Movies of the week #22 (2017)

Not the best week quality-wise, but we’re good on quantity. And you know what they say, the more you do it, the better human being you are. I was bemused by the Netflix ratings system, which seems confused due to the fact that both I and my mother sometimes use it. Consequently, although we like some similar films, we get horrible recommendations – stuff like ¿Qué Culpa Tiene el Niño? (2016) gets five stars and Anvil: The Story of Anvil! (2008) gets two. Shame.

Movie of the week:

High Fidelity (2000)



  • High Fidelity (2000): Re-watching HF was something I wanted to do for a while now. It’s probably the third time seeing it, as I recall one occasion where I just couldn’t remember John Cuasck’s name until literally three seconds before it popped up on the end credits. I’ve read some of Hornby’s books and seen a lot of his stuff that’s been put to film, but HF is my favourite (yes, even ahead of About a Boy (2002) or An Education (2009)where he penned the screenplay; Brooklyn (2015) I have not yet seen). It’s this sketch of the frustrated, egotistical, clueless young male that got to me, a self-enlightened anti-hero who envisions himself playing both the persecuted and the persecutor. Yet, we sort of like him, a) because it’s John Cusack and b) because he’s trying and conscious about his shortcomings, if unconvincing in his attempts to improve. So yeah, it’s a solid rom-com with a lot of music and pop-culture. What else can you want? 8/10


  • War Machine (2017): The much touted Netflix production with Brad Pitt is an underwhelming, been-there, seen-that kind of affair. Being parodic about the bureaucracies of war and some inherent structural flaws in the conception of military leadership works for a while, but there’s usually no end game, just a bunch of familiar truths and platitudes. Ultimately, you are better off watching Lord of War (2005) or Buffalo Soldiers (2001)a pair of flawed movies also riding on the charm of their leading men, which have the simple advantage of having been there first. 6/10


  • ¿Qué Culpa Tiene el Niño? (2016): As I was intimating, Netflix fooled me here. This Mexican rom-com starring the gorgeously long-legged Karla Souza (How to Get Away with Murder) has its charms, but doesn’t quite deliver. You sort of know what kind of ride you’re going to get once the premise – a rich, talented woman in her late 20s gets pregnant after a one night stand with a hopeless guy in his early 20s – becomes apparent. The to and fro, the wannabe amusing side-characters, the I-can-provide-shtick, the spontaneous evolution, the odd surprise; nothing’s new here, but it’s reasonably well executed. Until the ending, that is, which felt completely off due to the, erm, moral implications of how it’s presented. I fought against my better judgment to let it slide and choose a simpler, if less logical, interpretation of events, which eases my cerebral suffering and replaced the ending with the kilobyte equivalent in images of Souza. But, really, come on people! What the heck. 6/10


  • Table 19 (2017): Because I don’t know when to call it quits, I doubled down on rom-coms with the uninspiring Table 19. It’s weird that the movie doesn’t work, given the many agreeable actors gathered in front of the camera (Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant) and behind it (written by Mark & Jay Duplass, directed by Jeffrey Blitz, of Rocket Science (2007)). Alas, it doesn’t, probably because the characters are bland and do not gel together well, mayhaps due to some ill-advised casting decisions (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson together?). There’s also a bizarre moment with a potential alternative suitor for our leading lady, which is then left unresolved, as if it didn’t happen at all. And the conclusion, well, I really couldn’t care less. 5/10


  • Wonder Woman (2017): I have enough experience by now to know that superhero movies going in the 90% on Rottentomatoes, or even mid-high seventies on Metacritic, are guaranteed to be competently executed, yet distinctly un-riveting. The same goes for WW, which I initially didn’t even want to go watch, as Gal Gadot failed to impress my acute sensibilities in Batman v Superman (2016). Good reviews changed my mind, in spite of the knowledge I claimed to have gathered through experience, and, sure enough, I was entertained, but not excited. There is talk of the importance of having a strong female character, who happens to come from an exclusively matriarchal society, but what helps WW stand out is that it doesn’t try too hard to build you up for whatever new cross-franchise mash-up they’re going to release next year. There was even a moment, about three quarters of the movie in, that I felt something unexpected and insightful might be occurring, but it didn’t last long before the usual order of things was resumed and we moved on to a finale with big pow-wow effects. Which was all fine and good, if it’s what you want. 7/10


  • Their Finest (2016): It made sense to stick to the feminist movies, this time with a more overtly feminist one in TF. Starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Calflin and Bill Nighy (the latter, as himself – well, not really, but haha), it tracks back to the second world war and the integration/acceptance of women in scriptwriting. So, yeah, there’s this trend now that’s being ridden, emphasizing the involvement of women in as-of-then out-of-bounds domains, with the likes of Hidden Figures (2016) and even The Imitation Game (2014) offering similar insights. I’m not good at liking movies with such socio-political agendas, but what really undoes TF is its slow pace. Other than that, the movie is both sensitive and sensible, with the one big flaw of not having caught much of my interest and attention. 6/10