Lost in Translation (2003)

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[Credit: Focus Features]

Bob Harris: For relaxing times, make it santori time.


Starring: Bill Murray as Bob Harris, Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, Giovanni Ribisi as John and Anna Faris as Kelly, dir. Sofia Coppola

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Cinematographer: Lance Acord

Ghost In The Shell (2017): A Serviceable Addition To The Sci-Fi Genre You Will Immediately Forget About As The Credits Roll (Review)

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Credit: Paramount Pictures
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Ghost In The Shell, a title so great they had to include it twice during the opening credits, follows Major (Scarlett Johansson), a one-of-a-kind cyber-enhanced human designed to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. Based on the popular Japanese manga series and 1995 animated film, Ghost In The Shell also stars “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche and is directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman)

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Full disclosure: I am not intimately connected to anything Ghost In The Shell, whether it be the wickedly popular manga series or beloved 1995 film. I was only aware of the bare necessities of the story like Scarlett Johansson was going to play a cyber-enhanced AI in a cyber-punkian society. As a fan of Johansson and everything to do with the idea of artificial intelligence – Ex Machina was one of my favourite films of 2015 and Blade Runner is simply one of my favourites of all time – I was intrigued with GiTS and wanted to see how it contributes to the discussion. This film is interesting because I was aware of everything occurring on screen and I understood the stakes at play, I just wasn’t invested at all in anything.

The world was gorgeous looking and I love the aesthetics of the cyberpunk subgenre but it ultimately didn’t feel lived in. I interpreted it as the filmmakers knowing what was expected from the universe and including all the respective elements of it but neglecting to focus on the individuals who allegedly spend their day-to-day existence in this world. It ironically ended up feeling too artificial for me to become emotionally invested in anything on screen. Elaborate backstories for the secondary characters that inhabit the world aren’t necessarily needed as the primary focus is on Major and, to some extent, her partner in crime Batou (Asbæk). Their chemistry was nice and I enjoyed their scenes together because I felt like they were genuine friends, although I think that’s more of a testament to the respective actors’ charisma than their character (hmm.. Where have I mentioned that before?)

‘When X was revealed, I was just waiting for Y to happen so we could reach Z and call it a night’

The plot’s progression lingered on certain moments for much too long which caused a few issues with the pacing, however I was engaged overall with the pertinent plot points; as in when X was revealed, I was just waiting for Y to happen so we could reach Z and call it a night. Since I do thoroughly enjoy works that depict the various issues related to the idea of artificial intelligence, I loved the surprise inclusion of certain AIs and the dilemmas Major faced when confronted with certain revelations.

The revelations made were certainly interesting since I had relatively no idea where it was going to lead and I actually appreciated SPOILER a crucial component from the beginning of the film was addressed by the halfway point so what remained was the outcome of what I initially believed would be the focus of the entire film. END SPOILER

Scarlett Johansson’s Performance Is A Major Highlight

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Credit: Paramount Pictures

 

Look I’m not here to address the controversy surrounding the casting of Major as there are many more qualified individuals to illustrate their views on the issue. What I can do is judge how Johansson handled the character of the Major and her portrayal is actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. I can see why some may interpret her performance as wooden, however I viewed the restraint and emotionless of the Major as vital components of the character. If she showed an inordinate amount of emotion, it would take away from the overwhelmingly synthetic nature to her even though the film depicts the struggle with her human side attempting to find its way through the synthetic. Johansson unsurprisingly kicks major ass and there are some genuinely bad ass sequences I adored, I just wish there weren’t as many damn cuts. The mannerisms she had were also an incredible feature to the character; the way she walked and would turn her head illustrated her understanding of the minute details of the character and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance as a damn Synth.

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SYNTH LIVES MATTER

How Were The Other Aspects To ‘Ghost In The Shell’?

The score of a film is an aspect I always pay attention to because it sets the mood for every scene and when it is executed correctly, it can enhance the greatness of a film tenfold. Ghost In The Shell was composed by Darren Aronofsky‘s frequent collaborator, Clint Mansell and although it isn’t one of his best works, it is enjoyable. Sanders’ direction wasn’t anything too special, there were a couple shots that maneuvered its way throughout the city that were nice to look at. The overuse of slow mo was so fucking tiresome, I don’t know why directors still continue to utilize this technique when nobody is asking for it and it became outdated when Zack Snyder popularized it in 2006.

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Credit: Paramount Pictures

If you’re looking for an in-depth intellectual focus on the idea of artificial intelligence, watch Ex Machina or Blade Runner. For a lesser version of the previously mentioned complete with action sequences and ScarJo kicking ass, check out Ghost In The Shell.

Ghost In The Shell receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads

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Her (2013)

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Amy: I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.

Starring: Joaquin Pheonix as Theodore, Scarlett Johansson as Samantha and Amy Adams as Amy, dir. Spike Jonze

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Cinematographer: Hoyte van Hoytem(Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Interstellar, Spectre)

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Movie Review

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Is it wrong of me to think everything could have easily been solved if all teams came together and had a reasonable debate a la 12 Angry Men about their issues??

So I will admit that I am not an insanely huge fan of the superhero/comic book genre. I like certain additions to the MC and DCCU (the first Avengers & Ant-Man were fun, BvS was ehhhh), I despise certain additions to the superhero genre in general (I consider The Amazing Spiderman to be an abomination), overall I will watch whatever comes out but I certainly do not fawn over them. The Russo Brothers‘ second addition to the Captain America trilogy and MCU is an incredibly action-packed and entertaining blockbuster that I am happy I watched.

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Many concur that the action scenes in this movie are phenonmenal, particularly that Airport Scene. Read/watch whatever you hear about that scene, it will live up to your expectations by showcasing every member’s abilities brilliantly with dashes of humour sprinkled in that, unlike Age of Ultron which falls slightly into the latter of my superhero genre additions, work to add to the experience of the movie rather than hinder it (in my humble opinion). Personally I found the characterization of mostly everyone to be wonderful, and as my friend Diego of the Lazy Sunday Movie Blog eloquently put it in his reviewCivil War is “a whole lot better than some other super hero movie, which had to juggle less characters and had tons of material to use but still managed to ruin the story.” This is something I appreciated because by the end of it, I felt a connection with a majority of the characters, and there are a ton of characters. Chris Evans‘ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark both had justifiable reasoning in their beliefs, although one weaker link I found was Sebastian Stan as Bucky/The Winter Soldier..

Look, I get it. Shit is tough. Revelations are made in this movie I don’t wish to spoil. But Bucky says something to Tony toward the end of the movie that made me go “why would you say that??” And Stan’s performance is… okay. Of every performance, Stan’s was my least favourite. I personally thought his dead eyes felt more like a moody goth circa 2003 than a domineering figure and since like 90% of this movie hinges on the character of the Winter Soldier, I wanted to have some sense of struggle or hurt this guy was feeling. Instead I honestly thought the world would’ve been better without him… Sorry Cap. You’re still incredibly beautiful

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I mean… really…

You know who I loved? Paul Bettany as Vision.. I think he is my favourite character in the Avengers lore. I found his chemistry with Elizabeth Olsen really great and I want to see more of that hulking, beautifully synthetic man.

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Civil War suffers from Constant Weird Extreme Close Up Syndrome. Many scenes wherein the plot was attempting to be developed felt incredibly stagnant at times and although the action sequences were fantastic, there were times where I thought “PLEASE ZOOM OUT! I DON’T NEED TO SEE THE LUSCIOUS MANE OF SO AND SO!”

How were the Black Panther and Spiderman introductions?
I mean this with all sincerity, Chadwick Boseman‘s Black Panther and Tom Holland as our new Spiderman were two of my favourite aspects of Civil War. Black Panther had a presence to him and I was intrigued by this guy, I wanted to know more. Spiderman… Oh boy. This property is finally in the right hands, that is all I will say about that.


If you’re looking for a welcome addition to the MCU and want to see two heavyweight superheroes you know and love go hard at it, check out Captain America: Civil War. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go ogle that Chris Evans gif for another hour or ten.
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Captain America: Civil War receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads

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s/o: LazySundayMovies

Lost in Translation (2003)

Charlotte: I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.
Bob: You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.

Starring: Bill Murray as Bob Harris, Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, Giovanni Ribisi as John and Anna Faris as Kelly, dir. Sofia Coppola

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Cinematographer: Lance Acord (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation)
gif source: thegoodfilms

The Jungle Book (2016) Movie Review

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The Jungle Book: A visual marvel that delivers incredibly on effects and a simply story.


There were moments in this movie that genuinely terrified me. This is because animals, particularly of the wild-kind, are fucking scary (see the bear scene from The Revenant and every nature special). Why they terrified me were because the visual effects work in this movie are in-cred-ible. I honestly have no idea how Jon Favreau directed any of these scenes and the people responsible for the CG work deserve all the awards. I was hooked from the first second of the first scene and loved witnessing whatever it was I was witnessing throughout it. 

Besides the incredible visuals, the voicework implemented was fantastic. I am honestly ecstatic that the actors involved gave a genuine shit about their roles and you can tell while listening that no one phoned in their performance. I love watching/listening to performances on-screen, no matter how small or big, and feeling their presence. 

The Disney Blog has a great article that showcases the actors alongside their Jungle Book counterparts and honestly, everyone delivered. If you are hesitant in watching the movie, go watch it solely for Bill Murray’s performance as Baloo. He had me and a majoirty of the adults in the audience, cracking up. Neel Sethi as Mowgli wasn’t particularly bad or insanely good, he was fine. His lines were delivered painfully occasionally and there were moments where his over-enunciation became annoying, however as mentioned, his performance overall was fine.

Now to make a confession: I have never seen the original animated Jungle Book.

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Thankfully, however, my living arrangements for the past couple of decades aren’t under any rocks so I was aware of certain aspects to the film like the Bare Necessities song and the red trousers Mowgli wears. If you’re one of the five people on earth that hasn’t seen the original animated, don’t worry, you will definitely enjoy watching it. The effects and voice performances are honestly worth the price of admission. It is one of those movies that I don’t really feel the need to rewatch again but I’m certain I will be watching that final climatic fight scene many times in the future. Shit was more intense than Batman v Superman.

If you’re looking for a visual masterpiece (it is honestly eye-orgasmic worthy) with incredible voice performances, check out the 2016 adaptation of The Jungle Book.. we’re going to get another one from Andy Serkis in 2018 so I can’t wait to see how he visualizes the world of the Jungle.


The Jungle Book (2016) receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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