding devices, as Rebel Wilson’s character proudly points out, telling us she is probably the most fanatic character on screen, along with the Gestapo bunch leaded by Stephen Merchant).
Waititi walks the tightrope between comedy and subtlely reminding us the horror behind that, specially with Sam Rockwell and Alfie Alden’s characters. We think, as they are on the lead of the Hitler Youth program, they are going to be as fanatic as Wilson’s. Big mistake… Waititi humanizes them immediately (he actually does this with EVERY character no matter how fanatic they may be, he reminds us that these monsters were humans, able to sincerely laugh or appreciate beauty or an achievement, even the Gestapo ones, completely in delight when they see Jojo’s überfanatism in his room and with the book… they change their intimidating attitude inmediately, and only a few minutes after, you discover that it wasn’t a random check but they already had captured Jojo’s mother, probably tortured and even hang her… which makes Jojo’s appreciation even more twisted and heartbreaking the second time you will see the film.
Because of that, Waititi has one of this really important messages in the film… GERMANS WERE HUMAN AND NOT EVERYONE WAS A FANATIC. Actually most were not, but just too scared to do anything, in the reigns of terror and paranoia. Jojo’s family has suffered and would througout the film, but Rosie’s attitude, despite losing her daughter, and probably her husband, and having to face the horror of her only son becoming a fanatic is to love, to dance out fears, to enjoy and embrace every moment of life, and to do her little she can, at the risk of her life… helping a jewish teenager to survive, spreading little pieces of paper to remind people there is hope and they have to wake up… she is a heroine, as millions of germans were, so many of them paying with their lives the fight for their future. It is important also that Rockell’s Lt is clearly shown to be gay, and that Finkel is his partner. Some would say that it was not done in a subtle way, but I think it is important to underline so many people HAD to join the nazi party to defend themselves from accusations (more on this, if you rewatch the wonderful Swing Kids, a totally underrated film). At the end of the film, Captain Kienzendorf has his moment of glory and redemption by first leading an attack again, then saving Jojo from death. What could we say about Yorki? Yorki, like Jojo, is the inocence of Germany being swept away. We want Yorki to survive, and he does… or does him? When I ended the film, I had serious doubts if Yorki DID survive, or replaced Hitler as Jojo’s new imaginary friend… I tend to think he survived, and that Jojo substitutes his imaginary friendship, with a real friendship with Elsa.
Waititi has made a brilliant, vibrant masterpiece. In less capable hands, the scene when Jojo discover his mother has died would have drowned into an out of tone melodrama, and the movie would have become bleaker than it actually is. Jojo wakes up from his fantasy, but not inmediately. He becomes lost, clueless, even lies to Elsa about the liberation in a desperate attempt to keep things as normal as possible and refusing to face the death of his mother, and Elsa leaving free, so he would become completely alone. That Elsa merely slaps his face, he replies “I probably deserved that”, and they start dancing with a german version of David Bowie’s “Heroes”, is probably one of the most beautiful, haunting, infectious endings I could think of… all in once.
Jojo Rabbit is a masterpiece. And the one we NEED, right now. While if I was going to say which one is the best film of 2019, I would probably go for 1917, Jojo is a close, so close 2nd, and the one that I think should win the Oscar, so as many people as possible decides to check it out… and with a bit of luck, learn something about themselves, before is too late.
Throughout the years, the decades, we’ve assisted to the growth of a young, queer punk outsider, copycating the early John Waters work, into one of the most accomplished masters of visual – and spoken – storytelling the world has ever seen. Make no mistake: I am not a Pedro Almodóvar fan, at all, at least of his real-life persona (more on that, later). Neither Antonio Banderas or Penélope Cruz rank among my favorite spanish performers. But “Pain & Glory” is undisputably, the masterpiece of a lifetime, as summarized in its final shot, which probably is, one of the best of film history (and that’s saying a lot, and I will discussed on the spoilery part of the review).
The plot is confident… while a film director in creative crises, and assaulted by the various pains of body and soul, reconnects with an actor from his early films, thanks to a tribute being made for the film they made together 30 years before, on a parallel edit, memories from the childhood at a village in La Mancha (of course, Almodóvar’s homeland) come back again and again. The film is undeniably, autobiographical, and probably the only fault, is the positive – if flawed – look that Almodóvar has on his very own persona, indulgent and basically softer than it should be.
Banderas is, simply outstanding in this role. He’s been knowing Pedro Almodóvar for 40 years, they’re besties, and also owes 70% of his career to him and the international spotlight his work received. One can only guess who’s who in real life, out of the film characters… who was a drug addict – and still is. Who was Almodóvar’s romance back then. The film referenced, is more than obviously, one of Almodóvar’s masterpieces, “Law of Desire” and the very first Banderas performance that could be considered Oscar worthy (he steals the whole film, with passion), and it is an irony of destiny, that a film about that film’s production, may take him to his long awaited first Oscar nomination (as he has pointed out, after winning Cannes’ Best Actor, he’s been nominated for almost anything but Oscar, yet never won anything in competition, till this year).
Penélope Cruz, Julieta Serrano, Asier Etxeandía and Leonardo Sbaraglia complete the central core of the film characters, out of the more known performers, but also newcomers César Vicente and Asier Flores round this core, with a collaboration of “All about my mother”‘s Cecilia Roth. All of them rank from the competent to the outstanding (Cruz, Etxeandía) but neither steals the flame of Banderas’ completely nailed walk of tightrope between creating a character and bringing out some of Almodóvar’s most characteristic gestures, reminding the audience it’s him that we’re talking about, but not “really him”. Banderas feel natural, humble, lets his costars breathe and create, and hasn’t been this good in a long, long time. As he pointed out, he’s reborn after his heart scare a couple of years ago, making him go back to embrace more dramatic and challenging roles, away from action and popcorn flicks. That’s good news for all film lovers, as he’s a capable actor that has been wasted for so long.
But back to why this film is so outstanding… SPOILERS from now on.
Almodóvar cleverly stablishes a subtle separation between past (Salvador’s childhood in La Mancha) and present (as an adult in creative crises). The past is shown in naturalistic light and settings, strong nature, while present is mostly comprised of urban environment, predominantly interiors… that are quite obviously sets, with a clear intention to make it feel more “fake” than the nature of the past… the reds of the present are so bright as the whites from the past. He’s purpousingly making you feel that reality is the past, while the present is just kind of fake, as urban life vs. the more naturalistic, simple country life. This yuxtaposition comes again and again, specially when Salvador talks with his mother in the final scenes of the film… nostalgy explodes all over the audience, which yearns of a simple past as Salvador’s while not watering down how hard that life was, versus the commodities of the urban present – specially health-wise. That is slowly building upon the film’s mesmerizing, groundbreaking, final shot. Almodóvar patiently builds the whole film into crash collision course with that.
There are three moments that Almodóvar reaches filmmaking legend status in this film (talking only after one viewing… probably I could increase them after repeated ones).
The phone conversation between drugged up Banderas and Etxeandía on one side, and the audience at the filmotheque on the other side… the comedy, drama, depth is completely balanced, each delivered line and gesture building into a mix of emotions that becomes basically an extremely enjoyable rollercoaster. Banderas is specially sublime delivering his performance here.
The bath and then drawing scene of the past. Audience holds its breath with the shadow of seduction and possible pedophilia involved. The resolution is always walking the tightrope and ends in a naturalistc and satisfying way. Pedophilia is also pending on the film on an earlier sequence involving priests, but Almodóvar cleverly skips the issue while subconsciously reminding you, he touched that issue in “Bad Education” which is the middle chapter of his autobiographical trilogy, started with “Law of Desire” which he uses as reference in “Pain and Glory”.
Finally, that final shot. Wow. Before it comes, it has already been stablished when Penélope Cruz’s character has to spend the night at a train station with young Salvador, and also the final sequence before this shot, is older Salvador explaining that he knows, finally, what his next film will be… so then, this shot enter and we see Cruz’s character caressing young Salvador, and we think it is a flashback… then gently, the camera draws back and expands the frame to reveal the crew around the shot and that what we always thought it was the past, it was actually the future and that Almodóvar reconciles past, present and future with just one subtle camera movement, exceptional lighting and composition. Exquisite, and with nothing else to add, because it is not required, the film ends, with my jaw dropped, thinking how long has he run from those early punk days of queer cinema, to become one of the biggest visual and writting masters of film history.
Picture: Green Book – nailed
Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma – nailed
Actress: Glenn Close, The Wife – failed, surprise win by Olivia Colman so The Favourite wouldn’t end emptyhanded
Actor: Remi Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody – nailed
Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Vice (upsetting Regina King, which is supposed to be the frontrunner) – didn’t happen, Regina won
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book – nailed
Adapted Screenplay: A Star is Born (upsetting BlacKkKlansman, the frontrunner) – thankfully, it did not happen
Original Screenplay: Green Book – nailed
Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – nailed
Score: If Beale Street could talk – wrong, I really understimated Black Panther
Song: Shallow, A Star is Born – nailed (easiest call of the night)
Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody – nailed
Cinematography: Roma – nailed
Production Design: The Favourite – wrong, Black Panther upset
Costume: The Favourite – wrong, ditto
Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody – nailed
Sound Editing: A Quiet Place – wrong, they REALLY liked Bohemian Rhapsody
Visual Effects: First Man (switching as I always thought Avengers: Infinity War was the frontrunner and should win) – nailed
Make Up: Vice – nailed
Foreign Language Film: Roma – nailed
Documentary Feature: Free Solo – nailed (some called it a surprise!)
Live Action Short: Skin (tempted of still say “Mother”, the spanish candidate) – nailed
Animated Short: Bao – nailed
Documentary Short: Period. End of Sentence (really CLOSE call between all 5 nominees, there are strong reasons for everyone to prevail) – nailed
17/24, nailing the 3 shorts and Animated, Foreign and Documentary features. Not that bad for one of the most open years I remember
The No Guts, No Glory picks for surprise upsets are: 1. Bohemian Rhapsody in Best Picture. 2. Spike Lee at Best Director (and the film earning 4 Oscars: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing) and 3. Yalitza Aparicio upsetting Close, Gaga and Colman at once and crowned Best Actress, in a Roma almost clean sweep
Before thinking twice, these were my picks…
Picture: Green Book (alt. Roma… but anyone can really win)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma (alt. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman)
Actress: Glenn Close, The Wife (alt. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma)
Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (alt. Christian Bale, Vice)
S. Actress: Amy Adams, Vice (alt. Regina King, If Beale Street could talk)
S. Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book (alt. Richard E. Grant, Can you ever forgive me?)
Adapted Screenplay: A Star is Born (alt. BlacKkKlansman)
Original Screenplay: Green Book (alt. The Favourite)
Score: If Beale Street could talk (alt. Black Panther)
Song: Shallow, A Star is Born (alt. I’ll fight, RBG)
Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody (alt. Vice)
Cinematography: Roma (alt. Cold War)
Production Design: The Favourite (alt. Black Panther)
Costume: The Favourite (alt. Black Panther)
Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody (alt. A Star is Born)
Sound Editing: A Quiet Place (alt. Bohemian Rhapsody)
Visual Effects: First Man (alt. Avengers: Infinity War)
Make Up: Vice (alt. Border)
Foreign Film: Roma (alt. Shoplifters)
Animated Feature: Spider-Man: into the Spiderverse (alt. Isle of Dogs)
Documentary: RBG (alt. Free Solo)
Live Action Short: Mother (alt. Fauve)
Documentary Short: Lifeboat (alt. End Game)
Animated Short: Animal Behavior (alt. Weekends)
*** on the shorts, just guessing as usual, haven’t followed those races. I don’t recall any given year, that so many races (Picture, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, both Sound, Visual Effects…) were so wide open, in which hardly any winner would shock me.
“The Irishman”, Martin Scorsese. Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin.
On paper, maybe the Oscar frontrunner for most categories. 4 Acting Oscar winners, a previous Director winner, and a candy story (Hoffa!). I’m so there.
Oscars perspectives: unless disaster, your multi-nominee, probable winner.
Once upon a time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino. Leonardo di Caprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell and many others.
The Charles Mason murders, retold in Tarantino style? It could go SO wrong. Unless he pulls an “Inglorious Bastards” twist, of course. Oscar will probably pass on this one, unless huge surprise.
Oscar perspectives: Margot Robbie in Supporting, probably. Maybe Screenplay.
Avengers: Endgame: Joe & Anthony Russo. Everyone in the MCU, including deceased characters.
The most awaited film of all time? I’m so there, too.
Oscar perspective: if they passed on Infinity War to promote Black Panther, they might probably pass on this one, too, unless Disney has no other contender. Still, probably Visual Effects only.
Captain Marvel, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Clark Gregg.
It really looks fun. It’s MCU so unsure it might be a mistep. Looking forward to it.
Oscar perspective: hardly anything beyond VFX
Dolor y Gloria, Pedro Almodóvar. Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Julieta Serrano.
A filmmaker, successful in the 80s, tries to make a comeback. The trailer looks amazing and an Oscar-worthy role for Banderas (who probably is overdue for a nom… he should have won for The Skin I live in, and wasn’t even nominated!).
Oscar perspective: Foreign Film snub, if any good, it might be a strong contender for Score, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress (Cruz), Lead Actor (Banderas) and Director. It may sneak in, in Picture, if stars allign (odd, I think Almodovar is waaaay overdue for having a film nominated for the big one: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All about my mother, Talk to Her and Volver probably were top 10 in their years, at the polls, so it is probable that now, with up to 10 films nominated, he can).
J’Accuse, Roman Polanski. Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean Dujardin
A december release in France, and in french… probably will arrive too late for Oscar consideration. But on paper, looks amazing.
Oscar perspectives: unless they do a qualifying run on time and also release it in Cannes/Toronto/Telluride first… think of 2020. But if smart, strong contender.
The Kidnapping of Edgardo Montara, Steven Spielberg. Mark Rylance.
Been in pre-production since 2017, IMDB says. A quick check to the story, it is pure Oscarbait. Jewish boy raised as catholic in the XIXth century Italy. Given how fast Spielberg can shoot, I’d say he will have it on time, specially if Dreamworks SKG does not have other card in the Oscar game…. talking about which…
West Side Story, Steven Spielberg. Rita Moreno
Talking about suicidal Oscar projects, a remake of one of the biggest winners, with one of the original stars in it? Can Rita Moreno win a 2nd Oscar for playing in the remake of the film that gave her the 1st?
Oscar perspectives: a master remaking a masterpiece. This can go either way. If finished on time, that’s it.
Us, Jordan Peele. Lupita Nyong’o, Bill Duke
From the trailer, it seems a twist on Invasion of Body Snatchers. Looks amazing.
Oscar perspective: unpredictable. Will lightning strike twice?
Mientras dure la guerra, Alejandro Amenábar. Eduard Fernández, Karra Elejalde.
A spanish civil war film by Oscar winner Amenábar. Expect this one to do well…
Oscar perspectives: Foreign Film likely submission, probably contender.
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi. Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johanson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant.
Waititi has still to fail. He has also still to make a huge awards breakthrough (which he deserves). This could be potentially awesome.
Oscar perspectives: more like “Life is beautiful”, less like “The Clown that cried”. Original screenplay frontrunner?
Almodóvar comes back with his closure to a cinematic trilogy started with “Law of Desire” and continued with “Bad Education”, in which he basically makes a partial autobiography (obviously he shows us what he wants to show, this is a soft version of Almodóvar himself), that is closed by one of the very best shots of his career. This is Almodóvar as a master of cinema, and Banderas is amazing portraying him, even if with a different name. Cruz’s role is small but she gives another great performance, as Julieta Serrano does, playing the same character in her later years. One of the films of the year.
The Irishman ***** / A+
Just imagine if the 3 Godfather films were comprised into one. Yes, that is The Irishman. A total masterpiece. Awesome cast, specially Pesci, Paquin (in a limited but essential role and performance) and De Niro. Pacino is great, but mostly doing his stuff, Stephen Graham needs vindication. If this does not win Best Picture, it will be a travesty, most likely.
Parasite ***** / A+
2019 is an embarrassment of riches. Bong Joon-Ho just delivered a masterpiece of social and political satire, that starts as a comedy and surprises you with every twist and turn. The only minor flaw, the ending.
Us ***** / A+
Jordan Peele does it again, and even improves the results of the already masterful “Get Out”, with a sharp satire about the American Dream (but that works in whatever culture you may translate it), that blends horror, social commentary and comedy, to perfection. Everyone is excellent, but specially Lupita N’yongo and Elizabeth Moss.
Midsommar ***** / A+
The Lighthouse ***** / A
Atlantics ***** / A
Don’t f**ck with cats: Hunting of an Internet Killer (Netflix) ***** / A
Toy Story 4 **** / A
I lost my body **** / A-
Joker ***** / A-
A bit overrated, but a must see, undoubtfully. Phoenix shows off in a role that allows the actors to create without bounds. He will be probably winning the Oscar, despite Banderas deserving it way more.
Avengers: Endgame ***** / A-
There’s nothing like this. Probably, comparisons with both The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part II are in order, but no… this is a whole completely different game. While both “Rings” and “Potter” franchises faithfully adapted the book series, the MCU has constructed through inspiration from it s source, something different and built a pay-off that is simply like nothing we’ve ever seen before, at this scale. While Helm’s Deep battle and the battle of Hogwarths, and even the battle from Wakanda in Infinity War were cinematic achievements that automatically landed on film history, what we see in Endgame is the same, but pumped up to 11. Not only achieves juggling with an even bigger cast but also redefines the whole MCU and opens the door to cinematic uncharted territory in Phase 4 (and yes, subtlely opened the door for mutants, Deadpool and Fantastic Four to join… and technically, even transform into canon, all Fox films that have been already done… I won’t spoil, how). Color me amazed. And yes, it is Best Picture worthy.
Shadow ***** / A-
. Zhang Yimou’s latest, it is aesthetically on par with his total Masterpiece (Hero), and the film is fascinating from beginning to end. I found it lacking a better pacing, though, but otherwise would be an instant masterpiece. Odd how this one went unnoticed. Maybe some fatigue of all these wire-fights martial arts sequences?
Knives Out ***** / A-
Clue mixed up with Death on the Nile. Fantastic ensemble, glorious twists and turns, but in the end, just a entertaining (hugely) film without real substance beneath the surface.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ***** / A-
Almost on par with the first one, and an exemplary sequel / continuation on the original. “Catchy Song” deserves an Oscar nomination (maybe win?)
Tiempo Después (Some Time Later) **** 1/2 / B+
Spiritual sequel – and closing of a trilogy started by “Amanece que no es poco” and followed by “Así en el cielo, como en la Tierra”, master José Luis Cuerda juggles with symbolism to portray a magnificent and surreal and depressive critique on Spain’s zeitgeist. It’s like Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” but with more intelectual charm, and with some pacing problems that prevent it, from being a masterpiece. Earns a lot with repeated viewings, I don’t discard that it may end higher on my year’s end list.
Glass **** 1/2 / B+
The Laundromat **** 1/2 / B+
Shazam **** 1/2 / B+
Rocketman **** / B
It, Chapter 2 **** / B
Uncut Gems **** / B
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker **** / B
Klaus **** / B
Spider-Man: Far from Home **** / B
So, again, Marvel does it again… a hugely, massively entertaining flick that closes Phase 3 and the first 10 years of the MCU. Everybody is charming and Jake Gyllenhaal is a great addition to the franchise… the post credits scenes, specially the middle one, priceless… and the last one gives a hint of where the MCU phase IV seems to be aiming, which is quite exciting. Extremely recommended, even if nothing groundbreaking. Oh, yes, and Marvel acknowledges which is probably the finest casting of a Marvel character ever… to say more, is to give away a huge spoiler and ruin one of the best surprises, the film has in storage.
Everybody Knows **** / B
. Superb acting all around, specially Cruz, and gripping story, partially a whodunnit, that somehow, doesn’t really hold together as it should. But maybe, that was the point, all along.
Little Women **** / B
Ad Astra **** / B
The Lion King **** / B
Ready or Not **** / B
Das Perfekte Geheimnis **** / B
The German version of Perfecti Sconutti (already 10 versions and counting) is perfectly acted and well shot and edited. Still, I can’t really recommend it to anyone that already saw any of the other versions, save from the ending, which has been changed, probably for the better, even if it did not convince me.
Captain Marvel **** / B
A good, if somewhat “middle of the road” MCU entry, with a couple of exciting twists on the original Marvel mythos (some fans may be upset!) and a cat that steals the show.
Bad Times at the El Royale **** / B-
Dolemite is my name *** 1/2 / C+
A personal project of Eddie Murphy, made possible by Netflix, reveals itself as mostly an Oscar vehicle that overall, is like the lesser and less artistically or intelectually ambitious version of Ed Wood and The Disaster Artist. I was never fully entertained, nor impressed by Murphy’s portrayal, to be honest. I can see why people love it, I can’t see why people think it is an important, award-worthy film (beyond costumes, that department is amazing)
Cats *** 1/2 / C+
Yesterday *** 1/2 / C+
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot *** 1/2 / C+
The Two Popes (Netflix) *** 1/2 / C+
The Perfection *** 1/2 / C+ – Netflix
Slightly flawed in execution, but performances and writting – full of twists and turns, and a full allegory of the #MeToo movement – elevate this one over the usual Netflix-produced fare. Recommended.
How to train your Dragon: The Hidden World *** 1/2 / C+
Wolkenbruch *** 1/2 / C+
Cute comedy about a young orthodox jewish man, pressured by his mother to marry a jewish girl. And what a mother. Fun, harmless, kind of predictable. Switzerland’s submission to Oscar 2019, on paper, pales with the competition. Still, kind of recommended for a harmless fun film for a bored afternoon.
Happy Death Day 2U *** 1/2 / C+
One of the few cases in which the sequel continues and expands the original in an interesting new direction. More comedy than horror this time, as the original, a hugely rewatchable and entertaining horror comedy (and whodunnit).
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile *** 1/2 / C+
See you Yesterday
Scary Stories to tell in the Dark
The Great Hack *** / C Netflix
Fascinating documentary about Cambridge Analytics and how it has influenced two of the key events in recent years, Brexit and Trump’s victory. Still, it never addresses, this is just an iteration of the mass manipulation, corporations and governments have always been doing. Unsurprising, given that thid doc is produced by a media corporation.
Eli *** / C – Netflix
I am Mother *** / C – Netflix
Velvet Buzzsaw *** / C – Netflix
After “Nightcrawler”, hopes for what Dan Gilroy would do next, were high… regretfully, despite Netflix’s artistical freedom to shoot, Gilroy delivered a predictable, horror satire about the world of art, that at core is mostly puerile and by the numbers, playing too much the main characters as caricatures, which leads the audience to disconnect with them. Flawed, if somewhat interesting and with an stellar cast.
In the Tall Grass *** / C-
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ** 1/2 / D +
The Silence ** 1/2 / D+ – Netflix
Sometimes it feels like a crossover between “Pitch Black”, “A Quiet Place” and “Bird Box”… and it’s only better than the last one of them. Still, not boring and not too stupid (beyond the unreasonable amount of electricity and internet network, working after the apocalypse). Stanley Tucci and the rest of the cast are solid, but this isn’t neither John Krasinski’s masterful tension, neither David Twohy’s tale of redemption and survival.
The Dirt ** 1/2 / D+ – Netflix
Certainly, no “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “The Dirt” follows the shennanigans of Mötley Crüe, full of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, with, dare I to say?, some underwhelming style. Not my fave band, exactly, and not the best of the music biopics out there. I wasn’t specially bored, though.
The Dead don’t Die ** / D
X-Men: Dark Phoenix ** / D
Brightburn ** / D
Godzilla: King of Monsters ** / D
Mamma Mia! Here we go again ** / D
Unicorn Store ** / D – Netflix
OK, let me get this straight. It is really nice, Netflix is opting specially for original material rather than remakes, reboots and sequels. It’s really nice, Brie Larson is curious about expanding her career beyond acting. It’s extremely nice, she convinced two icons as Samuel L. Jackson and Joan Cusack, to join her. What’s not nice, is that I can’t say the results were specially significant, nor interesting enough, to justify to say I’ll be looking, what Larson will direct next. Too naive, and so many oportunities wasted, in a material that, in other hands, could have been memorable… Tim Burton, Spike Jonze, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee… could have made wonders with this material.
Fractured ** / D – Netflix
Padre no hay más que uno (Father there is only one) ** / D
Io ** / D – Netflix
A mess. It really doesn’t know if it wants to be “The Martian” or “Gravity”, “Solaris” or “Silent Running”, and in the end, it becomes boring and all over the place.
Rim of the World * 1/2 / E – Netflix
A shameless americanized rehash of “Attack the block”, that goes nowhere close the british original. Shamelessly rips off scenes from other films (the most embarrassing, probably, the kitchen scene from “Jurassic Park”). Avoid.
Steven Spielberg is a master of filmmaking, there’s no doubt about it… still, he’s a director that almost never convince me with his offerings. Only a few of his titles are among my favorite films list (“The Color Purple” is the only one that is pretty solid in my top 40 faves of all time, with “Jaws”, “Duel”, “Lincoln” and “Close encounters of the Third Kind” being the other ones that I love, no questions asked).
But wait a minute, does it mean I hate “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “E.T.”, “Schindler’s List”, “The Post”, “Minority Report”, “A.I.” or “Bridge of Spies”? At all, Spielberg is a master of filmmaking and my problems with those films are more conceptual, thematically or screenwritting wise, with abuse of some tropes or blandness / cheesiness galore… There are only a few films by Spielberg, that I consider directly BAD… well, only one, “Hook”. I haven’t seen “The BFG” or “The Terminal”, for the matter (only some scenes of the later, caught on TV and that did not attract me enough to see the full feature). My biggest problem with Spielberg, is political. He’s a director for the elites.
Not only he’s speciallized on blockbuster entertainment, but his work, his Amblin brand is the direct sucessor of Disney’s design to promote rightwing thinking and capitalism. There’s no better example of this, than “Ready Player One”.
“Ready Player One”, while visually fascinating and baroque, plays more like a videogame in which the audience is encouraged to rewatch the film again and again to find all easter eggs, rather than a serious approach to its interesting sociopolitical premise (a distopy that seduce the masses into escapism to the extreme) desguised as a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory reimagination (which basically, is this story, not only at core, but also at basic structure). Spielberg and his writting team avoid any kind of critique to that society with its only moral being “you spend too much time out of reality”, while mantaining unquestionable the whole structure of the distopy depicted in the film.
It’s nothing new on his filmography, to manipulate the audience into right wing politics. In “Amistad”, Spielberg simplified the whole issue of slavery, blaming it on Spain (which wasn’t even the bigger slave trader). In “Saving Private Ryan” demonizes and dehumanizes germans, conveniently erasing the reality that most of the german soldiers were not nazis and as much scared as the allies of the horrors of war (there are a couple of extremely good analysis in youtube about that, and how Spielberg uses some tricks, to achieve that manipulation… not only that, but it even manipulates the events to trick the audience to think that D-Day was US troops merit only). In “Hook” blandness goes galore to put family first and front (a traditional right wing message). In “Lincoln” he deliverately skips portraying all events that have induced historians to think Lincoln was bisexual or homosexual, plus does not go into core of the real motivation of the civil war, which was economy, not racial justice. In the Indiana Jones series, he creates a series of events that not only are not historically accurate, but sometimes directly create a new history (Nazi troops in the greek islands and in Egypt, BEFORE the war started! And people complain about aliens and nuking the fridge in “Crystal Skull”… or the inherent racism in “Temple of Doom” or the geography in “Last Crusade”). I could go on and on, but basically Spielberg films are better and more enjoyable when earlier in his career and with less pretentions. I’d take “1941” and its sillyiness any day over “Ready Player One”… both are dumb, over the top, but “1941” has a bigger heart and sincerity… “RPO” has Simon Pegg and that’s it.
Predictable to the extreme in its plot, the only interest throughout the film is basically how the situation is going to be resolved, and where the next easter egg is. The screenplay’s few strenghts are coming so obviously from the novel itself, but so are some of the film’s biggest failures, which I wonder how were not corrected when adapting the source material, unless I realized the biggest worry of the team was to introduce as many references as possible, to justify rewatchability. A huge disappointment and one of Spielberg’s worst films, which of course it’s not saying it’s bad. Just mediocre and good for a bored afternoon.
When THIS happened, many thought it was a minor chance, and a possibility, but Fantastic Four might really be referenced in Avengers: Infinity War… why so?
Fantastic Four aren’t Fox’s propierty, but Constantin. Fox only had the distribution rights for the films Constantin would produce on the characters the german production company… so Marvel never did have to wait to talk with Fox to get them, for starters. They needed to talk with Constantin. Which would not have raised any big media attention at any point, so it could have been done months or even years ago… more exactly…
When “Fant4stic” bombed so horribly, the credit of Constantin to fund a Fantastic Four movie was over for enough time to let the contract expire without an obliged new production rolling. It was too late for a 4th reboot that would demand a huge, bigger budget that Constantin wouldn’t be able to fund on its own without seriously facing bankrupt if anything would failed again, and there was no reason to think it wouldn’t, given their track record. They were completely forced by need, to reach a deal with Marvel, and fast.
Because Marvel’s contract with the studios that bought their heroes and villains, clearly stated they couldn’t resell to other studio, but to Marvel. Fox could not get their hands on the First Family, nor Doom, nor Silver Surfer, nor Galactus… while technically, it was said that Fox was allowed to change Negasonic Teenage Mutant Warhead’s powers for “Deadpool”, in exchange for Ego and the Skrulls, when you think twice about it, it really does not make sense at all… it really sounds like bullshit. So, for changing a completely obscure character’s powers, they actually gave two of the biggest villains? It sounds more like Marvel did not mind a change that had no effect on comics continuity – they could just retcon/expand her powers, as they did with Mystique’s looks in the comic books, after the first X-Men film was released – but that the Constantin deal with Marvel was already done and under huge secrecy.
There’s the now legendary tweet, actual meaning and exact words. “That’s a FANTASTIC idea!. Done”. “FANTASTIC” in capital letters… Not exactly subtle, and difficult to think Marvel ignored the implications of that tweet, for fans. Yes, it could have been done to just have people discussing in the internet and launch and even bigger expectation on the film itself, however, think twice of the misfire if people is disappointed on April 27th and there’s nothing related to the “Fantastic Four”, “Silver Surfer” and “Galactus” in the actual film.
Metacritic is a serious webpage, the actual reference to follow the quality of the films reviewed by serious critics… the fact they updated the film’s cast with Silver Surfer would be either a hack – for which Metacritic hasn’t apologized, corrected or explained – or an official submission by Marvel (that may have happened by mistake or on purpouse as a foreshadowing of the actual shocker that may lead into “Avengers 4”. Which, by the way, it would be a self-explanatory title.
To summarize, even being possible and even likely it won’t happen, there are enough signs and foreshadowing to “smell” there’ll be a “fantastic” or at least “silvery” surprise coming on April 27th. And that Avengers 4 may be a mix of “Secret Invasion” and the storyline where Galactus ate the Skrulls planet, courtesy of the Fantastic Four (indirectly)