Movies of the Week #38 (2021)

Schumacher (2021): The docu takes us from Michael’s financially-stricken youth to his first title for Ferrari, before fast-forwarding through the next ten+ years. It makes some sense, because most of the strong feelings F1 fans have toward him were shaped in those early years, but it also highlights how ineffective it can be to distill both the racer and the person in under two hours. The wider focus on just telling as much of the story as possible would have been helped by picking-and-choosing key moments and honing in on their details, making for more memorable story-telling. Full review here. 7

No Man of God (2021): I guess if we don’t have Mindhunter any more, we should be grateful for anything we get, right? To be fair, it’s not hard to be grateful for NMoG, even if the movie never really takes off. The dynamic between Bill Hagamaier and Ted Bundy, the latter played particularly well by Luke Kirby, is entertaining, but lacks any stake. As a character portrait, it stays too close to the surface and isn’t helped by the chronological leaps for us to generate some emotion. What is well painted is the conundrum of how one might detach the mass murderer from the obviously clever guy that Bundy was – one of us, as he’d have liked to believe. So, all in all, a pretty decent movie. 7

The Rainmaker (1997): Legal dramas have kinda gone out of season, presumably because movies don’t consider they need the formal platform to promote/defend/criticize one cause or another. I’ve always liked them, legal dramas, with all their twists and turns and objections. The John Grisham adaptation pits rookie Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) against veteran Leo F. Drummond (Jon Voight), with a fraudulent insurance case in the crosshairs. It’s the age old situation of the little guy taking on the big corpo-world, in a fairly interesting movie that felt sloppily put together. To my complete surprise, it was directed by F.F. Coppola, so not sure how to explain this away. Thankfully, some sharp performances keep us sheltered from these…artistic distractions. 7

Sentimental (2020): It’s not A Marriage Story, but it never aims to be. Instead, Sentimental (aka The People Upstairs), written and directed by the inspired Cesc Guy, provides a clever set-up (a neighbourly visit) that allows for both laughs and somber reflection. Watching Javier Camara at work is always pleasurable and the strong cast around him (Griselda Siciliani, Belén Cuesta, Alberto San Juan) guarantees that the movie will entertain. Playing around with the many facets of couple life, Sentimental creates familiar characters and forces them to face an unfamiliar situation. It could happen to any of us, couldn’t it? 7

Kate (2021): Kate is another sample of Netflix doing what it does best, a middling movie with solid execution that’s too reliant on formula. Our titular character, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is a hitman who has only one day left to live and one mission left to finish – only it’s not the mission she thinks! So toss in a bit of John Wick, a bit of Leon, a whacky, expletive-riddled teenager, a phoned in plot-twist and you’re in business. Even though there are some obvious shortcoming to Kate (did I mention it’s unusually violent?), I couldn’t help but enjoy the neon look and feel of the movie. So it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. 6