NFLX2019 October 11th: The Forest of Love

The Forest of Love. Sion Sono. 2019. ☆★★★★★

This is such a bizarre movie. Netflix keeps is really mainstream with the movies they make (or have made) in the US, but they buy up the rights to some pretty oddball foreign movies.

But none as odd as this. I don’t even know how to start thinking about evaluating this movie. Is this a normal movie in some Japanese genre? Or is it as goofy as it seems?

I think it’s the latter: It’s meta as fuck and nothing makes much sense. I think it may be… a parody? of a Japanese indie/art movie?

It’s kinda funny here and there, but (at 45 minutes in, which isn’t even halfway through) my guess is that it’s going somewhere abject, so I’m prematurely disliking it because that’s where I think it’s going.

But there’s plenty to dislike even if that’s not where it’s going.

Hm… This was originally a TV series? But it’s been edited into a movie? Well, that explains the length, because as a movie it definitely can’t carry that many minutes.

No:

It’s also a movie that reckons — perhaps regretfully — with the fine line between performing trauma and enacting trauma, and how the mania of artistic creation can accommodate any number of sins.

It’s a sophomoric, boring mess that has nothing to say beyond the director wanting to film just these scenes.

I bailed after 90 minutes of sheer boredom. And I’ve watched Out 1.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 11th: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Vince Gilligan. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Full disclosure time: I’ve watched two episodes of Breaking Bad. I watched the first one and thought “this is Extruded New Golden Age Of Quality TV Product”: All the ticks of “seriousness” that viewers of silly TV series love these days.

And I watched the Ozymandias episode because everybody said it was the best thing ever committed to SSD.

It was lame.

So I may not be the most qualified person in the world to be bloviating about this movie, which is… a sequel? It seems to be well-received by the fans of the TV series. I mean, reviewers at newspapers. I mean, the fans of the TV series.

*eye roll*

This movie seems to be about… very sentimental… drug dealers? And cars? I’m guessing all the lines are fan service, but as I have no idea what they’re talking about, it’s all rather weird. The scenes are shot as if they’re Serious Emotional Depth, but they do little to justify that in this movie.

All these super-stupid things in here (like what I’m guessing is the badder bad guy?) doing this elaborate string/clamp thing to give the guy who’s usually balder a cigarette? Instead of just dropping it? It’s all so silly.

There’s nothing I loathe more than the style the writers adopt here: “Here’s a guy who’s totally a monster, but see, he’s petting this puppy, so see? there’s complexity and depth! COMPLEXITY AND DEPTH I TELLS YA!” It sickeningly formulaic and tedious.

On the plus side: This movie looks pretty nice. It uses mid-90s US indie movie aesthetics to its advantage. The soundtrack isn’t annoying. The actors are better than average for made-for-TV movies.

I guess:

Anyone who hasn’t watched the show, though, will miss most of why Gilligan’s feature-length epilogue is a success.

But… oh my god, the stupid. The scene in the hoover store just wouldn’t end. And that shootout. Was that supposed to be surprising?

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 4th: In the Tall Grass

In the Tall Grass. Vincenzo Natali. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

So what’s this then? A Children of the Corn remix?

Oh, it’s based on a shortish story by Stephen King. It’s about a pregnant woman and a a guy lost in … tall… grass? What is that grass anyway? Doesn’t look like papyrus? I guess it’s just a field of magically tall grass.

I guess because if it was corn it’d be like a copyright issue.

Hm:

It’s rather astonishing how fast Vincenzo Natali’s “In the Tall Grass” completely loses your interest.

Hm… I’m half an hour in, and I’m still interested. I mean, it isn’t scary, but as horror movies go, it’s like an 80s homage horror movie. I don’t mind that.

I’m reminded of the Mad parody of Stephen King stories in general: “Er, I need to write something! But what haven’t I done…. Oh! Ironing boards! This one is going to be about a haunted ironing board that kills people! Clack clack!”

But it does drag on a bit. It feels like it should be over after three quarters of an hour, but we’re only at the halfway point by then. But I guess the twists do keep coming… even if they aren’t very… interesting…

It’s not like I’d recommend this movie to anybody or anything, but I found it entertaining enough. I mean, for a stupid horror movie.

The gross-out bits the end are pretty gratuitous.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 September 27th: In the Shadow of the Moon


In the Shadow of the Moon. Jim Mickle. 2019. ☆☆☆☆☆★

Netlix didn’t release much over the summer, but now suddenly there’s a whole bunch of stuff! Let’s get started.

Well, that’s a strange way to start a movie. With a straight-up scientific voiceover that explains the concept of the movie. (It’s telepathy.)

OH!!!! The voiceover came from the computer, not the Apple TV! It’s totally unrelated! But it seemed to work perfectly! There was no talking in this movie for the first seven minutes, and there was no music or anything on the voiceover thing. Where did that come from? Oh! Crimes of the Future! By Cronenberg!

Tee hee.

How Cronenbergish.

So all those people getting nose bleeds did not have anything to do with telepathy?

*resets brain*

OK, this is a serial killer/cop buddy movie.

I AM DISAPPOINT.

However, this is pretty likeable. The aforementioned buddies have pretty good chemistry, and while the banter isn’t scintillating or anything, it’s entertaining enough.

[some time passes]

OK, I’ll stop talking now, because the less you know about what this movie is about, the better. The initial voiceover actually befuddlement probably helped with the entire experience being entertaining, but… I was entertained. It’s a surprisingly fresh movie.

Not that it doesn’t have faults: There are so many cliches used in the plot (of which I will mention nothing) that it’s a bit eye-roll inducing at points, and I did guess the Big Plot Twist immediately after I realised that this was a movie with a Big Plot Twist, and the movie doesn’t make much sense, but still: Very original.

I added a ☆ for the politics.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 September 20th: Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Between Two Ferns: The Movie. Scott Aukerman. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

*gasp*

This is like the first Netflix Original in a while that isn’t “well, if you like that kind of stuff, here’s a movie that’s kinda like what you’d like to see, only not actually that movie you’d like to see”.

Instead if’s a mockumentary about Between Two Ferns, the Interwebs TV show where Zach Galifianakis insults celebrities.

I’ve only seen a handful of episodes. They can be very amusing, but the concept is so limited that it doesn’t really… feel vital.

But this movie kinda works! They do the obvious thing: Pack the two ferns into a car and make it into a road movie with some interviews between the ferns interspersed. They’ve got some funny performances in here: Chrissy Teigen is great, for instance, and the Peter Dinklage thing is funny.

But there’s also scenes where they… inexplicably… try to go for real emotions and stuff, and those kind of drag.

And also: As with the Interwebs series: The jokes aren’t really that good. It’s also disappointing that they don’t have enough confidence in their jokes and then resort to explaining them (“La Croix”), which is just embarrassing.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 September 13th: Tall Girl

Tall Girl. Nzingha Stewart. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

There haven’t been many Netflix Original movies the past few months. I’ve kinda missed watching horrible, horrible movies.

This doesn’t really look that bad. It’s a high school comedy where the main concept is that it’s embarrassing to be a tall girl. I can relate. I’m tall, girl.

So I was just idly wondering “if this is such a big deal, why doesn’t she just move to Norway” and the next second a (tall) exchange student from Sweden walks in.

So close!

And so is this movie, really. It’s got all the required set pieces: The nerds, the Heathers, the movie parodies, the wipe cuts, the album scratches, and the over-the-top characters.

But it just doesn’t have funny enough jokes, and the pacing is way too slow. Instead of a totally super-zany makeover scene (it always works in these movies), you have them dragging down the paces by having the makeoveree (that a word) saying stuff like “thanks mom… but… it’s just not… me…”.

Edit! Edit!

I think there’s a salvageable movie in here.

Sabrina Carpenter steals every scene she’s in: It’s like she’s in the version of this movie that’s how it’s supposed to be, and the rest are in a much duller film.

It’s frustrating watching this. At least when a movie totally sucks, you can enjoy hating it.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2017 December 15, 2017: Bright

Bright. David Ayer. 2017. ☆☆★★★★

I started watching this and then I realised that I hadn’t seen the movie, so I thought I should do that first.

Amusingly enough, when I search for “Bright” in the Netflix app, it is not among the about 50 or so hits. Apparently “Lucifer”, “Triple Frontier” and “Isn’t It Romantic” are better matches for me according to the Netflix search programmers.

Searching for “will” got me it, though, while “will smith” got zero matches.

Good job!

So… this movie is basically Alien Nation?

Will Smith is pretty good in this… he’s got the somewhat racist cop (but good hearted) thing down.

I think my main confusion (so far; I’m only 30 minutes in while typing this) is that I don’t understand why this movie sparked so much interest. I seem to remember there being a bunch of articles written about it at the time, and… well, the reason I’m watching it is 1) I watch anything that’s sci-fi and 2) that hour-long youtube thing. But here I am watching it, so I guess I got sucked into the vortex, too.

This had a $90M budget, apparently, of which you can see approx. zero on the screen. They consistently use the old “well, people in this reality don’t like lights” schtick to avoid showing anything when doing CGI. It looks cheaper than an average episode of Stargate: SG1.

I’m guessing $87M of that budget went to Will Smith.

And it’s just… boring. It’s tedious beyond belief. Nothing happens, and it takes hours for not to happen. Cops shouting BACK THE FUCK UP at each other for seemingly hours. There’s a very simple MacGuffin plot going on, but it seems to move weirdly slow. And the world building aspects of it all… oy vey. On this Earth, humans, elves and ocs have lived together for millennia, and the societal impact is basically nil. I guess that’s one way of playing it, but it’s just… moronic.

So is that what they were going for here? A fantasy/sci-fi movie for the bro crowd? I just don’t get that either, because it’s just doesn’t work on that level either.

But in that case: Bro! Bro? Bro…

This post is not part of the NFLX2019 blog series.