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Average User Score: 8.2Dec 22, 2016This is an extremely dark movie. Critics love it because it doesn’t go for the happy ending. Casey Affleck will likely win an Oscar for BestThis is an extremely dark movie. Critics love it because it doesn’t go for the happy ending. Casey Affleck will likely win an Oscar for Best Actor. Affleck plays an average lower-middle working-class guy living in a small coastal fishing town. Michelle Williams (who is probably too pretty to be believable for the part) plays his wife, and they have three young kids. Affleck is a happy guy with zero aspirations in life and spends his free time boating, drinking with his buddies and dabbling in recreational drugs. The movie would have you believe that many people live this kind of life, and that most can get away with living a sloppy and ambitionless life without consequences but, in the dice game of life, Affleck takes a stupid gamble and rolls snake eyes. He becomes a haunted and angry individual who moves to Boston and ekes out a living as a janitor. Several years later, his older brother dies and names Affleck the guardian of his high-school age son. This could have been a movie about redemption. (It’s the obvious ending choice, and you will find yourself hoping for it, rooting for it.) Instead, you get a cautionary tale about broken people. Those who like this movie use a lot of adjectives to describe it like: "heartbreaking, genuine and powerful." It is all those things but, it’s also a movie without hope. The ending is sudden and abrupt like a cold slap in the face, a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking, or discovering the Grinch in your living room instead of Santa Claus. If you're looking for holiday cheer, you might want to go see something else.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Nov 13, 2016As a “thought-provoking” movie, Arrival is over-rated drivel. Amy Adams is a good actor, and she does yeoman’s work here, but she breaks noAs a “thought-provoking” movie, Arrival is over-rated drivel. Amy Adams is a good actor, and she does yeoman’s work here, but she breaks no new ground. The movie is a “Fail” almost every other level. Forest Whitaker is wooden, and The Notebook like story within a story is lame.
Amy Adams plays Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist, trying to figure out how to speak to aliens that have arrived at earth in dark, giant, scary looking, pods that look like slag. The aliens have no spoken or alphabet based written language. Instead, the aliens converse using ink blots (which look like the stain that a wine glass might leave on a cardboard coaster, and made me wonder if the writer came up with the whole idea while sitting at a bar.) Equally boring and conventional are the aliens. (Why do aliens always seem to have squid-like bodies?)
Dr. Banks is apparently the only gifted linguist left in the world, and the gov’t seeks out her expertise to the exclusion of all others. (Ugh!) Dr. Banks speculates that the aliens are so advanced that they have no apparent way to communicate with humans, and thus it is up to the humans to figure out how to communicate with them. (Groan!) For Kumbaya reasons, the aliens have split the message they want to convey to the people of earth into 12 parts, and use 12 different space craft to deliver it to 12 different populations across the earth. (Ay Yi Yi!) Of course, the reaction of earth people is to go loot Best Buy and then try to blow up the aliens.
There is a story within the story about time travel (Oh no!) and Amy Adams daughter who, we learn early on, has died from some rare disease. This is supposed to give the movie its heart, but when you separate out the two movies halves, neither part has enough weight to give the movie any real substance. As far as director Denis Vileneuve goes, I liked his work in Sicario. Arrival is a step backwards.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.4Oct 16, 2016Better than expected. I read the pro reviews before attending, plus I’m not a huge Ben Affleck fan, so I had low expectations going in but,Better than expected. I read the pro reviews before attending, plus I’m not a huge Ben Affleck fan, so I had low expectations going in but, I found “the accountant” to be pretty entertaining. Not sure why the critics are ripping it so unmercifully, because its way better than the majority of the mid-summer crap than Hollywood churned out (again) this year. Part of the enjoyment has to do with the sound effects, and the deep and rhythmically powerful report of Affleck’s weapon of choice, which I found to be totally awesome.
The movie is a little bit John Wick, given the frequency of kill shots to the head, but mostly I found the story line to be reminiscent of a Batman or Marvel Comic book movie plot, without the super-hero costumes or super-hero powers, (though towards the end Affleck’s character does absorb enough explosions and punches to strain the credulity of even novice moviegoers). The knock on Ben Affleck is that his acting has a bit of an emotionally restricted range to begin with, and thus playing a character with a high-functioning form of Autism is right up his alley, but it works for him in this movie, so who cares. Anna Kendrick shines, and makes the most out of a somewhat limited role. Hopefully, we will start to see more movies with her in a lead role.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Sep 10, 2016More a character study than action film, Hell or High Water is not your classic Western. Set in current day rural west Texas, the movieMore a character study than action film, Hell or High Water is not your classic Western. Set in current day rural west Texas, the movie paints a bleak landscape of small towns with vacant store fronts and ranch lands dotted with For Sale signs. Average citizens struggle to make ends meet, and not a single character in the movie has a future to look forward to. Their lives twist slowly in the wind, and the slow pace of director David Mackensie’s movie left me feeling much the same way. The economic disparity between the Haves (banks and the oil companies) and the Have Nots has become so burdensome that Toby (Chris Pine) and his ex-convict brother Tanner (Ben Foster) have nothing to left lose by going desperado. Jeff Bridges plays a deft and skillful sheriff on the verge of a retirement that he’s not looking forward to. He jokes to his partner about going out in a blaze of glory. His fatal flaw is a lack of cultural sensitivity which, when combined with an unalterable sense of right and wrong, make it impossible for him to comprehend the cultural and moral schism that is occurring. The story embodies the kind of social injustice message that Hollywood loves. Yet, this movie can’t be dismissed so easily. The message is delivered with more subtleness than blunt force, and the ending is not what you would expect. The acting is solid on all fronts, and there are some guilty pleasures to be had in watching the vigilantes take in on the chin. Plus, you can psychoanalyze your female friends by asking them if they would do what the waitress did.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Jan 29, 2016The Big Short manages to take a very heavy subject and turn it into a smart and informative comedy. The result is one of the best movies ofThe Big Short manages to take a very heavy subject and turn it into a smart and informative comedy. The result is one of the best movies of 2015. (Sicario is still my top movie pick 2015 despite the Oscar snub.)
That being said, I do have an Ax to grind. It seems like every movie I see has an opening screen shot that says, “Based on a true story”, which is a meaningless statement, and is not the same as, “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” I mention this only because I see a whole lot of my fellow Metacritics blathering on about “Wall Street greed” as if they now have total understanding as to the cause the 2008-2009 Housing Crisis and Stock Market collapse.”
For those whose only source of information is this movie, I would respectfully point out that the movie fails to even mention the contributory (and possibly causal) role played by US government policies which, to put it kindly, ‘encouraged’ these lax lending standards, and the two GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), which were then, and are still today, the principal buyers of Mortgage Backed Securities, when such MBS are up made up of FHA insured loans.
The GSE’s didn’t buy these MBS because they were duped by Wall Street. They bought them because Federal government policies required them to do so. There’s a wise old Wall Street saying which says: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Too bad there isn’t a wise old saying about the unintended consequence of do-gooder politicians. (Barney? George? Are your ears burning?)… Expand
Average User Score: 6.9Jan 29, 2016How do you write a sequel to America’s most beloved space opera trilogy more than 30 years later? How do you make a movie which appeals to aHow do you write a sequel to America’s most beloved space opera trilogy more than 30 years later? How do you make a movie which appeals to a multi-generation fan base more massive than the death star, and which has been badly damaged by a series of misbegotten prequels, and thus needs to make the jump to light speed quickly? Not an easy task. You return to the tried and true. You bring back the original cast, and write a story that recreates and revisits those most memorable moments in those original movies. The result is something familiar, maybe a little old and faded, but not totally out of date. So yes, the story is more than a bit of a remake of the original, but who cares! It’s a re-union tour. And a transition piece which allows for the introduction of new generation of characters, and in that regard Rey (Daisy Ridley) appears to be a winner.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Jan 9, 2016It can be difficult to show off your acting chops in a movie with minimal dialogue, but Leonardo DiCaprio reminds us that physical acting isIt can be difficult to show off your acting chops in a movie with minimal dialogue, but Leonardo DiCaprio reminds us that physical acting is an art onto itself, and gives a solid performance. The lack of dialogue is also a nuanced plot device used to establish an unspoken maxim: The bad guys talk more than the good guys. Tom Hardy makes an excellent bad guy, but the dialogue he has been given (God as a squirrel) sometimes just doesn’t work very well, and maybe it’s for the best that there isn’t more of it.
The season of the film is winter, and the sun rarely shines on any of the majestic background shots. The weather is not the only thing that is bleak. Set in the American frontier, the movie is a vivid reminder not only of the devastation that early hunters/trappers wreaked on wildlife and the Native American way of life, but the brutality that frontiersmen and Native American Indians visited on each other.
Except for the scene in which DiCaprio is attacked by a bear, the story - written by director Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman) - fails to captivate. DiCaprio’s relentless desire for vengeance and his never-ending struggle to survive weigh heavily on the film’s mood. Overlay a portrayal of frontier life as totally joyless for all who live and things get downright depressing. Top it all off with a “mixed-result” ending, and a lengthy run-time of 2hrs 45 mins and you have a movie that’s a bit of a grind.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Nov 28, 2015Warning! Professional reviewers are gushing over Spotlight. This is often a “tell” that a movie isn’t very appealing to large swaths of theWarning! Professional reviewers are gushing over Spotlight. This is often a “tell” that a movie isn’t very appealing to large swaths of the general movie-going public, and such is the case here. Despite a good cast, decent acting and intelligent dialogue, the movie is just plain boring.
Spotlight explains how a small team of investigative reporters at a “local” newspaper (The Boston Globe) uncovered, and eventually reported on, Catholic Priests molesting children in the Boston area. If you’ve read a newspaper in the last 10 years you already know the basic story: Church hierarchy was not only aware of the problem, but had been covering it up for decades. The breaking of the story led to subsequent revelations that the abuse inflicted by these Catholic priests on their parishioners wasn’t an isolated incident limited to the Boston area. It’s a world-wide plague.
It’s almost impossible to be oppugnant of a movie whose subject matter is so poignant. The problem is that Spotlight just isn’t that interesting, unless you are Catholic, a newspaper writer, or from the Boston area. Most of us would expect a movie about such atrocities to answer the basic question, who is responsible? We might also expect a movie in which Good ultimately triumphs over Evil, and the Bad are brought to justice. Spotlight painstakingly avoids the later and the typical Hollywood happy ending.
Instead, the movie is an introspection which attempts to focus on identifying how something so disgusting and so widespread could have gone on for so long. The movie answers this question in an unexpected manner that is the ultimate indictment of Catholic orthodoxy, which seeks to imbue the faithful with a belief that the church is both inherently good and infallible in its decision making (and thus is not to be questioned) and that man, who is born sinful, should feel guilty about everything that he does (or in this case, doesn’t do).
The only real tension in the movie comes when the audience learns that information about priests molesting children was previously sent to the newspaper many years ago, but the newspaper failed to act on it, and that someone may have deliberately buried it. We continually wait for this play out, only to discover in highly anticlimactic fashion that the inaction was probably inadvertent (or maybe subconsciously suppressed and ignored).
We are left with the idea that the catholic community of Boston (which is portrayed as a fiercely prideful and tightknit community) knew or should have known what was going on for all those years and thus, the community bears significant responsible for the decades of delay in stopping the abuse.
While I appreciate the irony that a Catholic community is made up of individuals who, as a result of church teachings, are permeated with a sense of guilt, and thus might blame themselves for not outing their own child molesting priests on a more-timely basis, I didn’t view this movie as involving some grand revelation, I saw it more as a movie about mental self-flagellation.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Nov 21, 2015I’m not an Apple guy and I knew little about Steve Jobs prior to seeing this movie. I thought the movie was mildly “interesting.” It depictsI’m not an Apple guy and I knew little about Steve Jobs prior to seeing this movie. I thought the movie was mildly “interesting.” It depicts Jobs as both a “marketing genius” who saved the company from bankruptcy and a thoughtless ass-pipe, who was unkind and uncaring toward pretty much everyone human being in his life. I’ve been told that the movie skips over large segments of Job’s life, and thus some feel the movie is unbalanced or an unfair in its portrayal of him, while others have told me that the guy was, in many ways, even more bizzare than what the movie shows. All in all, I think it’s fair to say that the movie attempts to give you a sense of who he was without laboring over every detail. I leave it to others to debate the accuracy of the material presented, but if you’re an Apple aficionado, you may not care for this movie because it colors pretty much all of the company founders as timid or inept buffoons who couldn’t run business selling beer to beach goers in July, much less a computer company.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Nov 21, 2015This is one of those movies that recounts an important moment in the history of 20th century Western Civilization, sort of like The ImitationThis is one of those movies that recounts an important moment in the history of 20th century Western Civilization, sort of like The Imitation Game, and you will walk away saying “I didn’t know that.” It’s also a Spielberg movie, which means that it’s a smooth and refined piece of film making. But it’s not necessarily the kind of movie that appeals to today’s younger generation (who, like Francis Gary Powers, seem to be a bit of an anathema). I was interested in seeing this movie because, although I was just a kid, I was alive when the events depicted in this movie occurred and I have at least some, albeit vague, recollection about U-2 spy planes, how controversial the reconnaissance missions flown by these planes were, and about Gary Powers being shot down and captured by the Soviets. Maybe not surprisingly, when I saw this film everyone in the theater was over age 50. Despite this, I would recommend this film to anyone of any age. It’s a well-constructed piece of film making and credibly acted. It is not, however, a likely Oscar winner, as the pace of the movie occasionally drags like life in the dreary landscape of post-WWI East Germany.… Expand