Movies of the Week #31 (2020)

My Name is Tanino (2002): Way before Paolo Virzi did La pazza gioia (2016) or Il capitale umano (2013), he directed My Name is Tanino, a movie that stands out as being the feature film debut of Rachel McAdams. However, it also stands out as a meandering story of becoming for its lead, the young and carefree Tanino (Corrado Fortuna), whose adventures border on the ridiculous, but are always entertaining. The movie feels raw at times because of this, not particularly balanced, yet encapsulating the potential fully unleashed in La pazza gioia. Fun times. 7/10

Yes, God, Yes (2019): Set at a catholic school, Karen Maine’s movie follows Alice (Natalia Dyer) as she confronts her nascent sexual desires. With all the repression you would expect of catholic dogma re: sex, it’s a real guilt trip for good, old Alice, who also has to deal with malicious rumors and being pretty much an outsider. While not breaking new ground, the understated story, interestingly set in the early days of the internet, (i.e. when Yahoo was still relevant), manages to stand out thanks to how well it sets common sense apart from hypocrisy. 7/10

Mr. Jones (2019): With incredible highs and terribly dull lows, Mr. Jones is an uneven, if interesting study of the early 1930s and the political game behind Russia rise as a continental power. It’s very much an old-school movie for the most part, meaning it won’t surprise you much, but the quality of the execution is impressive. Then it gets unexpectedly brutal as Mr. Jones travels to the Ukrainian countryside, to discover the unfathomable resources that were consumed to allow the growth of the communist empire. Unfortunately, it’s too often that Agnieszka Holland’s movie feels unfocused and routine, making the whole less than the sum of its parts. Still quite watchable. 7/10

Mystic Pizza (1988): In one of the first movie done by Julia Roberts, featuring Matt Damon’s on screen (single scene) debut, Mystic Pizza tells the story of three childhood friends facing various forks in their individual roads. What it does great is manage to define the set of feelings you might get in the last days before your life will change forever, thanks to its excellent leads as well (Roberts, Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor). I wasn’t as swept by their romantic troubles, the morality behind them, which often distracted from the bigger choices the girls/women had to make and ultimately lacked any and all emotional heft. So while it will work up your appetite, Mystic Pizza is short on mystique. 6/10

7500 (2019): If you’re up for a tense movie about terrorists on a plane, 7500 might just be what you’re looking for. It’s a cookie-cutter story that manages to get your blood rushing and your ass squirming in your chair, particularly in the first 2/3 of the movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt conveys a palpable humanity to his character, co-pilot Tobias Ellis, which goes a long way to covering the cracks in the overly familiar themes director and co-writer Patrick Vollrath tackles. Unfortunately, the last half hour loses steam and the movie goes out on more of a whimper than a bang, which is why 7500 is more of a genre piece, than a straightforward recommendation. 6/10