Új recenziók - Progresszív felhasználók
Netflix has released a four-part miniseries of Capcom's anticipated "Resident Evil" and, though were definitely ambitions higher, it’s perfectly fine as a one-off. I liked the setting in the White House, but otherwise the storyline is pretty flat, though that wasn't the point here. What works well though is the visuals and the CGI animation. There aren’t many similarly themed films made, so some of the flaws are forgivable. The action is great, bloody and brutal (but not really enough for my taste). We don't get tp see much of the zombies, there’s a monster only in the finale, and though the atmosphere is mysterious in places, I could definitely imagine it more frightening. It's disappointing that we get a project like this once every few years , but it falls far short of the quality of my favourite Love Death & Robots episodes – but it’s still better this than another drama, no question. Story 2/5, Action 3/5, Humor 1/5, Violence 3/5, Fun 4/5 Music 3/5, Visuals 4/5, Atmosphere 3/5, Suspense 3/5. 6.5/10.
I was expecting more and I have a few complaints, but it's still a strong genre average and in slasher series, there hasn't been anything this substantial in a good few years. People unfamiliar with the genre see it as a rip-off, “The Better Ones" see it as fanboy enthusiasm for the horror genre and an homage to older pieces. Nightwing is definitely the new Crystal Lake, and the redhead from Stranger Things has the makings of a new scream queen. I'm not going to compare the episodes, each has different strengths, I was a little bummed that they avoided nudity, I understand that the book is PG-13 and made for teens, but I missed it here. The film is probably most reminiscent of Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th and The Burning, and anyone who loved those films since the 80s should enjoy this one as well, at least on the nostalgia side. There are plenty of references (Carrie!), retro music, likeable characters, and you can tell that it's cleverly conceived and it all fits together nicely within the genre. The first half is slower, the wait for the first murder is longer than I would have liked, and the gore could definitely have been more substantial – it takes place either in the dark, many times out of frame and as a result I only remembered two severed heads. Even though emotionally I'm leaning towards three stars, I had an above average time and I'm going to take all three episodes as a whole, where I hope the witches will pull it off a full score. I'm happy with the whole series so far and I'm glad Netflix picked it up. Story 3/5, Action 3/5, Humor 2/5, Violence 3/5, Fun 4/5 Music 4/5, Visuals 4/5, Atmosphere 4/5, Suspense 4/5. 7/10.
You Feel like you have already seen it! Classic Horror Story had all the makings of being a great horror film, and, though it's certainly not a bad one, I'm a bit disappointed and will be more strict with my rating this time. The Italian touch is fine, the rural setting is beautiful (the forest is awesome), the music is great, the make-up effects are good, there is an impressive cottage (Hansel and Gretel?), and a quite unconventional story with a surprising twist, with sirens and dark red, and nice horror references. Not to confuse a rip-off with an homage, that's clearly the makers' intention. The film has a Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel from the start and slowly references various exploitation and hixploitation films, which is my favourite sub-genre, so logically I was really looking forward it. Itit switches into a sort of variation on Ari Aster's Midsommar, which is all fine and dandy, but it struck me that Leatherface left his chainsaw in the shed and I can't quite explain why a hixploitation from Italy is more afraid of gore than I am of spiders! If the makers are going to put torture in a film, why should everything be left to the viewer's imagination? Ok, bookworms may not mind, but I was looking forward to a proper some gore after five years (there should have been blood should have spurting from the screen to my living room! ), but it all remained somewhere in the hints. In this the film definitely doesn't fulfill its potential, and that it can't be said either that there is an intense or unpleasant horror atmosphere, which is a pity, because the film had a good start, a lot of other things (music, setting, visuals, plot) that work, but for me they are not enough. If I had to compare it to something, it's like going to a brothel and getting your balls tickled by a hooker, but without the blowjob. Story 3/5, Action 2/5, Humour 0/5, Violence 2/5, Fun 3/5 Music 4/5, Visuals 4/5, Atmosphere 3/5, Suspense 3/5. 6/10.
Navot Papushado is not Illya Naishuller, Chad Stahelski, Gareth Evans or David Leitch and it shows. I was looking forward to Gunpowder Milkshake after the first trailers and I didn't expect it to be so routine and sterile. The story is very simple and anyone who has a need to deal with story in action movies can take a star off. I stopped worrying about it ten years ago and I now tend to focus on other things, but even those couldn't quite satisfy me. The visuals are solid, the music is fine, Chloe Coleman after My Spy is awesome again, and the decent R-rated action is also a pleasure. But the big disappointment for me is Karen Gillan, who on the one hand can't act much and on the other, I didn't believe her as a hired assassin. She is wooden in the action scenes, slow and because of that all the action lacks punch, drive, zest and momentum. However, there are quite a lot of action scenes and they are filmed neatly, but I didn't feel the physicality or the passion., and that's quite a problem, at least the slow-mo fight in the kitchen deserves a rewatch. If you like action movies, you won't be disappointed, the film it's entertaining and action packed enough, only that it's quite naive and not very satisfying like other action flicks even from Female heroines (Atomic Blonde). Story 2/5, Action 3/5, Humor 2/5, Violence 4/5, Fun 3/5 Music 4/5, Visuals 4/5, Atmosphere 3/5, Suspense 3/5. 6/10.
After almost two years, a Marvel movie finally hit the cinemas and the result is nothing to write home about. For me, a pretty useless movie about a useless character. The first hour is surprisingly solid, it's well paced, the action is kept down to earth and the fights have decent choreography – they're Bourne style so I enjoyed them. I'm also pleased with Florence Pugh, whom I like a lot, and the Taskmaster's entrance is awesome. By the second hour, however, I felt that perhaps the director had been replaced, the action goes by the wayside, and so does the fun goes, the humour is completely absent, the Taskmaster goes by the wayside! (it's reprehensible to sideline such an interesting villain like that!), and the finale was perhaps the weakest of all the action scenes, so I'm quite disappointed. I rate the first half as 8/10, the second half is about 5-6, and in the end I'm rounding up more towards 6, because for Marvel I found it unbalanced, the effects aren't too dazzling either, it felt a bit like it was going half throttle and quite possibly the first Marvel movie I definitely won't watch again. Story 3/5, Action 3/5, Humor 1/5, Violence 0/5, Fun 3/5 Music 2/5, Visuals 3/5, Atmosphere 3/5, Suspense 3/5. 6/10.
The fifth and perhaps last episode is, together with the first, the weakest. It's very obvious the the Purge franchise is a cash cow without higher ambitions, but this time I felt that they didn't try to stick to what I enjoyed in the previous films. It's nice that they still manage to come up with something relatively new and interesting, but this sequel lacked juice for me. There is not much gore, the setting of Mexico is fine, but when I remember Sicario, where I had an uncomfortable feeling with every shot, that is definitely not the case here. The action is routine, the shootouts are not impressive (at times it felt like a cheaper 90's B-movie), even the Masks, what Purge is famous for, I can't think of any cool one after watching it. There definitely won't be a Halloween costume sale after this one. I'd rather not see another sequel. Story 2/5, Action 3/5, Humor 0/5, Violence 2/5, Fun 3/5 Music 2/5, Visuals 3/5, Atmosphere 2/5, Suspense 3/5. 5/10.
An enjoyable martial arts caper in an attractive Japanese setting. I'm not going to say that Snake Eyes is a great movie, it's not, and it's not a movie that you will want to see again when it's over. On the other hand there are a lot of familiar and favorite faces of mine, ninjas, the yakuza and a lot of action scenes, so I had a great time and got what I expected. Henry Golding is likeable, Andrew Koji is the biggest draw, Iko Uwais has less space but is good, and the duo of Samara Weaving and Tokyo is a dream threesome; the acting is very good. I have a few reservations about the action scenes and the most disappointing is the absence of R-rated action – had there been blood spurting in the rainy streets of Japan I'd probably be moaning with bliss. The messy editing bothered me at times, but the decent choreography, the fine fighters in front of the camera and the hard contact punches more or less made up for it. Plot-wise, the film doesn't impress with anything, of course, but by action standards I think it's good enough. I had fun. A fan of Asia and action should not be disappointed. The rest of the audience can skip the cinema. PS: I consider the jump-scare during the snake scene to be the most sneaky in perhaps the last ten years. Story 3/5, Action 4/5, Humour 0/5, Violence 1/5, Fun 4/5 Music 4/5, Visuals 4/5, Atmosphere 3/5, Suspense 3/5. 7/10.
A decent German vampire movie from Netflix. Personally, I was expecting something better, but since the vampire movies of the last few years have been going more in the art direction, it would be unfair to shoot this one down with an average rating, even though I'm closer to 3 stars after watching it. On the plus side, it has an attractive airplane setting from which there is no escape, and the cramped atmosphere works well. The make-up effects are good, it has decent technical aspects, a fine pacing, and I like the idea of combining the hijacking of the plane by terrorists with vampires, that's quite original. The downside for me is the running time of two hours, 90 minutes would have been more than enough for a film of this calibre (which is also affected by the slower start). The gore, unfortunately, is almost missing (you don’t see any guts, limbs or severed heads), and there’s not enough blood for my taste (it's not even close to Army of the Dead), but I'll turn a blind eye, I wasn't bored. The film deserves the genre four stars from the absence of decent vampire movies at least in the last five years. Story 3/5, Action 4/5, Humor 0/5, Violence 3/5, Fun 4/5 Music 4/5, Visuals 4/5, Atmosphere 4/5, Suspense 3/5. 7/10.
A surprisingly enjoyable horror thriller working with a familiar template, and even if it doesn't try to bring anything new, it works fine. I like these movies where a stranger shows up outside a house in the middle of nowhere at night looking for help and you don’t quite know who to trust at first, who's evil and who has what plans. A mother, a daughter and a sick father are disturbed by two guys during the night. One of them is injured and looking for help and I won't tell you more. Filmed decently, the acting is fine, and there are a few surprises (some expected, some unexpected). It really holds the attention and and keeps the viewer suspenseful as to how it all turns out, which counts. The ending is sharp too, so that's fine. Add some proper gore and I wouldn't hesitate to rate it higher, but it's worth a watch for those who like films like this. 6/10.
An even bigger cracker than I was hoping for. Eli Roth has made his best horror film and his best slasher in quite possibly a decade. A vicious carnage that puts all the Screams, Halloweens, Fridays the 13th, all the PG-13 slashers and all the wannabe meta slashers to shame. The film doesn't try to bring anything new to the genre, it just works with what's proven, but it's so fan-friendly that everything is done with a love for the genre, and I enjoyed the whole thing immensely. Just the setting alone in the famous American holiday of Thanksgiving is very cool and more enjoyable than Halloween or Christmas. Anyway, here's to a great slasher franchise, which I hope this will be. The very opening opening sequence, which I'd call the Black Friday opening gory madness, will a legendary scene in the horror archive that will earn the film a cult status. Let's move on to the individual elements, where I won't spare any praise. The Killer is perfect, with amazing design and costume, an iconic character who has skill and the set-ups are amazing. To my surprise the reveal of the killer and his motive works, which I also applaud. It's packed with hyperbole and a nice dark humor. It also works well as a whodunit about the hunt for a serial killer, where we follow a little investigative work. It's nice that the target is not just the central group of teenagers, but a host of other supporting characters. The city is consumed by terror and no one is safe. The body-count is decently high. I must also praise the well dosed jump-scares, one of them almost gave me a heart attack, and is one of the best this year (shame on all the ghost movies, when a slasher is doing a better jump-scare job). I also liked the retro 80's feel and the characters are cool too (the main character is really cute and hot). I must also highlight the fact that it's not completely silly. The behaviour of the characters is definitely more natural than in other slasher horror movies. And now the main thing , the gore and the execution of the murders is top notch. Here Eli Roth is really unleashed and all the murders have a twist, they are properly brutal, very creative, literally unpleasant and very nasty sometimes. He uses a variety of weapons and fatalities and I really enjoyed all the kills. There were guts, hammering, frying alive, scalps, decapitations, severed fingers, in short something from everyone and it's great. The finale with the dinner is also interesting, though I think the potential could have been used a bit better, it pointed to the ultimate torture mayhem, but stayed halfway, too bad, there could have been two legendary scenes in one movie, you just don't see that. Of course, there's plenty of tension and the whole thing is so much fun that when it's over you want to watch it all over again. 8.5/10.
What teenage American girls really dream about… Park attacks American cinema with its own weapons. In the frame for a family melodrama, whose ideology (family above all, children as a chance to make things right) is cruelly mocked, he has set a formalistically polished, thoroughly deviant film that defies categorisation in any particular genre. Beginning with the flashforward that opens the film (and indicates the dominant narrative perspective that goes beneath the surface), we are confused and led in wrong directions by various narrative devices. We learn important information sooner or later than the characters, genre conventions are used in unexpected contexts, and an equal sign could be drawn between the villains and the protagonists. With the frequent use of continuity of the shots, seemingly random details (the sole of a foot, a spider) gradually fit into the well-thought-out structure and become important motifs serving both the obvious thematic levels of the story and those that lie beneath the surface. At the same time, the occasionally disgusting details (the bursting of a blister) indicate how India perceives reality, which is probably most clearly demonstrated by her art-class painting of the inside of a vase (instead of painting the vase itself or the flowers placed in the vase). ___ Park is well aware of how certain types of scenes are constructed in Hollywood, which is why he ironically places those formulas in the foreground (the rhythmisation of a scene using a metronome, which is present in the diegetic space of the film) or circumvents them (disregard for the axis rule in the three-part dialogue scenes, the discontinuous sequencing of shots throughout the film). Through an ironic lens, we can also see the main protagonist, who has similarly morbid interests as many of her peers, but in her case it’s not mere posturing. ___ In the mould of Shadow of a Doubt, the whole film is structured as a suspenseful – albeit very ambiguous in terms of moral categories – duel between a pair of adversaries who complement and destroy each other and whose forces are only seemingly unequal. The narrative is largely organised by means of parallelism, which is behind some of the film’s most impressive scenes (e.g. the orgasmic piano duet), motivates the changes in perspective within a single long shot (either by changing the direction of movement or through more conventional refocusing) and makes us aware of moments that are important to the plot (most of the essential revelations occur on the stairs, which are “ruled” by Charlie at the beginning and by India at the end). The peak moments of the film are the two precisely built-up and rather shocking cut scenes, of which the first places sex and death on the same level and the second uniquely compresses three time planes into one. ___ From a psychoanalytical perspective, Stoker is an extremely dense film, though it occasionally resorts to naïve literalism and works with some symbols far more conspicuously than, for example, Hitchcock, who had to be more restrained in this respect due to censorship (he could perhaps have only gotten away with Charlie’s assessment of the wine accompanied by meaningful glances at India). In the shots shared with India and Charlie, the mother is a superfluous and disruptive element, which partially corresponds to the meaning of the role played by Nicole Kidman, who – despite her stardom – is more or less an extra in the film (which is to say that her performance is a violation of expectations associated with the star system) and becomes interesting only during a symptomatic reading (a reprise of the “primal scene”, which awakens India’s sexuality). ___ In the context of American production, Stoker is a refreshingly cynical film whose cohesiveness at the level of both the lower and higher narrative units is a joy to analyse again and again (because you certainly won’t exhaust all of its possibilities in one or two viewings), though you will occasionally have to turn a blind eye to the naïveté of its screenplay. 90%
Kazan’s variation on a neorealist theme, straddling the line between realism and idealism (the unabashedly melodramatic climax) is not an iconic 1950s film only because of its socio-critical story (for whose appreciation it is good to know the infamous role played by Schulberg and Kazan in McCarthy’s anti-communist campaign). On the Waterfront most intensely recalls the time of its making through the acting performances. You don’t have to leaf through thick books on the history of cinema in order to understand the term “method acting”. It suffices to watch Brando at work in one textbook scene after another. Brando is focused, but at ease, with bullish tenacity and feminine sensitivity at the same time. That sensitivity makes Terry a remarkably ambivalent character. On the one hand, it weakens him; on the other hand, it makes him a moral authority in the eyes of men who are outwardly stronger but inwardly weaker. These two components of the protagonist’s personality never cancel each other out. Thanks to Brando, they are rather in perfect harmony. Such identification of an actor with his character has rarely been seen since. 85%
2001: A Space Odyssey, which this film reminded me of several times during the screening, confronted man with the great unknown. In Gravity, like in the most classic folk tales (which are usually dominated by a man, not a woman), man is confronted mainly with himself and his (limited) possibilities. This is not the only indication of the film’s classic nature. Another wager on certainty is the three-act narrative structure (three sanctuaries provided by three space stations, each of which representing a different religion) with precisely doled out story complications and exemplary use of deadlines, which contribute to the impression that the things we see are happening in real time and thus nothing is decided and certain in advance. As others have previously described in detail, Gravity is gripping not in spite of but thanks to the use of classic Hollywood narrative formulas. The intensity of the experience is aided by limiting the narrative to what Dr. Stone sees, hears, knows and experiences, as she becomes our avatar for roughly eighty minutes. Perhaps during the most intense moments, we don’t so much fear for her life, but for the perspective that we might lose if we lose her. If there is no Dr. Stone, there will be no way for us to see. What happens in the global context is irrelevant. The film does not disrupt our emotional connection to the central character by dealing with any conflicts other than her internal conflict. Bad things simply happened (her daughter’s death, the debris impact) and now it is up to her to deal with them. In any case, the powerfulness of the Rd. protagonist’s rebirth (including the foetal position and the cutting of the umbilical cord) is due not only to the highly cohesive screenplay and the detailed technical rendering, but also to Sandra Bullock’s performance. Her “howling” at the Moon will remain in my memory as one of the most moving film moments of 2013 and, also thanks to Bullock, the purgative final shot, when the ordinary definitively becomes extraordinary, was also a powerful experience for me that goes beyond film (and beyond sensory perception). In my eyes, that moment, despite its content, elevated Gravity from the level of technical wonder and unique crisis simulator (not only in space) to an encounter with something otherworldly that cannot be described with words or conveyed in images. If we leave aside the theatrical reversals, we could even call it Art. 95%
Creating the Impossible looks like a patchwork of talking heads from the making-of documentaries about individual films (priority was given to those made by the uncritically admired Lucas, Spielberg and their friends). The only common denominator is the (self-)laudatory tone and the unwillingness to see the extensive use of CGI in a broader context. Though the documentary offers only a few lighter moments, such as Robin Williams’s story about running away from a non-existent rhinoceros, it maintains a treacherously brisk pace throughout (thus creating the impression that we have been told much more than we actually have) thanks to the music and the modest use of film clips. Instead of this, I recommend watching The Pixar Story, which is partially about the same thing and doesn’t seem so synthetic.
Following Gravity and All Is Lost (and, to some extent, Captain Phillips), Lone Survivor is another high-contact fight for survival, placing vicarious experience over a complicated plot. Instead of examining the film’s content, it suffices to read the title. With the exception of the introductory panoramas of the picturesque Afghan landscape (which can be understood as part of an effort to not demonise the whole country, but only the Taliban…though the film was shot in New Mexico), Berg relies predominantly on point-of-view shots and close-ups. The camera’s close proximity to the characters occasionally results in a lack of clarity, though it also adds an unpleasant veracity. The impression of rawness is aided by the film’s R rating, thanks to which we can “enjoy” every shot-off finger and every bone-breaking impact on a rock. The film’s long, superbly intensified action core with minimum pathos is unfortunately put in a context that is not very sophisticated. After a broad introduction, the members of the team blend together, the Taliban are evil because they cut off heads, and any indication of the current American military’s inadequacies is quickly suppressed (the unpleasant hazing of a new recruit rapidly transmutes into an inspiring rhyme). In contrast to what we have witnessed (a fatally botched mission) and what in places had a refreshing tinge of ambivalence (the argument about what to do with a captured enemy combatant), the film ends with the cheap pre-credits glorification of the soldiers involved. – SPOILER: With most of them, it’s impossible to avoid the not-insignificant feeling that we are supposed to consider them heroes simply because they didn’t die. END SPOILER – After All is Lost, where I was bothered by the lack of value added, I wouldn’t have expected that I would write this, but this time I would have preferred a pure survival flick without any information aimed at bringing depth to the story. 65%
Leonardo DiCaprio transforms into Matthew McConaughey in this biopic, which chokes on itself. For as long and as fast as The Wolf of Wall Street talks, it ultimately says surprisingly little. Like The Great Gatsby, another attempt to explore the self-destructive potential of capitalism from last year, Wolf also entertained me more with its form than with its content. ___ Scorsese has dealt with the central theme of male frustration arising from the inability to reach the top and stay there several times (most evocatively in Raging Bull). What makes this film different is mainly its tone, degree of excess and greater emphasis on the ritual dimension of boorish behaviour. Sex, drugs and drinking have gained a common denominator in the form of dollar bills, for which anything and anyone can be bought. The film doesn’t condemn money – and there is the question of whether anyone should take it seriously in such a case today. On the contrary, it genuinely acknowledges that money can buy loads of pleasure. The ambiguous final scene with Agent Denham (is he smiling?), who together with Belfort’s first wife is the only one who acts with any sense of morals, leaves it up to us to judge whether he is happy or regretful that he didn’t take Belfort’s offer. (Denham comes across as a being from a different, human world also thanks to Kyle Chandler’s acting). Scorsese puts us in a similar “decide for yourself” position multiple times, e.g. during Belfort’s slow crawl to the Lamborghini. The scene isn’t made humorous with music or with a well-timed cut. It is rather several static shots without musical accompaniment. We are not encouraged to laugh at the protagonist; that’s only somehow expected of us. ___ At the same time, a second viewing of the etude with the Lamborghini, unforgettable thanks particularly to DiCaprio’s physical performance, which is reminiscent of Jerry Lewis and other masters of physical comedy, reinforced my suspicion that Scorsese did not have an entirely clear concept of how to shoot the individual parts of the film and then put them together. With the exception of the aforementioned scene, it more or less applies that the less cool the film is, the more seriously we should take it. The rapid dolly shots, the overhead shots, the slowed or quickened movement, the loud music (the choice of which is governed by whether we are watching the bacchanalia or, for example, another stock-market success) – these are all indicators that Belfort has the narrative fully under his control. From the prologue (white Ferrari, not red), however, Belfort shows himself to be an unreliable narrator who doesn’t tell the truth, or at least not the whole truth. Other characters and the film’s narrative itself have to repeatedly set the record straight and tell us what really happened (the S&M evening, the rampage on the airplane, the return from the Country Club). The scenes without music and Belfort’s boastful commentary, handled using the standard shot-countershot technique, are often more critical of the “hero’s” actions and give the impression that we are receiving facts in a purer form, unfiltered by Belfort’s view. But in “his” scenes, Belfort occasionally commits an offense that an impartial (and absent) film narrator avoids – he puts himself down (eleven-second coitus, self-ironic quoting of Browning’s Freaks). Is that supposed to be a surprising violation of the rules (such as the later conferment of the voice-over to other narrators, namely Saurel and Aunt Emma), or is it proof that the film does not respect any rules in its extravagant indiscipline? ___ Of course, the composition of the plot from various mad incidents is not as random as it may seem. The narrative moves ever forward thanks to the rhythmically well-thought-out introduction of new characters and revealing of new information, and thanks to the intensification of the motifs pointing out the striking contrast (played superbly by DiCaprio) between the Jordan who has ambition and a knit sweater and the Jordan who has everything. Whether The Wolf of Wall Street has a clear concept or not (it probably does, but I didn’t find it even on the second viewing), and whether or not it is sexist in its exploitation of the female body (it probably is, because Naomi uses her sex appeal as a weapon), the new Scorsese film remains an entertainingly provocative black comedy (or horror musical?) that pulsates with incredible (masculine) energy for the whole three hours and likably does not try to foist upon us any moralistic wisdom about the harmfulness of money, egoism and various forms of immoderation. 85%
-Thank You. -Fuck off! Breaking Good? Not entirely. Dallas Buyers Club is surprisingly not an emotionally manipulative drama about the belated awakening of a homophobe. It is rather a sober film – in terms of both form and content – that instead of glorifying Woodroof, admits that this cowboy did not deserve any exaggerated compassion even after he contracted AIDS. The effort taken to not harp on the protagonist’s suffering and to simply depict him corresponds to the objectiveness of the form (filming without additional artificial lighting, documentary-style asymmetrical shot compositions, non-evocative use of music). If the film isn’t emotionally cold, that’s particularly due to the gaunt McConaughey, who lost approximately 20 kilos for his role as Woodroof. Even though he plays only a shadow of his heroes from other films, he never loses the sparkle in his eye. The way that he combines inordinate self-confidence, blatant impudence and admirable tenacity makes the protagonist an ideal campaigner against the (medical) establishment, which expects nothing more from its nemesis, who personifies the indomitable nature of American ambition, than the fact that he will soon die. Also fascinating especially for his physical transformation is Jared Leto, whose scenes with McConaughey are remotely reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy, another film that didn’t take itself too seriously and, on the other hand, neither revelled in its serious subject matter nor trivialised it. 75%
In addition to virtual relationships, in the introduction Stiller also cautiously raises a middle finger to corporate capitalism, which strips people of their individuality and transforms individuals into pawns who are willing to do anything to hold on to their jobs. A person’s own body – or rather mind – thus becomes his or her last refuge. The liberating power of the imagination allows one to at least dream of doing noble deeds worthy of great romantic heroes, who were long ago displaced from reality and put into epic Hollywood fairy tales. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not ashamed to admit that it is itself such a fairy tale whose message justifies its numerous spectacular scenes. The second half of the film is made up of a series of stirring adventure stories whose aesthetic concept is consciously inspired by magazine covers, since Walter escapes from his daily routine into photographs from prestigious magazines. Though the special-effects sequences blur the line between dream and reality to such an extent that the difference becomes irrelevant (instead of creating a certain tension), they also gently complement the characteristics of the main protagonist. Even though the romantic subplot seems superfluous on the surface and the film may seem like a self-improvement handbook for men who don’t know what to do with their lives, other people (his girlfriend, Sean O'Connell, his mother and, indirectly, even his deceased father) directly and indirectly support Walter in his solo adventures and compel him to continue in them throughout the film. In the current “contactless” era, a very welcome feature of this film is its effort to convince viewers not to live only in the virtual world and to not be afraid to realise their dreams, to not be selfish and to not stop thinking of others even in the most difficult moments (due to which the film seems more conformist than the roughly similar anarchistic action flick Wanted). Walter Mitty demonstrates that Stiller is able to suppress his eccentric comic nature in favour of a relatively serious idea. However, that seriousness is fortunately never taken so far that the film would completely step outside the realm of feel-good entertainment for the big screen and for the whole family. With the benefit of hindsight and in all seriousness, I wouldn’t hesitate to call Walter Mitty the most positive movie surprise of last year. 85%
As banal and ridiculous as the plot is in its frantic effort to find space for Dietrich’s performance, which serves purely as an attraction, Morocco is to an astonishing extent open to a queer reading. Marlene wears men’s clothing, kisses a woman and points out that she still hasn’t found a marriage-worthy man who can satisfy her. Of course, both the first and the second incidents are part of a cabaret performance, while we can interpret the third as simply and chastely meaning that she hasn’t had any luck with finding the right kind of guy. However, the actress’s gestures and face, and especially the titillating way in which Sternberg presents both of these aspects, make the possibility of reading against the grain irresistible. The dialogue also addresses gender differences, constantly treading the line between the two sexes and, though it is free of explicit innuendos, we can easily infer that the director was not a major supporter of the traditional family model. In connection with that, the setting in Morocco, where western female stereotypes were gaining prominence, found its justification. It seems absolutely logical when the protagonist “mannishly” salutes Cooper at the end, takes off her impractical and very feminine shoes and goes into the desert to perform more meaningful service than the life of a proper wife would require from her. The question of whether she is also renouncing her femininity by rejecting the role of decorative accessory and whether society is giving her any choice at all remains hanging in the hot Moroccan air. 75%
“Some of this actually happened.” The exaggerated opening title well indicates the strengths and weaknesses of Russell’s American Hustle, which isn’t rooted in any particular genre. No, we will not familiarise you with the procedural details of the central swindle. Who knows what it was really like back then? And yes, like what you are about to see, Hollywood is one big game that plays fast and loose with the truth. So, we will set up a mirror and other reflective surfaces in front of ourselves and from the opening scene (preparation for the performance) we will draw attention to the performative dimension of the con artist’s “craft”. Which is to say that we will not focus on facts or provide enough of them that would create tension and expectations, but only self-reflexive wordplay that belongs entirely to the actors. Due to the sidelining of the course of the operation in favour of the relationships between the characters, who deny and rediscover their own identities, there is nothing that would hold the narrative structure together and keep the viewer in suspense. We can understand the herky-jerky rhythm of the narrative as an attempt to adapt the form to a large number of narrators with different natures and goals (and acting styles, because nearly every actor is attuned to a different genre), though I personally see it as evidence of Russell’s indiscipline as a director, which is caused by putting too much trust in the actors. Similarly, the manneristic use of certain stylistic techniques (rapid dolly shots) and gratuitous incorporation of contemporary music testify to the fact that Russel is adept at his craft and knows how to shoot a “cool” scene, but his directing is non-conceptual. The changes of identities, genres, rhythm and narrators are fun at first and give the film a certain flair. Due to the aimless directing and meaningless plot, however, the excess of images and words, which basically say the same thing again and again (and say it much more straightforwardly than, for example, Preston Sturges in the timeless The Lady Eve, becomes off-putting much sooner than, for example, in The Wolf of Wall Street, which seems to be a much shorter film thanks to its more concentrated and coherent narrative. As is becoming customary in the case of Russell, the actors save the film from being completely rejected and quickly forgotten. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, though entertaining, forgot to switch from the eccentric comedy mode employed in Silver Linings Playbook and the atrocious (s)exploitation of Amy Adams’s body needlessly flattens the Sydney character and detracts from her ambivalence, but at least Christian Bale hasn’t looked so bad and acted so well in a few years. 65%