Tag Archives: Laura Dern

Cinema Dispatch: Downsizing

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Downsizing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alexander Payne

Every year, there’s usually one movie that starts off getting quite a bit of Awards buzz (mostly due to its cast and filmmakers) that eventually pivots all the way back to being an absolute train wreck once the critics get a chance to see it, and it’s usually not due to a genuine lack of talent on anyone’s part.  More often than not, it’s misguided or something happened in the production that forced corners to be cut, so the badness of these kind of movies tend to be UNIQUE compared to the drivel that usually comes out during the rest of the year.  Last year the winner of this prize was Collateral Beauty that tried SO hard to be a heartfelt and charming tale despite ostensibly being about people acting like total monsters towards someone with emotional issues, and word has been circulating that this is gonna be that film for 2017.  I thought the trailers looked good as does its interesting premise, but I’ve been burned by good trailers before (*cough* Mother *cough*), so I’m hoping for the best but will keep my guard up just in case.  Are the critics right about this film being wholly unable to live up to its lofty ambitions, or is this one of those few instances where the popular consensus will shift once it gets screened for the masses?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventures of Paul (Matt Damon) who’s a simple man with a ho-hum job living a ho-hum life with his ho-hum wife (Kristen Wiig) in his ho-hum town of Nowhere-ville.  He’s looking for something to spice up his life and to give him a renewed sense of meaning (by which I mean he wants to buy more stuff), so he starts to entertain the idea of him and his wife Downsizing.  What is Downsizing you may ask?  Well it’s a process by which a human can be permanently shrunken down to a fraction of their normal height and then move to a community of similarly shrunken people.  Since things cost less when they are smaller, that means that Paul’s meager life savings can let them live as kings for the rest of their lives in one of these communities, so he eventually makes the leap.  However, his wife doesn’t go with him (balking at the last second) and he’s basically back where he was before; miserable and looking for ways to be happy.  Through his ongoing life in Tiny Town (also known as Leisureland) he meets with a goods trader Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) as well as a Vietnamese protestor who was Downsized against her will named Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau) that seem to be much happier than him and might just hold the secrets to helping Paul find what he’s been looking for.  Can Paul find a shred of happiness in his sad pathetic life?  What doors with Dusan and even Ngoc open for Paul that will help him on his journey?  Wait, so we have this HUGE premise about people being shrunk down and living in corporate run micro-communities… and we’re focusing on some sad white dude the whole time!?

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HE’S NOT EVEN THE MATT DAMON THAT PUNCHES PEOPLE!

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Cinema Dispatch: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Rian Johnson

And we’re back for our yearly song and dance to the empire George Lucas created and Disney is rebuilding!  Not that Star Wars ever really went away (nor did its fans who were perfectly willing to still spend money on it), but the last few years have been just the shot in the arm the franchise needed in order to make it more than a nostalgia artifact that won’t go away into something that will resonate with audiences today and maintain its throne as KING OF THE BLOCKBUSTERS.  Now that we’re at the second installment of the new trilogy, will it be yet another example of Disney getting this formula right, or have we already started hurtling head long into the dark side… by which I mean the movie is not very good?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up not long after the events of the first film where The First Order is understandably peeved over the destruction of the Star Killer Base and are on a warpath to hunt down the remnants of The Rebellion; more or less whittling them down to a single flagship desperately trying to find a place to hole up until the heat dies down.  Unfortunately for them, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) along with his own flagship are right on their tails and are blasting away at the Rebel ship’s shields until they can get a shot in and blow the whole thing up; effectively killing the resistance and all the loveable characters onboard.  Said characters include Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who’s having trouble ceding to the Rebel Leadership which is primarily General Leia and Admiral Holdo (Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern), Finn (John Boyega) who’s all fixed up after the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the engineer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who’s sister recently died in an attack and wants to help Finn in saving everyone who’s left on the flagship.  While Finn, Pie, and Rose are working out a way to save the ship while subverting the Rebel Leadership, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is off on Planet Nowhere with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trying to coax the latter into going back to The Rebels and giving her Jedi lessons, while Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo)… well he’s keeping the Millennium Falcon warm in case either of them needs it.  Need it they might though considering how dire the situation is with The Rebels and Rey can’t exactly wait around for Luke to stop being a grumpy pants; especially with Kylo Ren growing more and more desperate to prove himself which only makes him that much more dangerous of a blunt tool for Snoke’s greater ambitions.  Will The Rebels find a way to survive this unceasing onslaught by The First Order?  Will Rey find her place in this conflict and become the Jedi Master that everyone can look up to in these trying times?  Will Luke teach her all those lessons he kinda sorta learned from Yoda and Obi-Wan!?

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“Do, or do not.  There is no try.”     “What do you mean there’s no try!?”     “Huh. You know, I never really understood that part either.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

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Star Wars: The last Jedi and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Walt Disney Studios

Directed by Rian Johnson

Sure enough, Disney is going forward with their plan of turning the month of December into Star Wars month (Merry Lucas-mas!!) and they have just released the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi!  Now The Force Awakens topped my Best of 2015 list, and Rogue One ended up pretty high on my Best of 2016 list, so while the sense of HYPE isn’t really there this time (Disney knows what they’re doing and if this one doesn’t work we’ll have another one in 2018), I’m still rather interested to see where they go with the main story and hope they can build upon the success of The Force Awakens.  Anyway, let’s get started with the speculation!!

Now the first thing I noticed is that this trailer is cut EXACTLY the same as the teaser for The Force Awakens which is an interesting choice.  Both trailers are narrated by one of the characters in the movie, doesn’t connect to any of the scenes they actually show.  Both trailers start with a quite shot where one of the protagonists suddenly enters the frame with an accompanying musical sting.  Finally, both trailers are a collection sizzle shots to show off the graphics and incentivize speculation.  The only major difference in regards to the style of the two is the pacing.  While the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens had a strong sense of energy and movement, this one is much lower key and methodical with makes sense considering what the movie seems to be about.  At least partially, this movie is going to be about Rey’s training as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker which will require as much soul searching, meditation, and self-control as it will chopping dudes to bits with a glowing stick.

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“And then I’m gonna go WAAAA!  HIYAAAAA!  FFWWWOOOSHHHH!  And then everyone’s gonna go ‘YAAAAYYYYY!’ and then I’ll be all WOOHOOO!!!”

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