Movies of the Week #16 (2019)

When Dealing Lands You in Prison

25th Hour (2002): I am always fearful of re-examining the movies I loved while growing up. This Spike Lee ‘joint’ bears the usual excesses of the director, as he portrays the last day of freedom for Monty Brogan (Ed Norton). It’s out of these excesses that the movie grows, submerging the affair in an intensely colourful drama about family and friends. Funnily enough, I thought Norton was the lesser of his co-stars, with Berry Pepper, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson and Bryan Cox outshining his heavily restrained performance. The poetic ending got to me a lot, with its introspective foray into the choices one makes in life, which is part of the reason why I’ve always had a special place in my heart for 25th Hour. Still do. 9/10

P.S. Based on the novel and adapted to the screen by David Benioff (of Game of Thrones fame), can you believe that?

When Dealing Lands You in Rehab

Ben is Back (2018): A heavy drama about a son who returns home for the holidays during a stint in drug rehab, Ben is Back is well acted, well executed, but just too burdensome to be really worthwhile. Starring Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (and directed by, hey!, Peter Hedges), what the movie does well is to portray this unraveling of the picture-perfect-son as seen through the eyes of his mother. What it does less well is engage the viewer as it drifts through the second and third acts. 6/10

When Just Dealing in Front of a VHS Store

Clerks (1994): Famous and infamous, Clerks feels like a movie that would have no place in the 21st century. It’s a male-centricity is mostly amusing, without turning into blatant chauvinism, and the manner in which Kevin Smith treads this thin line is presumably why the movie has survived for so long. Taking the time to look at the lives of a couple of clerks, it’s an uneven first feature, with some really funny bits and quips, as well as some tedious, or even cringey attempts at humour – or, even worse, relevance. That being said, I enjoyed it. 7/10

When Dealing in Emotional Baggage

The Perfect Date (2019): The Netflix movie-making machine churns on and on, with TPD among its latest productions. In the spirit of its previous teen movies (To All The Boys I Loved Before, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, etc.), TPD creates a scenario in which a teenage boy acts as a stand-in for girls who need a date, need advice or need to horrify their parents, in order to earn the money he needs to study at Yale. If you take it seriously, you risk causing a dangerous, even fatal brain swelling. Instead, try to enjoy the chemistry between Noah Centino and Laura Marano and you might just indulge in the silliness of this rom-com. 6/10

When Just Dealing With It All

Catastrophe (2015-2019): I’m making an exception here and jotting some lines about TV material, as one of my favourite shows came to an end earlier this year. Few TV series do a better job than Catastrophe in collapsing the craziness of relationship life into a half-an-hour, six-episode-a-season format. Actually, I don’t know of any. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan created and starred in the show, alongside an excellent supporting cast, which adds all the missing flavours to a “catastrophic” leading couple. In fairness, the title is a bit of a misnomer, as Rob and Sharon’s relationship is not that different to what you would expect most relationships to be like – and that’s part of the fun of it. Their wit and snarkiness, their aspirations and disappointments, their unforgiving bluntness, it all makes for a picture-imperfect image of the clusterf**k most relationships are. Bottom line being: it’s all a matter of choices. 9/10