Saturday, June 24, 2017

Coherence (2013)

IMDb plot summary: Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.
Directed by James Ward Byrkit. Starring Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, and Lorene Scafaria.

I'm going to try to talk about this without being spoilery, because I suspect this would be the most fun going into it pretty blind like I did. This is a really enjoyably weird little movie. Like many thrillers set in one location, it occasionally gets a little cheesy in its explanations and a little tedious in its character interactions, but the premise is so engaging that I found it easy to overlook that and just go along for the ride. The best part, by far, though, was the ending. The last 10-15 minutes were so fascinating. This is the kind of hidden gem I get so excited about encountering in these movie challenges, because I almost certainly wouldn't have known to pick this up on my own.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Coherence > Beach Party
Coherence > All's Faire in Love
Coherence < Breakfast at Tiffany's
Coherence < Godspell
Coherence > Waitress
Coherence < Hidden Figures
Coherence > The Awful Truth
Coherence < Fences
Coherence < Super 8
Coherence < Walking and Talking
Coherence < Sneakers
Coherence < Big Man Japan

Final spot: #554 out of 2632.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Fly (1958)

IMDb plot summary: A scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device.
Directed by Kurt Neumann. Starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, and Herbert Marshall.

This was nothing like I expected. For one thing, did you know Vincent Price isn't the Fly? I didn't. This is a dramatic tragedy more than a horror movie, going very slowly, building its characters and its tension bit by bit. I was expecting a lot more creepy imagery of man/bug hybrids, though I have a feeling the Cronenberg remake would deliver on that front. My overwhelming reaction to this was not horror or disgust (in the good way I expected) but such sadness. Both the scene where he writes his farewell love letter to his wife and the scene where they finally find the fly made me want to cry at this awful, tragic experiment gone wrong. It makes me think, in an odd way, of the Blair Witch Project, a similarly slow movie that obviously depends more on scares than this does, but both of them just made me profoundly sad at how badly awry these characters' lives had gone, and how easily all that awfullness could have been erased if they had just changed one thing about the way they did things in the past. I liked this a lot, and I feel like it's one that will really hold up to later rewatches.

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Fly > Beach Party
The Fly > Kolya
The Fly > Benny & Joon
The Fly < Zombieland
The Fly < Blue Jasmine
The Fly > Trust
The Fly < Welcome to Dongmakgol
The Fly < Babe
The Fly > Sabrina (1954)
The Fly < Mighty Aphrodite

Final spot: #281 out of 2630.

Frank (2014)

IMDb plot summary: Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he's bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Domnhall Gleeson, Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy.

There are some films that I watch, and I particularly find this true of films about mental illness, that don't necessarily work for me if I try to analyze them on an intellectual level, nor does it overwhelming me with emotion, but I am left with some sort of emotional piece of it just... sitting inside me. Melancholia hit me this way and has ended up being one of my favorites because the emotional piece that resonated just kept getting stronger the longer I sat with it, and now it permeates the entire thing for me. I don't know yet if Frank will do quite the same thing -- I need to let it sit a bit longer before I can really solidify it -- but at this moment I can say that the final performance of the band just keeps sitting in the pit of my stomach and bringing the sounds and the images of that moment back to me.

The movie definitely takes a twist when it comes to its tone, playing itself first as a funny, maybe too-quirky band comedy, and then suddenly taking a depressingly dark turn (at least for me) in the last 30 minutes or so. I think it still works, I think I still like it a lot, but it's hard to really figure out why or how. At least for now.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Frank > The Family Man
Frank > Kolya
Frank < All's Faire in Love
Frank > Don Jon
Frank < Misery
Frank < The Mummy (1932)
Frank > Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Frank > The Kid (2000)
Frank < Freaky Friday (2003)
Frank > Days of Wine and Roses
Frank > The Master
Frank > Thor

Final spot: #914 out of 2629. Freaky Friday is too low.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sahara (2017)

IMDb plot summary: Two clans of snakes cohabit in the desert. Here is the story of Ajar, a young venomous serpent, laughed at by his peers because he still has not done his first molt and that of Eva, rebellious princess of the oasis who wants to escape an arranged marriage.
Directed by Pierre Coré. Starring Omar Sy, Louane Emera, Franck Gastambide, and Vincent Lacoste.

This is an incredibly odd little film that vacillates between being too run-of-the-mill to interest anyone and then, abruptly, completely bizarre. The bizarre moments are definitely my favorite (I really want to make a ringtone of that creepy "welcoming song" the bugs sing) but the rest of the movie is mostly just dull. Aside from one great scene in a sandstorm toward the end, the animation looks ugly, both in design and in movement. Most of the side characters are extremely irritating and add very little to the primarily plot. It's a pretty unimpressive addition from Netflix to the animated film genre.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Sahara < Beach Party
Sahara < Kindergarten Cop
Sahara < Father of the Bride (1950)
Sahara < Captain January
Sahara > Ella Enchanted
Sahara > The Matrix Revolutions
Sahara > She's the Man
Sahara > On Our Own
Sahara < Boys Town
Sahara > Friends With Money
Sahara > Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Final spot: #2470 out of 2628. This is a bit unfairly low.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

IMDb plot summary: When eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.
Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, and Diane Salinger.

Oh boy. I tried to give this one a fair shot, guys, I really did. But eight minutes in I turned to Jacob and said, "I hate this so much already." Pee-Wee is one of the most obnoxious, irritating characters I've seen on screen since, I can only assume, the last time someone successfully made me watch an Adam Sandler movie. Everything about him bugs me, from his incessant giggling at absolutely nothing to the fact that when he's not giggling he's spewing out a chaotic array of cartoon noises to his cutesy gait to the fact that his voice sounds like a kazoo. The only times when I was able to not hate him were when I could convince myself this was a genuinely mentally disabled adult and I shouldn't be so vehemently against him, but then I just felt meaner than ever watching a movie that was clearly laughing at his mishaps, so I stopped that and just went back to hating him.

I can see the Tim Burton-y elements in the film and they are kind of engaging, particularly in the dream sequences, but since Pee-Wee dominates every scene, I get no respite at all from him and can't even begin to decipher whether I'd like the rest of the movie were it centered around some other, less irritating quirky character. There's no comedic or narrative center to this movie at all other than the fact that, teehee, Pee-Wee's quirky and everybody acts like he's not, and since that doesn't work for me at all, nothing works for me.

0.5 stars.

How it ended up in my Flickchart:
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < Beach Party
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < Kindergarten Cop
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < Red River
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < They Were Expendable
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < American Gangster
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure > Left Behind II: Tribulation Force
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure > Barnyard
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure > Radio
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < Bean
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure > The Incredible Mr. Limpet
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure < Laserblast

Final spot: #2552 out of 2627.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wild (2014)

IMDb plot summary: A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, and Keene McRae.

I can see where Wild is trying to go. There's an Eat Pray Love vibe to it -- an inspirational movie based on a memoir about a woman leaving everyone behind to do *something* that she hopes will help her find her footing. The problem with Wild is that it's not as well-structured as Eat Pray Love, nor is our character very well fleshed out. We see scattered glimpses of her past life and a narrative of her current journey, but those two halves are not nearly as connected as they want to be. They don't even seem to have happened to the same person. Those flashbacks are delivered in a very wonky order, putting the emotional peaks in strange places. This is something that could definitely have improved with a stronger script, because there are some moments that work well, particularly those moments showing Cheryl's vulnerability out on the trail, either from the elements or from losing supplies or from sketchy people she encounters. But it's just unfocused enough to miss its mark, emotionally -- at least for me.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Wild < Dead Man Walking
Wild > Kindergarten Cop
Wild < The King and I
Wild > Throw Momma from the Train
Wild > Almost Famous
Wild > Les Miserables (1935)
Wild > Gilda
Wild > The Seventh Seal
Wild > La Dolce Vita
Wild > Burning Annie

Final spot: #1644 out of 2626.

Cambio de ruta (2014)

IMDb plot summary: Nicte is the best guide for tourists of the Riviera Maya. Suddenly the local company for which she works is bought and Nicte is forced to start from zero and form her own company.
Directed by Christopher Hool. Starring Sandra Echeverría, Osvaldo de León, Héctor Jiménez, and Carolina Bang.

This is basically a by-the-book romantic comedy/drama with no surprises or originality. The leads are pretty to look at but don't come with much personality, especially our male lead. Even the villains aren't as interesting as I hoped they would be. Honestly, the most engaging "character" throughout is the Riviera Maya itself. I cared more about whether the area itself would be destroyed by the corporate tourism center than I did about any of the personal outcomes of the characters. It's harmless and it goes by fast, but there's nothing here to really recommend.

2 stars.

This movie is not on Flickchart yet. I am submitting it to the database and will update when it's been added.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

IMDb plot summary: A girl group find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy to deliver subliminal messages through popular music in this send up of the music industry and pop culture.
Directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid, and Gabriel Mann.

The late 90s and early 2000s saw a huge rush of live-action adaptations of classic cartoons. While this film may have been more directly related to the comics than the cartoon (I don't know, I'm not familiar with either iteration), it certainly feels very much in the same vein as movie adaptations like George of the Jungle or The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. All these movies feel overtly cartoonish, full of fourth-wall winking, wildly hammy acting, and a sense of slapstick zaniness. Josie and the Pussycats may be a slightly -- SLIGHTLY -- tamer version of that, but the comparison is inevitable.

I happen to like that style. I have a fondness for these silly cartoon movies, even if I have no connection to the original, and for the most part I like this. It's a thoroughly enjoyable popcorn flick that doesn't take itself seriously enough for me to ever get bugged with it. I mean, it also doesn't take itself seriously enough to stand out, but it's good fun.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Josie and the Pussycats > Cypher
Josie and the Pussycats < Kolya
Josie and the Pussycats > Smiles of a Summer Night
Josie and the Pussycats < Misery
Josie and the Pussycats > Now You See Me
Josie and the Pussycats > A Serious Man
Josie and the Pussycats < Young Frankenstein
Josie and the Pussycats < Shaolin Soccer
Josie and the Pussycats > Broken Blossoms or the Yellow Man and the Girl
Josie and the Pussycats < Hail, Caesar!

Final spot: #855 out of 2625.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

IMDb plot summary: The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage.
Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Bradley Cooper.

I have no idea how to rank or review Marvel sequels anymore. They can be engaging and funny and delightful and maybe even as good as the first but because they're a sequel I just can't make my brain think it matters. That's where I am on this. There's no denying this is a good movie. I laughed and I cried and I cared about the characters for the duration of the movie, but once it was over I immediately forgot about it. I don't think that's because it was forgettable, because it isn't. It's me and my sequel thing. This isn't even me just being against it on principle, it's simply that since it's a sequel, I can't make myself care that much.

...But it's a fun movie and I had a good time and you should probably see it if you liked the first one.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 < Cypher
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 < All's Faire in Love
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 > The Red Shoes
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 < Misery
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 > The Duellists
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 < A Serious Man
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 > Snowpiercer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 > The Intouchables
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 < Guys and Dolls
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 < Dredd
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 > Godzilla (2014)

Final spot: #869 out of 2624.

Red Cliff (2008)

IMDb plot summary: The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China's Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).
Directed by John Woo. Starring Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, and Chen Chang.

It's hard to really know how to rank this. Its main premise is not engaging for me, and there are so many battle scenes which are not interesting to watch, but there are a few moments that really stand out and suddenly draw my attention. The ploy to get more arrows is delightful. The interplay between the wife and the evil general is compelling. These moments make me want to rank it higher than I do, since they hint at a much more unique movie than I thought the movie was. However, I can't imagine wanting to watch it again just for those, so overall I'm going to have to give this a lower score.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Red Cliff < Cypher
Red Cliff > Rambo
Red Cliff < The King and I
Red Cliff < Buddy Buddy
Red Cliff > A Scanner Darkly
Red Cliff > Gone with the Wind
Red Cliff > The Money Pit
Red Cliff < Hulk
Red Cliff > Palo Alto
Red Cliff < Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical

Final spot: #1819 out of 2623.