Sunday, June 21, 2015

Holy Ghost People (2013)

IMDb plot summary: On the trail of her missing sister, Charlotte enlists the help of Wayne, an ex-Marine and alcoholic, to infiltrate the Church of One Accord - a community of snake-handlers who risk their lives seeking salvation in the Holy Ghost.
Directed by Mitchell Altieri. Starring Emma Greenwell, Joe Egender, Brendan McCarthy, and Cameron Richardson.

This is for sure an interesting premise -- I am always kind of drawn to stories about warped, twisted faith. But it falls apart a little bit in the execution. All the characters are awkwardly written and poorly acted, nothing more than lame caricatures or sloppy archetypes. The plot meanders a lot as well -- there's no real answers to be found here, and while I'm a big fan of ambiguity, this just reads as lazy rather than profound. There have been much better films about cults, from Martha Marcy May Marlene to The Master to even silly horror flicks like The Wicker Man (which is at least entertaining) or comedies like Leap of Faith. This movie wants to make a deeper statement than it can with the quality it's given us.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Holy Ghost People < The Man in the Iron Mask
Holy Ghost People < SpaceCamp
Holy Ghost People > Glory Road
Holy Ghost People > The Santa Clause
Holy Ghost People < The Verdict
Holy Ghost People > The Night of the Hunter
Holy Ghost People > The Lodger
Holy Ghost People > Cujo
Holy Ghost People > Giant
Holy Ghost People > Show Boat (1951)
Holy Ghost People > 27 Dresses
Final spot: #1851 out of 2367.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jurassic World (2015)

IMDb plot summary: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor's interest, which backfires horribly.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Ty Simpkins.

I went into this movie with very low expectations, and honestly, I think that worked in its favor, because I ended up having a lot of fun. Oh, don't get me wrong, the script is terrible. It's awkward and strange and there are a lot of laugh-out-loud awful lines. The characters are flat and their motivations are weird. But the last 30 minutes or so are all just pure dinosaur fight insanity, and that is TOTALLY WORTH IT. This is not a particularly *good* movie, because if you look at it closely it falls apart really fast, but it's a really enjoyable dumb blockbuster.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Jurassic World > The Man In the Iron Mask
Jurassic World < Eat Pray Love
Jurassic World < Avengers: Age of Ultron
Jurassic World > The Forbidden Kingdom
Jurassic World > The Switch
Jurassic World < The Ring
Jurassic World < The Blind Side
Jurassic World > Bee Movie
Jurassic World > Selma
Jurassic World < John Dies at the End
Jurassic World > The Last Unicorn
Final spot: #945 out of 2366.

28 Up (1984)

IMDb plot summary: Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years.
Directed by Michael Apted.

This is easily my favorite of the bunch so far, partly because it's the last one that I suspect will be a truly dramatic shift in character or circumstances for many of these people. At 28, a lot of them have settled into *something*, whether it's a happy life where they can be content and feel fulfilled or a life of deliberately vague wandering to avoid suburbia. While I'm sure there will be twists and turns and developments in future films, they are likely to be less surprising and sudden than several of these were.

It's also interesting to me as I am now 28 myself, so I can't help but compare myself and where I am in my life to where all of these people are and how they view life. Some of them seem so beaten down at 28, while others seem like they're just beginning their journey, and I'm fascinated by the range of possibilities.

Parts of this movie are lovely and inspiring. Others are incredibly depressing. But they're all fascinating, especially when compared against the children, teenagers, and young adults that they were.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
28 Up > Last Holiday
28 Up < Eat Pray Love
28 Up > Spider-Man 2
28 Up > The Descendants
28 Up < Mister Roberts
28 Up > A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
28 Up > White Heat
28 Up < Ordet
28 Up > Say Anything...
28 Up > A Few Good Men
28 Up > Gentleman's Agreement
Final spot: #675 out of 2365.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

IMDb plot summary: Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen, Elisabeth Shue, Hazelle Goodman, and Bob Balaban.

Wow, Harry is really one of Woody Allen's most detestable characters, and there is a coldness to this movie because of it. This is one of the last few Allen movies I have yet to see, and I'm... still not entirely sure what I think of it yet, so this review may be a little scattered. The creative use of editing was fascinating here, making Harry's reality fragmented and jumpy while his stories were (as far as I can recall) smooth and straightforward. Unraveling his life through both his work and his real life encounters, we get glimpses of Harry both as who he is and who he wishes to be/thinks he is.

I think this is almost certainly not a flick I can grasp the first time through, so it'd be worth a second viewing at some point. As it is right now, it'll sit in the high middle of my chart as I feel there's something of substance there but nothing that really grabbed me this time around.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Deconstructing Harry > Holiday
Deconstructing Harry < Eat Pray Love
Deconstructing Harry < Barton Fink
Deconstructing Harry > Julie & Julia
Deconstructing Harry < Bye Bye Birdie (1995)
Deconstructing Harry > Titanic
Deconstructing Harry < Manhattan Murder Mystery
Deconstructing Harry > Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Deconstructing Harry > Cabaret
Deconstructing Harry > Star Trek: Generations
Final spot: #980 out of 2364.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

IMDb plot summary: A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.
Directed by Mike Nichols. Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams.

Where this movie is trying to go is interesting, but it just never seems to get there. I've seen much better performances from all the actors involved, and the film never quite figures out how to land, as it just sorts of... runs out of steam and sputters out toward the end. As a result, it never really makes clear what it's trying to say. It seems like it's trying to leave you with a message, but any message that's there is muddled. I'd hoped for something much more interesting, given the great cast, director, and screenwriter. As it is, it just kind of... sits.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Charlie Wilson's War < A Star Is Born (1954)
Charlie Wilson's War > The Number 23
Charlie Wilson's War < Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Charlie Wilson's War > Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
Charlie Wilson's War < Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Charlie Wilson's War > Anything Else
Charlie Wilson's War < The Trouble With Angels
Charlie Wilson's War < Hulk
Charlie Wilson's War < Cars
Charlie Wilson's War < Man on Fire
Charlie Wilson's War > The Internship
Final spot: #1586 out of 2363.