Movies of the Week #3 (2018)

Awards season is looming, which means a bunch of interesting stuff is about to hit the cinemas. One example thereof is this week’s…

Movie of the Week

The Disaster Artist (2017)

When you’re stuck on Netflix

  • Two Weeks Notice (2002): This slushy little romcom of the early millenium, starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock at the heights of their romcom-y-ness, was not as bad as I feared it to be. There are enough witty moments and retorts to get you through the superficial and formulaic parts and even though Grant and Bullock are like two wooden planks on screen, they made an enjoyable clacking sound when struck against one another. So if you check out your brain at the beginning, you’ll be just fine. 6/10

Going back in time noir

  • Laura (1944): I’ve never been a noir buff, so my appreciation for the genre is an inconsistent one. In Otto Preminger’s Laura, a ‘dame’ is found dead in her own apartment, which triggers an investigation lead by a detective McPherson. The persons of interest are the deceased’s fiancee, Shelby Carpenter, and her, let’s say, mentor, Waldo Lydecker. The movie’s witty repartee, spearheaded by Lydecker, is reminiscent of the sharp, idealized characters so popular in the American cinema of the 1940s. As far as the story goes, however, it feels rather far-fetched, particularly in its last third. This sense of pieces being moved with care and precision proves compelling though, thanks to the complex web of motivations driving each of the characters, as well as some clever twists. Not quite my kind of masterpiece, but an enjoyable picture nonetheless. 7/10

You’re tearing me apart!

  • The Disaster Artist (2017): For something marketed as a comedy about one of the best so-bad-they’re-good movies of all time, I left the cinema feeling rather crushed. In a way it’s exactly what I expected of a good re-imagining of how such a bad movie would come to be. Told from the perspective of Greg Sestero, co-star in The Room (2003) and author of the book TDA is based on, it paints a sad image of Tommy Wiseau, the ‘auteur’ behind the original film. As mysterious as Wiseau is, actor/director James Franco managed to paint a believable image of the man, without indulging too much in the airbrushing jar – the guy just isn’t the cherry on top. You’ll be swaying between sympathizing with and loathing the man most of the time, which is presumably as it should be. The positive ending, an appropriate metaphor for how The Room (2003) has gained a following over the last fifteen years, alleviates some of the harsh reality off TDA, but the movie leaves you with sufficient questions about what success looks like and what it takes to get to it. 8/10

And the Nobel prize goes to…

  • El ciudadano ilustre (2016): There’s always something fishy about movies trying to take apart art or the relationship between art/artist/society in a demonstrative way. It’s all too self-referential, constantly vying towards the ridiculously pompous. Like this phrase here. Luckily, The Distinguished Citizen finds a healthy balance. Its protagonist, a cynical, reserved Nobel prize winner, decides to return to his hometown where he is to be recognized for his success. There he is faced with the quaint closeness of small towns, as well as the ferocious antipathies that can run through them. What makes TDC a success is its veracity, how close to home it really feels and the manner in which such a coming together ostensibly forces you to reassess your principles. The naturalistic manner in which the movie is shot emphasized the social claustrophobia one might expect famous people having to deal with at times. 8/10

An average Linklater production

  • Last Flying Flag (2017): It feels to me like I’ve written about this before and not too long ago, actually – doing fresh movies on any war phenomena related to the USA is terribly hard. In this one, Richard Linklater tells the story of three Vietnam veterans who are reunited when the the son of one of them is killed in Iraq many years later. The leading trio of Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburn and Steve Carell do a fine job in portraying grief and comradery. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t do them many favours, emphasizing familiar terrain – the absurdity of the early Afghanistan/Iraq and Vietnam wars, the melancholia over times gone by and the remorse for unforgiven sins. At a bit over two hours, the film drags more often than it should. Moreover, there’s this American obsession of treading very safely between critique of the war effort and unrelenting patriotism, something that I never felt plays off well outside the US. It’s just too middle of the road. 6/10