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This Month in Film – December 2018

This Month in Film – December 2018

By Brendan Lee Mortal Engines – December 14 From the pen of one of cinema’s all-time greats, Peter Jackson (Lord…

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Vidiot: April 2018

Wednesday 04th, April 2018 / 09:00

Thor:  Ragnarok 

Norse gods only answer prays containing key words, like, mead, wench or beheading. But if this action movie is to be believed, there may not be many deities left to worship.  

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) must prevent their newly freed sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying the Nine Realms. In the process Thor is captured by an intergalactic slave trader (Tessa Thompson) and sold to the ruler (Jeff Goldblum) of a battle planet for gladiatorial games. Powerless without his hammer, the god of thunder must learn to rely on others, including Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), if he hopes to save Asgard.     

Better than both of its predecessors by leaps and bounds, especially in terms of action, acting and humour, director Taika Waititi manages to bring levity to what is essentially Thor’s darkest saga yet.   Incidentally, the only people who’d mourn Asgard’s ruin are white supremacists.    

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Lady Bird 

The best thing about Catholic school is that it accepts pregnant virgins as students. However, it’ll be awhile before the pupil in this dramedy even gets a miraculous kiss.  

Quirky Catholic high school senior Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) struggles to find her place amongst her straight-laced peers as she waits to live out her Ivy League College fantasy far away from her overbearing mother (Laurie Metcalf). It’s not until she joins the school play that she finds her calling, and her new boyfriend. But her affluent new friends begin to affect how Ladybird perceives her status, her family and her old friends.  

Although it comes with all the angst, awkwardness and senseless rebellion you’d expect, it’s the hilarious and touching mother-daughter dynamic that elevates writer/director Greta Gerwig’s vision, and sets it apart from your standard coming-of-age account. Moreover, teenage girls hate their mothers up until they need them to babysit.    

 

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I, Tonya

Watching girls perform vertical splits in their panties is only allowed during Olympic figure skating. Sadly, the skater in this dramedy has been banned from ever flashing audiences again.  

From an early age, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) had been pushed by her abusive mother (Allison Janney) to be the best on the ice. Despite the cruelty, she grew into a talented skater.    Her abusive boyfriend Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) sees that Olympic potential, but also a threat in her main rival, so he hires Tonya’s bungling bodyguard and his dimwitted crew to assault Nancy Kerrigan at the ice rink.    

A bizarre true story made even stranger by turning the violent event and its participants into a comical situation executed by white trash caricatures. While the cast is impeccable, the directing, especially the green-screen work, is terrible. And while the Winter Olympics frowns on clubbing competitor’s kneecaps, Disney On Ice doesn’t.    

 

Justice League 

The best thing about having Superman on your team is that you don’t have to work so hard. Unfortunately, the super-friends in this fantasy are down one Kryptonian.  

In the wake of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death the evil Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) returns to reclaim three hidden artifacts that will allow him to transform Earth’s environment into a living Hell. To prevent this from happening, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) recruit The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to help intercept the relics before Steppenwolf’s minions unite them.    

The quasi-sequel to Batman v Superman, DC’s ensemble film featuring its flagship comic-book characters is as half-baked as its roster of metahumans. With no character development, a generic villain and embarrassing dialogue, this CGI laden actioner never stops to flesh out its one-dimensional story.     Incidentally, recipients of Superman’s transplanted organs should stay out of direct sunlight.    

 

The Shape of Water 

The upside to a having a fish-man on your superhero squad is they can unclog any toilet. Surprisingly, the hybrid in this fantasy isn’t affiliated with any sequential art.  

When a military colonel (Michael Shannon) arrives at a top-secret aquarium with a mysterious sea-creature in tow, mute cleaning lady Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is inexplicably drawn to the cryptic convict.  

While she and her co-worker (Octavia Spencer) are warned not to interact with the army’s asset (Doug Jones), Elisa lunches with it anyways. When she learns of its imminent dissection, she enlists her neighbor (Richard Jenkins) and a scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) to help free her new friend.  

Steeped in classic monster movie ethos, writer/director Guillermo del Toro crafts beautifully shot fan-fiction of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and, in the process, manages to make his crossover masterpiece. The downside to dating a fish-man, however, is permanent shrinkage.     

The Disaster Artist 

If making movies were easy the Hollywood elite would have no one to sexually assault. Fortunately, the filmmaker in this dramedy is able to finance his feature sans studio.  

Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) has a hard time coming out of his shell in acting class until he partners with nonconformist classmate, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). The independently wealthy Wiseau invites Greg to LA to peruse their acting dreams. When neither is successful, Wiseau writes a script for Greg, that he produces and directs. What Wiseau creates is considered to be one of the worst movies ever made.  

Based on Greg’s book about the making of The Room, director James Franco takes a stellar treatment and turns it into a touching and comical recreation of the unbelievable events. Franco also does an uncanny job of portraying Wiseau. Fortunately, nowadays when a movie is bad they just release it in 3-D.   

 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 

The worst thing about life in a video game is the strippers only accept Bitcoin. Thankfully, the gamers in this adventure-comedy are miles from civilization.  

Four high school archetypes get detention and accidentally end up in the jungle-themed role-playing video game Jumanji. Trapped inside of mirror opposite avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan) of themselves, the incongruous crew sets out to save the jungle nation by returning a stolen gemstone to the jaguar god.         Unfortunately their quest is continuously hindered, not only by their old idiosyncrasies, but also by their new personality’s weaknesses and limited life span.

Riffing on video games as well as adolescent stereotypes and fears, this VR update of the 1995 dice game original is surprisingly fresh and funny thanks to its talented cast and playful script. Yet without tiny game pieces to swallow you omit that game night tradition of visiting the ER.    

 

Pitch Perfect 3 

Sadly, if you want to sabotage an a cappella group you have to slit a member’s throat. Or, you can do what the rivals in this musical comedy do and play instruments.  

Three years after their last performance, the dismantled Bellas (Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld) are reunified for a chance to perform in a USO show alongside DJ Khaled. But when he only wants Beca (Anna Kendrick) for his opening act, it divides the outfit.  

Meanwhile, Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) ex-con father (John Lithgow) lands the girls in hot water.  

With its reunion plotline dependent yet again on a singing competition, this third entry in the pointless musical pageant is the absolute worst in the series, and unwatchable. This claim is exemplified by the inclusion of organized crime, military adverts and DJ Khaled’s acting to the mix.  

Moreover, singing without a guitar is like fighting without an M16.   

 

Call Me By Your Name 

Homosexuality is the solution to the age-old toilet seat up/down debate.  

A theory confirmed by the May-December lovers sharing a lavatory in this drama.  

Noted bookworm and audiophile Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is forced to surrender his bedroom for the summer when Oliver (Armie Hammer), an archeology student of his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), comes to stay with his family at their countryside villa in Italy.  

While he is initially hostile towards the older visitor he has to show around town, Elio eventually realizes that his unfriendly demeanor is just a way to disguise what he really feels. Fortunately, Oliver feels the same.  

While it is a beautifully shot and wondrously acted adaptation of the coming-of-age erotica that completes director Luca Guadagnino’s desire trilogy, one cannot overlook the film’s blatant ephebophilia, its overly optimistic ending, or its marathon runtime. Nevertheless, thanks to pepperoni and sausage, Italy remains the origin of penis euphemisms.  

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

The upside to being the last Jedi is that you longer have to use the brown lightsaber. Sadly, the final hope found in this sci-fi film doesn’t even know how to wield her weapon…yet.

While her friends in the Resistance (Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Laura Dern) attempt to deactivate a First Order device that can track their diminutive fleet through hyperspace, neophyte Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeks out exiled Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for training. Her path eventually leads to her rival Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his master (Andy Serkis).  

Although it comes embedded with embarrassing one-liners, questionable character arcs and a number of absurd scenes, this divisive – yet action-packed and expansive – installment in the space opera franchise is still far superior to its predecessor, The Force Awakens.  

Incidentally, like all endangered species, the last Jedi should be in a space zoo.    

Downsizing 

The upside to company downsizing is the sudden availability of prime parking spots at the office. However, this sci-fi comedy is applying the corporate buzzword to shrinking humans.  

Scientists in an overpopulated future invent a way of decreasing mass to a diminutive stature so that tiny humans can live on less food. Down-on-his-luck Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife (Kristen Wiig) sign up for the irreversible procedure.   But when his wife backs out at the last minute and files for divorce, the pintsized Paul is left to languish with the other single little people (Christoph Waltz, Udo Kier).  

Highbrow director Alexander Payne’s sci-fi satire on the current state of our social, environmental and economical woes, this wonderfully rendered lampoon lacks decent laughs and a sufficient climax to justify its politicalized POV or its pricey SPFX. Lastly, even though you’re relatively the same height as one, never date a praying mantis.   

 

He’s Amorally Superior. He’s the… Vidiot 

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