The Revenant

The Revenant. I still hold to my first reaction:

I wish THE REVENANT were wilder, of all things. Camera makes you feel not like you’re there, but like you’re on an Arctic ride on rails. Or a videogame cut scene? I liked it though. Looked like the most miserable filming experience one could ask for. Also, Tom Hardy has never lost a staring contest.

A bit of a slog. Doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of meat on those bones. Birdman also felt a bit stifling for me. Amazing that this thing got made, though. I wonder if all the PR talk about the filming conditions was sort of an admission/cover that they didn’t quite get what they wanted out of this one.

See also: The Grey and Grizzly Man.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I had fun, and quickly forgot it. It mostly felt good to be watching a Star Wars movie again. If you’re pretty sure you don’t care about Star Wars in general, this movie will not convince you otherwise. If you do, you will probably leave feeling satisfied, depending on how you like your ratio of pandering nostalgia vs. breaking new ground. The hat-tips and references to previous movies wore thin pretty quickly and for me slowed down what otherwise has some nice momentum. Definitely some groaners, though (for example, the snowy mountain Nazi castle…). I really like Ridley and Chiyoga as the new faces. Isaac is always reliable. I feel like in a few months or maybe not until VIII we’ll look back and admit “Hey, VII is pretty thin but it’s not a total trainwreck and that’s okay”. Ranking the best episode 7’s in 2015:

  1. Creed, by a landslide.
  2. Furious 7
  3. The Force Awakens

Ex Machina

Ex Machina. One of my favorites of the year so far. Oscar Isaac’s Nathan is awesome, flipping back and forth from intimidating to genial. He’s a brogrammer archetype. Excellent critique here of tech sexism and overreach. His overconfidence makes him too casual, flippant about the ethics. Domhnall Gleeson’s Caleb has his own blinders, about gender in particular. Some of the dialogue was tiresome. I wish they’d felt more courage to just let people talk, and let the audience get lost a bit (if needed) without preface and theory. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised how they handled the ending. I’d imagined something more traditional. Loved it. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for a couple weeks now. Good stuff.