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nick64

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  1. https://grabyourseat.wordpress.com/2020/04/06/the-invisible-man/ Can we get a round of applause for Universal? Following the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Universal was one of many studios who sought after their own cinematic universe with the Dark Universe, a world based on the Universal Classic Monsters. They had a plan, a cast, and too-high budgets, but after the critical and commercial failures of Dracula Untold and The Mummy, they stepped back and reconsidered. They dropped all of the overarching plans and decided to entrust the properties to low-budget experts Blumhouse Productions. For The Invisible Man, the first in this new franchise strategy, they hired writer-director Leigh Whannel, known for his work on Saw, Insidious, and Upgrade, and gave him a mere $7 million to work with. As a result, this Invisible Man is a much more focused film and a superior entry in both the horror world and the 2020 release calendar as a whole. The Invisible Man is a modern take on H. G. Wells’s classic 19th century novel, with an all-new perspective. This version follows Cecelia “Cee” Kass (Elisabeth Moss), who just barely manages to escape from her abusive husband, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). A few weeks later, it is announced that Adrian has committed suicide, and Cee finally starts to feel a sense of freedom. However, she soon starts to notice some mysterious things taking place around her. Her husband was a wealthy optics expert, so she comes to the conclusion that he has managed to turn himself invisible. Could it be, or is Cee just suffering from some post-traumatic hallucinations? This is a really clever take on the concept of an invisible person, and it allows for some smart and careful commentary on timely issues. When abusers speak up, they are not always immediately believed. Maybe they’re just trying to get back at somebody? But when it’s true (and it usually is), the victim may feel trapped, with everyone doubting them and no proof to show that they really are telling the truth. This is how Cee feels when she tries to explain Adrian’s invisible. It’s understandable that the supporting cast doesn’t immediately believe her, but it’s frustrating at the same time. Cee feels alone, and you feel alone with her. This type of story must be treated carefully, and Elisabeth Moss is a spectacular choice for the role. She plays Cee as a woman who has clearly suffered a lot, but still has agency and wants to get her life back on track. She sells the character in every regard, ranges from fierce intensity to meaningful subtlety, and succeeds in spades at carrying the film on her shoulders. The cast around her is excellent at well. Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid play her surrogate family, who clearly care a lot about her but struggle to believe her wild claims. Oliver Jackson-Cohen perfectly blends the necessary charm and evil of his character in his few visible scenes, and Harriet Dyer and Michael Dorman work well in the minor, but still important, roles of the siblings of the two main characters. For as important Moss is to this film, it still would not work nearly as well without the support of writer-director Leigh Whannell at the helm. Whannell not only directs his cast to perfection, but truly knows how to build a chilling atmosphere for this story. His use of empty space, mixed with Benjamin Wallfisch’s excellent score, will make you wonder throughout the film if Adrian is around, just sitting in the corner waiting to attack. He brings the fear of the unknown to life and will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. Every scene is very carefully paced and staged. It’s slow at first, but picks up right when it needs to and doesn’t let go. The pacing fits the story it’s telling and wonderfully complements its themes. Whannell proves himself the right man for the job in the chilling scenes, the quiet scenes, and even the action scenes. Anyone who has seen the severely underrated Upgrade knows that the director is excellent at staging fight choreography on par with John Wick. Every movement is in frame, easily registered, and full of energy. The Invisible Man does a lot to surprise you. There are a handful of twists that you will not see coming (Get it?). You also won’t see the jump scares coming, but they are executed in a way that so few films have managed over the years. The atmosphere that Whannell has built sells itself to these jump scares. They feel earned, rather than cheap. There are easter eggs and symbols throughout that not only make callbacks to other films, but help define characters and provide hints for future actions. Watch The Invisible Man with a close eye, because Whannell gives us so much to discover. But for as many goodies as there are scattered throughout the film, there are times when you look back at something and wonder how the logic makes sense. Why didn’t anyone use *blank*? They’re small flaws that might detract from some viewers’ experiences, but the overall package is still undeniably strong and a huge jump in the right direction for Universal’s horror lineup. A
  2. The Avengers had some color but the lighting made it look like a TV movie. And the shot where Loki catches the arrow might be the most obvious green screen in the entire MCU. I’d much rather gray than cheap personally. But they’re fun to watch regardless of course.
  3. Just throwing this in here for anyone who thinks Disney+ is an option
  4. https://grabyourseat.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/emma-2020-film-review/ There’s a very good chance you already know the story of Emma. Maybe you’ve read Jane Austen’s acclaimed 1815 novel, one of four she published in her lifetime. Maybe you’ve seen one of the handful of films and miniseries based on the novel, starring such actresses as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale. Or at the very least, hopefully you’ve seen Clueless, which is actually a fairly faithful modern adaptation of the novel. If not, you should definitely fix that and this new adaptation is a pretty good place to start. Emma. (period included) follows Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), described as “handsome, clever, and rich … [who] had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with little to distress or vex her”. Living at the Hartfield estate in Regency Era England with her widowed father (Bill Nighy), Emma has very little responsibility or worry, and almost no desire to get married. However, she does enjoy playing matchmaker for her friends. Taking on young Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), Emma hopes to find the right husband for her new companion, but finds that not everything goes to plan and comes to some realizations about herself in the process. With this novel, Austen ingeniously took what could have been a very standard love story and made it so much more. The title character is not meant to be likable. In fact, in most stories from that time period, she likely would have been an antagonistic supporting character. But Austen, who was unarguably way ahead of her time, recognized the potential for a complex character study of Emma Woodhouse and turned the novel into one of not just romance, but maturity, self-awareness, status, and class relations. And I’m glad to say that this film captures the story and all of its themes wonderfully. When adapting a Jane Austen novel, it is crucial to remember that one of the greatest reasons for her success is her writing style. Therefore, it is important to have a director behind the wheel that can properly capture that style and tone. Autumn de Wilde, though it’s her first feature film, proves herself an excellent choice. She keeps the proceedings light, letting the natural humor of screenwriter Eleanor Catton’s adapted dialogue shine, but also lets the more serious moments sink in. De Wilde has a history as a photographer and it shows. Everything is staged remarkably, and cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt provides a nice, clear shot that results in some simply beautiful imagery, always synced with the tone of the scene and almost always looking worthy of a photograph. The production designers, costume designers, and hair and makeup specialists also deserve praise for wonderfully recreating early 19th century Britain, as do Isobel Waller-Bridge (sister of Phoebe) and David Schweitzer, who provide a memorable period score. And of course, you can’t make a good Emma. without a good Emma. Thankfully, Anya Taylor-Joy makes a great one. Known for her parts in films such as The Witch, Morgan, Split, and Thoroughbreds, Taylor-Joy has a gift for bringing out a character's darker side, while still maintaining an illusion of innocence. Her Emma Woodhouse can manipulate with just her eyes and a smirk, and even though you know how sinister she can be, you’ll still find yourself endeared to her. Taylor-Joy also has a lot of talent around her to work off of. Mia Goth is a scene stealer, capturing the goofy innocence of Ms. Smith, while Johnny Flynn and Callum Turner respectively make for a wonderfully irritable George Knightley and devilishly charming Frank Churchill, two prospective suitors. Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart bring their usual talents in strong supporting roles, as well. Every actor is fantastic here, from Emma herself to the supporting cast to the silent workers in the background. Every performer has the perfect body language to capture their character as best as possible. Now for all the praise I’ve heaped on this film, there is one thing it lacks, and that’s originality. Between films, TV, and even a web series, this is the eight major adaptation of Emma, and they’ve all been decent to good. This might just be the best one yet, and it is quite faithful to the novel, but it doesn’t bring anything particularly fresh to the table. The story may not connect with all viewers, but fans of the novel are sure to love what Autumn de Wilde and Anya Taylor-Joy have done with the tale, and even for those unfamiliar, Emma. will be a nice treat for any fan of period pieces, romantic comedies, or simply quality filmmaking. A-
  5. https://grabyourseat.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/the-grudge-2020-film-review/ When a reboot of The Grudge was announced as the first film of 2020, I was mildly optimistic. Sure, January is typically a dumping ground and reboots fail more often than they succeed, but there were some positive signs. The last few years’ inaugural horror films (Insidious: The Last Key and Escape Room), while certainly not masterpieces, were completely watchable; producer Sam Raimi was on a bit of a hot streak with Don’t Breathe and Crawl; and writer-director Nicolas Pesce was one of the most promising new auteurs on the indie horror scene. So was my optimism misplaced? To answer that, let’s take a quick look at the history of the series and one of its closest competitors, The Ring. Both The Grudge (or Ju-on, its original title) and The Ring (Ringu) got their start as Japanese horror films. After they saw success, a nearly identical but still very good American remake hit the States in the early 2000s. These were each followed by a decent sequel and then a number of terrible direct-to-video cash grabs. They even had a crossover! In 2017, The Ring series returned to theaters with a reboot-sequel known as Rings, and it turned out to be the dumpster fire it looked like. But even with the behind-the-scenes talent of Pesce and Raimi, 2020’s The Grudge still couldn’t avoid the curse of its sister series. This “sidequel” to 2004’s The Grudge begins with the Landers family, whose matriarch receives the curse of Kayako Saeki (Junko Bailey returns in a disappointingly short cameo) while on a business trip in Tokyo. Two years later, the newly widowed Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) and her young son move to a small town in Pennsylvania, where Muldoon is put on the case of a torched body found in a car crash. She manages to link the body to a series of other deaths, all of which are seemingly tied to the old Landers house. Muldoon must piece together the mystery while coping with the strange visions she’s had since stepping into the house herself. If something seemed odd to you while reading that summary, you might be able to see where The Grudge so crucially fails: it sets itself up as a mystery, but gives you the answers before even posing the question. So rather than working with Detective Muldoon to figure out what’s going on, you’ll mostly sit there bored waiting for the next scare. This structural issue isn’t just evident in the overly expository dialogue, but is a symptom of a much greater issue. Too often the film tries to harken back to the original in ways that don’t work. For example, the informative pre-title cards spoil the mystery for newcomers, the spirits make croaking noises despite not being strangled like Kayako was, some scenes are set up simply to call back to scares from the original, and, worst of all, the film features jumping timelines despite the story not supporting them. When we already know the outcome of each flashback subplot, all sense of urgency disappears, as does the audience’s attention. It’s a shame that this film is so fundamentally flawed on a story level, because it’s actually quite good technically. As previously mentioned, Nicolas Pesce is a genuinely talented horror director. He knows how to build a suitably chilling atmosphere with the proper lighting, staging, and use of the Newton Brothers’ excellent score. There are some beautifully framed shots that will stick with you even when the story doesn’t, so there is at least a decent chance you’ll get spooked a few times before it’s over. In addition, the film sports an impressive ensemble cast that mostly works. Riseborough is fine in the workmanlike main role, as is Demián Bichir as her partner, but John Cho and Betty Gilpin are wonderful as a realtor couple dealing with a personal crisis, and Lin Shaye steals the show as the current owner of the house, who suffers from dementia. Surprisingly, the usually wonderful Jacki Weaver is woefully miscast as an assisted suicide specialist, and the child performances are quite wooden, but the cast works well overall. With so much talent evident on screen, it becomes really frustrating when the film resorts to the most amateur horror tricks in the book. When you can properly build atmosphere, there is no need to resort to jump scares, but this film does it anyway and does it way too often. Additionally, there are hints of a much more interesting story, but the film ignores those threads to focus on the “mystery” storyline. There are characters dealing with dementia, the loss of a husband/father, concerns about the afterlife, obsession, whether or not to have a child born with a rare disease, euthanasia, etc. Rather than take the time to flesh out any of these weighty issues, the movie decides to give us “detective looks through files”. Exciting! In conclusion, it often feels like The Grudge isn’t sure what it wants to be. It wants to maintain a connection with the original films, but wants to be different at the same time. It strays far enough away from the originals that diehard fans will be disappointed, but spends enough time on series tropes and callbacks that casuals won’t care for the new story being presented. It’s competent, but also lazy. It’s a slow burn, but not deep enough. Add this all up and you get a boring film that thinks it’s better than it is and leaves no one happy. C-
  6. So this is something I’ve considered for a little while now, but thought it was worth asking after seeing the First Cow thread... Is there any chance Disney gives this a rerelease once theaters reopen? Like even a minor one, just to make back some of the inevitable profit losses. Same with other studios/films who are having hurt legs from the virus? Obviously this is connecting less than usual for Pixar, but a $40M opening should have been an easy $100-120M DOM for a family film, and now $80M is in question.
  7. I wanna love Metacritic but my parents always said find someone smart
  8. Terminator: Dark Fate was #1 in November. Other than that though, it’s totally on them, because they had films last year that could’ve done it. -They released What Men Want ($18m) on the same weekend as The Lego Movie 2. -They released Wonder Park ($16m) a week after Captain Marvel. -They released Pet Sematary ($25m) on the same weekend as Shazam! -They released Rocketman ($26m) on the same weekend as Godzilla. -They released Crawl ($12m) a week after Spider-Man. -They released Dora ($17m) a week after Hobbs & Shaw. -They released Gemini Man ($21m) a week after Joker. -Playing with Fire ($13m) was basically thrown to the dogs in a packed weekend. For as poor an overall year as they had, they’re the only major studio other than Disney to open all of their releases in the double digits. They could’ve hit #1 with like 7 out of 9 of them with better scheduling, but they seem to have gone for a counter-programming strategy.
  9. Starts with a 31 on Metacritic. Let’s take a look at the last two months of wonderful wide releases: 12/6 - Playmobil: The Movie Wanna see what The Lego Movie would be like stripped of anything good? Clearly not. 12/18 - Black Christmas There hasn’t been a horror movie since October’s Countdown (also such a treat), so come treat yourself to whatever happened here. 12/20 - Cats Do you like drugs? Have you ever wanted to experiment with drugs? You’ve come to the right place. 12/25-12/27 It’s Christmas, we’re not heartless, you can relax and go see Little Women with the family. 1/3 - The Grudge Back to business! Making up for last week with this horror gem. 1/10 - Like a Boss Uncut Gems was good so here’s what’s basically your normal Adam Sandler comedy, but we’ll cast three great actresses instead. 1/17 - Dolittle I bet you miss Iron Man. That’s all we need. 1/24 - The Turning Horror fans haven’t had enough crap recently, so here’s another one! Next weekend should be fun. I’m taking the under for both Gretel & Hansel and The Rhythm Section at 50.
  10. She was good for what she was given. More of a physical role than a dramatic one, but she does well with both aspects when necessary. The cast overall was very good, with Miller being my only gripe (and I typically think he's decently funny, but just really out of place here).
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