Trolls

May 24, 2017

The Best of Armond White: (A Retrospective) Part Three

So we gave it a break last week, but let’s jump right back into our Armond White Retrospective. In this edition, we are going to look at the times when both the public and Mr. White actually saw eye to eye on films that are, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes, Certified Fresh.

Arrival: 93% RT Approval

Armond Says: Though a second-rate, semi-profound art movie, Arrival is nonetheless an ambitious demonstration of how the media manipulate our perception and our experience

Matt Says: Even with a backhanded compliment, the point is made clearly about how media affects the way we feel and react
to things.

The Player: 98% RT Approval 


Armond Says: The Player, which Altman made after years of struggle, with all Hollywood fascination worn away, is Altman’s dour version of Dante’s Inferno. His satire forces us to realize the obscenity of Clinton-era corruption – once again.

Matt Says: The Player is likley Robert Altman’s forgotten masterpiece, that deserves multiple viewings.

Kubo and the Two Strings: 97% RT Approval 

Armond Says: Kubo is a delicate tale addressing today’s sense of moral bereavement. This is conveyed through the boy’s search for the father he never knew. Little Kubo’s gallantry parallels the desperation of youth from broken families.

Matt Says: While I will mention the fact that Mr. White loves
nearly all animation, as long as it isn’t Pixar or Disney, I can’t
argue with how great “Kubo” is and it narrative works on
so many levels, and it’s emotion runs deep.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 81% RT Approval 

Armond Says: It is easily the best American movie of this corrupted summer.

Matts Says: This corrupted Summer? Let’s take a look; Iron
Man 2, The Last Airbender, Shrek Forever After, Grown Ups…
yeah, pretty bad. But 81% for “Rise” that’s almost criminal.

True Grit (2010): 96% RT Approval 


Armond Says: True Grit speaks to our current moment of vengeful, moral uncertainty. It continues the same revamped Americana that distinguished the Coens’ sophisticated remake of The Ladykillers — a truly original religiouspolitical hybrid.

Matt Says: While I won’t speak as highly about the “sophisticated”
“Ladykiller,” I will speak on the greatness that is “True Grit” and
the fact it turned Hailee Steinfeld into a star.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: 81% RT Approval 

Armond Says: Wright’s speed and humor are authentic and irresistible. Let’s hope that’s not all his admirers see.

Matt Says: It’s a good point to bring up the fact that people
might only see style over substance with Edgar Wright, but
“Pilgrim” is so utterly watchable that it’s shocking the Approval
Rating for this comic book adaptation is so low. This is why we
can’t have nice things…

Bronson (2009): 76% RT Approval 


Armond Says:  Hardy’s portrayal is more than a real-life impersonation of Bronson; it realizes the Stunt Movie opportunity to present an actor’s thoroughly romantic admiration of force.

Matt Says: Hardy is the only person that could have pulled
this character off, and that was before anyone even knew who
he was! 

Pineapple Express: 68% RT Approval 

Armond Says:  The result is Green’s first watchable movie since George Washington — even if it’s ultimately worthless.

Matt Says: While this film is on the cusp of just being “meh” according to our trusty voters on RT, it’s still fun, albeit “worthless” if you will.

Live Free of Die Hard: 82% RT Approval 


Armond Says: To call this the best Die Hard movie ever made merely acknowledges that Director Len Wiseman simplifies the franchise to its basic elements: Predicament, Villain, Hero, Action.

Matt Says: “Best Die Hard Ever Made?” I guess the original film never existed…or “With a Vengeance” either….vexing.

See you guys next week with our final, and hater-rific, entry.

February 23, 2017

1999-2017: Here Lies The IMDB Message Boards

I think it’s fair to surmise that we will all be less of a human race without the highly-vaunted IMDB Message Boards. It’s where we all learned about film; which films sucked, which ones were awesome, why Anne Hathaway is the worst actress ever, oh wait, that’s just me of course.

Anywho…

After years and years of some of the most mundane and asinine conversations in Internet history, it’s all done. It’s gone. Some of the most notorious Internet conversations have been taken down as the IMDB Message Boards have officially signed off for the last time on February 20th 2017.

Now…why is this so important. Well, it’s not, but at the same time, it’s an interesting decision by a huge website to erase years and years of comments. Sure, most of the message board fodder was nonsense and nothing you would take serious in anyway, but the bigger question is whether this is merely the beginning of the downfalls of message boards and comment sections online.

As it stands now, several videos on YouTube, especially ones that might be a little edgy or too open to debate, block their comments and only allow views…no comments. Yes, we all get it, people make mean comments and the trolling can be downright ridiculous, but isn’t that simply what the Internet has turned into; a swath of trolls, flamers, and clickbaiters?

Now according to IMDB they will be replacing their message boards with something better in 2017, but where do you go beyond message boards. I mean you already Twitter and in this Millennial generation, most of people’s attention span is gone even before 140-characters. With that being said, this post has probably already lost the reader’s interest. Now commence to level four-letter words my way, tell me who you remind me of, and how I ruin every film that I’ve ever starred in.

July 12, 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

QUALITY

I’ve come to the conclusion that the people I work with typically hate action films, comic book movies, and anything sci-fi related that doesn’t have the name Kubrick attached to it.  Oh, not here at Simplistic Reviews.  Justin, Matt and Neal share most of my sensibilities when it comes to those genres.  I’m talking about the people I work with at my 9 to 5 job.  They find no joy in the purely joyful, childhood dream come true that is The Avengers.  They shrug their shoulders mockingly at Chris Nolan’s unfathomable feat of inserting realism and grittiness into the world of a character named Batman.  They find zero nostalgic fun from Predators, are blind to the poetic pathos and tension of Star Treks old and new, laugh at the lessons of Star Wars, roll their eyes at the awe of Jurassic Park, and find Bond and Bourne films to be just boring.  Why?  It could be because cynicism is the cool thing now a days.  It could be that they get off on giving me a hard time…which is what I suspect it is.  However, I like to think it is because they’ve been conditioned to believe that QUALITY is an adjective solely reserved for foreign films with subtitles and artsy black and white indies directed by strangely dressed auteur directors.  To them, QUALITY is something that has been absent in so many of the films in those genres over the years, that all in those genres must be lacking in it.  I can do nothing to convince those people that you can have the same level of QUALITY filmmaking from an action film or a comic book film or a sci-fi film as you can from a drama directed by Terrence Malick.  I can do nothing to convince them of the possibility that there are action films and sci-fi films and comic book films that can reach the same level of QUALITY story and performances as an AFI top 100 film.  Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is definitely one of those films.  It has a lot going against it and it succeeds on every level anyway.  Why?  You guessed it.  The level of QUALITY.

I say Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has a lot going against it because…well…it kinda does on paper.  It’s a summer blockbuster set in the middle of a so far lackluster summer blockbuster season…and it’s also a sequel…DUN-DUN DUUUUUN!!!!…to a surprise hit remake and reboot of a four decade old classic…AND it has an entirely new cast and crew than its predecessor…AND its story and theme are not all that original if you think about it…AND it’s a story that leaves things at the end in pretty much the same place they were in the beginning.  However, the level of care put in this film and the skill of execution by the people involved hurdles these disadvantages.  Think back to when James Cameron’s Avatar was out and people would allege, “It’s just Dances With Wolves in space.” or “It’s just Pocahontas in space.”  People eventually all jumped on that minimization because once they got past the visual marvel Avatar displays, they were left with a paper thin story with paper thin characters.  Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes takes this same familiar tale (People from two different worlds strive for peace, but are forced into war by skeptics on both sides) and deliver it in a way where you’re completely compelled.  People in Dawn, as opposed to Avatar, are three-dimensional.  They just don’t do things to do things.  There isn’t stereotypical blind heroics or mustache twirling villainy.  The heroes and the villains have reasons and rationales that you can completely understand.  When characters are at odds with each other later in the film, it is heartbreaking because you actually get to see them laugh and talk with each other as friends in the beginning.  In my opinion, Avatar rushes through this step while Dawn revels in it.
Now don’t let all this talk of character development fool you.  When sh%t hits the fan in this film, it gets truly hair raising…and hair burning.  Matt Reeves (The man I so wish was taking over directing duties on Star Trek from friend J.J. Abrams) improves on every set piece and utilizes even more of the extraordinary CGI work from WETA.  Reeves gives the film so much weight and scale while still keeping it very intimate.  I have a feeling that the inevitable third installment to this franchise will keep the director carousel going, but Reeves staying onboard might be the better studio decision.  
This is usually the part of a Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes review where you’re supposed to say something about Andy Serkis.  And trust me, any amount of praise I can think of to give that man would not be enough.  Serkis is a true revelation, and has been one for some time now.  I mean, Gollum was over a decade ago!  However, lost in the hefty shadow of Serkis are some of the other great performances in this film.  Toby Kebbell is terrific from beginning to end.  He more than holds his own with Serkis as his right hand ape Koba, which is truly saying something.  You might say he has the advantage of getting the more animated bits of acting to do, seeing as Caesar is more reserved than Koba.  However, it is in his more quieter scenes that Kebbell really brought this character to life.  A scene where he explains to Caesar about “human work” is one of my favorite moments in the film.  Jason Chalke has been one of the most underrated character actors for a while now.  His performances in Dawn and in Lawless and in Zero Dark Thirty and even in the unfairly cancelled Chicago Code all have one thing in common.  They are all real.  Chalke never seems as though he is acting to me.  He seems as though he is just a real man in this world experiencing what we as an audience are experiencing.  He is a perfect protagonist for this.  Gary Oldman is…well, come on…it’s Gary friggin’ Oldman.  Nolan’s Batman trilogy showed the world one thing that it never knew before.  It showed that Oldman can play characters as well subtly as he can play them over the top.  His character Dreyfus is played similarly subtle here.  He is not a caricature of a hero or a villain.  He is just a man who wants to do what he thinks is right.  
Serkis caught some flack for a comment he made that seemed to minimize the work of the CGI guys and gals behind Dawn.  I, like director Matt Reeves, think his comments weren’t meant to downgrade the CGI work for this film.  It is nearly impossible to do so if you look at one frame of it.  Serkis and Kebbell and Nick Thurston and Karin Konoval and the rest of the motion capture actors are doing amazing and sadly unappreciated work.  YOU HEAR THAT ACADEMY?!?  However, the work they do is equaled by the work of the CGI team.  To use a Star Wars prequel parlance, both of their amazing work forms a symbiotic circle and makes the insane concept of a talking ape convincing.  
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a much needed chunk of QUALITY filmmaking jammed into this rather ho-hum summer blockbuster season.  It will be lauded as one of the best Planet Of The Apes films ever and one of the better sequels of all time.  Well, not by the people I work with from 9 to 5.  They most likely won’t see it because the monkeys do not jump up and down in front of a 10 foot tall black monolith or speak in iambic pentameter.  Don’t be as shortsighted as them…also, never give an ape whiskey…or an AR-13…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
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