Movies of the Week #14 #15 (2019)

The Kitsch, the Horror

Aquaman (2018): Rarely have I had the chance to dislike a superhero movie as much as I disliked Aquaman. The kitschy costumes, the numerous braindead characters, their undiscerning sobriety, the ridiculous lesser villain, the pathetic main villain, the tired fight scenes, the trigger-happy editing, the run-time, almost everything about the movie irked me. Jason Momoa was the only slight positive in the whole thing, but not even he managed to make the affair tolerable. Big boos from me. 4/10

Murder, He Wrote

Reversal of Fortune (1990): A true-to-life “making a murderer” before murderers were made, starring Glenn Close, Ron Silver and Jeremy Irons. It’s the story of Claus von Bulow, accused of attempting to kill his wife – who lies in a deep coma as the movie begins. Mr. von Bulow is not a likable man, which makes for an exciting story and the perfect role for Irons, who ended up winning the Academy Award for best Actor. It is, indeed, his performance that makes the most out of this movie, an otherwise well executed drama with a good tempo. 8/10

Love and War

Frantz (2016): For Francois Ozon, Frantz is a tame movie – tame in the best ways possible: a quiet and soulful reflection on life and death, on national prejudice and the willingness to believe the unlikely, as long as it creates coherence in our lives. In post WW1 Germany, a Frenchman appears, mourning a fallen soldier, as he tries to contact the man’s family. The movie twists and turns in various introspective ways, thanks to a couple of fleshed out characters and Ozon’s deft touch at creating emotion. A good time, most definitely. 8/10

The Portrait of Oscar Wilde

The Happy Prince (2018): If you’re up for a more depressing drama, do check out Rupert Everett’s lovechild, this retelling of Oscar Wilde’s tragic demise. The events of the movie occur mostly after his two years in prison, as he had been sentenced for sodomy, gross indecency – and being the pompous fool that he was. “Tragic” is, indeed, a word that’s justly used in this case, with Wilde slumming it penniless around Paris, as a couple of his friends try to give him a lifeline, which e refuses to embrace. The movie’s bleakness is also its weak point, as Everett fails to find a balance, relying solely on the larger-than-life persona of Oscar Wilde. It’s a good bet, but not at the best of odds. 7/10

Cheese Louise!

Green Book (2018): It’s amazing how a Hallmark level story managed to propel a banal feel-good movie into the position of a Best Picture winner – not to mention a Best Original Screenplay winner! It’s the performances of Ali and Mortensen that elevate Green Book out of the cushy, boring place that its story corners it into. The movie is such a predictable, melodramatic tale of two characters that feel fantastically artificial for the fact that the whole thing comes out of a true story, that its success baffles me. Alas, it’s not the first, nor with it be the last time that the Oscars make no sense to me.6/10

Movies of the Week #13 (2019)

Caught Offside?

  • Mario (2018): There are few places where homosexuality goes under the radar more than in professional football. The reasons for that are easily identifiable and Mario does the work to tick most of them. It’s a movie that portrays the football part surprisingly well, setting the story with a real-life backdrop – even if the actors barely look like pro players. Their chemistry works, which is why Mario churns out a tender story of love within the familiar frame of almost-cliched obstacles. I would argue it does the job well, making for a respectable flick, worth its time. 7/10

Nerd Alert

  • Prospect (2018): Indie sci-fis have become quite the spectacles nowadays. After last year’s Annihilation, a very high-brow approach, comes a movie with a similar feel but a lower-brow, if I may say so. Its strengths lie both in the visuals it creates, as well as its main characters – the silver tongued Ezra (Pedro Pascal) and the determined Cee (Sophie Thatcher). In between Pascal’s cheekiness and Thatcher’s reticence blossoms a strong bond, which carries the movie up until the end, when it begins to feel a bit tired – the movie, that is. Ultimately, a thoroughly enjoyable affair. 7/10

Music + Natalie Portman = Love

  • Vox Lux (2018): A big mashup of themes and tones, Vox Lux almost succumbs to its own weight. Thankfully, a late bravado performance from Natalie Portman rekindles the movie’s fading pulse, in this portrayal of school-shooting-victim-turned-child-pop-star-turned-a-wreck-of-an-adult-pop-star. Parts of the story and its characters are stereotypical, yet director/writer Corbet still manages to put in the extra something that elevates the experience beyond its tonal disharmony. 7/10

It Won’t Jump Scare You

  • Us (2019): Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out is every bit as unnerving and entertaining. Starring the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elizabeth Moss, it takes a fairly abstract literal premise (everyone’s shadow is out for revenge) and turns it into a coherent social commentary about the structural effects caused by the access (and lack thereof) to fundamental social amenities. The powerful mirroring game works on several levels, which is what makes Us not only smart, but fun as well, in spite of the odd leaps of faith it asks of the viewer. 8/10

The Slow Burn of Your Dream Job

  • Personal Shopper (2016): It’s fun to see both former Twilight stars, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, take on some really exciting art-house productions. After her previous team-up with Olivier Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), was well received – and rightfully so – Stewart has doubled down with a role that’s both difficult and engaging in equal measure. Her performance is at the core of why Personal Shopper turns out to be a good movie, as Stewart overcomes some of the jarring shifts in tone that Assayas goes for. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but a distinctive take on solitude and grief. 7/10