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Thread: Searching (Aneesh Chaganty)

  1. #1
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Searching (Aneesh Chaganty)

    SEARCHING

    Director: Aneesh Chaganty

    imdb

  2. #2
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    It's like someone saw Unfriended, and thought, "I could make a way better movie using this gimmick." And then they did.

  3. #3
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    The story as a whole is more "satisfying" than Unfriended, but in order to achieve that, it has to trade off on consistent internal logic in its gimmick, and feature some late-game incredulous plotting that really fits a slasher genre more, so it's roughly on the same level, I guess (though Unfriended's never-waver rigorous aesthetics make me prefer it more). Two main potentially My Problem things: I'm really bothered by its use of traditional zoom on parts of the screen, and also how the camera is left on prominently and unnaturally so we can see John Cho's performance even when he is just sleuthing online and not video-calling anyone. Cho is really good though, and his emotional beats as a father hit more often than not. Still, this works best as accumulation of small perceptive details: "Tumbler", nested password cracking session, performative online behaviors and casually vicious comments, etc. 6.5/10
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  4. #4
    Super Moderator dreamdead's Avatar
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    This film works stronger in the first half, with Cho embodying fear and repression as he goes through files and layers of social media identity to track his daughter. The procedural elements are a little less effective just because there's areas throughout where it doesn't make sense to be discussing material with a detective through a (home) livechat rather than just over the phone. A few of the media livestreams also are stretched just a bit too thin--exploring Margot's car or the final scene on the hillside--in whether there would really be a blow-by-blow reportage of those moments.

    That said, the opening montage is surprisingly moving even as I think back on it a few days later, and some of the scenes where Margot goes for a sense of respite offer new layers on how we consume such beatific scenery. And the sense of people's constant documenting holding additional layers of outsiders' depression just outside the focus is interestingly staged.

    Sarah noted the high school mascot that Chaganty embeds within Margot and David's first day of high school shot, and how David comes across the hiker footage early in the film as smooth set-ups for future narrative points. It's not a perfect film by any stretch, but it is committed to exploring David and Margot within the terms of a genre project, and they both come through as multi-dimensional.
    Ant-Man and the Wasp - 5
    Hereditary - 7
    Won't You Be My Neighbor? - 7.5
    The Tale - 8

  5. #5
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    Perhaps I let the positive reviews elevate my expectations too much, but I thought this was pretty bad. It starts off well. The opening sequence introducing the family is effective and surprisingly moving. There are some decent jokes here and there. But the convoluted ending is straight-up awful and phony. Most of the voice-over acting is really bad. And I was realizing that it may have been a bad idea to watch this on an actual movie screen where the Windows aesthetic is ugly to the point of distraction. There's not a lot of suspense here. Honestly I thought Unfriended did a better job of building tension.
    Coming to America (Landis, 1988) **
    The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019) *1/2
    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
    Fugue (Smoczynska, 2018) ***1/2
    Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013) ***1/2
    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
    Oslo, August 31st (J. Trier, 2011) ****
    Climax (No, 2018) **1/2
    Fighting With My Family (Merchant, 2019) **
    Upstream Color (Carruth, 2013) ***

  6. #6
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting dreamdead (view post)
    Sarah noted the high school mascot that Chaganty embeds within Margot and David's first day of high school shot...
    I noticed this at well. It didn't strike me as clever foreshadowing, so much as a flat-out giveaway of where the plot was heading. I think it was a mistake.

    [
    ]
    Coming to America (Landis, 1988) **
    The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019) *1/2
    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
    Fugue (Smoczynska, 2018) ***1/2
    Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013) ***1/2
    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
    Oslo, August 31st (J. Trier, 2011) ****
    Climax (No, 2018) **1/2
    Fighting With My Family (Merchant, 2019) **
    Upstream Color (Carruth, 2013) ***

  7. #7
    Cinematographer Mal's Avatar
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    I thought this was a lot of fun until the media elements took over about an hour in and became too invasive to be believable. The utilization of technology to build depth for the family and how characters interact on different levels was quite good, and John Cho never does anything that would seem too out of character as a parent struggling in this scenario. My one thought in the end is that its too bad they couldn't get Sandra Bullock instead of Debra Messing - would have been a nice full-circle moment to one of my favorite tech thrillers The Net. I'd say see it if you're intrigued.
    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    And I was realizing that it may have been a bad idea to watch this on an actual movie screen where the Windows aesthetic is ugly to the point of distraction.
    ahaha this was one of my favorite things about the movie. It gets all the tech details right, from XP to how hideous Youtube was before 2010.
    Last edited by Mal; 09-05-2018 at 11:04 AM.

  8. #8
    Suprisingly enjoyable and well produced.

    Best parts were when Cho was first freaking out, diving into his daughter's online life, and realizing he didn't know her at all.

    Agree the ending is bullshit, mostly because it wasn't well supported by the mystery. (And the last 20 minutes were just a huge exposition dump.)

  9. #9
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Peng (view post)
    Two main potentially My Problem things: I'm really bothered by its use of traditional zoom on parts of the screen, and also how the camera is left on prominently and unnaturally so we can see John Cho's performance even when he is just sleuthing online and not video-calling anyone.
    Eh, I just thought of these as necessary concessions for the gimmick to work. I think they did an excellent job overall in that department, using every available window for staging actual movie drama while still sticking to the concept at all times. Good flick.

  10. #10
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    Quote Quoting Grouchy (view post)
    Eh, I just thought of these as necessary concessions for the gimmick to work. I think they did an excellent job overall in that department, using every available window for staging actual movie drama while still sticking to the concept at all times. Good flick.
    Stories of both films asides, if I haven’t seen the Unfriended films do this aesthetic much more seamlessly without needing those concessions, I might be more forgiving.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  11. #11
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    I haven't seen Unfriended but does it feature scenes without computer interaction like this one?

  12. #12
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    No, it's 99% a fixed compter screen (no zoom) for both films.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  13. #13
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Well, that's the thing. Some of the scenes in this one take the characters away from their computers for face-to-face discussions or investigative moments. Either the script should try to do without those scenes or we have to accept a certain degree of gimmickry plotting like the guy installing the cameras on his brother's house.

  14. #14
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    I now just saw I may be unclear, by "both films" I mean both Unfriended and its sequel.

    The Unfriended films make do with the former well, and I don't mind Searching's gimmickry plotting like that as much as the noncommittal aesthetic (well, the screen having its camera being on all the time so we can see John Cho's non-computer activities in front of it is still mighty distracting to me). Compared to those films, this feels distracting in its halfway wishy-washy approach so much that I wondered during the film why they don't commit to either end.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  15. #15
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    I disagree regarding my experience but I understand the sentiment.

  16. #16
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    I thought this was pretty great.
    I know writers who use subtext and they're all cowards.

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