Movies of the Weeks #28 #29 (2018)

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Oh, those Russians

  • Our Kind of Traitor (2016): This John le Carre adaptation bears some of his usual trademarks – small mafia-big mafia and the wider political entanglements of black money – and works well for the most part, without ever really exciting. Director Susanna White, in what is her second major movie after…Nanny McPhee, fails to really make the personal drama of Perry and Gail resonate with the crazy geopolitical storm they got mixed in. The pedigreed cast, starring Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomi Harris and Damien Lewis, provides a bunch of rather lifeless performances, perhaps due to the equally lifeless characters they play. Which is not to say that the movie didn’t feel slick at times, it just felt kind of empty. 6/10

It’s bloody grim

  • The Future (2011): Miranda July’ second feature isn’t as impressive as Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), but still proves an unusually intense love story. Or something of the sort. The movie is uncomfortable, painful at times, weird at others, while providing an unforgiving X-Ray of relationship plateaus. And to think it all starts with the lead couple adopting a defective cat, with said-cat narrating the whole affair. Can it get more weird than this? Strangely enough, it also makes sense, while having a distinctively true ring about the relationship complications it portrays. The fact that it has an equally strong meta-verse makes for a memorable, if imperfect and overly quirky experience. 7/10

Child-rearing antidote

  • Tully (2018): Charlize Theron goes for a body transformation once more, in her saddening portrayal of Marlo – anguished mother of two (three), hanging on to life and sanity by her teeth. Directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, Tully isn’t an easy ride – if anything, it’s a good companion piece for The Future, if that one didn’t scar your soul sufficiently. There’s a harrowing montage of early on, of Marlo going through her sleep-deprived routine with her newly-born, which was just seared into my brain. It becomes more digestible as it goes on, to ultimately pull the rug from under you at the end. It didn’t feel like the most believable outcome and, often enough, it sounded like Diablo Cody just leapt out of her characters’s mouths, undermining the whole experience. I’m not sure why it bothered me so much, because other than this, Tully is a remarkable story about the undue burdens of motherhood. 7/10

Angel Eyes on repeat for five hours – check!

  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018): I am shocked by how harsh I was with my review of the original (“unless you’re as big an ABBA fan as I am, it’s hard to recommend this stuff”). Surprisingly enough, the sequel is a better, more natural and more joyous movie, even though it doesn’t rely on the most popular ABBA songs. The story is a variation on the original, as Sophie copes with her mother’s death while preparing to open a fancy hotel/resort on their idyllic Greek island. In parallel, we are pranced around young Donna’s life-affirming choices many years ago, which led her towards said island, meeting Harry, Bill and Sam along the way. Breaking from the chains of the musical makes for a more free flowing movie, aided by the flair of its fresh, young cast. But don’t worry, there are a lot of old faces around too, as Here We Go Again finds the sweet spot for nostalgics and new fans alike. 7/10

Movies of the Week #27 (2018)

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One small step for man!

  • Chappaquiddick (2017): The Kennedy clan lore is a treasure trove for American film-making, with so much drama in it, that it never ceases to offer tempting material to work from. Ted Kennedy, the younger brother of Jack and Bobby, was close to the presidency in the late 60s, before the car he was driving crashed an took the life of one of Bobby’s former aids. The manner in which the whole even was handled is on show here, with lines being crossed, crisis managers brought in and familial disrepute at stake. Jason Clarke is impressive in the titular role, an interesting character that unfortunately feels too stiff and controlled to really fascinate. Ultimately, in spite of its merits, the movie just doesn’t transcend the factual in favour of the riveting. 7/10

The rehash of the rehash

  • Finding Your Feet (2017): This ultra-tame feel-good story rests on the quality of its stars (Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall), but phones in a story with no surprises and little appeal. If you have no expectations and are in the mood for a fluff piece, maybe you’ll find something pleasurable in the downfall of a socialite who returns to her youthful passion of dancing and falls for ‘a downtown guy’. It wasn’t quite what I wanted, though. 5/10

One Sicario wasn’t enough

  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018): This is what happens when you do a sequel to a movie that doesn’t demand it. Sicario 2 is still a stylish flick, featuring an entertaining actor in Benicio del Toro and an ultra-popular one in Joshn “Thanos” Brolin, which is why it finds a passing grade. Beyond this, the narrative is slim and focuses on the dark interests of American forces to induce a war between Mexican cartels after another US terror attack. It makes some sense, but is needlessly dramatic, before turning in on itself and running out of an ending. Unsurprisingly, Sicario 2 is nowhere near the original, even if it does entertain at times. 6/10

When Rachel met Rachel

  • Disobedience (2018): From Sebastian Leilo, the director of Gloria (2013, thumbs up!) and the Oscar-winning Una Mujer Fantastica (2017) comes a forbidden romance in the midst of an Orthodox Jewish community of the US. Starring a couple of the best Rachels in the world, Weisz and McAdams, the movie burns slowly, before flaming up and leaving you with the burning embers of a once pleasantly repressed existence. It feels like a bit of a churn, being so deeply set in its community that it becomes borderline foreign at times. Its finale has some redemption to it, even if the movie never provides emotional closure, because, hey!, that’s life. Leilo is a critics favourite and it’s easy to see why, but his movies aren’t the most digestible. Disobedience lacks a proper punch, that would have made it resonate more powerfully, given how deeply steeped it is in its microuniverse. 7/10

The original courtroom drama

  • The Staircase (2004): Without The Staircase there would probably have been no The Jinx (2015), Making a Murderer (2015) or all the similar true-crime documentaries that place us in an intimate setting with potential criminals. Whether Michael Peterson did kill his wife or not is a question you won’t have answered for you without a reasonable doubt, particularly not by a documentarian who captured it all alongside the accused from the very beginning. Jean Xavier de Lestrade stays out the limelight, offering it all up to Peterson and his exuberant lawyer, David Rudolf. It’s an experience spanning almost fifteen years, with so much drama and frustration in it, that being truly factual falls by the sides. I don’t even think it is Lestrade’s job to prove facts, but rather to explore the complicated realities of Peterson’s case, wherever they may take him. The amount of unexpected thrown at the viewer in the first part of the series, the existential drama of a family that tears itself apart the seams, the inefficiencies of the judicial system, the conspiracy theories – everything comes together in one of the most memorable TV cases ever caught on film. 9/10

Movies of the Week #25 #26 (2018)

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Oh, the not quite horror

  • Hereditary (2018): Much acclaim has come the way of Hereditary, a horror movie that provides less horror than advertised, but manages to conjure an unsettling sense of dread. I wasn’t as taken by it as I expected to be, especially as first timer Ari Aster uses a lot of style to compensate for a less than convincing story. To be fair, I am yet to be truly impressed by movies about spiritualism and possession, because this brand of supernatural horror just falls flat most of the time. Hereditary does a good job in defying certain expectations without relying on jump scares, as Toni Collette offers a classic performance. You could even argue for some mind-twisting interpretations about blind followers and echo chambers as well, but ultimately Hereditary left me wanting more. 7/10

Team parents all the way!

  • Blockers (2018): Is a comedy in the spirit of Neighbours (2014), which I also liked, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed Blockers too. Three parents go nosing around in their kids’ business to find out they have embarked on a sex pact and the parents themselves then try to intervene. You see the comedic avenues available right there. Thanks to a likable cast (particularly Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz), director Kay Cannon puts together a funny little thing, that even touches on some more serious matters – tactfully. Sure, there’s a lot of physical comedy in this, so if you enjoy that, then Blockers is for you (I do). If not, life’s too short for this nonsense. 7/10

The passion of the T-Rex

  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018): I don’t mind clichés that much, which is probably why Fallen Kingdom was a bearable, borderline enjoyable ride. It helps that dinosaurs fascinate me – just think about walking around a place that holds living beings taller than two-story buildings! Ok, so my dino-fascination is stuck at the level of a ten year old, but what can you do? There’s a lot you can dislike about this sequel to the already semi-convincing reboot, starting with a lame villain – obvious reason why, it’s not one of the dinosaurs. Sure, there’s this mean, hybrid killing machine, but it’s stuck in a boring old mansion, which is part of why the movie doesn’t do much with the premise. So what did I like? I liked some of the action, I liked Chris Pratt and I liked the T-Rex bile. 6/10

Alas, the great Alexander Payne falters

  • Downsizing (2017): If anything, Downsizing is a distant relation, perhaps a third cousin, of Fallen Kingdom – a movie about how going small will save the planet from dying out. It’s a very ambitious thought experiment, that fails to really take off beyond the ‘very interesting, but’ phase. You get these miniature people, who consume less and have way more buying power, which is supposed to be a tempting proposal for those who want to do good and curb melting ice caps. But I never got beyond how this miniature world would work without the non-miniatured world around it, which is the primary reason why there’s this (unsustainable) buying power conversion rate (e.g. 100k USD converts to 12kk USD). There are times when Downsizing feels important, like it’s saying something poignant about mankind’s willingness to self-sacrifice. Alas, this feeling of importance has no staying power, which is why, in the end, the movie takes you nowhere. 5/10

Standard in non-standard

  • Ideal Home (2018): This story about a neglected child that gets taken in by his gay uncle works well thanks to Steve Coogan’s and Paul Rudd’s shenanigans. It’s not a spectacular ride in celebrating same-sex parents, but it does paint a relationship that occasionally steps out of the stereotypical – the flamboyancy is there (a gay cowboy cook will get you there quickly), as is the drama. Not sure why the harsh IMDb rating, but it gets a 6/10 from me for the amusing little tale that it is.

Movies of the Week #24 (2018)

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Vicarious lovin’

  • Set It Up (2018): I’ve already written a few words on this newest Netflix addition, out of some dubious creative surge. There isn’t much to dwell on here, as ‘Set It Up’ proves the ideal low-stakes Friday night Netflix watch. 7/10

Food and career adjustments

  • Chef (2014): When Jon Favreau isn’t the world famous director of Iron Man, he likes to dwell in the food porn genre. Here, he plays a chef who is forced to redefine himself and the relationship he has with his son. It’s an age-old story of successful people becoming boxed in by their success, as the world ends up demanding their best hits all the time, with little patience for exploration. Maybe Favreau feels some of the heat coming from directing a superhero movie (the superhero movie that ignited a never-ending universe), which is why Chef proves to be a thoroughly entertaining and mouth-watering flick. However, especially in its latter part, it seems to run out of narrative, so it conveniently just keeps flipping Mexican fast food for your enjoyment. Man, I’m hungry just by writing about it. 7/10

Let’s talk about Adolf

  • Denial (2016): My mother was surprised that there was/is such a thing as people who actively deny the holocaust. I had maybe heard of Irving at some point, but it’s fascinating to think that people would mike a life calling out of this. Indeed, as the movie’s protagonist, Deborah Lipstedt, points out, such people usually have an agenda, which, in the case of Irving, was reinstating Hilter’s ‘legacy’ as a great commander. This required delimiting him from the systematic extermination of European Jews and other ‘impure races’. It seems absurd that anyone would take the time to listen to deniers at length, just as absurd as a hundred minute long movie setting itself apart with the wider complexities of this topic. Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall really make the best out of it and the movie actually manages to strike a balance between memorializing and ‘factualizing’. Unfortunately, the narrative is poorly structured and lacks any dramatic heft, two shortcomings that the cast cannot compensate for.  6/10

Let’s talk about Arafat

  • Beirut (2018): Movies about the Middle East are usually messy, with all kinds of political intricacies. Exhaustive explanations are required to make sense of how all parties align. This is also true of Beirut, a movie set in the 70s and 80s in Lebanon, in the heyday of terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare due to the area’s ethnic fragmentation. With the American involvement supporting Israeli interests, there’s a lot of sides to pick from. While this all might sound familiar, Beirut does a good job in creating tension and its pacing ensure the action remains lively. It won’t redefine the genre or the topic, but it will fill an empty Sunday evening, between a German defeat and a Brazilian draw. 7/10

Review: Set It Up (2018)

Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell reunite after the excellent Everybody Wants Some (2016) in this low frills, high-chemistry rom-com. There isn’t much to dwell on here, as ‘Set It Up’ proves the ideal low-stakes Friday night Netflix watch.

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Deutch and Powell play Harper and Charlie, two young and ambitious characters working for a very special brand of pushy, domineering bosses. When they realize their common predicament, they set out to…set up their bosses, in the hope that it will lead to quality of life improvements for themselves. In an ironic twist, the ones being pushed around leverage their insights into personal scheduling and personal preferences to ensure the mis-match ends up matching. As is usual for mischievous do-gooders, there will be fraternizing and moral conundruming. And it will be fun.

Any successful rom-com hinges on the compatibility of its leads. Luckily, that’s not an issue here, with both potential couples gelling or not gelling just as intended. It’s the energy of all four key characters that keeps the movie alive, thanks to the odd piece of witty writing or amusing situation. I think I only rolled my eyes once at some ultra-corny moment that could have been avoided, but beyond that, director Claire Scanlon works gently and fairly with her characters. Everybody learns an important life lesson by the end and, surprisingly, it’s a lesson I relate to, although I’ve never had the issue of overworking myself in order to avoid pursuing my passions. There are other, more pleasureful ways of doing it.

***

Movies of the Week #23 (2018)

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Forever coeds

  • Et si on vivait tous ensemble (2011): I’ve always been a proponent of this – in an ideal life, you would live in a house or, let’s say, a residential complex with all your friends. It’s the idea behind All Together (English title), as six elderly friends in their 70s decide to move in together, after one of them suffers a cardiac accident. Mildly evocative of the actual 1970s, as it becomes apparent later on, the movie is a kind tale that often feels chopped together. The strong global cast helps it along, but it never really got me going. I’m not even sure what it could have done better. 6/10

When time stands still

  • Before I Fall (2017): One of my fetishistic micro-genres, the ‘groundhog day rinse’, rears it’s head once more! After the underwhelming and unlikable Happy Death Day (2017)there was little hope left in me that the template can yield new, even moderately exciting experiences. Which is why I ignored Before I Fall for a long time. It was both a wise choice and a foolish one, as the movie does follow suit for too long to be truly entertaining, but when it does let go, it feels true to itself – especially in the ending it chooses. Even if the schmaltzier moments might irk you, there’s a guarantee that you’ll see at least two very appealing houses, where the thing was shot. For once, though, I really feel the movie was let down by opting for voice-over narration, and that it would have been the better without it. So there it is, a recommendation! 7/10

The real truth

  • The Tale (2018): Wow. Just wow. I don’t usually appreciate movies about abuse at all (well, you know what I mean), but The Tale approaches this semi-autobiographical story in an original, inspiring manner that I’ve never seen before. When our lead is faced with letters from her youth, her perception of how she grew up and the people she met along the way take a big hit. The way in which Jennifer sets out to rediscover the truth and cope with it is presented with so much tact and care, both narratively and cinematically, that I couldn’t help being enthralled with it. Director Jennifer Fox, upon whose experiences the movie is (loosely?) based, captures the evanescence of youth with great flair, while finding a perfectly suitable contrast to make it stand out against without becoming more grotesque than it is. The Tale proves to be one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, without a doubt. 9/10

When the boys come into town

  • The Bar (2017): It took me a while to remember where I had heard of director Alex de la Iglesia. Then, it hit me – that dreadful Messi documentary. There’s this sense that de la Iglesia has a different strong suit, which is sometimes apparent in The Bar (English title). When a mixed group of people becomes trapped in a cheap bar, spirits flare up quickly, especially once panic sets in – apparently, a sharpshooter is killing everyone exiting the place. I won’t spoil the twist, even if it’s not a great one. The movie felt dynamic for about an hour, in spite of its abhorrent characters, but as these trickled down, the last twenty minutes quickly ‘peaked’ towards the ultra-tedious. Yeah, so not quite great in the end. 5/10

Angry just isn’t the way to go

  • 12 Angry Men (1957): Out of competition, of course, as I’ve seen it several times by now. It’s one of those truly timeless movies about human nature, constructed with a clinical understanding of what drives us to behave as we do. More than that, Lumet’s classic is entertainment at its best, with variations on the theme still showing up periodically. If you haven’t seen it, just do it, and if you’re really allergic to black and white, then watch the remake, which is still pretty darn good. But the original is the original. 9/10

Movies of the Week #21 #22 (2018)

Podcast here.

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Call me Mr. Pool

  • Deadpool 2 (2018): The anti-superhero you love to laugh with is back and aiming for new heights. And lows. With its particular brand of meta-humour up a notch, Deadpool proves just about as fun as its predecessor – which was fun enough for me. Sure, it can get tiresome, especially if you’re not into all the references and nudges, but I can proudly claim that nothing went over my head! Well, except the things which dead and I am unaware of, I suppose. Anyhooow, there are a bunch of really good moments cramped mostly in the middle of the movie, with the rest proving an uneven affair. But Deadpool pulls no punches, often aimed at itself, which is refreshing – for a while. I guess I’m easily pleased by the comic-book movies which don’t take themselves seriously, which is why I enjoyed this one. So give it a go and wait for the post-credits. 7/10

          P.S. Rob Delaney!!!

          P.P.S Yes, I would totally go for ‘luck’ as a superpower!

As if the universe needs more EL James

  • Book Club (2018): Gathering a memorable cast of actresses around their seventies just about makes Book Club a passable experience – well, passable if you don’t care that it feels like someone pitched it as a vehicle to get an undertargeted, older generation jump onto new-tech and new-lit. I guess you can’t have any expectations of a movie which recommends 50 Shades of Grey as an integral element in improving our world. Thankfully, there’s some virtue in showcasing the potential of romantic life beyond your sixties, even if the script is about as imaginative as a broke accountant. Sooo…yeah, I don’t know, maybe if the trailer appeals to you? 5/10

          P.S. Jane Austen Book Club – better.

‘Good breeding gone bad’

  • Thoroughbreds (2017): In his very first movie, which Corey Finley wrote and directed, the filmmaker manages to create and capture a spectacularly tense atmosphere, vividly portrayed through the eyes and souls of two emotionally dejected youths. The atmosphere borrows articulately from Chan-wook Park’s Stoker (2013), but Finley’s characters stand out more. Amanda, a girl devoid of emotions, is sent by her mother to get tutored by Lily, an emotionally ambivalent character, with both treading deeply into dysfunctional territory. The movie wraps around your throat with the ominous delight of white privilege and a boa constrictor, without making any concessions. Might need a rewatch to promote it to ‘delight’ level, but it’s really close regardless! 8/10

The Mexican themed joy-ride

  • Gringo (2018): Director Nash Edgerton steers his brother Joel for two hours into the land of convulsive, bloated storylines during this wannabe cool-ass movie. In spite of its great cast and an utterly alluring Charlize Theron, Gringo becomes overly-complicated in a stupid ways really quickly. It even includes one subplot that’s totally superfluous – like, totally! Whatever Charlize and, particularly, David Oyelowo do to keep this afloat, their efforts are poorly rewarded, leaving you with an underwhelming ending to better suit the underwhelming middle and the just-about-normally-whelming beginning. 4/10

Enjoying school like every other fool

  • Love, Simon (2018): Greg Berlanti, forever of Everwood to me, is behind the much lauded Love, Simon, a high-school tale of coming out. As far as compassionate movies about the cheesiest times of our lives go, there’s little to be criticized about dear, old Simon. However, there are only few stand-out moments in the movie, which, for the most part, doesn’t do too much to be in the least daring or controversial – well, beyond the coming out part, but that has already had its share of Hwood treatments. If anything, I felt frustrated by how picture-perfect Simon’s potential love interests were, with one particular scene where he treats some less attractive options with actual dismay feeling hypocritical. 7/10

Movies of the Week #20 (2018)

Don’t forget to check out the podcast if you want to hear my simmering voice.

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Brrrrains

  • The Cured (2018): Here’s a slightly fresh take for the zombie inside all of us – a post-apocalyptic world with cured ‘infected’, who fail to reintegrate into society. A very timely allegory to whatever we’ve been living through these last few years. Unfortunately, the movie features an unconvincing antagonist, even if he is well suited to represent the kind of populist, vindictive attitudes that plague us. Moreso than the antagonist being unsuited, it’s his initial shift that felt unconvincing. Everything afterwards was too predictable for its own good, making the movie feel like a bit of drag. Add to that the fact that I just can’t see Ellen Page playing a mother with a seven year old son (I know, how petty of me) and you have a mixed bag to deal with. 6/10

In a world with no sense of humor

  • The Clapper (2017): Poor Ed Helms playing alongside poor Amanda Seyfried in this emotionally stunted drama/comedy was one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in movies this year. Not that either Helms or Seyfried are acting powerhouses, but they’re likable enough to make you feel for them – well, not in this one. The Clapper takes a vaguely interesting idea and takes it nowhere: a guy who earns his living by being an audience member for infomercials hits trouble when he gets ‘found’ by a regional, low-frills talk-show that ruins his claim for anonymity.  The story goes from interesting to lame in the blink of an eye, because director/writer Dito Montiel is satisfied with a lazy, lazy script and some digs at the sensationalism of low-frills TV. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. So yeah, do yourselves a favor and avoid it. 3/10

Art. Artist. A(r)therosclerosis.

  • Final Portrait (2017): Can mere mortals say where the line is between artistic process and artistic whimsy? Stanley Tucci’s movie about  Alberto Giacometti makes a big wager on ‘no’. It feels almost like a caricature, rooted in the artist’s  insatiability for the irreconcilable: he is happy only when he is truly anguished, he is most doubtful when he is most successful and, naturally, he is incapable of ever truly finishing an artistic ‘gesture’. While derivative at times, there are glimpses of affectionate irony in Giacometti’s portrayal, a found cause looking to be lost, that concludes with a very suitable send-off. Sure, it’s not the most exciting piece of film-making ever made, but it has personality, which is always a good stand-in, especially in the acting hands of Geoffrey Rush. 8/10

Implants

  • Zoom (2015): Just one of those movies that have been on my watch-list for a million years (i.e. maximum three), Pedro Morelli’s Zoom is a visually creative, narratively ambitious and thematically underwhelming experience that does enough to be recommended – especially for the geek brigade. Half live-action feature, half animation, this story within a story tackles prejudices and expectations stemming from body issues. It juggles one character/layer too many to be a truly solid movie with enough time to say something pertinent about life. This hints at the limited experience of director Morelli and screenwriter Hansen, but there’s promise to them nonetheless.

Movies of the Week #19 (2018)

One of my very, very busy friends complained he had no time to read the copious amounts of review materials I post here weekly. So I obliged and provided a podcast:
https://soundcloud.com/user-157068900/motw19

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What about Manchester?

  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2018): An old-school affair of romance between an aging star and an up and coming actor, the movie lives and breathes thanks to its leading couple, Anette Bening and Jamie Bell. It might not be the most original story ever told, but the care with which it treats its characters pays off – a key factor in the pleasurable viewing of such a genre film. I’m not a sucker for true stories, as they usually either end up ruining a good movie for being true to life, but not to film, or the other way around, that they get massaged so much to fit a movie, that there’s but a husk of veracity left to them. Luckily,  given my complete ignorance as to who Gloria Grahame was, it wasn’t much of a factor in this one. 7/10

A Pirate I was meant to be…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017): I had given up on Pirates a long time ago, ever since the first sequel. Having missed some of the action since then, I just stumbled across DMTNT on TV and was bored enough to watch it. The movie was about midway through the plot at that point and was mostly uninspired, yet tolerable. When I had the chance to watch the first hour of this thing, I had more to regret, because there’s nothing in it worth remembering. The franchise feels so stale at this point, that no undead pirate anywhere in the world could make it fresh again. Honestly, the only thing that made the first movie stand out was Johnny Depp’s comedic vigour and the way it reminded me of the game Monkey Island. Since then, it’s only gone downhill and were it not for the craploads of cash that it absurdly still rakes in, I’d see no reason for its continued survival. 4/10

Where’s Denny Crane when you need him?

  • L’insulte (2017): The Lebanese film, nominated for Best Foreign Picture, starts as a character-driven drama with political and social undertones, before becoming a full blown court-room spectacle, completely devoid of finesse. The co-leads, between whom a dispute arises due to some charged insults being thrown around, are played convincingly by Adel Karam and Kamel el Basha. The parts of the movie featuring them have a very humanistic quality. All the rest, meaning the trial, feels like an ostentatious, heavy-handed history lesson. And I usually like my history lessons light-handed. 6/10

For moments when the world just sucks

  • Some Freaks (2016): This high-school/college drama takes on fetishes and stigmas relating to body-issues, in a tale of misfits that ends up wallowing in self-pity. That’s perhaps harsh, because there are moments which manage to capture the painful truth of wanting to belong, as well as the trauma of being confronted with the abusive social conglomeration of young adulthood. The problem lies with the fact that Ian MacAllister McDonald’s characters all appear to deserve an extra dollop of existential despair, which tips the balance towards the wallowing. It’s a bit of a shame, because this overarching, irreconcilable sadness ends up clobbering the viewer. I was left with the desire to run away in the last half-hour or so, with all the petty, hurtful acts of meanness and duplicity overwhelming me. But that’s on me, right? Ultimately the movie stuck to me, which is why it gets the MoTW distinction and a 7/10.

But you know who sleeps? I do. Sometimes.

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010): I guess it’s been almost a decade since the release of this sequel, a sequel which I mostly appreciated at the time. The original was quite the hit in its day, although for reasons I no longer discern, my rating of it was nothing to write home about. The case is similar with Wall Street II, a movie that already feels dated. However, I enjoyed chunks of it and I especially liked the soundtrack, Brian Eno and David Byrne’s music being put to very good use here. The story wants bridge generations and to provide some insights regarding the financial crisis of the late 2000s. The fact that the movie was shot while still in the midst of it leads to half-assed choices, band-wagoning of green tech and a rushed, totally underwhelming ending. Maybe I’d rate it worse now, but I hold stubbornly firm to my initial grade, a 7/10, thanks to the solid cast and some memorable one-liners. #wheresthebitcointhemedsequeltothis