The story of a young man’s adventures in the California pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (IMDb)
I dunno, amidst all its characters and plot lines, in the end it lacks a certain, ahem, thrust, with no clear arc or, heh, climax to speak of (the hypnotic back-and-forth between limo and truck came close but didn’t quite land). That said, its “slice of life” structure is certainly done very well, with the majority of its many characters and scenes quite memorable and mull-worthy (Reilly’s earnest Reed and the dramatic/comedic drug deal probably top the list). Great music and camerawork too.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
Katniss and a team of rebels from District 13 prepare for the final battle that will decide the future of Panem. (IMDb)
A perfect continuation of the devastating commentary on war from Part 1: uneasy scenes of sinister battle plans and shady propaganda politics intertwine with suspenseful ones of terrifying, exhausting, fruitless warfare (see Katniss’ response to her brief captor) to lead to a fitting anti-climax; there is no joy in victory, only lingering suspicion and pain and further violence simmering beneath the surface (slightly cheesy final scene aside). A satisfying conclusion to a dark dystopian tale.
Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. (IMDb)
Grim, ghastly, great. Could’ve capitalized on the momentum of the simple and effective good rebels vs. bad Capitol set-up of the first two flicks, but instead chose to sit in the darkness underground for a while and meditate on media manipulation and the horrors of war that exist even when you’re fighting evil: a remarkable pre-climax storytelling maneuver that sits better the more you stew on it. Well-shot, scored (Lawrence’s “The Hanging Tree” is truly haunting), and acted, as always.
A Las Vegas magician who can see into the future is pursued by FBI agents seeking to use his abilities to prevent a nuclear terrorist attack. (IMDb)
The main concept makes for lots of fun sequences (see Cris’ opening casino escape) but also one cheesy/creepy romantic subplot (“I’m her future”), while its dramatic potential (“Life is supposed to be a surprise, isn’t it?” “It would be nice”) is never realized. The cat-and-mouse action is entertaining when you ignore the cliche Euro villains and the fact that he’s running away from the good guys for no real reason (and he ends up helping them anyways, except not really–thanks, cringe-y twist).
A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there while another team approaches with another agenda. (IMDb)
There’s a couple classic Goldblum quotes early on (“Where you’re going is the only place in the world where the geese chase you!”) but he doesn’t suit a lead role, though he doesn’t really end up getting it anyways as we’re treated instead to a thin spread of characters we don’t really care for who are just running around in a weakly premised sequel-plot (how convenient, another island with dinos) that ends in a King Kong rip-off sequence. Suspenseful at points, but ultimately flat and generic.
An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley. (IMDb)
The book-ending narration is unnecessary. The frogs are a bit out-there. But the bulk of this 3-hour epic truly is a masterpiece of dramatic storytelling, as multiple poignant narratives–superbly acted–are brilliantly woven together in both stark and subtle ways, in the script and on the screen (see the swirling montages of tracking shots and an ever-building soundtrack found throughout; the character voice-overs lengthened into other scenes; the unique and moving cross-character sing-along).
“The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it. (IMDb)
A fun madcap crime plot with hilarious mishaps galore (see Walter’s car smash, the Germans’ failed extortion in the parking lot) is decorated by hilarious characters and memorable dialogue, most notably the three main buds (the bowling motif is nerdy excellence, BTW): The ultra-relaxed Dude (“That’s just like, your opinion, man”), the short-tempered Walter (“This is what happens, Larry!”), and the absent-minded Donny (“That’s your name, Dude!”). The dream sequence felt unnecessary though.
An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account. (IMDb)
The generic airport atmosphere opening sequence here serves as the perfect lead-in to this thrilling and claustrophobic ride where there’s an anonymous hijacker on board and everyone feels like a suspect. The suspense is top-notch here, with plenty of twists and chilling plot turns that keep you guessing as to who the bad guy is. The ending unfortunately doesn’t live up to the hype–it’s messy and uninspired–but Non-Stop still remains a solid and well-acted action-thriller.
7.5/10 (Really Good)