Movies of the Weeks #34 #35 (2019)

The Sword of Trust (2019): There’s a lot going for this kooky little comedy – an eccentric plot, characters heavy on the quirks, biting dialogue and an absolutely spot-on cast. It all makes for a thoroughly amusing minor cinematic entry. The gist: Cynthia and Mary need to handle Cynthia’s inheritance from her recently deceased grandfather, an antique sword…that supposedly proves the South won the Civil War. So they head over to Mel’s pawn shop and, as it so happens, they stumble across a group of firm believers that think, indeed, the South did win the war. It’s as absurd as flat-earthers and vaccine-deniers, but you know they exist, so…yeah, give it a go, odds are it will surprise you. 7/10

Pet Sematary (2019): I guess you can call me a Stephen King fan, even if I haven’t read a King book in years. But it was his books that got me started into anything resembling literature, before the likes of Harry Potter took over my teenage years. Pet Sematary is still on my (endless) to-read list, but I did give the movie a go. In the pantheon of SK cinematic adaptations, this one is quite middle of the road – it gave me some definite chills, but never really captured the grizzly tragedy that it portrays. The gist: a family’s cat dies and the friendly neighbour shows the pater familias a way to revive said cat. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t a good idea. If the movie had gotten this bit about the desire for a second chance better, maybe it would have stood an improved chance at succeeding. Or if it had spent more time in fleshing out the relationship between its characters. Alas, it keeps things simple, which is mostly fine, but rarely memorable. 6/10

I Am Mother (2019): After a promising start, I Am Mother still has a few tricks up its sleave, but never really brings the heat. In a post-apocalyptic world, a robot designed to repopulate humanity rears and educates a young girl. The nature of the apocalypse is left ambiguous, which is fine, even if the later twists and turns are only moderately convincing. There are several underlying themes to IAM, conceptually interesting, that somehow feel like they’ve been trimmed of their complexity. This sanitized feel is equaled by the movie’s sanitized look, as well as some less than convincing effects in the later stages. So while it may leave you pondering some bigger questions, IAM fails in its nuances to bring forth a wholly believable and engaging tale. 6/10

Confessions (2010): The Japanese cult classic is definitely a memorable movie, even if it stretches belief at many turns. It’s a story of revenge, of our darkest impulses and the raw selfishness of the “unformed” adult, that does a lot visually to create a specific and enthralling mood. However, it’s also a movie of excesses, both narrative and stylistic, which end up doing the whole a disservice – even if they can be tolerated. What worked really well was this sense it conveyed of being set in the present, yet concomitantly showing a vision of the future, a strong paradox to work with, which helps in mediating its lack of maturity. Definitely not something for the squeamish, but, in the very least, memorable. 7/10

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019): Everyone and their creepy uncle is excited about Tarantino’s latest, a semi-historical romp in the golden age of Hollywood. With his usual flair and slow-building character sequences, Tarantino puts together another solid entry, potentially even a top-three contender – clearly behind the unattainable heights of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. With Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, an era of the glorified man-actor-creature is ridiculed and eulogized at the same time and it feels just about right, for the most part. The odd sequences does straddle the line of being completely derivative, but in its imaginative narrative composition, Tarantino offers something just that little bit different. With its star studded cast (so strong is the man’s halo, established actors will come in to play extras) and an over-the-top-finale, Once Upon a Time might only be the third best Once Upon a Time (after “in the West” and “in America”), but it’s a delicious dish regardless. 8/10