Two bad movies and then a rundown of all the great things at Sundance. Andy REALLY hates Split, and tells you why he gave it 0/10. xXx – Return of Xander Cage isn’t as terrible, but it’s laughably awful: 3/10. And Adam talks about Sundance movies Colossal, Chasing Coral and The Big Sick. Warning: Andy breaks out the soapbox to talk about climate change.
We review Risen, The VVitch, Race, and make some predictions and suggestions for The Academy Awards coming next week. Make sure to follow @sithbot_ and @boredashellcast for Oscar live-tweeting from Adam.
Risen – the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ told through the eyes of a Roman soldier. Wasn’t that the same plot as the fake movie within a movie in Hail, Caesar! ? Yes, yes it was. And the Coens get Jesus and the source material of The Bible far better than the makers of Risen did, especially when it turns into CSI: Jerusalem and the boring parts of The Hobbit. If you’re going to make a Jesus movie, have a point and make it clear. But it’s competently made and well-acted, so 5/10.
The VVitch – Atmospheric does not equal scary. Lame jump scares are not scary. Your actors need to not mumble their lines. But the film’s biggest problem is it is incredibly boring and has a really stupid ending. Really? That’s your ultimate bad guy? Still, it was atmospheric– the score and use of only ambient light was cool, but The Revenant did it far better. Adam gives it 3/10, Andy gives it 3.5/10.
Race – Clever title, there, movie. Still, a fun movie. Great performances by main cast, and weaves in the historical context incredibly well. We understand how bad it was in Hitler’s Germany and also for African-Americans in The United States. Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl were played like they came from a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, but Riefenstahl’s attempts to film the Olympics become almost more interesting themselves, threatening to derail the main narrative. But at its core, this is an inspirational sports movie. Andy gives it 7.5/10.
Oscar predictions and who we would vote for. Follow us on Twitter as we live-tweet the awards show.
Kung Fu Panda 3 – not as good as the first two, but still very good. Bryan Cranston and JK Simmons steal the movie. Kung Fu movie tropes and the zen existential question “Who am I?” Gorgeous animation. A longer review here, but Andy gives it 7 out of 10
The Finest Hours – the true story of the heroic rescue of the SS Pendleton, so spoiler alert that the rescue is successful? It’s Disney, so the sailors don’t swear. Chris Pine is great as the Coast Guard captain, but even better is Casey Affleck as the ship’s engineer trying to keep the ship afloat and crew alive long enough to be rescued. And then it all screeches to a cheesy halt in the last 10 minutes. Fuller review here, Andy gives it 7 out of 10.
And we have a trio of films from Sundance:
Lo and Behold: Reveries on the Connected World – Werner Herzog’s 10-part documentary on the history of the internet, and where we’re going. Good, but lacks a through line. Werner Herzog impressions.
Newtown – the effects of the Sandy Hook shooting. Incredibly emotional what these families are going through, including the families of survivors dealing with the guilt as their friends and neighbors go through the pain. 9/10
Project Avalanche – foudn footage movie about faking the moon landing, featuring Stanley Kubrick via cleverly edited on-set interviews during 2001.
The Sundance acquistions, where they’re going, the Birth of a Nation record-breaking deal, more on #OscarsSoWhite and the SAG awards– how streaming is giving black actors more opportunity.
This week we review the Best Animated Feature nominated stop motion animated Anamolisa, the Oscar-dominating survival film The Revenant, and Adam talks about what he’s seen at Sundance so far: The Greasy Strangler, Other People, The Lobster, Norman Lear: Another Version of You.
Anamolisa – directed by Charlie Kauffman, produced by Dino Stamatopolous (nee “Starburns”), this should’ve been better. Very overwhelming. Its basic conceit isn’t well-communicated — there’s only two people in the world, the main character and everyone else, who all look and sound the same. . . .until he meets Lisa, who is an anomoly (Anaomolisa… get it?) Too trite, navel-gazing and precious for its own good. Technically amazing. Puppet sex! But better in Team America? Andy gives it 6/10, Adam gives it 5/10.
The Revenant – Iñárritu strikes gold again. DiCaprio’s acting. That bear attack, tho. The atmosphere of the film will make you feel cold. Andy really liked it but was nitpicking and thought it was a little overhyped: 7.5/10. Adam thinks it was awesome and it’s in his top 10: 9/10.
Sundance movies! The worst: Greasy Strangler – no, you are NOT John Waters. The best: Other People. Will make you laugh and cry. Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon are both amazing. The Lobster and Norman Lear: Another Version of You (documentary) – also very good!
Max – 2.5/10 – The weirdest, worst afterschool special ever. The good? A boy and his dog. Robbie Ammell fighting in Afghanistan. Lauren Graham. The bad? Thomas Haden Church’s wooden acting. The ridiculous plot about the gun smuggling. Andy’s longer review here.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl – 8/10 – Won ALL THE AWARDS! at Sundance. Lots of great stuff in here for cinephiles. Not a typical love story, but very touching and smart.
The Overnight – 6/10 – Lots of fake dong. This movie is the Venn Diagram of Funny + Awkward. Duplass Brothers executive produced– makes sense. Andy’s “longer” review (or is it a prosthetic?) here.
Ted 2 – Adam: 3/10; Andy: 5/10 – Seth Macfarlane is just ripping off his own jokes. Ted was funny. Ted 2 is not. Some funny nerd humor and easter eggs, but it felt a little mean-spirited. Seth Macfarlane can’t do smart political/ethical satire necessary to carry this plot.
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