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Last movie you watched

Puffy

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Don't Look Now (1973) -- Great acting and some really novel edit techniques (esp for the time period). Also it's clear that a lot of the story and filming was thought out ahead of time, with recurring imagery (the color red, the theme of water, the purposeful lack of subtitles in spots, and so on). Unfortunately, I had no emotional response to this movie. I did not care about the protagonists, I was not shocked by anything that happened, and the ending while cathartic for one of the main characters had no impact for me. Worth watching if you're a film person to study film technique but otherwise... I'm not sure.
Ah that's a shame to hear you didn't enjoy it. I agree with your assessment but don't mind those aspects as much. It could be read as off kilter with it being a film primarily about grieving but I think the emotional coldness / deadness, and obsessive, traumatic recurrings of the child's death are likely deliberate aspects of that. Nicholas Roeg's films tend to be more technical than emotional though so it could also just be a reflection of his style.

I largely love it for the editing, techniques and formalism like you say. I became fascinated with how it compacts time into a singular, compressed moment, where all the repeating motifs, imagery, and events, accumulate into the single, inevitable event of death that appears to dissolve time and echo past, present, and future. Using a linear time-based medium to depict the communication of something that cannot be portrayed in and breaksdown time. :phear: It's rare that films involving supernatural elements try to depict the connotations of an alien presence rupturing and communicating through the laws of normality in such a detailed way, and I think I admire it for that as a horror film.

Could go on longer but don't want to tl;dr :o
 

Jennywocky

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Diabolique: I wouldn't necessarily call this "horror" especially by today's standards, although I bet in 1955 that "money shot" later in the film shocked audiences world-wide and is even a bit unsettling nowadays. What it is is great filmmaking in terms of story. Half the film covers the murder plot by a wife and her husband's mistress, to take him out because he's such as asshat... and what got me is how much of a gaslighting verbally controlling/abusive prick the guy actually is. I love older movies that don't adhere to some "pie in the sky" formula, and the school the woman owns and runs is shown in realistic seediness.

Dialogue is pretty awesome, the characters are interesting, the b&w shots are beautiful. The climax of the film caught me off-guard, although once I saw it I also figured everything else out immediately.

It also has a shabby retired detective who sticks his nose in where it doesn't belong and comes off as far sharper under the surface than he pretends to be.


Raw: Seeing this movie through to the end, it's kind of "Ginger Snaps" without any transformation sequences. I can't say I knew what to expect going into it, but it held my attention and was just really... interesting. The characters, the conversations. And yeah, then every so often are some lurid and even crazy scenes. I heard some people passed out watching it or had to leave. I understand why, although it did not have that effect on me. I think I also liked that it's a French/Belgianese film, so it's happening in a different culture than the one I'm used to. The movie kind of comes together and answers my basic questions in the last few minutes.

I really like those shots of the road with the lines of trees running down them. Superfluous, but they stick in the mind.
 
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footprints of war (2013)

a disturbing examination of the devastating ecological impact of industrialised warfare and the multiple "ticking time bombs" that the planet is facing, including dumped chemical munitions sufficient to "kill all life" which lie on ocean floors in corroding containers
 

Pyropyro

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Watched Thor: Ragnarok. Quite a fun and colorful ride. Will not describe more detail so as not to spoil it to you guys.
 

onesteptwostep

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Ooo gonna see Thor on Monday :D
 

Pyropyro

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Jennywocky

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Inside (2007): Geez. For a 2000's french gore horror flick centered on a woman trying to steal another woman's unborn child, the drama/music aspect + directing approach was actually great... it's what allows the movie to not feel exploitative. But for those who couldn't handle the original Martyrs and similar films, I'd advise against it -- the violence is pretty crazy and off the rails through the last moments of the film. The feelings and images are gonna stick in my mind a long time.

The Ghoul (2017): More of a mind-twisty subjective pic with an unreliable narrator. If you enjoy mindfuck movies with ambiguous endings and explanations, you might be interested in this, a low budget about an undercover cop pretending to be a depressive.... or perhaps a depressive who imagines himself to be an undercover cop.

Gerald's Game (2017): Decent adaptation of the King book -- it simplifies the things it needs to and makes the text accessible to a wider audience. Carla Gugino owns this role, and Greenwood does decently -- the best things are her internal conversations extroverted into other personas.

The Woman (2011): Another "geez" movie, kind of an exploitation feature of a backwoods cannibal who is discovered and captured by a supposedly civilized guy in order to "fix" her. There's an obvious thread of female empowerment in the film in the face of oppression by male culture (it's pretty on the nose and a little extreme) ,but the ending really isn't as interesting as the idea of 'civilized' -- who depends on "civilization" for their survival, who is truly civilized versus not, and so on. And the acting is decent enough.

Eraserhead (1977): I dunno if I could sit through it again, it's a very slow-paced film, but trying to write a synopsis defeats the purpose -- it's vintage Lynch, turning a man's anxieties over sex and parenthood into audio and visual surrealism... the whole point is to turn indescribable feelings and dreads into sensory information that can be experienced by the viewer. The sound track (not music, but the sounds/audio) is pretty incredible at relaying impressions. I saw this in a dvd quality stream and it was beautiful b&w imagery; I can only imagine bluray/HD/4K.

Happy Death Day (2017): For what it is, it's actually decently done... another "Groundhog Day" style spin, except here the coed is being murdered on her birthday each time and ends up reliving the day until she either expires for good or ends up stopping herself from being murdered. Of course, there's a lot of red herrings, but the film tries to play up comedy, adds some meaningful learning experiences, and the lead has a decent sense of comedic timing and some emotional versatility.
 

onesteptwostep

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Saw Thor: Ragnarok.

I like the movie overall and how it started, but I felt like the ending was subpar. Hela and the Surtur should have had a more epic fight, or at least the whole ending sequence should have had more depth to it. Fenrir used like that without much story element was disappointing too, that wolf is supposed to be like a central thing in the mythology. The comedic aspect of the movie was a departure from the previous Thor movies, and it's a good one. It really takes on the vibe of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but with Avengers vibes. I'm also disappointed that the Valkyrie sequence was just part of a flashback... I mean they could have incorporated that into the end and it would have been fantastic. I've give it 7/10.

I also saw Stranger Things 2. It was okay, but there was a single episode that sort of dragged the series down a bit. Eleven should have been introduced to the crew much earlier too. There's basically like three story lines in that series that sort of jumbles together haphazardly in the last two episodes. Personally I think the first season was a bit better.
 

Jennywocky

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My Criterion copy of Gilliam's "The Fisher King" arrived over the weekend. I haven't seen it for some years now, so I could hit it with a fresh perspective. I just think it's a great movie (aside from Mercedes Ruehl pulling in a Best Supporting Actress)... as others have noted, it's one of Gilliam's most "normal" films in terms of the story, compared to the stuff he usually does -- the most trademark Gilliam touch is of course The Red Knight that threatened Parry repeatedly throughout the film.

But the script just seems to be put together very well -- both Parry and Jack's stories seem to reflect each other, as well as the stated Fisher King myth, all leading to Jack getting his soul back so to speak and finding contentment in life, while Parry is trying to find footing to deal with his trauma and move forward in life.

This is also the film where I first ran across Amanda Plummer. I think she's so great. (I figure if you didn't see her here, you'll remember her with Tim Roth in the bookends for Pulp Fiction, the two "natural born killers" who try to rob a diner until they run across Jules.) She has a really great sense of the comic while playing everything so straight (the character doesn't know she's funny), and she has a heartbreaking speech while walking home with Parry, well, it has so much underlying pain and disappointment... heart-rending stuff.

---

I also am watching Stranger Things 2, but the funny thing is that so far it's far better than Season 1. (I'm only up to Episode 5.) I really disliked the first season, which is funny because I'm a big King fan and one of my favorite movies is Pan's Labyrinth (I like the speculative fiction / horror / fantasy genres). But it scanned to me as a hack job. It seemed to want to earn kudos for tossing in random 80's nostalgia without substance or necessarily accuracy, and the acting was rough, the emotional arcs were not steady, Eleven's delivery was annoying as well (one of those things that looks great on paper but too much heard in the ear gets old FAST), and for me it was a forced march until maybe episode 6 and then I could struggle through the rest with less effort because shit was finally going down. It really felt like a first effort from amateurs and had a lot of bare patches that made it hard for me to invest until the plot picked up a bit.

I don't know whether The Duffers feel more comfortable this season, or they were given tips by consultants, or they brought in folks to help them shape the scripts, but it's vastly improved. The acting is better, the scenes actually flow rather than feeling disjointed, there's far less "stupid" on the part of the characters, the production quality is better. There's still some occasional dumb stuff but it's passable when it happens rather than a showstopper for me. It feels more professional this year, more advanced in terms of the skill brought to bear.

Like I said, I've only watched the first five segments. I'm aware episode 7 has really crappy reviews (involving Eleven). The Eleven segments are okay. What I do like is that she rarely talks, so her forced "I don't know many words" thing doesn't derail the episodes like what happened in Season 1. I don't know what it is, whether the actress can't deliver it convincingly or whether it's just really difficult to do convincingly, but the less they have of her struggling to speak, the better; so I didn't mind the alone stuff. But her arc isn't bothering me a ton, and I thought the parent/child dynamics between her and Hopper are kind of interesting... he's the Directive guy who has forgotten how to be a dad and she's the kid who never got to be a kid, so it's no wonder they end up at each other's throats for a time.

I am also getting a kick out of D'art and where that's going. Holy Motherforking shirtballs, ha ha! Yeah, this is why we don't bring home strange pets.
 

Jennywocky

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I got tickets for Saturday morning for Thor: Ragnarok. I figured it sounded like something that ought to be seen in 3D for the spectacle. I really hated the other two Thor movies, mostly because of bad/boring writing and plotting. Hopefully this is an improvement.

---

After the Halloween blitz, I've been kind of laying low with movie watching. But I think my goal is now to cram on high-quality pics that will likely be Oscar contenders in some category (as normally I spend much of the year hitting older movies I haven't yet seen).

Currently on my to-see list before end of 2017:
- Lady Bird
- Ingrid Goes West
- Mayhem
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- The Big Sick
- Good Time
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer
- Detroit

I'm not sure where "The Lure" and "Silence" fall, but I'd like to see those as well. I still haven't seen "Hidden Figures" either.

and yeah, I will see Justice League and Star Wars 8, although they're more for kicks.
 

Jennywocky

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Saw Thor: Ragnarok over the weekend. I don't think it's nearly what the gushers are trying to say about it (best MSU movie ever? Whut??), but it's easily a huge step in the right direction from the first two self-important, stuffy, bland, boring Thor movies that were released. This is more your Walt Simonson's "Thor" and a Thor that was fun to watch. It wasn't that deep but at least was amusing.

I also am watching Stranger Things 2, but the funny thing is that so far it's far better than Season 1....
Finished it yesterday. I still hold to this -- it's simply tighter, better acted, better scripted, more coherent, less wandering. Everything has a point and seems to dramatically build to the conclusion.

It was interesting how they took Steve and developed his character in Season 2. He was just a bland asshat after Season 1 but seems to have a lot more depth now.

I wasn't really big on Episode 7. The main problem is that the "gang" was just kind of silly -- ironically, like something ripped out a Marvel comic in the 80's where they were trying to seem edgy but just seemed goofy instead. I get the point -- they're leaving a thread for a later season (more experimental subjects out there) and trying to make Eleven/Jane happy where she's at, plus they set up the resolution in the finale. But I can't say it was that fulfilling. For every cool moment (like when the police storm the warehouse -- yeah, that's how an illusionist DOES it), there's a dumb moment (as they leave the warehouse).

I like they took about 10-15 minutes to wind down the season versus just leaping to an ending. And it looks like things are going towards what you suspected, relationship-wise, from Season 1.

Anyway, there was some real character development this season that actually felt pretty smooth overall.

Also about Bob:
He was on such borrowed time, and it was all kind of dumb. I mean, who in their right mind slams a door, then stops for 15-20 seconds to get his breath when the front door is just 20 feet away and he knows these things have already busted through super-tough windows and doors? The whole season was kinda setting him up to die, so it was pretty predictable.
 

onesteptwostep

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Yeah poor Bob. I was like shit, Samwise Gamgee should be smarter than this.
 

Jennywocky

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Justice League: Underwhelming. In fact, rather forgettable. I don't want to say it didn't have any good moments, or wasn't fun in spots -- it was probably a step up in terms of tone. But it also lost a lot of gravitas in the process... Man of Steel and BvS just felt much weightier. Here you also have a villain who no one knows, whose motives we don't understand and/or seem pretty one-track linear... he exists just to be a villain. The whole resurrect of you-know-who is also treated too lightly. One step forward, one step back. DC just still hasn't figured this shit out... but they really haven't cultivated a team of movie makers who know how to make superhero movies successfully.

Lady Bird: The trailers tried to draw people out by including all the overtly funny lines. The movie itself is more subtle and doesn't actually laugh at itself, although you are aware the writer was smiling as they wrote the dialogue. End result -- once you immerse yourself in the tone (it took me a few minutes), the movie is just really enjoyable, humorous, and tangible. People feel very real. I teared up once or twice totally off the cuff, not expecting it. Kind of another "teenager trying to figure herself out" movie, but ... just feels like the messy real-life experience, not the packaged Hollywood version. Just small details make the whole movie spring to life. Secondary characters are memorable. Stellar acting by Ronan and Metcalf.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: I was dreading watching this. No need. I found it very watchable, stunningly gorgeous, with a few intriguing set pieces, and never lingering too long on a particular sequence. More unexpected, DeHaan sounds like he's trying to channel Keanu Reeves (=Bad Idea), whereas Delavingne actually provides a better performance IMO. Yes, there's some obsessive/tinny dialogue (like, just shut up about marriage/love); but I have heard far worse dialogue in movies of this genre, and the tone of the movie stays kind of tongue-in-cheek and feels light-hearted even in tense moments.

This is a scary comment for me to make, but this is like what Lucas' SW prequels SHOULD have been like, or at least far closer to the mark -- visually eye-popping spectacles pictures, light spirited, intriguing set pieces. Not that it's my favorite genre, but Besson basically showed Lucas how to do it here, if Lucas was still making films.

I'll say again, people have said the graphics are beautiful... but damn. words can't really describe some of the imagery, or the CGI -- like when Bubbles does her burlesque performance and stretches acrobatics and morph tech to the fullest. And I personally liked the bazaar sequence, which takes place in two dimensions at once... although I am not really clear why one dimension has little in it, it would make more sense if two cultures were sharing the same space. If the dialogue had been improved / less obsession with Valerian's gonads, then the film would be more enduring. There's also a casting issue in that it's hard to believe these two people who look like they are cutting twelfth-grade English are certified government agents, they needed to be older.
 

Puffy

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I re-watched Tarkovsky's The Mirror with my housemate recently. I'd only seen it once back in my University days and I don't think I was able to give it the absorption it needs then. On repeat viewing it stands out as among the best if not (what I'd rank as) the best film I've seen.

On surface level it's an autobiography of a family history, with three interweaving narratives from different stages of the narrator's life set against the backdrop of the second world war in Russia.

What's special is in how it's told. The whole film feels like a real (what I think is a single) mind recollecting, following this organic stream-of-consciousness style from scene to scene, thought to thought. Moments, stories, dreams from different periods segue into each other associatively with common motifs blending them together with all the blemishes and distortions you'd expect of memory.

As a viewer it was like being the detached meditator observing a mind immersed in searching movement, as if cinema is being used not as a means of lulling someone to sleep ('cinema as dream') but as a means of stirring them awake to the kinds of illusions of time we enravel ourselves within.

End-to-end it's beautifully shot with all these moments full of life & emotion washing over you. It felt bright and pure. :)

It's one of those films where it feels like putting time into it will be rewarding. It's nice to watch something that reignites the passion I used to have about visual storytelling though. I think I need to put more time into a creative project.
 

onesteptwostep

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About to see The Last Jedi. Will write about it later. Don't have too much high expectations for this movie.

*MAJOR SPOILERS*

Okay well.. yeah it was... not so good.

Nothing about the movie was compelling at all. The scale of the story was bad too. Basically the entire film revolves around trying to escape from the flagship of Snoke and the two subplots, Luke/Rey and Finn/Rose happens during these "6 hours". Okay first of all WTF to Leia surviving that blast, and NOTHING to memorialize Admiral Akubar's death. And apparently Snoke's ship doesn't have enough speed to catch up with the rebel's 3 ships? Yeah, really convenient plot device.. so they keep on a barrage till the film ends.. Finn and Rose's parts were just, ugh. So basically they jump hyperspace WHILE they're trying to escape from the First Order in order to get some key guy whom they don't even get, to get on the First Order flagship to disable the hyperspace tracker? Then all of the plan goes to hell and goes to waste and eventually the 2nd lieutenant or whomever turns out to be the hero by hyperspace jump-suiciding the ship? Just none of it was compelling. And now once they get on the planet with like 200~ men they supposedly try to hold off against the entire First Order? lol? Also Rylo fighting Luke was just hilarious. Maybe it would have been more tasteful if they had entered the cave instead, then have Luke do his whole show. Also Yoda looked ugly as f***.

Also making Rey into a non-special I thought was just a waste. Personally I thought it would have been better if they found that she was born from the Force, without any parents at all. The movie didn't have much special moments in it except for Luke's standoff. No build up to why Rylo betray's Snoke. No build up as to why Luke decides to help the Resistance. No build up to as why Rose suddenly has a boner for Finn.

*END SPOILERS*

Meh.

tl;dr

Nothing much happens.

6/10 movie.
 

Jennywocky

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I saw The Last Jedi as well and was kind of disappointed -- I'm a big fan of Rian Johnson but while the movie is okay, his other movies have been better. There's a number of decent "moments" in the fim but the connecting tissue holding them together feels kind of ambly. There's a lot of attempts at humor which doesn't mesh with the plot as easily as, say, "Spiderman Homecoming", it just comes off as awkward humor. You need to have the plot direct what scenes are in the movie, not highlight joke-making as the reason for a scene.

Also, there's some big questions (like "who is snoke and why?") that get completely dropped/undermined by this movie. All the interesting questions seem to be ignored. i didn't mind the relevation of Rey's parents, I actually liked that. But yeah, ignoring/undermining questions raised by the prior movie and then clearing the board so decisively leaves me wondering where the third movie of this trilogy will be going. I'm not sure what is left.

With Rey, I am so damn sick of everyone being related, having some wonderful genetic heritage, and all that other bullshit. It's kind of nice to hear, "Yeah, your parents were junkies that died without a name in a pauper's grave. That's your heritage. They ditched you because they were losers. So there is no 'big story' to make you important, Rey. You are just you. your life is yours to make or break, you have nothing to live up to or be tied down by." That's a narrative I can grasp -- our lives are our own, and we are not required to be anything or get special prestige because of our relations.

Again, there are some great moments in the film, it's just the ongoing narrative arc kind of undermines them or leaves them stranded as just moments, IMO. As stated elsewhere, the course of the main body of the film (the rebellion escaping) seems to take place over a short period of time, although I don't know how this meshes with the two other plotlines which feel longer. It's a bit confusing that way.
 
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I saw The Shape of Water with my boyfriend last week.
Besides the funkiness of a sexual relationship between a fish guy and a human, it was all really good.

There isn’t actually a blatant sex scene per say. It’s actually all really cute and innocent and pure.

But either way the fish man gets laid
It was both more heartwarming and more gory, (and less sexual) than I expected going into it.
The acting was all around really nice; especially Michael Shannon as the antagonist. His performance was scary good. Seriously. Gives you the creeps. Go watch the movie istg

It’s so sweettt

I totally recommend watching it! It’s cute and weird and funny and seems like it’d be up the INTPf alley.
 

Hadoblado

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The Last Jedi: spoilers ahead
I enjoyed this movie way more than I expected. I did not like the last two. It was far, far from perfect, but it felt more like its own movie than the force awakens, and like a more meaningful movie than rogue one.

Seeing more of Kylo Ren made him better in retrospect. I couldn't stand him in TFA, but now it makes sense and he's even pretty good? He's not your traditional bad ass sith, but seems like more of a character than an antagonist if that makes sense?

Snoke was... I dunno. I knew he was dead the moment he wore gold robes. Someone who has to wear gold to denote their status isn't the real deal. But they made him out to be epic powerful? More powerful than cinematic palpatine even? Remote force choke seems good yo. It was weird that they discarded someone they were building up so much, without ever explaining the character or anything. He was just another somethingsomethingdarkside antagonist, who had no business being as powerful as he was without explanation.

I actually would have liked some sort of explanation for Rey being so OP. I don't really like the way the power often comes down to bloodline, but anything that'd explain why she's going toe to toe with people that should be way ahead of her on the powercurve would be nice. I thought she was going to be Palp's daughter. There was a point where Yoda burnt the books and said there was nothing they could teach Rey that she didn't already know? That seems sort of ridiculous to me. Sure the jedi order fucked up all sorts of things, but that doesn't mean they weren't around for thousands of years accruing real wisdom. They offered a sortof explanation that the force rights itself, so Rey is the correction to the darkside imbalance, but I hate that even more. If the force corrects itself nobody can ever win, everyone should just give up because there's no escaping a force karma destiny. Bleh.

I was surprised that Finn didn't get any force shenanigans. I assumed he would be revealed to be force sensitive.

I think that there were a lot of good moments in the movie, but the way they were all sewn together was careless. A lot of motives didn't really make sense. I appreciated that it subverted expectations a fair few times. I think that while watching it, for the most part I was really enjoying myself, but that every now and then stuff made no sense, or the plottwists were softballed in such a way that it felt like it was being spelled out too much? These jarring moments hurt it a lot.

I'd probably give it a 7/10?
 

onesteptwostep

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The biggest problem I think in The Last Jedi was that there wasn't a coherent overarching theme. Like in Rouge One (good movie regardless of what people think) had a theme of sacrifice in it, while something like Revenge of the Sith had something like mistrust. In TLJ the theme isn't so cleanly cutout. Is it about hope? Failure? Power? Perspective? Can't really put a finger on what I'm supposed to take away.
 

Hadoblado

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Maybe too many themes?

They could have lost the whole arms dealing and slavery thing. Not enough room in the movie for it IMO. Especially when it's inclusion fascilitated several major plot holes (how did DJ know about the stealth transports, how come DJ just happened to be in the prison when he wasn't the extremely specific person they were after).
 

Jennywocky

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Yeah, thematically the whole film was kind of all over the map. I'm just kind of surprised because all of Johnson's films have been more coherent; it's like once he was given a property to play with, with so much pressure, he resorted to light jokey stuff and/or kill sacred cows without offering anything in their place for the rest of the story to hinge on. Nothing really ever got developed. It was like he had a checklist of things he wanted to do, but no idea how to put them in an overarching narrative.

He's also a shit team player, apparently. If you're working with other directors of a large story, you gotta (1) build off what you're given and (2) set up the next guy with stuff that he can do something with. I'm kind of confused about what Johnson thought he was supposed to do here, there isn't a lot left to build on, nor did he seem to develop much of what he was given.

About the Jedi histories:
I read somewhere that they were actually no longer in the tree because Rey stole them. So Yoda's line was kind of a joke... Rey already has the lessons because she took the books with her when she left.

Anyway, it brings me back to something I've stated before -- if you want a really great storyline involving Jedi and Sith, play SWKOTOR 1&2 (with the whole Revan deal) or play the last two installments of the MMO SWTOR (Knights of the Eternal Throne and Knights of the Fallen Empire). I was so freaking impressed with it, it really seems to capture the depth of everything and has real moral dilemma/choice involved. The fascinating part is that by the end you've built an alliance fighting an outside threat that includes Jedi, Sith, smugglers, bounty hunters, warriors, and whoever else, where there is still suspicion and skepticism about each other's intentions on a varying scale and you're trying to hold it all together. It was just so damn well written, for a storyline that had to work in a game setting... and it honors the strengths and criticizes the weaknesses of both the Jedi and Sith in a fair way.


I saw The Shape of Water with my boyfriend last week.
Besides the funkiness of a sexual relationship between a fish guy and a human, it was all really good.

There isn’t actually a blatant sex scene per say. It’s actually all really cute and innocent and pure.

But either way the fish man gets laid
It was both more heartwarming and more gory, (and less sexual) than I expected going into it.
The acting was all around really nice; especially Michael Shannon as the antagonist. His performance was scary good. Seriously. Gives you the creeps. Go watch the movie istg

It’s so sweettt

I totally recommend watching it! It’s cute and weird and funny and seems like it’d be up the INTPf alley.
This has been on my list for months, I really want to see it.

Michael Shannon is also one of my favorite actors. I love that he looks like just an average guy, rather than a celebrity, and I don't think he ever has been bad in a movie; if he was in a game of "Movies: The Gathering" his special power is that he improves anything he's involved with by another notch or two, even if it sucks on its own. I've seen him play nuanced good guys, and I've seen him be a terrifying villain despite his non-descript appearance.
 

Yellow

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About the Jedi histories:
I read somewhere that they were actually no longer in the tree because Rey stole them. So Yoda's line was kind of a joke... Rey already has the lessons because she took the books with her when she left.
I didn't realize this was a mystery in the movie. They showed the books when she was going into her trunk when she was on the ship after rescuing them. It was just a flash, but they were there.
 

Jennywocky

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I am way behind on 2017 movies, I just kinda petered out in the fall and haven't watched much at all. I did get my ticket for The Shape of Water on Saturday. I hope I enjoy it.

This year has been kind of hit or miss for me, especially in terms of franchise and/or adaptation movies. There have been few that were hit close to out of the park; a number of flops; and some that had some decent elements but with also some disappointing aspects.

I didn't realize this was a mystery in the movie. They showed the books when she was going into her trunk when she was on the ship after rescuing them. It was just a flash, but they were there.
Yeah. I missed it, honestly, but I think I was trying to focus on everything as it unfolded as well as think about the overall movie, so it was easy to miss a few details.

I kinda did not care either way; there were other things of more concern or more import...
 

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Bright: Much more enjoyable than expected, and suggests the failure of "Suicide Squad" rests at the studio's feet (not Ayers) considering the film is tonally similar to expectations for the DC movie and flows perfectly fine.

Its main flaw which is also a strength is that it focuses on the "buddy cop" concept where one marginalized cop (black man) is assigned an even more marginalized partner (the first orc on the LA police force), rather than focusing on fantasy back story which incorporates basic tropes (orcs, elves, fairies, dark lord). Most fantasy movies go awry by becoming pretentious and bogged down in history lessons; Bright just shows us what we need to know in the moment... mainly that the orcs made a bad call by supporting the failed takeover by the Dark Lord 2000 years ago and are now society's whipping boys (where even the minorities hate them), the elves are pretentious asshats who people are scared to muck with, fairies are pesky, and most people prefer to leave anything fantasy/magic well-enough alone because it only gets normal people burned. If they do a series (movie or TV), then no doubt backstory will be explored more; but this was a cop buddy movie in format, so I was glad it stayed on target.

Where the film is surprising is the nuance it provides to almost every character. There are so many opportunities for each to be one-note, but they're each more than expected.... for example, the orcphobic cop who creates waves early remains that but also tries to do the right thing as best as possible when everything goes bad... you can tell he simply isn't capable of more, rather than being a caricature. The same goes for the orc leaders, or the head of the hispanic gang, or even the two main elves (the crazy one trying to regain her wand, and the fed investigator trying to smack everything down). It manages to be funny so many times while never losing sense of the serious undertones to the conflict, turning a potential B-flick into a film that is somewhat tongue-in-cheek while able to explore race turmoil and prejudice.


The Shape of Water: Del Toro returns to form after the mostly disappointing Crimson Peak to what amounts to a 50's fairy tale that is reminiscent of Pan's Labyrinth but a bit more hopeful, with a touch of Amelie in terms of tone. As the mute lead (a janitor working for a government lab), Sally Hawkins is just amazing -- the unconventional protagonist who conveys her thoughts perfectly with facial expression and body language and/or dialogue approach. Not a conventional beauty, she wins you over by personality and becomes radiant. Jenkins as a close friend who wants comfort for himself and fears risk, yet is pushed to rise above those things in the name of friendship, runs a close second -- it's not a role I remember seeing him in before. Shannon as the "villain" of the flick (and this is pretty obvious as soon as he appears on screen) does well, but he can do this role in his sleep; I do appreciate, though, that the script reveals late in the game the onus of existential terror he lives under at all times. Even the doctor was great, a man who can rise above his political affiliations in the pursuit of a science larger than himself. There are ways to bond that go beyond the political and tribal.

There are some moments of whimsy that are scientifically improbable but work anyway because the whole movie has a kind of unreal air to it; and there's one enchanting sequence that seems more earned than much of "La La Land's" grasp for magic. There's one small reveal at end that I should have seen coming a mile away but missed; but all in all, it's one of those films that made me happy to have gone to the theater. It just felt like a movie set in the past that is still timely now.
 

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The Big Sick: Not sure how I felt in the early stage of the movie, but this is one of those that improves throughout its length because of the real, human performances. it's quite funny in the undercurrent and the people feel real (although I found out in the closing credits that it is semi-autobiographical). It focuses on a Pakistani comic dealing with building his standup career, his unplanned relationship with a white American girl, his family's attempts to get him married to a woman of his same culture, and how he moves from indecision and distanced from commitment to something far deeper through an unexpected situation. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano also star and are part of the best things about the movie -- I think comedians with life experience make decent dramatic actors because they're sensitive to the humor in the dark and the dark in the humor. The people really feel real, including the complex reactions by all the characters to each other's choices.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: Finally a movie I had high hopes for that panned out in 2017. Part of it is casting -- everyone is rock solid. McDormand is spectacular. And I'm happy for Sam Rockwell with a Golden Globe win last night, he was damned good -- his character starts as a joke (he's a bigot and an oaf) but by the end of the movie, while still the same character, he's made some significant choices that affect his arc. It was "realistic transformation," since he's still a mess. Harrelson doesn't have as large a role but also offers a textured performance. Even when characters have beefs to pick with each other, you can see the complexity and doubt in their eyes. It reminds me of Wind River a bit, in that it's more focused on the human journeys of the characters and not necessarily the overall plot arc. It's really interesting to see her strategy to get attention for her daughter's murder case, and how the town reacts, and how the various police folks react. Even the throwaway characters (like the city guy who is managing the billboards) have some complex challenging moments.

I, Tonya: This movie is funny as well. And frustrating. And inspiring. And sad. I wasn't bored for a second. No one's really talking about Sebastian Stan, but this guy who most people only know as The Winter Soldier (beefed up and confident) is at times almost unrecognizable as Gilooly with the cheesy mustache and he's in the entire movie. It's scary to review the live footage and see how closely the casting resembles the real people... aside from Margot Robbie. Her performance is pretty great; it's just the whole premise of Harding is that she did not physically match up with the expectations for a woman figure skater (with their long graceful lines), she was shorter, blockier, a woman who can reasonably cut firewood and do a season as a woman boxer... and Robbie is actually far more physically like the women Harding could never look like. That's about my only gripe with the film, because otherwise it was just a really engaging film and otherwise Robbie really does seem to capture Harding.

Janney won a Golden Globe last night for her role as Harding's mother, a crusty old bird with a heart like a gristly piece of gravel. She never breaks character, she's relentless and hilarious and just so damned mean and cold but on some level you can tell she really believes she had contributed something to her daughter's success.

The danger with films like this is that people can mistake them as literal fact telling. While it's clear that the movie integrates lots of perspectives (so there is some truth in just about everything), and it's probably true (based on the investigation) that Harding wasn't directly involved but did hinder the investigation, the big picture is about Tonya being a kind of mess of a human being, yet also being a scrapper -- probably her most admirable quality. She spends a lot of time being kicked around by various people (including the bulk of society), is partly weak because she seems to need the affirmation (which she seems to have been deprived of much her life), but she never actually quits no matter the level of abuse she takes. If even half the depiction of her background is true, her behavior is understandable at least.

(As a side note, I found the brief snippet about Harding responding to the expression on Kerrigan's face while accept to the silver to be pretty spot-on. I actually did see the Olympics skating performances on TV live. Kerrigan blew everyone's socks off with her skate -- she really was good, especially considering her knee injury -- and it seemed pretty certain she'd nab the gold... and then little Oksana Baiul came out in the closing part of the competition and... WTF just happened. Just one amazing leap after the next... and she even threw in an obviously unplanned double-axle, double-toe jump at the end of her routine right after a big triple toe landing to completely seal her victory. Kerrigan was great, but -- and I know the judges were split, but I'm speaking from a spectator POV, in terms of impact from performance -- Baiul earned that gold with a dazzling display that you had to see to believe. She was just goddess on that ice. Kerrigan was very unhappy.

EDIT: Hmm, apparently my amateur understanding of the routines is off.
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/26/s...ne-s-baiul-edges-kerrigan-for-gold-medal.html

But definitely it shows what is being said in the article -- Oksana was more engaging. I remember Kerrigan running a nice performance but it felt understated and detached and distant, Oksana seemed to draw you in.)
 

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Boss Baby: Tried to watch this. Got about ten minutes into it. Visually pretty creative, but one of those "big picture" problems with the movie -- boring boring boring. Conventional. All the typical baby motifs. I got the idea that traditional minded people would think it was great for affirming all the chatter they already make about babies and family life, but I was going nuts trying to focus on it after ten minutes. It wasn't that it was technically bad (from the visual and music end), it's a core concept / script / direction that left me unable to continue.

Of course, it had 5 stars on Netflix. With their new ratings, pretty much how it pans out is that any movie I find interesting will have 2-3 stars, and all the garbage has 5 stars. Thanks, Netflix. At least I can still use it as a guideline, lol.


Good Time: Congrats to Robert Pattinson -- this is a role that shows he can act against type, rather than yet another conventional trendy popular flick. This movie is put together really well (musically, visually) -- it has its own distinct palette and impression, so in that sense it was intriguing. It's also an "off the rails" movie... I can't recall how many times I burst out laughing, because the main character is constantly trying to fudge his way through a situation spiraling out of control after a bank robbery gone bad. I was like, "Seriously? Wow!" and then something crazier would happen. But at core, there's a problem with the movie in that it's really just about a story about going off the rails... each bigger than the last... yet character development isn't really there, there's no real arc, and any character resolution happens off-screen through a snippet of dialogue at the end. The main character seems committed to his course of action and is somewhat unlikable. In that sense, it's more of a low-budget spectacle movie. But the experience can be fun.
 

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Annhiliation, over the weekend. (Well, actually, the last movie I watched was American Made, last night, based loosely on the life and times of crazy smuggler / runner / triple turncoat Barry Seal, gunned down by druglords in 1986, but I digress... there isn't much to say about that film, it's all pretty WYSIWYG.)

Loved it. Might be flawed, but I like ambiguous films (another film in that category being Under the Skin, also an adaptation). I'm a Garland fan typically. The last twenty minutes are both a strength and weakness, as it's more difficult to decide what the film is trying to convey in terms of idea, and the final moments aren't necessarily clear about whether the narrator is reliable. But it's going to linger with me a long time.

So I went and read the book since then, which is only 200 pages (pretty fast read, the text is not dense), and it's apparent the film is just a very loose adaptation; I would go as far to call it as "riffs on the same theme" that you would see in a story-telling class, where everyone gets the same basic concept and then you see how different the produced works are. Srsly, I am kind of surprised a studio optioned this book at all, it's really hard to imagine what they even thought the movie would look like (since books in general have a lot more leeway to introspect and internalize, whereas films have to SHOW.... and there's very little in the book that would be as interesting on the screen, it's all fuzzy and amorphous). Despite this, I plunged through the book anyway, and I think the section involving the Crawler is pretty profound from a writing perspective; I don't read enough Lovecraft, but it reminds me of that sense of alien, engulfing impressions rather than specification/explication that infiltrates much American writing. It's like a deluge experience where the human mind is trying to process this alien mentality and it can only be done through the tidal patter and ebb/swell of waves of language. tl;dr -- the book was hugely disappointing and yet eerily mesmerizing and I still can't stop thinking about it, I think my mind is trying to process something it just cannot grasp.

Anyway, back to the film. Garland weakened a bit of that because he had to put more of the plot into something concrete and explicable, in order to SHOW what was going on, on the screen. So the first 2/3 of this journey is eerie and unsettling, and there's of course the notorious middle section with is just excruciatingly SCREAMworthy (and for some reason, it just took my mind straight to that locked-up -- or maybe destroyed at this point -- tape of Timothy Treadwell and girlfriend being assaulted by a rogue bear a bit more over a decade ago?) ... it's a scene that will easily give most of the viewers nightmares.... but then we hit the lighthouse segment and that's when things just get surreal and crazy.

Anyway, Garland usually has a point to his films, which are where science and humanity intersect. We saw this in Ex Machina, which explored the impenetrable divide between AI and human ("just because AI might look human does not mean they share human values and interests, so how will we need to interact with them?") and Never Let Me Go ("Are clones property or human in their own right?") and Sunshine ("Is mankind intruding into the sphere of the divine by altering the life of a star, which is in essence the epitome of the creation of life itself?") and so on.

what I got out of Annihilation (and was also somewhat a general point from the book, depending on how you read it) was that nature itself looks indifferently upon humanity. We see ourselves as special, but to the life process, we are just one of many alterations and/or stages that fuel the evolutionary process of change/life itself, a waypoint in itself, so we hold no special place. This can be extremized and epitomized by the idea of cancer (which is basically life running out of control, without boundary or structure, so the cells live but the host dies). The "big deal" though is, that unlike much life (at least as far as we are cognizant of), we are actually self-aware and thus understand what is happening to us, more or less, as these changes occur. Transformation, as who we WERE passes away and we become something other than what we were. In few other movies is change so unequivocally associated with death; it's got hints of Flowers for Algernon (for example), where a man who became very smart for a time now feels his intelligence slipping from him and he is losing who he had become.

Anyway, the whole movie is dreamy, shadowy, eerie, unsettling, alien. And humans are just putty for something that can rearrange the building blocks of life. How do we deal in the face of realizing our own malleability?
 

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Coco, finally. I used to be a big Pixar fan in the sense of immediately seeing their films. In recent years, for some reason my enthusiasm has waned a bit, but I did actually rent this from redbox because I knew the production would be decent. The film in some ways reminds me The Book of Life which came out on similar themes two years ago (so that and the title is what somewhat diminished my interest in seeing it immediately), but I guess I have to say (as is typical) that Pixar does typically take movies another step up. While the Book of Life was enjoyable, it stays on a less complex level than Coco, which better captures the complexity of human relationships and life themes. Nothing is really simplistic and people often act from multiple feelings and priorities, which Coco actually captures... so it feels more real. There's also a twist of sorts, which makes the movie better. I find the music in context of the film better than the covers of the songs I've heard elsewhere (including the Oscars). Also, a full Latino cast and a lot of Latino folks on the documentaries on the disc, so... the film was actually pretty neat.

Insidious: The Last Key, well, I might try to find a better copy and actually finish it. I gave up after half an hour because I was bored out of my mind, but I'm aware there are some twists in the middle that might make the film marginally better. The thing is, it was more that the first one was decent enough on its own (and even allowed the characters to do something sensible -- "our house is haunted, let's MOVE!" lol), but then every sequel was a step down and just a rehash of old generic ideas + resorting to periodic jump scares rather than doing something scary. Hilarious, they also have made the centerpiece of the series a character whose story was wrapped up in the first film; I understand why, since the character is probably the best part of every film, but it's not really enough to save this series, which is disappointing.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. This film is exactly what you'd expect from the trailers; it never really generates much tension and stays on the surface much of the time. The laughs are mainly what you'd expect from casting certain stars as opposite character types. What's surprising is that occasionally there's a real interaction between the characters, and there's an unexpected scene at the end that reaches a deeper place. The other thing that helps the film is that the leads all play their roles with earnestness. Whatever can be said about Dwayne Johnson, he's very likable and can be self-deprecating at times; and Karen Gillan is another favorite. (Kevin Hart does the Kevin Hart thing, and Jack Black gets to channel his inner teen queen, which he is okay at, but not one of his better roles.) This is pretty much a "time filler" movie that gets the job done and occasionally is a bit better than expectation.
 
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into eternity: a film for the future (2010) - a sobering yet dizzying look at the construction of onkalu, an underground storage facility for nuclear waste which is expected to take around 100 years to complete and hoped to contain the waste undisturbed for at least 100,000 years. experts involved in the project lack answers to many of the questions that this mind-blowing time scale poses, sometimes giggling nervously like naughty school children called to the headteacher's office to explain their iniquity as they speculate on what civilisations in the incomprehensibly distant future might be like and the ways in which they could possibly hope to communicate the horrifying danger of what the people of our time have left behind in the ground beneath them
 

Pyropyro

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@Jenny. Coco pulled my heartstrings more than necessary since my Grandma just recently passed away. I guess it's a good way of accepting the loss.
 

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@Jenny. Coco pulled my heartstrings more than necessary since my Grandma just recently passed away. I guess it's a good way of accepting the loss.
I'm sorry about your grandma and am glad the movie could be cathartic. I found it interesting since in at least white American culture our families tend to be more fragmented, due to the size of the country, the expectation that one's job validates relocation regularly, kids are supposed to be independent of parents, etc. When I was growing up, both sets of my grandparents lived three hours away, so I only saw them twice a year (although my mom called her mother every weekend -- something I do now with her, we talked 20-30 minutes typically once a week even if I only see her 3-4 times a year).

The family seemed matriarchal in the movie's framework, everyone living together / close to each other, and Coco played such a vital role in the family even when she seemed uncommunicative. But there was a lot going on under the surface regardless.

Even if memories eventually fade, I think it's good to note how we can carry with us people we have personally lost, who have meant something to us and who end up influencing how we live or what we pursue over the course of our lives. We carry the impression and image of them inside of us even when they are gone physically. I'm rambling now I guess but anyway I hope you and your family are doing okay and have many good memories of your grandma that stick with you.
 

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Ready Player One. Short version: Semi-enjoyable afternoon fluff but not much that leads me to rewatch at any point. The best parts are where the cultural references were actually relevant to character and plot; the worst is when they either were just merely empty image pastiches, had no relevance except sentimentalism, or even ran COUNTER to the essence of the reference in its real framework (re: Iron Giant).

I was rather disappointed, I expected more from it considering it was Spielberg + the book writer who cowrote the script. It just felt very dumbed down, especially now that I have been investigating the actual book and will read it shortly. It's a movie where to understand the cultural references you need to be 30-50 years old, but the script seems geared towards the maturity level and relevance of tweens.

I did catch some easter eggs at least which I had not expected to see in the movie, so I guess that was neat. The idea was great, the execution here was barely adequate and largely irrelevant.
 

Pyropyro

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I'm sorry about your grandma and am glad the movie could be cathartic. I found it interesting since in at least white American culture our families tend to be more fragmented, due to the size of the country, the expectation that one's job validates relocation regularly, kids are supposed to be independent of parents, etc. When I was growing up, both sets of my grandparents lived three hours away, so I only saw them twice a year (although my mom called her mother every weekend -- something I do now with her, we talked 20-30 minutes typically once a week even if I only see her 3-4 times a year).

The family seemed matriarchal in the movie's framework, everyone living together / close to each other, and Coco played such a vital role in the family even when she seemed uncommunicative. But there was a lot going on under the surface regardless.

Even if memories eventually fade, I think it's good to note how we can carry with us people we have personally lost, who have meant something to us and who end up influencing how we live or what we pursue over the course of our lives. We carry the impression and image of them inside of us even when they are gone physically. I'm rambling now I guess but anyway I hope you and your family are doing okay and have many good memories of your grandma that stick with you.
Thanks Jenny.

Funny enough, their family unit resonates with ours. I don't know if it's the shared matriarchal style (or in our case matricentric), the shared Spanish colonialism or the shared dread against the legendary la chancla (flying slipper).

Yeah, take care of parents and grandparents while they're with us and build memories with them.
 

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A Quiet Place. The hype's fairly justified -- and what's cool about this film is how QUIET the movie theater is especially in the first half and how this actually plays right into the plotline. You can hear people eating and opening candy wrappers and everyone is scared to make noise... just like the characters in the film.

Yes, there's some illogic in the film (for one small example, is it feasible for ANYONE to be alive after a year and a half if you can't even afford to sneeze or cough... because hey, you live in the country and SOMEONE is going to do that... or any other involuntary noise?) But it's really held together by the plot, the actors selling the story, decent editing/directing, and because the movie never overstays its welcome ... it doesn't belabor its point, it plunges ahead right to the ending without dallying about, while remaining a human story at core to maintain interest. The creatures are pretty much seen only in glimpses until near the end, and then they still manage to be interesting and scary (unlike, say, a movie like Shyamalan's "Signs" where the alien was dumb looking and just stood in the middle of the room doing nothing).
 

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Ready Player One
Semi-enjoyable afternoon fluff... It just felt very dumbed down, especially now that I have been investigating the actual book and will read it shortly... The idea was great, the execution here was barely adequate and largely irrelevant.
I saw this after reading the book. They definitely both exist at the 'candy' level of complexity. The love-story is below-average to fair though, admittedly, it would still be compelling to me even if it was worse than it is. It's just specific to my nerdiness and hopes.
The big difference you'll find is the book is a longer, more convoluted puzzle-quest. There's more hints about the world state being worse off, but both stories mostly avoid spending much time in the non-virtual world. Both versions have plenty of world-building problems, but not the same issues, funny enough.
At its heart, it's a graphics fest with pop-culture references. A bit of fun to watch (or read.) Though, curiously, this is the first film I think the 3D version detracts from. A lot of shots have a clear central image to focus on, but also have a whole bunch of fast moving 3D effects all around the edges. I found it very disorienting.
 
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Jennywocky

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Ready Player One


I saw this after reading the book. They definitely both exist at the 'candy' level of complexity. The love-story is below-average to fair though, admittedly, it would still be compelling to me even if it was worse than it is. It's just specific to my nerdiness and hopes.

The big difference you'll find is the book is a longer, more convoluted puzzle-quest. There's more hints about the world state being worse off, but both stories mostly avoid spending much time in the non-virtual world. Both versions have plenty of world-building problems, but not the same issues, funny enough.

At its heart, it's a graphics fest with pop-culture references. A bit of fun to watch (or read.) Though, curiously, this is the first film I think the 3D version detracts from. A lot of shots have a clear central image to focus on, but also have a whole bunch of fast moving 3D effects all around the edges. I found it very disorienting.
The 3D didn't bother me a ton (I've seen a lot of 3D films and own a number at home) but it should have been far more effective in a virtual reality, I think. And 3D in general has its problems (like how it muddies some of the crispness and color palette) in how it's implemented. I don't think this film was as great in 3D as it could have been.

just general comments not necessarily directed at yours:

The book is much longer than I thought it was. I just felt more of the grit of the real world in the first twenty pages than I felt in the film -- where pretty much everyone can walk around with VR goggles on without getting hit by cars or walking into buildings, and it's all played for laughs in the Stacks (like the overweight housewife poledancing). At least in the book they discuss existentialism in practical ways in the beginning, and I get a sense the world is not really in great shape; the Oasis is more a temporary panacea to make an unpleasant world palatable... so then when the movie starts issuing public service announcements like "You can't spend all your life in VR" and "We're shutting the service down on Tuesdays and Thursdays [like, is that a standard 24 hour period, or a rolling 24 hour period based on time zone, or what? And what about people who make their living off the Oasis?]" and "Don't share your real life info" -- well, it all just feels so fake to me. People go to the Oasis for a reason, and it's not because it's JUST fun. One can't just pretend it's purely recreational, there are real world problems that have to be resolved first if one wants folks to not obsess about the Oasis.

It also raises discussions about the locus of our existence and presence; if anything meaningful happens in the Oasis, and all we do in the real world is eat, sleep, and work to pay for our Oasis time, then where is our presence located? Especially if humans became virtual and not centered in our physical body, and maintenance was a given, then humans are no longer centered in tangible reality. It's interesting stuff to think about, challenging our assumptions of what is real, etc.

I'm immersed in pop culture stuff, I was into The Simpsons and similar shows when they first aired, and here there were some easter eggs but I just wish they'd had a more compelling story and universe... I want my movies to linger with me afterwards.
 

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Despicable Me 3. Kind of a "third movie in a sequence" meh film, rehashing what's been done in its own series + other animated hero flicks, where about 70% of the jokes are inert and there's no real meaningful character arcs. If your kids like the characters / film concept, then they'll enjoy sitting in front of it for 90 minutes, but from a grown-up perspective aside from one or two ingenuous sequences (like when Carrell has to play both twins playing each other), it's a kind of thoughtless film. Even the Minions sequence (which garners the most laughs) is an inconsequential tangent, it only exists to try to garner some extra laughs and market to the Minions lovers. Since I felt the first film was funny + had some heart to it, I've been kind of disappointed with the sequels.