Today’s movie: Rogue One

“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope! ” – Jyn Erso

Now that’s a Star Wars I like to see!
Without hesitation the best Star Wars movie of the last decade (as of Jan. 2017). That’s not a hard feat though I must admit. But it brought far more to the cinematic universe of Star Wars than the last “Episode”. Not in the holes it fills, but more in the quality of the story, movie and its overall originality.

Now I can hear some of you screaming in the back, that’s not part of the main nonalogy (nonalogy? nonology? ennealogy?), it’s a standalone movie, it’s not really Star Wars. Well, tell you what, I don’t care. Disney decided to go non-canon anyway, so for me it’s just another movie in the alternate Star Wars universe.

Now that’s probably a targeting strategy for all of us who thought that Force Awakens was more of a disgrace than Ep. I, II, III. But it worked, I liked it, and now I want to see the next episodes. You got me Mickey Mouse!

Mike Mitchell‘s Mickey Mouse – $$$

The opinions were not undivided, but I liked it. There is something to this movie that is more human and makes it more plausible compared to the others in the series. It’s about small things. Like the stains and dust on spaceship windows, hyper-space light reflections during hyper-drive, the actual need of hyper-drive, the actual need of space travel, the reality of occupation by the Empire. In the end it made the movie much more believable to me.

But one of the things that I really liked was the way Jyn Erso character was developed throughout the movie. You could grasp her complicated views on the Rebellion and the Empire. You could feel her fears and doubts, you could see her think, understand her own awareness of the events and her place among them. She appeared as human as you can be. So it was really natural for me to attach to her character. And all that contributed to my realization that, in the end, she displayed real courage. See, you love people for what they really are, their inner self. And the movie tried to emphasize just that, what she really is.

It also presented the more hazy face of the Rebellion and the Empire by displaying both factions as more organic entities with their own internal political struggles, conflicting ambitions and ideals. This resulted in a story that had a bit more to offer by detaching itself slightly from the manichaean vision of the episodes.

It was also beautiful and thrilling. The pace was really good, and it contributed a lot to the intensity of the movie, especially in the latter parts. In the end all that contributed to a story that was most of the time really enjoyable.

Now that’s not to say that the movie was without flaws.

First, the most obvious, resurrecting dead actors with completely CGIed characters, just forget about it, seriously! It does not work yet, like not at all. Peter Cushing looks like some kind of evil puppet that suddenly became self aware but still has a really hard time figuring out what it is to behave, move and talk like an human being. Carrie Fisher was fine, but only for the fact that you see her for a couple of seconds.

“USE-THE-FORCE-LUKE”
A robotized version of Sir Alec Guinness plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in a future Star Wars installment.
– Robby the Robot portrait by Iain Claridge

The movie tries hard not to fall into the SixFlags camera shooting syndrome (where some scene look more like they were filmed from a rollercoaster than anything else) or the far too common InYourFace syndrome trying to abuse the sensational. Sure some scenes will make you cringe a little, but it’s still not as bad as The Hobbit for instance.

There are the obligatory two cents jokes and somewhat not-always-that-subtle cameos. But there are some who apparently think that you cannot make a movie without those nowadays. While I’m OK with nods to older episodes as long as they do not show up too frequently to feel like distractions, putting a stupid not funny at all joke at the end of a 30 seconds action scene can ruin not only the scene, but also the characters and butcher the story credibility.

Lastly I think that the movie really has one big flaw, it’s its non-homogeneous way of handling the characters. Like I said Jyn Erso character is well developed and this really adds to her credibility. Others like Cassian Andor or Cpt. Obvious (K-2SO) are also fine, and the latter makes a nice and funny support character.

On the other hand some characters were developed on a completely different dimension. I think in particular of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus. They did not add that much to the plot, they got some of the worst and almost all clunky lines, and I couldn’t help but to see them as a dead weight couple that somehow found himself playing in the wrong movie.

I may seem a bit harsh but I really think you shouldn’t add characters just for the sake of it. Even so with the laudable intention of completing the story by the addition of new components. The story that the movie tries to convey must act as a coherent whole. And in this case it could have been much better articulated over fewer characters.

That being said I’m now eagerly waiting for the next episodes. With a bit of apprehension though considering Rian Johnson (Ep. VIII) and Colin Trevorrow (Ep. IX) filmography. Looper left me a bit unimpressed and that habit of throwing successful TV series directors or writers (even when that was only for a handful of episodes) in charge of tent poles movies never turned out well for me. And don’t even get me started on Jurassic World. But in the end only time will tell!

Today’s movie: Personal Shopper

Lewis ?

At last, a nice movie on the fringe of supernatural!

Personal Shopper by Olivier Assayas, not your classical ghost movie. It is sometimes difficult to see where the movie is going, but it reveals itself fully in the end. Also if you thought you knew Kristen Stewart, think again! She delivers a great performance which really adds to the mood of the movie.

Today’s movie: They Live

I thought you understood. It's business, that's all it is.

I thought you understood. It’s business, that’s all it is.

I’ve been confronted to a lot of 80s synth music lately so this prompted me to watch some John Carpenter classic, and here it is directly from 1988, They Live. Full of catchy lines, is it an allegory, a fantasy or just a documentary?

Today’s movie: Gravity

Gravity

F*** classical mechanics.

I’ve finally seen Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón. I remember that this film was so praised for its visual effects and now I finally got to see it. That’s about time! The first fiften minutes or so were really thrilling. I really was under the impression that in space, no one can hear you scream. And I coud feel the relentless and terrifying apathy of cosmos.

But that was about everything there is to it as the rest of the movie lacked anything of substance and I wondered if this wasn’t just a demo for the use of 3D in cinema. It  just seemed to me that the movie jumped to the end credits with nothing to tell. And I keep asking myself, what’s this movie all about?

Beside it was beautiful and visually stunning. I didn’t see it in 3D, and I’ve heard that it propels the movie to a whole new level. Also it is said that this is one of the few movie that is worth watching in 3D. But this fad is dying fast.

Although I never really believed in this trend, 3D brought far less to the cinema than the arrival of sound and color. It does not help to immerse the viewer deeper into the story. If you want this, perhaps you would need complete VR, but that is an entirely different medium.

Today’s movie: The Lobster

Would you like to dance?

Would you like to dance?

The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, Jury Prize at Cannes festival. I really wanted to see this movie although I didn’t really know what to expect. Now that we’ve seen it, it’s really hard to give it a specific genre. We came to the conclusion that it is just disturbingly horrible. The same feeling that you have when you are faced with something really horrible, yet totally real, but so horrible in fact that you don’t want to accept it. It was like a gigantic kick in the ass. A burdensome fable that still haunts me and makes me feel nauseous. Probably not everybody’s movie, but still a really great movie.

Today’s movie: The Martian

The Martian

The Martian directed by Ridley Scott based on a novel by Andy Weir. Considering the last science fiction movie directed by Ridley Scott, I waited for this movie with a bit of anxiety. I still think Scott is a great director, but a butchered plot really can ruin everything.

Annnnnd… I really enjoyed it! It was like watching Prometheus again, except that the plot actually made sens. Damon Lindelof is an awful writer, some have gone so far as to call him an anti-Midas because it seems like everything that he touches just turns to shit. But this isn’t a Prometheus review…

Matt Damon already knows a thing or two about being stranded on a distant planet. But don’t get me wrong, this movie is entirely different.

Dr. Mann I presume

Dr. Mann, I presume? [Interstellar]

The Martian is fun, optimistic and keeps its feet firmly on the ground, well Martian ground to be more precise. While dancing around a black hole made for Interstellar breathtaking moments, The Martian can be summarized as Man versus Mars. Put in other way while Cooper’s crew carried on their shoulders the last hope of humanity, Mark Watney is by all standard simply that – an ordinary man.

The Martian [xkcd]

By the way there is still something I’ve a hard time to find out about this movie. And I wish I could see it again just for that. From time to time you can see a personage programming to solve some random problem, the camera switches to some computer screen and you can briefly see the source code. I noticed semicolons, and perhaps arrows, but could not pinpoint which language it was. Still it seemed familiar. So if anyone knows better.

Today’s movie: Cafard

It’s been a long time since I last posted about a movie. Truth is, there are so many movies that I’ve seen since then that I wanted to talk about, but finally didn’t seem to find the time. So I postponed to the next week, and then to some week-end eventually and finally I didn’t post anything.

Actually it’s been so long that I’ll probably have to watch all those movies again before I can post about them. I don’t mind this though, and will probably watch them again anyway. But I really think I should post  ASAP and try my best to keep it short.

That was for the short update. Now for the movie…

Я люблю тебя

Я люблю тебя

Cafard by Jan Bultheel inspired by the true story of the Belgian ACM corps sent to Russia to fight the German army in 1915. Not a movie about war, if you ask me, or not only. But a great and colorful animation for adult.

Today’s movie: Interstellar

Interstellar

 

We start this new series with Interstellar by Christopher Nolan. I did not expect to watch this movie. Actually you must know that I was somewhat apprehensive. To me this movie was a direct inspiration from The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. This book stirred me so hard. To the point it has partly shaped my vision of life, and of the place we have here. I felt that no movie could ever render this. And I (deeply) feared to see one of my favorite science fiction novel trampled on by yet another gargantuan sf blockbuster overflowing with CGI in every possible direction with a bunch of heroes saving the world (again) because you know that’s just what heroes are for anyway.

Well I must admit, this is what I just saw, yet I was agreeably surprised. And the emotional impact that built all along the movie far outreached my expectations. I found myself multiple times begging for the storyline not to slip into one direction or another, because I felt that all this tension would deflate grotesquely like a dismaying soufflé, only to find minutes later that it was still ok.

The movie itself is not without fails. It is extremely ambitious. And as someone would naturally expect, it misses the point from time to time. It sometimes drew itself too far into the drama to the point that the story was loosing its legitimacy. Some scenes deserved to be more explored, and the fast paced rhythm contrasted too much with the heavy atmosphere of interstellar travel through the vastness and solitude of space combined to the ultimate hope of humanity that the movie tried to convey. These two themes go very well together. But they must be treated with due respect and certainly not as a way to blow up things and acting as a show-off.

Best acting goes for Anne Hathaway (Brand). On the other hand Cooper, Matthew McConaughey’s personnage, sometimes lacks conviction that would benefit to some key parts of the movie. Dialogues are somewhat clunky, and that certainly didn’t help. There are multiple unassuming nods to other sf movies. 2001 being one of them though both movies are still far apart. I was also pleased to see another nod to Arthur C. Clarke, The Garden of Rama.

In conclusion, my impression is that this movie could have been something awfully good. But it is not bad either. I’d even go to say that it is good up to very good.