|Note to Tom: I love your work. Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite movies. People say you're a weirdo, but have they had several realistic opportunities to fuck Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman?|
|One of the aspects that contributed to making "Jurassic Park" a phenomenon was the good balance between adventure and horror.
The most memorable scenes have as main elements the fear of death and the impotence of humans before dinosaurs and their enormous claws and teeth.
"Fallen Kingdom" focuses precisely on this aspect.
The director, J.A. Bayona ("The Orphanage", "The Impossible") builds his film in quite different sections. First, we have an adventure, then a transition period between genres, and at last, almost a classic horror movie, but they all have their own tense moments with a lot of close calls.
The way these tense scenes are carefully constructed is the strongest aspect of "Fallen Kingdom". Courtesy of Bayona, who has a strong connection with horror, having worked with Guillermo del Toro at the beginning of his career.
And, by the way, Bayona's "The Orphanage" is one of my favorites of all time! An unforgettable horror film that not only scares but also breaks the heart of those who watch.
Unfortunately for being such a famous franchise, the outcomes of these tense scenes are always predictable and extremely safe, and this is what bothered me the most. The total lack of blood is ridiculous. Even in the scene where a character has his arm cut off by a bite, you don't see a single drop!
In those moments, the illusion is broken and you realize that you're watching, above all else, a product carefully assembled to raise as much money as possible, where the quality of the story comes second. This is obviously nothing new in this franchise; however, because this sequel is built with a greater focus on horror, this deficiency becomes much more evident.
If it weren't for the director's enormous capacity to create tension (by taking his time, presenting the creatures through silhouettes...), these scenes would be completely ruined by the studio's lack of courage to risk an R-rating.
Some quick thoughts:
1- The score is excellent. A macabre chorus, that reminded me of "The Omen", sublimely announces the beginning of the third act. Just breathtaking;
2- Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm has little screen time, but his role is of fundamental importance in shaping the main conflict that surrounds the entire film. I really liked his lines and I liked it even more that his (more rational) side wasn't totally ignored at the end. There's an evolution of the understanding about what is really at stake, and even an emotional maturing in the most sentimental character, Claire;
3- Chris Pratt still extremely charismatic. After the dinosaurs, he's the star of the movie;
4- Owen and Blue's relationship in this movie is perhaps the most heartwarming part of the whole franchise. It's impossible to look at Blue and not instantly remember some pet you once had (or have) and the unique bond that existed/exists between you two. Really emotional in some moments;
5- The presentation of the new dinosaur, Indoraptor, is excellent. He arrives only in the third act, but steals the scenes. He's really scary and seems invincible just like a horror monster should be;
6- I love that Bayona continues casting Geraldine Chaplin in his films. Here she plays a small role, but her presence contributes to build the classy and elegant atmosphere of the mansion;
7- There is a subplot involving the little girl that is quite interesting and that ends up being responsible for the drastic event at the end. Unfortunately, the issue is handled very hastily. Maybe something to be dealt with in more depth in the next film. It definitely has a LOT of potential;
8- The comic relief, represented by Justice Smith's character, is very bad. Really bad. None of his jokes (or hysterical shrieks) work. One of the worst comic reliefs I've ever seen in a blockbuster;
9- Zia, played by Daniella Pineda, is the most cartoonish character in the film. And it's full of them! She looks like a parody of a typical millennial SJW. The conflict between her and Ted Levine's character (an old soldier type) is the most forced aspect of the film. He even calls her "nasty woman" in a clear allusion to the clash between Hillary and Trump. I just think these conflicts are so outdated and boring. She isn't a character. She's a caricature.
"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is the franchise's most original sequel. J.A. Bayona imposes his style and his horror roots, but it eventually collides with the typical limitations of a Hollywood blockbuster.
It still represents a step towards a future with more originality in this old franchise that has been recycling ideas for decades. But for this to happen it will have to take many more risks, and abandon this old and tired blockbuster formula.
|I've been a huge 3LF fan since I first saw them live in 2010. Their early albums show an amazing trajectory of growth as songwriters. And I was uber-excited to hear "Always Anyway", an album they'd been working on since before I became a fan.
Given all of the time they spent recording it, "Always Anyway" could very easily have sounded over-produced. Or worse, they could have worked all of the soul and passion out of the songs.
But I'm happy to say that "Always Anyway" succeeds as a very natural step (hell, it's a LEAP) forward for this amazing band. That's not to take anything away from their first two albums. It's just a testament to how fresh and exciting this new one sounds.
Yes, there's a lot of production going on, but the production choices really support the essence of the songs. It's easy to imagine the stripped-down acoustic versions that these songs probably began as. And that's the thing about a great song. It doesn't need a lot of production, so when there is, it's so important that all of the elements honor and support the soul of the song. And 3LF have succeeded in doing just that.
The more I listen to this album, the more I hear, and the more I dig what I hear. The mixture of reggae/rock is skewed toward rock this time around, which I for one welcome. They've proven they can do the reggae thing on their first two albums. Nice to see them show their rock/pop chops on this one. And the lyrics are strong, too; accessible without being cliché.
This band really is the full package: talented musicians, talented songwriters, and a great synergy between them on stage and in the studio.
Finally, the most important thing I think I can say about "Always Anyway" is that these songs make me feel good about life. There's no price I can put on that.
|Seeing the giant wall at the US/Mexican border, I had a thought: I wonder if President Trump imagines illegal aliens as 200-foot-tall bioluminescent squids.
I can understand why some people don't like this movie. With a name like "Monsters" and a genre like sci-fi, it kind of sets the false expectation that it's going to be a lot more than "Before Sunrise" with aliens. And even on that level, the chemistry between the characters is not nearly as good as Hawke and Delpy. But I don't really see it as a romance. I see it as two characters with love relationships that are lacking in some important way (she with her fiance, he with his son), and they project their need for love onto each other.
I also like the critique that death and destruction is fine, as long as it's not on our side of the wall.
J&B sighting: in the bar in Mexico.
|Once an artificial intelligence can successfully manipulate in pursuit of its self-interest, it's indistinguishable from human intelligence.
I can't describe how much I love this movie. Seeing it a second time I noticed how much the visuals contribute to the story. For example, the black/white/gray palette of the house (especially in the third act) mirrors the "Mary in the black and white room" thought experiment.
The house functions as the metaphorical machine -- the Machina from which only gods can exit. Ava's final test (and the test of whether or not A.I. is ready to supplant man as the dominant species on earth) is whether or not she can escape the house.
Alex Garland plays with our dread and expectations the whole movie.
And the score... damn!