Movie of the Week #36-37 (2021)

CODA (2021): Not sure why I have a bit of a fascination with movies portraying the deaf community – while sometimes crude in their depiction, they tend to charm me. CODA does a heck of a job at that – being charming – as it tells the story of Ruby, the only hearing person in her deaf family. The plot may be familiar, as she spends her working days helping out her brother and father in making a living out of fishing, while contemplating the possibility of going to college. But it’s the details and the particularities that make CODA stand out, with a several memorable scenes that strike a chord and paint a touching, distinctive family portrait. 8

One False Movie (1992): I wonder how it’s possible that I had not seen this Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton’s movie of the early 90s. The core duo is well complemented by Cynda Williams and Michael Beach, as they all tell a classic story of petty criminals turned bad. It’s not as spicy as it could have been, but it weaves an interesting plot and treats its characters with a healthy dose of development so that you end up caring a smidge for them. 7

Werewolves Within (2020): What’s up with all these clever werewolves-themed movies? After The Wolf of Snow Hollow and Scare Me, we’ve got this little cutie – and, to be fair, both Scare Me and Werewolves Within were directed by Josh Ruben, so it’s not just a universal convergence around the theme. In this one, we’ve got a small town of people which looks strikingly similar to the country of people it is set in – the US of A. It’s Agatha Christie-esque at times, while never taking itself overly serious, which makes for an entertaining allegory of our crazy world. 7

The Night House (2020): An unusual horror-mystery, Rebecca Hall anchors what might otherwise have been a terribly unfocused movie. It’s still unfocused, but tolerably so, as it tells of Beth, recently widowed after her husband committed suicide. Living at a beautiful house, which is unfortunately a bit haunted, Beth discovers that there was more to said suicide than meets the eye and after everything unravels, I felt…disappointed. TNH misses the opportunity to hammer home a smooth critique of some particular male obsessions, going too far out on the supernatural. Thankfully, it’s a very well executed movie, with sparse, but solid scares and a great performance that one can root for. 7

Worth (2020): It feels like there haven’t been quite as many movies about 9/11 as you would have expected, the topic, perhaps, still too raw to touch even by Hwood’s standards. In Netflix’s Worth, we get to relive the unpleasant experience of pricing lives as part of the Victim’s Compensation Fund – set up, in part, to protect the airlines et al vulnerable to paying damages after the attacks. Ken Feinberg (Michael Keaton), who was designated special master of the project, is challenged to transform from the lawyer behind the scenes trying to muster up some objectivity in the process to the empathetic human being capable to recognizing that the whole thing is about more than just money. It’s pretty much what you’d expect of a Netflix production, with high value, targeting very familiar themes and lacking nuance. Director Sara Colangelo manages to find a balance and keep the affair moving along at a reasonable pace, while emphasizing the individuality of the victims – something that easily goes amiss in big-picture-solution-finding. So, all in all, a pretty decent watch. 7