Movies of the Week #27 (2018)

MotW27

One small step for man!

  • Chappaquiddick (2017): The Kennedy clan lore is a treasure trove for American film-making, with so much drama in it, that it never ceases to offer tempting material to work from. Ted Kennedy, the younger brother of Jack and Bobby, was close to the presidency in the late 60s, before the car he was driving crashed an took the life of one of Bobby’s former aids. The manner in which the whole even was handled is on show here, with lines being crossed, crisis managers brought in and familial disrepute at stake. Jason Clarke is impressive in the titular role, an interesting character that unfortunately feels too stiff and controlled to really fascinate. Ultimately, in spite of its merits, the movie just doesn’t transcend the factual in favour of the riveting. 7/10

The rehash of the rehash

  • Finding Your Feet (2017): This ultra-tame feel-good story rests on the quality of its stars (Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall), but phones in a story with no surprises and little appeal. If you have no expectations and are in the mood for a fluff piece, maybe you’ll find something pleasurable in the downfall of a socialite who returns to her youthful passion of dancing and falls for ‘a downtown guy’. It wasn’t quite what I wanted, though. 5/10

One Sicario wasn’t enough

  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018): This is what happens when you do a sequel to a movie that doesn’t demand it. Sicario 2 is still a stylish flick, featuring an entertaining actor in Benicio del Toro and an ultra-popular one in Joshn “Thanos” Brolin, which is why it finds a passing grade. Beyond this, the narrative is slim and focuses on the dark interests of American forces to induce a war between Mexican cartels after another US terror attack. It makes some sense, but is needlessly dramatic, before turning in on itself and running out of an ending. Unsurprisingly, Sicario 2 is nowhere near the original, even if it does entertain at times. 6/10

When Rachel met Rachel

  • Disobedience (2018): From Sebastian Leilo, the director of Gloria (2013, thumbs up!) and the Oscar-winning Una Mujer Fantastica (2017) comes a forbidden romance in the midst of an Orthodox Jewish community of the US. Starring a couple of the best Rachels in the world, Weisz and McAdams, the movie burns slowly, before flaming up and leaving you with the burning embers of a once pleasantly repressed existence. It feels like a bit of a churn, being so deeply set in its community that it becomes borderline foreign at times. Its finale has some redemption to it, even if the movie never provides emotional closure, because, hey!, that’s life. Leilo is a critics favourite and it’s easy to see why, but his movies aren’t the most digestible. Disobedience lacks a proper punch, that would have made it resonate more powerfully, given how deeply steeped it is in its microuniverse. 7/10

The original courtroom drama

  • The Staircase (2004): Without The Staircase there would probably have been no The Jinx (2015), Making a Murderer (2015) or all the similar true-crime documentaries that place us in an intimate setting with potential criminals. Whether Michael Peterson did kill his wife or not is a question you won’t have answered for you without a reasonable doubt, particularly not by a documentarian who captured it all alongside the accused from the very beginning. Jean Xavier de Lestrade stays out the limelight, offering it all up to Peterson and his exuberant lawyer, David Rudolf. It’s an experience spanning almost fifteen years, with so much drama and frustration in it, that being truly factual falls by the sides. I don’t even think it is Lestrade’s job to prove facts, but rather to explore the complicated realities of Peterson’s case, wherever they may take him. The amount of unexpected thrown at the viewer in the first part of the series, the existential drama of a family that tears itself apart the seams, the inefficiencies of the judicial system, the conspiracy theories – everything comes together in one of the most memorable TV cases ever caught on film. 9/10