January 17, 2016

Movie Review: Mad Max Fury Road *

Mad Max: Fury Road is nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
Granted, I'm not a fan of this genre, but isn't the true test how many people outside the genre it appeals to?
There's a lot of shtick here: the sexy babes in skimpy clothing, the endless car chase, the pyrotechnics, the snarling. And then there are the characters I didn't care about.
The only good things about this film:
1. It has zero chance of winning the Oscar.
2. I watched it on HBO so didn't have to pay for it.
One star out of five for Mad Max Fury Road.

January 16, 2016

Movie Review: The Revenant ***

Have you ever used the word revenant before? I guess it takes a Mexican (Director Alejandro González Iñárritu) to teach us a cool new word.
Here's how to use it in a sentence:
1. This film is revenant. (Definition: half an hour too long, so be sure to get a snack.)
2. The situation in this film is revenant. (Definition: preposterous, so be prepared to suspend disbelief.)
It's beautifully filmed and well-acted, and excruciatingly gory. I can take a lot of gore but even I winced a few times. The bear-mauling scene is, of course, really hard to watch. But, voila! he not only survives that, but he's resurrected (making him the revenant) by revenge, and during his long, crawling journey he manages to save a young Indian girl from rape, ride a horse off a cliff and (even though the horse dies) once again survive, and then he guts the horse and crawls into it for shelter. That's a charming scene.
Much of this film is DiCaprio crawling through gorgeous, frozen scenery. And then he crawls some more, and then he gets to his feet and limps along for twenty more minutes, and then just when you're so bored of all that walking, he walks some more, without a limp now, for twenty more minutes.
I needed this story to move along - I got his passion to survive - how could I not, when it's thrown in my face over and over again.
Is The Revenant an Academy Award winner? Obviously not in my book. Is it a great film? It's a good film that would have been better if it were shorter. Will it win? Probably. But there are other films that, in my opinion, are more deserving of the award.
Three out of five stars for The Revenant.

January 15, 2016

Movie Review: Too Many Movies, Too Little Time

Concussion ***** Riveting. Great performances. The conflict: the reverence for an American institution vs. the science that proves it's killing its heroes.
This film is eye-opening, riveting and heart-breaking.
I'm shocked that Will Smith didn't get an Oscar nomination for this role.
Five stars out of five for Concussion.
Carol * So extremely boring. Oh my god. I couldn't wait for this to end, and the only reason I didn't
walk out is because I was with a friend and she seemed into it. Turned out she wasn't, and if I'd just said the word we could have saved ourselves 2 hours of extreme boredom.
I didn't get the chemistry between these two characters, didn't see the connection or attraction, didn't see a reason for Carol to give up her life for this strangely aloof and indifferent young woman. I didn't care about either of them.
Even the sex scene is boring: unnecessary and uninteresting, and obviously Cate Blanchett has a no-breast clause in her contract.
One star out of five for Carol.

Joy ** The first hour is very slow - way too much build-up to a payoff that isn't all that big of a payoff, and then in the final act when Joy has become a major-league success, I hated how superior she was.
Good performances and good story but bad script. And it's 45 minutes too long.
Two stars out of five for Joy.

The Hateful Eight ** I think Quentin Tarantino is a genius (loved Django Unchained, loved Inglorious Basterds) but this film is no illustration of that. Not much happens (unless you count the blood and guts spewing all over the place). There's a lot of talk, and that gets pretty boring. There's no real depth to any of the characters, no one to root for, no one with any humanity, so I just hoped they would all kill other so the movie could end. I didn't walk out, even though it's about three hours long, because I kept thinking, It's Tarantino - there's going to be a big payoff.
There wasn't.
Two stars out of five for The Hateful Eight.

Creed **** Sylvester Stallone's performance is heartfelt and authentic; a joy to watch. The beginning is hokey but it's not long before you recognize the heart in this film, and you just have to roll with it. It's Rocky. If you liked the first one you'll like this one.
Four stars out of five for Creed.