Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Second viewing (the first). The opening bombing run is really good. I’d forgotten about it – holds up on rewatch. The casino interlude is so, so dumb. I appreciate the visual contrasts in the salt planet battle. Not just the colors, but the scale, like with Finn’s tiny figure juxtaposed with the gigantic tanks in empty space. We need more like that. So many close-ups. Love the tortured silence of Kylo Ren. So depressed, a mindset to just let it all go, burn it all down. Broader theme here of how brash, seat-of-the-pants heroism is often foolish. The writing still strikes me as bad in many spots. I didn’t notice the first time around how the kid Force-pulls himself a broom at the end.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I liked it, overall, and it had just enough small things to drive me a little nuts. Snoke is a misfire (just call Ed Harris! You have the budget!), and so were the various little animals. That one ship’s jump to light speed was sublime. And very good space debris throughout. I like our time with Rey and Kylo, and Poe’s debacles. Finn was wasted, unfortunately. Benicio Del Toro is the best, but I wish they could have found him some other way. The space chase could and should have been gut-wrenching, but something about the cuts and pacing made it just sort of… there. I wonder how I’ll feel whenever I rewatch it again. Of the latest batch, this ranks behind Rogue One. Filed under: Star Wars.
Sicario. Second viewing. (The first.) It’s so gorgeous. I wish the soundtrack were more interesting – lots of bom bom bom military stock-issue heavy orchestra stuff. I like how they tell you in the title what it’s all about and then they distract you from it for two hours. Nicely done.
Sicario. As visually awesome as you’ve heard. Blunt and Brolin are great as usual, fine, sure, but Benicio Del Toro is probably in my top 5 all time?
China Moon. Florida noir! I wish I remembered this one better, but I liked it. Fun to see such a young Benicio del Toro. Director John Bailey did the camera work for the excellent American Gigolo and also contributed to Two-Lane Blacktop and Days of Heaven.
Traffic. It took a good hour before I realized I’d seen it before. It took a good two seconds before I remembered that I have a huge man-crush on Benicio del Toro. He’s so good. Don Cheadle, too. The movie as a whole is pretty straightforward, docudrama-ish style, not played up for emotions like Babel or other multi-storyline, “highbrow globalist tearjerkers”. A few interesting things… the cool blue tint for U.S. interiors vs. the overexposed yellows in Mexico; the tension between identity and professional image; and the anecdote about Khrushchev and the two letters:
You know, when they forced Khrushchev out, he sat down and wrote two letters to his successor. He said, “When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter”. Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said, “Blame everything on me”. So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm. He got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, he opened the second letter. It said, “Sit down, and write two letters”.
The Usual Suspects. I’d already heard so much about this movie that I went in jaded and suspicious and looking for clues. I figured out the Big Thing early, was underwhelmed, had a hard time staying awake during the last 1/3, gained no satisfaction from being right, and then I woke up and spoiled it on Twitter (spoiler!). I do think great stories withstand spoilers. This might not be one, but there’s good camera and cast and characters. I bet this was fun to make.