Category Archives: movies

Source Code (2011)

(spoilers ahead!)

Source Code is a clever thriller, that toys with its sci-fi elements without ever becoming too much of a geekout. It has an interesting premise that might be familiar, but not so familiar that it’s boring already. Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in the lead role, exactly the right actor for this part, showing us the confusion we would expect but also the determination to get out of it without becoming a cleancut hero. He makes mistakes and overreacts at times, making him all the more believable. The movie has fun with its premise and the direction and screenplay constantly keeps up the suspense and surprises.

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The Conspirator (2010)

The Conspirator tells an interesting story in a boring way, which is too bad. The casting and acting is excellent and if nothing else, the movie is almost worth watching many good actors. But not much is done with it, at least not more than is absolutely necessary. It’s a solid movie with an obvious message, which I will get to in a second. The movie takes too long to get going, giving us the whole Lincoln assassination without giving us a clue what the movie will be about for fifteen minutes. Only then the real story comes through and inbetween the movie also spends time with too many things that seem irrelevant.

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Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (2011)

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (I’ll never fully get used to those semi-part names) is, well, an entry in the Twilight series and I’m not surprising anyone by saying it’s not great. It’s silly and boring and too long and weird. I haven’t seen the last part of the series but it didn’t really matter, I had no problem getting into the story, which mostly comes from the fact that there is a minimum of story. Enough people wrote about this movie, too, so I don’t need to get into the whole abortion/pro-life debate, also because I find it somewhat boring. I feel the movie is more ambiguous about it than most angry people say and it fits that it raises question it doesn’t want to answer. Just like its incredibly passive main character Bella, the movie is very good at whatever.

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The Land Before Time (1988) [1988 Week]

(spoilers ahead, which is only really relevant if you’re under 6, the movie is not that unpredictable)

The Land Before Time is a rather typical animated movie for its time, I’d say. I probably saw it as a kid but rewatched it now because I’m intrigued by children’s movies and the messages they’re sending. This movie is okay, I guess, but so clearly aimed at children, meaning it tries to be cute and soft all the time, with a fair amount of scares to balance it out. There isn’t much for adults here, which in turn means I think it’s not great for kids either. It doesn’t hurt them (depending on how harmful you view its messages), but it also doesn’t challenge them, except for emotional manipulation. It’s not a movie I necessarily would show to my kids.

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Akira (1988) [1988 Week]

(spoilers ahead)

Akira is one of the most visually stunning movies I’ve ever seen. I didn’t get everything about the plot, but I mostly didn’t mind because the images were so impressive and amazing that every frame is worth admiring. It’s also a fearless movie, willing to go any place it wants to go, no matter if it’s violent or nightmarish or apocalyptic or sleazy. Again, I’m not sure about the story exactly but the movie is never boring and always astonishes you with a new set piece. Its world is complete, so fully fleshed out, that it is very easy to fall into it. Sometimes you don’t know exactly why the characters are acting the way the do, but you don’t care as long as you can follow them through this world of Neo Tokyo, with its fascination for technology and brain power. It is no surprise to see Akira was very influential for many filmmakers. It’s impossible to watch this now and not think of The Matrix, to name just one. It is simply an impressive movie.

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Above the Law (1988) [1988 Week]

(spoilers ahead!)

Above the Law is a straightforward vigilante movie, which is why I picked it. I mean, it’s called Above the Law! (or Nico, but that isn’t as catchy). I haven’t seen that many Steven Seagal movies in my life because most of them are obviously bad, but this is his first and it’s not that bad really, simply seen as an action movie. It’s not too cynical, the plot is not completely absurd and even the acting is fine. It’s not a great movie but it entertains in its own way.

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This 40s Movie: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Yankee Doodle Dandy is from 1942. When I was watching it for The Incomparables podcast, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some 30s and 40s movies (and I’m anxiously waiting for my randomizer to assign a theme week from that period to me), but I’ve never analyzed them the way I do here. The oldest movie yet was Lawrence of Arabia from 1962 and twenty years is a lot. Anyway, the movie is a biopic about George M. Cohan, who I only realized after the movie, was a real person. It’s somewhat entertaining, without the songs, if you can enjoy the old-fashioned humor and acting. I found it more watchable than 1776, for example, the other movie discussed in that podcast, that I wasn’t able to even finish. It’s enjoyable enough to keep you interested, despite all the things you can expect from a 40s movie. There is not much authenticity to anything as everyone is a “character” and talks as if they’re in the musical of a movie (or the other way around). Some of the direction is noticeable, but nothing jumps at you and the filmmaking is mostly conventional.

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Borat (2006)

(no spoilers for this unspoilable movie)

Borat is … oh man, where to start? I know I’m supposed to like this movie. Critics loved it. Audiences loved it. Its screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. For a while people were constantly talking about it and I felt strange not having seen it. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never got around to it (because every other movie in existence also calls for my attention), so now, eight years later, I finally watched it and, what do you know, I didn’t like it. Strangely, I expected to like it so this was a surprise to me. I have some issues with the movie but it boils down to one thing: I didn’t find the movie funny.  I saw what it was trying to do but I sat through all of it with an earnest face, not even registering a smile. It’s not that I didn’t understand it or that it was too offensive or something, I just couldn’t laugh about it. It was boring to me, especially the “story” parts. The interactions were somewhat interesting, but that was about it. I couldn’t even say it’s a bad movie, but it’s definitely not a movie for me. And I think its ideas don’t translate well to a movie, this is just made for TV.

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Interstellar (2014)

(no real spoilers until I tell you so)

Interstellar is certainly something like an event, a movie that is highly entertaining and engaging, but somewhat hollow at its core. The movie wants a lot but ultimately fails to reach its own ambitions. The production values are excellent, the images are stunning, the music is epic, the visual and sound effects are flawless. The editing shows some of the movie’s problems, because it uses hard cuts for effects but overuses them, showing that the movie really wants to be special. This also goes for the parallel montages that are interesting but ultimately don’t lead to much. You find the same problem in many of the movie’s aspects, especially the last twenty minutes, where the movie really tries to be clever but simply isn’t. It’s more show than tell, unfortunately. The acting is very good but some dialogue doesn’t do the talent of the actors justice. My impressions are still fresh, but I’m not sure where the movie lands in my perception. I loved it’s ideas about time and there’s one very emotional scene that I found really effective. It’s worth watching it, I think, but it’s one of those movies that seems more problematic in its ideas the longer I think about it.

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Catwoman (2004)

Catwoman is stunning in its badness. I had low expectations, but I didn’t expect just how bad it really was. The movie defies anything you expect from a comic book adaptation or a superhero movie or a movie with a female protagonist. It does everything wrong, looks cheap and amateurish, has a terrible script, some of the worst CGI, an annoying soundtrack and bad (over)acting. This is really, really bad, though enjoyable in its failure because you can’t stop being amazed that they this or that way.

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