Haiku and Reviews: Don’t Breathe, Kubo and the Two Strings, Southside with You, Hell or High Water, Sully, Don’t Think Twice

After racing through The Crown, we’ve filled the void with some very good movies lately.
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Don’t Breathe
Robbing a blind man
should be easier than this.
Rocky times ahead.
The camera moves like a snake in this absolute nailbiter of a thriller.  Yes, there are some familiar jump scares and boneheaded moves by the victims, but no complaints from me.
imgresKubo and the Two Strings
A boy and his “ax”
with Monkey and Beetle, too
fight for their story.
Never have I seen such smooth stop-motion.  I didn’t even realize it was stop-motion until I looked it up; I was certain it was all CGI.  The story gets muddled at the end, but well worth the journey.  The supporting characters are a riot, and also quite affecting.
imgresSouthside with You
Michelle and Barack
before Jesse and Céline
walk and talk and love.
This movie very much channels Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, but that’s not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it’s a wonderful thing.  Parker Sawyers, the actor who plays Barack Obama, doesn’t impersonate him and yet somehow embodies him.  I don’t quite understand how he pulled this off, but it’s a remarkable performance.
imgresHell or High Water
a pair of brothers
robbing banks to rob them back
sad justice for all
It’s what The Big Short wishes it could’ve been: an evisceration of the financial crisis with heart, humor, and tragedy.
imgresSully
The human factor:
did it save or did it hurt?
One man knows the truth.
My wife had the best line after seeing this movie: “Laura Linney really phoned in her performance, didn’t she?”  All joking, of course.  Linney is fine in it, in the limited time she has.  The film goes into the back story in ways I didn’t know, so it was not only entertaining but quite informative.
imgresDon’t Think Twice
It is time to ask:
Does improv improve with age?
Heavy thoughts with smiles.
I can’t recommend this film enough.  Gillian Jacobs is the heart of this movie and she’s so perfectly cast.  Keegan-Michael Key is as fine a dramatic actor as he is a comic one.  Don’t miss this one.

Haiku and Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Doc Strange, the love child
between M.C. Escher and
a kaleidoscope.

The last time I told anyone to go see a movie in 3D for its visuals was Avatar, and that was seven years ago.  Doctor Strange is another such film — the special effects are quite bedeviling and should be seen on the big screen.  Props must be given to Inception; that fight scene in the spinning corridor no doubt spawned a great deal of the action that we see here, not to mention the rest of the dreamy machinations led by Leo and company.

It’s a prototypical superhero movie, meaning there’s a reluctant hero, some funny lines, and a Big Boss level.  In a way, it’s as familiar as any bildungsroman, and at this point I’m so tired of it that if any film of this genre deviates even a little — like Deadpool — I’m almost grateful to the point of tears.  Benedict Cumberbatch turns his arrogance volume down to about 4 here, and it’s the right level for this damaged character.

Tilda Swinton is of course lovely and amazing as always, but I must say, as a person of Asian descent, it feels like if there was one big-budget superhero movie that could’ve starred many more Asians, it was this one.  I’ve read about the Tibet/China issue that most likely resulted in changing the teacher character from Himalayan to Celtic, so it was a business decision, but it also feels like a lost opportunity.  I’m glad Benedict Wong got in there — he was the best thing in Marco Polo (in a series that was, well, terrible), and he lends his considerable gifts of austerity and gravitas to the film.

Haiku and Review: Anomalisa, The Big Short, 45 Years, Carol

The Golden Globes are tonight, and to celebrate, here are four more haiku and reviews.

MV5BMTkyMzI2MzQ1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDg0MzQxNzE@._V1._SX96_SY140_Anomalisa

Strange, funny, and sad
Through puppets, many Noonans
It’s a Kaufman film.

The dream sequence is the highlight of this one.  Synecdoche, New York, was better.

MV5BMjM2MTQ2MzcxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzE4NTUyNzE@._V1._SX90_SY140_The Big Short

A curious film
that tries hard to make sense of
the nonsensical.

Can’t really say I enjoyed this one.  Bale does what Hugh Laurie did for years on House; Carell is his usual schlub, except angrier.

MV5BMTgxMTQ4NzMyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA0MTgyNzE@._V1._SX95_SY140_45 Years

a frozen body
kept alive through memory
a rebound marriage

This movie is a gem.  The scene in the attic and the final scene are unforgettable.

MV5BMTcxNTkxMzA5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTI0ODMzNzE@._V1._SX94_SY140_Carol

Therese and Carol
Loving through glances, windows
Heatrbreaks and triumphs.

Best film of the year.  Brooklyn is a close second, but this one has the benefit of two extraordinary performances.  The final scene here is one of the most moving I’ve ever experienced in cinema.

What a fine year in movies.  My favorite 4:

Carol
Brooklyn
Creed
Mad Max: Fury Road

Many others I enjoyed:

I’ll See You in My Dreams
45 Years
Spotlight
No Escape
Youth
Inside Out
Clouds of Sils Maria
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Love and Mercy
Far from the Maddening Crowd
Spy
Fast and Furious 7
Cinderella
Ex Machina

Haiku and Review: Inside Out, Inherent Vice, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MV5BOTgxMDQwMDk0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU5OTg2NDE@._V1._SX94_SY140_Inside Out

The life of Riley
by way of Joy and Sadness.
It’s all in her head.

Without question one of the best Pixar movies, if not the best one.  The one emotion that I think we could’ve done without is Disgust, but really, that’s the tiniest of complaints.  It’s visually arresting, the story moves, and it’s one of these rare movies that may actually help people, too.  Only three animated movies have been nominated for Best Picture (Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3) but none have won.  Who knows what Oscar bait will come out in November and December, but at the very least, Inside Out deserves to be nominated.

MV5BMjI2ODQ2NzUwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU3NTE4MjE@._V1._SX94_SY140_Inherent Vice

Looks good, sounds right — but
how little we care about
anything, really.

Comparisons to The Big Lebowski are obvious (and The Dude is the far superior movie in all the major ways — humor, plot, acting).  After watching the film, I wondered why it didn’t jibe.  It felt like the movie thought it was funnier than it actually was (which was very little).  The only thing of note is the actress Katherine Waterston, who seemed like she was channeling circa 1995 Laura Linney.  Her facial expressions, her movement — she reminded me so much of a young Linney.

MV5BMTQ1NDI2MzU2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTExNTU5NDE@._V1._SX90_SY140_Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

She climbs in beauty
up a bruiser, then turns, falls —
a takedown done right.

I don’t think this was as good as the last one, Ghost Protocol, which had more cool gizmos and a higher hit rate for humor (mostly because Jeremy Renner brought the laughs in GP while here, he’s stuck in a suit in DC for too many stretches).  But wow, what a performance by Rebecca Ferguson.  Give her hair an old-fashioned wave, light her softly, and take some B&W shots, and she’d be a modern-day Lauren Bacall (somebody else agrees, too!).  And a big hand to her stunt double, Lucy Cork, who made all those fights look so good.  Ferguson’s character was actually more action-oriented than Cruise’s character.  How cool is that?