gabethurau

IMDb member since July 2019
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    1 year, 9 months

Reviews

The Possession of Hannah Grace
(2018)

Horror Fans: you have seen this movie a 1000 times. Nothing new to see here...
There were a couple of creepy visuals in the whole movie, but nothing really made me feel all that tense.

For anyone who is a fan of the horror genre, you have seen this movie before. Seriously. If you have seen the Autopsy of Jane Doe, you have seen most of this movie. Or if you have watched any of the dozens of Exorcist spin-offs, you don't need to watch this one.

There are many of the same tropes you'd see in a typical possession movie- but done lazily.

The acting wasn't terrible, but the writing and directing was uninspired and in no way scary or original.

All in all, this movie gets 3 stars for making me and my friends laugh at just how unnecessary the majority of the movie was.

Richard Jewell
(2019)

A solid movie
I think what's most impressive about the movie is how well Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser worked together.

Another great aspect of the film was the exploration of truth from opposite spectrums:

Richard was an idealist who believed (still believes?) that authority and lawfulness is the highest form of good.

The FBI agent (Jon Hamm) and journalist (Olivia Wilde) found that absolute truth was irrelevant - instead, they opted for a "good enough" angle to fill the void left by the suspect at large.

It was interesting to see a momma's boy with arrested development stick to his guns and become the hero he had always imagined himself to be. Only for that to turn into a sobering nightmare about the non-fixedness of law.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
(2008)

This still stings
Recently finished my second watch. I first saw Dear Zachary 6-7 years ago.

Although I was not as impressed with the directing this time around, the delivery is still effective. I still don't know what to make of a few of his directorial choices, but I think more than anything, I now understand that he tried to capture the emotions he was experiencing throughout the timeline of what happened.

So, the jump cuts and speedy dialogue ramping up in tempo. The red flashes of the camera (when everyone is seeing red), the calm waves and soothing music when there are melancholic remembrance from family members - all of it sometimes feels random, but so too are emotions.

As the filmmaker relives his grief and then is presented with brand new grief to interrupt the closure process, it all feels messy and visceral at certain moments- and that's arguably how it's supposed to be.

He get the random, racing thoughts of grief right. He gets the waves of calm that transfer to immediate anger right.

Overall I'm not so sure I agree with how he presented the...well you'll know when that bombshell drops...but overall, this documentary took a lot of work, heart, tears, sweat, editing, and care. It's definitely worth a watch.

The Vast of Night
(2019)

I love sci-fi. I love understated movies. Feel like this was just a close miss for me.
There was something lacking here.

No, not a flashy budget, crazy action sequences, or effects. Just a sort of interestingness that would have kept the thing spinning a little quicker.

Ultimately though, the ending sequence was a well-earned, cathartic moment - but if there would have been a few tiny flashes of that same sort of excitement, I feel the movie would have been one I'd recommend to friends.

As it stands, my favorite movies have moments where I can't wait to relive them -especially with someone who hasn't experienced them.

This movie doesn't pass that test. I'd have a hard time justifying another watch.

The dialogue wasn't too bad. The setting was great. The acting felt fine too. It just played out like a visual podcast of sorts. More exposition than anything.

Which I understand was purposeful. Yes, I get it. And there were moments where I thought it was done pretty well. But I'd still have a hard time sitting through it again.

Doesn't feel like another watch would unlock anything new. 6/10

Tickled
(2016)

Really Important Documentary (Despite the Subject Matter)
I like all things Kiwi, so I was biased going into this one. Regardless, this one is important not because "competitive endurance tickling" is such a important issue or a noble cause by any means (haha), but that journalism can be such a powerful thing for lessening the power of bullies with a lot of money.

This documentary was a keen reminder that not only will money give you legal immunity but it will also increase the means for a sadistic mind to royally mess with the lives of people.

I'd watch it for shock value and an interesting story.

I'd also watch it because it's a great reminder of how "untouchable" a lot of people really are in this world.

The Invisible Man
(2020)

Exceeded Expectations
There were many tense moments where I did the ol' stare at the corner of the screen trick to give my nerves a break.

Other than that, the message was positive: justice and a taste of an abuser's own medicine.

Other than that x2, the action was decent at parts. The heroine grappling and being thrown around by an invisible force looked cheesy on more than one occasion.

The dinner scene with her sister though...that was crazy.

Overall, this movie starts off with an incredible opening scene, slowly builds up the tension again, and unleashes it in a way that does get heavy-handed at times.

The ending also felt a little unresolved and cobbled together.

8.5/10. So a B+ just for taking a dumb premise and making it effective and entertaining.

Whose Streets?
(2017)

White guy from Saint Louis. Sad that I watched the riots from my computer.
With the recent #blackout tuesday taking social media by storm, I too feel the need to reflect and revisit crucial moments of unrest in recent history.

I grew up in suburban Missouri. I had a few good friends who were half-black, but I largely lived in an insulated, middle class environment where racial tensions were out of sight and mind.

My appreciation for hip hop, Jazz, James Baldwin, Dave Chapelle, and Ta-Nehisi Coates has brought me baby steps closer to appreciating black culture over the years. But there is still a lot of fetishization on my part.

Overall, my laziness has kept race on the outskirts of understanding. And perhaps it should always be at the outskirts of understanding - me being a white man who will never truly understand the struggle of the African American in a America that doesn't give our black neighbors the time of day.

I have learned to treat racial understanding like Zen. The impossibility of understanding means the process is both the journey and the endpoint. The moment I begin to think that I "understand" is the moment I get lazy again.

Rewatching this movie, and being reminded of what happened right down the street from me in Ferguson, has given me a momentary respite from laziness. And I hope watching Whose Streets will give you the same chance for reflection.

Racing Dreams
(2009)

Adolescent Days of Thunder
Not a Nascar person. My Midwestern roots don't extend South (or East) enough for that. I once thought about playing fantasy Nascar just for the hell of it, but never ventured outside of my Fantasy Hockey comfort zone.

I have seen Talladega Nights 1 1/2 times. Watched the opening credits of Days of Thunder, but never really caught the racing bug.

Yet, despite the cardinal points of my internal compass never pointing in the direction of Indiana, Alabama, or wherever the hell they watch races, I really enjoyed this one.

More than likely it was a result of them not focusing too long on the races itself. Instead, they broke the film into little slice-of-life chunks that made it possible to get to know the three kids. All prefaced by the melancholy fact that their dreams would probably never be realized - but also the eventual acceptance that's it quite alright to settle for second best sometimes.

I got a "Trophy Kids" vibe - where the parents were propping up and projecting their own failed dreams onto their able-bodied kids. Yet isn't that what a lot of parenthood is: the thrill of vicariously experiencing a brief moment of immortality and hope?

Anyways, decent film and a decent usage of time.

Zombieland: Double Tap
(2019)

This wasn't all that bad
I ranked this better than Joker for subverting my poor expectations. Although that's not a fair way to rank a movie from an objective standpoint, I was still actually pleasantly surprised by this movie.

Yes, the first one is far superior. What the first Zombieland accomplished was a creative spin at a point in time when the zombie market had yet to be completely oversaturated with the Walking Dead hype. That is, I think all of us were much more receptive and open to receive a movie about zombies during 2009 than a decade later.

With that detail accounted for, the first Zombieland is still funnier, more entertaining, less predictable, and more creative when compared to all of the previous zom-com attempts before it. Shaun of the Dead being an exception because it's a masterpiece.

But this one wasn't irredeemable. I laughed a few times at the more subtle jokes. The overall comedic level wasn't quite there on a consistent basis, and the action felt purposefully cliche, but there were fun segments that covered the price of admission ($1.90 from Redox).

Not too shabby for a movie I figured I'd turn off halfway through.

Joker
(2019)

Joaquin done the Joker proud despite this discount 'Taxi Driver'
A few friends told me that I'd like this movie. My brother told me I'd hate it. I'd have to side with my sibling on this one.

I'll just say that Joaquin has been one of my favorite actors for a while now. Her and The Master catapulted him to the top of the list for me.

He took this Joker role and he completely owned it. No qualms in that department. But overall this movie just felt like a discount Taxi Driver.

Once you remove what everyone and their grandmothers decided to get upset about - heavy handed portrayals of mental illness, public shootings - you really don't get an entertaining or believable movie.

In my opinion, if you are going to sacrifice validity, you need to inject some entertaining qualities within the movie, but there were neither of those elements.

Yes, mental health awareness is an important topic, but if anyone went into a superhero movie expecting to get an illuminating, lucid look into madness, you were setting yourself up to be disappointed.

Yes, public shootings are terrible and tragic, but this movie is a non-sequitur in respect to shootings because it's a superhero villain origin story. It never really moves beyond its own lore to be anything but a caricature of insanity and sociopathy.

There are important things to be gleaned from this movie, if you look hard enough. But as far as being a believable or entertaining film...it fails on both accounts.

Good acting though.

J'ai perdu mon corps
(2019)

Where do I start?
I was blown away by the depth of such a seemingly simple premise: a man's hand seeks to be reunited with its body.

There was a great balance of romance, armchair philosophy, and even action, as the hand at one point has to fight off a swarm of rats with a BIC lighter. But along the way, apart from the entertaining elements of the film, the story was told with care and nuance.

If anything, even if the movie doesn't particularly resonate with you on an emotional or intellectual plane, it's worth the watch for the unconventional story it tells.

Noiiiiice film.

The Farewell
(2019)

A great movie
Thought I would try something different and write down my thoughts as they came to me. Somewhat stream of consciousness to keep myself hyper-focused on a movie that deserves it.

***Live Commentary of The Farewell ***

Intro credits and opening shot --->

The production credits all seamlessly blend in interesting ways. Even the typography stands out and complements the accompanying Mandarin characters that nicely sit atop the English titling.

Love the intersection between cultures and languages as New York and China are juxtaposed.

The premise of the movie starts to unfold--->

Alright, who's cutting onions in here?

Funny for such a bleak story--->

There's a calculated dose of dark humor at work here. The dramatic irony of a sick family member makes mourning an oddly comedic phenomenon because Nai Nai is so outspoken in her criticisms of her family member's "puffy faces" and sickly appearance. Tragic at the same time though.

Interesting cultural relationship to death -->

Extremely interesting to see the different funeral rituals the Chinese have with their deceased loved ones. Great scene with the professional mourners and the many bows of respect.

A snapshot of the cognitive dissonance of a Chinese American faced with a Confucian-based choice -->

"It's our duty to carry the emotional burden for her."

Ending words of wisdom-->

"Life is not about what you do, but how you do it."

Excellent film. 8/10.

Freaks
(2018)

"Tell me you love me."
An interesting movie that picks up steam. It loses points in a few areas: it sacrifices character development for mystery. Although effective as a slow boil sci-fi flick, what ultimately goes down doesn't generate a deep emotional impact. The acting itself was decent, but the characters designed for Emile Hirsch and Bruce Dern didn't elicit any sort of empathetic response from me.

I liked the time warp stuff. All of it felt very Doctor Strange in places, which is a good thing in my opinion, but it was just missing something crucial - some quintessentially vague substance that would have made this movie better than just an interesting attempt at a sci-fi/mutant story.

Detectorists
(2014)

All killer and no filler
I appreciate them pulling a Seinfeld and ending the show while they were still on top. Really produced a show that was all killer and no filler.

I have never seen a show so suited for subtlety. The jokes are told with the nonchalance of everyday conversation. The best part about the delivery is that Crook and Jones don't emphasize the punch lines. There is no wink wink at all. There is only the signature black comedy footprint of the typical British wit.

This is not a show for those who need slapstick or exaggerated jokes in their diet. Really, this show is equally enjoyable in its not-so-funny moments. Whereas Monty Python, Shaun of the Dead, and Black Books all dwell on the sillier side of the comedic spectrum, Detectorists shines by balancing subtlety and silliness.

The show's creators use the tranquility of the outdoors to provide the perfect medium for wise cracks and nature montages. They also celebrate nature in a non-preachy way. It's like those poets from the Romantic age who would get purposefully lost in the woods to forget for just a few moments the creeping industrial machine encroaching on their sublime nature. Only less poetic and with more Simon & Garfunkel jokes.

Additionally, it's actually kind of incredible how they legitimize such a seemingly silly hobby. By the end of watching it, you'll almost feel the need to defend the honor of detectorists everywhere.

Really a beautiful show that takes its time but never feels like a drag.

Killing Eve
(2018)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius
The first season ranks as one of my favorite shows of late. 2nd season was top-notch as well if only a little heavy-handed at parts. But it's an inevitability that the sophomore season lacks the verve of the first season - especially because Phoebe Waller-Bridge didn't have a hand in the writing.

My favorite part about the show is that it's never one-sided. As a spy show, it hardly takes itself seriously enough to become a fully-fledged MI6 thriller, but it rarely becomes silly enough to detract from the overall visceral nature of Villanelle and the cutthroat world she inhabits.

The casting is absolutely perfect as well. Overall, just one of those shows you'd be stupid to miss because it does so many things right. The cinematic sins it does commit are hardly noticeable when contrasted with the overarching positives of the entire show.

Lords of Chaos
(2018)

Imagine a Black Metal "SLC Punk" without the charm or comedic value
I have no problem with the Culkin brothers as actors. Kieran was good in the second season of Fargo, and Rory was good in Signs. I can't remember what the other one was in...it will come to me. So, casting a Culkin for the central character is fine by me.

Moving on...

The guy who played Varg was just not doing it for me. He looked like he was permanently clenching his sphincter to hold in a fart. His outbursts were not convincing either. Every moment was stiff; every thrown chair was done with the biomechanics of an inebriated Godzilla.

Regardless, the thing this movie got so wrong to me was the inauthenticity, which I suppose is one of the biggest tenets of the movie: what it means to be a poser versus a being in an authentic Norwegian Black Metal band. These actors just didn't feel like they had immersed themselves in the culture. It just felt like they were playing dress up.

At least with a movie like SLC Punk, the characters felt a little more "real". It could have been the mockumentary format, it could have been the better acting, and it could have definitely (for sure) been a more impressionable time in my life when I watched it, but SLC Punk, somehow, with all of its quirks and silliness, felt much "realer" than Lords of Chaos. Which does not bode well for L.O.C. because SLC punk was blatantly phony on purpose.

Lords of Chaos just feels clumsy to me, in almost every way. And these characters were actually based on real people. I think the movie deserves a redo. Not to glorify the church burnings or advent of Norwegian Black Metal, but to provide a more accurate, interesting portrayal of what went down.

The Nightingale
(2018)

Brutal rendering of oppression in its many forms
I liked the film and how the director banded together two outliers for insatiable revenge, but the movie did feel a half-hour too long.

The singing was great, the exploration of the Aboriginal culture was really well done and a rarity for what I usually find myself watching.

Yet, the bad men in the movie were almost too artificial - like caricatures - to really feel all that effective. They did terrible things and were horrible people, but the director felt the need to keep reminding viewers just how repulsive the men were.

I understand it from a writer's perspective (I think): you need to keep the audience just as mad as the protagonist to root for the eventual catharsis of revenge. Over a two hour movie, it can become easy to almost forget why this big dramatic chase is happening to begin with because the visceral anger of the first unthinkable act has worn off. But too much of this reminding and the bad guys stop becoming real life pieces of caca, and more so characters in a morality play i.e. lust or anger personified.

I really enjoyed the Babadook, two completely movies of course, but this one wasn't as good in my opinion.

Born in China
(2019)

Critique of the One-Child policy told through the people who lived it
To me, the One-Child policy made sense when I was younger and didn't know any better. Fix overpopulation and hearken Malthus by limiting household size. Easy, right? This wasn't America after all; individual liberties are fewer in Communist China...because...isn't it for the good of the collective and not the individual? To my understanding, most of the Chinese were just banding together and willingly sacrificing for their country.

The movie paints an entirely different picture. Yes, there were those believed they were rightful functioning as an extension of the Red policy. Yet, almost every single person that Wang interviews had to preface recollections of the forced sterilizations and abortions with four haunting words: "I had no choice."

This movie investigates the intersect between acting willfully for your country and its opposite: being forced to do what are considered "necessary evils" for the longevity of the country.

Wang is skeptical that any of this suffering needed to happen to begin with. She provides a counter-narrative to the Communist state, wondering if the mountains of abandoned girl babies were left to die in vain. In retrospect, the policy's dubious reasons point more towards a mindless allegiance to leadership than any saving grace from starvation. That's how the movie is presented, at least.

Definitely worth the watch.

Klaus
(2019)

Not a big Christmas movie guy, but even I'll admit this was good
I like Home Alone. I am not a monster, after all. I irrationally love the movie Jingle All The Way...Die Hard is alright too. But Christmas movies are usually about as irredeemable to me as Christmas music, so count me out.

So, I say this with a lot of candor when I recommend watching this one, despite my first inclinations to say otherwise. On the off chance you are in the mood for a creative spin on a wellworn holiday story, you might as well polevault past Thanksgiving and into Christmas - because apparently it's good marketing to release Netflix Originals about Christmas before Turkey Day.

I didn't really find it all that funny or heartwarming, but I was impressed almost every step of the way in other areas, so there's that.

The Peanut Butter Falcon
(2019)

Feel-good but not sappy
I don't have a lot of judgement to give. This movie made me smile a dozen times and it was well-acted. It was formulaic but done right. Think about how many movies are formed around an unlikely buddy story. Think about how many times that unlikely buddy dynamic felt forced. This movie, fortunately, is an exception to the norm.

Yet, I can't say I'd want to watch it again. It doesn't pass the rewatchability test. There's something in it that flips the switch in my brain that says: "Got it. I get the appeal. It was good. But there are no immediate moments I want to savor again."

The Lighthouse
(2019)

A grower and a shower
I left the theatre oddly disappointed, yet at the same time, I almost wanted to see the movie again. My girlfriend hates this type of movie, but even she offered an hour's worth of discussion on the mythological/purgatorial themes afterwards.

It wasn't until I had really thought about the movie and discussed it that I came to fully appreciate it. Apart from its interesting cinematography, poetic dialogue, and excellent acting, where the movie comes into its own is in the manifold interpretations that can be gleaned.

There was a lot of depth to the movie that many might write off as pretense just because of the noir flair and the purple passages of dialogue. Even I had the feeling that Eggers was trying extremely hard to make a modern classic. But at the end of the day, this was one of the most interesting and entertaining films I have seen in a long time.

Gisaengchung
(2019)

The perfect movie doesn't exi-
This is one of those rare movies that actually transcend the astronomical hype surrounding it. So many elements of this film are packed with depth and richness. Funny, brutally sad, suspenseful, entertaining, and strange. Cannot say enough good things about the seamless transitions and rhythms of the directing.

Parts of this movie have been branded in my brain forever, and I'm completely fine with that.

I am huge Bong Joon-Ho fan, and this is his best movie to date. Right above Memories of Murder.

Thelma
(2017)

Thoughtful film that didn't particularly resonate with me
I understand it's the flavor of Norwegian film to be a little on the bleak side. Normally I'd prefer movies to carry a twinge of melancholy and tragedy, but I did not feel any empathy for the characters in this story. To me, that made it difficult to stay engaged or care about Thelma.

The concept was cool. How it was executed was cool as well, but I expected the movie to chill me to the bone with the subject matter it centered on. Not so much.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was the idea that she could create matter out of thin air. Abiogenesis. After badmouthing creationists about their farfetched (from a scientific perspective) Young Earth world views, her dad asks her at the dinner table if she had all the answers, if she knew how matter came to be...she says she doesn't know.

Playing with the idea that she has supernatural powers, akin to a deity, but also has the mentality of a secularist, marries the two camps of christianity and science quite nicely.

Thelma has a complex, traumatic relationship with christianity after all, so it's natural to assume she'd favor science over religion, but she also has God-like powers, so...yeah...it's complicated.

Overall, I thought it was a thoughtful film, but it didn't excite me particularly. It definitely could for you though, so give it a shot.

Fire in Paradise
(2019)

Timely documentary
The recent fire in California and subsequent blackout is another scary reminder that we cannot grow jaded about the increasingly destructive consequences of climate change.

This short was effective, timely, and just an overall terrifying presentation of what those poor people went through during the Camp Fire. Mad respect to all the fire fighters, first responders, and even the researchers and scientists out there trying to sort this mess out.

Missing Link
(2019)

Honestly liked this better than Kubo
It's a surprising thing to say, I know, but Kubo didn't resonate all that much with me. It was an incredible film, don't get me wrong, it just didn't connect. Which is absolutely insane because it checked every single theoretical box of what I wanted in an animated film.

Oh yeah, we're talking about Missing Link here...

Missing Link was funny where Kubo wasn't. It was lighthearted and quirky in a way that felt a little clumsy at times, but like Susan the Sasquatch, was completely right for the movie.

The animation was incredible, the action was entertaining...the storytelling might have been a little cliche, but maybe just the right amount of cliche can bring all of the elements of a good film together.

I knew it'd be a good movie, but I didn't think I'd like it as much as I did. And for anyone who thought that Laika held back creatively on this one, I don't know...I feel like it served this particular movie well.

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