Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hellraiser (1987)

IMDb plot summary: An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; the demonic cenobites are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld.
Directed by Clive Barker. Starring Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Sean Chapman.

This is a very cool idea. The evil creatures at the heart of this story have a great concept surrounding them, and I can see how that caught on as a franchise, but this film hardly explores any of that in favor of just gross imagery that doesn't lead anywhere. It's a very disappointing execution of a much more interesting idea.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Hellraiser < The Switch
Hellraiser < The 39 Steps
Hellraiser > Capote
Hellraiser > The Ghost and the Darkness
Hellraiser < Holiday Affair
Hellraiser < Dracula
Hellraiser > Airborne
Hellraiser > Medium Cool
Hellraiser > Rambo
Hellraiser > In Cold Blood
Hellraiser < The Godfather

Final spot: #2298 out of 2879.

I and You (2018)

No IMDb plot summary.
Directed by Edward Hall. Starring Maisie Williams and Zach Wyatt.

To my shame, despite Lauren Gunderson being my theater's resident playwright, I'd never read or seen this play of hers, which had its world premiere at my theater several years before I started working there. While I'm not entirely sold on Maisie Williams and Zach Wyatt's performances, the script is lovely and great and funny and touching, and it gives young actors such rich roles. I'm glad I finally got to see it in some form.

How it entered my Flickchart:
I and You > The Switch
I and You < Waitress
I and You > The Slipper and the Rose
I and You > The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
I and You > Notting Hill
I and You > There Will Be Blood
I and You > Up in the Air
I and You > Young Adult
I and You < Little Children
I and You < Thor: Ragnarok

Final spot: #725 out of 2877.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965)

IMDb plot summary: British agent Alec Leamas refuses to come in from the Cold War during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.
Directed by Martin Ritt. Starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, and Sam Wanamaker.

John le Carre is widely praised as a writer, but movie adaptations of his work are almost always a miss for me. They're so dense and slow and tedious that any excitement or intrigue that may be found in them gets lost for me. That is definitely the case here. I just don't care about any of this, not even with an actor like Richard Burton in the lead, who I usually find very compelling. But this is just such a bureaucratic spy story, it feels like filing paperwork just to watch it.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < The Switch
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < Mother (2009)
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold > Capote
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < Braveheart
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold > Playtime
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < The Number 23
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold > Thirteen Conversations About One Thing
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < Inkheart
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < The Overnight
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold > Gideon, Tuba Warrior
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold > Homicide
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold < Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Final spot: #2400 out of 2876.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

IMDb plot summary: After a humiliating commando performance at The Kennedy Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.
Directed by Elizabeth Banks. Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Brittany Snow.

I liked the first Pitch Perfect pretty well, and I love musicals and Anna Kendrick in general, so this was a decent choice for me even if sequels typically aren't very interesting to me. This one definitely capitalizes on its celebrity cameos and guests more than I remember the first one doing. Its dialogue is very Ryan Murphy-esque in that it walks RIGHT along that line between hilarious and cringey. Rebel Wilson nearly always falls in the latter, while most of the rest of it falls in the former. The songs in this are not nearly as fun as the first one, or maybe I'm just over the a cappella mashup phase (both are possible). Also, Ben Platt needed to sing more. Overall, pretty enjoyable and fluffy but ultimately forgettable.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Pitch Perfect 2 > Bully
Pitch Perfect 2 < Waitress
Pitch Perfect 2 < Liberal Arts
Pitch Perfect 2 > Rosemary's Baby
Pitch Perfect 2 < Lucky Number Slevin
Pitch Perfect 2 > Rushmore
Pitch Perfect 2 > Hopscotch
Pitch Perfect 2 < Duck Soup
Pitch Perfect 2 < Spider-Man: Homecoming
Pitch Perfect 2 < Wreck-It Ralph
Pitch Perfect 2 > After the Wedding

Final spot: #1188 out of 2875.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Natural Born Killers (1994)

IMDb plot summary: Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.
Directed by Oliver Stone. Starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, and Robert Downey, Jr.

This is a wildly stylistic movie but I don't know if it's actually good. Its style feels more than a little gimmicky, and then just becomes kind of irritating in the final third of the movie which is just nonstop shooting in a way that is not interesting to watch for me. There are some good moments -- Juliette Lewis is particularly excellent as Mallory -- but there's a lot that falls a little short for me, especially when I think it tries to actually make a point about media celebrities.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Natural Born Killers < Silent Hill
Natural Born Killers > Footloose (2011)
Natural Born Killers > Zelig
Natural Born Killers > Avatar
Natural Born Killers > Paper Moon
Natural Born Killers > Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Natural Born Killers > Dunkirk
Natural Born Killers > The Whole Nine Yards
Natural Born Killers > Downfall
Natural Born Killers > Dirty Dancing
Natural Born Killers < Bye Bye Birdie (1995)

Final spot: #1440 out of 2874.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Real Genius (1985)

IMDb plot summary: Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a high-powered laser for a university project. When their professor intends to turn their work into a military weapon, they decide to ruin his plans.
Directed by Martha Coolidge. Starring Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, and William Atherton.

This is... fine. It's very playful and very 80's and just on the edge of being a frat bro movie without ACTUALLY being one. There are some entertaining moments here (I like the gag about the dude disappearing into the closet in the first half of the movie) and it's pleasant enough, I just don't find it either terribly funny or terribly exciting. It's just in the middle.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Real Genius < Silent Hill
Real Genius > Footloose (2011)
Real Genius > Shadows and Fog
Real Genius > After the Thin Man
Real Genius > Short Circuit
Real Genius > The Tempest (2010)
Real Genius < Dunkirk
Real Genius > Teacher of the Year
Real Genius > Cinderella (1950)
Real Genius < Anna and the King
Real Genius < Memphis Belle

Final spot: #1465 out of 2873.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

IMDb plot summary: In December 1935, when his train is stopped by deep snow, detective Hercule Poirot is called on to solve a murder that occurred in his car the night before.
Directed by Sidney Lumet. Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, and Ingrid Bergman.

There's something very satisfying about watching an Agatha Christie story play out, even if you know every step of it. I revisited the book and saw the 2017 movie not long ago, so the plot points of this movie were fresh in my mind, but seeing how the actors bring these various characters to life is so fascinating, and watching them interact with each other is such fun. This version focuses more on the mystery and less on the emotional component in comparison to the 2017 adaptation, and I don't think that's better or worse, just a different interpretation. A solid, well-made book-to-film transition.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Murder on the Orient Express > Silent Hill
Murder on the Orient Express < Little Children
Murder on the Orient Express < Thor
Murder on the Orient Express > Charlie St. Cloud
Murder on the Orient Express > Hellboy
Murder on the Orient Express > Harakiri
Murder on the Orient Express > Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
Murder on the Orient Express < The Minus Man
Murder on the Orient Express > 21
Murder on the Orient Express > 2046
Murder on the Orient Express > Undercover Blues

Final spot: #1088 out of 2870.