The Lukewarm Sequel Brigade Reporting for Duty!
- Incredibles 2 (2018): As a big fan of the original, I was fairly anxious before this sequel – follow ups so many years later rarely stand out. In spite of the glowing reviews, all I took away from it was how much standards have changed. Incredibles 2 is a tame movie, rarely funny or witty, often settling for ‘cute’. The phoned in storyline does little to help, but at least it’s brave enough to provide a small twist on the villain’s side. Other than that, poor, old Mr. Incredible has to deal with being a more of a father and less of a superhero, while Mrs. Incredible gets the spotlight – shock and awe. Sadly, there’s not enough to this sequel to call it warranted, but it’s not so appalling to deplore its existence either. Just middle of the road. 6/10
Netflix Doesn’t Do It Again!
- The Princess Switch (2018): The greatest challenge with all these Netflix Christmas movies is telling them apart. TPS, similarly to A Christmas Prince (and its sequel), is filmed in Romania and stars a bunch of affable actors in a tale with no pretenses and absolutely no ambitions. For all the Christmas hassle, the algorithms know what fits bets. In this one, two lookalikes, a baker and a to-be princess, go for the good old switcheroo, to sample ‘the other life’. If you succeed in not engaging your brain, time will go by smoothly. While TPS is arguably a tad better than ACP, thanks to a more robust cast and better production values, it’s still not fresh enough to warrant a passing grade. 4/10
I Still Don’t Eat Fish
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011): If you’re looking for a documentary that seamlessly binds food porn and enduring life principles, Jiro is the way to go. Seeing 85 year old Jiro run his little Tokyo sushi restaurant makes most 30 year olds blush for lack of discipline and vigor. I’m not certain it’s an inspirational journey, because work ethic is more deterministic than inherited, but it sure is impressive. The lush foods beings served in the subway-based Michelin starred joint make the whole thing feel introspectively romantic. 8/10
Newsflash: We’ve Sent a Man on the Moon
- First Man (2018): While thoroughly competent and beautifully shot, Damien Chazelle’s newest pic shows too much restraint in retelling a very familiar story to be memorable. To its merit (and also causing some controversy), Chazelle painted the valiant effort in putting a man on the moon with little focus on the nationalistically driven space race. It’s mankind’s achievement, not the real-life equivalent of Rocky IV. Alas, whereas you can easily be appreciative of the subtle nuances that place FM above a pandering Michael Bay-esque trip to the moon, it’s not as easy to become immersed in it. 7/10
The Wild 70s
- Roma (2018): One of the highlights of this year’s awards season is certain to be Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. Chronicling the turmoil of the early 70s in Mexico, it provides a thoughtful approach of considerable depth by cross-pollinating the personal with the political. It’s the perspective most of us have on life, as we traverse it with our own joys and fears, merely glancing at most of the wider socio-political issues of our era. The story here is anchored by Cleo, the maid of a middle class family (so IMDb claims, I’d have thought it was at least upper-middle class) in Mexico, whose stoicism in the face of adversity is thoroughly endearing and profoundly humanistic. While class is definitely a topic in Roma, the film dares to claim that it can be transgressed by humanism, with people being people on a day to day basis, not primarily warriors of class welfare. And as soon as you detach yourself from people and attach yourself to ideas, life has a tendency to take on dark undertones. 8/10