Moester_

IMDb member since October 2004
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    15 years

Reviews

Downsizing
(2017)

***Spoilers*** A fairly interesting take on the "sacrifice for the environment" debate
I thought that this movie was fairly blah for the first 70 minutes or. A tale of an under-achiever finding a renewed life after his overly consumerist wife leave him penniless and alone. It had been done better and with more charm many times over the years.

In walks Dushan (Christopher Waltz's character), who starts to undermine both the plot and the "green" message of the movie. He "tells the truth" that Paul (Damon's character) is nice...but not that nice. That he's not at all about the environment, and in the end, he's unhappy not because of his wife or his situation, but his obsession with looking like a nice guy and making a difference.

I honestly didn't understand Ngoc Lan as a character until later on in the movie, and in the end its clear that she's the only truly selfless person there. She doesn't try to save the world, she doesn't try to make money, or be celebrated...she just helps people and goes on with her life. Unlike Paul or the scientists of the original colony, she doesn't do it because of moral superiority, but because its what she wants to do.

These concepts were brought to life by the introduction of the "original colony" first by the sex crazed "little Ronni" who is as self-destructive as any child star before him. And then by the both overly optimistic and pessimistic Jorgen Asbjørnsen and the rest of the colony who believe that the world cannot be saved and needs preserved by their insular community. Dushan (ever the opportunist) provides supplies and other goods to them, but has them pegged. "They're a cult" is probably the most telling line in the movie, and his assessment of the future destruction of the colony versus the overall fate of humanity is probably the single most accurate assessment of the average "green utopia" there is. In the end, people will be people, and they're just as likely to destroy themselves and the environment as the society they are leaving behind. It's like that Vegan person you know that's both proud of their choice and judgmental of yours without any care or realization as to what they're really accomplishing (if anything) or why.

In the end, I liked the choice that Paul made; he stopped padding himself on the back, or expecting praise for his actions. The final scene where he drops off food, and runs back out with only a slight look back to ensure that the person he helped was content (as opposed to seeking praise and thanks) was him coming full circle from helping out of obligation and expectation, to helping because it's what he wanted to do.

Its hard to rate the movie highly because so much of the plot is useless baggage. His wife leaving him, his odd date, his work at a call center; even the scenes with his mother...they were all needless fluff. How can you rate a movie highly when so much of it is just plain useless? It feels like there were several other potentially interesting narrative threads (like rights of downsized people, and a greater exploration of the abuses of the technology) which were never explored.

Because those plot threads were never explored, instead focusing exclusively on the environmental aspects; they could have started the movie right into his first day at Leisureland and explaining that his wife died due to complications of the downsizing process. I felt like the whole divorce angle was too rushed, and served no real purposed other than to impoverish him a little. It seemed like the biggest issue was loneliness rather than cash flow anyways. They could have told the backstory in 5 to 10 minutes of flashback interspersed into the narrative; and boom there's 30 minutes of your life back with a much more interesting story overall.

Gotti
(2018)

Travolta puts up a frank performance in an uneven film.
Travolta really carries this movie, some frankly odd casting choices aside, it was well acted, and fairly competently directed. It does show it's limited budget at times where some scenes could have used a few extra takes, and some better editing.

Realistically this was a great turn for Travolta who made some fairly bold choices for the character. He could have played Gotti off as cold and "chilling" man who could turn on the charisma at will; but instead played him off fairly earnestly. Which matches fairly well the characterizations of the Mob boss I've read over the years which painted him as a man who was charming and sociable, yet could turn violent and back to charming within consecutive moments.

I think that people may have preferred to see a more chilling portrayal more akin to Depp's in Black Mass. Which while was a great performance, failed to show why Bulger was a folk hero to many in Boston.

In the end, Travolta may have played the role too "straight" which humanized Gotti. Which certainly tuned many people off to the movie.

In the end, the budget was to me the biggest impediment to the movie's overall success. It could have used a better supporting cast, and some better scene choices at times.

7/10 that could have easily become a 9/10 had the quality been higher.

On a side note, am I the only one who's happy to finally see Travolta's face settling after what I can only assume was extensive plastic surgery? He looked like he was wearing a mask for a couple of years there. He's back to looking human, and while he'll never pull off 40 again, he's looking good for the first time in years.

Tron
(2010)

Seems I got a different experience than everyone else. *spoilers*
**** Spoilers Throughout **** I will start to say that I was a big fan of the originals, the character and the setting really sucked me in. I must say that my expectations were extremely high and while some weren't met I must say that most were met and exceeded. Every review I've read talk about the father and son angle...which to me was under-used, as a matter of fact, I was expecting a lot more...To me this movie was about visionaries and often their ideas and purposes are perverted by their followers and the greedy. In the movie both of Flynn's creations are perverted one by corporate greed and another by Clu's zealotry. I couldn't help by think of Steve Jobs and his outing from the company he created by short-sighted corporate weasels during the board meeting with Allan. And there are nearly countless historical examples of intellectuals being ousted by their followers following revolutions.

Beyond the real-world parallels I must say that I enjoyed the characters. They didn't make Sam into the typical "badass" or "emo kid" but made him a flawed hero who was both vulnerable and could kick butt.

I loved Flynn's character and while a lot of people compare his vocabulary with "the dude's" but I saw it as a logical progression from his speech in the original. I mean how much is your vocabulary going to change when you are in exile in a world of your own creation? I loved the character of Rizzler as a re-purposed Tron who overcomes the "brainwashing" and protects his friend in the end. I would have liked to have more of the titular character but it was a nice surprise to see Tron having such and impact in the story even though I missed the character in his original form.

The character of Quorra was the weakest character in the movie, her whole purpose was somewhat glossed over while her significance is strongly hinted at but not completely developed.

Clu is by far my favourite character in this movie. The Zealot who simply cannot go beyond his literal interpretation of his purpose/religion (after all Flynn's commands are for him commands from God) If this character isn't relevant in this world where we are so polarized over every issue then I don't know what relevance means. Clu is the personalization of the ills of purpose over understanding, of the enactment of an idea over the fulfilment of a thought. Flynn is the dreamer who sees his dream evolving and growing while Clu is attached to a momentary vision. And he fights for that vision, that perfection and that is why he fights Flynn and why in the end Flynn apologizes to him.

I loved the character of Castor, Micheal Sheen plays him as a mix between Iggy Pop and a car salesman. He is thoroughly efficient and steals the spotlight from every scene. I especially love the scene where he realizes that Clu is turning the tables on his and that he is holding none of the cards. Sheen's mastery subtle expressions shine through and say more through a look than a page of dialogue.

My only real beef with this movie is that it requires a sequel to close up all the loose ends. Is Tron still alive? Is Flynn really dead after merging with Clu? what did Sam save onto that disk in the end? What is Quorra's significance in our world? What will Sam accomplish as the President of Encom? These are all questions that need to be answered and in my opinion can only be with a sequel.

And yes, everything else you've read is true, the effects are outstanding, the actions is just as intense as you would want. And the movie is just jaw-dropping in IMAX 3D; by far the most effective use of CGI I have ever seen. The score in the movie is exceptional, Daft Punk really show their understanding of the movie and really elevate many scenes to another level.

To me this movie was in the layers and not in the flash. I think that most people were blinded by the CGI and saw Transformers instead of using their heads and seeing a thinking person's Sci-Fi movie.

Hung
(2009)

Good start
I just saw the pilot for this show. Its pretty funny and smart.

I liked Thomas Jane's character who's getting slapped around by life. I found it easy to empathise with Jane's character; he's kinda the average man who goes through life kind of coasting and wakes up after everything goes sideways on him. His wife leaves him for a guy with money, he's trying to hold everything together and can't seem to find the time or the energy to do so. Eventually, he takes stock of his life, "wasted" potential, limited options, poor job, non-existent prospect and he turns to his one asset; his skill as a lover and the fact that he's "hung" hence the title of the show. This leads him to prostitute himself.

In the end, his plan goes awry and he finds and unlikely pimp. The pilot sets a great tone and leaves the potential for equal parts comedy and drama. I am looking forward to the development of this series.

JCVD
(2008)

One of the best films I have seen all year
I am a big fan of action movies, yet while I have enjoyed quite a few movies with VanDamme, he never seemed like an actor to me until I saw this movie.

But beyond this amazing performance (the scene where he almost loses it at the bank is one of the purest scenes I have ever seen) The entire film is of the highest quality. This movie lives and breathes, it has the touch of reality that is so difficult to attain in movies.

Much can be said about cinematography, but in my opinion the truest test of a film is whether or not it can create a world and make you live in it. This film did that for me. I believed it, at times I felt so engrossed in the movie that I genuinely connected with the actors in the film. I think that the last time I reacted to viscerally to a movie was Ang Lee's fantastic Yin shi nan nu (eat drink man woman) While other movies have more artistic merits or better performances, this to me was a movie that rates among those who were most able to make me believe in the world that was created by these characters.

I can only hope that we see more of this great director and a new direction in JCVD's career as he definitely showed intriguing acting chops

Grand Canyon
(1991)

Crash without the fake conscience.
I remember seeing this movie when I was about 7; and at the time it shocked me. I had seen a violent movie before, but I never saw a movie with the consequences and reality of violence. This movie not only shows this, but it also shows how people can change their lives and choose happiness. What this movie did and crash failed to do was to be truthful. Crash tried to show how racism was bad (and Crash actually had a built-in anti Asian bias) and to come at it from a morally superior position. Grand Canyon came at things from such a raw and real perspective that it actually ends up on a higher ground than crash. Especially when you compare the endings. The ending of crash is this supposedly neat little ending that ties everything up. While Grand Canyon simply ends on a quiet note, where you know nothing much will change in the character's lives but that's because life just goes on too, there's no suitable ending. No matter how good...bad you are. There is no ending of a chapter to begin another.

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