Movie Diary

a) Okja
Snowpiercer is one of my favorite dystopian sci-fi movies, or really just one of my favorite movies in general, of the past few years, and I was really excited to see Bong Joon-ho's follow-up. They did a good job of immersing you in this only mildly heightened reality, mixing a sweet story about the bond between a girl and an animal with this really dark, funny, thoughtful satire of commerce and media and animal rights activism. I was kinda braced for it to be darker or stranger than it was but they kinda resolved the story nicely without getting to optimistic. I'm also amused that Tilda Swinton plays two twins in this movie, when she just Winklevossed in Hail, Caesar! last year. 

b) Wonder Woman
In these times of superhero saturation, this was a rare movie to anticipate as something different, not just because it was a female hero but because it was a major character that had never gotten her own movie before, and one that demanded a lighter tone than the mall goth gloom of D.C.'s other recent movies. So it was hard not to get caught up rooting for it and enjoying every surface level charm. As someone who always disliked him in nu-StarTrek, the big surprise of this movie was that I found Chris Pine likable, although I was also glad that Gal Gadot rose to the occasion and achieved this delicate balance of being kind of this serious warrior queen but also being able to handle the comic relief. The way they kind of grafted the comic book universe on to 20th century history was interesting, I think they handled it about as well as the first Captain America, which I think I liked more than a lot of people, and the villain reveal was really well done.

c) The Girl With All the Gifts
Just when I think we've done every variation on the zombie apocalypse possible, something like this comes along that puts its own interesting spin on the premise. Sennia Nanua really gives an amazing performance for a child actor.

d) The Free World
This is one of those movies where two people coming from tragic circumstances come together and fall in love, which can be a pretty romantic kind of story, but The Free World reminded me of Monster's Ball in the way it just piled on the misery and just reveled in it and never really let the characters be people you can relate to. Also I kinda hated how one character's conversion to Islam became this kind of cheap plot device in the end of the movie.

e) Sausage Party
On one hand, I respect that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have used their Hollywood clout to make a really wide variety of comedies that toy with different genres instead of, like, making a dozen variations on Super Bad. But a lot of the more brazenly experimental movies like This Is The End and Sausage Party, though they were financial and critical successes, really just feel like bloated sketches that get annoying really quickly. I just wish they had more follow through to execute these things well instead of coming off like the product of one stoned brainstorming session.

f) Nine Lives
I had to watch the Kevin Spacey cat movie just out of morbid curiosity. It's so weird that after a decade of losing his ability to star in big movies, Spacey climbed his way back with "House Of Cards" and...did this. Alec Baldwin's turn in The Boss Baby felt like a similarly goofy gambit, but that movie did a decent job of entertaining both kids and adults, where this feels like it appeals to neither.

gZoolander 2
When the first Zoolander came out, the premise seemed kind of corny and dated and I thought Ben Stiller was overexposed and past his peak. So I was pleasantly surprised when the movie turned out to be a hilarious minor classic. And with that in mind, I wanted to give the way too late sequel a chance to win me over. And in terms of a fairly by the numbers sequel, I thought it was actually pretty funny, even if I never need to see it again, I thought it pretty much hit the right notes way better than, say, Anchorman 2.

h) East Side Sushi
A charming little movie about a latina chef who takes a job at a sushi restaurant and butts heads with the owner. A little bland and forgettable, but pleasant, and made me want to eat sushi.

i) Attack The Block
I never heard of this movie until it got John Boyega cast in the new Star Wars movies, and it's a pretty impressive little debut feature with a relatively low budget for a sci-fi movie. I found it a little underwhelming, though. If a horror comedy isn't that funny, it just feels like a horror movie where the stakes are too low to get any big scares. 
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