2016 log (3)

(1 Mar) Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall (2016, Spike Lee)
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(2 Mar) Kick-Ass 2 (2013, Jeff Wadlow) 37
[ I loved the original “Kick-Ass” movie but, for some reason, I never got around to watching the sequel until now, maybe because it wasn’t directed by Matthew Vaughn… And as a matter of fact, it turns out that “Kick-Ass 2” is very much not on the level of Vaughn’s film. It’s a feeble, pointless rethread with too much emo bullshit, generic action scenes and toothless attempts at being provocative. It’s sort of cool to see Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit Girl again, but her character is nowhere near as surprising/shocking as the first time around, somewhat inevitably (she’s 15 now, not 11), and in any case, she spends most of the movie stuck in some lame “Mean Girls” rip-off. As for Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes, he’s nowhere near as fun as Nicolas Cage’s Big Daddy in the first flick. Really, this isn’t worth your time, not even on Netflix. “I guess evil dick feels limp.” ]

(4-17 Mar) House of Cards – Season 4 (2016, Robin Wright, Tom Shankland, Tucker Gates, Jakob Verbruggen, Kari Skogland & Alex Graves)
[ First of all, don’t worry: no spoilers ahead. I’m just using this space to say that this may be the best season of the series so far. As we’ve seen at the end of Season 3, there’s now an open conflict between the President (Kevin Spacey) and the First Lady (Robin Wright), on Election Year, no less, and… Well, I said no spoilers, but that marital/political conflict is endlessly fascinating. There’s a returning character that annoyed me in the first few episodes, but said return leads to a riveting early climax in Chapter 43. And it keeps getting better after that, like in Chapter 45 (the hallucination sequences!) and when the plot moves on from the Democratic primaries to the clash between the Underwoods and the Republican candidate (Joel Kinnaman). As before, it’s pretty amazing how the series manages to keep us rooting for Underwood even though he’s such a manipulative evil bastard – Claire being in many ways his equal… I’ll also mention that I love the introduction of Neve Campbell and Ellen Burstyn to the cast, making this an even more female-strong series. And this season deals with some hot-button issues such as the War on Terror and NSA surveillance… up to an absolutely killer ending. Can’t wait for Seaon 5. ]

(4 Mar) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, David Yates) 91
[ This is by far the best and darkest film in the series so far. Dare I say, it feels like it’s the “Empire Strikes Back” of the “Harry Potter” saga. Can you believe that this started out as a couple of cute, silly kids movies? Major props to David Yates for giving the final half of the franchise the feel of a (great) British miniseries, with a brilliant sense of pacing and tone. There’s still this core a-year-in-Hogwarts structure, with Quidditch and classes and whatnot, but everything is more dramatic than ever, including the hormonal teen romance, something that has been brewing for a few episodes now but that overflows in this one. The mythology surrounding Voldermort is also further developped via ominous flashbacks, some involving Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent)… The pitch-black central plot also involves Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and that little bastard Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)… It builds up to an incredibly intense, heartbreaking climax… “Empire Strikes Back”, man. I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up in the last, two-part picture. ]

(9 Mar) Watchmen (2009, Zack Snyder) [ review ] 92

(12 Mar) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010, David Yates) 83
[ During our “Harry Potter” festival, we’ve been watching most of them on VOD but for some reason, this one wasn’t available, so I ended up walking to the video store to rent in… from the children’s section. I mean, come on! The first couple of flicks are for kids all right, but at this point in the series, it’s dark and disturbing as hell! David Yates once again does killer work, nailing bits of action, horror and fantasy, as well as much drama (the climax may very well make you cry your eyes out). Now, as part ones of split finales tend to, it feels rather incomplete, like, well, half a movie. But there’s still plenty to enjoy, including the return of Dobby the elf. And if anything, it makes one even more eager to see the final-final film. ]

(19 Mar) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, David Yates) 84
[ I’ve been repeatedly saying that these movies keep getting darker, and this final-film film might be the darkest. It’s also the most epic, with some spectacularly intense magic battles throughout, and it’s also a culmination of all the mythology interwoven by J.K. Rowling throughout the series, which is complex enough for someone who hasn’t read all the books to feel a little lost sometimes. The “Harry Potter” saga is a Good versus Evil story as well as a tell of Life and Death, with many twists here and there… Maybe most of all surrounding the tragic character of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). I’ll need to digest it all some more, but overall, man, what a series! ]

(23 Mar) Demolition (2016, Jean-Marc Vallée) 90
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(24 Mar) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016, Zack Snyder) 59
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(25 Mar) Twilight (2008, Catherine Hardwicke) 44
[ There are two different films interwoven here: a ridiculous B movie about vampires that sparkle in the sun, play wicked baseball and whatnot, and a surprisingly fascinating high school romance about the unhealthy relationship between a bewitched teenage girl and a moody, manipulative, “protective” yet dangerous guy. It’s not that the the two films can’t mesh. Obviously, the fact that Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is a vampire works with the themes of Stephenie Meyer’s novel as adapted by Melissa Rosenberg. But the way Catherine Hardwicke directs the scenes depicting the vampires’ superpowers is really cheesy, making the whole thing hard to take seriously… Yet that potentially tragic central love story has me intrigued and Kristen Stewart is pretty great at making us believe in Bella Swan’s desperate longing for Edward, so I’m still looking forward to watching the next episodes in the series. ]

(26 Mar) The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Christopher Nolan) [ review ] 95

(31 Mar) Hardcore Henry (2016, Ilya Naishuller) 44
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]