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Talk to the hand, or combine an idiotic viral TikTok challenge, a metaphor for drugs, a drama about mourning and a horror movie about possession and you have the genre flick of year, in which cleverly malicious directing, excellent actors and a heavy atmosphere in which the world of phantoms that may or may not mean well by people increasingly crosses over into reality. A more than respectable successor to films such as Get Out and It Follows. I’m trembling!
The older Miyazaki gets, the less literal and linear his work becomes, the less regard he has for classic narrative concepts and the more he makes films solely for himself without any regard for others. And thanks to that, each of his new works that we have the good fortune to see for the first time is that much more fascinating and unique. So, it is time that we stop recounting which elements and motifs that his latest film has in common with those that came before. The most beautiful thing about Miyazaki’s films has always been that rare opportunity to forget about everything that we are accustomed to in run-of-the-mill audio-visual media and to let ourselves be carried away by the creator’s unique vision. Not only does one limit the degree of amazement by relating this film to the master’s previous work, but doing so also diminishes the distinctiveness of the film itself, which requires an open mind. Let’s also acknowledge that the title, The Boy and the Heron, originated as a meaningless placeholder in the heads of international distributors, who didn’t know what to make of the original title, which didn’t fit into any established categories. Let’s thus call the film by its real name: “How Do You Live?”. The original title pays tribute to the book of the same name, which was essential for the adolescent Miyazaki and even appears in the film. However, the filmmaker did not adapt it, rather only using its title as an allusion, as well as for a semantic framework for not only his new film, but for his overall work. Just as the concept of time fades away in the narrative and the elderly characters appear in their youthful form and the generations of a single family can come together at the same time, Miyazaki uses the question in the original title of his film to speak both to himself and to us about his own past and present. In his latest work, the filmmaker, who has devoted his entire productive life (which, in the case of the workaholic octogenarian, means to this day), uses another such narrative to give us an expressive look into the inner life of a young man buffeted by trauma, loss and apprehension about the life that lies ahead of him. In that inner self, new worlds that simultaneously exude uplifting boisterousness and the weight of inevitability are created using the basic building blocks of reality and fantasy, cemented together with emotions. Together with the titular question of how we will live in the face of an oppressive world, Miyazaki shows us through his protagonist how he himself coped with growing up in the shadow of war and the death of his beloved mother. Using the words of today’s audio-visual media, we could say that Miyazaki’s new film is the magnificent peak of his filmography (so far), as well as a meaningful prequel to it. In this film, Miyazaki presents to us the duality of beauty and terror, love and anger, and simply life and death, as he has done throughout his career so far. Each new Miyazaki film is like a half-read book left in the middle of a shelf by a missing uncle who went mad from reading countless books. Those films’ renown precedes them and evokes in us a feeling of awe at being in contact with something that will inevitably go beyond us, as well as foolish concern as to whether the films will live up to expectations. Therefore, we approach them only cautiously and sometimes, to our own detriment, we refuse to give in to them. But it is enough to break through the first wave on the horizon and let it wash away all doubts, and then just peacefully sail with an open mind aboard the narrative, which is held securely in the hands of the greatest master of cinema. And yes, again, it is a journey that overwhelms us with imagination many times, but it is also a journey from which we will always have memories of those peaceful moments when we realise that we are suddenly as calm and collected as the characters that we are watching. There is nothing more precious, more terrifying, more beautiful, more agonising, more turbulent or more comforting than each new Miyazaki film.
The first half of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 looks like a compilation of jokes cut from a mediocre sitcom. The second half is just as uninteresting in terms of depth, but at least it has drive. The fatalism doesn't work and doesn't lead to anything decent. But surprisingly, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.
Just as stupid as last time, but a lot more entertaining. This time, Dom and his family face an enemy that's been preparing for a clash with them for ten years, and he wants to enjoy it. And most of the cast enjoys it too, not afraid to push the tenth Fast and Furious into comedy, but also pushing the most superficial characters to at least some development. Everyone here is trying and everyone here is having fun. Except Vin Diesel, who apparently still thinks he's making something like Hamlet with cars. Stupid, but fun.
Little mermaid Ariel doesn't listen to her dad and is more interested in life on land than she should be, and when she sees a handsome prince, she falls in love with him. Being with him is going to cost he, maybe more than she wants to pay. Rob Marshall delivers an inoffensive remake of a Disney animated film that's barely two and a quarter hours long, surprises absolutely no one, looks solid most of the time, and gets a fine actress to play the lead. On the other hand, the effort to offer anything beyond a big family film is non-existent. Go through it with your kids, it won't hurt. But why anyone should see it without them, I really don't know.
A collection of film clichés wrapped in mediocre visuals with a trio of influencers who painfully discover that doing shit on Tick-Tock doesn't make an actor. The product placement-laden teetering on the edge between boring and awkward may only appeal to viewers who like at least one of the central trio. For others, this amateur production has nothing to offer.
I've seen the first Spiderverse several times and I reckon I'll make time for the second one sometime in the future, and not just once. I'm a bit jaded about it now, though. The second animated Spider-Man is awesome and even more imaginative, playful and wilder in terms of audiovisual style, and isn't afraid to mix different styles together. It works well with the music and is simply great to watch. Plus, it works perfectly in the moments when it slows down and tackles romance, drama and emotion. You'll just root for a happy ending for these characters, even though it's obvious from the start that the road to it will be very thorny. Still, I do have one problem with Across the Spiderverse. It's a little too wild at times. The first fight with the The Spot felt a bit confusing and overly fast, and the same is actually true of all the action sequences, which are bigger and have an awful lot going on. I also had trouble keeping up with it a little bit. Even with the first film, I felt like the final battle needed a bit of a looser pace to enjoy it with everything, but here they step on the gas a bit more (it's a sequel rule, so that's to be expected), and I barely managed to exhale after each major action sequence, telling myself that it looked great, but at the same time I had to admit that I probably missed a lot of interesting stuff. I'm a bit sorry about that, because I would have liked to enjoy the movie to the max the first time and not think at the wildest scenes that I might have preferred to flip through an artbook at my own pace rather than watch a movie that was just crazy wild at times. A bit too much for my taste. After a second viewing, hopefully I'll be clear on whether the new Spidey is great or "just" damn good. EDIT: So I went a second time and knew what to focus on and enjoyed it a star more.
Every filmmaker with a distinctive style and unmistakable visuals runs the risk that if they stick to their style at all costs and don't go anywhere, what was fun and unique about their work may become annoying, boring and tiresome over time. Like Wes Anderson and Asteroid City.
Thirty-something Maddie needs money, so she responds to a shady ad. She's supposed to pick up 19-year-old Percy and show him what life is like outside the walls of his room – sex, booze, parties, trouble. That’s no problem for Maddie, but when she finds out her client is actually a pretty nice guy who just has a lot of problems, she starts to take her job a little more seriously. Also because she's got a messed up life herself, and this unexpected friendship might help her straighten it out a bit. No Hard Feelings may come across as an R-rated raunchy comedy, but while there are a few edgier jokes, it's actually a pleasant and unexpectedly sensitive show with perfect performances about how it's never too late to start getting your own life together.
I've had that famous John Williams tune playing in my head for about two hours now, and not because I enjoyed the fifth Indy so much, but rather because I'm in the mood to watch the first three episodes. I'll never watch the fifth one again, I'm almost certain of that. It’s not a completely bad movie, which could be said of the fourth, but it's just not “it”. The new Indy is carried by Harrison Ford and he's really trying his best, but he's just left on his own and he’s obstructed by everything else. The Fifth Indiana Jones film is visually bland and in some moments regularly repulsive, but mostly it has a boring story full of boring characters, and especially the bad guys are a bunch of uninteresting bums who are impossible to be scared of – Mads Mikkelsen is looking like he's about to start crying the whole time. Moreover, the treasure hunt itself leading up to the very weird (and slightly uglier) finale consists mostly of routine chases, because someone figured they couldn't have an 80-year-old Ford running around the set doing action shenanigans. James Mangold directs it all with no attempt at invention, and the result is at best a passable piece of craftsmanship somewhere on the level of National Treasure: Book of Secrets and a tiny bit above Uncharted, which is definitely not praise for this franchise. It lacks the style, the inventiveness and the evident joy that accompanied the first three films and, to some extent, the fourth. A product without soul.
If I were to write a review of Restore Point, the numerical rating would be average, maybe slightly above average, and might discourage someone from going to the cinema. That would be a huge mistake and, more importantly, something I wouldn't really want. This little attempt at Czech sci-fi that blew our minds with its trailer definitely has a lot to offer, and actually I'm still processing the fact that even in this country you can make a film that looks so good on a relatively modest budget. I'm not just talking about the quality of the effects, but about the production design, the work of the architect and the ability to learn what's right from foreign models and use it in a Czech film. To a certain extent, Restore Point is exactly the kind of film we were hoping for and shows that excuses like "we can't do it here" are really just excuses. Unfortunately, however, all those stunning visuals are not accompanied by a very interesting story. Restore Point is basically a whodunit, but unfortunately it's rather banal and boring, because it works with a minimum of characters and let's say that when Karel Dobrý is in a movie (and he does a good job), you somehow expect that he won't turn out to be a good person. As a crime drama, it eventually holds up with some effort, and there are some interesting solutions in the character work, but compared to the audiovisual aspect, the overall mediocrity and unattractiveness of the plot is almost distracting. I certainly didn't leave the cinema thinking I got ripped-off, though I'd be bullshitting if I said I didn't hope for better. Much better, actually. But for the sheer audacity to try the sci-fi genre here, and for how great Restore Point looks, its creators deserve your time and money for two hours. And then you can hope with me that next time it'll all go great.
I don't really get the blockbusters this year, I admit that, but with Mission: Impossible I was sure it just had to work out. Well, it didn't. I had that fundamental problem from the very beginning. The story looks like out of movies that were made twenty years ago. The whole plot with the artificial intelligence that knows everything and can predict everything reminded me of Eagle Eyes in its better moments, and Next with Nicolas Cage in its worse ones. And as the main villain, he comes across as somewhat out of place and not the least bit scary, which unfortunately also applies to Esai Morales. The plot didn't grab me because it felt sort of old-fashioned. It's as if the script was written by someone who still has a push-button phone, has recently read something about artificial intelligence, and calls his grandchildren when Yahoo crashes, telling them that the internet is down... only there's more to it than that. Aside from crappy bad guys with zero charisma and questionable motivations, there are also the occasional oddly edited action sequences, which are often unnecessarily long on top of that. The chemistry between Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell is virtually non-existent, and the film literally doesn't bother to work with emotion, stopping to let the characters and the audience enjoy and savour even the very major twists. After the bloated fifth and sixth episodes, Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie have simply served up some damn good Hollywood craftsmanship, but compared to the previous installments, it runs out of steam quite often and fails to offer any downright memorable scenes. But unfortunately, along with that comes a really stupid story, which leaves me a little afraid of what's to come in the grand finale.
I went to the cinema thinking that Christopher Nolan wouldn't make just a biopic. Well, it's basically a biopic for at least the first hour and a half. A bit more playful in terms of working with time planes, but above all, it's audiovisually imaginative and engaging in a way that all those academy-praised films like The Theory of Everything have little chance of capturing my attention anymore. Moreover, Nolan switches gears a little bit in the middle and starts to play a lot more with individual plot lines as well as genres, so that after the more daringly conceived biopic (which looks great in IMAX), Oppenheimer turns into a horror film at times, a psychological drama at others, and isn't afraid to be a courtroom thriller that even Aaron Sorkin would applaud. It's a bit of a shame that Nolan doesn't have more faith in his audience and always ends regurgitating what might seem a bit complex for the unfocused into a few sentences. I'd certainly have liked it if he'd pushed the line about the responsibility of scientists more and generally gone more in depth with the main character himself, but those are just small things. I was entertained by Oppenheimer for the entire three hours, whether Nolan was playing with image, sound, pacing and genres, or sticking to more traditional storytelling techniques, and just spicing them heavily with his audiovisual mastery.
The makers and I didn’t meet eye-to-eye. It is very possible that the new Ninja Turtles just didn't fit me and will fit you a lot more. That's how it goes. In any case, I left the cinema feeling not only that I wasted time, but also disillusioned, because I grew with the Turtles in the 90s, loved them almost fanatically (for purely practical reasons I wanted to be Donatello, because you can find a stick anywhere as opposed to a sword) and if my parents had to suffer like I did in the cinema today because of it, I'm terribly sorry for them in retrospect. In any case, Seth Rogen's version, whose humour I have a soft spot for at other times, has missed me in by a long margin. For one thing, I find his Ninja Turtles almost repulsive to look at. I understand that it's all about stylization, personality, and so on, but still, I probably shouldn't feel like I'm watching an unfinished film or a Robot Chicken joke stretched out over an hour and a half. It's ugly. And it's not very funny either, because the humor here is usually represented by scenes in which the four turtles are shouting so much that they can't be understood and you're just waiting for April, Splinter or someone else to make them shut up. The action has its moments, especially the opening in the garage, but once the mutants get on the scene, it goes down the drain as well. The result is an unimaginative, boring and pretty ugly thing that I'll try to forget as soon as possible. But like I said, maybe you will like the visuals, and maybe you can hear what the characters are talking about in that loud mess. And maybe you'll find they're talking about something funny. I'm not going to find out a second time.
Jason Statham takes on the ruler of the primordial oceans for the second time. And although Meg 2 is more B-ish and less serious than the first, it's unfortunately not much better. The main problem lies in trying to cram in as many themes, ideas, digressions and horseshit that go nowhere, resulting in a film that is cluttered and at times almost tiresome. And the decent finale is spoiled by childish humour. Even in the context of summer crap, the second Meg is mediocre at best.
Regie the dog has just been abandoned by his owner and he finds himself alone in the big city. Fortunately, he stumbles upon other stray dogs and sets out with them on a journey of revenge. Strays is a very simple comedy that stands and falls on harsh jokes, creative use of profanity and slapstick. Simple bollocks, but if you don't mind rougher humor, you'll have a good time for that hour and a half.
Jaime Reyes didn't want to be a superhero, but an alien artifact chose him, so he has no choice. Now he must protect his family from an army of villains who would like to acquire his powers. Blue Beetle is an unexpectedly fine old-school comic book movie that has solid action, functional characters, and doesn't try to bludgeon the viewer with a bunch of overblown effects. It relies more on a likeable hero and shows that with superheroes, you really don't always have to make everything bigger and louder. Don't expect anything new or groundbreaking, but it's fine. And after flicks like The Flash and Ant-Man 3, that's actually enough.