Here are the films I watched last month. I mostly keep reviews on my Letterboxd account now, but I archive them here every month as well. Various reviews may have spoilers.
★★★★★ : One of the best movies ever, I will love for the rest of my days
★★★★½ : Awesome movie, almost one of the best
★★★★ : Great movie, worth buying to own
★★★½ : Above average
★★★ : Average, not bad, but not great
★★½ : It’s almost just OK, but not quite
★★ : Pretty silly movie, meh!
★½ : Simply ridiculous movie
★ : Bad movie, what were they thinking?
½ : Woah! Absolutely awful, I feel dumber for having watched
Ocean Waves (1993)
Too boring for me. :(
Aaaah, an evil giant rolling head for my nightmares! Truly some creepy demonic monsters in this. I wish I could go back in time and show this to my five year old self just to screw up my own mind forever. Visually, this film was a lot of fun. Story-wise, it felt pretty silly. (I am unfamiliar with the source material.) I didn’t entirely understand the whole concept, why the “game” had such arbitrary rules. Oh well.
Loosely based on actual events, this film is one of those tragic rags-to-riches stories, where when the riches come, the hero gets over-confident and falls again. Much of the wall-street business-oriented conflicts were a bit lost on me, as I have little understanding of that sort of stuff. Still, fun movie, about average I’d say. Not terrible, but not great either, not terribly deep thematically, just OK.
The Nightmare (2015)
I’ve gotten sleep paralysis a few times before, so I was interested to watch this documentary on it. Some people’s experiences were much creepier than others, some seemed more silly than creepy. Still, overall, a rather creepy documentary. And, of course, it gave me a sleep paralysis nightmare with an evil cat and evil electric static noise, so thanks a lot for that!
Winter’s Bone (2010)
Interesting premise, a young 17-year-old searches for her missing father so she and her family won’t lose their house. Unfortunately much of the movie was a bit too boring, as she just goes around asking questions and not finding out much. Ultimately she’s saved more by other characters than her own actions. There’s a somber tone to the whole film that just leaves you feeling a bit depressed.
Shut In (2016)
Silly, predictable, boring.
The Disappointments Room (2016)
Woah. And I thought “Shut In” was bad. This was just plain awful.
Particle Fever (2013)
The physics might be interesting, but as a documentary, this was boring. It felt like it was mostly the camera following some random uninteresting scientists talking about the Large Hadron Collider mixed with shots of people walking around buildings and snippets of mundane conversations. Nothing of any real substance here.
The Red Turtle (2016)
A rather bizarre story, but I enjoyed the slow quiet pace and the dialog-free storytelling, it was quite refreshing.
Hidden Figures (2016)
The true stories behind the film might be interesting, but far too many dippy Hollywood moments of oversimplifications and dramatizations ruined this for me. Really, Euler’s Method? “But that’s ancient”? No. If Euler’s Method provided a solution to a problem that perplexed a room of NASA workers, then they must’ve been pretty darn stupid. Similarly the scene in which one of the women gets a computer to work by adjusting a cable. For Pete’s sake… the screenwriting was just dumb. Both NASA and the real “hidden figures” deserve better.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Had some pacing problems, felt longer than it needed to be and a bit slow to get going. It was also annoying to see the main character struggle with self-doubt for too long, it’s such a boring conflict whatever movie it’s in. Would’ve been interesting to see him making more decisive decisions by the second half of the film. Also, the whole “you must learn to control your powers!” is an annoyingly overused cliche. Finally, the director’s style of cross-cutting different scenes could be annoying; I didn’t find it all that stylish.
All that said, I overall really enjoyed the film. The story was still a lot of fun. I enjoyed how they combined different versions of Arthurian legend and made something unique out of his world and character. The scars on his hand and how he got them was a nice touch. The visuals were fantastic, especially in 3D, from the gritty dirty look of the world, to the epic battle sequences. The action sequences were very well done and kept me constantly engaged. The climactic final battle left me quite satisfied. The pulsing pumping soundtrack was also great. I especially enjoyed the use of “The Devil & The Huntsman”.
So, yes, the story had its weaknesses; the pacing was off and it wasn’t very deep thematically. But as far as an action-packed sword and sorcery film goes, this definitely hits the spot. It was great fun! Wish they’d make more films like this.
Walking with the Enemy (2014)
A bit cheesy at times, and I’m not sure they really needed to fake accents throughout the entire thing, but overall not a bad WWII film, if you don’t mind all the tragedy that comes with it.
The whole concept of “The Beast” as a personality, along with the ending, was just a bit too silly for me.
The BFG (2016)
I’ll preface this by saying I never read the book. When I was a kid, I read Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” and hated it so much I never read another book by him. (And I still hate that book.) So I can’t judge the movie by its faithfulness to the book.
Cons: The giants’ character designs. The CGI was just too cartoony and ugly for me. The BFG’s deformed head and neck and body proportions ruined his innocent personality’s lovable-ness. It was just bad character design. Like you know when crappy puppeteers try to make Muppet-like puppets, but they just come off as ugly and creepy rather than charming? It’s like that.
Secondly, Sophie is quite a dull character. She has very little personality, other than she’s lonely. But we never meet anybody at all in her own world, other than some drunkards she tells to be quiet, and she’s whisked away to giant country so early in the film that we never really get much time to know her. Once in giant country, she has no goals whatsoever (why would she?), so the story just sort of meanders as she and the giant talk. But there is hardly a real story.
When Sophie risks suicide by jumping from the balcony to get the giant to come back, I could only shake my head thinking, “Don’t you know it is written: You shall not put your giant to the test?”
Finally, the climactic solution of asking the queen for help is so long and drawn out that it’s just boring. Granted, I’m in my early-30s, so I fully recognize I’m not the target audience for this. Perhaps I would’ve enjoyed it more in my youth (if the giant’s face didn’t give me nightmares… I was easily scared as a child). But the gag-filled dinner sequence was just pointless and boring; I wanted to get on with the story, with the action! But the climax was rather anti-climactic anyway, so… meh.
Pros: I enjoyed the giant’s humorous way of talking, and I enjoyed how dreams were something he caught and gave to people. I wish the story had revolved more around that; there’s tremendous story potential with that sort of magic.
Some of the waxing poetic about hearing the secret whisperings of the world came off as a bit forced and cheesy for me, rather than magical and charming. Didn’t feel quite genuine to me.
There’s also something that really bothers me about this film, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I may have to watch it again to figure it out, but I don’t really want to do that anytime soon.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
Watched the first two films of this film series last year, renting them from Netflix, and enjoyed them so much that I couldn’t resist buying the Criterion blu-ray set when it came out. Very much enjoyed this one just as much. I love all the clever surprises, the cheesy violence, the calm pacing, the stoic hero, the ever-surprising baby cart, the use of music and silence. These are just great films, tons of fun. I love it! I look forward to seeing the next three films in the series.
Brotherhood of Blades (2014)
A bit too confusing for me to follow as well as I’d’ve liked.
The Protector 2 (2013)
Not nearly as good as the first. Too much ridiculous looking CGI and green screen, and the fights were not nearly as nicely choreographed. Overall a disappointment.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2010)
A bit boring and not very in-depth. It did manage to make me want to do drugs, which I never thought would happen. Well, at least the title psychedelic. Any scientists doing more studies? We need to do more research for a better documentary…
This might be OK if you’re in a more meditative mood, but if you’re hoping to actually learn something practical, books will probably be more useful.
Mr. Pip (2012)
Good movie. Started out a bit cheesy, but definitely became more moving as the drama intensified. What a sad film though! Prepare for tragedy. :-(
Mythica: The Dark Spore (2015)
Woah, even worse than the first. I think I’m done with this series…
Death Rides a Horse (1967)
Great spaghetti western. Gotta love the Leone-esque eye close-ups, and Morricone’s score is awesome as always. The dialog is a bit bland, but it makes the story easy to follow. And it’s a fun story, two quite different men out for revenge for different reasons against the same group of criminals, promising some good old western fun: gun battles, duels, a bank robbery, a prison break, and the plot moves fast enough that the two hours fly by.
Unfortunately the quality of the film on the DVD I watched it on was complete garbage; it was edited to fit the TV and the digital compression looked awful, worse than an old laserdisc. It’d be nice to get this film on blu-ray, but alas, no North American release as far as I can tell, would have to import it…
Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
Definitely one of the weirdest films I’ve seen, but it was hilarious. I enjoyed it.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Loved this even more than the first. Since the characters are already established, we’re able to dive right in and start having fun. Some of the humor was a bit raunchy for me, but most of it I found hilarious, especially the exchanges between Mantis and Drax, they had me on the verge of tears. Baby Groot was also awesome in every scene he was in; adult Groot should just go ahead and continually sacrifice himself so we can get infinite Baby Groot incarnations.
The overall story was not very deep or profound, which I doubt would’ve worked with such overloads of comedy anyway, but it still managed to stay fast-paced and engaging throughout so that the 2+ hours running time flew by. And I thought the more serious moments still worked extremely well.
Finally, I’m a huge fan of 3D (it’s often what lures me to the theater these days), and I thought the 3D conversion was particularly well done; the film was visually fantastic. Many times shots of vast landscapes and starry skies become too flat when 3D-ized, but with this film, each scene really popped and had depth; I appreciate the stereoscopic artists’ attention to such things. There were still some weaknesses here and there (such as foliage and glass reflections that artists always have trouble with), but this is definitely one of the better 3D films I’ve seen.
I don’t much care for most Marvel films; they’re often bland and the humor in them just makes me groan, but I thought the first Guardians of the Galaxy was fun enough to try seeing this one in 3D, especially after it earned several good reviews from friends. Even so, I was quite surprised by how much I loved this.
Great film! Awesome hilarious epic fun from beginning to end.