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First Man (2018)
A personal, moving film that lives up to it's potential.
This is not your typical Hollywood space blockbuster. This is not Apollo 13 or Interstellar (though those are both great movies in their own right). It takes a little more patience to truly appreciate a movie like this, but boy is it worth it.
First Man is a triumph, in that Chazelle tells the story of Neil Armstrong in such a unique way. It's a visual experience no doubt, and everything comes together to create a special movie full of special moments. The camera is the star, and we are forced to see this story up close (quite literally) and personal.
Chazelle uses real, raw special effects, and sets the tone of each scene with dim, man-made lighting. He slowly peels back the story's layers, as we come to realize that this film is not about going to the moon, it's about Neil going to the moon. Ryan's Gosling and Claire Foy are exceptional as the Armstrongs, and show what the true price is for success.
I always say that artsy movies catch our eyes, but a good story catches our hearts. First Man manages to do both. It gives us a beautiful shot of the atmosphere of Earth.... and then quickly cuts to the grim face of Neil. We are constantly reminded that Neil is going through this experience with us.
The sub-plot about Neil's dead daughter is absolutely heart-wrenching, and we feel that burden pushing heavy at times. But it's the end of the movie where Neil finally comes to terms with this tragic event that nearly ruined his life. It's a single, masterful moment, and was the highlight of the move for me.
First Man is an instant classic.
Let's go through the checklist:
Story: 10/10 Cinematography: 10/10 Editing: 9/10 Acting: 9/10 Dialogue: 7/10 Music: 7/10 Mise-en-scéne: 10/10
You WILL watch it again
Badlands is a forgotten masterpiece. It hasn't aged since 1973, staying as visually sharp and strangely moving as ever. There is so much to take in that I literally rewatched it the next day. Terrance Malick subtly demands your attention from the first shot, opening with Spacek's calming and story-like narration that complements the film's style perfectly.
It's hard to determine which feature of Badlands stands out the most, from its now famous settings of South Dakota and Montana, to Martin Sheen's impulsive murderous habits. Nearly every one of these features are perfect, and are forcibly likeable, thanks to Malick's watchful eye. You almost have to accept his light tone, which never really combats some of the screenplay's darkest moments.
I consider this to be a "bridge" film. Yes it feels like a classic, obviously paying homage to 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, a must see as well. But amongst its cinema nostalgia moments, Badlands is truly a grounded, gritty story that feels relevant today. It's a great movie that you will certainly enjoy and that I have quickly come to love.
Let's go through the checklist: Story: 8/10 Cinematography: 10/10 Editing: 10/10 Acting: 10/10 Dialogue: 9/10 Music: 10/10 Mise-en-scéne: 10/10
Director's Trademarks (2017)
Important and Artistic
I simply love this series of videos, and encourage IMDB to continue making them. They show how directors use the same techniques in many of their movies, and form their personal style. Every episode has been a visual treat, and the latest episode featuring M. Night Shyamalan is no different. Love or hate his films, you've got to give credit where credit is due. Shyamalan uses some incredible camera shots, plot themes, and atmospherical tension in almost every movie he makes. This video showcases this quickly and effectively.
I would love to see IMDB eventually tackle Alfred Hitchcock, Terrence Malick, Frank Capra, John Ford, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, and Francis Ford Coppola. Looking forward to the next episode!
After Last Season (2009)
An Interesting Watch
There is no doubt about it, this movie was very poorly made. Aside from its awful technical aspects, it may appear to be flat out boring. Watch this movie. It is so terrible it's actual brilliant, bringing a Sixth Sense kind of vibe to any audience it can find. The plot of After Last Season is so strange that it's easy to get lost in it. It's unnerving, mysterious, and unique in its own special way. I found myself hooked after about 30 minutes, and couldn't wait to see how it ended. I doubt if anyone could decipher the film's true meaning, but nonetheless it was a fun watch. In a way, the bad set pieces and poorly lit shots keep you interested, and the ending is so strange that you almost want to watch it again. I'm not joking. Watch After Last Season and you'll never forget it.