Blade Runner 2049

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Harrison Ford
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”)
Written by: Hampton Fancher (“Blade Runner”) and Michael Green (“Logan”)

Depending on how invested you are in filmmaker Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi/film noir classic “Blade Runner,” its sequel, “Blade Runner 2049” by Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), will either surpass your expectations or be, at least, a worthy companion piece that adds to the original’s expanding mythos.

Clocked at a hefty 163 minutes, “2049” revisits a dystopian world where androids known as “replicants” are hunted down and destroyed by cops known as blade runners. Two-time Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”) stars as “K,” a blade runner who is searching for the original blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) to get some answers he needs to solve a case. Jarred Leto slightly hams up the screen as a corporate villain who wants to create more replicants to do as he pleases.

First, Villeneuve, along with 13-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, who should pick up his first win ever this year if the Academy feels he has suffered long enough, creates a futuristic setting brimming with brilliance and style. Visually speaking, this is Villeneuve’s best work, which speaks volumes since every one of his prior films is memorable for the tone and look he gives the picture.

With “2049,” Villeneuve has more storytelling devices and tools at his disposal and the extra resources are evident in the way he and Deakins layer each scene to perfection through color and structure. This is especially true with the technology featured. While many of the ideas don’t necessarily feel groundbreaking (Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” felt more ahead of its time when it was released in 2002), Villeneuve’s vision is one of the filmmaker’s best assets.

Gosling’s laid-back demeanor can, at times, feel a bit canned, but when the script allows him to show some range, he owns his leading-man status fairly seamlessly, especially when playing opposite his hologram domestic partner Joi (Ana de Armas), whose AI-inspired character is breathtaking to behold. The love scene between Joi and K is depicted beautifully.

Still, despite its flawless atmosphere, “2049” doesn’t tighten up its convoluted script enough to make the storytelling as intriguing as it is picturesque. Questions arise about what makes someone human – emotions, memories, an actual body – but there is little room for an in-depth exploration of these interesting themes. If you consider the original film the mold from which every other sci-fi movie since has blossomed from, “2049” will have you hooked from the start. For everyone else, it’ll probably be an improvement from the first but still too familiar to leave the same kind of lasting impression the original has earned over the years.

Suicide Squad

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis
Directed by: David Ayer (“Fury”)
Written by: David Ayer (“Training Day”)

Love them, hate them, or merely shrug through them as they unspool twice a year, at least the Marvel films have one thing going for them: a cohesive vision. Sure, it’s not a romantic filmmaking one, like that of a gifted writer or visionary director, but at least there’s a house style in place that prevents their films from having to be saved (or salvaged) in the editing room. Three movies into DC Comics’ film slate—the closest thing Marvel has to a direct competitor, even though that’s not how movies work—and we’re still getting products that feel like they’re assembled out of hundreds of executives’ studio notes and test screening reactions rather than a decisions and imagery conjured up from a director’s heart and soul or words typed into Final Draft by a screenwriter. That’s why we have the option to choose from the theatrical and extended cuts of “Batman v Superman” on Blu-ray, and seemingly the reason why we’ve got this tonal mess plopping into theaters under the name “Suicide Squad.”

The premise is simple: in a post-Superman world, mysterious government hard-ass Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wants to put together her own super team of meta-humans to take up arms against whatever comes next that maybe isn’t as nice as Superman was. Thing is, Waller only has access to bad guys like super-sniper Deadshot (Will Smith), psychotic nymphet Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), fire-conjuring homeboy Diablo (Jay Hernandez), an Aussie guy who throws boomerangs and drinks beers (Jai Courtney), some giant alligator guy (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and, uh, a guy that climbs ropes really well (Adam Beach).

Waller’s proposal is cut and dried: these villains have no choice but to fight for the government. If they don’t, they die by way of an explosive in their necks. And if they do, they’ll probably die anyway. After stilted introductions and some interruptions from The Joker (Jared Leto), the group is pressed into service fighting the real-life witch Enchantress (Cara Delevigne).

With an erratic tone and butchered-to-hell narrative flow that feel like panicked responses to the critical beating that “Batman v Superman” took from critics (well, I liked it fine) and a fair share of average fans, “Suicide Squad” feels icky with flop sweat, the embodiment of the phrase, “Oh shit, we’ve gotta fix this!” After initial (fun and funny!) trailers were well-received, the movie reportedly underwent reshoots to inject more humor into the proceedings, and the stitching together of disparate elements of director/writer David Ayer’s script and whatever giant pile of sentient studio notes denied a WGA credit kicked out is as obvious as Robbie’s ass is in the marketing materials. While you’ll sell plenty of Pop! Vinyl figures and might even power through to a box office hit on this, you blew it again, DC.

Ep. 44 – Ex Machina, The Age of Adaline, Kung Fu Killer, Adult Beginners, Jared Leto’s Joker, and a wrap up of all our events of the past week

April 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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Click here to download the episode!

In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from review “Ex Machina,” “The Age of Adaline,” “Kung Fu Killer,” and “Adult Beginners.” They also discuss Jared Leto and David Ayer’s version of The Joker for “Suicide Squad” and recap their last week of movie-related events.

[0:00-19:19] Intro, Tommy Wiseau talk and Alamo Drafthouse events recap
[19:19-28:08] Jared Leto and David Ayer’s Joker for Suicide Squad officially revealed
[28:08-47:22] Ex Machina
[47:22-59:09] The Age of Adaline
[59:09-1:07:47] Kung Fu Killer
[1:07:47-1:19:15] Adult Beginners
[1:19:15-1:27:45] Teases for next week, giveaways and close

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To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

Dallas Buyers Club

November 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée (“The Young Victoria”)
Written by: Melisa Wallack (“Mirror Mirror”) and Craig Borten (debut)

If you thought actor Matthew McConaughey offered up career-best performances last year in “Killer Joe” and “Magic Mike,” 2013 only proves those roles were anything but a fluke. Sure, it’s easy to mock McConaughey for his rom-com debacles that have come and gone in the last few years (not to mention the unwarranted shirtless scenes that make the ladies hoot and holler), but there was really no reason to think his acting chops wouldn’t reveal themselves sooner or later. He had pulled his own weight in films like “Lone Star” and “A Time to Kill,” so it was only a matter of time before a few more well-written scripts crossed paths with the now 44-year-old actor from Uvalde, Texas.

Two strong screenplays found their way to McConaughey this year. In “Mud,” he showed his range playing a criminal on the run who enlists the help of a couple of young boys. Now, square in the middle of awards season, McConaughey gives us what will easily earn him the first Oscar nomination of his 30-year career. In the biopic “Dallas Buyers Club,” he portrays Ron Woodroof, an electrician/rodeo cowboy who is told by his doctors in 1985 that he is HIV-positive. Reluctant to accept his diagnosis (the epidemic is fairly new and Ron thinks AIDS is a disease only “faggots” get), Ron brushes off the news despite the doctors only giving him 30 days to live.

But as his health deteriorates, Ron decides to do a little research on his own and soon realizes his promiscuous lifestyle and drug use throughout the years have, in fact, led to his sickness. Ron, however, isn’t ready to give up. He’s also unwilling to believe his doctors are doing everything they can to save his life. Ron takes his treatment into his own hands and creates the Dallas Buyers Club, an underground organization where, for the price of membership, he makes unapproved HIV drugs he illegally brings in from other countries available to fellow patients. With the FDA breathing down his neck, he and his business partner and HIV-positive transsexual Rayon (Jared Leto, also in a career-best performance) fight through the system while giving hope to people who would, instead, just be waiting around to die.

While Ron isn’t what you would consider a likeable character, especially in the first half of the film when his homophobia is on display, McConaughey slowly brings viewers to a place where we can sympathize with everything he is going through. McConaughey’s drastic weight loss to play the role might be hogging all the headlines, but it’s more than his physical transformation that makes Ron a fascinating person. Credit for defining Ron on an emotional level definitely goes to screenwriter Melisa Wallack (“Mirror Mirror”) and first-time writer Craig Borten, who give us an effective character study of a man who refused to take no for an answer.  There might be a few fragile decisions made in the narrative from a historical aspect, but what McConaughey does on screen is enough to forgive “Dallas Buyers Club” of its storytelling shortcomings for the most part.