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Movie: Snowpiercer (2013)
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****
Notes: After humanity inadvertently self-destructs by freezing the planet solid with geoengineering, all that's left of the human race are the inhabitants of a tourism train-turned-survivalist habitat, endlessly circling Eurasia on a fusion reactor, and harboring an imminent revolution by the dregs at the back of the train against the pampered, predatory upper class in the front. Think Jean-Pierre Jeunet meets Chan wook-Park meets Paul Verhoeven. That it's based on a French graphic novel is what gives it the dark, surrealistic, steampunk-esque whimsy rather than the writer or director, who instead focus mainly on ramming the plot forward without a break, going from one car to the next, swinging from absurdity to ultraviolence to dystopian sci-fi between breaths. Chris Evans is adequate, but his relatively sane character clashes with the other unstable and broken residents. Tilda Swinton, however, brilliantly focuses the dark humor as the totalitarian matron representative from the front. There's plenty of pervasive symbolism that's a little hard to grasp, but an equally large amount of stylish flourishes that recall Asian action films. These flourishes are often borne of frequent scenes of ultraviolence, similarly originated. Several scenes are sarcastically cynical, biting satirical political statements that were last seen in "Robocop" or "Starship Troopers". It ends precipitating an entirely different story which we might get to see as it's been optioned for a TV series. Hugely entertaining and fantastical, but also grim and bleak. A creative masterpiece that constantly feels like it's about to derail.

Movie: A Most Wanted Man (2014)
Rating: * out of *****
Notes: Philip Seymour Hoffman's second-to-last film relates a German secret agency official's efforts to manipulate and conflate the appearance of a potentially dangerous illegal immigrant seeking his father's fortune with the suspicious money laundering by a charitable Islamic organization. It's not just Hoffman who plays his character understated - everyone in the film mutters through their lines without a hint of passion and even less emotion. The plot is just a fragment of a larger investigation, and the viewer is expected to invest themselves in the procedural minutiae of interdepartmental negotiations and tailing suspects. At the end, after two hours of waiting has led to merely the next phase of the investigation, the entire raison d'etre is suddenly thrown in the garbage uncontested, Hoffman walks offscreen, and credits roll. For all its undervalued promise, it feels like a slap in the audience's face, and it wonders why not only you, but the author of the novel it's based on even wasted their time. Hollywood needs to get over this genre detailing pointless, nihilistic causes already - we got the message, now it's just obnoxious.

Movie: Neighbors (2014)
Rating: *** out of *****
Notes: There are very few reliable outlets for comedy these days, one of which is Seth Rogen who routinely cranks out his brand of half-improvised, dirty gag-filled fodder for 18-24 year-olds. Regardless of its insipidness, each of these films has an infectious buddy quality at the heart which, despite some of the truly bad crap that surrounds it, makes a kind of Cabbage Patch Kid charm - or maybe it's Garbage Pail Kid... This time, Rogen and Rose Byrne are new parents who have it out with a fraternity, led by Zac Efron, that moves in next door. Cue the beer pong, togas, farting, boob jokes, and dildos. Some of the forced scenes are laughably awful while others are merely stupidly awful. The fraternity scenes hearken back to really cheap 80's college comedies, which may have been the point. Suffice to say, the story is really crude, occasionally cute, and I laughed at really dumb stuff. It's junk, sometimes almost too embarrassing to watch, but it's funny junk.

Next: Hercules, Edge Of Tomorrow, Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
petrona
Nov. 25th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed Snowpiercer as much as I did. I've recommended it to others who came back and said they didn't like it at all. Which saddens me. But it's good to see you had the same perspective as myself.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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