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About mattmav45

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  1. With some reservations, simply a damn good film. Nolan hasn't yet enraptured me in the way that he has enraptured countless of other cinema fans. Nobody can doubt his film-making prowess on a technical scale, but, subjectively, there's regularly been a disconnect with his narrative handlings. Specifically, I'll be damned if emotional investment isn't hard to come by in his previous offerings. Fortunately for the viewer, such is not the case here. It seems that the biggest criticism levied on this film is the lack of emotional depth, arguably from the lack of character development tied to the characters. I can't help but feel that the lack of character development is a strength in this instance. These characters are defined by the situation they are placed in above all else. Their situation in fact does define their character, i.e., soldiers in a desperate situation, surrounded by German soldiers, and looking for any way out. To even attempt more development, outside of this, would be a misstep. This is a mood piece through and through. There's marginal dialogue, and very little backstory to boot. What there is, however, is hordes upon hordes of tension. Every scene is simply dripping with tension, and in many ways the viewing itself is defined by said tension. It's harrowing at times, but in many ways the beating heart of the viewing can be found through the tension. I can't help but feel that investment in the characters is driven solely by immersion. Immerse yourself in the viewing, and investment is attained, plain and simple. My biggest complaint tied to this film is the structure and handling of the narrative. The film is told via three separate viewpoints that all tend to have a distinct synergy amongst one another. While the lack of backstory makes sense in propelling you directly into the action, I can't help but feel some of the impact of the story has been lost. It feels very "in the moment", but perhaps to the point that some of the power has been diluted as a result. A divulging of some semblance of backstory and context would have gone a long way in this instance. I'm not sure I'll ever transition into thinking Nolan is one of the great working modern directors, but I'll take a damn solid slice of war cinema for the time being.
  2. The "been there, done that" saying feels poignant as fuck in this instance. out time to cement Denzel Washington cinema as a damn genre in and of itself. Take a mysterious do-no-wrong character, supply a damsel in distress, pit the aforementioned do-no-wrong character against some dastardly villains, and ultimately profit. As a viewer one would hope the film-makers would take that setup, and ultimately execute it in a way that feels fresh. Unfortunately for the viewer, such is not the case here. The story centers on a seemingly normal Robert McCall, who works at the Home Depot and seems to be well-liked by every soul he crosses paths with in life. This just happens to include prostitute Teri, whom he converses with from time to time at a late night diner. When Robert witnesses Teri being mistreated and abused by her bosses, the writing is on the damn wall. Specifically, it's time for Robert to attain some righteous justice, and in effect bring down the crime syndicate. Despite the innate mystery surrounding Robert's character, there is a notable attempt to develop and provide depth to the man outside of main mystery surrounding his past. The attempt is commendable, perhaps, but I'll be damned if I didn't find the execution somewhat goofy. Rather than simply relying on the mysteriousness of the character, ala John Wick, the film simply tries too hard to humanize and develop Robert, particularly in a film such as this. In addition, the handling of other characters and related dynamics within said characters isn't perfect, and in fact is quite goofy. The subplot involving security guard Ralphie feels out of place at best, and Teri disappears for the entire film only to reappear during the closing moments. The villains fail to register the requisite menace and disdain required in a film such as this, and as a result come across as mere cookie-cutter bad guys who are just waiting to be on the receiving of a sharp knife. In the end this is basically John Wick, but with less style and more emphasis on character development. Unfortunately, the film-makers here failed to realize that what makes Wick such a badass is the lack of character development. This viewing fails to invest as a superior action offering by way of style or emotional investment. As a result, it falls into the vast purgatory of films which are neither cool nor emotionally resonant enough to truly be effective. Middling and familiar cinematic viewing.
  3. Superior "based on real events" cinema. ]It's the summer of 1984, and the National Union of Mineworkers are in the midst of a strike. Problem is, the strike isn't going too well, and they could use some assistance as it pertains to their finances. In a story that seems like the stuff of fairy tales, in comes the gay and lesbian community to lend a helping hand. As a viewer one can only hope that the film takes a great story, and thereafter leverages it by way of some unique handling within. Fortunately for the viewer, such is very much the case here. Films like this are typically facing an uphill battle when it comes to truly bringing the story to life, but the strongest aspect of this film is the manner in which it puts its own unique stamp on the material. For one, the characters here are all immensely likable, and great effort is taken in ensuring that they all feel like real people. It's nothing short of impressive the way that every character is time and attention, and the film inevitably as a whole is the ultimate benefactor of this execution. Additionally, film-makers of films of this ilk often take a great story, and thereafter treat it far too mechanically. The ultimate result is a hollow viewing experience that fails to capture the spirit of the material. Such can not be further from the truth here. There is a tangible genuineness regarding the way the material is presented, and more importantly that is able to come across on the screen. It is clear that the film-makers truly cared about bringing the material to life, and as a result the viewing itself is organic and ultimately fulfilling. The power in this film is found in its portrayal of two, historical oppositely-aligned groups, putting aside their differences and working together. Such statement is simple on its face, but as one can see from modern events, hard to achieve in real life. The film is undeniably positive and optimistic in execution, and it's damn near impossible to not get wrapped up in its sentiment. The viewing is sneaky in its effect of remaining in the viewer's mind long after the credits cease rolling. Simply a damn good film.
  4. In all honesty, I'm not getting all the disdain and negativity surrounding the ending. Granted, the film does try to develop the characters and ultimately attain emotional investment within the viewer, but it fails in this respect. The dramatic writing is simply far too hammy and forced to attain real investment. As a result, I wasn't too concerned with the plight or survival of the crew members anyway. It plays like an Alien-lite. It's not great, but it's passable as a somewhat suspenseful and claustrophobic piece of sci-fi cinema. Nothing more, nothing less.
  5. Monolithic as fuck. I sat down to watch this on Monday evening, and had to turn the damn thing off after the initial half hour. Simply put, one does not half-ass this viewing. With that background in mind, I settled in for the viewing Tuesday night. I've been sitting here for the past ten minutes with no real idea as to how to start this review. The viewing itself is damn near indescribable. I've always felt that it's somewhat hyperbolic to say that something is "stunning." With that said, this film is fucking stunning, plain and simple. I'm not going to sit here and try to ruminate on the meaning of the film, and offer my own interpretation of the events within. There are countless theories and ideas out there that can do far more justice than my feeble mind. As such, I will simply convey my thoughts and opinions of how the viewing made me feel. Whereas other sci-fi epics in the vein of Solaris ground their material heavily with the human element, this film goes in the opposite direction. Specifically, the humans are mere vessels in conveying the film's story, and the themes found within. In many ways the viewing is a love letter to science, space, space exploration, and all things unknown. The opening moments of this film consist of the score (speaking of the score, what an collection of music for the viewer to take in) playing with a black screen in the background followed by some serene shots of nature in its most pure form. A subtle opening, but one that hints at what is to come. Specifically, this is a mood piece above all else. And what a mood piece it ultimately is. From the very outset a strong sense of awe is placed directly on the viewer. The magical thing about this is that awe comes from Kubrick himself. It doesn't take long to gather the love and admiration Kubrick holds for the source material, and that love and admiration quickly rubs off on the viewer. I've heard that Kubrick is known for attention to detail, but one does not truly grasp what that means until they experience it first hand. While not going into too many specifics, the most amazing aspect of this film is the fact that, despite it being firmly ingrained in the science realm, it can be a transcendent viewing experience for both scientifically-inclined and religious folk. The story unfolds in such a way that both modes of thought have ample to chew on, and items to interpret. It's open-minded cinema that simultaneously appeals to opposite ends of the spectrum as it pertains to existential themes. In a way, the initial viewing of this film is very much like the monoliths portrayed in the film. Specifically, it opens one up to the material, and entices one to tackle it with a different mindset in subsequent viewings. I feel like I merely dipped my damn toes into what the film ultimately has to offer. Perhaps one day I'll tread lightly into the deep end. Took a journey to the far reaches of space on a Tuesday night, and enjoyed every damn minute of it.
  6. At this point it's clear that I'm clearly not the target audience for these Marvel offerings, and yet I'll be damned if that doesn't stop me from catching every viewing they put out. The source material of this comic is about as outlandish as it gets for Marvel cinema. Sorcerers, time loops, dark dimensions, and other mystical elements are at play here. As a viewer one can only hope that the source material allows the film to attain some differentiation from other comic offerings. Unfortunately for the viewer, such is not entirely the case here. Despite the source material, this remains a Marvel origin story through and through. The execution of the story and the character dynamics all just feel too familiar to me at this point. Another throwaway romance and cringe-worthy attempts at comic relief is icing on the damn cake. It's lazy and formulaic film-making that is driving by dollar signs above all else. The strength in the film lies in the visuals and action sequences. In this respect it does tread into new territory. Unfortunately, it's not leveraged with ample characterization, and as a result it rings hollow. With that said, I will give credit when it's due, and the action scenes were unique and a lot of fun at times. Typical Marvel viewing. I'm looking forward to Logan as that seems to be the flick that finally strays far from the damn formula.
  7. The main character of this film (Little, Chiron, and Black) is defined by his lack of character. It's a film that portrays a young man who hasn't been given the opportunity to fully gain self-actualization. As a result, this film isn't so much about him, but rather about all the dynamics prohibiting him from coming into his own as a man. This is ultimately where the film's flaws begin. The film touches on a variety of dynamics (mom is addicted to crack, sexual orientation, bullying, etc.) but fails to do so in a way that feels unique. On their own, these themes can be powerful if given the proper weight and attention. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that here. It kind of feels like a collage of issues that don't mesh well together. This is one of those few viewings which could have benefited from a longer running time. I enjoyed the splitting of life into three distinct stages, but I don't think enough time was given for each period to truly gain power. It feels episodic and even somewhat familiar at times. In the end I feel the dynamics are handled with far too much simplicity. It's well-made and undeniably well-acted, but, subjectively speaking, I'll be damned if it doesn't fully achieve what it sets out to do.
  8. There are films that continually rip one's heart out throughout the run time, and then there's Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea. Cinema based on realism is hard to pull off. After all, realistic does not always equal cinematic. What allows realist cinema to work is full-scale immersion into the story, and the characters within said story. Thankfully for the viewer, such is very much the case here. Immersion in this film can be credited to one person, and of course that one person is none other than Casey Affleck. He is able to convey the inner anguish and despair of Lee Chandler in a brilliant manner. As with all superior acting performances, it is an all-encompassing performance in which eyes and body language are just as effective in conveying said emotion as any simple words could do. In many ways it is what Lee fails to say that holds the most power. As is typical in films of this ilk, there's a single moment in the film in which you cease to merely be a viewer, and in effect begin living through the film and its characters. For me, that moment occurred during the funeral of Joe Chandler. Specifically, Lee is at the funeral of his younger brother, and is approached by his pregnant ex-wife. Randi, and her new partner. The dynamics and utter helplessness of this scene catapulted me right into Lee's head space. On the surface this would appear to be a simple family drama. In a way, it is, but the execution within allows it to transcend its base material. Specifically, the nuanced handling of deep emotion in effect allows this film to become a work of art. It's extremely powerful in its realistic approach towards grief and coping with tragedy. And yet, for all the despair found within, the last scene of the film may in fact be the most important. Lee fishing with his nephew Patrick is such a small scene, but it's game-changing when it comes to Lee's state of mind. As a viewer we can only begin that this is Lee begin to move on with his life. Superior cinema.
  9. Superior slow-burn sci-fi cinema. This will piss off the Nolan fanboys, but this is the type of viewing that Nolan was so desperately trying to accomplish with Interstellar. I couldn't help but make comparisons with Tarkovsky's Solaris while partaking in the Monday night viewing. Specifically, both use sci-fi as a background to bring forth ruminations on human nature. Thankfully, both go about their business in different ways, and as viewers we are left with a couple of damn strong offerings of sci-fi cinema. Twelve spacecrafts appear across the globe. Linguistics professor Louise Banks (played by sexy lady Amy Adams) is flown to Montana, and given the monumental task of communicating with the visitors. Let the bantering begin, plain and simple. The film makes note early on that the ships are all in areas that don't typically get lightning, but the real important thing to remember here is that the ships appear in different areas and countries across the globe. This very fact will drive a great deal of the musings on human nature. The film goes for a slow-burn style of story execution, and in many ways this is what allows this film to mature in such a special way. The fear of the unknown is a often-used theme in the sci-fi realm, but here it feels almost tangible. As time progresses, the humans become more desperate, and eventually distrustful of one another. The unknown leads to fear, which ultimately leads to hostile acts being taken. The fact that we as humans are prone to separating and dividing one another into distinct groups is played to big effect here. As time progresses countries and nations, rather than working together, begin to close up to the outside world. Such actions ultimately come with potentially devastating consequences. The most magical aspect of thing film is the fact that the majority of the themes and ruminations don't truly show themselves until the climax of the film. Granted, human nature does drive the interactions and dynamics between the humans and visitors, and yet it isn't until the credits begin to roll that one begins to grasp just how dense this material is. I finished this last night, and I'm still overwhelmed by the myriad of directions one can go with it. It's intensely cerebral, but in ways that continually pop up in one's brain long after the credits have stopped rolling. Above all, the viewing itself is set-up to provoke the viewer into heavy discussion afterward. One simply can't put forth a bigger compliment when it comes to the sci-fi cinema realm. It's undeniably dense, but most importantly it might just be fucking brilliant.
  10. Simply a damn cool film. Here is a film that is surrounded by so much damn hyperbole that it's hard to know exactly where to begin. Three outlaws embark on a journey all in the name of finding, and thereafter acquiring some damn gold. Naturally, each man is privy to sensitive information, and in that course concessions, alliances, and other general negotiations are made. Let the searching begin, plain and simple. This is a true epic in every sense of the word. The world is vibrant, the characters are larger than life, and the score is of course brilliant. As a viewer you are privy to a scorching journey through the desert, a digression featuring a Civil War battle, and of course all this ultimately culminates in a three-way showdown. It's the stuff of legends, as is every offering tied to the Man with No Name trilogy. For the most part this film features everything found in the first two films, amplified up a few notches. The stakes have never been higher, the terrain is more precarious, the characters are more ruthless, and the violence is more visceral. As is typically the case in a Sergio Leone offering, the music is in many ways the driving force of the entire film. So many damn scenes attain power merely from a great shot of scenery coupled with some killer tunes. A man's man's film, plain and simple. The biggest difference for me in this that contrasts with the first two films is that of the characters. Specifically, while characters in the first two flicks were largely good and evil archetypes above all else, the characters here thrive on ambiguity. Mexican bandit Tuco is clearly the standout here as he is given ample backstory and multiple character dynamics to chew on. The deepening of the characters allows this one to ruminate in a way that the first two films, while great, didn't quite achieve. If I'm being perfectly honest I originally preferred For a Few Dollars More over this as I initially found it to be a leaner, more efficient viewing. After a couple days of letting this sit, I have to say my initial thoughts were misguided. This is a big, ballsy, and consistently brilliant cinematic offering that continues to improve in my mind after that initial viewing. I can't wait to watch it again. A vast understatement, but nonetheless, superior Western cinema.
  11. Simply a damn cool film. Jeremy Saulnier has officially become a director to keep an eye on as he's made two pretty unique cinema offerings (this and Blue Ruin). He has a knack for taking material that on the surface would appear to be trashy and a bit pulpy, and thereafter treating said material with seriousness and even elegance in some situations. The end result is ultimately a unique, nuanced, and harrowing slice of cinema. A rock band plays a show in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, the bar is ultimately home to those who believe in the superiority of all things white. As is typically the case when a band unknowingly plays for a group of skinheads, they come upon a murder, and what follows is a fight to the death. Let the skinning begin, plain and simple. The foundation is one thing, but it's milking that foundation that is ultimately key. Thankfully, Saulnier is more than up to the task here. This is a violent film, but rest assured that violence typically comes in short and unexpected bursts. Most of the film in fact is a steady exercise in suspense and tension that eventually explodes in violence without any rhyme or reason. Said violence is allowed to achieve maximum impact as a result of the build-up of suspense along with some damn cool film-making to boot. Superior suspense cinema. It'll be interesting to see where Saulnier takes us next.
  12. Had a visit from the Carpenter on a Monday night, and I'll be damned if I didn't enjoy every damn minute of it. I can't help but notice the parallels to Ridley Scott's Alien. Both consist of an encounter with an alien life form being discovered in a remote, desolate, and ultimately vulnerable environment. The noteworthy difference is the viewpoint provided in each film. Whereas in Alien the crew ultimately discovered the alien life form, here the alien life form has been discovered, and with that discovery death and destruction have already ensued at the hands of said life form. It's a small difference, but to me it makes all the difference in the world. Specifically, while I consider Alien to be primal sci-fi cinema with heavy doses of horror, I consider The Thing to be primal horror cinema with heavy doses of sci-fi. A team of scientists out in Antarctica encounter a Norwegian coming up on their camp all while trying to shoot a damn dog from a moving helicopter. Naturally, as typically the case with those of Norwegian descent, the man was attempting to kill an alien life form that has the ability to imitate any life form, thereafter using it as a host. The team of scientists may not of asked for it, but what follows is a brutal fight to the death with a creature that has the benefit of natural selection being on its side. The biggest strength of this film is the level of restraint shown. This isn't just some pulpy B-movie with a thing for gross-out gore. Rather, this is a very deliberate and nuanced horror offering that takes its time in setting up the atmosphere and characters driving said offering. Perhaps reflective of this fact is the character R.J. MacReady (what a name, what a name) played in brilliant fashion by Kurt Russell. It is the restraint tied to MacReady's character that makes him such a complete and utter badass. In many ways the greatness of this film can be ultimately tied to one man, that man being John Carpenter. Carpenter is an acclaimed director, but I'm not sure he's even been better than he is right here. Tackling on fantastical material, and grounding that with heavy atmosphere and unique characters, what results is one of the truly special viewing experiences cinema has to offer. The ying to Alien's yang. No need to pick one or the other as both constitute some of the best that cinema has to offer.
  13. Simple, but nonetheless powerful in its execution. In other words, superior Western cinema. The story follows brothers Tanner and Toby, and more specifically their attempt to keep their parents' ranch in the family upon their mother's passing. Unfortunately, the ranch is tied up and leveraged by way of a loan to a damn bank. Naturally, as is typically the case in Texas when confronted with big government and/or business, brash action is taken by way of robbing banks in an attempt to pay off said debt. The film finds strength in the execution and progression of the story. The first fifteen minutes throw the viewer right into the dilemma with little to no warning. After that initial introduction, things settle down, and what ultimately follows is a character-driven slow-burn Western cinema offering. It's very much a film that depends on dynamics among the characters above all else, and more specifically the dialogue and interactions held among the characters. It may be set in a modern setting, but this is classical Western material through and through. Texas culture is stereotyped by many, but in actuality the state is simply too damn big and diverse to lump all of its characteristics in a neat and tidy bag. As a Texan who lived in West Texas for about a decade, the magic of this film lies in its portrayal of West Texas culture. One of my favorite scenes in the film is that of brothers Tanner and Toby sharing a beer on a porch while basking in a sunset overlooking the plains. Incredibly simple, but absolutely epic if you allow it to take hold over you. In other words, it's West Texas.
  14. The Conjuring franchise has attained a good amount of acclaim and interest from horror fans in recent years. Unfortunately, I can't join the party in this respect. Granted, they look great, there's tangible atmosphere, and some scenes are absolutely unnerving, but in the end the most pronounced aspect of these films is the distinct lack of bite and intensity. Everything is set-up for a superior horror viewing, but the pay-off in both films tends to be lacking. The set-up is damn near identical to the first. The first half consists of the haunting of the Hodgson family, and the second half chronicles Lorraine and Ed Warren's attempts of ridding the family of the dastardly creatures. With such a familiar set-up, once can only hope that the film differentiates itself from the original in other areas. Unfortunately for the viewer, such is not the case here. Above all, this kind of story just feels tired to me. It does feature a classical look and some camera work is inspiring, but in the end flickering lights, banging doors, and things moving on their own tend to get old pretty damn quickly. More importantly, above all horror cinema is an exercise in tension and intensity, and outside of a couple of scenes, there's very little here that has the requisite level of menace to oblige in this respect. The best scenes of the film are those that heavily depend on quiet and nuance. Lorraine's encounter with the demon with that painting is legitimately terrifying, and Ed's talk with the demon in the background while he is facing away is fantastic horror cinema. Unfortunately, the majority of the film tends to be much more mundane in its execution. Much like the first film, it's good film-making, but somewhat mundane horror cinema.
  15. Questionable ending, but a decent suspense flick. It doesn't really leave a mark and you likely won't remember a damn thing in a week's time, but for a couple of hours....you could do much worse.
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