Writing 6.359: movie review, La La Land, 8/10

This beautiful movie tells a sad story. Mia is a barista who dreams of hollywood;  Sebastian is a jazz pianist, who aspires to run his own jazz bar with pure jazz. They fall in love in LA before they succeed in career. Later, when Mia has the door to her dream, Serbastian tells her to give all her has, even that means losing each other. Five years later, both realize their dreams, but live separate lives. In the last scene, Mia dreams of what if everything goes right, they would have been happily together. But the reality is, success and love often do not go hand in hand; you must pick one. The ending reminds me of the movie Cafe Society.

Flora and I much enjoyed the movie. We both agree that the first half of musicals is a bit overdone.  I am not a big fan of musicals, and LA is never that fairy land like; you have to pick and choose carefully to get those beautiful shots. The second half is however substantial. It tells that love and dream may not be computability. Had they stick together, they would get neither love nor dream. Sad as it is, the real outcome is perhaps the best they can do.

Besides the plot, music, and the characters, I also find the cinematography amazing. From start it has the quality of fluid, dynamic, and nostalgia. For example, the penning scene of LA highway dancing, and the pool party scene (shifting the perspective from a girl jumping into the water to the band).

la la land

Writing 6.359: movie review, La La Land, 8/10

Writing 1.364: movie review, Rogue One, 6/10

The movie is an expensive failure. It has all the ingredients to make big: the action is intense, the picture is beautiful, and the cast is talented. Yet it has an incredibly dull screenplay. That proves to be fatal: every episode plays out, just so as you expected. Indeed, it is so predicted that you would wonder why Lucas spent so such to make such a long boring movie.

I also find the music loud and annoying. If the movie is not telling an saga, the pretentious music won’t make it an epic masterpiece.

The lack of origination may be fine if it develops compelling characters. But this is not the case. You can get hardly moved by any character. Worse, I am much troubled by two characters played by Chinese actors. First, the two roles are dispensable, if it were not for catering to Chinese market. Second, to be fair, both actors are talented, but there are not much they can do when the story sucks.

The bottom line is, if you are not a diehard star-war fan, or an action freak, you can safely pass this one.



princess leia, star wars, new hope


Writing 1.364: movie review, Rogue One, 6/10

Movie: American Honey, 8/10

The movie is brutally honest. The hero is a confusing young girl, who embarks on a road trip to sell the magazine subscription. Through her eyes, the movie cuts across all walks of American life, from the privileged wealthy with troubling teenagers, to the broken underclass struggling to get ends meet. Without much hesitance, the movie tells as it is, unfiltered.

As such, the trip is long and sprawling, but never boring. If you are looking for a neat structure or clean message, you are likely to be disappointed. The 160-min long movie is a trip to experience, not a message to preach. It has the fair share of the ugly and social ills, but if you look deeper, you will find good hearts in all social classes, from rich old cowboys to the lovely little girl who loves singing.

I hate the shooting. The restless camera makes me sick. Also, I find sexual scenes too repulsive to enjoy. But if you are into the real life of underclass, this one is for you.



Movie: American Honey, 8/10

Movie: war dogs, 8/10

The movie tells a dashed American Dream.  It is based on the true story of two ordinary young men, Efraim and David, who almost made hundreds of millions by gaming the U.S. government. The movie sets the context in the second Iraq war. Because of Dick Cheney nepotism scandal, the Pentagon forced the military to award some procurement deals to  small contractors. This is the gold mine for Efraim and David. By acting as shrew middlemen, they made their fortune quickly. But the endless greed of Efraim eventually spells their fall.

The movie is very entertaining. It hits the soft spots of American psyche: make it big and fast, by taking endless risk. Neither men were born rich or talented. But they have the ambition to adventure for big fortune. When facing trouble, they put their lives online to get things done: drive all the way through the dead triangle of the war zone to deliver the full truck of guns.

Things fell part when they tried to pull off their biggest deal from the Afganstan war. It started from Efraim, a Machiavelli by nature, who tried to cut out the original broker and shortcut the Albanian supplier. Neither manoeuver was necessary. But he was so drunk in greed, because he has always been able to get away. This time is different and disastrous: the unpaid supplier informed the government about the fraud. Behind the bar, Efraim must be wondering: had he paid 20 thousand dollars, they could have made hundreds of billions.

Yes, with all the doggy dealings, the audience may left wondering the same question. But Hollywood cannot bear with such a political incorrect case. The movie ends with rewarding David for his decency—a lame ending.


Movie: war dogs, 8/10

Movie: Cafe Society, 9/10

Woody Allen must have read 白马啸西风. Otherwise, Cafe Society would not have ended with the same, immense sorrow:

生活总不尽人意,而带来的惊喜与无奈,希望与失落,也正是它的迷人之处 :)


Movie: Cafe Society, 9/10