2017 log (6)

(2 Jun) Wonder Woman (2017, Patty Jenkins) 67
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(2 Jun) Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding (2003, Douglas Schwartz)
[ This reunion TV movie is part soap opera, part T&A, part torture porn (!). Tons of montages, backstory and call-backs that will deeply confuse anyone but die-hard fans of the show. But even as a casual viewer, it’s fun to watch David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, Cameron Electra, young Jason Momoa and all the others hang out, then fight for their lives in this so-bad-it’s-good flick. ]

(10 Jun) The Big Lebowski (1998, the Coen brothers) [ review ] 100

(17 Jun) Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky) 96
[ “‘What was it? A meteorite? A visit of inhabitants of the cosmic abyss? One way or another, our small country has seen the birth of a miracle – the Zone. We immediately sent troops there. They haven’t come back. Then we surrounded the Zone with police cordons… Perhaps, that was the right thing to do. Though, I don’t know…’
– From an interview with Nobel Prize winner Professor Wallace.”

Sepia-toned cinematography. A lot of long, meticulously composed shots. The most amazing locations. Extended stretches that are dialogue-free, but that make captivating use of ambient sound (trains, mostly). Other scenes are full of dialogue about all kinds of fascinating things (truth, inspiration, conscious and subconscious desires). Actors with interesting faces, full of character and personality even though they’re only referred to as Stalker, Writer, Professor. We’re already riveted before we even get to the Zone, about 35 minutes into the film, and this Russian art film turns to color (like when Dorothy lands in Oz in Victor Fleming’s film!) and full-on fantastic/metaphysical. From that point forwards, this is one of these extremely rare films where you have absolutely no idea where it’s going from one moment to the next. Is this an adventure movie? Sci-fi? A philosophical or religious allegory? I’ll let you discover for yourself, but one thing’s for sure: this is a masterpiece. ]

(17 Jun) The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000, Jim Kammerud) 41
[ Subpar sequel about Ariel and Eric’s human daughter, Melody, who wishes she was a mermaid and who gets manipulated by Morgana, Ursula’s sister. I mean, it’s watchable, but mostly forgettable as far as story, visuals and songs go. Stick with the original. ]

(18 Jun) Starship Troopers (1997, Paul Verhoeven) [ review ] 93

(19 Jun) Transformers: The Last Knight (2017, Michael Bay) 43
[ Reviewed for Extra Beurre ]

(21 Jun) Baby Driver (2017, Edgar Wright) 92
[ Reviewed for Extra Beurre ]

(22 Jun) The Edge of Seventeen (2016, Kelly Fremon Craig) 85
[ Obviously, I should have seen this in theatres last year. This is Alicia Silverstone in “Clueless,” Thora Birch in “Ghost World,” Lindsay Lohan in “Mean Girls,” Ellen Page in “Juno,” Emma Stone in “Easy A”… Seriously, as far as revelatory performances by a teen actress in a high school movie go, Hailee Steinfeld in “The Edge of Seventeen” is right up there! In addition, Kelly Fremon Craig’s writing and direction are top notch as well, and you gotta love the supporting cast featuring Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto and Blake Jenner. Good times. ]

(23 Jun) The Bad Batch (2017, Ana Lily Amirpour) 68
[ Reviewed for Extra Beurre ]

(23 Jun) The Host (2006, Bong Joon-ho) 87
[ I’m watching this on Netflix a decade after its release and one marvels at the cleverly staged and shot attacks of the fish-lizard monster (and supposedly virus host, hence the title). Plus Bong Joon-ho deftly juggles melodrama and comedy with epic creature-feature sci-fi/horror, coming up with something quite unique. The great Song Kang-ho stars alongside Byun Hee-bong, Bae Doona, Park Hae-Il and Ko Ah-sung as the “infected” family we follow during this outbreak situation. The operatic climax is simply sublime. ]

(23 Jun) Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (2010, Bob Smeaton)
[ Classic rock is my spirit animal, and a rockumentary like this, with tons of amazing archival footage of one of the best guitar players/singers of all time, is bound to thrill me. I dig the way Bootsy Collins narrates it as if he was Jimi Hendrix telling his own story, even though it’s not always clear where all those insights into the late rocker’s thinking come from. But most of all, this doc is jam-packed with music so awesome you almost want to cry. ]

(24 Jun) Death Proof (2007, Quentin Tarantino) [ review ] 93

(25 Jun) The LEGO Batman Movie (2017, Chris McKay) 84
[ I wasn’t a huge fan of “The LEGO Movie,” so I didn’t run out to see this, but catching it now on VOD, I realized that it’s a much better film, focusing on the best part of the first one, Will Arnett’s Batman. As a lifelong fan of the Dark Knight in almost all his incarnations, I couldn’t be more the target audience for this flick, which references all the previous Batman versions (including the 1966 series starring the late great Adam West), while coming up with a hilarious new angle to portray him, as this lonely, emotionally stunted man who acts like this pouty teen who plays heavy metal guitar and thinks being always angry and dressed in black is the coolest. This movie is kinda hyperactive and loud and all over the place, throwing in not only every Batman villain imaginable, but also a bunch of surprise villains from other franchises. But it truly has its heart in the right place and ultimately, it tells a moving story about opening yourself up to having friends and a family. I also love how it starts by quoting Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror seemingly as a joke, but then it ends up being totally earned. “If you wanna make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself and then make a change.” ]

(25 Jun) Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright) [ review ] 93

(28 Jun) Okja (2017, Bong Joon-ho) 92
[ Reviewed for Extra Beurre ]

(29 Jun) Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, Jon Watts) 66
[ Reviewed for Extra Beurre ]