Movies of the Week #10 (2019)

When ComRom Becomes RomCom

  • Isn’t It Romantic (2019): In this meta-romcom, Natalie’s life is quite average, when a bump on the head suddenly turns it into, you guessed it, a romcom! So imagine all the tropes being milked shamelessly in what is ultimately a mildly amusing affair, thanks to the talented cast and the occasional sample of wit. It doesn’t go far enough though to subvert the genre or be truly incisive, which is why IIR only goes beyond a passing grade. 6/10

Das Russian Boot

  • Kursk (2018): I somehow remember the news storm around the Kursk disaster rather well. I’m not sure why it struck me so at the time, when I was in my early teens, hearing about this nuclear sub and the age-old Russian reflexes in placing life second to intrigue and politics. A freshly minted Putin didn’t bother returning from holiday, while the submarine lay on the floor of the Barents Sea, seemingly so close, yet out of reach. The movie does little justice to the story, trying to stitch together a maudlin drama, with the odd interlude of one-dimensional politicking. Factually off in order to sustain a familiar narrative arc, the Kursk works while on the submarine, but is a total sinker outside of it. 5/10

Spider-pig, Spider-pig…

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Finally, a superhero movie winning an Oscar for something other than technical excellence! With an unexpected change of pace, the newest Spider-Man is surprisingly fun. In this take, a rift in the space-time continuum (or something) allows various Spider-Man characters to enter the same universe, where they have to both stop a villain from destroying the world (shocker), as well as induct a new Spider-Man to the job. Balanced just right, the movie shines through its creative visuals, which compensate for the blander moments of storytelling. Do watch, if you have even the slightest appreciation of the genre. 8/10

When Chocolate Labs Aren’t Enough For You

  • Pick of the Litter (2018): If you’re looking for a thoroughly endearing documentary with good odds for making you cry, then give PotL a try. It follows five pups which are being trained to become Guide Dogs for the Blind, an affair that’s harsher than you might expect. While not always compelling, the whole thing is a successful foray into a story I would never have come across otherwise. 7/10

Romeo, Juliet and All the Rest

  • If Beale Street Could Talk (2018): Odds are, you’ve seen this story many times, centering around the prejudice against African Americans in the modern United States. Beale Street tells it in a different light, an intimately romantic one of a middle class family forced to resort to all reasonable means available to it, in order to save the to-be-groom of their daughter from prison for a crime he did not commit. Director Barry Jenkins (of Moonlight fame) finds the sweet spot once more, in a tale of suffering and hopelessness, managing, somehow, to go beyond it all and find the human thread of hope. While the narrative isn’t without fault, the cinematic experience is pretty special, enough to warrant a strong recommendation, especially for those capable of coping with slow burners. 8/10