Movies of the Weeks #46 #47 (2017)

The lack of productivity from two weeks ago forced me to postpone all reviewing endeavours. It’s going to be obvious though that Defending your Life and The Trip are part of a different mind frame to the latter choices. Unfortunately, in spite of the number of movies I indulged, none really stood out for a movie of the week recommendation. For the sake of it, I’ll award it to…

Movie of the Weeks

The Trip (2010)

The-Trip

Another stop in…

Defending Your Life (1991): Back in Brooks-land, Rip Torn was tearing it up (sorry, had to). The premise of this Brooks-Streep picture is that people get judged on their life after they pass and if they did well, they move on to another life, if they didn’t, they get a do-over. I can’t say I was taken with this set-up and the execution did little to elevate. After almost two hours of ‘defending’, we get rewarded with a moving final sequence, even though, again, the build-up for it left me unconvinced. The key to life, if I am to spoil it for y’all, is to be bold and to be willing to take chances. I guess that’s true. 6/10

Changing gears

The Trip (2010): A long time ago, when the TV series this is based on was first released, I gobbled it up. It’s not riveting film-making, but the charisma the two protagonists bring to an otherwise picturesque trip around Northern England makes the difference. If you like your derivative conversations, your impressions and your food, and are also in need of travel destinations, The Trip is here to help. As a movie, it feels like a bit more should have ended up in the editing room, with quite the dollop of redundancy left to draw things out inelegantly. Beyond that, recommended. 7/10

Blockbuster-thon of movies…

The Mummy (2017): Wow, talk about a movie in which next to nothing works. A jumbled story, feeding off a bunch of iconic monster lores, attempts to reboot a franchise which never really required rebooting. To do this, they brought together a powerful duo, in Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, but gave them an inane script and some atrocious counterparts. Cruise’s lack of chemistry with co-star Annabelle Wallis is the true horror of this movie, which just can’t find a place for itself: should it be scary? should it make you laugh? is it a light adventure? should anyone care at all? Bottom line, I didn’t, and really rooted for some relief towards the end, perhaps in the form of the unexpected. Alas, not all wishes are to be fulfilled in life. If anything good can be said about The Mummy, it’s that it should have stuck more with the horror, because that worked alright and baddie Sofia Boutella was pretty cool. That and the fact that Tom Cruise’s running finds screen time again. 4/10

…that I’ve purposefully ignored…

The Fate of the Furious (2017): I’ve never been a big fan of the franchise, but even my cynical bones appreciated the fifth installment, which somehow revitalized a dying idea. In the process, what FF initially stood for, racing and walking the illegal line, has either been tossed to the side or re-imagined as support items to an elite kill squad. The plot on this Fate of the Furious is terribly inane, with The Rock and Jason Statham providing the odd quality moments. Beyond their contribution, the plethora of chase scenes, aimed at topping each other off, didn’t dazzle me much.  These big ticket items have started feeling so streamlined, that even when they do get everything right, it still manages to feel wrong. FF8 would be a worthy poster child. 5/10

…because I was quite expecting them…

Minions (2015): It’s rare that a 90 minute movie feels so long, but Minions manages this astounding feat. In fact, the whole shindig is barely 80 minutes long, with a couple of musical moments tagged on at the end to round things out. I did enjoy the original Despicable Me, which had a bit of a twist and the minions were amusing side characters. As the main act, it’s hard to make them stand out. Really though, the movie is so unambitious that there was no way it could have been anything but a slightly enjoyable fast-forward experience. The odd song or gag will provide respite from what is otherwise a dull show, targeted solely at the younger audience members inside us all. The ones we skewered for breakfast. 5/10

…to be really underwhelming.

Beauty and the Beast (2017): There’s always a funny feeling, when one of your childhood movies pops up in a different form. The animated Beauty and the Beast (1991) was, alongside The Lion King (1994), one of my favourites, growing up. This live-action recreation has a lot of glitz and, for the most part, works well enough. However, it does itself no favours in adding forty minutes to the original, while also suffering due to a lack of charisma in its protagonists, whose romance blossomed so fast, my suspension of disbelief couldn’t keep up. So, yes, watch the animated version first, if you haven’t. Then, maybe, give this a shot. 6/10

Breather!

The Little Hours (2017): God, after all that blockbuster-y stuff, I needed to get away for a night. TLH was just that and more, poking fun at the stiff convent lifestyle of the olden days and making it feel like high-school.  With a familiar looking cast (Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, John C. Reilly, Dave Franco), the movie works for the most part, but never feels bitingly satirical enough – all that sex humor doesn’t really bring much to the table. Director Jeff Baena also wrote/directed the lukewarm Joshy (2016) and the equally unconvincing Life After Beth (2014), which sort of makes TLH a step in the right direction. 6/10

Movies of the Week #45 (2017)

Blablablablablabla. And did I mention, bla!

Movie of the Week

Mother (1996)

Mother : Cinema Quad Movie Poster

Some Monday

  • Mother (1996): I’ve officially embarked on the Albert Brooks tour. As of today, I can’t really say whether it’s a tour I really like or not, but Mother was a pleasant surprise to begin with. The tagline really says a lot: no one misunderstands you better. Brooks, playing a recently divorced Sci-Fi writer, decides to go live with his mother for a while, in order to bond with her and understand whether there’s something in their relationship that undermines all his rapports with women. The beautiful idiosyncrasies both lead characters embody makes them irritating and endearing at the same time. Ultimately, it’s an understated comedy, not quite what I expected, concluding on a very pleasing and non-cliched note.  Its greatest feat is managing to stay true to its story and its protagonists until the end. 8/10

When golden arches fail you

  • The Babysitter (2017): Legendary director McG, best known for his lack of involvement in Christian Bale’s bashing of that poor cinematographer on Terminator Salvation, is at it again. This time he ‘subverts’ the babysitter slasher genre, in what actually proves to be a tolerable, almost enjoyable experience. Starring some easily swappable actors, McG goes all campy in this tale of babysitter turned…well, I won’t spoil it, but needless to say, it’s something way out there. The premise works well for a while, although the movie drags even in spite of its 85 minute runtime. Compared to last week’s Happy Death Day (2017), TB actually rises above the parody to create some memorable moments of bonding and violence. It isn’t a masterpiece, but in its genre, the I want to rank the movie as worthwhile. 6/10

The olden days

  • Heaven Can Wait (1978): Not sure how I got to this ancient Warren Beatty It’s a Wonderful Life wannabe re-imagining. Beatty, playing a pro football player, is snatched by a sort of angel just as he was expected to die, but it turns out ‘angel error’ lead to a premature departure. So instead, the guy is offered to take over the body of another and that’s how he gets mixed up in this feuding love triangle as a multi-millionaire. The movie is good natured and occasionally poignant, even if it fails to really build on its premise to a convincing degree. An unimaginative ending does do it any favours, but all in all, the nine-time (!) Oscar nominated flick is good for a round of popcorn. 7/10

Movies of the Week #44 (2017)

A blockbuster as the pick of the week, who’d have thunk it?

Movie of the Week

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

thor ragnarok

The forgotten one

  • The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017): A good if not completely enthralling movie by Noah Baumbach, who keeps exploring themes around family and art. It’s one of those odd movies starring Adam Sandler that are actually worth a go, in spite of my usual aversion to anything partakes in. He plays one of three Meyerowitz children who are still struggling to find some sort of resolution in the relationships they have with their aging father. Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson and Grace van Patten round out the familial cast. If you’ve seen any Baumbach movies (and there are quite a few out there), you know what kind of witty, incisive observations to expect from another profoundly character driven story. If you haven’t then start with The Squid and the Whale (2005)7/10

Please stand up comedy

  • Jack Whitehall: At Large (2017): The Netflix produced stand up featuring Jack Whitehall is moderately amusing. Honestly, it’s only been a week, but I’ve forgotten most things about it. So it’s that kind of gig, mostly running on Whitehall’s charm. 6/10

The disappointment

  • Ingrid Goes West (2017): I was excited to watch IGW, but it ultimately turned out to be not my cup of tea. My aversion towards anything that’s excessively awkward, usually stories built on deception, such as this one, makes my skin crawl. Ingrid is an obsessive instagram stalker whose MO is to attempt to befriend her stalkees at whatever costs necessary. The movie builds up to a big, snarky charge at the antisocially media famous, as well as the veneer that belies the perfect lives that social media captures. It’s nothing new, nor is it spectacularly executed. I did enjoy Elizabeth Olsen’s character though, who really manages to pinpoint the fleeting nature of depth-less relationships, as well as how routined people can be in portraying a certain first image of themselves and of their dreams. 6/10

I’m blocked, buster!

  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Director Taika Waititi is a pretty awesome dude and everything he touches seems to shit gold. After the hilarous What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and the equally memorable Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), directing a huge movie like Thor was going to be a whole different challenge. Waititi proved up to the task and by infusing the dry Thor-verse with much needed levity, he managed to produce a distinctive and utterly enjoyable superhero movie. It helps that the likable brother-frenemies duo of Thor and Loki fight on the same side, with all cameos along the way proving to be more than just casual plugs. I have no idea if you need to have seen the previous movies in the franchise to enjoy this, but as it stands, I can’t help but recommend it. 8/10

Charliiiiize!

  • Atomic Blonde (2017): It had been a while since my last Charlize Theron movie – Mad Max, was it? Anyway, she takes on a power-woman role in this comic-book based production timed around the fall of the Berlin wall. Unfortunately, in spite of some cool fight sequences, I failed to really get into the movie, especially due to the weird construction and Theron’s character’s lack of rapport with her antagonist. The two hour long runtime does do the film any favours either. 5/10

Movies of the Week #43 (2017)

It’s all the same, day in, day out. Rinse and repeat. This week’s theme.

Movie of the Week

Groundhog Day (1993)

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

February 2nd!

  • Groundhog Day (1993): I had this memory, that Groundhog Day was a really awesome movie. Last time I saw it, I must have been in my early teens. It’s just one of those films which, growing up, you would have seen countless time on free TV channels. Indeed, upon revisiting it last week, GD proved to be all that I remembered. A peak-form Bill Murray finds himself stuck on Groundhog Day, reporting on an insipid little feast which aims to foretell the arrival of spring. For untold reasons, the day keeps starting over every time, with Murray’s character alternating between disbelief, rage, madness before actually trying to enjoy the day. The story is pretty plain, although director Harold Ramis does well to keep it tight enough to withstand all the to and fro. It’s a bit of a prerequisite, the narrative simplicity, to allow for the many variations. Simplicity is a thing of beauty, when done right. GD is proof for that. 8/10

The much maligned

  • mother! (2017): I’m a big Aronofsky fan, but mother! proved to be too much for me. A cryptic movie, with a plethora of unlikable characters, all sorts of allegories and metaphors, winding down after more than two hours of screentime – you know, I can take most of these things by themselves, but together I was simply irked. Ever since the first half hour, I just felt like there was no need for me to commit to mother!, to care. The way it unwinds later on made it harder still. It doesn’t matter whether the movie is about family, religion, immigration, what-have-you, because I failed to connect on any level. Some of the horror elements might have worked, had my mood by that time not been one of comic disbelief. Consequently, all I was left with at the end of mother! was a lovely little song over the end credits. 4/10

February 2nd!

  • Happy Death Day (2017): Unintentionally, I ended up watching this re-envisioning of Groundhog Day on the same week as the original. The concept is exactly the same and there are quite a few winks and nods towards Ramis’s picture. The twist: it’s the protagonist’s death that keeps rewinding the day. I failed to enjoy it too much in the end, not so much because the story was lukewarm, but because the characters were uninteresting. Here, more so than with GD, I kept asking myself why the little time-shifts don’t matter. For example, if you have a five second delay between one action or the other, many things can occur differently – like sprinklers coming on when you’re in a different place, and other cues like that. It matters more here because Happy Death Day gives the impression that it’s not an endless carousel, but a more limited approach to the idea, with the lead having a set number of opportunities to ‘fix’ the loop. Ultimately, the poor and predictable ending, didn’t do the movie any favors – but it’s still more enjoyable than mother!, haha. 5/10