12 oktobris, 2018

First Man

I am not sure if it wasn't for how much I enjoyed Whiplash and La La Land I would've gone seen this "First man on the Moon" biographical piece. But boy how glad am I to trust Damien Chazelle won't make bad movies. It's been a long time since a film left me with such strong and lingering aftertaste.Thank God.

About the plot: We get to follow the life of Neil Armstrong (played by wonderful Ryan Gosling) from 1961 up until his landing on the Moon in 1969.
There is plenty to enjoy, so let's break it down. I will try to list everything that worked for me in the order of appreciativeness:

▲ THE MOVIE GOT TO MY GUTS! IN TWO DIFFERENT WAYS!! 3 times each!!! At different times I noticed I was tensed-up and holding my stomach or leg tightly. For this I can thank the team consisting of the director, cinematographer, operator and editor. Ryan was shaking, I was too. The other "gut-thing" was emotional. Got myself choked up in different parts of the story. As I am not good in history (wasn't interested at school, this is the only way I get some historical facts, basically), some of the "revelations" (for me those were revelations, probably there are plenty of people who know them) hit me hard and couldn't help myself feeling intense empathy. So for that big thanks goes to the director, Ryan Goslings performance and writers.

▲Ryan Gosling. Man, he can act! The power of transcending the character out of the screen and into your life for a couple of hours - not everybody can do that.

▲Music and sound effects. And also the lack of it when needed. Justin Hurwitz (soundtrack master in this one) also made music for Whiplash and La La Land. I enjoy the fact that I guessed that while watching and later proved myself right with fact-checking. I choose to highlight soundtracks because there are plenty of movies who somehow mess it up. For me the music should complement and enrich the visual experience, sometimes it should set you in specific mood, but not give away "what's about to happen". I think Mr. Hurwitz is on the same page here.

▲Mood of the film. Overall you get this calm, melancholic vibe and time from time you get thrown out by suspenseful and action-like parts. Interesting mixture that works. 

▲Couple of supporting role actors - Kyle Chandler and Jason Clarke both caught my eye. Luke Winters who played older Rick Armstrong (Neils son) also out-stood. He had just a couple of scenes but he delivered those neatly.

▲ I couldn't shake the movie off for some time after end credits. Considering it was a space related movie, it's even more surprising.

Was there something that didn't work for me? Yes. Although Clair Foy did a solid work, her character had substance I somehow didn't feel her and her relationship with anyone. Also I don't find the story itself (the part about landing on the Moon) that exciting.

Damien Chazelle, you have lifted the bar even higher for yourself. Three movies made. All three kind of epic. I have said enough.

P.S. To enjoy the movie, don't listen to me and lower your expectations.

Rating: ★★★★½

04 oktobris, 2018

A Star Is Born

First things first:
DEFINITELY A CINEMA MOVIE. Can't imagine how you will get "the right feeling" at home as this is music-filled piece.
Now the seconds:
A Star is born starts off with some strong and powerful string filled tunes that most possibly will give you chills (CHILLS!!) which to me is a rare experience. After that nice blast of bass, drums and cool vocals the story about experienced and popular musician who has somewhat typical rockstar problems keeps moving into a direction where he meets/discovers very talented wannabe singer. And the next is quite typical.
The thing is - while almost everything could be predictable (if you tried to guess and not enjoy what is in front of you) it is made that fluently and the characters feel so natural that predictability does not really bother you.
Bradley Coopers debut as a director (yes, you heard me. DIRECTOR) is all right, plot touches on some popular problems show business might bring - personal and within relationships. As I mentioned previously - nothing new. Cooper and Gaga did a solid acting, no argument there.
There were things that lowered my overall feeling, one of them - plot being very "I feel like I've seen this 15 times before...oh, wait..there is something different...yet still feels like I've seen this." (didn't bother me much, but I noticed). While main characters were strongly built, supporting ones were weak. Also think the ending could have been 15 minutes before it was and that would have been so much better. There was a great space where to finish it without making another cliched grand finale that kind of typically tries to suck everything out of you. Felt unnatural. Less is more I would say.

Good movie. Good music. Gagas' pipes and Bradley's voice - very enjoyable.
I should highlight that this was a cliched piece that I unexpectedly could enjoy. I blame the music.

Rating:★★★½

07 augusts, 2018

Searching

Went to see this without knowing that it will be "Searching" what I was going to see (that's the magic of movie theater showing "secret pre-premieres" where people go in blind and just figure out what film it is going to be by it starting to play. Only thing they do know - it will be something fresh and not available yet for audiences for a week, or two or something).
Anyways.
Searching is a story about a loving father whose daughter suddenly goes missing and his actions in order to find her in this media/mobile-oriented life we have now.
It's an alright movie for the most part. The visualization of it is different, very "video call", "web search from ones perspective" filled. Some bits here and there are comic-like because most audience definitely can relate to "parents on internet" subject. I've checked and critics have enjoyed this piece.
HOWEVER, I did not. I found the story to be something out of  "I've seen this! This is nothing thrilling whatsoever!" bag. Did not like the way how it unfolded and what turns along the way it took. And don't get me even started on the ending part. Feel quite strongly in a negative way when in a reasonable, realistic movie illogic appears and f*cks everything up, especially if it happens at the end. WHYYY. Ending part took away one whole rating star, no doubt. Soundtracks were tacky and too obvious for situations.
John Cho was good. I enjoyed his performance (speaking of John Cho. Columbus was a good indie movie. Watch that instead).
I can only dare you to go see this movie and then come back and tell me "your taste sucks!"...Or, you know, there is also an option of "you were right".
Cheers!

Rating: ★★

P.S. Movie is in Latvia's theaters starting 14th of September.

08 jūnijs, 2018

Ocean's 8

I think there are two ways to watch this IF you want to leave with some sense of enjoyment:
1) Get up somewhat early in the morning, take a cup of tea or coffee and go to the cinema (cause it's dark there and quality is way better then at home.....well, most of the homes I presume). And as it is morning, you don't really want to watch something deep, dark, incredibly clever or meaningful, right? I think you should be wanting something professionally made, easy-breezy plot-wise with some light touches of humor here and there, not too much action or detective-like..Right? Oh, and a good cast. That goes without saying and basically you should be wanting that no matter what time of day it is. This is option number 1 and this is the one I chose. I see another way how this can turn from mediocre to good:
2) On a windy, rainy or any other way uneventful/unpleasant Friday (or Saturday) evening take your bestestestest friend or couple of just good ones, take some alcoholic beverages (beer, cider, wine or something else I don't know about) and just let loose! But not too much, it's still a public place.

I guess you already gathered that this is nothing epic or outstanding. At least for me it wasn't except for the cast. All the ladies (I have to mention them all - Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina) were awesome and chill and very lovely to watch. The plot is very easy to understand I won't even tell you. There are no major turns, surprises, thrilling scenes, it's just pleasant and easy...like an Ocean film should be.
As for a 10AM movie - I did like it and the anti-complications in it. I give this one a YES.
Movie is in Latvias' theaters starting from 15th of June.

Rating: ★★★½

08 aprīlis, 2018

Detroit (2017 release)

Usually I "review" movies that are freshly in cinemas or show up on Netflix but as I haven't seen anything good there in past month or so (except Annihilation...which I think I will watch again and then write something) I have decided to briefly introduce you to Detroit - a movie from Kathryn Bigelow (known from Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker and probably others).
Detroit shows us some events during riots (actual events, just more dramatized, maybe..we will never know) that happened in 1967 in Detroit. It's a solid 2.5 hours a watch that starts kind of slowly but somehow you are thrown into action at the same time. Main thing is what went down in one motel.
During you get to see some footage from actual time there which is subtly edited into the movie. Enjoyed that decision.
What is this movie is about? Basically - racism and injustice. All I can say is that once again I felt angry, sad and hurt. Personally, I think the film found a way how to silently climb up on me and then at one point started to crush me down. And in a twisted not so twisted way I liked it.
I am grateful I didn't have to experience what they had but couldn't help myself to feel for the characters that were involved.
This might not be a movie for everyone (there are others out that in a way are similar to this plot/similar events. Racism and injustice in USA is nothing new etc.) nor everyone will like it as much as I did. But. The thing is.
I did. So I decided to type something here.

Rating: ★★★★

21 februāris, 2018

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Well that's a mouthful for a movie title. Anyhow..
I am sitting here and not typing for about 5 minutes now. I just don't know how to correctly express of what I'm thinking. Maybe I just haven't recently seen anything that is what this movie was...Which was....argh..Fuck it. Let's start from another angle.
The film is based on true events and it shows us a later (his mid thirties and later) part of Harvard psychologists and professors William Moulton Marstons life with his wife....and a student of his. During the runtime of the movie not only we get to see what was his input in creating lie detector test, how the idea and invention of Wonder Woman arose, we also get to experience quite juicy, richly described and visualized relationships of his.
In first minutes I already could tell that it will be a good time in front of the screen. How come you ask? I only had heard a few dialogues but already felt that the shown characters were deep, well established and diverse in their qualities and flaws. Okay, the flaw part might have been similar. But that is not that important.
What is important to say is that it is multilayered, passionate and also educational piece of art. All three main characters are so strong, smart, independent and played wonderfully by the attractive cast - Luke Evans,  Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote. They did a great job filling the room with different kinds of emotions and transcending them to the opposite side of the screen. I felt what they were feeling, thank you.
I can't really comment on music, cinematography or editing (wasn't bad, wasn't also anything unordinary) or anything else really. Costumes were fair I guess, the chosen color spectrum was nice as well but I was in it for the characters and the story. Don't want to get into more details about the characters (what I liked and what not) or the story itself. See for yourselves, that's the best thing to do.

A well written, interesting and passionate movie.

Rating: ★★★★

03 decembris, 2017

Mudbound

And once again Netflix brings us good cinema. Just when I started to doubt them. Thank goodness.
Mudbound is filled with hatred, hurt, heart and compassion and it tells a story of two families who try to make a living on the countryside of Mississippi. One is a family of color, other is not. Timeline when this happens is a bit during and mostly after World War II. Both of these families had one member joining and returning from duty. They both struggle, just in different ways. And that is what this piece is about.
I hadn't seen anything else from the director Dee Rees beforehand but this movie has me assured I will give a try from anything she makes in years to come.
When it comes to acting I am ready to praise the villain of the movie - played by Jonathan Banks. When a character can bring out such strong emotions out of me it deserves a notice. This is the time when I can say I loved that I hated someone.
Not in the spotlight for me but Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Jason Clarke also brought in some fine, diverse and believable performances portraying very different people in different life situations. I thank everyone.
Enjoyed hearing some of that gospel type of singing. What is more, I always appreciate seeing hard work done. And by hard work I mean labor, that getting-down-and-doing-the-dirty-ground-work not sitting in front of piece of paper, computer, phone, you name it.
Apart from seeing things I also enjoyed hearing quite a lot of monologues that went on in their minds. That was pleasant and felt like a little but cool change from other movies I have lately seen (and not written reviews, forgive me).
What I found as a problem was that it was too dark at times. And I mean literally-it lacked some lighting, especially at the beginning of the movie. It was almost pitch black and I couldn't see what was happening. I hope it might be a Netflix brightness thing or something. Another little thing was that some scenes felt too long.

All in all this was a strong enough movie to compete in getting some Golden Globes. I truly believe it. Not sure about the Academy Awards (though I would be happy to see it nominated).
This one got my attention and even reached my feeling hiding place. I cared. It deserves a review. Thank you. Thank you Mississippi and your damn heavy rain which brings trouble to farmers (not the main plot of the film, don't get excited).

Rating: ★★★★