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.
Annihilation. Second viewing (the first). Felt more sluggish and less magical this time, but I don’t regret the rewatch.
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.
Annihilation. I dig it. Interesting to see scifi that leans so much on biology. One of those slower exploratory scifi movies that later gets crossed with some truly horrific gore (Stalker meets The Thing?). Great score, especially the climactic scenes. The music was so… three-dimensional. It felt novel somehow to have a discernible rhythm in there, not a long fermata.
The Two Faces of January. I watched it the same day I finished the book. I should double-up like that more often. (I liked the movie more.)
A Most Violent Year. Solid. Gotta hang on to what you got. I like that the hero is a runner.
Inside Llewyn Davis. I liked it but I feel like I was missing a little something. It’s just not the Coen way to get super sappy. Can’t help but see this movie as the two of them trying to work out how they’d carry on without the other. I’d rank this one third out of their movies I’ve seen, behind No Country for Old Men and Fargo and way ahead of The Big Lebowski.
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:
- Creed, by a landslide.
- Furious 7
- The Force Awakens
Ex Machina. Definitely thinner the second time around (the first), but it’s still fun.
Drive. Third viewing. That elevator scene is still top notch. I’m a sucker for any movie that suspends time to drift into a moment just because. Oscar Isaac has some of the best casual menace in the game right now. Filed under: Drive.
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.