Movies of the Week #50 #51 (2018)

The IT Squad

  • Searching (2018): An unusual thriller, shot through the perspective of computer screens, CCTV cameras and media footage, Searching unfolds neatly. It might feature some illogical decisions on behalf of its leading characters, yet it never feels like these ever really matter in your enjoyment of the experience. Unless you’re me, that is. The story – a girl disappears and his father tries desperately to find her, only to realize that he really doesn’t know his daughter. The ride is decent, you might like it more than I did. 6/10

Or the Adult Act

  • The Children Act (2017): A typical Ian McEwan tale of love and desire, of shackles and inevitabilities, TCA is built on a weak core, but stands reasonably tall thanks to Emma Thompson. Her character, Fiona Maye, is a judge dealing with intricate moral conundrums, while her own marriage falls to pieces. It’s the ageless question of how to balance love and work when you’re job can be all-consuming. What I really didn’t like is how weak her bond with hubby Jack (Stanley Tucci) appeared, which didn’t anchor the rest of the story well enough. There’s a general lack of balance in the narrative and its characters, which ultimately undermines the experience of this awfully titled movie. 6/10

At Humors End

  • Johnny English Strikes Again (2018): He might strike again, but he definitely isn’t striking any more. In spite of the charms of Rowan Atkinson, there’s very little that keeps the new Johnny English afloat, an uninspired series of gags that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Sure, they’re pretty elaborate, but about as uninspired as a writer during the prohibition. Not much to recommend here, unless you want to gawk at Olga Kurylenko’s perfectly toned arms. 4/10

When the Hilton Comes Into Town

  • The American Meme (2018): For whatever reason, I thought this was a serious movie, analyzing…meme culture? To my surprise, it’s not about the memes I thought it was, but rather all sorts of social media ‘success stories’. Somehow, Paris Hilton and her tale of awesomeness overshadows everything else, a monument of strength in spite of the life she’s had as a media target. It’s quite ironic Hilton would complain about it, given that is how she became such a well known figure, the basis upon which her current commercial empire is built. She takes her executive producer role seriously and shamelessly tries to create a hagiography of herself more often than not. There are a couple other stories, following a bunch of very hard to like protagonists, not only because of how and what they portray on SM, but because there’s nothing special to them beyond their ability to tap into this ephemeral sphere of digital fame. Or at least nothing that the movies highlights. So beyond some more existential moments, The American Meme is pretty much a bust. 4/10

The Things of Wonder

  • Hable con Ella (2002): Whenever I rate movies, I allow a mark for those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences, the stories that not only strike a perfect note, but that, as chance would have it, come about when that perfect note is most needed. On the day I saw Almodovar’s Talk To Her, which must have been about fifteen years ago by now, I had no idea what was I was going in for – which, to this day, is a key ingredient in a movie really sweeping me off my feet. I’ll never be a true critic, because there’s no fun in taking out the personal out of the experience; the fact that I rarely write more than a paragraph on anything might also factor into that. Anyway, getting back to that fateful day, I suffered a full-fledged emotional turnaround during the movie, which happened to coincide with the dispersal of all the clouds that had accompanied me during the walk to the cinema. As the fates of Benigno, Marco, Lydia and Alicia unfolded, it never struck me that it all amounted to a bizarre, disconcerting collision of loving, wounded people. Characters you only see for a couple of scenes take on an engrossing presence, which is the most anyone writer can hope for. Scenes which seem to simply exist because the director thought them beautiful provide faultless transitions. Almodovar is a master mood-setter and, to me, Hable con Ella is the most lyrical, tragically romantic movies he’s done. That anyone has ever done. 10/10

And as a side note, I recall a long time ago, when Hable con Ella sat next to another favourite of mine in the IMDb Top 250, The Green Mile. They were both hovering above the 100th position. Now, The Green Mile is as high as 31st, whereas Hable Con Ella has dropped out of the ranking. Take what you will out of this.

Movies of the Week #48 #49 (2018)

To all the Eyre’s I’ve loved before

  • Jane Eyre (2011): I might be more of a Jane Austen fan than of the Brontë sisters – due to the wit and lightness of the former’s stories. Yet, Jane Eyre, as embittered as it is in its tale of forlorn love, class struggles and fem-lib, caught my liking. The sombre tone might feel heavy at times, especially pushing the two hour mark. It’s the impressions that Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska make which ease the burden and make Jane Eyre a captivating watching. 7/10

What’s wrong about standing toe to toe, saying ‘I am’ ?

  • Creed II (2018): I’m generally taken with movies about father-son relationships and Creed surprises in this regard. It’s a slight evolution from Rocky 4, with the Russian (Romanian) machine springing emotional leaks at unexpected moments. Other than that, there are few unexpected turns in this second go at the Creed spin-off, which hits all its marks with satisfactory efficiency. If anything, the sense of how much Stallone has aged – and we alongside him – is my biggest takeaway from the movie. Also, it dearly reminded me of one of the best College Humor parodies ever – enjoy7/10

The one they’ll jump on when I’m asked to host the Oscars

  • Widows (2018): What a thoroughly disappointing flick. Just one of those heist movies employing the gender reversal card, a movie that has the pretense of providing political commentary on top of it all. Needless to say, almost all male characters are profoundly rotten, whereas the widows are true heroins of self-empowerment. Sure, the set pieces were fine, the acting was fine, but I failed to get behind this – not so much because my male ego felt injured, but because the movie wants to be more than it is, which is a capital sin in my book. 5/10

 A flurry of old and new cult feelings

  • Apostle (2018): Few movies do sound and atmosphere as well as Apostle does. Starring the ever-likable Dan Stevens, this story of a man going off to a cult-island to recover his kidnapped sister has a good set-up, with Michael Sheen providing an adequately conflicted antagonist. There’s just a dab of the supernatural in this, which makes it more bearable to me, but ultimately the movie is about cults and power. Unfortunately, it falters in the second half due to a ‘run for the hills’ mentality in finding closure. Still, a good watch for the initiated. 6/10

If you like your politics after a lobotomy

  • A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018): If the first one wasn’t enough for you, then Netflix knows. It’s why it put out a sequel to last year’s Prince, which takes on some bold, new cliches that it somehow missed out on in the original. Thankfully, the cast is still agreeable and the shots of Peles castle feature just as much, which makes the movie less obnoxious than it might otherwise have been. 4/10