Category Archives: Comedy

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022) Review

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Weird - The Al Yankovic Story

Time: 108 Minutes
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic
Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna
Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento
Director: Eric Appel

A fashion model celebrity couple join an eventful cruise for the super-rich.

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Triangle of Sadness was on my list of 2022 movies to catch up on. I had been hearing about it; I knew that was that it was a satire on the rich, involved a luxury yacht, and starred Woody Harrelson. Most notable however was the fact that it won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. The reactions to the movie also interested me, considering it was mostly positive but not everyone was on board with it. While Triangle of Sadness does have its issues and I don’t love it, I am glad that I saw it.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, as many other summaries and reviews disclose a bit too much about it. It goes in some wild directions and it is best experienced for yourself if you decide to see it. What I can say is that the movie is very much the opposite of what subtle is. It is a bombastic and absurdist satire about the rich and isn’t subtle about its themes at all. It covers elitism, the rich, class, social roles, and power structures. There isn’t any subtext and is very on the nose, but I’m not against that. It is also entertaining and enjoyable, and most of the dark comedy really hits. The middle act involving the yacht was solid, the cast get to bounce off each other and that was the funniest portion of the film for me. That being said, Triangle of Sadness is very flawed. As far as satires on the rich (or “eat the rich films”) go, it doesn’t say anything new. That isn’t inherently bad, but there is a self satisfied vibe to it at times that can get a little grating at points. Triangle of Sadness is a long movie at around 2 hours and 30 minutes long and you certainly felt the length, not helped by the uneven pacing. I do blame the last third of the movie for this. While the first act is decent and the second act is really good, the third act was a bit aimless. I was wondering where it was going, and not necessarily in a good way. It wasn’t as interesting or entertaining compared to what came before, and so it felt a bit of a slog. It certainly doesn’t help that this portion is around an hour long. Not only that, but I felt that there was a lot that wasn’t resolved or fully developed by the end despite the length of the film, and so it didn’t feel very satisfying.

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The characters are for the most part blatantly unlikable, yet are all the more compelling because of that, and makes the dark comedy work a lot better as they are forced into certain situations. It helps that the performances from the cast are strong. Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean are the closest thing to the lead characters and they are great in this. I wish they had more of a focus in the movie; they are seemingly established as the protagonists in the first act, but over time its like they are forgotten about. Still, both are good in their roles. Everyone else plays their parts excellently, but there are a few standouts. Zlatko Buric is great, while Dolly de Leon particularly shines in the third act. Woody Harrelson also plays the marxist drunk captain of the yacht who is highly entertaining whenever he’s on screen. Honestly the movie would’ve benefited if he was in it more, certainly would’ve made the third act more enjoyable.

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Ruben Östlund’s direction is solid, in fact I’d actually say that his direction is stronger than the writing. The cinematography is stunning and the camerawork is excellent. There are some very memorable sequences, one of which is a gross bodily fluid sequence which is perhaps a bit too long, but lingers in the mind nonetheless. Additionally, the use of music is good and fitting.

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Triangle of Sadness is a lengthy and messy, but darkly comedic and entertaining satire, well directed and with some great performances. I do wish it was better and it certainly has its flaws, mainly with the writing and particularly the third act. But if you’re open to absurdist satirical comedy, I think it’s worth a watch.

See How They Run (2022) Review

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See How They Run

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Sam Rockwell as Inspector Stoppard
Saoirse Ronan as Constable Stalker
Adrien Brody as Leo Köpernick
Ruth Wilson as Petula Spencer
Reece Shearsmith as John Woolf
Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough
Charlie Cooper as Dennis Corrigan
David Oyelowo as Mervyn Cocker-Norris
Director: Tom George

In 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered. When a world-weary inspector and an eager rookie constable take on the case, they find themselves thrown into a puzzling whodunit within the glamorously sordid world of underground theater, investigating the mysterious homicide at their own peril.

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I saw the trailers for See How They Run and I was initially interested in it. It appeared to be another comedy whodunit film and featured an excellent cast, including Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrian Brody and more. I did end up enjoying it, but I understand the somewhat mixed reviews.

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See How They Run definitely has potential from its premise. The plot focuses on a murder investigation set during a theatre adaptation of a whodunit, and it effectively works as a homage and parody of Agatha Christie’s whodunits. As such, it is very self-aware and references whodunnit tropes and typical stories of the genre. There’s plenty of witty and quirky dialogue, as well as some good humour here. It also benefits from a mostly easy-going and relaxed tone. Unfortunately, like most other parodies, when See How They Run points out cliches and tropes, it ends up using some of those same tropes. It’s a very self-satisfied and overly self-aware movie that does too much winking at the audience, so that could feel a bit grating. It is clear early on that from the writing and the style that it is going for a Wes Anderson feel, especially with the snappy dialogue and quirkiness. Unfortunately, it just feels like an imitation of his films and nothing more. Even the plot wasn’t the exactly the best. It is very formulaic albeit functional, and I wasn’t fully invested in the mystery. At 98 minutes, it was probably the right length for the film.

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The two lead characters of the movie are played by Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell, and they were a great comedic duo and have solid chemistry between them. Ronan is the standout; she was really funny and her performance added a lot to the movie. The film would be lacking a lot without her. Meanwhile, Rockwell feels like he wasn’t given much to do, and mostly works as a contrast to Ronan. On his own, outside of delivering deadpan humour, he was underwhelming and almost drags the movie down. It’s quite possible that he was just miscast here. The talented supporting cast is impressive, however there were only a few standouts like Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo and Shirley Anderson; Brody particularly was memorable in his screentime as the main murder victim. The rest of the cast including Ruth Wilson and Sian Clifford are good but aren’t utilized the best.

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The direction from Tom George is generally solid. The cinematography is nice, and the outfits and production designs definitely take you back to the 1950s. The score from Daniel Pemberton is also great, among the best parts of the movie. Once again though, it feels like much of the film is trying to imitate Wes Anderson’s style (especially seen in the editing), but feels like a half hearted imitation. It’s trying to be quirky and offbeat but it felt hollow like its missing something.

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See How They Run is a decent, quirky, and enjoyable whodunnit comedy, but I wish it was better than it actually was. The mystery was passable but wasn’t that riveting, the overt attempt at mimicking Wes Anderson in the writing and directing didn’t really work, and the underutilisation of most of the cast really hold it back from being as good as it could’ve been. But there’s some good parts. Some of the humour and meta nature of the writing works, the score from Daniel Pemberton is really good, and some of the performances shines, particularly Saoirse Ronan. As a whodunnit comedy, See How They Run may not be among the best (even in recent years), but it is at least fun to watch.

Babylon (2022) Review

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Babylon

Time: 189 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sex scenes, violence, drug use, offensive language & suicide
Cast:
Diego Calva as Manuel “Manny” Torres
Margot Robbie as Nellie LaRoy
Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad
Jean Smart as Elinor St. John
Jovan Adepo as Sidney Palmer
Li Jun Li as Lady Fay Zhu
Director: Damien Chazelle

Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.

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Babylon was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. Of the “newer” directors, Damien Chazelle is already proving himself as one of the best, with Whiplash, La La Land and First Man. His next movie looked to be interesting, set in 1920s Hollywood. I will admit I had some doubts, especially with some questionable marketing which didn’t exactly make the movie look good. But I was still interested in seeing it for myself, and the very divisive reactions only intrigued me further. After all that, Babylon ended up being one of my all-time favourite films of the year.

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Babylon is by far Damien Chazelle’s most ambitious work yet, and even if I didn’t like the film, I would still applaud it for the massive swings that he takes with it. It’s an epic which covers multiple characters and their stories, and Chazelle did a really good job at making them intersect and cross over with each other. Some have called the movie messy and chaotic; I definitely agree that it’s chaotic but I wouldn’t call it messy, the story is still coherent. It is a very funny and entertaining movie, with some outrageous scenarios and moments. Babylon portrays the debauchery of the film industry, which is made immediately clear in the very in-your-face first 30 minutes. It also explores the eras of cinema and shows how film has changed, especially with the transition from the silent era to talkies. Part of my reluctance going into Babylon was that it was a movie about movies. That doesn’t inherently turn me off from a film, but there’s been so many love letters to cinema recently that I admit that I’ve been getting somewhat tired of them. But I still ended up liking this aspect in the movie. As expected, Babylon does celebrate cinema and so you can call it is a love letter to movie, but it also serves as a condemnation and scathing hate letter to the filmmaking industry and Hollywood. The film is essentially about outsiders navigating an ever-changing industry, and shows their rise and fall as their sense of self is slowly stripped away, often with their sacrifices to film. It is a very funny and entertaining movie with some surprising optimism even by the end, but the story is sad and tragic. It is a very long movie at over 3 hours and this will definitely be an issue for people who aren’t invested within the first hour, but I was enthralled for the whole runtime. I’ve noticed that some are a little divided over the ending, even among people who like the movie. While I was initially not sure what to think of it, I thought it worked, even if it’s a little drawn out.

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Babylon has a massive and talented ensemble cast, with most actors being used to their strengths. Diego Calva and Margot Robbie give amazing performances, with Robbie quite possibly delivering her best yet. The relationship between their two characters is the heart of the film, and they share incredible and convincing chemistry. Brad Pitt is the other main protagonist, an aging movie star who is struggling to adapt to cinema’s change from silent films. Pitt fit this role well, and he delivers a restrained, lived in and believable performance. Some of the other prominent actors include Li Jun Li, Jean Smart, and Jovan Adepo; they are really good and help to bring their characters across. Even other actors with smaller roles like P.J. Bryne, Max Minghella, Katherine Waterston, Eric Roberts, Samara Weaving, and Spike Jonze work to make their roles stand out. Out of the supporting roles however, Tobey Maguire is the standout to me, delivering a weird, unhinged and creepy performance, and it certainly helps that he’s involved with one of the most memorable segments of the movie.

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Unsurprisingly Damien Chazelle has done another phenomenal job at directing. The technical aspects are all top notch and brilliant, everything from the cinematography, production design, editing and sound are all amazing. It’s a very bombastic and stylish film, at times a sensory overload especially with the portrayal of excess. It’s a feast for the eyes; a lot of the time there’s so much happening on screen, whether that be the parties or filming of movies, and they are all captured excellently. The camera movements are outstanding, especially with the long takes, and there’s this constant frenetic energy from beginning to end. Finally, the music is just phenomenal. Justin Hurwitz’s composed music is nothing short of outstanding, it gave so much to the movie, and I am confident in calling it the best score of 2022.

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Babylon is an ambitious, bombastic, enthralling, and exhilarating experience, and is amazingly well crafted. Damien Chazelle’s direction and the technical aspects are outstanding, and it has fantastic performances from the ensemble cast. It really is sad (but unsurprising) that it bombed at the box office. The label “not for everyone” for movies can be meaningless most of the time, but it certainly can apply to Babylon. However, it worked for me on so many levels, and it is one of my favourite films from 2022.

White Noise (2022) Review

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White Noise

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Adam Driver as Prof. Jack Gladney
Greta Gerwig as Babette Gladney
Don Cheadle as Prof. Murray Siskind
Raffey Cassidy as Denise Gladney
Director: Noah Baumbach

College professor Jack Gladney and his family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate.

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I had been hearing about White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s next movie which would star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. From brief glances, it looked a little weird and I didn’t pay attention to it much. However, it seemed to be having some split reactions from audiences and I was curious enough to check it out for myself. It surprised me and I’m glad I decided to watch it.

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White Noise is based on a novel of the same name from Don DeLillo, and I read some comments from people who read it saying that it was near impossible to do an film adaptation for it. I’m not familiar with the book so I can’t comment on that, but clearly Baumbach had a specific angle with how to adapt it, especially with how off kilter it is. It is definitely an ambitious film and takes a lot of risks. White Noise is one of those movies where you’ll figure out if you like it within the first 10 minutes, it is firmly in the “not for everyone” camp. It is a difficult movie to explain; it starts out with an initial plot focussing on a family’s lives being disrupted by an airborne toxic event, but that’s just the start, and the plot isn’t really consistent. As I started the movie, I found it to be very messy, absurd and strange; it was perplexing and I had no idea where it was going. However, there was something intriguing, unpredictable and exciting about it that had me curious enough to see where it would go, and I got more into it than I was expecting. I’m not quite sure I understood everything that it was going for, but I got the main points of the story, and I’m sure things will be clarified upon rewatch. It begins as a pure satire before evolving into being more character focused. The first thing you’ll probably notice about White Noise is the dialogue, which will probably make or break the movie for some people. The dialogue is strange, overwritten and overintellectual, that paired with the line deliveries makes it feel unnatural. It’ll particularly throw you off if you’re familiar with Noah Baumbach’s other movies, which had otherwise very naturalistic dialogue. However, it is intentionally written and delivered this way, and eventually I got used to it. There really is a mix of tones throughout, jumping between different genres over the 2 hours and 15 minutes runtime. As a dark comedy it is very off kilter and dry, and I found it quite funny. It also gets dark at points, mainly towards the end of the movie, to the point where it leans towards thriller in the third act. This might also throw people off since it is so different from the previous two acts, but it worked for me. There are plenty of themes at play, including existentialism, mortality, modern anxieties and especially fear of death. Some ideas aren’t as expanded on or fleshed out as they could’ve been, but not doubt they are conveyed better in the book.

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The film benefits from a strong cast who deliver in their roles. Adam Driver plays the main character; it’s a difficult role to pull off, but he is fantastic here, particularly nailing the dry humour. I think this is up there as one of his best performances. Greta Gerwig is great too, especially in the latter portions of the movie. The actors who play Driver’s children including Raffey Cassidy are also on point. The rest of the cast are good, Don Cheadle is also excellent in a supporting role and is a scene stealer.

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One of the more surprising aspects was Noah Baumbach’s direction. From the movies I’ve seen of his, his directing is good, but usually just works to serve the performances and writing. With White Noise however, there is a very distinct style that really added to the film. Noah is working with a bigger budget, and you can feel that throughout. Baumbach does very well at getting the right feelings through visuals alone. There’s a lot in that which feels off kilter, everything is too colourful including the production design, and much looks artificial and unnatural (deliberately so). The cinematography is great, visually stunning and remarkable at points. There are some very stellar and wonderfully filmed sequences, a standout being during the credits. Finally, the score from Danny Elfman is great and really adds a lot to the atmosphere.

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White Noise is a darkly humorous, absurdist, satirical, and wonderfully weird dramedy, with fantastic performances especially from Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. It’s definitely one of the more unexpected and surprising movies from 2022. I admit that there’s a lot that I didn’t understand and much of my liking of it comes from its boldness and uniqueness. Still, the end result just seemed to work for me. It is both awesome and funny that Netflix actually decided to finance such a strange and polarising film, however it is definitely not for everyone. Still, it worked for me, and I am really looking forward to rewatching it.

Triangle of Sadness (2022) Review

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Triangle of Sadness

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, animal cruelty & content that may disturb
Cast:
Harris Dickinson as Carl
Charlbi Dean as Yaya
Dolly de Leon as Abigail
Zlatko Burić as Dimitry
Iris Berben as Therese
Vicki Berlin as Paula
Henrik Dorsin as Jarmo
Jean-Christophe Folly as Nelson
Amanda Walker as Clementine
Oliver Ford Davies as Winston
Sunnyi Melles as Vera
Woody Harrelson as the Captain
Director: Ruben Östlund

A fashion model celebrity couple join an eventful cruise for the super-rich.

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Triangle of Sadness was on my list of 2022 movies to catch up on. I had been hearing about it; I knew that was that it was a satire on the rich, involved a luxury yacht, and starred Woody Harrelson. Most notable however was the fact that it won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. The reactions to the movie also interested me, considering it was mostly positive but not everyone was on board with it. While Triangle of Sadness does have its issues and I don’t love it, I am glad that I saw it.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, as many other summaries and reviews disclose a bit too much about it. It goes in some wild directions and it is best experienced for yourself if you decide to see it. What I can say is that the movie is very much the opposite of what subtle is. It is a bombastic and absurdist satire about the rich and isn’t subtle about its themes at all. It covers elitism, the rich, class, social roles, and power structures. There isn’t any subtext and is very on the nose, but I’m not against that. It is also entertaining and enjoyable, and most of the dark comedy really hits. The middle act involving the yacht was solid, the cast get to bounce off each other and that was the funniest portion of the film for me. That being said, Triangle of Sadness is very flawed. As far as satires on the rich (or “eat the rich films”) go, it doesn’t say anything new. That isn’t inherently bad, but there is a self satisfied vibe to it at times that can get a little grating at points. Triangle of Sadness is a long movie at around 2 hours and 30 minutes long and you certainly felt the length, not helped by the uneven pacing. I do blame the last third of the movie for this. While the first act is decent and the second act is really good, the third act was a bit aimless. I was wondering where it was going, and not necessarily in a good way. It wasn’t as interesting or entertaining compared to what came before, and so it felt a bit of a slog. It certainly doesn’t help that this portion is around an hour long. Not only that, but I felt that there was a lot that wasn’t resolved or fully developed by the end despite the length of the film, and so it didn’t feel very satisfying.

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The characters are for the most part blatantly unlikable, yet are all the more compelling because of that, and makes the dark comedy work a lot better as they are forced into certain situations. It helps that the performances from the cast are strong. Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean are the closest thing to the lead characters and they are great in this. I wish they had more of a focus in the movie; they are seemingly established as the protagonists in the first act, but over time its like they are forgotten about. Still, both are good in their roles. Everyone else plays their parts excellently, but there are a few standouts. Zlatko Buric is great, while Dolly de Leon particularly shines in the third act. Woody Harrelson also plays the marxist drunk captain of the yacht who is highly entertaining whenever he’s on screen. Honestly the movie would’ve benefited if he was in it more, certainly would’ve made the third act more enjoyable.

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Ruben Östlund’s direction is solid, in fact I’d actually say that his direction is stronger than the writing. The cinematography is stunning and the camerawork is excellent. There are some very memorable sequences, one of which is a gross bodily fluid sequence which is perhaps a bit too long, but lingers in the mind nonetheless. Additionally, the use of music is good and fitting.

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Triangle of Sadness is a lengthy and messy, but darkly comedic and entertaining satire, well directed and with some great performances. I do wish it was better and it certainly has its flaws, mainly with the writing and particularly the third act. But if you’re open to absurdist satirical comedy, I think it’s worth a watch.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2023) Review

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Operation Fortune - Ruse de Guerre

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Jason Statham as Orson Fortune
Aubrey Plaza as Sarah Fidel
Josh Hartnett as Danny Francesco
Cary Elwes as Nathan Jasmine
Bugzy Malone as J.J. Davies
Hugh Grant as Greg Simmonds
Director: Guy Ritchie

Elite spy Orson Fortune must track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology wielded by billionaire arms broker Greg Simmonds. Reluctantly teamed up with some of the world’s best operatives, Fortune and his crew recruit Hollywood’s biggest movie star, Danny Francesco, to help them on their globe-trotting mission to save the world.

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Operation Fortune was one of my more anticipated movies of 2022. Guy Ritchie was on a pretty good streak recently with The Gentlemen and Wrath of Man, with those being among his best films. His next movie would be a spy film starring Jason Statham and it was intended to release in 2022. However it was delayed to the next year seemingly because of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, since the movie features villains that happen to be of Ukrainian nationality. As a consequence however, it ended up being dumped in cinemas at quite possibly the worst time: in January and a month after an Avatar film was released in cinemas. Which is a shame, because for all of Operation Fortune’s faults, it is still an entertaining movie.

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Operation Fortune is a pretty standard spy flick, with a plot that isn’t anything special but is passable and serviceable. That being said, its never boring. There is some snappy humour with great comedic timing, witty and biting dialogue, and benefits from a fast pace.

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The characters are pretty forgettable and aren’t memorable, but the cast are very entertaining and definitely help the movie. Jason Statham plays Jason Statham yet again, but he is very good at that. He is enjoyable despite not having a very interesting or dynamic character, and delivers on the action and comedy with ease. Cary Elwes and Josh Hartnett are really good, but the two standouts were Aubrey Plaza and Hugh Grant, both funny and were scene stealers.

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Guy Ritchie work as director is pretty good, definitely less stylish compared to his other movies, but still has an effective style that makes it fun to watch. The action is entertaining and well-choreographed, and the cinematography is pretty good. Chris Benstead, who composed Ritchie’s past two movies The Gentlemen and Wrath of Man also composes the score for Operation Fortune, and again it adds a lot to the film.

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Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre isn’t one of Guy Ritchie’s best movies, it’s the type of movie that he could make in his sleep, which is a little disappointing. Its not even that much better than his other spy movie The Man from UNCLE. Still, it is a decent and entertaining spy flick, with fun action and an enjoyable cast, and might be worth checking out for that.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) Review

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The Banshees of Inisherin

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language, nudity & content that may disturb
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Pádraic Súilleabháin
Brendan Gleeson as Colm Doherty
Kerry Condon as Siobhán Súilleabháin
Barry Keoghan as Dominic Kearney
Director: Martin McDonagh

On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, Pádraic is devastated when his buddy Colm suddenly puts an end to their lifelong friendship. With help from his sister and a troubled young islander, Pádraic sets out to repair the damaged relationship by any means necessary. However, as Colm’s resolve only strengthens, he soon delivers an ultimatum that leads to shocking consequences.

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I was very interested in The Banshees of Inisherin. I really liked Martin McDonagh’s movies, and his latest would have Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (who are reuniting with McDonagh after In Bruges back in 2008). It’s one of the best movies of 2022.

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Martin McDonagh’s writing is amazing as to be expected, and Banshees has one of the most layered and complex screenplays of the year. The story seems simple, with it focussing on a friendship slowly and realistically fading away. However, this simple concept turns into so much more, especially with the effects that come from the falling out of the two friends. It is a tragicomedy, on the one hand it has plenty of levity and it is funny with some witty and excellently written dialogue, but it also has some darker moments. The mixing of these two worked. However, I do think it leans more into the tragedy than the dark comedy compared to say Seven Psychopaths. While it is funny, the film is melancholic, existential and bittersweet; it is about human inner turmoil, friendships, loneliness and despair. So far, I think that this is McDonagh’s most mature and emotional film, more subtle and relatable than his past movies.

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Everyone in the cast gives excellent performances. Colin Farrell gives potentially his best performance yet, so layered and with many subtleties. Very funny, yet tragic and vulnerable. Brendan Gleeson is also great in one of his best performances too as a character equally complex, and he brings a lot of gravitas when he’s on screen. As expected (given their on screen duo in In Bruges), there is a great on screen dynamic between the two. It was interesting seeing their friendship play out, and Farrell and Gleeson play off each other in interesting and emotional ways. Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan are also amazing in prominent supporting roles.

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Martin McDonagh’s direction is solid but makes sure that it doesn’t overshadow the story or the performances. The cinematography is wonderful, all the shots of nature are wonderful and makes great use of the beautiful landscapes on this little island on Ireland. This is McDonagh’s best looking movie yet. Carter Burwell’s score is great, so beautiful and haunting, it adds this ominous feeling and mysterious vibe throughout the whole film.

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The Banshees of Inisherin is a beautiful, layered, darkly funny, and emotional tragicomedy. With a script and story that’s beautiful and chaotic yet sad and intimate, and with outstanding performances from the cast (Farrell, Gleeson, Condon, and Keoghan), it’s one of the best films of 2022 and potentially Martin McDonagh’s best movie.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022) Review

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She-Hulk Attorney at Law

Age Rating: 860940[1] 
Cast:
Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters /She-Hulk
Jameela Jamil as Mary MacPherran/Titania
Ginger Gonzaga as Nikki Ramos
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Josh Segarra as Augustus “Pug” Pugliese
Mark Linn-Baker as Morris Walters
Tess Malis Kincaid as Elaine Walters
Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination
Benedict Wong as Wong
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Mallory Book
Jon Bass as Todd Phelps
Rhys Coiro as Donny Blaze
Griffin Matthews as Luke Jacobson
Patti Harrison as Lulu
Steve Coulter as Holden Holliway
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Brandon Stanley as Eugene Patilio/Leap-Frog
Drew Matthews as Dennis Bukowski
Creator: Jessica Gao

Jennifer Walters has a complicated life as a single, 30-something attorney who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk.

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I heard about the upcoming show based on the Marvel character She-Hulk. I’m not too familiar with the character beyond the fact that she is a lawyer, Bruce Banner’s cousin, and also has Hulk abilities. Tatiana Maslany’s casting as the title character did have my interest despite having some doubts from seeing the trailers. Overall, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a very mixed bag. There are some good performances, mainly with Maslany as the title character, and it has some good moments. However, it is let down by the messy and confused writing, and humour that mostly misses (especially with its meta-aspects).

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One thing I can praise She-Hulk for is the fact that it actually utilised its TV structure. With the exception of WandaVision, all the live action MCU shows feel like stories that could’ve served as individual films, but were instead stretched out into 6 episodes. Regardless of the quality, it is good that the show treats itself as an actual tv show. The writing is easily the worst part of the show and lets everything done. She Hulk aims to be a comedy first and foremost, so it’s a shame that the comedy itself is very hit or miss. I’ve seen worse comedy but there are so many painful moments where it doesn’t work at all. A notable element is that they have Jennifer/She Hulk talk directly to the audience and breaking the fourth wall as she makes comments about the situation and talks specifically to the audience. It is definitely going for 4th wall breaking similar to Fleabag, but doesn’t pull it off nearly as well. Even if you put aside the comedy, the rest of the writing isn’t good either. The plotlines are not interesting, even those that had some real potential such as Jennifer Walters becoming She-Hulk while in the shadow of her established cousin ultimately doesn’t amount to much. This show is 9 episodes long and while the length of each episode is between 30-40 minutes, it feels like a chore watching most of them. There is just no drive in the show, and you don’t feel like much has actually progressed. I find the low stakes approach refreshing compared to all the typical end of the world stakes stories, but even with the more personal approach, it is hard to care about what’s happening. While I do appreciate the tone being consistently comedic instead of jumping between comedy and drama, I couldn’t take most things that happened seriously. This show is also a painful case of being written by people who are chronically online (funny considering that it makes fun of chronically online people). Whether it be the dialogue, characters or the ‘satire’, it really takes you out of it. Obviously, there are people who already hate the show because they are sexist, and so the show predicted things correctly and pre-emptively makes fun of those people. There is a plotline that focusses on this, but it isn’t that great. If anything, it feels like it was ticking the box so that they can say that they acknowledged it. One of the more interesting aspects of the show going into it was the courtroom aspect considering that Jennifer is a lawyer, however that aspect disappointed. It ended up being laughable and more unintentionally funny than intentionally funny. Leading up to its release, the showrunner admitted that they couldn’t write procedural legal drama and just gave up, it certainly showed here.

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That’s not to say that the show is bad all the way through, there are some episodes that work better than others. Episode 8 includes Daredevil and was the highlight of the show. He was an enjoyable character to watch but he wasn’t the sole reason why the episode worked. After watching it, I was actually starting to feel good about the show. Then the finale happened, which really sticks out as having some of my biggest issues after watching. The specifics of the finale episode involve spoilers, so I’ll avoid going into too much depth. What I will say is that it gets further meta than it was before and effectively makes fun of the way that the show is ending and particularly the way most MCU stories end. The joke can be simplified to “this conclusion its building too is dumb isn’t it? Well that’s the joke, we wrote it to be dumb and we are in on the joke”. The truth is that if they did continue with their plotlines without the meta twist, it would’ve been an underwhelming finale. However, this feels felt like a cop out by making fun of a possible finale that they wrote themselves into in the first place. Despite the silliness of the show, ironically, I think that it was too serious for it to work. For as silly as these plotlines were, you nonetheless paid attention to them, but they don’t get any form of resolution. It attempts to ‘satirise’ the MCU and despite my criticisms with the franchise on the whole, I don’t endorse any of the Marvel products doing this. It would inevitably come across as hollow, it doesn’t help with how smug it felt. I heard some say that the last episode saved it for them, but it was what sank the show for me and made me feel like I wasted my time.

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Tatiana Maslany who plays the title character of Jennifer Walters/She Hulk and she’s probably the best part of the whole show. The writing for her character can be annoying, but Maslany is trying and she brought more to the role and show than they deserved. There are also some appearances from some familiar Marvel characters. Benedict Wong returns as fan favourite character Wong and is entertaining, even if the show manages to find a way to make him feel overused. Charlie Cox was also fun to watch, with him reprising his role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil. The tonal difference between his appearance here and the original Netflix show is stark, and some of his dialogue is a bit too cheesy. Nonetheless, I thought that he worked for this show. He shares such wonderful chemistry with Maslany that by the end I wanted a whole show focussing on the two. Tim Roth also returns as Emil Blonsky/Abomination who has clearly changed a lot since his villainous role in The Incredible Hulk nearly 15 years ago. To his credit, Roth is at least having a lot of fun with the part here and that went some way to make him enjoyable. However, it is very confusing what the writers were even doing with the character when you look at the way they end his story in episode 9. As expected, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk makes a few appearances in the show and ever since Thor: Ragnarok, the character has been getting worse and worse with every movie or show he stars in. She-Hulk is no exception, and while Ruffalo is a good actor, I was thankful whenever Hulk wasn’t on screen. Beyond them, the rest of the characters are average and it’s hard to like any of them. With the writing and dialogue, no one feels like or talks like a real person. The villains are also terrible, and while I get that you’re not supposed to find them to be a serious threat, they still could’ve been handled better.

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On a technical level, She Hulk isn’t impressive at all. Most scenes are shot and directed competently enough, but the visuals are very bland. That’s even before we get to the scenes involving CGI and this show really contains some of the worst visual effects in the MCU. As seen in the trailers, the effects on She Hulk looks bad, and even looks like its unfinished at points. That being said, I did get used to the CGI, either that or I had found more significant issues with the show.

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She Hulk: Attorney at Law joins Thor Love and Thunder as the worst entries in the MCU. The concept and character certainly had potential, but it didn’t really work on the whole. Tatiana Maslany’s performance elevated some of the writing, a few of the characters were fun, and the show had its moments. However, the subpar writing lets the entire show down, leading to a rather average if watchable viewing experience. If you are still really into the MCU then you might find some enjoyment here. However, if your interest in the franchise is waning by this point, I doubt it’ll bring your enthusiasm back.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) Review

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Glass Onion

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc
Edward Norton as Miles Bron
Janelle Monáe as Cassandra “Andi” Brand
Kathryn Hahn as Claire Debella
Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel Toussaint
Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay
Dave Bautista as Duke Cody
Jessica Henwick as Peg
Madelyn Cline as Whiskey
Director: Rian Johnson

Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case.

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Glass Onion was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I loved Knives Out and was happy to hear that writer and director Rian Johnson was making a follow up film with Daniel Craig’s detective character Benoit Blanc returning. With a cast including Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson and more, I was already on board. It is releasing on Netflix in December, but I managed to check it out during its one week run in cinemas: it did not disappoint.

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Rian Johnson is in full command of his craft here, and he has delivered once again with a snappy screenplay that is sharper and larger than the first movie. It doubles down on the twists, the humour, the social satire and more. It takes a while for the initial murder to take place, but in the time leading up to it, it builds up the tension and suspense very well. It is slower paced, but I wouldn’t say that it dragged. From my first viewing, I thought it was well plotted and hard to predict what was happening with all the twists and turns. The plot itself is a bit complicated with a lot of moving pieces; I need to watch it again to make sure that the story actually makes sense. Knives Out was already a comedy but Glass Onion leans more into that aspect and I thought most of it really worked, and there’s probably plenty of jokes that I missed on the initial viewing. Some of the more prominent criticisms that people had for Knives Out was of the internet and modern day references. Glass Onion has more of that so if that’s an issue you had with the first film, you’ll probably be annoyed at certain aspects here. It didn’t bother me too much, but Johnson really could’ve toned those down. I liked the third act and conclusion of the movie, but I do think that the ending was a little too abrupt.

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Like with Knives Out, Glass Onion has an excellent ensemble cast and they all played their parts greatly. Daniel Craig reprised his role as private detective Benoit Blanc in more of a lead role compared to the first movie, and he’s even better here. We learn more about him, he’s more interesting and once again he is a delight to watch. The new cast of suspects are smaller in number compared to the first movie, but it does make it a little more intimate as you feel the dynamics more and see the relationships between the characters. Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr. are great in their parts. Kate Hudson was really funny with perfect comedic timing and line deliveries. However, Janelle Monae is probably the stand out and steals the show, one of the most interesting characters here. Some actors are used better than others, Jessica Henwick and Kathryn Hahn did feel a little underutilised, but they are still good. There’s also a lot of unexpected cameos here.

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Rian Johnson returns, and I think his directing work is even better here. Glass Onion is a much larger and exotic movie; the locations are stunning, the production design is solid, and they are showcased well by the cinematography. Its also edited together very well. Nathan Johnson’s score is really good and fits the tone of the movie.   

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Glass Onion was thoroughly entertaining; it manages to be on the same level of the first movie (at the very least), while trying some different things. The script is snappy and the performances from the cast are excellent, making for a highly satisfying experience. Definitely worth checking out if you liked Knives Out.

Ticket to Paradise (2022) Review

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Ticket to Paradise

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
George Clooney as David Cotton
Julia Roberts as Georgia Cotton
Kaitlyn Dever as Lily Cotton
Billie Lourd as Wren Butler
Maxime Bouttier as Gede
Lucas Bravo as Paul
Director: Ol Parker

A man and his ex-wife race to Bali, Indonesia, to stop their daughter from marrying a seaweed farmer. As they desperately try to sabotage the wedding, the bickering duo soon find themselves rekindling old feelings that once made them happy together.

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I watched the trailers to Ticket to Paradise; it looked like one of those romantic comedies from the 2000s that we don’t get very often nowadays. I went into it after hearing people liking it. I just expected a typical romantic comedy, and it was that, but I did enjoy it.

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The plot is very predictable, it’s breezy, light and charming across its 100 minutes runtime. Much of it feels like a 2000s romantic comedy, from the writing to the fact that it has stars headlining it and being the main draw, it even has a blooper reel during the credits. It definitely doesn’t reinvent the genre, and it is cliché all the way through. The moment you know the setup, you know how it’ll play out. George Clooney and Julia Roberts are exes who don’t like each other anymore but go to their daughter’s wedding in Bali to stop her from getting married. You know exactly how the movie will go. Not all the jokes land, but I thought most of them worked and I found it fun.

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The cast are enjoyable in their parts, and they make the movie really work. This is a film that highly depends on the charisma of the leads. Thankfully, George Clooney and Julia Roberts are effortlessly enjoyable to watch, with very natural chemistry between the two. The film just wouldn’t have been the same without them, they are definitely the highlight of the movie and the reason to watch it. The rest of the cast including Kaitlyn Dever and Billie Lourd are good in their screentime too.

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The direction from Ol Parker was good, it works well enough for what it is. The locations were amazing, and the cinematography is warm and gorgeous, showcasing those locations well.

Still Photography on the set of "Ticket To Paradise"

You could watch the trailer for Ticket to Paradise and figure out what kind of movie it is. As far as rom coms go, its not one of the best (even when just looking at those from the 2020s. Still, I enjoyed watching it despite its familiarity.