Sounds fun that they went for the uncanny valley on purpose.
I concur with everything said so far and will add that Hilary Swank does a great job of making you question which side to root for.
A friend came up with the idea of an “Editors Cut”. You know how director’s cuts have all the extra shit they had to leave out for X reasons? I want the opposite of that. Move it along people!
Instead of 2:20, imagine getting out of there in an hour fifty. Yes please.
The Corridor Crew did a good breakdown of the mother movie with the director. I’ve not watched the movie itself, but enjoyed this:
That was really interesting and informative!
The more I mull this movie over, the more I think it might actually be more A- than B+. It has aspirations of being a high-art chewy science fiction movie and doesn’t quite get all the way there, but the use of practical effects for the robot take the familiar plot elements and elevate them to a heightened level of tension.
Like, sure, relatively normal plot elements - but I could feel the urgency of it all. It was palpable.
I just realised I have a few movies from 2019 I’ve not reviewed yet.
Watched on a plane, so probably a bit more emotional than usual, but this move really got to me. I cried like times.
I wasn’t expecting the gut punch of beautiful lions running across plains while Beyoncé sang to me. I didn’t even know Beyoncé was in the movie, let alone singing.
The Lion King musical is probably my favourite musical album, and I still consider the original cast recording to be the definitive version of the Lion King story. It’s a better story, as they’ve added new things for some secondary characters. But it’s not just the songs, but also the score.
So this movie is some of my favourite music but set to a nature documentary? Works for me!
And it looks good too.
I tried watching this before, and really struggled to get into it. I stopped watching about half way through. Here are some quotes:
"I wanted a kids movie. But increasingly some Pixar movies don’t feel like they are for kids. They are dealing with the issues of a man going through a mid-life crisis, or other old man issues…
The whole outlook feels very baby-boomer-trying-to-come-to-terms-with-the-modern-world. That is not me…
I’ll get back to this movie and watch the second half some time, but only when I’m more awake and in a better mood."
So I was more awake, and in a much better mood. I’d just watched Lion King, and really got into it!
So I picked up watching Incredibles 2 again. Not from the start, but from about 10 or 15 minutes back from where I stopped last time, so I could take a run into it.
Once I got to the new stuff, here’s what I got to watch:
- A cocktail party.
- Ridiculing a teenager for being an enthusiastic fan.
- Conversations between adults sitting on couches.
- Messages about TV consumption.
It feels so old!!! Old. I’m 39 years old and even those things feels dated and old to me. How do kids even understand what is going on?
I turned it off again after the next action sequence because I felt nothing.
This movie just sucks. There is nothing inventive in it. Nothing. It’s just really boring.
Off the back of the massive disappointment of Incredibles 2, which felt like a movie for confused baby boomers, not children in 2019 (not even for me in 2019) I queued up something which looked more fun.
I tried out Lego Movie 2. OMG this movie is made exactly for me!
It’s great! Better than the first movie!
I was so impressed that the story is so wild. It’s not trying to have a plot that could be in a normal movie, but just happens to be animated (like incredibles 2), instead it’s playing with the idea that the story is happening in the conflict space between two different children’s imaginations, based on their Lego play sessions. Thrown in crazy time travel stuff which makes no sense except through the imagination of a child? It’s more challenging than most mainstream movies.
I could never be bored because every eight of the screen has a different joke or visual gag happening at all times. Like, for every second of the movie, eight jokes are happening. And each joke can be over within two seconds at the most! It’s dense with fun (unlike Incredibles 2).
Then there’s the music. I didn’t know it was going to be a musical, but it is, and the music is perfect! It actually feels like modern pop music, and really well produced pop music too. I was crying with laughter at “Not Evil”, and when “Gotham City Guys” kicked in… I almost died laughing. If a movie is for kids, why have super dated big band jazz music (like Incredibles 2) when you can have actually relevant pop music which knows it is trying to be catchy.
Again, written and produced by Lord Miller. With this and Spiderverse, they’ve knocked it out the park this year. Please just keep letting these two make animated movies exactly suited for me.
A background movie, but generally better than I remember it from 17 or 18 years ago. Pretty scary at points, which is good for a kids movie.
It’s also from the era when special effects were hard and expensive. So it all had to planned out. Also when something is destroyed, they actually built something, pointed cameras at it and blasted it away. That creates a real weight and clarity to the action than is possible even with 2019 CGI.
Okay, that’s all my movies watched in 2019! Letterbodx says 46 movies in total: https://letterboxd.com/lukeburrage/films/diary/for/2019/by/entry-rating/
New movies at the top of the list with 5 stars are Spiderverse and Lego Movie 2, with Gladiator being the only 5 star movie I’ve seen previously.
Surprise hits for me, that I wasn’t sure would still hold up but did, were Rambo First Blood and Last Action Hero.
Nods to John Wick 3 and Avengers Endgame for being good “final” movies in series, and to Lion King and Aladdin for being actually worthy remakes.
Bottom of the list is Independence Day: Resurgence. What the fuck was that movie. 0.5 stars.
Cats is a living nightmare. I’m so glad I got to see it in theaters.
I will preface by saying I have never seen, heard, or experienced the play. This movie is a horrific train wreck, and the play is probably fine. There is a certain amount of subconscious priming that happens when you sit down and see people in costumes acting on a unrealistic stage. That priming is utterly destroyed when you watch a screen full of CGI cat people dancing and singing in a CGI environment that tries to look real.
This is the first movie I’ve ever seen where the set itself fell into the uncanny valley. You’ve got cat-humans, ok, but then gravestones are about twice as tall as them. Trash cans barely rise above their heads. Utensils look normally proportioned, but then they start wearing rings as bracelets and your brain rejects the images being presented to you.
These cats are horny as hell. This movie has so much latent sexuality. Cat-humans nuzzle against each other. Cats-humans erotically drink from milk saucers (or just chug it straight from the spigot). Cat-humans get amped up on catnip and writhe all over the floor. A ton of songs just end on silence and heavy breathing for an extremely uncomfortable amount of time. It’s not outright repulsive, it’s just…alien.
I think the only actual thing I will damn as an actual fault of the movie is that the music is broken. I don’t mind that the narrative is threadbare, it’s a musical after all. The music is cacophonous. You’ve got jazzy sounds mixing with synths mixing with big band mixing with rocking guitars, and while fusion of genres is not an issue, the actual flow of the music causes your mind to reject it. So many lyrics are either nonsense Suessical words or oxymoronic wordplay. I get the intent. The cat world is supposed to be full of nonsense, fairy logic, and empty parody of the human world. It defies understanding. But the sound mixing in the movie makes it hard to understand lyrics that it all melts away into noise.
The camerawork was so empty and paradoxical I lost my understanding of what this film was supposed to be. Many of the songs have dance numbers, but in numerous cuts the dancers feet are cropped out. A lot of the characters have specific dance styles as part of their motifs (Victoria is a ballerina, Skimbleshanks is a tapdancer, Jennyanydots is fat) and yet half the songs are just an uncomfortable close up of a singer’s face while they sing. The movie is a musical but the narrative flow feels like gears slipping and jamming as multiple cats have a narrative song introduce them, they sing their own song, and then we get a jumble of spoken lines and sing-spoken lines. Your brain never has time to breath. You never get a chance to absorb or transition from the heightened reality of a song to narrative beats.
So many of the songs are just the same chorus repeated over and over and over. When the Jellicle ball commences, and all the cat-humans are dancing in a circle while chanting the same verse over and over, and the moon is rising to frame the pattern on the floor it’s literally every scene from a cosmic horror movie where the cult summons an elder god.
Idris Elba-cat has magic powers, and he exclaims “MEOW” every time he uses them
Ian McKellen-cat is dressed like a hobo, and he quietly mutters “meow meow meeeow meow” as he files into the ballroom
Jason Derulo-cat makes a bunch of ladycats super horny as he dances on a milk bar, he dances outside the building and just screams “MIIIIILK” at one point
Taylor Swift-cat sings and emotes so well it makes every other cast member sound twice as bad
Rebel Wilson-cat has a bunch of cockroach-humans dance for her and then she eats them
I’m going to track down the TS Eliot poetry that inspired it, because it seems like a super intriguing piece of art. This movie is not art. It is a beautiful cacophony of the film industry having no fucking clue what they are doing. This movie is what you get when the art in someone’s soul dies, no, actually, this movie is what you get when the art in 30 executive’s souls’ die and you make a movie anyway. I saw this movie with a friend who is all about Rocky Horror and they said this would be the perfect modern incarnation for Rocky Horror. I’m inclined to agree.
Outside of “Memory” Cats the stage production is basically how you described the film, except you can see the dancing of course and also its literally way gayer (as in it features a lot of male cat on male cat sexual tension) .
I was about to say - you have literally described the musical Cats. It’s just like that.
I listened to the movie soundtrack album, which isn’t every song but “highlights”. It’s not a bad version, but I certainly got genre whiplash.
So I’ve read through TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and did some light Wikipedia reading on the play.
The poetry is airy and whimsical. I see why Lloyd Webber was inspired to try and put the poetry to music, to my understanding the songs are almost a direct transcription of the poems. I kind of find that offensive to my artistic sensibilities; when you read the poetry, it gives your mind a mental meter that you follow. I could see going to an actual recital of the poetry, at most I can envision a version similar to the stereotypical bards of olde, with accompanying lute or harp. Music can exist to underscore the work, but the focus should be on the poetry itself. However, I am no musical expert, so I can’t justify picking apart the play music or even say that it is poorly made. Wikipedia leads me to believe there’s like, an actual structure to the play; despite the plot not really existing each cat has their own theme rooted in a musical style and the use of preludes and reprises to pull you along from one musical number to the next.
The movie does none of this. I used the word cacophony before, and I mean it quite literally. For songs that are trying to pull you into a specific loosey-goosey frame of mind it is sinful that the lyrics are not the dominant sound during them. I am not exaggerating when I say a significant amount of the film is unintelligible because the music and sound effects fight with the singing for dominance.
I think, by and large, there is also a total lack of translation. It is impossible to translate a piece of art from one media to another without altering it to suit its new incarnation. Cats the movie is performing adaptation in stages and fails completely. From the poetry I got a sense of fairy-tale whimsy. One can imagine sitting on a porch in a fantastical London, sipping tea and idly smoking while watching cats cavort around town. in the act of observing we ascribe personalities and identities to them, identities which are wholly alien and illogical, because cats are not entities, cats are a phenomenon.
There is also the failure of the movie to translate the stage play. Wikipedia would lead me to believe that Cats the musical was an evolution in stage theater. It was an event that changed the landscape of how musicals worked, an unprecedented level of bombast and technology being used to create a new type of musical. Cats the movie not only fails to do that, but performs an antithetical act to this idea. The movie is cheap, ugly, and soulless. One does not watch Cats and believe that a group of artists sat down to create costumes and sets that were a manifestation of their imagination (you know, art). This movie was like an occurrence of mob psychosis; a bunch of people worked together and expended a whole lot of people-hours to create trash. This movie was certainly expensive, and a grand majority of the money must have been used for nothing more than paying famous people to appear in it and communicate that it exists.
I think the poster of Cats the musical has more artistic merit than the entire movie. It directly communicates what the play is about, human forms combined with setting to create a Rorscach of Cats. It is almost sinister or intimidating in its aggressive simplicity. Cats the movie is nothing. It’s actors who spent months pantomiming in silly suits so that they could be covered in CGI that is both less realistic and less symbolic than a leotard + leg warmers. Cats the movie is soulless in ways robots will never be; robots were made with a purpose.
I just watched Sorry To Bother You. I didn’t know much about the film other than it was a satire about being black in capitalist america. And yeah, it is that is a very poignant way. But fucking hell, that movie escalates quickly into territory I did not expect at all. I think it’s a good thing I didn’t know much about the film before going in, just so the bizarre things that unfold on screen could wash over me, and thus I don’t really want to spoil the film. No, I’m totally not trying to mask that the film left me speechless and my brain hasn’t fully comprehended it yet!
Over the last two days I watched two more movies I want to discuss.
Yesterday I watched Mamoru Hosoda’s latest film Mirai. The film is about a somewhat spoiled 4-year-old boy who has to deal with the arrival of a baby sister, which of course leads to the parents being preoccupied with the baby and him feeling to have lost the love of them. As a result he is a bit prone to throw a tantrum. That is to say, until a middle-school version of his sister shows up to chastise him, introducing the fantastical element that is necessary to make a Hosoda film a Hosoda film.
The film leaves it up for debate whether the fantastical elements are real or just the boys imagination, though leaning towards the latter. They are filled with some very recognizable elements that the boy might know about and he may subconsciously be aware of, but the audience doesn’t know he knows them, e.g. the types of fish his mother had as a child. These fantasies are of course a metaphor for the boy slowly coming to terms with the baby’s presence and his role as an older brother. There is also a side plot about the boy learning to ride a bike, which feels a bid like padding, but also had some very beautiful scenes in them.
That the film features such a young protagonist is also kind of weird, and you could doubt whether such a small child really thinks in this manner, but I thought it was very entertaining. While it isn’t quite on the same level as Wolf Children or Summer Wars, I think it is a very competent and interesting film.
The other film I saw today was Parasite in the cinema. I mostly went because I heard the film was good (well, it took down the Oscars and nobody who matters was upset with it) and I wanted to go to the movies which I hadn’t done in a while. It’s actually kind of rare for me to go see this kind of film in the cinema, as usually I do that mostly just for action films. I didn’t know much about the film going in other than its success with critics and that it was Korean. I saw it with german dubbing, though most films here are dubbed of course which is why this isn’t out of the ordinary.
The film is about a very poor family slowly infiltrating the life of a rich family as tutors for their children and servants in an ever more elaborate scheme. This of course ratchets up the tension as the audience just waits for this house of cards to collapse in spectacular fashion. The film also features several rather surprising twists that I won’t spoil here. Unfortunately one of them hinges on an action that I certainly wouldn’t have done and really can’t see any motive for the people in the film to have done either, but I guess that is a concession to move the plot forward.
A large part of the film is also a comment on class divides, yet none of the characters come off as outright evil. The scammer family is scamming and also engineering the sacking of other servants of the house to make room for their other family members, but I had sympathy for them because of their life of hardship and because the entertainment value of their scheme. They also rather competently do the jobs that they are supposed to be doing. The rich family is detached, even somewhat callous to their servants behind their backs, and somewhat stupid, but are also being take advantage of without a true reason for becoming the target. The acting and writing also has these characters very well put together.
The movie seems to want to ask the question “Who is the real parasite, the poor people taking advantage of this specific rich family, or the rich in general who are living off the labor of the poor but show little to no regard for their welbeing”. Unfortunately the second part is only inferred and could have been made more explicit to really hammer things home. I still very much liked this film though.
Just an addendum, but I found it kind of weird that both of these films were largely set within the confines of an “architects house” with the design of the building playing a major part in some of the plot points.
Hachi: A dog’s tale. I was crying in the last 20 mins of the movie. Heart touching. All those who love animals and have pets (especially dogs - its a much watch for you guys)
Watch it and learn how loyal animals are to their masters.
Tonight I watched Mean Girls which seems a bit odd. The film is of course kind of old now and not really the fare I usually go for. However, the more american media I consume the more I see references from it so I wanted to see what is up with it and it had been sitting in my queue for a while. Weirdly, despite being the right age for the film (I was 18 when it came out) the film was never popular here in the german speaking sphere despite other teen comedies from that time such as American Pie were. This is probably because the central mechanic of the film with these high school cliques isn’t really a thing in our schools, or at least not to such a big degree.
To my surprise, the film was both surprisingly funny (though sometimes with dumb american gross out humor) and had a very good story as well. Seeing Cady’s character going from fish out of water to plastic queen to “a real human being” was rather interesting as a parabel about the stupidity of trying to fit in and the dangers of becoming what you hate by obsessing over it. “We are what we pretend to be” as the saying goes. I mean, the film is not a must see in my book despite it’s apparent cultural impact. However, I quite enjoyed it.
Jojo Rabbit is like if Wes Anderson made a WWII movie.