Movies of the Week #23 (2017)

In a week so full of tennis, there was little time and energy left for the movies. A few still managed to be squeezed in and they weren’t even half bad.

Movie of the Week

20th Century Women (2016)

20th century women

Some day last week:

  • Airplane (1980): I somehow forgot to write about this – which is understandable, considering I caught it just after Saturday lunch, a pleasant no-memories-get-stored period of my week. It wasn’t the first time I saw Airplane either and I’m quite the fan of the early work done by Abrahams and Zucker, especially the TV series Police Squad and its associated movie The Naked Gun (1988). Their particular brand of deadpan, literal humour has found a second coming in a recent series, Angie Tribeca, which does a good job in carrying the torch, but lacks some freshness. It all really got off with Airplane, one of the cornerstone parodies to have graced cinema screens, which does a balanced job in being ironic and amusing without feeling like a bunch of reels stuck together of the various movies it pokes at. A fun fact I just came across is that the Airplane is a sort of remake based on Zero Hour! (1957), as they share the same plot: food poisoning on a commercial flight wreaks havoc. Not much else in common as far as style is concerned, though. Long story short, if you’re interested in a different kind of comedy, give it a shot. All goes well – you have some material to go through and laugh yourselves silly. 7/10

Monday

  • 20th Century Women (2016): For whatever reason, it took me a while to get into 20thCW. The first part of the movie felt slow and a tad pretentious, as a complex assortment of characters drifts into the frame, led by Annette Benning’s Dorothea Fields, a single mother worried about providing a rounded character-building youth to her son, Jamie. As the story progressed, or rather the personal intricacies deepened, I felt myself being taken in by a what proved to be a touching tale of motherhood, of womanhood, that manages to stay away from the obvious, the inauthentic, the political. There’s this beautiful, nuanced subtlety to 20thCW, in how it explores its themes, and that’s priceless. 8/10

Tuesday

  • The Young Zlatan (2015): My fascination with football biopics is a fact, as exhibited in the reviews on another couple of similar movies, Messi’s disappointing re-enactment and C. Ronaldo’s flamboyant, narcissistic ride. One would expect a player of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stature, coming from a complex immigrant background in Sweden, to have an interesting story on its own merits, which indeed is the case. Constructed from archival footage, a surprising amount of it, we get some insight into Ibrahomvic’s move from Malmö FF to Ajax Amsterdam and the age-old struggle to fit in, rise to the occasion of being more than just a big fish in a small pond. Although he appears in most scenes, sometimes even unguarded, it’s hard to see beyond the cocky boy that Zlatan seemed to amount to in those days and get an understanding of the man. Nonetheless, I would argue this docu works well as a sort of cautionary tale towards talented youth anywhere, but particularly in sports, of how even someone who would end up being one of the best at his craft needs to overcome this particular type of adversity, show resilience and a willingness to endure. Also, you can see Zlatan playing some old-school Hitman, which is always fun. 7/10

Thursday

  • Baywatch (2017): For whatever reason, I thought the first Baywatch trailer was fun and nostalgic – not that I had ever followed the series, but just as an afterthought to a bygone age. While the next couple of trailers seemed less inspired, I stuck to my initial gut feeling and went to check out this Dwayne Johnson – Zac Efron bonanza – hey, I had already seen and not totally hated Dirty Grandpa (2016), so how bad could it be? Truth is: it’s not all that bad. You get what you expect – manly men, generically beautiful female characters with no personality, absurd concerns of seeming politically correct in spite of this, a TV-level plot, somewhat surprisingly TV level special effects, and a wallop of good banter between Johnson and Efron. I guess you can see the shortcomings right there. I did, however, have the occasional laugh and in spite of an almost ungodly two hour runtime, didn’t get bored. Just cerebrally anesthetized, which can be a healthy thing. 5/10 (P.S. You just know most of the special effects budget went into making Pamela Anderson look like she was forty again) 

Friday

  • Hidden Figures (2016): I like to thing I’m reasonably sized on most things NASA, so even delaying to watch HF for so long was shameful. The story conveying the importance of African-American women in the space-race of the 60s, a double whammy for the segregated American society of the day, is pretty much by the numbers. What elevates it into something pleasurable are the performances, especially those of the three female leads ( Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe), while even Kevin Costner’s phoned-in good guy part makes you feel at home. Other than that, HF is the opposite of 20th CW in regards to how it flaunts its socio-political convictions, with little nuance and focusing on the absurd situations arising from a dysfunctional society. Pretty much your template Oscar movie, for better or worse. 7/10