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Hot Docs 2017 Over on Cinema Axis

This is going to be a short post to draw attention to the eight screeners from the 2017 Hot Docs Film Festival I was fortunate enough to review over on CinemaAxis.  Below, I’ll link to all of the reviews once they’re posted, but for now I’ll just introduce each film and give a quick synopsis.

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This Things I Believe In “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Trailer (Please Hold Me)

Today the benevolent overlords at Disney™ released the first trailer for Star Wars:  The Last Jedi and I feel it is critical that I describe the things that I saw in that trailer.  This is so other people that saw things in the trailer can read about the things that I saw and decide if they saw the same things that I saw.  Hopefully, discussing this hopelessly commercial product of corporate group-think delivered by a media empire can give me and my readers a fleeting sense of connection in this unfeeling world, and also sell some toys.

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State of the Blog – April 2017

It’s April, the lion of March has transfigured into a lamb (at least I think that’s how it works), and now the fools have come and gone (I’m sure).  All the while, the endless cycle of movie releases continues unabated and I’m here on Plot and Theme to contribute to the confusion with my entirely correct opinions.  This month, the blog turns two full years old, I creep close to 300 total posts, and I’ve got some great pieces in the pipeline.  We’ll talk about all of that plus some cool new movies to keep your eyes out for in the month of April.

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Official Teaser Trailer for Pixar’s “Coco” Melds Music, Magic, and Family

Disney recently released the first teaser trailer for Pixar’s next original feature film, Coco. The teaser introduces us to a world full of music, magic, and spirits centered around Dia de los Muertos. In accordance with standard Pixar protocol, this teaser offers us only a slight glimpse at the characters and story, and instead envelopes the audience in the world of the film. After presenting the teaser, this piece will focus on what we can learn about the aesthetic of the film from the trailer, discuss the creative team behind the film, and flesh out the narrative and potential themes based on other interviews. Here we go:

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Trailer Hype: “Free Fire” and “Baby Driver” Boast Peculiar Aesthetic Gimmicks

I’ve got a pair of sweet trailers here, and they both look like high-octane, shoot-em-up action flicks, though they have wildly different tones.  Free Fire is going to be the first to hit theaters, and features an insane collection of talent along with a humorous concept.  Baby Driver is similarly stocked, and an Edgar Wright film is always worth checking out – especially given the recent hype coming out of the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.  Fortunately, we’ve got some trailers to hype us up.

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“Alien: Covenant” Seems to Seek Cheap Alchemy

The  marketing team over at Alien headquarters is hard at work polishing up a turd.  A teaser trailer, a Red Band trailer, a “Last Supper” prologue,  and the latest layer of varnish, a CGI-fuelled full-length trailer that apes off both Prometheus and Alien and Aliens in a vain attempt to discover the perfect way to mix together old things so that the result feels new.  Unfortunately for director Ridley Scott, it has been almost three decades since a film in the Alien franchise thought to try something interesting and different, and he’s simply not built up any benefit of the doubt with Prometheus (or Robin Hood, or Exodus: Gods and Kings).  This latest trailer does not portend well.

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A Pair of Afterlife Trailers: “The Discovery” and “The Void”

A pair of off-the-radar film released trailers recently, and both of them appear to offer something interesting for the fan of genre film.  Each also, in their own way, use concepts revolving around the afterlife as major plot elements.  These films are The Discovery and The Void.  This will be a short piece introducing each of these films and their trailers, and offering a few stray observations about what we’re seeing (and what other people have been saying).  Here we go!
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The Last Jedi Revealed – Level-Headed Reactions and Definitive Predictions

In the biggest news since the last time the title of a Star Wars movie was revealed, the title of the next Star Wars movie has been revealed.  Disney’s Star Wars Episode VIII:  The Last Jedi – A Star Wars Story promises to be the next best film in the Star Wars saga for the three weeks after its December 15th release.  Me, personally, I love the new title.  But what can we predict now, 11 months before opening night, with nothing to go on but the title, a red outline, and the phrase, “the next chapter in the Skywalker saga”?  Basically everything.

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Why You Can’t Trust User Ratings from IMDB: A Case Study

It can be incredibly difficult to get a feel for the “critical consensus” for a new film, if there even is such a thing.  But, online review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic do their best to provide their readers with a general idea of the quality of a film, which I have discussed at length before.  Today, I’d like to show a crystal clear example of why another metric, the User Ratings from IMDB.com, borders on absolute uselessness.  Put bluntly, the site does not require that a person giving a rating has even seen the movie.  The result is blatant vote-brigading, either artificially elevating a substandard film through the sheer size of the fanbase of its underlying intellectual property, or unjustly punishing a film for its perceived transgressions that are unrelated to the quality of the filmmaking.  In the former case, we’ll look at Batman v. Superman:  Dawn of Justice, and in the later, the more recent A Dog’s Purpose.

Continue reading “Why You Can’t Trust User Ratings from IMDB: A Case Study”

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