Atomic Blonde, 2017

Directed by: David Leitch

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy

IMDb

Atomic Blonde is the result of very well executed production, and pretty terrible pre and post production. I would say it’s a piece of shit, but it’s more than that. I would say it’s a whole shit, but it’s not quite that either. It’s 2/3 of a shit. A two-third-turd, if you will.
 
Let’s start with pre-production. The story is extremely hard to follow, and rarely makes sense. The film prioritises its artsy-fartsy framing devices and modes of storytelling over the film being immediately comprehensible to great detriment, as whenever something significant happens, there is no impact, as if you’re too bored to notice. Plot lines appear to go nowhere, and when they do, they’re often poorly developed. Characters have little to no depth beyond their narrative requirements. To sum up the writing style, they were explaining what was going on the entire time and I still had no idea what was happening or why.
 
The film was pretty well shot. You could tell that there was a lot of effort put into making it look interesting, although sometimes the camera’s movements were a little too pretentious for my taste. Performances by Charlize Theron and Jame McAvoy were both fine, but they had very little to work with, and so I ended up not really caring about either. Theron especially, she was practically a blank slate. Most of the action in the film was pretty standard, but there was one very impressive sequence at the start of the third act. I would estimate that it lasted at least seven minutes, and it was done all in one shot. The camerawork, fight choreography, stuntwork, acting, makeup and effects were all excellent for that one blissful sequence, and I highly recommend you check it out on youtube when it gets uploaded.
 
The editing really let the film down. For me, it straight up ruined the visual aesthetic by having the whole film too dark, à la Suicide Squad, letting down the well executed cinematography. Additionally, the film used this stencilled spray-paint font very heavily in the opening credits which really didn’t fit the movie well at all. Speaking of ill-fitting additions, the soundtrack, while not bad, worked wonders for making this film feel impact-less. I.e. slow songs during fast paced action scenes, where the cinematography implies that it wasn’t intended to be subversive, as if the soundtrack was an afterthought. The way the film was cut certainly didn’t help how confusing it was either. It really felt like a mess.
 
Bottom line: this is a shit film and I think you should avoid it. It’s a shame, as there was clearly effort and talent involved, but shit is still shit and I can’t recommend it.
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The Founder, 2016

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch

IMDb

The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the ‘Founder’ of McDonalds and chronicles the true story of his and McDonalds rise to the goliath of a company that it is today. The film clearly sets out to depict the events accurately, and they certainly don’t sugar coat it: Ray Kroc was a total asshole, but he was also kind of brilliant and inspiring.

Michael Keaton’s performance was just perfect. I have no more to say on the matter. I also really liked Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald brothers. They felt very real and sympathetic, but the film never oversteps its bounds in manipulating the audience to feel for them through dramatic soundtrack, it’s really just the circumstances and the performances pushing the emotional buttons, which is a style I feel works well for this kind of story. The knowledge that the events unfolding really happened is more than sufficient to make you feel sympathetic

Honestly the best reason to see this movie is to see the story play out, it’s very interesting, it’s not too long, and you will easily be captivated from start to finish. It really is fascinating to see how it all played out. It was also very well shot and had some really great character scenes, which certainly don’t hurt the viewing experience.

I feel as though some of the sub-plots were very rushed and thus felt a little unsatisfying, and the soundtrack was a little stock in places, but otherwise I have very little to complain about here.

I expected The Founder to be good, but it was honestly a little better than what I was expecting. If you’re at all interested, check out the trailer, it very accurately depicts the kind of movie you’re going to get. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch… ) And strangely, despite all the awful history about McDonalds I’d just learned, I was craving a Quarter Pounder afterwards. Not sure how to explain that one.

I highly recommend The Founder.

Hacksaw Ridge, 2016

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey

IMDb

Hacksaw Ridge is definitely worth seeing. Great performances, directing, cinematography with a really inspiring story, based on true events.

The story is about Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield). A conscientious objector in WWII acting as a combat medic. The first half of the film plays out like a Christian drama with Doss growing up in the south, developing the wish to never kill anyone and fighting for his right to not bare arms, while training in boot camp. The second half takes place in Hacksaw Ridge, Okinawa, where the battle takes place and Doss proves his worth without ever having to handle a weapon.

I think this was the perfect story for Mel Gibson to be directing. If his style can be narrowed down to two elements they would be Christian Values and Intense violence/graphic imagery. This story already embodies both really well, and Gibson managed to take it a step further. The film is very heavy-handed when it comes to the religious values it presents, but never forces them upon the viewer, nor criticises those who don’t. It’s some of the least judgemental/propagandistic use of religion I’ve ever seen in a film.

The battle scenes were also very well handled, cleverly using elements from horror films in order to put the audience in the terrifying position of the soldiers. It’s very intense and doesn’t hold back on graphic acts or images, but I feel like this only works to the film’s benefit. Like I said before, this is just a really good story. Once the actual acts that Doss is known for start happening, it’s really hard to not feel a sense of awe to know that this really happened.

I have very few real criticisms here. Like most films based on a true story, the pacing is a bit wonky, as the screenwriters had to work around the actual order of events. Some bits also end up seeming a bit cheesy, which thrusts you out of the film to wonder if that really happened.

I highly recommend Hacksaw Ridge. Go see it!