Movies of the Week #24 (2018)

MoTW24

Vicarious lovin’

  • Set It Up (2018): I’ve already written a few words on this newest Netflix addition, out of some dubious creative surge. There isn’t much to dwell on here, as ‘Set It Up’ proves the ideal low-stakes Friday night Netflix watch. 7/10

Food and career adjustments

  • Chef (2014): When Jon Favreau isn’t the world famous director of Iron Man, he likes to dwell in the food porn genre. Here, he plays a chef who is forced to redefine himself and the relationship he has with his son. It’s an age-old story of successful people becoming boxed in by their success, as the world ends up demanding their best hits all the time, with little patience for exploration. Maybe Favreau feels some of the heat coming from directing a superhero movie (the superhero movie that ignited a never-ending universe), which is why Chef proves to be a thoroughly entertaining and mouth-watering flick. However, especially in its latter part, it seems to run out of narrative, so it conveniently just keeps flipping Mexican fast food for your enjoyment. Man, I’m hungry just by writing about it. 7/10

Let’s talk about Adolf

  • Denial (2016): My mother was surprised that there was/is such a thing as people who actively deny the holocaust. I had maybe heard of Irving at some point, but it’s fascinating to think that people would mike a life calling out of this. Indeed, as the movie’s protagonist, Deborah Lipstedt, points out, such people usually have an agenda, which, in the case of Irving, was reinstating Hilter’s ‘legacy’ as a great commander. This required delimiting him from the systematic extermination of European Jews and other ‘impure races’. It seems absurd that anyone would take the time to listen to deniers at length, just as absurd as a hundred minute long movie setting itself apart with the wider complexities of this topic. Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall really make the best out of it and the movie actually manages to strike a balance between memorializing and ‘factualizing’. Unfortunately, the narrative is poorly structured and lacks any dramatic heft, two shortcomings that the cast cannot compensate for.  6/10

Let’s talk about Arafat

  • Beirut (2018): Movies about the Middle East are usually messy, with all kinds of political intricacies. Exhaustive explanations are required to make sense of how all parties align. This is also true of Beirut, a movie set in the 70s and 80s in Lebanon, in the heyday of terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare due to the area’s ethnic fragmentation. With the American involvement supporting Israeli interests, there’s a lot of sides to pick from. While this all might sound familiar, Beirut does a good job in creating tension and its pacing ensure the action remains lively. It won’t redefine the genre or the topic, but it will fill an empty Sunday evening, between a German defeat and a Brazilian draw. 7/10