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Webslinger

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About Webslinger

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  1. I... actually kinda loved Jojo Rabbit? It's quite funny and earns all its heartstring-tugging moments. As an educator, I'd much rather see it be the new PG-13 Holocaust movie staple in classrooms rather than the eyeroll-inducing Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I also think it would make a somewhat better winner than Green Book last year, as low a bar as that may be to clear.
  2. Ford v. Ferrari delivers upon the promise of its premise in exciting ways. Though it ultimately checks off many of the inspirational sports movie boxes, it does so in an exhilarating manner that keeps the proceedings highly intriguing. The racing sequences are exciting and very skillfully assembled on visual and aural levels, fully earning what will surely be numerous fist-pumping moments from its audience. The script is also clever and does such a solid job of developing its characters and establishing personal and corporate stakes in the climactic race that the build-up to it is never even remotely boring. In front of the camera, the talented ensemble works up to the level of its collective talents. Christian Bale once again buries himself in his role and is tons of fun to watch as methodical racer Ken Miles. Though the performance isn’t as showy as Bale’s more heralded roles, he taps into the dedication that drives Miles and the volatility that sometimes threatens to derail him. Matt Damon is also reliably solid as car developer and former racer Carroll Shelby, as he plays well off of Bale and subtly but effectively works in a sense of disappointment with his past as a motivating factor for succeeding in his new endeavors. The supporting cast is solid across the board, with Tracy Letts as the standout in a fun, commanding performance as Henry Ford II. As is the case with many of the other works in his filmography, director James Mangold crafts a superior piece of entertainment with Ford v. Ferrari: a highly-effective crowd pleaser with plenty to enjoy. A-
  3. Arriving on a wave of hype since its Palme d’Or win in May, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is every bit as mesmerizing as the buzz surrounding it suggests. With a razor-sharp script and excellent contributions from all players involved on both sides of the camera, it sunk its hooks into me within the opening minutes and never let go. Bong aims for many thematic and aesthetic targets over the course of the film, and he hits virtually every one with stunning precision. As a satire on social climbing and the aloofness of the upper class, it’s dead-on and has parallels to the American Dream that American viewers are unlikely to miss; as a dark comedy, it’s often laugh-aloud hilarious in its audacity; as a thriller, it has brilliantly-executed moments of tension and surprises that genuinely caught me off-guard; and as a drama about family dynamics, it has tender moments that stand out all the more because of how they’re juxtaposed with so much cynicism elsewhere in the film. Handling so many different tones is an immensely difficult balancing act, yet Bong handles all of it so skillfully that he makes it feel effortless. Though I often had the sense that something horrible was just seconds away from happening, the film plays its twists and turns close to the vest and I found myself surprised and startled by numerous developments. The acting is superb across the board, particularly from Song Kang-ho as the deceptive family’s patriarch and Cho Yeo-jeong as the naïve mother of the wealthy family. Song is convincing as an embattled opportunist who seems like he’s just one push away from cracking, and Cho’s obliviousness to the Kim family’s grifting and the ways in which her privilege have sealed her off from the real world often make for effective humor. Taken as a whole, Parasite covers so much ground and leaves viewers with so much to unpack that it’s tough not to get swept up in it as it runs and continue to ponder its messages and implications after it ends. It’s an experience unlike any other I’ve had at a movie this year. A Stray Thoughts: - While watching all the Kim family's schemes and cover-ups, I couldn't help but think of them as what the It's Always Sunny gang would look like if they were actually clever and resourceful. - Much like when I saw The Lighthouse earlier this week, I was glad that there was an audience laughing as much as I was (more, actually) at the film's dark humor. Otherwise, I might have worried that I was a bit of sociopath (or maybe all of us in those audiences were?). - That climax was N-U-T-S!
  4. With Doctor Sleep, an adaptation that tries to act simultaneously as an adaptation of its namesake novel and a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s vision of The Shining, director Mike Flanagan accepts an ambitious undertaking and succeeds with it more often than not. It’s obviously not on the level of the singular and iconic Shining and it misses the upper echelon of Stephen King adaptations (I even preferred It: Chapter 2 by a little bit in that realm), but it’s an entertaining horror film with some solid acting and pathos to boot. Flanagan pays plenty of effective homage to the style and feel of Kubrick’s film, but he also succeeds in making this film feel more reflective of King’s original writing than the original, particularly when delving into the exploration of the adult Dan Torrance’s struggles with addiction and the ways in which freeing himself from it helps him to assist others and face his greatest fears. The consistently underrated Ewan McGregor turns in reliably adept work as Dan, effortlessly crafting a compelling and sympathetic protagonist who feels like a convincing offshoot of the boy we saw in the previous film. He also shares a convincing bond with Kyliegh Curran as a teenager with similar abilities. Curran’s performance is effective in its seriousness and lack of precociousness. However, as good as McGregor and Curran are, Rebecca Ferguson is the standout as a villainous cult leader. Ferguson digs into the role with relish and comes across as a chilling and confident adversary without going too far over-the-top. If there’s anything that drags Doctor Sleep down a peg, it’s the running time; while there’s enough plot to fill out all 151 minutes, it begins to drag a bit after the 90-minute mark. Though the film doesn’t cheat on its way to a fun third act, the second act is noticeably drawn out. Nevertheless, despite not scaling the heights of its lofty ambitions, the film works as a stylish and intriguing continuation of Kubrick’s classic. B Stray Thoughts: - Alex Essoe, the actress who plays Wendy Torrance in a couple scenes, looks remarkably like Liv Tyler (even kinda sounds a little like her too). - From a quick scan of the Wikipedia summary of the novel, it looks like the film retained the basic plot structure but deviated from some of the stranger developments toward the end. I guess I can't judge completely because I haven't seen how these events play out in the book, but there's some stuff omitted from the movie that just would have seemed especially silly if it had played out the way I imagine it would have.
  5. I saw a standee for this at the cinema after getting out of Doctor Sleep today. I'll take that as an encouraging sign that we'll actually get it at some point soon.
  6. I swear, this has been one of my worst NFL pick-'em days ever. I'm hoping the ineffectiveness of my picks carries into tomorrow night so that the Seahawks can snag a win I definitely didn't pick heading into the week.
  7. Quite the bleh weekend. On balance, it's been a really long time since we saw a November weekend this weak outside of the occasional November 30 post-Thanksgiving weekend (see: 2007, 2012, and 2018), but that weekend effectively plays like a calm early December frame after the Thanksgiving storm. To see such a weak slate before even getting to Thanksgiving is discouraging, to say the least. Midway gets a nice pyrrhic victory thanks to the weakness of the marketplace. Distributor investment breakdowns notwithstanding, a $17.5 million start isn't great for a film that carries a nine-figure pricetag. I could see it holding up decently, though I imagine that most adults will probably gravitate toward Ford v. Ferrari and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in the next two weekends. Doctor Sleep put up a rather disappointing debut, though I guess it's a case of the internet and film buffs having more interest than the general population. Even though The Shining is a classic with both of those segments, I'm not really sure how much familiarity or appreciation the younger crowd has for it. Throw in a 2.5-hour running time and it just seems clear in hindsight that it was never going to drum up enough mainstream interest to put up the expected $25-30 million opening. But like Mike Flanagan's other films thus far, I definitely think it's going to find a following among horror aficionados. Playing with Fire did well enough for a poorly-reviewed live action family comedy. It should enjoy a nice hold next weekend before facing the Frozen II juggernaut in two weeks. Last Christmas posted an anemic start, but it should have fairly decent staying power in the coming weeks. Given how crowded the next few weekends are, I don't really think holding off on the release date would have resulted in a much stronger start (and for reference, Love Actually opened one day earlier on the calendar in 2003). Terminator had an awful hold. The fact that it couldn't get much traction even without a huge new opener in its path speaks to the weakness of its reception. A domestic total under $70 million should stick a fork in the franchise for a while. Joker continues to put up some fabulous staying power. It's a lock to top the grosses of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad from three years ago and could wrap around or over $340 million. Maleficent has recovered quite nicely since its large second weekend drop. It once looked like it might not cross $100 million by a whole lot, and yet it's already almost there. It's still off an alarming amount from the gross of its predecessor, but it has at least saved a little bit of face the last couple weekends. Harriet has performed rather well thus far. I really wasn't expecting much from it after the good-not-great reviews started to roll in, but it should top at least $40 million domestically - far from a given for a Focus Features flick. It's nice to see Jojo Rabbit and Parasite continue to put up solid expansion numbers. I'm very much looking forward to having both reach my area soon (hopefully).
  8. Unless there's something that has slipped my memory, I believe this weekend will mark the first full November weekend (i.e. not Halloween falling on a Friday) in 20 years where the #1 movie will make under $20 million. Yikes!
  9. That's a shame; seeing The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises on that format there were two of the most technically impressive theatrical experiences I've ever had. Then again, PacSci is such an outstanding venue that I can't imagine a movie not looking mightily impressive there. (Still haven't found the time to venture over to Cinerama on any of my Seattle excursions, though.) In an age where just about every big movie runs in IMAX, I keep forgetting that Frozen didn't get IMAX screens when it first opened (thanks to Catching Fire). It would have been impressive on a giant display, so I'm sure the sequel will look great there too.
  10. Though I enjoyed the other post-Judgment Day sequels more than most, I found myself rather unimpressed with this new attempt to revitalize the Terminator brand. Though Dark Fate flirts with some interesting ideas, the final product is a bland, mostly generic action film that takes itself too seriously and does too little to justify its existence. While the much-maligned two predecessors were far from perfect, at least they knew what they were and worked as fluffy popcorn entertainment – Salvation had some exciting and well-executed action sequences, while Genisys worked as a fun, easily digestible guilty pleasure. Dark Fate, on the other hand, never really finds its footing and just moves from one perfunctory action sequence to another without much regard for compelling character development nor much self-awareness. Deadpool director Tim Miller proves competent in the action sequences, but they don’t seem as audacious as those in the previous films. Moreover, the attempts to take the story in a different direction don’t really work because the new characters don’t click and the future context is too fuzzy and generic to register as forcefully as intended. None of the new characters really stand out, though Mackenzie Davis does her best with a human-machine hybrid; she occasionally engages with something vaguely profound, but the script lets her down with a bland characterization. Natalia Reyes also doesn’t get much to do as the chosen damsel-in-distress; though the script ultimately tries to do something more interesting with her character, the attempt proves feeble because she isn’t developed well enough in the early going to allow her to stick the landing by the end. Sadly, Gabriel Luna doesn’t have much to do as the newest Terminator model; he’s not bad, but he doesn’t feel nearly as intimidating as his predecessors and also doesn’t get enough screen time to dispel an early assessment that he pales in comparison to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original, Robert Patrick in the first sequel, or even Kristanna Loken in the third film. As a nostalgia-baiting returner, Linda Hamilton all but walks away with the movie in the only part that feels written properly, picking up right where she left off nearly three decades ago with a badass performance that plays off her character’s maternal instincts as twisted through the violent circumstances in which she has found herself. Arnold Schwarzenegger elicits a few chuckles, but I honestly thought he was less effective as a mostly serious and reflective figure here than he was in his comparatively goofier role in Genisys, where he had greater latitude to play with the humorous side of his character from Judgment Day. The box office take already spells doom for this iteration of the Terminator brand, but this film is such a non-starter that I could not have seen it going anywhere in future installments even if it had been a hit. It’s not a disaster, but it’s also – for my money – the least engaging, most plodding Terminator installment to date, and one that has me wary of any further reboot attempts. C Stray Thoughts: - I'm now kinda glad that this film laid low in its promotional run instead of trying to play up its significant female involvement. For any of the issues I had with the film's messy script, it was nice to see a Terminator film that passes the Bechdel Test (a phrase I never, ever, ever thought I'd type) that hasn't also had to deal with the baggage of internet-based fury. Not that the film necessarily does the greatest job with its female characters (nor its male characters, for that matter), but it's still nice to see fairly resourceful female characters who aren't completely objectified in a traditionally masculine franchise. - I still find it funny how the special effects in Judgment Day were so groundbreaking (and still hold up far better than early '90s CGI should), yet the effects in each subsequent Terminator sequel have felt progressively less special. I know the designs for the newest Terminators are supposed to seem especially sophisticated and intimidating, but they just look and feel silly as depicted here.
  11. A The Farewell Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood A- Ad Astra Avengers: Endgame Booksmart Toy Story 4 Us B+ Blinded by the Light Brittany Runs a Marathon Dolemite Is My Name Fighting with My Family High Flying Bird How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Hustlers It: Chapter Two John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Joker Late Night Long Shot Midsommar The Peanut Butter Falcon Ready or Not Rocketman Shazam! Spider-Man: Far from Home B Always Be My Maybe Captain Marvel Cold Pursuit Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Five Feet Apart Good Boys Happy Death Day 2U Isn't It Romantic Judy The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Ma Pet Sematary Pokemon: Detective Pikachu Yesterday Zombieland: Double Tap B- Crawl Dumbo Escape Room The Laundromat C+ Alita: Battle Angel Glass The Goldfinch The Upside C Aladdin Angel Has Fallen Dark Phoenix Gemini Man Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lion King Men in Black: International Terminator: Dark Fate D Serenity
  12. Just got back from Terminator. As someone who actually enjoyed Salvation and Genisys to varying degrees, this one was just... meh. I'm hoping against hope that Kristen Stewart can enliven SNL after a weak first few episodes this season (though I haven't caught up on the Chance the Rapper episode yet). It'll be hard for her to do anything as quotable or exciting as her monologue from her 2017 gig, but I've dug the hell out of pretty much everything she's done post-Twilight Saga, so we'll see.
  13. The Terminator franchise has had such a weird trajectory. I remember thinking T3 wasn’t as massive as I thought it would be with its predecessor’s reputation and its then near-record production budget, but even its unadjusted numbers are a damn sight better than those of any of the reboots. I’m seeing Dark Fate tonight and I’m going in with an open mind (I like the cast and I’m somehow one of the precious few who actually enjoyed Genisys as a guilty pleasure), but I feel like the powers-that-be at Paramount did even less to drum up excitement outside of minimal brand recognition than they did with Genisys four years ago. Even with the PG-13 rating and the less-than-enthusiastic hype going in, Genisys still felt like it was being pushed as a bigger deal than Dark Fate has been.
  14. The close-ups on Ryan Zimmerman’s face at two questionable strike calls in one of his at-bats was priceless.
  15. Oof. I was living in Rhode Island when the Patriots beat my Seahawks in the Super Bowl, so I feel your pain on this one.
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