Tomb Raider

tomb_raider_(2018_film)This reboot of the video game adaptation is neither better nor worse than the previous one with Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately, the story is not very inspiring, but it offers good action (despite the impossible stunts typical of Lara Croft), as well as very nice acting from Alicia Vikander and Daniel Wu. I was quite annoyed by the fact that all the aspects of the supposedly Japanese ancient culture presented in the story is completely bogus and actually looks more Chinese than Japanese. (WTF!?) However, [SPOILER ALERT] I like that the ancient curse turned out to be a disease [SPOILER END]. It offers a nice breath of realism in the movie. Unfortunately, to make it cinematically palatable they had to make the disease’s symptoms completely, absurdly improbable. 

It is safe to say that Alicia Vikander comfortably slips into the Lara Croft character (despite not having her exaggerated physical attributes which she thankfully compensate with great stamina and charm) and delivers a performance that saves the movie from a complete wreck. The movie received mixed reviews (6.3 on IMDb, 51%/56% on Rotten Tomatoes). All in all, it’s an average action movie that offers brainless entertainment. It’s worth watching, whether you are a fan or not, but only if you have time to spare. stars-2-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

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Damn! The trailer is showing all the best scenes of the movie!

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Pacific Rim Uprising

pacificrim2-posterAs bad as this movie is you cannot but love it if you are a mecha (or giant robots) and a kaiju fan — which I am. There’s plenty of action (although not very realistic and playing loose with the laws of physics), not much story, a hint of human drama, and a bit of humour. There’s not much originality either, but let’s call it an “hommage.” The term Jaeger reminds me a little of Heavy Gear (although it could come from so many other sources: it means hunter in German, could refers to infantry troops, a bird, a car, or several anime or manga), some designs seems inspired by many giant robots anime (Giant Robo, Mazinger, The Big O) and, of course, the kaiju part if inspired by Ultraman, Godzilla and Gamera, but the biggest “influence” is without contest Neon Genesis Evangelion — and this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to an Evangelion live-action movie. The alien monster attacking Earth, using alien technology to develop weapon against them, the synchronization part, the tall slender design similar to the rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury (damn! I love that design!): that’s seems all “inspired” by Evangelion. Although they’ve gutted all the really interesting stuff (mystical bits and human drama) it is still pretty entertaining.

There is plenty of cool stuff in this movie. No transforming robot but instead a combining kaiju. Not a bad idea. And I’ve certainly LOL when the pilots of Bracer Phoenix have to eject and land at the feet of a statue of a… Gundam! Beautiful and really funny. I couldn’t fail to notice the heavy Chinese presence in the cast and crew (not surprising since producer Legendary was bought by the Chinese Wanda Group and some of the shooting was done in a studio in China). It did relatively well at the box office but was not particularly liked (rating of 5.6 on IMDb and 44% / 41% on Rotten Tomatoes !).

All in all, it offers brainless sci-fi action and lots of mecha & kaiju nostalgia. If you are a fan. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

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The Bill Murray Stories

billmurraystoryApparently there are lots of stories on the internet about Bill Murray doing some crazy spontaneous things where he crashes a party or a wedding picture session, comes behind someone in a public toilet and puts his hands on the person eyes saying “No one will ever believe you”, or ends up doing the dishes in some kid’s apartment. He just shows up out of the blue, acts like he is just a normal guy (not a celebrity) but in a way that touches people’s life. Could those stories be true? That’s the question which Tommy Avallone asked himself and decided to make a documentary about it. 

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mythical Man is a documentary that retells those stories and interviews the people who experienced them. It really seems that most stories — at least those told in the documentary — are true and there is pictorial or video evidences to prove it. Avallone then goes on asking himself: why? Why someone like Bill Murray would do such things? To goof around? As a publicity stunt? Not at all. It is just who Bill Murray is. It is part of an improv thing and part of a life philosophy (something like taoism or zen). He just like to live in the moment and make people happy.

Personally, I am just wondering what makes people wake up in the morning and decides to make a documentary about Bill Murray. You are in movie school and need to do one as an assignment? Or really want answers to those questions and decide to just films everything and try to make money out of it? Or you just have the “reporter” gene in your blood? I guess someone should make a documentary about that.

It’s not a very good documentary (it’s clumsy, particularly toward the end, and I dislike when someone makes a documentary about themselves looking for something) but I enjoyed it because I not only learned a lot about who is Bill Murray, but it was also quite entertaining (lots of funny anecdotes and movie excerpts). It reminds me of this book that I once saw in the library: The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing, by Gavin Edwards and R. Sikoryak, which was basically asking the same questions. [ Amazon / Goodreads / Library ]

Apparently, Bill Murray is quite an interesting person. But whether you are interested or not, whether you like documentaries or not, it doesn’t matter: if you just take the moment to watch this sixty-seven minutes movies you will certainly enjoy it. And maybe, maybe, you’ll take something out if it and wonder, like me, could I ever be that spontaneous and really live in the moment? stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonGoogleIMDbNetflixRotten TomatoesWikipedia ]

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Golden Globe: No Japanese winners

At the Golden Globe 2019, held on January 6th, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has awarded Bohemian Rhapsody for the Best Motion Picture (Drama), Green Book for the Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Glen Close for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama), Rami Malek for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama), Olivia Colman for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Christian Bale for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), and Alfonso Cuarón for Best Director.

Surprisingly (or is it, really?), I have not seen any of the nominated TV series either for Drama (The Americans [the winner], Bodyguard, Homecoming, Killing Eve, or Pose) or for Musical/Comedy (Barry, The Good Place, Kidding, The Kominsky Method [the winner] or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). And I am not sure I am interested. Although, I’d like to see  Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite or Crazy Rich Asians (when they comes out on dvd)…

However, the categories that interest us the most are those where Japanese movies were in nomination. Unfortunately, no Japanese movie received any award this year.

The Best Animated Motion Picture award went to Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse. It is quite disappointing because I thought that Mirai had some chance. Even the heavily Japanese-inspired Isle of Dog [on which I commented] deserved the award better. That’s a shame.

The Best Foreign Language Motion Picture award went to the Mexican movie Roma. However I was really cheering for Shoplifters [the latest film by Hirokazu Kore-eda, which was shown at the FNC and commented by Claude R. BlouinAsianWiki / IMDb / Wikipedia]. It is just bad it didn’t win.

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Murder on the Orient Express

268x0wA murder on a luxurious train forces a Belgian detective on vacation to get back to work. It is an entertaining and beautiful movie (with nice CGI scenes of old cities or of the train slithering through the snowy mountains) but it is mostly unremarkable — beside the many inconsistencies, the average [over-] acting (despite an all-star cast) and the outrageously grotesque moustaches of Hercule Poirot. Frankly, I did not like Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of Agatha Christie’s landmark character. I guess it was one adaptation too many for this famous 1934 detective novel… Over all, despite a Box Office success (revenu were more than six times the movie’s budget), it’s a rather disappointing movie. It got a lukewarm reception with ratings of 58% / 54% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.5 on IMDb. stars-2-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

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RBG

RBG-covI just watched this CNN documentary about the life of judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is really a historical crash course about the other side of the fight for civil rights: the legal aspect of the women’s lib movement in which RBG played an essential role. The film is composed of extracts of hearing and court proceedings as well as interviews with RBG, friends, family and some legal or political experts. We first learn how she became a lawyer in 1959 (Harvard and then Columbia) but couldn’t find employment because she was a woman. She taught law at Rutgers. Within the ACLU she co-founded in 1972 the Women’s Rights Project which oversaw hundreds of gender discrimination cases, RBG personally arguing six of them before the Supreme Court (winning five). It is incredible how such a small and frail woman could be so dedicated and determined to fight gender discrimination in any way necessary in order to slowly build up precedents and find justice.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter nominated her as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.. In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court where she played an iconic role. With the retirement of Justice O’Connor in 2006, she became the only woman on the court, until the nomination of Justice Sotomayor in 2009. First considered a moderate, she shifted toward the Left to preserve the balance as the court became more conservative. She is known for her dissenting opinion. She could be the last line of defence against the civil rights roll back by the Trump administration. Strangely, the appeal of her work and personality — through an Internet meme named Notorious R.B.G., which was comparing her to rapper Notorious B.I.G. — has given her great pop culture fame.

This is a great documentary that is fun to watch, but also very informative. I’ve learned a lot about American history. It is also a nice introduction to another movie about RBG’s life, this time a fictionalized account of her early days, titled On the Basis of Sex and which was just released this Christmas. RBG was well received as it earned a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.6 on IMDb. Therefore, it is highly recommended. I recorded it when it aired on CNN in September, but it is now available on Dvd (from Amazon or your local library) and can also be streamed on iTunes or Amazon Primestars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

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Transformers: The Last Knight

TransformersTheLastKnight-covThis story literally puts Earth against Cybertron. It’s Megatron versus Unicron. The Transformers have been here since the night of time. They fought with King Arthur, they fought in World War One, and even against Hitler. But we didn’t know about it because their existence has been occulted by a secret society started by Merlin himself, as he was entrusted with a power staff to control them all (or at least the three-headed dragon made of the bot-knights of the round table!). And Stonehenge is a weapon (more or less; maybe more a socket for a weapon…)!

Under the influence of Quintessa, Optimus has become Nemesis Prime! However, Yeager’s Autobot partner, Bumblebee, turns him around and, with the help of the bot-knights, they fight back against Quintessa and Megatron’s plan to destroy Earth. But it is far from over as the fight will continue with yet another movie (no, please, make them stop!)…

This movie offers a few good ideas (transformers in the past, steampunk influences, introduction of interesting new characters like Viviane or Izabella), but they are unfortunately slapped together in a messy way. The editing is horrendous, the dialogues terrible and don’t even get me started with the bad humour! At 2h34, the movie is way too long and the action is going too fast — transformations are just a blur and it feels like you’re watching a movie in fast-forward! Definitely entertaining but also rather annoying (particularly Cogman, the Bot-ler). I guess it is mostly for the hard-core fans.

The movie made plenty of money but it was disliked by viewers (with a mere 15% critic rating and 44% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes and 5.2 on IMDb — strangely the next film, standalone prequel Bumblebee, did very well with a Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 94%). Maybe it’s time to pause and rethink the franchise… stars-2-0

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