Saw '1917', 'Underwater', 'Knives Out' (mini-reviews)...
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  1. #1
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    Saw '1917', 'Underwater', 'Knives Out' (mini-reviews)...

    1917

    A basic, straight-forward story told excellently. Sam Mendes' (American Beauty, Skyfall) World War I trench-warfare soldier flick is made to feel like one long take to the audience, with the effect of immersing you more deeply in the main characters' (desperate) experiences.

    Further, the smart choice of using two relative no-names in the lead roles adds to the always-present sense of tension and danger... no 'invincible' Tom Cruise and Matt Damon casting here.

    Some stars are sprinkled in though, and to good effect... Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth.

    Three stars out of four, and the kind of film that will compete well at the Academy Awards come February, especially in the area of (Roger Deakins' fantastic 'bleak-beautiful') cinematography. A definite technical achievement that doesn't neglect story or characters.


    Underwater

    If you love sci-fi horror as much as I do, it's really annoying to hear professional reviewers who obviously would rather be at a (boring) foreign coming-of-age drama dump on said film as "yet another Alien wannabe". Apparently, that line never gets old with them.

    Which makes it all the more galling when they're actually right.

    Underwater is indeed in the 'high tech haunted house' Alien gothic horror-vein, but has no real new ideas to offer the genre, aside from the choice to start the film literally one minute before the sh!t hits the fan and then let the audience catch up.

    Would seem to be an interesting approach, but as executed here, it's more just a smokescreen for paper-thin characters who are more 'types' than people, a paint-by-numbers plot, and CGI monsters that look like they were lifted from Pacific Rim and Aquaman, respectively.

    The weirdest thing about Underwater isn't actually the vaguely Lovecraftian deep-sea monsters, but that Kristen Stewart is the best thing in the movie, doing a more than half-credible job of channeling Sigourney Weaver's steely focus in an Ellen Ripley role. Yes, that Kristen Stewart.

    One and a half stars out of four. It's not awful, but you've seen it before. Lots.


    Knives Out

    Overrated. Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) makes a classic-style murder mystery that has become a critics' darling, but one has to wonder what most of the fuss is about.

    What it should have been is like the boardgame Clue come to life, with the audience puzzling out if Colonel Mustard did the murder in the kitchen with a candlestick, or any of a dozen other possibilities, that increase, decrease, or change with each new tidbit of information.

    Instead, Johnson chooses to tell us EXACTLY what really happened very early on, and to sideline most of a very large and impressive ensemble cast.

    Yeah, go figure. I didn't see the point either, except to 'be different for the sake of being different', and 'set genre tropes on their head'. Ugh. Maybe this explains Last Jedi.

    To be fair, there are strong performances from the few characters/actors Johnson seems to care about – Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, and the very lovely Ana de Armas – but everyone else either has precious little to do, or hams it up excessively (aka Chris 'Captain America' Evans in a spoiled-bad-boy turn).

    And most of the few real twists the film does offer are more easily foreseen and deciphered than the apparently slack-jawed pro critics would have you believe.

    Two and half stars out of four, with a half star of that coming from the novelty of (hopefully) bringing back the classic murder-mystery genre.

    Mixed and middling execution aside, it is at least different from what passes for a modern Hollywood murder-mystery outing these days, for both good and ill.





    sidenote: still haven't seen Star Wars Ep IX, and have no plans to do so... suck it, J.J. Abrams.
    Last edited by SystemShock; 01-21-2020 at 07:04 AM.
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did, peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    Sys: Fake news?? Trump's a Fake President for God's sake.

    Plat: I'd rather fellate a syphilitic goat than own a Cervelo.

    Homer: I believe that the children are our future. Unless we stop them now.

    Seam: Saw Bjork poop onstage back in the day. It blew my teenage mind.


  2. #2
    Devoid of all flim-flam
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    You're really hanging out at the movie theater...working on what my musician friends call that studio tan.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  3. #3
    feelin' Freddie Mercury
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    You're really hanging out at the movie theater...working on what my musician friends call that studio tan.
    LOL.

    Wish I were more hardcore, but I only see about one movie a week. But it adds up.

    Btw, interesting ‘film from out of nowhere’ releasing this week... HP Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, starring... Nicolas Cage.
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did, peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    Sys: Fake news?? Trump's a Fake President for God's sake.

    Plat: I'd rather fellate a syphilitic goat than own a Cervelo.

    Homer: I believe that the children are our future. Unless we stop them now.

    Seam: Saw Bjork poop onstage back in the day. It blew my teenage mind.


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