Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIRAI and NEVER LOOK AWAY (2 film review) OSCAR CATCH UP CHAPTER 11. BANKRUPTCY. FINISHED!!!

Wow, being 100% complete on one year’s worth of Oscar nominations and being prepared the most I have ever been for the telecast this Sunday, and also for Diane and I’s 10th Annual and last Oscar party, feels great. Doing this was one of my ‘bucket list’ items and I’m glad I completed it at only 32, thanks to a lot of things (Netflix, Hulu, dark web illegal shit, last minute screenings, friends of friends). It was also a fucking beating, time consuming, and I’m never going to do it again. So here is part 11 of my Oscar catch up. I’m finally done. For the rest of the year you will be getting only 2019 movie reviews. Here we go:

MIRAI (Nominated for Best Animated Feature)

I’ve never really ‘gotten’ anime I guess you could say. Other than being into the Pokemon video games and watching several episode of the cartoon when I was younger, to watching several episodes of Full Metal Alchemist when I was older, I never really gotten into it or care for it. So take my review of Mirai with a grain of salt, especially if you are an anime fan. That being said, the movie was okay. I really think it was nominated as a “we need a fifth nominated film, here’s your consolation prize as there weren’t other noticeable U.S. films this year, and we usually include one Japanese anime film on here per year now so we aren’t labeled racist or non-diverse.”

If you look really hard at it while watching it, you could compare it to The Boss Baby, with Alec Baldwin. It’s about a young little brat kid that has a new sister, and imagines a bunch of scenarios in his mind about interacting with past and future versions of his ancestors, parents, and his new little sister Mirai, in order to become a better person, but most importantly, a role model for his little sister. The main version that comes to him is his “sister that is older from the future.” The film didn’t really get going for me until the last 15-20 minutes, with awesome imagery and animation that reminded me of watching Little Nemo and the Adventures in Slumberland when I was a little kid.

The animation is great too, always love and miss 2D renderings all the time at the same time. It was just that I was mostly bored while watching it. It didn’t click with me. The Japanese anime humor flies way over my head and I honestly just don’t get it. But if you are a lover of anime and a pretty decent story, this film is definitely right up your alley. Hell there could’ve been a much worse fifth nomination this year…like Smallfoot maybe? I don’t know, didn’t see it but heard it was shit.

NEVER LOOK AWAY (Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Cinematography)

And yet another foreign language film I found to be more engaging, engrossing, and entertaining than Roma, and this son of a bitch is 3 hrs and 8 minutes long! I can’t decide if I like this or Capernaum better but I know that both completely blow Roma out of the water for me (even though I still find Roma to be a very good cinematic achievement…technically not narratively). Never Look Away takes place between right around 1937 and goes to 1961. It chronicles the the life of a painter named Kurt Barnett and his life as a child dealing with the end of World War II and the tragic death of his beautiful aunt, through socialist expressionism, all the way to where art became extremely experimental and avant-garde. His life consists of meeting and falling in love with a beautiful designer student while also trying to find his true voice as an artist in a profession that is constantly changing. While he is the narrative focus we also get a B Plot of a Nazi Professor named Carl Seeband and his role in the Nazi eugenics program. I would explain what that is, but the movie does that well enough for you and you can look it up on your own, it’s quite malicious and horrifying. Plus if I keep going with the plot I’m going to ruin the entire thing for you, best to check it out for yourself.


To say that these two stories intertwine at some point is a given, and you would think that I would complain that by the way these two stories come together are too much of a coincidence for me (I complained about this in my review of Border), however, with the 3 hour run time, and the ultimate conclusion/resolution to the film, the film easily earns its couple of happenstances and the ending thankfully foregoes a cliched confrontation that so many movies have done before. The film is also nominated for Best Cinematography, and I also agree that its nomination in this category was well deserved. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (who is Zooey and Emily’s father) enriches the screen with beautiful imagery of a pre, present, and post war country. It get even better in the latter half of the film with Carl trying his hand at creating different forms of art, especially the climax.


The acting in here is great as well, so great in fact that about 15 minutes into the film I didn’t even realize I was reading subtitles to get what was going on. Although the main actor Tom Schilling looks like if Jeremy Renner and Devon Sawa fucked and had a baby. It was a little distracting at times because I wanted to prove that all three of them were related. The actor that plays the Nazi Professor, Sebastian Koch, is great here as well, and some of you may recognize him from some American films/television programs like A Good Day To Die Hard or Homeland. Here he gets a lot of scenery to chew and does it well. Anyway, the story here is magnificent and if you really like foreign films and don’t mind reading subtitles, the 3 hours wasn’t just necessary for me to appreciate all that was necessary in this story to tell, but also flew by like watching Titanic or Gone With The Wind. It’s an epic story told with epic perfection.

Advertisements

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WEEKENDS and SHOPLIFTERS (2 Film Review) Oscar Catch Up Part 9

Update: By Monday, I will end up seeing every single nominee for the 91st Academy Awards, all 121 of them (some are the same obviously as some films have multiple nominations). This series of Oscar Catch Up will ironically end on Part 11, which I will then call Chapter 11 since it is the end. But anyway, two quick short reviews:

WEEKENDS (Nominated for Best Animated Short)

WEEKENDS is a short 15 minutes. The animation is easy on the eyes (kind of messy/classic, you’ll get what I mean when you watch it, it’s on YouTube now), and other than a score and a couple of repeating rock/pop songs, there is no dialogue. It is about a boy that is dealing with the separation of his parents. His mother gets him during the week, his father on the weekends. He tries to move on with his life as they move on with theirs.

It’s quite emotional and stays with the theme of all the shorts basically being about growing up and dealing with your age. I have now seen all 5 of the nominated ones now, and while I think Bao will ultimately win, (I mean Pixar, come on) I really hope instead that it is One Small Step. This one would be a close third.

SHOPLIFTERS (Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film)

I have one Foreign Language film left to see (Never Look Away, this Friday), but I’m going to go ahead and call that SHOPLIFTERS will be my least favorite of the bunch. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but this one might have been a little over hyped for me. The film is a Japanese drama film about a family, who are not really related at all we come to find out, that steal from shops and do other scams to deal with a poverty type lifestyle.

You probably won’t know any of the actors/actresses in it so I won’t waste my time, but the acting is very solid. The story itself and the motivations and secrets of these characters is like peeling layers off of a fruit to get to the sweet juicy center. Some of the revelations are sad, some are downright shocking. The ‘family’ mentioned above is a family of five at the beginning, and then it turns to six when they take in a girl that seems to be abandoned and abused by her mother and father.

The ending is sure to leave a lump in your throat and the film is very engaging on a story and character developmental level. Everything technical about it could’ve used some work. The cinematography isn’t all that special, and some scenes were too dark to work with to see what was going on. It felt like a point and shoot kind of movie. However, going back to a positive light, the film has probably the best child acting since IT in 2017. But yeah, the movie is available to rent on all your Movie On Demand providers. It’s worth checking out completely story wise, as it is really original and is something that Hollywood in America wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole now, due to the fact we are in sequel/reboot land for the next 1,000 years.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CAPERNAUM and LIFEBOAT (Two Film Review) OSCAR Catch Up Part 6

CAPERNAUM (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film)

Unless Never Look Away or Shoplifters absolutely blows me away when I watch them before the Oscars on Feb 24th, I think I can safely say that CAPERNAUM is my favorite foreign language movie of the ones nominated, that’s right, better than Roma. This film might not have the gorgeous cinematography that Roma or Cold War has, but it has a much better story, much better pace, a perfect run time, better acting, better characters. A really really powerful film. In fact the only complaint I have about it is I maybe wanted the ending a little more clear cut in what happened, how certain characters got back to certain places, but I feel that some of it was supposed to be “just because” or “ambigious” and I really enjoyed the movie so much I let it slide.

The film is about a 12 year old Lebanese boy named Zain who is in jail at the start of the film for stabbing a person and is in court suing his parents. It then cuts back to Zain’s journey and what events exactly led him to prison, which includes trying to protect one of his older sisters, running away from home, and staying with a deportee named Rahil, and taking care of her small one year old child. I won’t tell you much more of the journey as that is what made the film so captivating. The film has a nice clear cut message on ones identity and the life that was force upon him.

And again, while the cinematography is a bit lacking in some areas, everything else about it technically is pretty great; the shots, the camera work. But its the story, acting, and characters that plunge the audiences’ deep involvement into the film. Zain, who in real life is played by a complete novice, also named Zain, is phenomenal. Can’t believe he was just a novice by the end of the film. The woman that plays Rahil is mesmerizing as well, and how they got certain great emotional shots with that one year old, boggles my mind. Yes, it’s subtitled, and yes its a foreign film, but if you read this review I highly, highly recommend that you check it out. If it weren’t for Roma, I would stake that this could easily win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. If somehow it does, I will be smiling ear to ear.

LIFEBOAT (nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject)

Lifeboat is a short 34 minute Documentary (available on YouTube) about refugees crowded to the brim on multiple makeshift shaky rafts that are trying to flee the harsh life of Libya and escape to Europe. A non-profit German operation called Sea-Watch brave the dangerous journey and try to intercept these boats and rescue these refugees at all costs. Once they are rescued, these people tell stories of being beaten, raped, being part of sexual trafficking and how poverty in general lead them to flee their homes and risk their lives.

The documentary tells and shows this giant rescue operation and gives some haunting details about these lifeboat trips to flee Libya. This doc let’s us know that 1 in 18 people drown and they find 200 to 300 dead bodies on the coast of Northern Africa each year. They piss and shit in these boats and remark about having to stand in it, how these conditions effect the fleeing children. The documentary is short and precise, not over staying its welcome or repeating any information already given to us. The captain of one of the rescue operations tells us that he lends a hand because he knows how easily he or any of his loved ones could’ve had one of the refugees lives and feels that he is obligated to save as many as he can.

This documentary will make you appreciate the life you have, no matter how shitty you think it may be. The images will make your draw drop, some of it is daunting and hard to watch. It’ll give you some perspective. There are thousands upon thousands of people suffering out there that literally almost can’t do anything about it. When they get this one shot at escape, even if the escape could mean death, they will take it no matter the cost. Definitely see why this was nominated for an Academy Award.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: Three of the Five Documentary Short Subject Academy Award Nominees (Oscar Catch Up Part 4)

Alright, here are three quick reviews of the two Documentary Short Subject Academy Award Nominees that were available to watch

BLACK SHEEP

This one is available for free if you have Amazon Prime. A mother of Nigerian descent moves her children from London to Essex after a killing of a 10 year old boy also of Nigerian descent (but unrelated to the family). The story is told from a point of view of one of the boys grown up. He talks up close to the camera and it goes from his face to a re enactment of events of what happened when they moved to Essex. You will realize why it is called BLACK SHEEP by the end of the short 26 minute run time.

Basically this man describes how racist Essex was when he moved there. He got beaten up badly by white teenagers that would call him the C and N word. After he got beaten up, he saved up his money to buy more expensive clothes, got blue fake cataracts for his eyes, and tries to bleach his skin white. The white people end up accepting him, but then still terrorizes other black teenagers and such. It’s a pretty harrowing documentary of the man describing why he did the things that he did and didn’t try to go into another direction. I’ll ruin anything else in the short run time but, basically, I definitely see why it was nominated.

END GAME

END GAME is a short 40 something minute doc that is available on Netflix if you have it. Like Black Sheep, this one is hard to watch without getting a little depressed. It’s about sick people in a hospital and/or hospice where social workers and counselors work with the families of those sick to make sure that their end of life care is comfortable to the best of their abilities. It has about 5 to 6 patients that it focuses on, and goes extensively into one or two of them, specifically with an Arabic women in her 40s that is dying of cancer who will leave behind a husband and child.

*Spoiler alert* There are no happy endings in this short documentary. If you are hoping for a miracle, don’t. End Game means End Game. But the doc does show you that a place of people that deal with this can be very compassionate and helpful till the end. So combining that with these people dying of their illnesses makes sort of a bittersweet affair by the end of the documentary. I can see why this one was nominated as well, but don’t recommend it to those that get very upset easily. I’ll leave that choice up to you.

A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN

How an individual is nominated for an Oscar for the 7 minute bit (that’s available for free on YouTube, I will never understand. There is no narrator dialogue, and just ominous music, and old footage restored and edited. It’s footage of an American Nazi rally of 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden in 1939, shortly before the beginning of World War II. If 15 – 20 minutes would’ve been added on to this thing and gave us a little insight into the event or the events surrounding it, instead of just an end title card describing what was going on, they may have had something. Other than that, I really hope this doesn’t win, because there is no way it deserve an Oscar. Sure the footage is haunting, but he didn’t shoot the God damn haunting footage…

If I happen to find a place to watch the other two for free I will update this blog.