Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

Discuss past, present, and future releases. This is the place for news, reviews, and your 'best' lists.

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numbersix
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Falling: 5/10
Viggo Mortensen's directorial debut has its heart in the right place but it's an indulgent bore. He plays a middle-aged gay man who has to take care of his belligerent father who is starting to experience dementia. There are nice scenes and Lance Henricksen is great as the father, but it's too long and repetitive.

Rose: A Love Story: 5/10
Low-budget British film about a couple living in the woods away from society. We gradually learn the wife is suffering from a vampire-like condition that her husband hides and deals with. That's bascially the first half and someone arrives at the second, but by then it's too late to deal with all the dramatic complications, making for a frustrating viewing.

After Love: 5/10
Another new British film. This is a drama about a white woman who conversted to Islam to marry her husband. When she dies she discovers he had an affair, and goes to find out more, accidentally become the other woman's cleaner. It's got very strong performances but it's very predictable.

David Byrne's American Utopia: 7/10
While it doesn't reach the heights of Stop Making Sense, it does a good job at being a sequel, as David Byrne dances and moves around the wonderfully designed stage with his merry band, singing new songs and revising some Talking Heads classics. Spike Lee directs and moslty takes a step back besides one powerful song about race (a Janelle Monae cover). Having seen the show live, this brought back great memories.

Nocturne: 6/10
Like a cheap version of Black Swan. Except it's 2 sisters at a music school. The main one is not as strong at piano, but after a student commits suicide and leaves behind occult material, she soon starts to get the opportunities she felt she wanted, even if that risks the life of her sister. This Blumhouse/Amazon collaboration doesn't do a lot new, but for the most part it's well-directed and diverting.

The 40 Year-Old Version: 7/10
A sweet and charming film about finding a new lease on life. It's about a failed playwright who is single and teaches drama, hoping for any opportunity to write for the stage. But she decides to explore hip-hop, singing about things that matter to her life - about age and mundanity. There are lots of flaws in the film, including a very unconvincing romance and an obvious debt to Spike Lee, but it still is amusing and fun. Maybe it's because I'm pushing 40.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: 6/10
And only because I was drinking while watching. To be honest, it's as good as Cohen's last attempts at pranking - mildly funny but the reactions and outcomes are never that surprising. We live in a Trump-influenced world where craziness is the norm. Also, while the performance of Borat's daughter is impressive, the written scenes aren't very interesting and leave less time for the scenes where they interact with actual people (the best of which being a debutant ball).

Peninsula: 5/10
I liked Train to Busan but didn't think it was particularly original. Here, the film is even less so, as a soldier heads into zombie-infested territory to nab cash for a gangster, but gets involved in a quirky family. It's overlong and lots of time are spent on characters we don't care about, and the action sequences (particularly the car chases) look cheap and sloppy.

His House: 6/10
A film with lots of potential but it doens't quite work. It's about an African couple who become refugees in the UK, and are assigned a run-down house, only to find themselves haunted by their own past. It's a great idea and there are potentially great sequences but the writer/director struggles with visual tension making it only work on a thematic basis.

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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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No clue what counts as a new movie anymore. I went to the library for the first time in forever and watched these this weekend:

Resistance 7/10: A pretty standard true-ish story Jews escaping/resist the Holocaust movie, just the main guy becomes the most famous mime ever. Well acted.

Capone 4/10: Not a horrible idea for a movie, but terrible casting and some of the choices were dreadful. Like half of the Italians were played by guys with English ancestry. Hardy looks nothing like Capone in or out of makeup. There were so many production companies listed before the start of the movie. It was split into six chapters on the disc. No one seemed to care.

The Burnt Orange Heresy 6/10: Donald Sutherland kills any role, but I really didn't care about any other characters. The story was pretty well told and it was well acted. Probably would be better with a second viewing.

Valley Girl 4/10: Most of the musical numbers were cringeworthy. It felt like a Disney channel movie that wanted to be slightly naughty. Needed more Rob Huebel and Judy Greer.

Save Yourselves 7/10: Decent comedic alien invasion movie. I'm not typically a fan of movie that ends ambiguously and this one is no exception.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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I recently checked out Burden from the library. I can see why it did well at Sundance but I could also see why it had such a hard time getting distribution. The film made the mistake of focusing on Garrett Hedlund's hard to sympathize redneck character instead of Forest Whitaker's preacher character. The premise is well-meaning but I just kept wondering why the audience is suppose to care about a guy who's spent much of his life glorifying every redneck stereotype. Andrea Riseborough's wig was amusing though and could have had it own movie.

I have a bunch of other newer movies on hold at the library (Ava, Spontaneous, The Tax Collector, The High Note, Friendsgiving, etc.) that I have to wait a bit for. I figured it was just cheaper than renting on demand.

And this morning, I caught up with Swallow on Showtime (activated a free trial on Hulu). The concept of a film focused on pica is interesting but when you had a similar film this year (Butt Boy) playing such a premise for laughs, it's difficult to really be interested when said concept is played straight. Also, Haley Bennett's performance is simply bizarre, as she plays the main character as this stereotype from the 50's even though they are in present day. It's as if the filmmakers were planning this as a comedy but then realized what they had (particularly in the twist that reveals why she has the disorder) and it became a drama. The end result is a confused film typical of the many forgettable IFC offerings in recent years.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Ammonite 8/10

If Jurassic Park had been like Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Kate Winslet does well as a paleontologist who has to nurse an invalid (Saoirse Ronan) back to health while her husband goes away. Soon, the two begin a relationship that changes both of their lives, mostly for the better. Among the recent lesbian romance films, this was one of the better ones, combining good direction with a fiery passion from both leads. Recommended for Anglophiles.

Also, I finally got to watch First Cow last night on Showtime. The constant playing of the trailer before movies pre-COVID was comical but the actual film is a strong buddy picture about two frontiersmen in Oregon who go into business selling tasty cakes to the townsfolk. Their secret lays in the milk stolen from the first cow (there's the title) on the territory. A worthy entry into the sub-genre of food-themed movies (that blueberry tea cake looked delicious).
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Misbehaviour 4/10

A good concept for a film (the 1970 Miss World protests) gets undermined by one-dimensional characters and a scattershot focus that can't seem to figure out whether to focus on the protestors or the contestants or even Bob Hope (of which the script seems to be too scared to really tear him a new one). The filmmakers also make a big mistake to try and make the film a comedy, which it fails at doing as this is something that really isn't suited for laughs. There are some positives in the film, mainly in Keira Knightley's performance, but this is something that would have been much better suited as a documentary.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Wolfwalkers 9/10

Apple's first animated film might be better than any similar movies Netflix has put out. Though the premise is somewhat similar to the filmmakers' previous Song of the Sea, the beautiful 2D animation and storytelling manages to put this one ahead of that and makes it comparable to some of the best work of Walt Disney. It is also much more intelligent and trusting of its audience than the animated films typically released by the studios. I haven't seen Soul yet but I'd be surprised if that one topped this.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Sound of Metal 9/10

I don't think I'm going to see a better performance this year than Riz Ahmed's performance here. The film might be the most eye-opening depiction of deaf culture I've ever seen, going deep into what it's like to be deaf and the community that represents it. Even some of the more controversial topics among the community, such as cochlear implants, get an even-handed depiction. But what also allows the film to stand out is that we, the audience, go into the mind of Ahmed's character and understand what it is like to lose your hearing. It is quite the fascinating film and Ahmed, playing a multi-faceted character that gradually becomes more and more sympathetic as the film goes, elevates it to one of the best this year.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Quick thoughts on some recent watches
Antebellum 3/10:
An abundance of comically on-the-nose dialogue and a breathtakingly stupid twist sink whatever chance this had at being an effective race-themed thriller. I'm thankful for whatever force subconsciously prevented me from renting this on PVOD back in September.

The New Mutants 3.5/10:
Making a psychological horror movie set in the X-Men Universe was a nice idea on paper, but this lethargically-paced mess never takes the time to really explore the mindsets of its characters or even build any real suspense before it heads into its big action setpiece finale (which also underwhelms). Its basically just a 90-minute teaser for a trilogy that will never happen, which makes it easily the most pointless movie I've watched all year.

Unhinged 4/10:
More of an unpleasant film than a straight up bad one. There's some decently crafted suspense in its chase scenes and Russell Crowe makes a convincing maniac, it's just a little too gleeful in the delivery of its sadism for my liking.

Freaky 8/10:
Christopher Landon, Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton have been talking up how much of a blast they had made making this project and it shows in the vibrant, playful product that made it to the screen. Vaughn and Newton crush both sides of the body swap coin, the largely memorable kills are delivered with a tongue-in-cheek giddiness and it does a nice job of balancing being an homage to the classic slashers while establishing its own voice. Would've been a great movie to see with a crowd.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Spontaneous 2/10

I can see why Paramount was so embarrassed by this film that they barely released it and left their name off of the final product (instead, it's credited to the moribund Internet label Awesomeness). Sold as a horror comedy, this is actually nothing more than an R-rated Disney Channel original, with no laughs, few scares (most of the deaths are off-screen or only shown as reaction shots), and walking cliches. It's also hopelessly dated, as the film spent nearly three years on the shelf before it came out, rendering a lot of the references to current events irrelevant. This film might be viewed as timely as some of the plot is similar to how COVID was handled in the US but it's merely a coincidence. There is no reason to watch this ultimately meaningless teen romance.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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On the Rocks: 5/10
Like Sophia Coppolla's awful film Somewhere (which would end up in my Least Favourite Films list if we ever did one), this is really a short film stretched out. The cast are both charming but it's not enough to justify the very slight concept of an estranged father helping his daughter spy on her husband, who she fears is having an affair. A line towards the end sums up the point of the film and undermines the amount of time it took to get to this place.

Rebecca: 4/10
Oh boy, Ben Wheatley sure made a stinker of a film. Thinking he could best Hitchcock was a terrible idea (although, to be fair, he was hired to direct and didn't drive the concept or development), and this new take (with a revised ending) doesn't have anything to add to the 1940 Oscar-winning classic. It certainly lacks in gothic style, instead going for a Downton-like visual aesthetic for most of it. The cast aren't strong enough either. Once again it proves that Wheatley is best when he's working with a smaller budget and a more subversive story.

Looted: 5/10
A low-budget British film about a working-class young man who flirts with thievery knowing his ailing father will judge him. Nothing new or exciting in the premise, but the lead is quite decent.

Delete History: 6/10
Amusing French/Belgian comedy about three adults dealing with tech-related crises. A father with a sex-line addiction is trying to deal with a video of his teen daughter being bullied, a cab driver is getting terrible reviews through her app, and a divorced mother is being blackmailed by a younger man threatening to release their sex tape. They're all quirky enough for the story to be engaging and fun enough.

The Nest: 6/10
Sean Durkin took almost a decade to make his next film, and it's... disappointing. If it was a quick follow up to Martha Marcy May Marlene it might be better, but this is an underwhelming drama set in the 80s about a British husband who brings his American family back to the UK to live in a huge mansion while he tries to make a business deal that will make him rich. It's shot well, the drama is solid, the cast are good, but this tale of the consequences of faking it doesn't surprise or intrigue enough, and ends up being merely good but nothing more.

Gagarine: 7/10
A great debut froma duo of French film-makers. It's set in a social housing block that's going to be knocked down. But one space-obsessed teen gets abandoned by his mother, and remains there, converting his flat into a space capsule. It's a wonderful film about loneliness and abandonment, and the direction slowly pushes the film into a sort of magical realism as the scenes gradually makes us feel like we're floating in space. Very impressive.

Jumbo: 5/10
This Sundance-featuring film has a good premise but uneven tone. It's about a young woman (played by the lead in Portrait of a Lady on Fire) who develops a love for a fairground ride. It sounds quirky, and at times it is, but it's really about psychological/neurological disorders and how relationships can play out. There isn't quite enough for a story, and the ending is rather convenient and forced, but there are a few good scenes.

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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Over the Moon 3/10

Who at Netflix decided that this would be a big Oscar contender? This cheap-looking knockoff of the Disney Renaissance films has none of the magic and all of the cliches from those titles, with the added bonus of a convoluted plot that's certain to confuse the target audience. The bunny was cute but in the end, you just end up with an hour-long story padded out to 100 minutes thanks to some dreadful songs and 14 minutes of end credits. There's really not much else to say about this one.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Mank 4/10

I'm not sure what was the more overhyped film this year: this one or Tenet. What you'd think would be a film about the battle over the making of Citizen Kane is really a boring movie about a forgotten gubernatorial election, told by a hard-to-like boozehound who has a creepy relationship with his biggest rival's wife, which a few references to Citizen Kane here and there. Gary Oldman might look like Mankiewicz after the makeup but he's miscast in another phoning-it-in role. Lily Collins is given nothing to do as his assistant while Amanda Seyfried is forgettable as Marion Davies. But the biggest issue lays in David Fincher's direction. His ego is always inflated by his fans, allowing him to do whatever he wants. And this time, someone at Netflix (credited as Netflix International Pictures, in a pure stroke of pretentiousness) should have told him what to do. He shoots in black and white the same way he shoots in color: underlit and flat, creating for a very muddy-looking film. Fincher also feels the need to tell us when a flashback is happening, as if the audience consists of morons who have never seen a non-linear structure before. And in an attempt to make it feel like we are watching a film from the 40's (despite the fact that the film was shot in scope), he mixed the entire film in a way where everyone sounds almost the same. The illusion does not work.

In the end, Fincher just proves once again that he's nothing more than Ron Howard with more style in his latest attempt to win an Oscar. And if he succeeds against what's considered a far superior film in Nomadland, it could be as big of an injustice as How Green Was My Valley beating Kane. Don't buy the hype.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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American Murder: The Family Next Door 5/10

Interesting but ultimately dry documentary about a 2018 familicide in Colorado, where a husband murders his pregnant wife and two daughters so he can begin a new life with another woman. Told entirely from family videos, surveillance camera footage, and news stories without narration or interviews, the end result ends up feeling overly voyeuristic and uninteresting. And as hard as it is to admit, I really wasn't that interested in any of the subjects. The final product is more or less a long version of a lesser Snapped or other true crime TV episode.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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The Last Vermeer 7/10

A standard World War II drama elevated by a strong Guy Pearce performance and a compelling courtroom premise about a Dutch resistance officer who must prove the innocence of an art forger accused of war profiteering when he sells what is thought to be a lost Vermeer painting to the Nazis. The forging aspect of the story is what sets the film apart from similar films, as it goes into detail about how such paintings were able to fool everyone, from collectors to authenticators. Even though you've seen it before, it's entertaining enough that it has much appeal to war movie buffs and art appreciators.
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Re: Rate That Movie Part IV: Movies Never Sleep

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Mulan 8/10

This was quite enjoyable. Think less Disney and more historical martial arts film as this remake of the 1998 version of the story goes more for realism (though with plenty of artistic license still) and succeeds in creating a beautifully made adventure film that shows off its near $300 million budget well (by the way, is this the most expensive straight-to-streaming title ever?). Sure, the lead actor isn't the best but you're going to watch this movie for the battle sequences and stunts and it succeeds at that front.

A cut above the usual Disney remake.
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