Category: Morning After

The Morning After: May 8, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Guardians of the Galaxy


While the original Guardians of the Galaxy introduced our heroes, Vol. 2 gives them added depth and personality, something that helps differentiate this outing from some of Marvel’s other recent outings.

The original team is all back, adding two major new characters and a handful of subsidiary characters. All of them are given their due, which is a pleasant surprise as Marvel has a tendency to gloss over minor characters it doesn’t have time for in spite of their necessity to the plot. The story here, which revolves around Peter (Chris Pratt) being rescued by his father and discovering his origin. There are myriad other storylines at play here including the soured relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), the antagonistic nature of Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Yondu’s (Michael Rooker) checkered and troubled past, and a race of genetically engineered people who take offense to the theft of their property by the vary folk, the Guardians of the Galaxy, who just saved them from utter destruction.

The performances are as expected and there are plenty of questionable shots used, but much of the fun and frivolity of the original remains intact while deeper, more contemplative emotions are explored. For all its joy and humor, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 evokes dense and complex negative emotions, all in service to a surprisingly rich and complex plot.

The Morning After: Apr. 3, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Ghost in the Shell


One of the most popular anime films in history, Ghost in the Shell was adapted from a celebrated manga and has now been turned into an American theatrical motion picture. Built in the same world and with the same characters as both the manga and the anime, this new live-action film takes the events of those two distinct stories and creates a third variation on the theme with Scarlett Johansson in the lead role.

The story of a human brain installed in a synthetic body gives the audience a glimpse into the future of human technology as a way to preserve the identity of the deceased within the construct of a machine. This concept has been discussed frequently in science fiction and while the film has some questionable elements, it’s a bit more easy to follow than the Mamoru Oshii film from 1995. While each have some contemplative elements to them, this version is more tightly packed and existentially explanatory than the animated film.

Johansson gives a good emotionless performance, though at times it doesn’t fit the growth her character goes through. The mixture of American and Japanese actors is a solid bunch and the tributes as well as derivations from the original film are thrilling enough to provide a unique experience to fans and new audiences alike. Whether the philosophical discussions that develop from this film will be as deep as those surrounding the original, it must be said that the film doesn’t shy away from those themes while juicing the story up with enough Hollywood-style action to keep the audience engaged for much of its running time.

The Morning After: Mar. 20, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Beauty and the Beast


Taking one of the most cherished animated features in history and turning into a live-action spectacle comes with a degree of risks. It must not only pay tribute to the original, it must branch out and expand the universe in ways that are both unexpected and uncontroversial. Beauty and the Beast, the first animated feature ever nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards was Disney’s latest attempt to capitalize on its existing properties in a long series of animation-to-live-action adaptations that have tackled everything from Cinderella to The Jungle Book so far.

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The Morning After: Mar. 6, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Logan


In Hugh Jackman’s third and final solo film as the legendary X-Man Wolverine, Logan is an unrepentant journey into the dark soul of one of the most iconic characters Marvel has ever created in a sea of icons. While Disney is busy churning out easily palatable comic confections, 20th Century Fox has been quietly building a pensive, visceral universe in which its characters can delve into realistic explorations of theme and humanity.

Jackman, after appearing in two Australian films that never saw U.S. distribution, got his start as the character Wolverine in the 2000 film X-Men, the keystone in the relaunch of the box office-dominating Marvel universe. Logan was a key component of each of the subsequent films and, in spite of a single cameo in X-Men: First Class, he has been a part of the X-Men universe the entire time. He’s thus been able to dig into the character with both sets of claws and wring out a complex, complicated, and conflicted character who earned his own solo effort, the only one yet for a cast member of the original X-Men films. Through three solid efforts, each increasingly more compelling, Jackman has delivered a fearless, full-throated performance, culminating in this career-topping effort.

The film, written and directed by James Mangold, follows Logan in his waning life, the adamantium of his skeleton slowly poisoning him. At his side is an albino tracker named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who helps him care for an Alzheimer’s-riddled Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) as they hide out as the last remnants of metahumanity, all of their friends and companions having died. Set in the near future, Logan takes a young mutant (Dafne Keen) under his wing as they seek escape from the laboratory that made her and wishes to put her down. Stewart himself gives an Oscar caliber supporting performance.

The script explores the rough humanity of a mutant who’s life has been hard fought, but whose body is no longer able to heal itself with the same ferocity that allowed him to eviscerate his foes with little effort and come out of bloody conflicts unscathed. As his regenerative abilities fade, his age begins catching up with him and his injuries become more pronounced and impeding. This isn’t a glory-filled superhero romp where a great hero must face off against massive global conspiracies or strange alien threats. It’s a drama where sacrifice, compassion, and humanity are explored with grit and grim determination.

The Morning After: Feb. 27, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

I was out of town all weekend, so nothing was watched. Plus, the Oscars happened, so there’s that.

The Morning After: Feb. 20, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Ghost in the Shell


One of the things I dislike most about anime is the animation style isn’t always realistic and oftentimes, it looks a bit too rushed. Ghost in the Shell has both of these qualities in abundance.

The story about a futuristic world where cybernetics has improved to the point where consciousness can be subsumed and sublimated by technology. Where a person’s mind can be re-written and re-programmed. This is a world born out of ideas by Philip K. Dick. While considerably less bleak than Dick’s material, the film attempts some very weighty concepts, which succeed as often as they fail.

The vocal work, even discounting the translation-based out-of-sync lip movements, is less than impressive. Mimi Woods as Motoko Kusanagi is the only one who escapes those problems. The animation is solid in places, amateur in others, and the story feels like it abruptly ends. There are some compelling scenes that work visually in spite of all this, making it a passbly stylish production.

The Morning After: Feb. 13, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The Lego Batman Movie


It’s no surprise that Batman, as a character, has been portrayed so frequently on the screen, big and small. He’s a misunderstood figure whose brooding vigilante act is a direct result of a tragedy in his past. Tim Burton did a handy job with him in 1989 and Christopher Nolan did a fine job with him in the 2000s, but is Lego really the team to tackle such a weighty character? If the Adam West Batman TV series is any indication, then the answer is yes. And it was.

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The Morning After: Feb. 6, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

Oscar season is tough on the movie-watching capabilities, so I managed to get some TV shows watched in fits and spurts, but that’s about it.

The Morning After: Jan. 30, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

20th Century Women


Writer/director Mike Mills tackles 1979 in this exploration of the life of a single mother and her struggles to raise her teenage son. Annette Bening delivers one of her finest performances as the emotionally isolated mother who doesn’t want her son (Lucas Jade Zumann) to turn out like her and enlists the help of his best friend (Elle Fanning) and another woman (Greta Gerwig) who lives in the same house as they, under the watchful eye of the landlord (Billy Crudup).

Skillfully written, the film is one of the jewels of 2016, left at the curbside by a number of other films that explore deeper, supposedly more resonant subjects. Mills does excellent work with this knowing screenplay that tackles women’s issues in a unique and contemporary way while feeling part-and-parcel of the era in question. The cast is superb and deserved far more recognition than they received.

The Morning After: Jan. 23, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

With a need to prep for the upcoming Oscar nominations, I was not able to watch anything.

The Morning After: Jan. 16, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

I had a minor surgery Thursday the 5th and because of it, and an infection to go along with it, I have been unable to do much at all. As such, the past week has been poorly populated with content, something I’m hoping to rectify as I’m feel better each day.

Some things that weren’t movies that I watched including listening to HG Wells’ War of the Worlds on audiobook, a wonderful experience; listening to six episodes of Nick Offerman’s Audible series Bedtime Stories for Cynics, which were unbearably amusing; and starting the first couple of chapters of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on audiobook with Alan Cumming reading (there are supposed to be others, but I didn’t get that far).

Apart from that, here is what I was able to watch this past week:

A Series of Unfortunate Events


I didn’t get out to the movies this weekend, thanks to my post-surgical recovery, but I did manage to binge-watch the entirety of the new A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The first adaptation, starring Jim Carrey was a regular feature film that collapsed the entirety of the first three books into a cramped, disjointed, poorly acted mess of a film that saw Jim Carrey unleashed when he should have been restrained.

Thankfully, the new series, with Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf this time out, is a much more spry and exciting endeavor. Turning the first four of the thirteen books of the series into eight episodes, two episodes per book, is precisely the strategy I suggested originally. Each book could easily take the form of a single movie, and at 45-minutes per episode, these end up like mini-movies for each book.

The performances are stellar and the aesthetic is brilliant. Any fan of the book will instantly recognize the events and adventures of the Beaudelaire Orphans along the way. The production values are perfect, as are the various literary punches and dialogue flares that make it feel like you’re living out the stories of the books almost magically. The only bad thing about it is having to wait until Seasons 2, 3, and possibly 4, to finish it all out.

The Morning After: Jan. 9, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

Nothing watched this weekend.

The Morning After: Jan. 2, 2017

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week (or prior since I apparently missed a couple in all the hubbub):

The Lobster


Being single in the future might not be as simple as it sounds. The Lobster envisions a pseudo-futuristic society where being single requires you to enter a facility for fellow singles, find love within fortyfive days or be turned into animals. The title originates as the form that Colin Farrell’s David would like to take should he fail. With his dog brother in tow, David attempts to navigate the rigors of love with people who, through various flaws, may be unlovable, including himself.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos wrote the screenplay with Efthymis Filippou and it’s unlike anything most mainstream audiences have ever seen. The absurdity of the events in the film underlie a tense cultural imperative evident in modern society where those who are single are somehow seen as incomplete. Those who cannot find love either become animals or flee and become hunted like them. Farrell has been quite active in recent years, but this may be his most commanding performance yet, approaching his pinnacle in 2008’s In Bruges.

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The Morning After: Dec. 26, 2016

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

La La Land


Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash is a big, bold musical in the style of Hollywood musicals of the Golden Era. These musicals had plenty of dancing; simple, but evocative songs; and a sense of place and style that made them feel otherworldly. La La Land, to a greater extent, does all of this, while discussing the fleeting vitality of said productions and the reality of romantic comedies and their ultimate rewards.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as two Los Angeles creatives seeking careers that have eluded them. Stone is a barista who dreams of becoming a world renowned actress. Gosling plays a soulful jazz pianist who can’t escape the aged realities of his most beloved of musical genres. As the two cross paths, their lives take new twists, some for the best, others for the worst. They find out just how much in sync they are and how far apart they could become.

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The Morning After: Dec. 19, 2016

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

A Monster Calls


J.A. Bayona, the director of the brilliant The Orphanage and the visually daring The Impossible, brings this adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel A Monster Calls.

As a young boy navigates his feelings about his mother’s illness and the nightmare he’s been having, he summons a monstrous tree to help him cope, damaging himself and the people and things around him.

A stirring film filled with brilliant animated sequences and multiple boxes of tissues stuffed within its storied fable. A modern fairy tale that works on several levels.

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