etmachina

IMDb member since February 2004
    Lifetime Total
    10+
    Lifetime Plot
    1+
    IMDb Member
    16 years

Reviews

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
(2020)

A trifle.
Huge fan of the Blues and early Jazz, am highly interested in cultural appropriation and issues surrounding race, but this movie has little to do with them. It's just a vague, extremely theatrical situational sketch. It starts nowhere and goes nowhere, just a framework to drape exceptionally talented acting performances over.And they are great, but it's not enough.

There's nothing exceptionally authentic here - it's got that overly-dramatic sheen of movies which bow to the altar of "the theater". Monologues and scene-chewing. Rather than focus on the cultural power and societal impact of the music, or of who Ma Rainey was, the focus is on rumored same-sex romances and romantic trysts among her band, which may make the film more "current" for today's audience, but little to do with her legacy or even established history. The "history" established in this movie is thru superficial scene dressing -- the "feeling" of the movie doesn't really leave the present.

The best movie about early Blues remains LEADBELLY.

Wonder Woman 1984
(2020)

The DC universe feels like a corrupt business endeavor.
This movie is unwatchable.

But so many people watched it that instantly it is announced, OF COURSE it will have a sequel.

It's absolute garbage. Hollywood seems to be flailing.

Suicide Squad was a trashy mess, universally considered a trainwreck interspersed with gratuitous ass-shots. So of course, hot on it's heels, Birds Of Prey came along and another basically unwatchable movie, Aquaman. Don't think about how bad the dialog is or how frenetic and nonsensical the fight scenes are or how ridiculous the characters are - glory in the spectacle of it all, or something? Brain bad!

Sure, Justice League is a pile of dreck - but coming soon, the secretly wonderful and surely not a dispassionate soulless trudge, the Snyder Cut!

DC makes Marvel look like Shakespeare, when in fact most Marvel movies are barely passable in the story department - but at least the editing and writing is a bit better.

Same thing happening with DC happens throughout our media culture now, eg Disney/Star Wars. Mandalorian is decent, Rogue One was borderline great - everything else has been excrement. The entire sequel trilogy is an insult to Star Wars, they are intensely stupid movies that basically ruined Star Wars. So of course, stay tuned for 73 more SW titles doubling-down on this critically slammed direction.

Success for these film studios is about nothing more than $$. These movies are scams with no cultural value.

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult
(2020)

Good as follow-up/background for far more substantial effort of The Vow.
It seems to be an unpopular opinion that The Vow is superior to Seduced..

I found it far superior and am glad I watched it first. The Vow was apparently too slow of a burn for many viewers, but I personally found the pacing well-suited to explaining the creeping indoctrination (and tortured deprogramming) of cults. I liked the focus on the intensely flawed characters who were leaders of the group and how they struggled with fighting back and their own culpability. And the attention paid to Frank Parloto and key events in the downward spiral of Nxivm were given meaningful focus. It was very nuanced and in-depth, all things considered.

Seduced... is primarily focused on the Oxenburgs, and their story is compelling. But there's less of a psychological (or indeed, legal) battle on display. The emotional scenes are gone, basically - everything is very composed and there's a simple narrative focused on India's escape.

It's highly competent and there are crucial details here, and the Oxenburgs are amazing, mother and daughter - but overall it feels considerably less thorough and like a lean addendum to The Vow rather than an alternative.

The New Mutants
(2020)

A disastrous take on one of the most brilliant Marvel Mutant books..So bad.
I knew this would be bad when it was announced that for some reason it was going to be a self-conscious "horror" genre movie set in a hospital.

But I thought that "Logan" had set it up really well, the introduction of the New Mutants characters at the end of Logan was satisfying and the characters were compelling. Well, nevermind that, none of them reappear here and the story isn't connected at all.

There were so many great stories told in the New Mutants comics. Deadpool was introduced there. Wolverine had epic battles with their enigmatic leader, Cable. Beloved characters died, legacy characters were introduced. They were part of some of the best multi-part crossovers in 90's comics. Nothing about this movie has anything to do with the comic book and it comes across as a really cheap and disposable effort. It doesn't seem like the director was very serious about what they were doing, nor was the editor. Thousands of people were employed in making this, spent years on it, and it's complete garbage. What a waste.

The Third Day
(2020)

Starts strong then hits a brick wall head on.
The first three episodes are fairly strong. It's basically Wicker Man meets the classic show The Island. Not super original, but done very well and all the acting is superb.

3 episodes in the pacing of the show is flushed down the toilet. Did you like the first 3 episodes? Well forget that now stay tuned for the same thing but with different characters. Um. It doesn't work. It's a gimmick. The tension is all gone. I'll stick by it but what a waste.

Eyes on the Prize
(1987)

The best documentary series ever made.
I've watched this dozens of times. It is the most important documentary series ever made. Not even Ken Burns finest work, or Errol Morris, have anything on this series.

FYI The IMDB tagline describes this as a documentary about the Civil Rights movement "1952-1965". It covers 1952 thru the early 1980's.

Surely the original film makers are retired or passed on, but it would be amazing to see a second volume or new episodes of this series. 1980-2020.

Wasp Network
(2019)

Quality historical event movie.
Relatively unknown story, mostly great performances. It's got a hollywood sheen and the politics are probably a bit clumsy, I take the ending with more than one grain of salt. The USA and Cuba have both made their share of disgraceful decisions. But overall a thoughtful and stimulating movie that won't leave you feeling like you wasted your time.

I do share another reviewers mystifying response to De Armas -- she's suddenly being cast in everything, and she's not good. I thought she did a good job in Blade Runner -- playing an artificial human. But it seems that's the only thing she can play. Sorry.

Killer Unknown
(2018)

Redundant and repetitive like Naruto
If you have ever watched Naruto, in which every fights scene lasts several episodes and never seems to go anywhere, you've had a taste of this show. It takes 6 episodes, constantly rehashing what we already saw in all the previous episodes, before the show simply ends with no conclusions at all. I'm sure the work of the cold case investigators wasn't pointless, but my viewing was.

Climax
(2018)

Drug-shaming conservative garbage.
This movie is ridiculously stupid and pretentious. The good reviews are baffling.

This is ham-handed poser arthouse cinema.

Marketed as based on a true story -- which is a lie. After some digging you can find an interview where Noe reveals the "real life" incident involved a "much smaller" dance party where drinks were spiked and things "went sour...BUT NOTHING BAD HAPPENED". OH OK! Noe decided to make club goers into drug-crazed raping incestual violent simpletons completely and totally as artistic license. In most interviews he asserts he just took some artistic license to avoid dealing with the real people involved. That is nothing but BS considering "nothing bad happened". This movie is based on Noe hearing about drinks being spiked at some party sometime. With a foundation that vague, it's no wonder the movie comes across like a performer who didn't prepare before they took the stage.

It ranks up there with Reefer Madness in the portrayal of LSD and drugs. If you have ever taken LSD or been around people who are on it, you will be confused. It's absolutely preposterous. They act like they are on some combination of bath salts and PCP.

The characters are terrible and nasty people. The gay characters act with the same toxic masculinity as the straight characters. Just wrong. It's over the top to the point of of ridiculousness. All the characters act like nihilistic young Republicans, carelessly offensive and unashamedly selfish. These are supposed to be professional dancers deep in the club/dance music scene -- it's preposterous. This is nothing like what the dance music world is like.

I was hoping for at least some cool psychedelic scenes to simulate the LSD use, but there's none. Noe turns the camera upside down for the last 10 minutes of the movie. No reason. Ohhhh cooool.

Three times during the movie he blasts boring, asinine, glib phrases onto the screen, like "death is an amazing experience" or "birth is a unique opportunity" -- oh really, Mr Noe? Tell us more you wise, wise man. The birth statement comes across as an anti-abortion message -- it follows characters discussing abortions, unemotionally and unflinchingly, y'know, cus that's how people who have abortions are like. Cold and heartless and open to talk about it with virtual strangers.

Midway thru the movie Mr Noe flashes his own name on the screen repeatedly, each time imitating a classic dance music label logo. It's incredibly egotistical and appropriative.

The movie has a great soundtrack with real quality electronic music, like Dopplereffekt and Aphex Twin. Someone who really understands and loves club culture curated the soundtrack. And the dance scenes before things "go sour" are cool.

Mr Noe however does not understand club culture. He made a movie that is an insult to club culture and comes across as a deeply stereotypical, conservative anti-drug movie. The only way it could halfway fly is if there was some nightmare unbelievable-but-true event that inspired it, but there's not..at all. You have to buy the idea that LSD does this to people and that club culture is just a druggy nightmare filled with hostile and dangerous people, which is how it's almost always presented. Raves=drugs=bad. Give us a break already.

Anybody who thinks this is a good "arty" movie is being taken for a ride.

Star Trek: Discovery: An Obol for Charon
(2019)
Episode 4, Season 2

Already pretty good, but getting better
I liked Season 1 overall despite some shaky plot points and throwaway lines, but Season 2 is better so far, IMO truly capturing some of the charm of TNG.. and this episode continues the trajectory.

Character development is broadening. I'm glad other people on the Bridge are finally getting some lines instead of just standing there looking cool.. The Rebecca Romijn cameo in this ep is great -- I had to check the credits to confirm it was her -- hey, good acting! That whole scene had strong TNG vibes.

Overall I like that SMG is a little hammy with her acting, generally her semi-Vulcan act is OK, but sometimes I struggle to remind myself that she was supposed to have grown up on Vulcan when the emotional scenes swing SOOO EMO...But the childhood flashback scenes in Season 2 have been helping to connect the dots.

I welcome Tig Notaro's bizarre monotone and that the show isn't afraid to be goofy in spots. I like that this show focuses way more on aliens and Klingons than any ST movie or show since TNG, the gold standard IMO. I appreciated that this episode and several others in Season 2 have seemed a bit more self-contained. Big fan overall of where it's going.

Cloak & Dagger
(2018)

Great pilot -- then gradually stalls.
After a very strong pilot, the plot quickly loses steam and starts skewing younger. The acting/casting starts to show signs of weakness, the people are too pretty, the chemistry is off... and the whole thing loses seriousness. Disappointing. I never read the comic, despite being a comic book fan, so I can't comment on how faithful it is as an adaptation. After watching the first episode of C & D, I happened to watch Youtube's Impulse, which already completed it's first season. The plot similarities will be obvious to anybody who watches both (no spoilers). But Impulse is far superior, it's a much more mature show (TV-MA rating, violence and profanity notwithstanding), it's downright disturbing and thought-provoking, AND the super-power aspect is cooler. After finishing Impulse and returning to C & D, my enthusiasm for it was pretty much gone -- maybe I'll check it out again when the season is done.

Legion
(2017)

Marvel versus David Lynch. The best Marvel show.
While part of the Marvel Universe, Legion is an odd-man-out, neither part of the big budget Disney cinematic universe or the Netflix version of the Marvel universe. It also has the best acting, writing and direction of any of them and a more mature approach. It's a cerebral, surreal sci-fi mutant show. If you are a comics fan, the fact of Chris Claremont & Bill Sienkiewicz involvement in this tells you almost all you need to know -- it successfully carries both of their styles onto a TV screen. Claremont wrote many of the most legendary story arcs for the X-Men. Sienkiwicz is a brilliant comic artist, emphasis on artist -- he often works with paint and mixed media to create comics that look like fine art. The writing and direction is complicated, non-linear, and accomplished, verging on avant garde. There is immense attention to detail and editing, artistically-framed scenes. The acting is a cut above other Marvel shows (although Cage gets an honorable mention) and they've gathered a cast that works great together. The psychological, Lynch-ian freaky edginess that Sienkiewicz infused in all his work is present. It's not perfect, it takes some risks that don't work (like season 2 ep.5 -- tedious and anti-climactic), but it is freaky & cool.

Evil Genius
(2017)

Mis-understands and exploits mental illness, barely even about a "bank heist" -- below-average.
Currently hot on Netflix, starts promising -- 1st episode is disturbing and compelling and about a bank robbery as described in the blurb. Then the pacing goes to hell.

This "bank heist" documentary is not so much about that bank heist, which is well-explored in the 1st episode (and a Hollywood movie). That becomes a side-story and three more episodes are spent exploiting a woman who is severely mentally ill (and psychotic) and barely in touch with reality, trying to paint her as some sort of Femme Fatale. It's at least vaguely sexist, but moreover the severe mental illness renders it utterly pointless and becomes increasingly tone-deaf the longer it drags on.

The mental illness is acute and obvious enough I find it hard to call anyone here "Evil". More like a couple dangerously mentally ill people had access to weapons and enabled each other. As for "Genius" -- well the crazy people praise each other's intelligence, while they spout make-believe French swear-words and engage in completely irrational rants. The makers of the film eat it up and milk it for all it's worth. They acknowledge the mental illness issues right-off-the-bat, so obvious it would be impossible not to, but then proceed to make hey of their "stars" unhinged and un-medicated ramblings. Crazy talk is just not that interesting or compelling and the filmmakers seem rather "dense" to be so fascinated by it.

The filmmakers either don't understand mental illness, or are pretending not to, but either way it gets stale somewhere in the third episode, with well-over an episode to go.

I much prefered series such as The Making Of A Murderer, The Staircase, Wormwood...Those are great. This is not.

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
(2017)

You may have heard critical reviews that this movie "killed" Star Wars...
It's a make-able argument. There are some clever camera shots, and I liked Leia's scenes especially, but the writing and editing is terrible, and the plot is nonsensical and downright stupid. Phantom menace might actually be a better-made movie, Jar-Jar notwithstanding. Seriously. Characters utter lines deeply anti-thetical to their whole personality in the service of "new-ness". Scenes are cut so roughly characters board and exit enemy ships with no explanation how. There are long sub-plot elements that go absolutely nowhere except into cgi hell. People have been way too easy on this trainwreck. Rogue One was what everyone was hoping Last Jedi would be. Not hopeful about Rian Johnson's Star Wars...worse than Lucas so far. Seriously.

Banlieue 13
(2004)

nice action sequences but incredibly overrated!
Yes, a 4. The choreographed action sequences are very cool! There was not enough of that. The back-story, most of the acting, the tagged on romance, it's all completely typical of your average throwaway Hollywood movie, despite that this is French. It's all very flashy and slick with no substance....if the action sequences had been backed up with real mood, or a more engaging story, this would have been something special. The main characters are decent to good actors -- some of the supporting roles are feeble. Some of the situations are extremely feeble. As it is, it's 10 minutes or less of brilliant action choreography propped up by 75 minutes of trite, cliché fluff. Worth seeing for the action sequences though.

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