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