Movies of the Week #19 (2018)

One of my very, very busy friends complained he had no time to read the copious amounts of review materials I post here weekly. So I obliged and provided a podcast:
https://soundcloud.com/user-157068900/motw19

MoTW19

What about Manchester?

  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2018): An old-school affair of romance between an aging star and an up and coming actor, the movie lives and breathes thanks to its leading couple, Anette Bening and Jamie Bell. It might not be the most original story ever told, but the care with which it treats its characters pays off – a key factor in the pleasurable viewing of such a genre film. I’m not a sucker for true stories, as they usually either end up ruining a good movie for being true to life, but not to film, or the other way around, that they get massaged so much to fit a movie, that there’s but a husk of veracity left to them. Luckily,  given my complete ignorance as to who Gloria Grahame was, it wasn’t much of a factor in this one. 7/10

A Pirate I was meant to be…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017): I had given up on Pirates a long time ago, ever since the first sequel. Having missed some of the action since then, I just stumbled across DMTNT on TV and was bored enough to watch it. The movie was about midway through the plot at that point and was mostly uninspired, yet tolerable. When I had the chance to watch the first hour of this thing, I had more to regret, because there’s nothing in it worth remembering. The franchise feels so stale at this point, that no undead pirate anywhere in the world could make it fresh again. Honestly, the only thing that made the first movie stand out was Johnny Depp’s comedic vigour and the way it reminded me of the game Monkey Island. Since then, it’s only gone downhill and were it not for the craploads of cash that it absurdly still rakes in, I’d see no reason for its continued survival. 4/10

Where’s Denny Crane when you need him?

  • L’insulte (2017): The Lebanese film, nominated for Best Foreign Picture, starts as a character-driven drama with political and social undertones, before becoming a full blown court-room spectacle, completely devoid of finesse. The co-leads, between whom a dispute arises due to some charged insults being thrown around, are played convincingly by Adel Karam and Kamel el Basha. The parts of the movie featuring them have a very humanistic quality. All the rest, meaning the trial, feels like an ostentatious, heavy-handed history lesson. And I usually like my history lessons light-handed. 6/10

For moments when the world just sucks

  • Some Freaks (2016): This high-school/college drama takes on fetishes and stigmas relating to body-issues, in a tale of misfits that ends up wallowing in self-pity. That’s perhaps harsh, because there are moments which manage to capture the painful truth of wanting to belong, as well as the trauma of being confronted with the abusive social conglomeration of young adulthood. The problem lies with the fact that Ian MacAllister McDonald’s characters all appear to deserve an extra dollop of existential despair, which tips the balance towards the wallowing. It’s a bit of a shame, because this overarching, irreconcilable sadness ends up clobbering the viewer. I was left with the desire to run away in the last half-hour or so, with all the petty, hurtful acts of meanness and duplicity overwhelming me. But that’s on me, right? Ultimately the movie stuck to me, which is why it gets the MoTW distinction and a 7/10.

But you know who sleeps? I do. Sometimes.

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010): I guess it’s been almost a decade since the release of this sequel, a sequel which I mostly appreciated at the time. The original was quite the hit in its day, although for reasons I no longer discern, my rating of it was nothing to write home about. The case is similar with Wall Street II, a movie that already feels dated. However, I enjoyed chunks of it and I especially liked the soundtrack, Brian Eno and David Byrne’s music being put to very good use here. The story wants bridge generations and to provide some insights regarding the financial crisis of the late 2000s. The fact that the movie was shot while still in the midst of it leads to half-assed choices, band-wagoning of green tech and a rushed, totally underwhelming ending. Maybe I’d rate it worse now, but I hold stubbornly firm to my initial grade, a 7/10, thanks to the solid cast and some memorable one-liners. #wheresthebitcointhemedsequeltothis