Português English

Cinema

Movie List 2023 feature
2023.12.31

Movie List 2023

Every year, I try to compile a list of games, books, and movies I experienced. For the complete list, check the Ratings. Here we go (sorted by rating then alphabetically)!

NOTE: I believe this list is the one that is mostly incomplete. I will probably make additions to it time to time.

  1. Home Alone (10★★★★★★★★★★): A Christmas classic. Was on TV and hooked me in. Love it.
  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (9★★★★★★★★★): Undoubtedly the best film overall. It’s a delightful and thought-provoking experience. The Chinese actors deliver an AMAZING performance. I’d vote for best actress, best supporting actor, and supporting actress. Not to mention the commendable visual effects and wardrobe choices. The variety of outfits that briefly graced the screen is staggering.
  3. Moulin Rouge! (9★★★★★★★★★): A sensory banquet served with a dazzling dressing of Parisian passion. This movie sweeps you into a whirlwind waltz of love and loss, painting a masterpiece on the canvas of your heart.
  4. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (9★★★★★★★★★): An amazing #RoaldDah short story. Very Wes Anderson.
  5. Air (8★★★★★★★★): A nice, not great, “documentary” telling the story of Nike managers creating their most famous and lucrative product to date: the Air Jordan shoes.
  6. Poison (8★★★★★★★★): Another great #RoaldDah short story adapted by Wes Anderson.
  7. The Rat Catcher (8★★★★★★★★): The craziest #RoaldDah short story adapted by Wes Anderson. Very nice too.
  8. The Swan (8★★★★★★★★): The shortest #RoaldDah short story adapted by Wes Anderson. Very nice.
  9. Triangle of Sadness (8★★★★★★★★): My favorite movie from the Oscars’ 2023. Despite having zero chance of winning, it’s a harsh social satire that will definitely make you scratch your head. It’s a running joke in my family about the taste for scatology, and it delivers.
  10. The Remains of the Day (8★★★★★★★★): Hopkins is amazing actor, period. Only two years after his Oscar winning Hannibal in The Silence of the Lambs, he is now a butler in a very Downton Abbey fashion, which allowed him to run (but did not win) his second golden statuette.
  11. All Quiet on the Western Front (7★★★★★★★): The opening scenes showing the boys eager to participate in the war contrasting with the first moments in the field are a real lesson. However, the movie is a series of misfortune tales merged together.
  12. Elvis (7★★★★★★★): Austin Butler, the actor playing Elvis, delivers a top-notch performance. However, Tom Hanks’ character is kinda annoying. The movie has a strong first half and a sluggish second one. It’s one step away from being a documentary but enjoyable nonetheless.
  13. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (7★★★★★★★): Nominated for best Adapted Screenplay. I’m now curious about the original text. It might be good. Again, it’s still a zoo of characters with a boring detective.
  14. The Greatest Show (7★★★★★★★): Nice musical. Great performance by Hugh Jackman, but it lacks the charming to be a Moulin Rouge killer.
  15. Top Gun: Maverick (7★★★★★★★): A fun sequel that leverages the original movie. Great visuals, good story.
  16. Luckiest Girl Alive (6★★★★★★): I was expecting a great story but had a hard time swallowing its mystery.
  17. The Menu (6★★★★★★): A tantalizing entrée of intrigue, slightly undercooked in the main course of plot development. Yet, the dessert of performances saves this cinematic meal from being entirely forgettable.
  18. Avatar: The Way of Water (4★★★★): Bad.
  19. The Mummy (2017) (4★★★★): Bad.

Documentaries

  1. Vale o que está Escrito (10★★★★★★★★★★): The best documentary of the year is Brazilian focused. It’s about the gambling Mafia in Rio de Janeiro.
  2. Navalny (7★★★★★★★): A chilling documentary that’s as nerve-racking as a Cold War thriller yet bursting with the gritty reality of modern Russian politics. It’s like a glass of vodka straight up, no chaser.

Animations

  1. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (7★★★★★★★): A lovely adaptation. It’s a bit dry in the storytelling department, with abrupt story deviations (mostly due to the source material), but I liked it.

TV Shows

  1. The Last of Us (S1) (8★★★★★★★★): A great show, very close to the source material, AFAIK (I’ve never played the games). Another great script by Craig Mazin. I’ve been a great fan of his work since I started listening to his podcast ScriptNotes ages ago.
  2. Cyberpunk Edgerunners (7★★★★★★★): Surprisingly nice and gives some of the imagined feeling of the game and the Cyberpunk universe.
  3. Only Murders In The Building (S3) (7★★★★★★★): Some people liked this season, but I found it to be just okay. Better than the second, with memorable characters, but the premise is very narrow, preventing it from growing naturally. Selena’s character is 100% irrelevant.
  4. Succession (S4) (7★★★★★★★): Family harmony and business prowess continue to degrade, on their known trajectories. But after so many scandals, it is less and less credible. Also it lingers longer than needed. At least, it ends in a high note.
  5. Ted Lasso (S3) (7★★★★★★★): A third round of heartwarming soccer shenanigans with a winning streak of compassion and underdog triumphs. It’s like a box of your favorite cookies; you just can’t help but crave more.
  6. The Rings of Power (6★★★★★★): Amazon invested a lot, but the script is not inspired. Too much white noise, with characters that do not do a lot, nor influence the story forward. The high point, of course, is the finale revelation.
Let the Blue Men Drown feature
2023.06.12

Let the Blue Men Drown

After a decade-long hiatus, James Cameron finally graced us with the sequel to his groundbreaking film, Avatar. The original movie exploded into cinemas, sparking a chicken-fly boom in 3D technology that left viewers wide-eyed and open-mouthed. This sequel, however, felt more like a deflated balloon, flapping uselessly in the wind.

I had the dubious pleasure of streaming Avatar: The Way of Water from the comfort of my living room – no 3D glasses, no surround sound, just the glaringly obvious shortcomings of the movie in raw form. In hindsight, I can confidently say that watching this sequel was a near-miss disaster averted. Thankfully, I did not contribute financially to the spectacle of disappointment Cameron managed to engineer.

Before I dive into the review, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that this sequel is part of a five-plus movie arc Cameron has planned. Given the quality of this installment, the prospect of watching another three or more Avatar films seems more like a threat than a promise.

Soup Opera Characters

If charisma were a currency in Pandora, the characters would be flat broke. The returning characters, who were not particularly remarkable to begin with, have now been relegated to the sidelines, their presence about as significant as a background extra in a soap opera. Poor Zoe Saldaña found herself swimming in a pool tank for most of the movie to film scenes that added as much to the plot as a grain of sand does to a beach.

To say the cast list is bloated would be an understatement. There are more characters here than there are stars in the Pandora night sky. Our protagonist, Jake Sully, is now the father of four. The local king has a trio of offspring. There’s a Tarzan kid running around, and the villains consist of a nameless female general and a reborn badass whose character development is as flat as a pizza.

One might argue that having a myriad of characters offers diversity and depth. However, the natives all blend into a single homogeneous blob of blue and green-skinned semi-naked, noseless beings. There’s little to differentiate them, both visually and in terms of personality.

The characters’ arcs, if you can even call them that, are as irrelevant to the plot. These personal dilemmas could have provided much-needed depth to the characters but instead, they feel like misplaced distractions in the grand scheme of the film’s narrative. They started directing a science fiction epic and decided to turn the sequel into a high-budget teen drama instead.

1001 Arabian Nights

The original Avatar, love it or hate it, had a clear theme. It was essentially a reskin of Pocahontas in space – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It had a simple, straightforward narrative with a clear message. The sequel, in contrast, lacks such clarity.

The narrative structure resembles a hastily assembled jigsaw puzzle with pieces borrowed from various other boxes. A significant part of the plot is dedicated to characters learning new skills at an implausible pace. If you thought Neo learning Kung Fu in “The Matrix” stretched credulity, prepare to see characters learn to super-swim, fly over dragon-like creatures, and hunt unique monsters at a speed that could give any accelerated learning program a run for its money.

Subplots abound in this sequel, but they are as disconnected from the main narrative as the numerous moons of Pandora. To name a few:

  • There’s a storyline about the teenage struggles of acceptance, complete with name-calling and school pranks;
  • Then there’s the son trying to prove himself to his father subplot, which echoes ‘The Lion King’ in the most uninspired way possible;
  • The peculiar child who can communicate with Pandora’s Mother Nature;
  • And the Tarzan kid with daddy issues;
  • The Free Willy return;

None provide additional subplots that add as much value to the story as a fifth wheel to a car.

The quantity of subplots is rivaled only by the sheer number of characters, and they collectively contribute as much to the main storyline as a single snowflake to an avalanche. By the end, we are left exactly where we started: the humans have lost a few more expendable troops but still possess a Death Star-sized arsenal. The Na’vi are still in danger, Pandora is still in peril, and we, the audience, are still giving them money.

Cameron seems to have changed the eco-message: exits the unique mineral found on Pandora (a premise uncomfortably close to that of “Dune”), enters a kind of whale oil that cures aging which appears to be a not-so-subtle critique of the pharmaceutical industry. However, this switch in narrative focus feels more like a diversion than a meaningful plot progression, adding another layer of confusion to an already muddled storyline. All this leaves us with the gnawing question: What was the point of all this again?

The relatively likable character

National Geographic

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room. When the original Avatar debuted, it pioneered a 3D revolution that was expected to redefine cinema. However, in retrospect, this much-touted revolution seems to have been more of a novelty than a lasting paradigm shift. Much like the 3D technology of the first movie, the visuals fail to leave a lasting impression.

While the movie does strive to offer a Discovery Channel portrayal of Pandora, it ultimately falls short. The extended scenes of contemplative wonder lack the punch they’re clearly intended to have. They seem more like a pretentious attempt to make us marvel at the exotic alien world, rather than serving as a seamless part of the narrative.

In comparison to the first film, the sequel’s visual landscape is surprisingly lackluster. The floating islands, teeming with a vibrant palette of colors and a diverse array of flora and fauna, are sorely missed. It’s a regression to blue and whales.

The music and soundtrack are as memorable as a forget-me-not flower left in a dark room. Even though music plays a crucial role in creating the atmosphere and mood of a film, the soundtrack is entirely passable. Can you remember any of the songs? It neither enhances the viewing experience nor leaves a lasting impression. In a movie filled with sound and fury, the music is a whisper that fails to make itself heard.

Finally, The End (For Now)

Avatar: The Way of Water managed to bag four Oscar nominations, a notable drop from the nine nominations the original movie received. It was, unsurprisingly, not a serious contender for Best Picture. It won only one award, in the most obvious and expensive category.

The sequel takes the audience on a journey to nowhere, winding through a maze of confusing subplots and poorly developed characters, only to leave us exactly where we started. Its storyline is so thin that it could probably be summarized in the prologue of the third film, and unfortunately, that is not hyperbole.

Speaking of the third installment, yes, it’s a certainty, with Cameron envisioning a five-movie arc for the Avatar universe. Whether that prospect excites or terrifies you will likely depend on your tolerance for high-budget, low-substance filmmaking.

If you’re seeking the best of James Cameron, I suggest revisiting Terminator 2. If it’s Cameron’s unique blend of storytelling and oceanic exploration that you crave, Titanic is your port of call. And if it’s purely an underwater adventure you desire, look no further than the original The Little Mermaid animation (run from the remake).

In the final analysis, Avatar: The Way of Water feels like a 50-50 blend of computer graphics and marketing buzz, with little of the heart, soul, or storytelling that makes for a memorable cinematic experience. Despite the hype and the high-stakes world-building, it leaves you feeling underwhelmed and more than a little short-changed. One can only hope the subsequent installments have more to offer.

My Rating: 4★★★★
Metacritic: 67
Oscar Awards 2023 feature
2023.03.12

Oscar Awards 2023

The USA’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is about to host the annual Oscar Awards. These are the movies that I watched and can comment on.

  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (9★★★★★★★★★): the best film overall. Fun and provocative. The Chinese actors are AMAZING. I would vote for Best Leading Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Not to mention visual effects and wardrobe. The amount of different outfits that only blinked on the screen is staggering.
  2. Triangle of Sadness (8★★★★★★★★): my favorite movie from Oscars’ 2023. Yet, I know it has zero chance of winning anything. It’s a harsh social satire that will definitively make you scratch your head. It’s a running joke in my family about the taste for scatology and this movie delivers.
  3. Top Gun: Maverick (7★★★★★★★): a fun sequel that leverages the original movie. Great visuals, and a good story.
  4. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (7★★★★★★★): lovely adaptation. It’s a bit dry in the storytelling department, with abrupt story deviation (mostly due to the source material), but I liked it.
  5. Elvis (7★★★★★★★): Austin Butler, the actor playing Elvis delivers a top-notch performance. Tom Hank’s character, in counterpart, is kinda annoying. The movie has a strong first half and a sluggish second one. It’s one step of being a documentary, but enjoyable nonetheless.
  6. All Quiet on the Western Front (7★★★★★★★): the opening scenes showing the boys eager to participate in the war contrasting with the first moments in the field are real lessons. But the movie is a series of misfortune tales merged.
  7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (7★★★★★★★): it was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. I’m now curious about the original text. It might be good. Again, it’s still a zoo of characters with a boring detective.

Also, let’s check what will be said about the Will Smith “incident” from last year.

Movie List 2022 feature
2022.12.31

Movie List 2022

Every year I try to compile a list of games, books, and movies I experienced. For the complete list, check the Ratings. Here we go (sorted by rating)!

Slow year, I assume.

  1. CODA (10★★★★★★★★★★): a heart-melting story about a girl that wants to be a singer. Her parents, however, are all deaf and need her to manage work and fit in. It was my favorite movie for the 2022 Oscars.
  2. Being Ricardos (8★★★★★★★★): very interesting movie about the production of the “I Love Lucy” TV show that I did not know. Both Nicole and Javier are superb, deserving acting award nominations.
  3. Dune (Frank Herbert) (8★★★★★★★★): I read Dune to prepare myself as I did with Foundation. But unlike Asimov’s weird adaptation, this Frank Herbert novel movie is phenomenal. It’s just part 1, which leaves several subplots opened, still: gorgeous, fun, and well-written and acted.
  4. Marighella (7★★★★★★★): the first black leader against the military dictatorship in Brazilian history.
  5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (7★★★★★★★): lighthearted MCU movie. Funny characters and a fun story. One of the best comic MCU movies. Yet, it’s not my cup of tea.
  6. King Richard (7★★★★★★★): the story of Serena and Venus Williams’ father and their beginnings in the tennis world. Nice performance of Will Smith (not my pick for the best actor performance, like at the Oscar), but the character is so annoying that I got annoyed.
  7. The Menu (6★★★★★★): my first movie at the theater. Nice thriller.
  8. The Matrix Resurrections (4★★★★): meta meta meta. And boring. Despite the very first movie, the Matrix franchise is a big disappointment.

Documentaries

No one this year :(

Animations

  1. Forky Asks A Question (10★★★★★★★★★★): holy molly… I laughed out loud at this Pixar mini-series.

TV Shows

  1. Ted Lasso (S2) (9★★★★★★★★★): showrunners tried to innovate the formula by telling whole episodes from the perspective of secondary characters. Not all that great. Still, among our favorites.
  2. Bad Sisters (S1) (9★★★★★★★★★): A Rotten Tomatoes recommendation, it was a blast. The Prick is a prick. Recommend.
  3. This is Us (S1) (8★★★★★★★★): great premise and lovable characters. Themes of adoption, family bonds, and personal differences. I cried in several episodes. Great start.
  4. Sandman (S1) (8★★★★★★★★): I loved the comics. I read exactly the amount of the source material that was used in this season, so I knew the references. Very well produced. The side stories are odd at first but then we get the overall arch, just like the comics.
  5. Succession (S3) (7★★★★★★★): the worst season so far. It tries to give at least one full episode for each main character, but many episodes are fillers. Also, the number of cataclysmic events that are just ignored in the next episode is getting old. Unlike “Game of Thrones”, no one will die. One day the audience will not care because nothing is really at the stake. Kendall is too annoying for my taste.
  6. The Devil's Hour (S1) (6★★★★★★): Thriller about a woman and her boy having some kind of paranormal abilities. Murders and police investigations are in the mix. A Rotten Tomatoes highly rated that did not click for me.
  7. The Foundation (S1) (4★★★★): I loved the book, but this adaptation drifted from the source material to the point is unrecognizable. I could not pass the 4th episode.
2021.12.31

Movie List 2021

Just a list of movies that I’ve seen this pandemic year.

  1. Be Kind Rewind
  2. Best in Show
  3. Borat
  4. Borat Subsequent Movie
  5. Bridesmaids
  6. Coming 2 America
  7. Cruela
  8. Don’t Look Up
  9. Enola Holmes
  10. I Care a Log
  11. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
  12. Incendies
  13. Judas and the Black Messiah
  14. Lady and the Tramp
  15. Last Knights
  16. Live Twice, Love Once
  17. Mank
  18. Minari
  19. News of the World
  20. Okja
  21. Radioactive
  22. Roma
  23. Shadow
  24. Sound of Metal
  25. Sound of Silence
  26. The Chamber
  27. The Dig
  28. The Father
  29. The Informer
  30. The King
  31. The Midnight Sky
  32. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  33. Us
  34. Wasp Network
  35. White Tiger

Documentary

  1. American Factory
  2. Honeyland

Animations

  1. A Cat in Paris
  2. Luca
  3. Soul
  4. Your name

Shows

  1. Loki (S1)
  2. Mandalorian (S1, S2)
  3. Morning Show (S1)
  4. Queen’s Gambit (S1)
  5. Ted Lasso (S1 S2)
  6. The Spy (S1)
  7. This is Us (S1)
  8. Tiger King (S1)
Bruno MASSA