Before Sunrise is a hundred minutes of a man and a woman talking to each other. There is really no other plot; they just walk around Vienna together and chat. The acting is fine and there is some cool cinematography sometimes, but the rest is a bore. I can't even get into their relationship, because it does not feel like a conversation; it feels like two people alternating giving monologues. Ethan Hawke will say some philosophical bullshit or a boring story from his life and then Julie Delpy responds with her own speech about philosophy or her childhood. They have okay chemistry, but nothing else feels real. I was begging for something to happen or for them to broach something interesting or substantial, but they never do. I don't even get a real sense of their relationship developing, as topics aren't consistently digging deeper and neither character is really likable or relatable. There were a handful of times that they talked about something that caught my attention, but then Hawke will quickly offer a story about being 12 and they lose me again. I've not seen the other two Before films, so I can only view this as an individual experience and my experience had me skipping back thirty minutes because I fell asleep. It's not a RomCom and it's not a drama; it's like two high school seniors playing grown up giving monologues.
There are certainly elements of being a movie here, but it's a close call. Von Trier sets the tone real quick by giving us a close up of Willem Dafoe's dick penetrating Charlotte Gainsbourg seven seconds in. From there, things get so much worse. To its credit, there is some great cinematography and there are some interesting ideas here depending on how much you want to analyze the film. There are scenes and images that are etched into my brain and I'll remember for years (although some I wish I could forget) whether for their dark beauty or disturbing gross-out/shock value. Antichrist is constantly vacillating between mind-numbingly dull or pretentious scenes and shocking ones that literally had me sitting there with my mouth hanging open. I am not opposed to shock value and even unreasonable levels of gore, but these scenes were really the only times I was totally interested. Most of the time, I was confused or annoyed. Antichrist manages to be incredibly dark, yet pretty cheesy at times and it's the worst combination. If we look at the plot isolated from everything else, it's an interesting story that I would love to see, but Von Trier is a nut and tells it in the most obtuse and overworked way. I know that "pretentious" is the big no-no word and I'm showing my normie badge here a little, but Antichrist is really pretentious. I don't mind that the movie is incredibly dark and symbolic, but it's to the point where it's not really clicking as a film. Obviously there is an audience for this movie, but it's just not working for me
Perhaps this is me unknowingly donning my nostalgia goggles (I owned and loved every one of the Olsen Twins VHS tapes, whether Olsen & Olsen Mystery Agency or one of those awkward "party" movies), but DDTT is pretty okay. The plot is pretty cliche,the Olsen Twins were only ever capable of over-the-top hammy acting, the effects are terrible (even for 1993), and it's a made for TV movie so temper your expectations. I loved how ridiculous the plot is and they give the twins some pretty funny lines. In no way is this a good film and if you are only looking for auteur cinema, there is nothing here for you. DDTT is a goofy family movie that aired on ABC in '93 and it shows in every possible way. Maybe you have to have received your Olsen Twins inoculation sometime before Billboard Dad to appreciate them, but I love their brand of movie.
I've been sitting on this movie for months, just waiting for Halloween to come around for the perfect time to finally check it out. I can definitively say that it's the best horror movie I've watched this month, but it has some issues. The acting is great and there are tons of people that I recognized that would go on to bigger things after this: Anna Paquin (right after portraying Rouge and a year before True Blood), Dylan Baker (who I couldn't separate from his character in Happiness), Britt McKillip (grown up from playing Reggie on Dead Like Me), and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (five years before Baby Daddy). The cinematography is fine and I didn't notice any production issues. The one issue I did have is how the story is told. Trick 'r Treat is a handful of connected stories (almost an anthology) within a small town and character overlapping. I love anthology movies and each of the stories individually have a lot to celebrate, but the timeline is broken. We get one bit and then we flash to "earlier" and "earlier" and eventually "later" but the stories don't line up that way. There were a couple "You said this takes place earlier than what we saw, so how can he be dead?" kind of moments and the links between the story need more explanation. The biggest loose end is Sam, the most well known piece of this movie (and the only thing I'd seen before hand). I don't know who/what/why he is or what his goal is. There is a little bit about his legend in the first story, but we don't get more. I don't even remember them telling us that his/its name is Sam. I like when he popped up, but but each time it raised more questions. There were some fun twists in the stories and I was never entirely sure where I was headed, but none are individually noteworthy. Trick 'r Treat was a great movie to watch, but it's not a great movie; it's good and it's a fun time, but it's certainly flawed.
Imagine if the Child's Play movies had terrible acting, were incredibly boring, and we never saw Chuckie do anything. This movie is Robert. Aside from the fact that it says it's "based on a true story" and it in no way touches the actual story of the Robert doll, this movie is a travesty. There are exactly zero likable characters so I really couldn't care any less about anyone's fate. The story is repetitive and uneventful; most of the time is spent on the husband and wife arguing, which is the most uninteresting aspect. the most egregious issue with this movie is that Robert does almost nothing. We never see the doll move while all of him is in frame: we see his head turn, we see his perspective as he runs, and we see objects be moved or held by him, but we don't see him actually h old anything. There are tons of stupid little things like the maid "cleaning" the bathroom, but she only wipes the counters while holding a spray bottle (that she never sprays) and doesn't address the incredibly smudged mirrors, the paint of Roberts shoes just disappears, and no one ever tries to fight back against the doll. The best part of the Child's Play movies are Chuckie; he was a real character and is integral to the film. Robert is just a plot device; you could replace him with anything and the movie doesn't change. From the very first second of the movie, you can tell how ow budget and poorly made it is. Other than the physical appearance of he doll, there is nothing creepy or scary here. Even in Annabelle, we get a strong sense that something is wrong with the doll, but Robert is just a weird looking doll. It's even a little of a stretch to call this a Robert the Doll movie, as it has nothing to do with the "real" Robert the doll other than that it is about a doll named Robert. Obviously both stories are fake, but the "real" story is much more interesting than this paint-by-numbers movie that uses exclusively shades of grey. It's not even a "Good Bad" movie that you can get some fun out of laughing at, it's just a very boring movie with a lame script, terrible actors and none of the things I wanted out of a killer doll movie.
The Midnight Gospel is literally just re-spliced podcasts with a few lines of newly recorded dialog that play while an entirely unrelated lazy animation plays. They tell you the premise is something similar to the Interdementional Cable episodes of Rick & Morty, where our main character picks a different world simulation to join. I love the idea, but as soon as we join the new world, they start a "data-cast" and start talking about pseudo-intellectual crap that has absolutely nothing to do with what we are seeing going on. The first episode has the main character talking to Dr. Drew about drugs and meditation while fighting of a zombie apocalypse. You almost have to review the visual and audio elements separately. The audio is taken from Duncan Trussell's podcast and the add in a few lines to mention what is happening in the episode, but 98% is the most pretentious and inane conversations I've ever heard. It's two people who know nothing stroking each other's egos about stuff they heard in a Psych 101 class and didn't entirely understand. Do you want to listen to potheads talk about how cool drugs are, magic, Buddhism, and transcendentalism? I sure don't. The actual visuals often look like beautiful black light posters you'd find in the back of a Spencer's store, but they aren't animated properly. The animation is so rough and jumpy that it feels like they need three or four times as many frames to smooth it out. The Midnight Gospels thinks that it is a super deep philosophy discussion, but it's really just a #Deep rant between two stoned High School Freshmen in their mom's basement. I wanted Interdemensional Cable animated by the Adventure Time guy and this is none of those things.
The Haunting of Hill House is hard for me to rate. On one hand, we have really great performances from almost the entire cast; even the kids did very well and I was never reminded that these are all actors ad none of this is real. The sets were really good too, whether it was the funeral home, the rehab center, or the titular Hill House, everything has well designed and as realistically creepy and unsettling. On the other hand I essentially finished only because of the whole sunk cost fallacy and the blind hope that maybe they can right the ship. Every paranormal movie essentially gets to create its own rules for how ghosts and such work, so I can't really complain about the realism of how they chose to write their rules. I will say, however, that their rule book is bullshit and the stupidest fucking mess I've ever read. I won't spoil anything, because the incredibly slow and arduous unrevealing of the mystery is really the only the story has going for it, but I found it to be purposefully obtuse and cheap. They are trying so hard to create a mind-fuck story with the constant flashbacks and (maybe) dream sequences and we never really know if people are really seeing things, if it's just stories they are replaying in their head, if it's hallucinations or if it is just that the writers are trying to give us a visual while someone is being told a story. 85% of the story is just a family drama. It's a compelling drama and the characters are great, but we were pitched and promised a horror and we barely get that. the other 15% is easily the worst part. They do a fair job creating a sense of unease, but literally every unveiling garnered a response of "Really? Fucking really? That's their explanation?" One of the last one makes sense, but one particular one really made me physically angry; it's just so nonsensical, stupid, and unrealistic even for a movie about ghosts. This did not need to be a 10+ hour series and they certainly didn't deliver on the impression of horror. If we cut out all the bullshit, we could have a solid four episode mini-series about a family dealing with loss. I really wanted to love Hill House and they have all of the pieces to make a great show, but they fucked it all up. The cast was outstanding and aside from child actor with a very minor role, everyone gave Oscar worthy performances. The ghosts and ghouls or whatever they actually were looked pretty bad, but the Hill House set looked great. If they gave the pieces to a different writer and director, Hill House could be a classic, but I hate what Mike Flanagan did with them.