Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. (IMDb)
A patient, layered narrative does a remarkable job at developing our beloved characters (though some arcs are better than others: Rocket, Yondu, and the touching epilogue > the crazy sisters). Add in shiploads of comedy (not all of it lands, but Drax is always a delight) and this sequel’s almost more like a quirky dramedy set in a colourful 80s-tinged space setting than a superhero flick at times (standard “blow it up” climax aside), which is refreshing–as is the more subtly sinister villain.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

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A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business. (IMDb)
Patient and poignant cinematography and a persistently discomforting Kubrick-esque score fittingly portray drawn-out scenes in a dreary landscape amidst a long-scale soul-crushing story about the corruption of capitalism. Daniel’s narrative is compelling, but the parallelism in his feud with fellow false prophet Eli (Day-Lewis and Dano are both wonderful) is so brilliantly crafted (see the echo of the former’s baptism in the devastating final scene) the latter could have used more screen time.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

Little Fockers (2010)

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Family-patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor. Does his son-in-law, the male nurse Greg Focker, have what it takes? (IMDb)
A little old and tired, just like its characters, with a dumb plot pulled out of thin air (“Godfocker”? Really?) and over-the-top body/sex humour trying desperately but failing to get some laughs (see the finger-cutting; erection incident). Elsewhere, there’s a few funny moments (Dern’s small part is a highlight; Wilson’s Spacey Kevin is always good), and the marriage/family drama probably would have been decent if the film didn’t try and make it funny (see the uncomfortable hospital scene).
5.5/10 (Poor)

Meet the Fockers (2004)

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All hell breaks loose when the Byrnes family meets the Focker family for the first time. (IMDb)
A most minimal of plots is saved by the excellent cast, who play off their characters’ striking contrasts (to DeNiro’s no-fun Jack and Stiller’s awkward Greg is added Hoffman’s delightfully exuberant Bernie and Streisand’s free-spirited Roz) with natural ease and to hilarious results, as the script takes the chaotic tension impressively far (even deep) before the heartwarming payoff (see Jack’s “we’re family now”). Given the film’s length though, the silly son sub-story could have been cut.
7/10 (Good)

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

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A man and his wife receive a clue to an imminent assassination attempt, only to learn that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them quiet. (IMDb)
Technically, it’s aged badly, as poor sound editing and awkward scene cuts abound. An ill-paced story (see the sudden jump back to London) with a muddy premise (why did they need to kidnap her again?) and scenes more confusing than tense (see the unintentionally funny chair fight) don’t help, and neither does the mediocre acting (Lorre is a good villain, but the protagonists don’t grab you). A terribly repetitive climactic shoot-out scene is redeemed only slightly by its surprising female hero.
4/10 (Bad)

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

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When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals. (IMDb)
A strong yet subtle central character study (the detailed visual storytelling is perfect-see the paralleled grocery store scenes) of the relatable Ruth (with quirky Tony) is brilliantly joined by a blackly comedic and shockingly violent crime drama (with genuinely creepy baddies) excellently edited and scored. Its intriguing underlying discussion of revenge and justice doesn’t wrap up in a satisfying manner though, as exemplified by the too-easy epilogue to the devastatingly bloody climax.
8/10 (Great)

Hell or High Water (2016)

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A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas. (IMDb)
Aesthetically excellent, with its dusty, aching landscapes smoothly shot, rich soundtrack (a tense piano and strings theme alternates with melancholy folk tunes), charming small-town Texas sets, and Chris Pine with windswept hair. The story feels a little light in comparison (it would have been better to focus more on the compelling brothers and less on the at-times awkward cop duo) but it builds well and comes to a riveting climax (though the denouement leaves something to be desired).
7.5/10 (Really Good)