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KevtheWriter on the Movies of the Year (Part 2)

Kevs Summer Movies

Note from Lebeau: KevtheWriter is back with another update on the year in movies so far.  Tomorrow, Daffy and I will give our take on the summer movie season and we’ll review the reader rankings.  We’ll be sticking to mainstream Hollywood fare, but Kev covers more indie offerings.

The Neon Demon

Man, this movie was…pretentious. The cinematography is lovely but it tries too hard to be weird, incoherent, and “artsy” to pretty much to hide the fact that it doesn’t really have anything new or interesting to say. I mean, the modeling industry is evil and will eat you up alive?! Next you’ll tell me that day changes to night! Also, I thought Elle Fanning was bland and the guy playing her boyfriend was even duller. Keanu Reeves was surprisingly good though!

Suicide Squad

Funny, if it wasn’t for The Neon Demon, this, a DC movie, would probably end up on the worst spot. Now, I didn’t hate this movie as much as I did Batman vs. Superman but it was still a pretty mediocre movie. If anything, at least Will Smith and Margot Robbie were entertaining as Deadshot and Harley Quinn. Viola Davis was also great as Amanda Waller. And the first half-hour of the movie was actually kind of entertaining and made me want to see more.

Unfortunately, the movie completely and utterly loses steam once the team is assembled. They just wander around in an almost plotless, “let’s go save the world” story. There is no character development and the characters more or less stay the same as they were in the beginning of the film. The villain, especially, is forgettable. The songs they use are great but many of them don’t fit the scenes they are in. The movie has a dark and murky look throughout that makes it hard to see what’s going on whenever there’s an action scene. Also, Jared Leto is wasted and the guy playing Killer Croc gets nothing to do, which begs the question why he was in the movie in the first place.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Honestly, I didn’t really dislike this movie. In fact, of the movies I’ve seen this summer, the only ones I disliked were The Neon Demon and Suicide Squad. This movie is just average really and it didn’t deserve the bile and hatred it received. If anything, the fact that it was so adequate made all the controversy even more annoying! It especially shouldn’t have caused people to harass one of the actresses on Twitter! (Though no movie should’ve done that, not even if Twitter existed when D.W. Griffith made Birth of a Nation).

This movie was pretty funny, first of all. The acting was fine (although, I have to be honest, I’m one of the few people who didn’t care for McKinnon’s performance). Some of the jokes about New York were relatable. Also, I liked the musical score.

However, it did have some major issues. The villain was weak and his motivation was barely explained. It relied way too much on nostalgia. There were way too many times where the movie was saying “hey, remember when the original did this?” or “hey, remember this actor from the original?” It didn’t help that, I swear to god, they kept playing the Ghostbusters theme every 5 minutes. They even have 3 covers of the theme song over the end credits! 3! The movie also had a rather gaudy look to it, as the movie’s color palette was ugly to look at. It didn’t help that, even once you get past the overuse of the Ghostbusters theme over the credits, it has probably some of the most annoying and ugly credits I’ve ever seen in a movie. I also hated the sub-plot with the government trying to cover up the Ghostbusters’ busts. I’m sorry but there’s no way you can convince me the government could cover up ghosts taking over New York!

That being said, while the movie was rather flawed, it barely annoyed me and I’ve seen way worse so, over all, it’s okay.

War Dogs

If there’s any way to describe the movie, it would be Diet Scorsese. Specifically, Goodfellas/Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese. Yeah, it REALLY tries to be like these movies, what with the narration, music choices from the 70’s-90’s, and being based on a true story about a guy who got entangled in some really bad things. Yet, it lacks the edge. I think the problem is, Henry Hill and Jordan Belfort were interesting but awful human beings. We weren’t supposed to like and root for them but they still had an interesting story to tell.

Miles Teller’s character, on the other hand, is pretty much a good guy who got into a bad situation. Problem is, he’s not a particularly interesting character. He just comes off as the typical straight man you’d see in any movie directed by Todd Phillips. If he was in The Hangover, he’d be Ed Helms’ character.

I mean, while I am definitely not against sympathetic leads, the fact that they were trying to ape those movies so much and yet also had a more boring protagonist as the lead kinda made me miss Henry and Jordan, no matter how jerky they were.

Otherwise, the movie was okay. Todd’s cinematography is great but, what also causes it to be inferior to the movies it’s trying to be, is that the cast doesn’t quite have the same chemistry or energy Martin’s casts did. Jonah is okay I guess but Ana is just as bland as her love interest.

That being said, like I said before, the cinematography is good and the soundtrack is good too. It’s not bad, it’s just, like I said before, Diet Scorsese.

The Infiltrator

Another movie that could best be described as…ehh.

Not gonna lie, when I saw the trailer, I thought it was going to be more stylish and cool, like a Quentin Tarantino movie or something. However, it was pretty much just a straight forward crime drama and nothing more. The cinematography was meh, the script was meh, almost everything was meh about it, except for Bryan Cranston, whose great as always.

Nerve

This movie was a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a movie that has a lot of good points and a lot of bad points as well. On the good side, Emma Roberts and Dave Franco have great chemistry with each other (though, considering Emma’s character was a teenage girl and it’s never stated how old Dave’s character is, that did make their romance slightly creepy). Also, at times, it’s a great satire of how, thanks to youtube and other memes, pretty much anyone can be famous nowadays, people might try too hard to get famous and it might lead to terrible consequences (Donald Trump, anyone?) And the cinematography is gorgeous!

However, a lot of the pranks felt tame and I felt like, if this game actually existed, people would dare each other to do stuff way worse than what they were daring each other to do. Also, the climax got rather ridiculous.

So I guess it’s a smart satire on the viral generation with a story that could’ve been thought out a little better?

Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping

This was a pretty funny movie. Also, the cameos were fun. I especially thought Justin Timberlake’s cameo was hilarious. Plus, the songs are great.

That being said, the movie did feel like a retread of Walk Hard at points, just set in recent times, and the plot did feel all over the place. That being said, while it may not be a great or even that smart satire of the entertainment industry, it’s a fun movie to pass the time.

Cafe Society

This is a nice movie that pretty much hearkens back to Woody’s movies of the 70’s and 80’s. In tone, it feels more like Annie Hall or The Purple Rose of Cairo than Midnight in Paris or Blue Jasmine. The cast is great, with Kristen Stewart surprisingly being the stand out of the cast. The production design and costumes are also great and really evoke the 1930’s well.

Unfortunately, I don’t really agree with Woody’s decision to shoot the movie on a digital camera rather than on film. It kinda took me out of the film because, even though the costumes and production design are spot on, the look of the film is nothing like a 30’s one. It kinda reminded me of Trumbo in that aspect.

Also, the plotting and characters felt a bit underdeveloped. It doesn’t help that Woody narrates it. I know Woody Allen has narrated his movies before but, this time around, it kinda felt like it was done just to rush through things in the plot.

However, it’s still a charming movie, just not Woody’s best.

Sausage Party

So, it’s the first R-Rated CG animated movie in…well, ever. Was it worth the gamble?

It’s not great but yes.

The animation is mediocre and it’s only an hour and a half long, which is a bit of a problem because there are so many plot lines in the movie and, as a result, a lot of them end up feeling underdeveloped. Also, the movie tries too hard to be raunchy at times. After a while, it’s like, we get it, it’s not for kids!

But the movie works as a commentary on religion and a Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney spoof. It does make a good point that people have, unfortunately, used religion to make sense of and promote their backwards and bigoted beliefs (although I’m not sure I agree with the movie’s answer on how to get rid of that, though I guess it makes sense in the context of the story) and, when the movie’s spoofing tropes usually found in Disney, Dreamworks, and/or Pixar films, it can be hilarious. The Disney song parody at the beginning and the Dance Party ending parody are especially funny. In fact, the movie’s pretty funny as a whole. Also, the voice acting is great. I didn’t even recognize some of the people, including Paul Rudd and David Krumholtz.

The Nice Guys

This movie rests on two things: 1.)Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe and 2.)The 70’s. The soundtrack, the costumes, the production design, everything evokes the 70’s to a T. But the biggest strength is the cast, mainly Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. They have great chemistry together and just watching them bicker on their own is fun to watch. The girl playing Ryan’s daughter is also fun and holds her own against the 2 guys.

Admittedly, I didn’t really get that invested in the mystery and I kinda thought the ideas at doing social commentary were a bit underdeveloped but I didn’t care too much because I was having a lot of fun watching it.

Kubo and the Two Strings

This is the best animated film of the year. The animation is beautiful, the action scenes are great, the music is wonderful, the characters are endearing, it’s heartbreaking, it’s a great story about how loss can affect people, it works on so many levels. It’s probably the best film of the summer because the rest of the summer has had movies that mostly ranged from “meh” to “good, not great”.

I only really have two problems with the movie: there’s a romance in the movie that might come off a little creepy to some-if you see it, you’ll know what I mean. Also, the ending is rather confusing.

Otherwise, I can’t believe I’m saying it, but the best film of the summer is a family film. But it’s not the best film I’ve seen since I made the last blog. That would go to…

Sing Street

This movie works as a tribute to music, music videos, and the creativity and love that goes into them. The music is catchy all around and hopefully at least one of these songs we’ll go on to be nominated for Best Original Song at The Oscars. Heck, I hope it wins! Also, the cast is great and I hope these young actors go far.

It also has probably one of the best dance party sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s well-directed, well-edited, and fits nicely into the plot of the movie.

Unfortunately, this Summer, most of the movies were only average. I didn’t even see some of the biggest movies of the summer because I just wasn’t interested.  Hopefully, the Winter and Fall will produce much more interesting movies.

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Posted on August 25, 2016, in Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Nice list. I’m a little jealous. These days, I don’t get out to the theater to see as many indie movies as I used to. I actually really want to see The Neon Demon even knowing in advance that it is all style with very little substance. It just looks so shiny!

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  2. I missed most of these, mostly out of disinterest, but CAFE SOCIETY still hasn’t shown up here for some reason. I haven’t seen KUBO yet, but I plan to rectify that this weekend. SING STREET and THE NICE GUYS were both pretty great. I really enjoyed both and even bought THE NICE GUYS.

    Despite being kind of pretentious and utterly bizarre, I actually kind of liked THE NEON DEMON. It was beautifully shot. The music was hypnotic. Keanu was pretty great as the sleazy motel owner. Elle Fanning was rather bland, and not worthy of such oohing and aahing in the film, I didn’t think, but it was a strange, otherworldly movie that is worth a look, but not by everyone – it’s only for the adventurous movie-goer.

    SUICIDE SQUAD, just like BvS is a loud, ugly mess. It has some good things about it (very few), but overall it is so completely meh, just like BvS. I didn’t hate it. It didn’t offend me with butchery of Superman like MoS and BvS did, but it is not good.

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    • Of the movies you’ve seen, I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said, though I guess the fact that The Neon Demon was pretentious was the reason I couldn’t bring myself to like it

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    • I do regret not mentioning the music in The Neon Demon, though…

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    • In the Greater Cincinnati area, Woody Allen movies can be hard to find. If Cafe Society opened here, I missed it. I just recently caught Irrational Man on cable. I’m typically about a year behind on his movies these days. And, I’m okay with that.

      Agreed on Suicide Squad. I suspect studio butchery is to blame. You can see that there may have been the kernel of a decent movie in there somewhere, but the final product was a mess. Fortunately, it didn’t commit the crime of destroying one of the most beloved characters in fiction.

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      • I actually do like Batfleck. I think he could prove to be a really good Batman. Christian Bale, despite being in really good Batman movies, was not a particularly great Batman.

        On the flip side, I think Jared Leto’s Joker is absolutely terrible.

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  3. Someone took liberties to bring this to the interwebs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFU_SuXNIIg

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