film reviews


flounderboxd. "this generation's roger ebert"


2022

Dune

rambling here

Have been procrastinating watching this because I love the book, it has been notoriously hard to adopt, and I was very skeptical. I have a lot of thoughts. Overall, I think that it was extremely well done within the confines of the style ans format. The book itself is very "chatty", especially in the earlier parts, which doesn't lend itself well to film. I thought some of the character and tone was a bit off: jessica was a bit too weepy, instead of the incredibly poised, strong figure that she is in the novels. I was a bit annoyed at first that a lot of the early exposition got cut, but I think that in the end the structure worked out very well. Timothy Chalamet made a very good paul and I think the characters were good other than jessica. In the books, baron harkonnen doesn't believe paul&jessica are dead, and demands to see the bodies. I think that is better. The set and costume design is really good, but sometimes it felt a bit airy and stiff. Like there is no reason every room had to have a giant stone door. The tone was extremely serious, there are moments of levity and pause in the book that I think could have been welcome. Dune is also about intense political negotiation, and a lot of those moments were captured really well, but I think it would have been better with more political stuff and less action.


I will always compare movie adaptations of books to the books. Some people find this annoying. But I will always do this and also be a little elitist about it. Dune is, objectively, a better and more complete story in a 600 page book than it is in 2 2.5 hour movies. But within the confines of that format, this was a well done and faithful rendition: I could tell that the director respected the text, rather than abandoning it when it didn't suit him. Like aside from my complaints above, I could list aspect after aspect that was really well done. But on some level, it was just "well done", maybe "safe", like it lacked the weirdness of the novel and smoothed over a lot of its rough edges. I am not sure if a better Dune movie is possible. It would require taking some pretty serious risks, and adapting Dune is already itself a huge risk.


I liked this quote from a nyt review:

Throughout “Dune,” you can feel Villeneuve caught and sometimes struggling between his fidelity to the source material and the demands of big-ticket mainstream moviemaking and selling. It’s easy to imagine that he owns several copies of the novel, each copiously dog-eared and heavily outlined. (The movie is relatively free of holiday-ready merch opportunities, outside of a cute desert mouse with saucer-sized ears.) At the same time, Villeneuve is making a movie in a Marvel-dominated industry that foregrounds obviousness and blunt action sequences over ambiguity and introspection. There’s talk and stillness here, true, but also plenty of fights, explosions and hardware.


npr review:

the visuals are stunning but the storytelling feels rudimentary; you get the sense that he's managed his source material without fully mastering it. In some ways, Lynch's Dune actually got closer to the mind-bending strangeness of Herbert's novel; it had a touch of visionary madness that this movie could use a little more of.


maybe george miller should have done it. he already made a movie in the desert


2021


Don't Look Up


Watched this movie with my parents, hadn't heard anything about it before. Extremely heavy-heanded satire. Captures the cultural moment for how we respond to catastrophe (global warming, COVID). Apocalyptic satire along the lines of Dr. Strangelove. Funny and well-done.


Thinking about it more i think i really liked it. Good nyt review:

“ In the end, McKay isn’t doing much more in this movie than yelling at us, but then, we do deserve it.”


seen people compare this to "idiocracy", which is insane, because not only is idiocracy a terrible and unfunny movie, it is also literally fascist in its political orientation.


Chunking Express


Really, really good. Beautiful and almost absurdly romantic.


The French Dispatch


What if Wes Anderson directed a film adaption of an issue of the New Yorker? ("This magazine")


The Social Network


I really enjoyed this the first time I watched it, and rewatched it this year and it was much worse than I remembered. I think it is honestly kind of bad, except for the Trent Reznor soundtrack. The characters are flat, and it doesn't really seem to capture the essence of Mark Zuckerberg or what Facebook is all about. The real Mark is far less smart and cool.


Princess Mononoke


Rewatched this film. As exceptional as I remembered it. Want to watch more Miyazaki. San's character design is striking.


The Net


Bizarre 90s hacker movie I watched on my parents' recommendation. I think Hackers, which came out that year, is better


Shiva Baby


This was my favorite film that came out this year. Intense and hilarious. Who knew that twitter comedian Rachel Sennott is also an exceptional actress. Found out that, despite playing a Jewish character on screen, she isn't Jewish.


2020


Kajillionaire


This was my favorite film of 2020. Based on my Google search, it appears that it lost money.



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