Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dark Night Review

Not to be confused with the Christopher Nolan Batman crime thriller masterpiece, Dark Night directed by Tim Sutton is based on or around the 2012 tragedy that took place in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, a mass shooting plot carried out by a man named James Holmes that took a dozen innocent lives and stole the safety so many of us associated with the cinematic experience. Early in the film a television screen portrays the real life criminal case against Holmes, so Sutton was not intending on recreating those events or tell that specific story but rather a copycat killer plotting a very similar event.

Dark Night is a story told unconventionally, lacking a traditional narrative and instead focusing on random moments in the lives of those people who later would be sitting inside a movie theater when a gunman opened fire. It reminded me in a sense of the terrific Ryan Coogler picture Fruitvale Station only instead of the tragedy of watching the final hours of a single life, this instead spreads its focus among multiple subjects and in a far more abstract way. The star of Dark Night is its cinematography and smooth, artful camera work. This is a film that many will be turned off by for a multitude of reasons, but one undeniable thing is that Sutton and his crew have a tremendous handle on aspects that may seem simple to many but are not: how to film and how to frame.

During Dark Night I found myself haunted by the occasional lingering shot or quiet moment with a young man whom is clearly deeply disturbed, but as the movie wound down I couldn't help but wonder: did Sutton actually achieve something haunting, or am I haunted only because I know what the film is based around and what really happened that inspired it? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, as I know some expertly handled shots and careful, calm moments were exploding with a subtle, horrifying rage utilizing a camera either slowly zooming in or staying static for an uncomfortably long time when it felt like we were past due for a cut did make my skin crawl, yet I can't help but think that if you sat down to watch Dark Night knowing nothing of its plot, the true story it is based around or the thematic goals of Sutton's work, you would likely be left completely cold and confused, wondering what the hell was the point of this whole exercise.

With so many films based on true, tragic events kicking me in the nuts and keeping me awake a little bit later at night without me once doubting how it got me to that point, what troubles me is the fact that I can't quite put my finger on if Dark Night occasionally worked for me only because I kept thinking back to when I was in the cinema watching The Dark Knight Rises, only to return home and turn on the news and see the chaos and carnage that unfolded as I was lucky enough to simply sit back and enjoy the show. Had this exact same picture been made 10, 15, even 20 years from now, would anyone even be willing to ride out the eerie, odd lack of a narrative style seemingly building to nothing?

A ton of talent on display here and I love the concept of the approach, and some of Dark Night absolutely works. I just don't know if any of it matters without already being haunted before the first frame even hits the screen.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Let's Do It Again: My 100 Favorite Films of All Time #80 - #71

After a delay of about a month, time to get back on track with this list. Now moving into the top 80 of my favorite films of all time, take a look and let me know if you love any, hate any, doesn't matter, would love to hear which movies caught your attention and why.

80. Goodfellas

A picture that ages like a fine wine, what really needs to be said about Goodfellas? I'm sure you have seen it, but if it has been a long time, watch it again. I recently did and what a treasure this Scorsese masterpiece continues to be.

79. Baraka

A documentary lacking a conventional narrative or even a verbal element of any kind, Baraka is just a series of incredibly beautiful sights and sounds from around the world filmed and edited together, and it is extraordinary. 

78. The Vanishing

To be clear, this is the original 1988 Dutch film, not the 1993 American remake. That isn't to slight the remake (although I have heard it deserves to be slighted), I just have never seen it as I really don't see the point when the original is perfect. The Vanishing is one of the most haunting, disturbing films I have ever seen, with an ending that still rattles me randomly when I think about it.

77. The Spirit of the Beehive

A personal favorite of visionary director Guillermo del Toro and a clear inspiration for his incredible Pan's Labyrinth, The Spirit of the Beehive is gorgeous and mysterious and simply brilliant. The directorial debut from Spanish film director Victor Erice, and what a way to introduce yourself to the cinematic world.

76. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Kubrick's satirical look at war is great enough based on its own merits, a tremendously funny and entertaining film, but what makes it really stand out now is just how prescient it turned out to be. Despite being released over 50 years ago, Dr. Strangelove still plays today with remarkable accuracy and relevance.

75. Children of Men

An incredible, intense, painful experience, Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men has plenty of admirers like myself but the film is underappreciated overall, bold and fascinating storytelling that from my experience most people have never even heard of. Find a way to see it, but I must warn you, my wife appreciated that it is a great film but she will never watch it again as a scene towards the end managed to literally give her an anxiety attack. That may not sound like a compliment to the movie, but trust me, it is.

74. Road to Perdition

Let's keep this simple: Road to Perdition is fantastic and the scene depicted in the image above is one of my all time favorite moments in cinema, and that isn't an exaggeration. I have seen the film at least a dozen times, probably more, so sometimes I can turn it on while also doing something else as I know I don't have to devote my entire attention span to it, but whenever this moment arrives, I drop whatever I am doing and just soak it in. Breathtaking. 

73. Blade Runner

The sequel is due out in October and outside of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it is my most anticipated film of the rest of 2017, partially because it looks so damn amazing and is made by an outstanding filmmaker in Denis Villenueve, but also because it is the sequel to a science fiction masterclass. Blade Runner is a stunning achievement.

72. Only God Forgives

A polarizing film, no doubt, with an equal share of people absolutely loathing it as those who love it, but count me among the second group. A neon drenched nightmare directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, I have watched Only God Forgives 4 or 5 times now and it gets better and better each time. 

71. Paths of Glory

Another Kubrick film that serves as a scathing criticism of war, although unlike Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory is not a satirical comedy but rather a deep dive into the absurd notion that we would expect soldiers to complete a mission that is essentially suicide and their refusal to do so would lead their own country to put them to death under the charge of cowardice. This film is hard to watch and yet I watched it twice the very first time I saw it. As soon as it ended I pressed play again and sat through it all over again. Kubrick is a genius, possibly my favorite filmmaker of all time, and Paths of Glory is an example of why.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Let's Do It Again: My 100 Favorite Films of All Time #90 - #81

Moving on to the next set of ten films, these being my 90th through 81st ranked movies of all time. What will become clear as you look at what makes the cut to be one of my favorites is that I don't have a specific genre that dominates my attention or my heart. I will fall in love with anything, whether it be a comedy, animation, science fiction, drama or something completely surreal lacking a traditional narrative. Some of all of those things are found throughout this list.

90. Rope

When the fabulous career of Alfred Hitchcock is discussed you rarely hear about the film Rope, an overlooked masterpiece. Of course, it isn't just the viewing public that is to blame for Rope not getting the acclaim it deserves, as Hitchcock himself referred to the picture as "an experiment that didn't work". Oh but I think it did work, I think it worked wonders. The film is shown as if it has no cuts at all, but it is through editing trickery that this perception exists because there are plenty of cuts in Rope, but to the naked eye the experience feels like one giant long shot featuring handheld camera work that weaves throughout the room and it is something to behold. 

89. Anatomy of a Murder

I love a great legal courtroom drama, and one of the finest examples of such a film is Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder, nominated for Best Picture in 1960. Terrific performances, perfectly made and filled with the expected tension as evidence unfolds in a courtroom, I am completely drawn in by every second of this movie.

88. The Neon Demon

From a Hitchcock film from 1948 and a courtroom drama from 1959 to The Neon Demon, a 2016 Nicolas Winding Refn movie about the ruthless nature of the modeling industry, a surreal nightmare starring beautiful people doing absolutely horrific things. This isn't the last of the recently released Refn films to make my list. 

87. Dazed and Confused

This is a film that I have always loved but my reasons why have shifted over time, starting when I was a teen and I thought of it as nothing more than a loose, fun stoner teenage comedy and now with my deep appreciation for the work of Richard Linklater, I see it as a loose, fun stoner teenage comedy with also a ton of nuance bubbling up with a lot to say. Some movies I loved 20 years ago now seem so hollow or meaningless upon reflection, but Dazed and Confused only gets better with age.

86. Mulholland Drive

The first time I watched Mulholland Drive, I had no fucking idea what was happening, but I loved it.
The second time I watched Mulholland Drive, I had no fucking idea what was happening, but I still loved it. The third time I watched Mulholland Drive, I had no fucking idea what was happening. but I loved it even more. The fourth time I watched Mulholland Drive, I started to form my own opinion about what was happening, had no idea if I was even remotely on the right track, but who gives a shit, I loved it more than ever. I even wrote a paper about it for school.

85. Predator

A lot of people my age have nostalgic memories towards the Disney films from our childhood years, but I don't. Funny enough I didn't love most of those movies until I got older. For me, there were a bunch of movies I probably shouldn't even have been watching at a single digit age that make me feel all warm and sappy when I think about them, remembering a time when I would spend my summer avoiding the heat with alien creatures and galaxies far, far away. One of those films is Predator, a glorious action spectacle that is perfectly paced, incredibly memorable and scary as hell for an 8 year old to witness. I loved it then and I love it now.

84. Toy Story

Sometimes I wonder if the Toy Story sequels and also the numerous other terrific Pixar films since have managed to overshadow just how perfect of a movie the original is. Briskly paced, moving, brilliantly innovative and fun, I will always hold the original in high regard.

83. Scarface

I don't know what lead to me believing for roughly 20 years that the film Scarface was not good, because it turns out giving it a chance in my early 30's made me recognize that it isn't good, it's flat out great. I think I always was turned off by the way the character Tony Montana was glorified by our culture as some sort of iconic hero when in reality he is anything but. I should have had more faith in Brian De Palma. 

82. The Raid

One of the greatest action films I have ever seen, The Raid is an Indonesian masterpiece directed by Gareth Evans, and despite its relative popularity I'm sure many of you out there have never seen it. If you don't mind some pretty grotesque violence or dealing with the feeling that you are having a panic attack because of the sheer ferocious pace of the action, I cannot recommend this movie enough.

81. Spirited Away

Already my second Miyazaki to make the list, a man in a class by himself in regards to animated brilliance. Spirited Away is unbelievably haunting and beautiful cinema, a hand drawn master class that belongs on any Mount Rushmore of the genre. The intricate details, the concepts, the ability to deliver a story filled with meaningful themes, the pitch perfect musical score. Incredible.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Let's Do It Again: My 100 Favorite Films of All Time #100 - #91

Let's do it again.

A couple years ago I put together a favorite films list, 100 movies I cherished that I felt compelled to rank. The thing about lists regarding personal taste is that taste changes day by day, week by week. month by month, year by year. Something I may have listed in my top 50 previously may not even make my 100 this time around because perhaps I had just recently seen it back then and was still caught up in my own personal hype machine, the best of the work dancing through my mind as I found it a spot on the list, but I haven't seen it since. Haven't thought about it since, at least not as much as I assumed I would.

My logic behind putting this list together during the middle of the year was, frankly, based on the fact that nothing released during the first half of 2017 was going to threaten their way onto my all time list, so I knew I wouldn't have clouded judgment involving something brand new. So even my favorites of last year, I have at least had quite a few months to let the movies resonate and revisit them and truly decide if my love is as high as I once thought. My top 2 of 2016 do indeed make the cut here.

So here we go, starting with number 100 and working my way down, my favorite films of all time:

100. In The Mood For Love

A gorgeous, sexy, vibrant piece of filmmaking from Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai, In The Mood For Love is one of those films where every frame feels like its own individual piece of art, filled with color and contrast, expertly lit and shot. 

99. Pan's Labyrinth

Not the only Guillermo del Toro film in this specific list of ten, and yes many people will roll their eyes at the one I have listed higher than Pan's Labyrinth. Frankly, I don't give a damn, but let's stay on topic with this movie because it deserves its moment. Pan's Labyrinth is creepy, fascinating and beyond beautiful, a fable that is pure, spectacular cinema. 

98. There Will Be Blood

I know plenty of people will not accept what I am about to say, because he is considered a modern cinematic god (and rightfully so), but this is the only Paul Thomas Anderson picture that makes my list. I know, I know, it's a damn shame but it isn't that I don't appreciate the man or his work, I most certainly do, but typically I can completely admire his brilliance while also never truly loving the stories he tells on a personal level. The one exception to this is There Will Be Blood, a bold, odd, stunning masterpiece.

97. Inception

This is one of those films that I will never forget seeing it for the first time in the theater because the experience was bigger than the movie itself. My daughter was born in 2007 and because of the chaos that goes with raising a newborn and toddler, along with the differing work schedules of myself and my wife, it was basically impossible to get out to a theater. My return to the cinema occurred in 2010 when Inception was released, and it was quite the blockbuster experience on a huge screen. I had viewed the trailer maybe 100 times before actually seeing the film, and despite the hype it didn't disappoint.

96. The Thin Red Line

Somehow a Best Picture nominee managed to fly under the radar in terms of recognition, mostly because it was labeled the second best movie from its own genre the year it was released. That's the problem with being nominated in the same categories with Saving Private Ryan, but count me among those that actually feel The Thin Red Line is the better film and one of the best war pictures ever made. This isn't the only appearance of a film by director Terrence Malick on the list, but you have to wait quite some time to get to his next picture. 

95. Warrior

Never would have believed you had you told me prior to my first viewing of the film Warrior that it would make a favorite movie of all time list. Not only did I not have any interest in MMA fighting then, I remained uninterested now, but that's the thing about Warrior, it isn't an MMA film, it is a powerful, emotional character driven drama that happens to revolve around the MMA world. I am a mess every single time I watch this beauty, destroyed by the relationships and the devastating performances. 

94. Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

Thought Warrior was a surprise? How about a Justin Timberlake concert film making the cut? The Netflix original concert documentary Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids is an incredible experience, directed by the late great Jonathan Demme of The Silence of the Lambs and, more appropriately for comparison here, Stop Making Sense fame. So many would view this as "just a concert", but the way Demme focuses not just on Timberlake but every single piece of the band around him, along with the way each moment is framed to capture the relationship Timberlake forms with every single person on and off the stage is something to behold. I watched this for the sixth or seventh time just the other night and it gets better each time. 

93. Pacific Rim

I warned you that Guillermo del Toro would make another appearance on this list of ten, and here we are, and hell yes it is Pacific Rim. Action packed, colorful, inventive, exciting fun that is so perfectly, delightfully cheesy in the best possible way. This is a Kaiju film made by a filmmaker who understands exactly what makes such experiences great, featuring characters with absurd names and silly nonsense scattered throughout, but balanced out by real relationship and the strong desire to watch robots kick the shit out of monsters. I can't get enough of Pacific Rim.

92. Whiplash

Now known for his follow up feature to the critically acclaimed and Oscar winning Whiplash, a little brilliant beauty called La La Land (which you will absolutely be seeing later on this list), it might be easy for some to forget about the movie that put Damien Chazelle on the map. Don't. A masterful example of frenetic editing and what true electricity feels like in cinema, Whiplash is dynamite with a final sequence that is pitch perfect. 

91. Princess Mononoke

I love animated films but so many just feel like lazy cash grabs filled with bright colors and characters with silly voices made my studios that know they will put butts in seats solely by kids begging their parents to go see it. It is with this in mind that I try to make sure I never take Hayao Miyazaki for granted, a true master of animation and a man who filled his work with so much meaning and depth and important messages about humanity, complicated emotions and a love for planet Earth. Princess Mononoke is the first Miyazaki on this list, but it certainly won't be the last.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Small Screen: The Leftovers Final Season Review

It's funny how some movies or television shows are highly anticipated for quite literally years prior to their release, and other things sort of sneak up on you and knock you off your feet. Game of Thrones is a show that the moment the screen went dark on the sixth season, I wanted to know when the seventh would debut and I have been ready ever since. Mr. Robot, I could use that third season now please. Pretty please? I love been in love with Star Wars: The Last Jedi ever since roughly 10 minutes into The Force Awakens, knowing I was ready for deeper exploration into characters new and old, fresh stories to expand the universe.

As of only just a few months ago, I had no interest in diving back into the world of The Leftovers. I watched the first season, I thought it was okay but absolutely nothing that compelled me to come back for a round two, especially because at least the first was adapted from a source material that I found somewhat interesting. Allowing storytellers to go down their own path away from the book can be exciting, but The Leftovers didn't grab me and I figured nothing could be down to pull me back in.

I was so, so wrong.

People love to point fingers and rage towards websites that display critical assessment and consensus of art, like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and I have always found that hatred so silly and misguided because it's merely just a database of opinions for audiences to refer to. You, the viewer, still holds the right to watch the work and determine for yourself whether you enjoy it or not. No one can take that away from you, no matter what number appears next to the name of the film or series. When I watch a Nicolas Winding Refn or Terrence Malick film, the furthest thing from my mind are what other people thought of the movie, whether they are the guy sitting next to me or the most revered critic on the planet. That isn't to dismiss a critic or their job, hell, that's exactly what I do here on this site as a hobby, but all I am doing is sharing an opinion and possibly, hopefully, providing some insight as to why I feel that way. My goal is never to make it seem like others have to agree with me, and I am not even remotely upset if you don't. In fact, let me know just how much you disagree with me, I welcome it and would love to find out why.

I bring up those sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic because without them I don't know if I ever would have given The Leftovers another chance. I not only didn't watch season two despite its critical acclaim, I pretty much blocked it out of my mind because I honestly don't remember when it was originally on, who was saying what about it and so on. All I remember was positive reactions and me rolling my eyes and thinking nope, can't get me back that easily The Leftovers. Too much to watch, still not interested. That changed when I saw the truly remarkable reviews of the third and final season and I finally considered the possibility that I was intentionally missing out on something special. I quickly ran through the second season and loved it, and the third season turned out to be worthy of all those high scores awarded by critics.

I have come to the conclusion that besides sitcoms, I typically despise the traditional 22+ episodes a season format of network shows. What always happens with this format when it comes to dramatic storytelling is that there is way too much fat and they aren't allowed to trim it, with mandatory 42ish minute episodes edited specifically to fit with commercial breaks. I like the show Gotham, for example, but it has become a background watch while I play my Nintendo Switch, because I can pretty much skip entire episodes without feeling like I missed anything all that important. That should never happen. Therefore, while others see short episode amounts of series like Legion, Stranger Things, or Game of Thrones and complain that they are getting so little, I applaud the creators for focusing on quality over quantity. The fact that The Leftovers closed out the series with 8 wonderfully crafted installments rather than tried to stretch anything out is a great thing, and it shows from the finished work.

All performances in the show deserve recognition and admiration but for me the highlight of the whole thing, and more specifically of the final season was Carrie Coon, an incredible turn while the camera and story were so often fixated on her, and for good reason. If Coon isn't at least nominated this year at award ceremonies like the Emmys or Golden Globes, it better be because the field was so crowded there just wasn't room, but I don't see how that is possible. Being the best thing about one of the best shows of the year seems to be good reason to receive award attention in my book.

What I loved about The Leftovers was the balance the series was able to strike while successfully including so many different tonal shifts, from the bits of comedy needed to add a lightness to the darkness that otherwise surrounds these people and their lives, to the intensely personal drama that both moved and disturbed, to the absolutely surreal moments that felt like creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta were tapping into their inner David Lynch-ian sides of themselves. Well, okay maybe not that weird. If you are watching the new run of Twin Peaks episodes, nothing in The Leftovers even comes close to that level of bizarre, but you get the idea. The Leftovers had everything and I am so glad I gave it another chance after almost 3 full years between watching the last episode of the first season and going back and seeing what all the buzz was about regarding seasons 2 and 3. Who knows, I might just go back and watch it all over again in the near future. It's that good.

Season Grade: A+

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wonder Woman Review

A few hours before I took my seat for Wonder Woman, I revisited Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as it just felt right to transition right from the last DCEU film to the newest addition. No, don't correct me by pointing out that Suicide Squad was released in between the two films. I don't think I can ever bring myself to sitting through that again. I continue to be a defender of Batman v Superman, especially the extended cut, but the issues I have with the film only weigh heavier on my experience with each watch. I'm not screaming about the lack of joy, but without question it could have had a dash of lightness and warmth mixed somewhere in the three hour running time. I love the idea behind the Lex Luthor character, but I still can't watch the film without cringing at the way Eisenberg delivers his lines and the mannerisms that only distract rather than sell his insanity.

I never want to spend my time writing a review for one film while harping on the flaws of another because the work at hand deserves its own time and attention, but I felt the need to address this here because being able to watch the movies back to back only made me bond with Wonder Woman more. Patty Jenkins, who inexplicably has not directed a feature film since the Oscar winner Monster back in 2003, absolutely knocks it out of the park here with the the help of great performances and a dynamite screenplay that allows these characters to showcase their chemistry, charm, flaws, emotions and bravery. Wonder Woman is paced beautifully, shot gracefully or explosively depending on what the content of the scene dictates, and made with love. You can't ask for anything more than that.

There was a certain palpable feeling of excitement walking up to the theater, and I took notice of a few girls pulling out their phones to take pictures of the giant words plastered across the marquee above the cinema outside: WONDER WOMAN. I have gone to see an awful lot of films during my life, but I don't know if I had ever seen that before, those excited to attend stopping just to take a photo of the title. Sure, it is possible that this was nothing more than an opportunity to send the picture to a friend who couldn't attend, but it felt like more. A group of teenage girls so noticeably enthused and ready for a superhero movie that they felt taking such a picture was worthwhile, the first time they were able to go see a female hero be the absolute star of the work rather than just a member of a powerful ensemble mostly filled with men. I hope they weren't disappointed. I'm sure they weren't. Lord knows I wasn't.

The beautiful and talented Gal Gadot takes the lead in Wonder Woman after her somewhat brief role in Batman v Superman still managed to be one of the brightest pieces of that film and she does really good work here, believably bad ass with a spectacular presence that makes every frame feel more alive. Chris Pine is superbly cast as the main supporting character, Air Force pilot Steve Trevor who had gone undercover as a spy in Germany to observe how powerful of an operation they were running during World War I. The lives of Diana (Gadot) and Trevor collide when Trevor's plane crash lands just off the coast of the island Themyscira, the home land of Amazon women who have lived for a long time peacefully yet always prepare for battle just in case. With Trevor comes the German army that pursues him, thus bringing war and the tragic repercussions of it to the gorgeous paradise.

Unlike the previous DCEU efforts, Wonder Woman has such a warmth and an ability to make an audience laugh and smile and this bleeds over into the rest of the film, making the stakes raised when the lives of characters are in jeopardy because we actually give a shit whether they make it out alive. The film suffers from a very common syndrome that plagues many superhero pictures, the one where the villain is rather shitty and not nearly as interesting as it should be, but I was able to forgive Wonder Woman in a way I can't other films because I fell so hard for Gadot and Pine and the other "good guys" throughout. Also, the final battle sequence felt reminiscent to the ugly CG display of the Doomsday sequence in Batman v Superman which was disappointing considering the rest of the movie looked so fluid and natural.

Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is a treasure and the No Man's Land scene in the film is truly something special, a top notch moment directed and performed so perfectly I was actually moved by what I was seeing. I hope this universe learns a thing or two from this moving forward, because this is a superhero film should be done. I must admit, I didn't know much about the Wonder Woman character prior to seeing this. Now I am in love.


Friday, June 2, 2017

War Machine Review

The problem with David Michôd's new film War Machine, a Netflix original picture, is that it never really knows what it wants to be. At times a military satire, aided by an often absurd performance from Brad Pitt that feels more like a person doing a mediocre impression of a general than an actual general, but then in an instant we are supposed to be emotionally moved by the harsh realities of war and the erroneous narrative that the United States can fix a war torn foreign country and push them on a path towards greatness solely through military intervention.

I think I know what Michôd was going for here, basically an Afghanistan U.S. military clusterfuck version of The Big Short, but that film was so effective in its tonal balance that by utilizing comedy it actually made the dramatic truths of the story hit even harder, like a shock to the system. War Machine simply doesn't get there, it never earns any lasting resonance desired from its message because the comedy and the earnest attempt at sadness and honesty don't mesh well.

As for performances, I was completely unable to take Pitt seriously in the lead role as General Glen McMahon, with his sincerity and growing realization of just how little he could accomplish in a misguided war effort being his best moments but they are completely hampered by his cartoon like General portrayal hanging over every serious interaction or moment of self-reflection. The rest of the cast is fine, good even, and there are plenty of solid scenes here to elevate the overall film to decency, but it just doesn't do enough to be good, and I also really didn't care for the artistic choice of having a voice-over fill in some of the empty moments with unnecessary explanation of exactly what the General was thinking or wanted to believe.