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FrameRate Reviews

Because you don't have time…and neither do I!

Last Action Hero

Derided in its day, Last Action Hero is a surprisingly entertaining, if only moderately successful, pastiche parody of the action film genre. The film has so many hits, with relentless gags and jabs at the overdone, explosion-filled movies of that day, all directed expertly by John McTiernan whether it be a joke or a genuinely cool bit of action. But soon after the hour-twenty mark, the jokes get exhaustive and old, and when the film does give that eventual flip, the “deconstruction” of the genre isn’t as effective or interesting as it could be, leaving one feeling entertained but not fully satisfied. 

7/10

Miss Hokusai

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This beautifully animated tale offers a window into the world of Japan at the end of the Edo period by use of the unconventional and odd artist O-Ei, giving us perspective from the art, the attitudes, the gender struggles, and religious perspectives in a way I haven’t seen captured so wonderfully. Miss Hokusai is split into individual vignettes which could have hampered the experience, but instead give the film a unique quality, able to weave ongoing relationships and stand-alone stories in ninety minutes without feeling rushed or bloated. The only detractor I can find is that with the emphasis on the culture and the world of Japan in the Edo period, I feel the filmmaker had many missed opportunites with O-Ei herself, who is portrayed well but not explored to the depth that I would’ve liked, especially as an unconventional female artist at that time.

 

8/10

Passengers

Please excuse the week break! FrameRate is back and ready to go! 

Passengers falls in that frustrating category of being full of potential which is wholly squandered, making a movie which could be great into something bad or, as is the case with this movie, bland and mediocre. The sets and designs are nice, Michael Sheen is fun as the bartender, and some individual moments shine, but overall the movie is overlong and disjointed from first half to second. The characters and their motivations are unconvincing, but this is clearly a case of good actors tied to a bad script and not flat out bad acting, and I would be remiss to mention that Pratt’s character makes a terrible and deeply problematic choice which the filmmakers never fully explore and/or condemn. 
5/10 

Dope

There’s that moment of complete understanding and regret when you finally see one of those “it” films from a previous year and it meets or exceeds those expectations, and for the life of me, I can’t say why I hadn’t seen this yet! Dope is, first and foremost about three charming and instantly relatable geeks, trying to live life their own way, and the struggle of these inner city kids as they fight the preconceived notions placed by society and their community on who they should be. Its script hits the mark whether the moment be funny or poignant, and there isn’t a single shot that doesn’t work, and—even with some harsh content more sensitive viewers might find disagreeable— I implore anyone who hasn’t seen this film to get on Netflix now and watch it. 

9/10 

Guest Review– Eraserhead

I present to you all the first guest review for FrameRate, provided by my good friend and fellow blogger Joshua “Jammer” Smith! I let Jammer be a bit loose with the rules, as the guy laughs in the face of any and all writing restrictions; brevity is still key though, even if he’s gonna need those extra sentences with the movie he’s reviewing. Now, I’ll shut up and let Jammer say the rest—


Eraserhead is a silent movie made entirely of sound. Most reviews of the film say things like “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” and that’s accurate but it doesn’t give the film the justice that it deserves. The film has a loose narrative: a man named Henry who lives in a ruined post-industrial nightmare world conceives a “child” with a local woman and the rest of the film revolves around him trying to care for it. That’s the only real “plot” of the movie, because otherwise the film is a series of impressions and dreamlike (or nightmarish) sequences of strange oddities that should be seen to be appreciated. I won’t lie, Eraserhead is not always pleasant to watch, but as I said at the start, the beauty of this film is that it’s like watching a silent film. Sound is constantly generating a nightmare background making the atmosphere. The movie is worth your time, even if it’s just once because there isn’t any film like Eraserhead.

9/10

If you like how Jammer writes and want to see him write many, many more words, roll over to his blog and read his analyses of books, movies, tv shows, current events, and all the like at White Tower Musings. Here, have this link to his article on Eraserheadhttps://jsjammersmith.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/how-do-you-solve-a-problem-like-eraserhead/

Interested in doing a guest review? Contact me at hitchfreak13@gmail.com! 

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie

Before the review, a quick aside about the tricky continuity of Ghost in the Shell:

As you can tell from the poster, this is indeed animated and not starring an Avenger. Nor is it tied to the continuity of the original ’95 classic, or the other separate tv series, Stand Alone Complex. Instead, this film wraps up a series of four Original Video Animations–OVAs–subtitled Arise(OVAs are longer than a tv episode but shorter than a movie). In other words, it’s a sort of series finale for the Arise series, and really you should watch those first. All that said, here’s the review——

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie lacks a good deal of the philosophical depth of the other (animated) versions of the Ghost in the Shell series’, but more than makes up for that with some of the best character development we’ve seen so far. Usually the Major, Batou and Togusa are the focus, but interwoven with the complex political plot and excellent action scenes, we get a solid vision of the entire team and their feelings, the most realistic camaraderie in all the iterations of the group so far. The film is solidly made and very entertaining, with a few trip ups like a shoddy “body double” subplot, and I can’t recommend it enough to fans (although I recommend those new to the franchise start somewhere less…continuity-oriented). 

8/10 

The Void

Since The Babadook I’ve had this idealized perception that indie horror was on the cusp of a revolution—and maybe it still is!—but a few films lately have dampened that view, The Void included. The film is visually creative in shots and designs, and the Lovecraftian elements are a nice change of pace from the standard “demonic” angle I half expected. But The Void is a failed pastiche where assembled elements of 80’s horror don’t feel creatively assembled together but yet sloppily assembled and ultimately derivative, and coupled together with some atrocious acting, makes for an experience which disappoints; my hope is another viewing could improve my feelings. 

6/10 

About Time


I think in any other case I would roll my eyes at a movie like About Time, but I’m an absolute sucker for time travel stories, and although it’s use is very simplistic, the time travel is a very effective narrative tool which elevates the movie above the normal rom-com fair. The film is utterly charming from beginning to end, in a safe way, but as a purely entertaining work the “easiness” of the story can be overlooked, even if sometimes the film’s attempts at emotional manipulation can rub the wrong way. As usual Domhnall Gleeson is utterly delightful and awkward, star of the show, and Bill Nighy gives a fun performance with great chemistry with Gleeson (as does the rest of the ensemble), but what a trifecta it would’ve been had Rachel McAdams been given a less bland character to work with.  

8/10

The Assassin


Although certainly not the top of wuxia or Chinese filming, The Assassin is certainly a pretty movie, despite some snags. The movie is absolutely gorgreous, each frame filled with intricate costumes and sets, or breathtaking vistas, large and epic canvases in contrast of Shu Qi’s subtle performance or the quick but well choreographed fights. But the plot is muddled and confusing and the pace can be painfully slow, marring a wonderful movie of excellence but not making it a complete failure. 

7/10 

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