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 Apex Predator's Film Thread Volume 2.0 
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Ghostbusters (2016)
See a film with a past/present member of SNL

Erin (Kristen Wiig, SNL 1) is trying very hard to land a tenureship at Columbia. But when googling her name, she notes to her horror that her onetime colleague Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is trying to sell their book online. They were working on proving the existence of paranormal phenomenon such as ghosts when Erin decided to depart, worried more about money and credibility. Abby and engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon, SNL 2) agree to pull back the book in exchange for Erin joining them on a call. The call ultimately leads Erin to believe again, but all three are fired from their jobs after a video of theirs goes viral.

While Jillian tries to create ghost capturing equipment, Erin and Abby try to get their business off the ground. They hire himbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and eventually subway ticket taker Patty (Leslie Jones, SNL 3) who has a knowledge of New York City and a re-purposed hearse. They try to capture the ghost and finds the paranormal activity leads to unexpected situations.

Also featuring Cicely Strong (SNL 4) and various cameos (including SNLs 5-6), the cast is solid enough. While not quite at hilarious levels, I rarely found the film less than amusing. I found that McKinnon stole the film from the other three and it benefited when it allowed her quirky nature to shine through. Jones also felt more like an equal and less like a sidekick or lesser character. And Hemsworth once again shows that once his roles in the MarvelVerse comes to an end, he might find traction as a comic actor.

The conflict between the main two characters is solved so quickly one wonders why it was brought up in the first place or why it was such a big deal. Much like the original, it felt like the special effects overcame the film's third act. And with all the winks and nods to the original, it doesn't allow this film to stand on its own two feet as much as it should have.

Overall, this wasn't too bad but it could have been better.

NEXT: A shrink tries to find himself on a long distance journey. I wish he had stayed lost.


Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:22 am
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Definitely enjoyed Baby Driver as well; it's a shame that, as an Edgar Wright movie, people may now necessarily take note of how great its action scenes were, because it really did have some of the best vehicular-based stunts I've seen in a movie since Fury Road, y'know?

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Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:39 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:
Ghostbusters (2016)
See a film with a past/present member of SNL

Erin (Kristen Wiig, SNL 1) is trying very hard to land a tenureship at Columbia. But when googling her name, she notes to her horror that her onetime colleague Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is trying to sell their book online. They were working on proving the existence of paranormal phenomenon such as ghosts when Erin decided to depart, worried more about money and credibility. Abby and engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon, SNL 2) agree to pull back the book in exchange for Erin joining them on a call. The call ultimately leads Erin to believe again, but all three are fired from their jobs after a video of theirs goes viral.

While Jillian tries to create ghost capturing equipment, Erin and Abby try to get their business off the ground. They hire himbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and eventually subway ticket taker Patty (Leslie Jones, SNL 3) who has a knowledge of New York City and a re-purposed hearse. They try to capture the ghost and finds the paranormal activity leads to unexpected situations.

Also featuring Cicely Strong (SNL 4) and various cameos (including SNLs 5-6), the cast is solid enough. While not quite at hilarious levels, I rarely found the film less than amusing. I found that McKinnon stole the film from the other three and it benefited when it allowed her quirky nature to shine through. Jones also felt more like an equal and less like a sidekick or lesser character. And Hemsworth once again shows that once his roles in the MarvelVerse comes to an end, he might find traction as a comic actor.

The conflict between the main two characters is solved so quickly one wonders why it was brought up in the first place or why it was such a big deal. Much like the original, it felt like the special effects overcame the film's third act. And with all the winks and nods to the original, it doesn't allow this film to stand on its own two feet as much as it should have.

Overall, this wasn't too bad but it could have been better.

NEXT: A shrink tries to find himself on a long distance journey. I wish he had stayed lost.


I wasn't crazy about the last act, but overall, I enjoyed it. I really dug Hemsworth's performance, and they all had pretty good chemistry.

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Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:28 pm
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I think if they were able to do Ghostbusters 2, it might have been better than this one.

You're right about the chemistry and being able to move beyond the (original) first film would have probably made the story better. And maybe with some experience, Feig would have been better able to work with CGI and greenscreen.

But I guess it's not meant to be. :(


Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:35 am
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Cinema International just revealed its lineup for Spring.

Bit disappointed there's no Orphanage, but there is a new Pablo Larrain to watch.

Lineup:

January:
I Wish (2012)

February:
I Am Evidence (2017)
In the Fade (2017)
7 Boxes (2014)*
Neruda (2016)*

March:
The Future Perfect (2017)*
The Liberator (2014)*
The Queen of Spain (2017)*

April:
Darkwater (2018)---Not a horror movie unless you don't like Asian Carp.


Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:23 am
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Thief wrote:

I wasn't crazy about the last act, but overall, I enjoyed it. I really dug Hemsworth's performance, and they all had pretty good chemistry.

I found the Hemsworth thing a little... comme ci comme ca. In that I didn't think the writing of his character was very good, but his natural humor shone through. But that's compounded by the fact that a lot of his "dialogue" was apparently improvised and it's not that good. Now, I don't need everybody to be great at everything, but I thought he pulled off the character that they gave him pretty well, given that he did not have good dialogue and some of that may have been his fault. Does that make sense?


Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:00 pm
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Wooley wrote:
I found the Hemsworth thing a little... comme ci comme ca. In that I didn't think the writing of his character was very good, but his natural humor shone through. But that's compounded by the fact that a lot of his "dialogue" was apparently improvised and it's not that good. Now, I don't need everybody to be great at everything, but I thought he pulled off the character that they gave him pretty well, given that he did not have good dialogue and some of that may have been his fault. Does that make sense?


Yeah, I understand your point. To be honest, I don't remember much of his dialogue, but I do remember having fun with his delivery and his performance, so I might agree with you.

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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:02 pm
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Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
See a road trip film

I remember in RT asking about suggestions to finish out my long gestating 2014 project (too bad I wasn't able to save the post before the forums destructed). This was one of them that was submitted.

My apologies in advance.

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a shrink who's lost his smile so he convinces his long-suffering girlfriend Claire (Rosamund Pike) that he needs to travel around the world to find out what makes others happy. But his journey takes several detours along the way.

There's multiple actors who might have some fun off screen as they got to hang out and get a nice paycheck for a few days work. But none of that translates on screen.

There's some moments where you wonder who was this made for. We see what is presumably Hector's inner child as he travels with cartoonish depictions of the journey. At the same time, there's also some very adult things that happen that might scar kids.

Right about the point he left Hong Kong to head to a monastery, I wanted to punch him square in the face. Here's why (mild spoilers follow):

Once in Hong Kong, he meets a beautiful young woman who is interested in his work. Fine. Afterwards, they spend the night in his hotel room.
Way less fine. Then he sets up a lunch where she's ultimately taken by her pimp. Yep, you guessed it, she's a high class call girl.

So, he gets to talk to a businessman who apparently paid for her for the night. Does he confront him about a possible ruined relationship? Punch him square in the jaw? Nope, he says his goodbyes like nothing happened. WTF, film?


I think the charges of racism are a bit harsh because every character consists of the thinnest possible sketch right down to the main people. The homilies are just weak. And this is the same director that did Hannah Montana: The Movie?

Get outta here with that noise!

NEXT: The art may be strong, but how was the film?


Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:56 am
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Loving Vincent (2017)

The first thing you notice is how artistic the animation is on Loving Vincent. I think having 100 painters or so working on it might be a good explanation for it. It feels like you're walking in an oil painting, perhaps done by Van Gogh himself.

While it took four years to get the technique down (also involving extensive green screen), I kind of wish they spent as much time on the story.

The story? Armand (Douglas Booth) is entrusted by his postman father (Chris O'Dowd) to deliver Vincent's last letter to his brother Theo. While reluctant at first, he ultimately makes the trip to Paris. But complications ensue as he learns of Theo's death and more of how Vincent died and how he lived his final days.

I liked how they did the whole mystery angle to keep you hooked as you're watching the art unfold onscreen. But I do wish they had revealed more about his life while it was taking place.

Also, the mystery itself turns out to be much ado about little. Don't worry about how he died, worry about how he lived, one character says. We would if the filmmakers would share that. But if you make such a big deal about the mystery, try to solve it or do something that made sense.


It does tackle some of the mental issues suffered by Van Gogh and how everything affected the life of his loving brother Theo . And yes, they do tackle why he cut off his ear.

This animated tale is well done, but I think the story lacks something to keep up with the impressive animation.

Next: Speaking of lacking, a priest worries about how his church will depict a nativity scene without a centerpiece.


Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:23 am
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A Parish Priest's Christmas (1906)

A priest realizes that his nativity scene is missing baby Jesus and when he realizes he doesn't have enough money to buy one, decides to ask his parishioners for help. But they're a bit short too. Perhaps, Christmas might prove to be surprising for them anyway?

Although I wish they had been a bit more clear with the premise of the film (I had to look it up afterwards, usually a minus), I did enjoy the final couple of minutes which felt well done considering when this film was made. This film was made by Alice Guy-Blache, the world's first female director so there's that as well.

It's pretty short and on Youtube so if you have 6-7 minutes to spare, then why not?

NEXT: This variation on an old chestnut has 99 problems, but Doctor Who ain't one.


Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:11 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Loving Vincent (2017)

The first thing you notice is how artistic the animation is on Loving Vincent. I think having 100 painters or so working on it might be a good explanation for it. It feels like you're walking in an oil painting, perhaps done by Van Gogh himself.

While it took four years to get the technique down (also involving extensive green screen), I kind of wish they spent as much time on the story.

The story? Armand (Douglas Booth) is entrusted by his postman father (Chris O'Dowd) to deliver Vincent's last letter to his brother Theo. While reluctant at first, he ultimately makes the trip to Paris. But complications ensue as he learns of Theo's death and more of how Vincent died and how he lived his final days.

I liked how they did the whole mystery angle to keep you hooked as you're watching the art unfold onscreen. But I do wish they had revealed more about his life while it was taking place.

Also, the mystery itself turns out to be much ado about little. Don't worry about how he died, worry about how he lived, one character says. We would if the filmmakers would share that. But if you make such a big deal about the mystery, try to solve it or do something that made sense.


It does tackle some of the mental issues suffered by Van Gogh and how everything affected the life of his loving brother Theo . And yes, they do tackle why he cut off his ear.

This animated tale is well done, but I think the story lacks something to keep up with the impressive animation.

Next: Speaking of lacking, a priest worries about how his church will depict a nativity scene without a centerpiece.


I'm curious about this one mostly because of the animation.

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Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:26 am
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Mostly agree with your Loving Vincent thoughts. The frosting was pretty but the cake underneath wasn't quite fully-baked. Here's my thoughts from last year:
Captain Terror wrote:
Of course the first thing one has to mention about this one is the technique used to create it. (The actors were filmed in live action, after which each individual frame was recreated as a separate oil painting done in the style of Van Gogh. Something like 60,000 paintings all told.) Now I gotta admit, as an artist I'm pretty lazy so when I hear about an undertaking like this my first thought is "why would you make your life so difficult?" So I'm not necessarily impressed with the concept such as it is. Also, a process so tedious and time-consuming is not exactly in the spirit of Van Gogh, given that a large part of his appeal is the immediacy of his paintings. Still, the results are lovely to look at so, well done. I certainly appreciate the labor involved. The problem is that the end result is a 90-minute movie that one must sit through and I can't say that it totally succeeds on that level. Like if you remove the oil painting gimmick I'm not sure I'd want to sit through the live action version of this. I'm a Van Gogh fan so the events in the film are not anything I didn't already know, and the acting & script has a sort of amateur hour vibe to it. Saoirse Ronan is in there somewhere and maybe another guy I've heard of, but that's about it for star power. And the directors don't really have any past credits to hang their hats on. So while I hate to discourage anyone from watching something that took so much effort to create, I nevertheless think that a much shorter version of this would've been a better idea. This is a case where I'd probably watch the "making of" features more often than the actual film.

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Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:43 am
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A Christmas Carol (2015)

For the past year, I've more or less being trying to watch films that met particular categories in Thief's thread. For December, he suggested a series of Christmasy categories.

I've seen several Christmas Carol films (the one with Reginald Sim and I think maybe the Patrick Stewart one?), but I've never fully been on board with those.

My original thought was fine, I'll go watch the Jim Carrey A Christmas Carol movie. Knock out both the category and the animated film one as well.

NOPE

After a bit of a search on InstantWatch, I stumbled on this recently arrived version on Amazon Prime. Featuring sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker (not to be confused with the superior Tom) and just barely over an hour, I thought "Well, what's the harm?"

Ha ha ha ha!

Colin Baker does show up as promised to serve as narrator (as Charles Dickens, no less) but the problems start with Ebenezer (Anthony DP Mann, who also directed).

For starters, he looks more like clerk Bob Cratchit (played here by Dave Hudson).

Second, he's more like you might find in a community theater version than in a $1,000,000 movie (yes, that's the actual cost).

Well, this pretty much follows closely to the original book with Marley and the three ghosts deciding to pay a visit to the heartless Scrooge. Although I'm sure Dickens would not like to be known as writer of this one (suggested by or based on, maybe).

The writing, the direction, CGI (yes, there's CGI but it's pretty poorly done, big surprise) are all pretty poorly done. And then, let's talk about the music. Instead of a musical with full songs, you get on the nose snippets that make you wonder if this is really from the directors of God's Not Dead.

Colin Baker tries, bless his heart, but even he can't overcome the amateurishness of all this.

Considering he's played Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, and Scrooge, considering he's directed 6 of his 7 films he's been in, and considering he's written 3 of them, it's fair to say that Anthony DP Mann is perhaps a Tommy Wiseau in the making. Too bad this doesn't come close to the unintentional entertainment of The Room.

Boil this one in its figgy pudding.

NEXT: Loud, dumb box office bust.


Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:17 am
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Thief wrote:

I'm curious about this one mostly because of the animation.


I gave this one a B.

The animation is great, the story's not too bad. Just keep expectations in check.


Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:19 am
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Monster Trucks (2017)

The big surprise isn't that the millions of dollars spent on making the creature named Creech more likable didn't work. It didn't. It isn't that it appears to have taken a long time to get from concept to screen; the song Home at the end kinda confirms this.

It's that a film that got off to a slow start improved as it went.

Teenaged Tripp (Lucas Till) is a young man whose parents split over the local oil factory. His mother (Amy Ryan!) is currently seeing sheriff Rick (Barry Pepper) and being a typical teen, he doesn't see eye to eye with the new beau. He also pines to turn his fixer-upper truck into a big truck to impress this girl who is into a rival.

But one night while working in the junkyard belonging to Mr. Weathers (Danny Glover), he happens upon Creech, an oil drinking creature that combines ET with tentacles. At first frightened, Tripp comes to see the charms of the creature even as it places him against oil company owner Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) who wants him captured and deep-sixed. With the help of smart Meredith (Jane Levy), he attempts to get Creech back home to his parents and to freedom.

It takes a little while for this movie to find a rhythm, but once it does, it starts to be compelling and interesting. I liked how they didn't dumb down Meredith's character or turn her into a love-struck damsel in distress. It allowed her to science (the same can be said for Thomas Lennon's scientist who works as Reece's assistant).

I could have dealt without the belching and vomiting, but it comes pretty close to being OK. And that's something I wouldn't have guessed during the opening 10-15 minutes.

NEXT: Unconventional actor makes the rounds of one Santa Claus for a competition.


Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:28 am
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