Movies of the Week #23 #24 (2019)

Horror turns classical mush-fest

The Perfection (2018): While the movie boasts some cool visuals with strong musical backdrops, it’s farther off from perfection than it probably desires. (Some spoilers ahead) After a promising and thoroughly sexy set-up, it swerves into explanatory flashback territory (a big no-no) before going into full revenge porn mode. Unimaginative twists and a cultish, cliched antagonistic force did little to redeem the latter part of the thing, which is held up by the aforementioned cinematography. Such a shame. 5/10

Hold my phone

Den skyldige (2018): The much acclaimed Danish movie is a strong and mostly successful take on the Phone Booth (2002) model, but even more minimalistic. It succeeds wonderfully in creating tension and offering good depth to its protagonist, a police officer on alarm duty who happens upon a kidnapping. The guy oversteps his responsibilities in a (sometimes) frustratingly reckless manner, with consequences both expected and unexpected. It all tied up too nicely by the end, but conjuring this kind of tension from a story that unfolds within two rooms is an impressive feat. 7/10

AKA school and teachers

Stockholm (2018): A good trailer got me excited about Stockholm, an interpretive re-imagining of the bank heist that lead to the unearthing of the so-called Stockholm syndrome. Unfortunately, Robert Budreau’s story isn’t as explosive as I was led to believe, as it fails to really work the ‘kidnapped-but-thoroughly-charmed’ angle, with characters that puzzlingly lack charisma. Although a mere 92 minutes, it felt long and tired, rarely offering anything remotely memorable. 5/10

” Announcin’ your plans is a good way to hear god laugh.

Deadwood (2019): After more than a decade’s worth of delays, the Deadwood movie has finally seen the light of day. In a rather masterful composition, show creator David Milch manages to really synthesize what the show stood for, to refresh the characters we’ve always known and to wriggle everything around a story that proves both familiar and surprising. Some things change, most things don’t – that seems to be the motto to go by here. Indeed, I felt terribly old, thinking back on the Deadwood days of 2006. Since then, technology has rampantly changed the way in which we lead our lives, something that the movie touches upon heavily and poetically; the old Shakespearian wit of the Wild West is stronger than ever in the mouths of Al, Bullock and co. That being said, this is definitely an experience for the already initiated, as it lacks the run-time to properly expand upon its characters, their motivations and, particularly, their relationships. 8/10

Not great, but not terrible (jk, jk!)

Chernobyl (2019): Cheating a bit here to include HBO’s mini-series on my list. Ridiculously popular by now, the true story of the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl reactor nr. 4 is a riveting piece of film-making, that could have done with more nuance in key points. The first episode is pure poetry to me, a menacing tale of horror that crawls under your skin without any excesses or cheap stunts. The immensity of the situation, the stunted flow of information, the near-philosophical degree of indoctrination make for a great opening salvo. It remains interesting throughout the series, as we unfold the human drama, the systemic failures, the political weightlifting. Alas, the degree of autonomy and opinionhood it bestows on some of its characters is out of place and off-putting, which ended up bothering me. That being said, it’s great to finally reveal part of the tales and myths surrounding Chernobyl and for it to be done so memorably is just a gift. 8/10

Movies of the Week #21 #22 (2019)

American Animals (2018): Based on a true story, AA approaches its heist story in an unusual manner – not only by recreating it, but also offering a documentary perspective from its protagonists. I wasn’t completely taken by it, because a clean docu or a clean interpretive movie would have felt tighter and produced a more immersive experience. What stuck with me is how well it recreated the panic and amateurism of the attempt, i.e. what a heist would probably look like if a fellow off the street had his go. It’s a shame that it didn’t fully stick with its guns. 6/10

Booksmart (2019): Olivia Wilde’s highly acclaimed debut feature has been called ‘the Breakfast Club of a new generation’. I get the parallel, because the movie really doubles down on fighting stereotypes and providing redeeming traits to most of its characters. While certain moments felt a tad contrived, the dynamic energy between leads Kaytlin Dever and Beanie Feldstein makes for a whole lot of fun to watch, in a coming-of-age tale that feels both familiar and new. Like most good things in life. 8/10

The Wife (2018): In spite of its less than exciting story, Jonathan Pryce and, particularly, Glenn Close make a real meal out of this one. Pryce plays a writer who stands to win the Nobel Prize, whereas Close is, you guessed it, the wife – and there’s more to her than meets the eye, too. The story tries to strike a balance between duty, love and justice, which it often does, sometimes pedantically so. Close’s magical touch ensures said balance is struck, in a wonderful performance well worth its praise. 7/10

Miami Blues (1990): Stepping into the 90s is always an adventure, but not many mainstream movies have the level of quirkiness to their characters that Miami Blues does. Starring Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Fred Ward, the story goes about its evil-doing protagonist with a lot of flair, as the man tries to get a (crummy) foothold into post-prison life. It sometimes feels like the movie isn’t trying really hard to make sense and be serious, yet everything falls into place by the end, with plenty odd moments just stuck in your mind. Nothing too ambitious, but different enough to stand out. 7/10

Always be My Maybe (2019): Netflix romcoms have become a dime a dozen and they all share from the essence of what makes romcoms work, but never really manage to go beyond the ‘somewhat enjoyable’. AbMM is no exception, with a likable leading duo, childhood friends/lovers who reunite after a decade long break, with their lives in vastly different places. Yet, nothing seems to really matter, it’s all just a question of when specific things happen. Sure, there’s enough personality to fill your chuckles, with an excellent celebrity guest-scene making for a fun distraction. 6/10