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Webslinger

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About Webslinger

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  1. Yeah, that Parasite win at SAG has me excited about the potential of eking out a victory on Oscar night too. For what it's worth, I kinda see similar shades to Spotlight/Revenant and Moonlight/La La Land, where 1917 could pick up Director as recognition of its technical accomplishments but miss out on Picture. We'll see. And Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's chances at a Picture win, dwindling though they were before losing SAG Ensemble, look like they're officially gone. I'm still pretty surprised that a Tarantino film that basically worships movies didn't just walk straight to Best Picture and Director wins.
  2. Yup. Five years later, I still can't believe how massive that movie was in its first two weeks of wide release. Definitely a case of audience interest, awards buzz, and an exceptionally strong ad campaign forming a perfect storm. I thought for sure it would take down The Passion as the top R-rated domestic grosser up until it had a huge (but understandable) drop over Super Bowl weekend the following frame.
  3. Like everyone else, I'm kinda floored by how huge Bad Boys is shaping up to be. I figured it would just be an okay performer, not a massive breakout. I guess the nostalgic fondness for the previous movies is still potent.
  4. Ugh, I'm bummed that The Farewell went totally shutout. I thought it would at least score an Original Screenplay nomination.
  5. I read that the aspect ratio was opened to 1.90:1 for IMAX. Given how great Skyfall looked with the expanded ratio and the same director/DP combination, I can't imagine how great this movie must have looked with more visual information. I'll confess that at numerous points, I thought "Well, it's not Dunkirk" on the war-set survival movie front and "Well, it's not quite Birdman" on the one-shot appearance front (or the two major extended shots of Children of Men, for that matter). But the fact that I'm bringing up two movies that were in my top 25 of the past decade as points of contrast speaks to how much I admired this film. It feels like it fills a spot similar to that of Black Hawk Down: a really strong directorial achievement that proves exceptionally thrilling despite some admitted (minor) shortcomings in storytelling.
  6. Sam Mendes takes some big creative risks with his World War I drama 1917, and these risks pay off handsomely in an intense war film that succeeds in creating an exceptionally immersive experience for viewers. Unfolding as one unbroken shot in which the camera follows its leads through mundane and treacherous scenarios alike, 1917 keeps the tension running high throughout its running time and uses its visual gimmick to excellent effect. Though it is easy to occasionally slip into working to spot the hidden edits, the style enhances the urgency of the narrative and the intimacy the audience shares with the protagonists; as such, the sudden jolts in action carry greater weight and a more pronounced sense of dread because we – like Lance Corporals Blake and Schofield – have just a limited view of the action and peril that lie ahead. From a technical perspective, the film is a tremendous accomplishment: Roger Deakins’s cinematography is gorgeous as usual and moves carefully and precisely enough to sell the illusion of continuous movement much more often than not; the sound design is crisp and puts the directional capabilities of an Atmos sound mix to great use; and Mendes directs each element of each scene confidently and with a clear sense of each detail’s purpose, whether practical or profound. If there’s a knock to be made on the film, it’s that the story is a bit too simple to sustain the full two-hour running time, but Dean-Charles Chapman and George McKay carry the film with equal parts strength and grace. Chapman and McKay are both terrific in everyman parts, and they are each solid in smaller, affecting scenes that remind viewers of the humanity at the center of the conflict. As a survival tale set against the backdrop of a World War, 1917 does admittedly stand in Dunkirk’s shadow to some degree, but there’s so much mightily impressive dramatic material and technical mastery on display that it’s hard not to get swept up in the world and scenarios Mendes creates onscreen. A-
  7. A blurb from my Parasite review showed up there as well (on the top international features listing), so BOT's clearly doing its part over at Letterboxd.
  8. If it follows the usual pattern for A24 releases, it will stream on Prime a couple months after its digital release. I'd be surprised if it just disappeared from cinemas altogether in the U.S. by the end of January, even if the second (wide release) weekend drop isn't great. It probably won't last at the mall multiplexes, but I imagine that it's going to have a very long and healthy run at specialty venues whose audiences are likelier to dig it - a la something like Drive or Parasite.
  9. Wow. I knew the word-of-mouth on The Grudge wasn't going to be kind based on how bad the reviews were, but an F CinemaScore?! Damn, dude. That said, I don't think anything can match up with the early January horror shenanigans of The Devil Inside, which got an F CinemaScore and a few videos capturing audiences straight-up booing the ending. Its flameout from day 2 onward was almost as eye-popping as its breakout Friday number.
  10. I remember being at the cinema the day The Grudge opened - it was my birthday and I was seeing Napoleon Dynamite with friends, but there were so many more people there for The Grudge than I expected for both the same late afternoon showtime slot we were seeing Napoleon Dynamite and in the line for the first nighttime run after we got out. After that, I didn't find the $15 million estimate the next morning all that hard to believe. I find it kinda ironic that it felt like the 13-to-16 set played a significant role in the success of the 2004 Grudge and the decent-ish opening of its 2006 sequel (could just be anecdotal given that I was in that age range when both of the previous American theatrical releases came out), yet the R-rating is the centerpiece of this latest remake.
  11. It still doesn’t feel like it was really 20 years ago that I was all amped up for 2000. Time flies.
  12. Put as simply as possible, Uncut Gems is a wild ride. With a frenzied style that heightens the urgency of even seemingly mundane moments, the Safdie Brothers make virtually every scene feel trippy, unhinged, and tense, all finally culminating in a ballsy ending that tracks well with the narrative’s trajectory but will undoubtedly divide audiences. The narrative functions primarily as a character study driven by a career-best performance from Adam Sandler. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sandler and I was a big fan of his seriocomic work in Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People, but he’s on an even higher level here. As debt-crippled diamond dealer Howard, Sandler succeeds in crafting a volatile character whose impulsive decision-making constantly threatens to knock him off his already precarious place. Sandler buries himself in the part and channels the affability and comedic rage that have worked in his lowbrow comedies and fashions them into defining traits in an electrifying performance that commands the viewer’s attention throughout the entire running time. There’s also some solid work from Lakeith Stanfield as one of Sandler’s associates, Kevin Garnett in a self-deprecating turn as himself, and newcomer Julia Fox as Sandler’s much younger and also volatile mistress, but the film largely belongs to Sandler and he owns it with easily his most engrossing performance to date. The bleakness and prickly nature of Uncut Gems won’t be for everyone (and it might come as a shock to viewers expecting something more akin to Sandler’s typical fare), but for those who get caught up in what the Safdie Brothers and Adam Sandler deliver, it’s a delirious, arresting experience. A- Stray Thoughts: - I'm damn glad I'm not an NBA fan and didn't know how that Boston/Philadelphia series ended beforehand. I was definitely anxious during that Game 7 sequence... - Howard's murder drew gasps from my audience. Like, actual audible gasps. I know some viewers will complain that Howard's death shortly after his bet paying off renders the whole movie pointless, but... that's kinda the point? He's so delusional that he doesn't realize that shady guys who want their money right this second aren't going to be pleased with a go-for-broke bet and aren't going to trust him to deliver the money he owes even when he gets the massive payout. He's headed toward a bad end the entire time, but he keeps on believing that he can win big despite the odds stacked against him. Even though his optimism is ostensibly rewarded in the game, it's only through sheer dumb luck that has nothing to do with any of his own wit, and it could have completely blown up within the opening second of the game. At least he gets to die in a state of elation, which is a marked contrast with his frazzled state-of-mind through much of the rest of the film. - I recognized Tilda Swinton's vocal cameo, but somehow not Natasha Lyonne's.
  13. Much like the political films he directed for HBO, Jay Roach’s take on the sexual harassment scandal that broke at Fox News in Bombshell is an intriguing glimpse into a painful but all-too-relevant piece of recent history. The ensemble cast, in top form across the board, carries the film with their powerful performances that elevate a script which – while sufficiently strong overall – doesn’t always seem like it’s engaging with the nuances of its subject as thoroughly as it could. Much has already been said of the resemblance Charlize Theron bears to Megyn Kelly, but Theron’s work here runs much deeper than just a similar appearance. Theron is wholly convincing as a driven individual who has difficulty reconciling her ambition with the mistreatment she faces. She cleverly captures her character’s cynicism about the nature of the beast she works in and her realization that enough is enough. Nicole Kidman is also effective as Gretchen Carlson, showing the mental and emotional toll that years of sexual harassment have taken on her character with subtlety rather than histrionics. The big standout, however, is Margot Robbie as a fictional merging of several women who worked at the network. Perhaps it’s the fact that Robbie’s character – being fictional – does not encounter the thorny baggage that accompanied Kelly and Carlson as individuals who willingly perpetuated their network’s odious ideology (a point this film doesn’t really engage with, which I suppose is understandable given that it’s more about standing up for *all* women who have been wronged than an examination of the harm done by Fox News), but her story registers the most forcefully and Robbie captures her naïveté and her horror at her treatment in raw, heartbreaking fashion. Kate McKinnon also gets some great scenes in an all-too-brief role as a closeted liberal and closeted lesbian working at the network (I almost wish we could just have a separate movie about Robbie and McKinnon – they’re that good in their roles together) and John Lithgow rises to the challenge of crafting a repugnant Roger Ailes who believes with utter conviction that he is entitled to get whatever he wants from the women at his disposal and should never have to face any sort of reckoning for it. It’s true that this film doesn’t really engage with what it’s female figureheads have said on their platforms (some lip service is paid, but that’s about it), but I think this film is arguing – and arguing effectively – that their viewpoints and their refusal to engage with how those viewpoints are harmful for others do not preclude them from being deserving of decent treatment or getting justice when they’re wronged on a deeply intimate level. B+ Stray Thoughts: - As one of the five people who actually watched The Loudest Voice this summer, I liked this film better than the show. It's more focused and succinct, and the fact that we get lengthy breaks from Ailes in this film definitely helps. Russell Crowe was great as Ailes in the show, but the man and everything he stood for stoke my anger so easily that getting through an hour at a time was an endurance trial despite the strength of Crowe's performance. Luckily, Roach gets that a little of Lithgow's scary work as Ailes goes a long way. - Yeah, filmlover nailed it on that scene. I looked away from the screen for most of it and couldn't wait for it to be over. - And likewise, Cap nailed it on the take on this film's implications about internalized misogyny. Personal circumstances that I shan't disclose here have led me to think a ton about internalized bigotry and self-preservation, and I think this film is attuned to the idea that people will go against their own self-interest in the name of getting ahead and not necessarily realize the damage they're doing to themselves and others in a similar position in the process. Those ideas manifest in the cynicism of Kate McKinnon's character (who figures there's plenty of awful stuff happening there, but feels powerless to do anything about it), and I've been there in feeling that same level of cynicism.
  14. Definitely so bad it’s good. It’s as if Hooper listened to every single criticism about his lack of imagination and risk-taking and tried to rectify it while still bafflingly maintaining the self-serious tone of his previous work. I wasn’t the only one in the auditorium snickering through most of the run time.
  15. This was N-U-T-S! I enjoyed it thoroughly, but hoo boy, anyone who goes in thinking they’re going to see a typical Adam Sandler flick has another think coming. Kudos to A24 for sneaking this through-and-through arthouse flick into mainstream multiplexes. Legs-wise, I think we’re going to see the film buffs who love it balance out the viewers who had no idea what they were getting themselves into beforehand.
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