Movies of the Week #20 (2018)

Don’t forget to check out the podcast if you want to hear my simmering voice.

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Brrrrains

  • The Cured (2018): Here’s a slightly fresh take for the zombie inside all of us – a post-apocalyptic world with cured ‘infected’, who fail to reintegrate into society. A very timely allegory to whatever we’ve been living through these last few years. Unfortunately, the movie features an unconvincing antagonist, even if he is well suited to represent the kind of populist, vindictive attitudes that plague us. Moreso than the antagonist being unsuited, it’s his initial shift that felt unconvincing. Everything afterwards was too predictable for its own good, making the movie feel like a bit of drag. Add to that the fact that I just can’t see Ellen Page playing a mother with a seven year old son (I know, how petty of me) and you have a mixed bag to deal with. 6/10

In a world with no sense of humor

  • The Clapper (2017): Poor Ed Helms playing alongside poor Amanda Seyfried in this emotionally stunted drama/comedy was one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in movies this year. Not that either Helms or Seyfried are acting powerhouses, but they’re likable enough to make you feel for them – well, not in this one. The Clapper takes a vaguely interesting idea and takes it nowhere: a guy who earns his living by being an audience member for infomercials hits trouble when he gets ‘found’ by a regional, low-frills talk-show that ruins his claim for anonymity.  The story goes from interesting to lame in the blink of an eye, because director/writer Dito Montiel is satisfied with a lazy, lazy script and some digs at the sensationalism of low-frills TV. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. So yeah, do yourselves a favor and avoid it. 3/10

Art. Artist. A(r)therosclerosis.

  • Final Portrait (2017): Can mere mortals say where the line is between artistic process and artistic whimsy? Stanley Tucci’s movie about  Alberto Giacometti makes a big wager on ‘no’. It feels almost like a caricature, rooted in the artist’s  insatiability for the irreconcilable: he is happy only when he is truly anguished, he is most doubtful when he is most successful and, naturally, he is incapable of ever truly finishing an artistic ‘gesture’. While derivative at times, there are glimpses of affectionate irony in Giacometti’s portrayal, a found cause looking to be lost, that concludes with a very suitable send-off. Sure, it’s not the most exciting piece of film-making ever made, but it has personality, which is always a good stand-in, especially in the acting hands of Geoffrey Rush. 8/10

Implants

  • Zoom (2015): Just one of those movies that have been on my watch-list for a million years (i.e. maximum three), Pedro Morelli’s Zoom is a visually creative, narratively ambitious and thematically underwhelming experience that does enough to be recommended – especially for the geek brigade. Half live-action feature, half animation, this story within a story tackles prejudices and expectations stemming from body issues. It juggles one character/layer too many to be a truly solid movie with enough time to say something pertinent about life. This hints at the limited experience of director Morelli and screenwriter Hansen, but there’s promise to them nonetheless.

Movies of the Week #19 (2018)

One of my very, very busy friends complained he had no time to read the copious amounts of review materials I post here weekly. So I obliged and provided a podcast:
https://soundcloud.com/user-157068900/motw19

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What about Manchester?

  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2018): An old-school affair of romance between an aging star and an up and coming actor, the movie lives and breathes thanks to its leading couple, Anette Bening and Jamie Bell. It might not be the most original story ever told, but the care with which it treats its characters pays off – a key factor in the pleasurable viewing of such a genre film. I’m not a sucker for true stories, as they usually either end up ruining a good movie for being true to life, but not to film, or the other way around, that they get massaged so much to fit a movie, that there’s but a husk of veracity left to them. Luckily,  given my complete ignorance as to who Gloria Grahame was, it wasn’t much of a factor in this one. 7/10

A Pirate I was meant to be…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017): I had given up on Pirates a long time ago, ever since the first sequel. Having missed some of the action since then, I just stumbled across DMTNT on TV and was bored enough to watch it. The movie was about midway through the plot at that point and was mostly uninspired, yet tolerable. When I had the chance to watch the first hour of this thing, I had more to regret, because there’s nothing in it worth remembering. The franchise feels so stale at this point, that no undead pirate anywhere in the world could make it fresh again. Honestly, the only thing that made the first movie stand out was Johnny Depp’s comedic vigour and the way it reminded me of the game Monkey Island. Since then, it’s only gone downhill and were it not for the craploads of cash that it absurdly still rakes in, I’d see no reason for its continued survival. 4/10

Where’s Denny Crane when you need him?

  • L’insulte (2017): The Lebanese film, nominated for Best Foreign Picture, starts as a character-driven drama with political and social undertones, before becoming a full blown court-room spectacle, completely devoid of finesse. The co-leads, between whom a dispute arises due to some charged insults being thrown around, are played convincingly by Adel Karam and Kamel el Basha. The parts of the movie featuring them have a very humanistic quality. All the rest, meaning the trial, feels like an ostentatious, heavy-handed history lesson. And I usually like my history lessons light-handed. 6/10

For moments when the world just sucks

  • Some Freaks (2016): This high-school/college drama takes on fetishes and stigmas relating to body-issues, in a tale of misfits that ends up wallowing in self-pity. That’s perhaps harsh, because there are moments which manage to capture the painful truth of wanting to belong, as well as the trauma of being confronted with the abusive social conglomeration of young adulthood. The problem lies with the fact that Ian MacAllister McDonald’s characters all appear to deserve an extra dollop of existential despair, which tips the balance towards the wallowing. It’s a bit of a shame, because this overarching, irreconcilable sadness ends up clobbering the viewer. I was left with the desire to run away in the last half-hour or so, with all the petty, hurtful acts of meanness and duplicity overwhelming me. But that’s on me, right? Ultimately the movie stuck to me, which is why it gets the MoTW distinction and a 7/10.

But you know who sleeps? I do. Sometimes.

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010): I guess it’s been almost a decade since the release of this sequel, a sequel which I mostly appreciated at the time. The original was quite the hit in its day, although for reasons I no longer discern, my rating of it was nothing to write home about. The case is similar with Wall Street II, a movie that already feels dated. However, I enjoyed chunks of it and I especially liked the soundtrack, Brian Eno and David Byrne’s music being put to very good use here. The story wants bridge generations and to provide some insights regarding the financial crisis of the late 2000s. The fact that the movie was shot while still in the midst of it leads to half-assed choices, band-wagoning of green tech and a rushed, totally underwhelming ending. Maybe I’d rate it worse now, but I hold stubbornly firm to my initial grade, a 7/10, thanks to the solid cast and some memorable one-liners. #wheresthebitcointhemedsequeltothis

Movies of the Week #18 (2018)

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Road trip!

  • Kodachrome (2018): Unfortunately, Kodachrome is an uneven affair, with moments of genuine emotion undone by sloppy craftsmanship. The father-son relationship is equally imperfect, but at least it anchors the film somewhat, thanks to the performance Ed Harris brings to the table. The relationship between the son and the father’s nurse, on the other hand, is cliched and wholly unsatisfying. I’m not sure Jason Sudeikis is made for these slow-burning roles, because they don’t provide the snarky wit that suits him best. Kodachrome falling short saddens me, because it felt so close to putting together a solid movie. 6/10

The solitude of sheep

  • God’s Own Country (2017): There’s a very sweet gentility to a movie set, contrastingly, in the harshness of farming life. Francis Lee’s first major motion picture is rightly praised as one of the most significant LGBT films of recent years, but it succeeds regardless of sexual conviction. Its protagonist leads a frustrated, emotionally sterile country life with no avenue for escape, before the foreigner arrives to show him there are other ways to do it. At its core, GOW is a love story that peddles affection, which has gone amiss amongst the rough expectations attached to small, family owned farms. It works, however, on all kinds of levels, as we become witnesses to the power of example, care and commitment. A strong cinema outing, that’s for sure. 8/10

The soon-to-be second highest grossing movie in history

  • The Avengers: Infinity War (2018): You know me by now, I’m not the biggest fan of superhero franchises. They have all become a bit of a blur and Infinity War epitomizes that, with a plethora of characters, constant blow-uppery and a massive dramatic arc. However, it also proves an entertaining, might I say ’emotional’ journey, towards the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. If only there wasn’t this sense that it’s, really, just smoke and that the consequences can only be those that don’t hurt the bottom line – let’s see if the screenwriters are telling the truth here (spoilers!).  The Avengers, like most superhero melanges, are doomed to some form of mediocrity, which is not to say that a mediocre story can’t be appealing. For what it’s worth, my expectations were slightly surpassed and I was left with the image of a devastated teenage girl a few seats away from me, overwhelmed by what she had witnessed. Seriously, it’s that rough. 7/10

On a quiet Thursday evening

  • Most Likely to Murder (2018): I ended up watching this because I sort of tolerate Adam Pally and am a big fan of Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. There’s nothing fancy about the story, in which Billy, an a-hole poser, returns to his home town, where nobody really cares for him because he’s an a-hole, a reality he fails to grasp. When it turns out the former high-school dork is now a well respected member of the community, who also happens to be dating the girl our lead a-hole deserted years back, Billy starts suspecting he is hiding something. While not a total waste of time, the movie tries to defy convention and it only turns out to be underwhelming, because it feels like there’s no proper ending to it. Empathizing with a-holes who end up seeing the light is rarely entertaining, nor truly revealing. Also, that title? Who thought it was a good idea? 5/10

Outlander, the animated movie

  • Brave (2012): Another animation movie that proves to be a tame affair, which has one thing going for it, that there were no ridiculously high expectations attached to it. You have your princess who refuses to bow to her mother’s demands of marrying on cue, then thinks it’s a good idea to curse her mother in changing her mind. This whole plot takes forty minutes to unfold and is mostly uninteresting, but vaguely amusing at times. The next twenty minutes or so actually peaked my interest, because changing her mother’s mind happened in a completely unexpected manner. Sadly, it wound down to the formulaic in the end, with neat lessons to be laid out before us. I guess the animation saves the experience, because it’s easy on the eye and the Scottish-ness of is absurdly, insensitively funny. 6/10

Laugh on cue

  • Game Night (2018): For me, Game Night was just one of those perfect little comedies: great cast, lotsa film references and an over-the-top plot filled with twists. Sure, the twists were fairly predictable, with gaping plot-holes around, but the execution was top notch. No surprise there, as the movie stars the likes of Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemons and the lovely Sharon Horgan of CatastropheI’m not even a fan of game nights – if anything, I’m the hater – because I can neither disconnect, nor truly enjoy them. But the movie let me do both and half-way through it I was laughing my head off. I guess it’s a bit like Horrible Bosses, just better. 8/10

Movies of the Weeks #16 #17 (2018)

I’ve been AWOL for a while, with a poor record to boot over these last two weeks. However, as you might have noticed, I made an important investment into the future of this blog, the future of cinema, dare I say, by purchasing a proper domain name. Yay to the Tributary. Long live the Stu.

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A proper teen-pregnancy deterrent

  • A Quiet Place (2018): If you’re looking for a nerve-wracking experience, this is it. AQP is an effective thriller/horror creature-feature, which shows a future world inhabited by some kind of beasts that kill anything that makes a sound. So, yeah, the world has become ‘a quiet place’, a nifty take contrasting to the noise levels of modern day life. We are shown three different time frames since ‘the beginning’, which helps in obfuscating most concerns that might lead to narrative and logical inconsistencies. The family angle works really well, thanks to a convincing cast and some universal familial concerns, but it’s the execution that sells it, with nailbiting, face-covering scenes tingling with impeding doom. Ending is not great, which surprisingly did not bother me too much. 8/10

And then there were…way too many?

  • Suicide Squad (2017): An incompetently written mess, Suicide Squad has the makings of a cool super-anti-hero blockbuster, but squanders its opportunities. There are a bunch of narrative head-scratchers in the plot and some terrible dialogue to go with underdeveloped, one-layered characters, but this could almost be ignored, were it not for the horrendously stupid villain trigger and the villain itself. Margot Robbie does a good job with Harley Quinn, as does Will Smith with Deadshot, but Jared Leto’s joker is overplayed, while all the other characters are mundane, irritating or both. So, yeah, disappointing, as everyone has already proclaimed long ago. 5/10

The Wolf of Cocaine Stuffed Submarines

  • Operation Odessa (2018): In one of those ‘too good to be true’ documentaries, Tiller Russell tracks down three…smugglers, who tried to sell a Russian submarine to the Columbian cartels for drug muling in the 90s. If that sounds preposterous, just watch the film, which boasts a lot of boasting, alongside expected and unexpected backstabbing. By the end of it you’re there asking yourself how the heck these guys are still alive. Snippets of the story of how this movie was even made can be found online, but as long as crazy Russians called Tarzan intrigue you, this is something that should not be passed up. 8/10

Too sweet for comfort

  • Coco (2017): I always worry about being too cynical, more so when I watch a feel-good movie that’s universally appreciated and simply feel underwhelmed. Coco is a sweet, little thing that’s just by the numbers for the most part and somehow just knows how to pull on your heart strings in the last fifteen minutes. The story of Miguel, aspiring singer in a family that despises music, has laboratory-grade uplifting material in it, as he learns to love his family and give up on his dreams. Just kidding, of course he gets to follow his dreams, because I’m just a grouchy, soon-to-be middle aged pseudo-critic and I am already nostalgic of days gone by, when a 97% rating on IMDb meant more than just Armond White dissenting. Or did it mean exactly that? Argh, just have it your way and watch Coco. 7/10

A bit of serious cinema for the week

  • Thelma (2017): I’m a bit of a fan of Joachim Trier’s – the only ‘good cinema Trier’, as I like to call him – having loved Reprise (2006). All of his movies since have been solid and Thelma falls in the same category. It’s a beautifully shot, visually compelling exploration of emotional chastisement (pretentious enough?). We get to know Thelma, a young girl, with a severely religious upbringing, who finds herself faced with the sexual ambiguity of university life. There’s quite a bit of Carrie (1976) in its DNA, but Trier goes beyond the sexual-religious dichotomy and encapsulates our struggle with desire, with understanding what we want and how to exert some control over who we are. Unfortunately, the finale is rather tame, lacking a proper punch that embraces the complexity of being and becoming, which is not to say that Thelma isn’t worth the time. It definitely is. 8/10

Movies of the Week #15 (2018)

Short on movies this week. Box looks sadly empty. HBO takes the second one in a row.

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Another one strikes against abuse

  • You Were Never Really Here (2017): The lauded Lynne Ramsay film starring Joaquin Phoenix has a bit of a Drive (2011) vibe, mixed in with a bit of Leon (1994). There’s nothing riveting about the story, as Phoenix’s character, a fixer, is hired to recover a kidnapped girl. Some political commentary, about big fish and little fish, finds its way into the movie, but it stands out thanks to the calculatedly fierce Phoenix, his young, ice-cold co-star Ekaterina Samsonov and through the way it plays its cards. It proved a more surprising experience than I expected, so I cannot but recommend it, even if it may not be everything you thought it would be. 8/10

And one about some American-Indian coop

  • Hostiles (2017): If you like your Christian Bale all frowny, then this movie was just made for you! Seriously though, Hostiles takes a while to get into and is best when its characters stay silent, which, thankfully, is a lot of the time. Set at the turn of the 19th century, “a legendary Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory” (IMDb). The movie is a contemplation of life and, mostly, death, and although it never reaches the depths one would have wanted, it works well enough to warrant a recommendation. Let’s be professional and say it’s for the cinematography and the costumes, when in actuality it’s for Bale’s mustache. 7/10

And one about American WWF culture. Or was it WWE?

  • Andre the Giant (2018): As anyone born in the (late) eighties, I was vaguely familiar with Andre the Giant – foremost because of his role in The Princess Bride (1987). I’m not even sure I knew he was a wrestler, because wrestling was never big around here and I’ve never taken to it much – I did recently watch Glow (2017) though! So in spite of this, Jason Hehir’s documentary proved to be unexpectedly emotional, a tender portrait of a person who seemingly had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and not even those broad shoulders could hold it. Andre was a stand out and Hehir frames him excellently, while also referring to a lot of nostalgia, not only for wrestling, but for a time when myth-building was more than an edition of the evening news. It transmits that uniquness, that sense of once in a lifetime, something that’s been devalued by ubiquitous availability. On some meta-level I question how much of the emotion was real, in the way in which I would question wrestling, but I guess as long as it feels real, it is real, right? 8/10

Movies of the Week #14 (2018)

It was really hard to pick a standout movie this week. Ultimately, my gut went with Paterno, although The Post is a more coherent affair, with the two even being tangentially related. But I simply refuse to promote ‘modern’ spielbergianism until it decides to take a chance at something other than itself.

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When rough is not rough enough

  • Rough Night (2017): Movies as deplorable as this are pretty rare. The first hour or so of Rough Night feels like a lesser version of The Hangover. The Hangover 3. Except that it’s driven by female ‘characters’ and stereotypes, wasting its perfectly capable cast. The latter half hour paradoxically becomes bearable and slightly entertaining, but not to the extent that it might ever be a movie you should waste any time on. 3/10

On having meddling opinions about others

  • The Intervention (2016): Clea DuVall’s directorial debut is a mostly inspired depiction of married life in your 30s. I might not be talking from experience, but I am talking from observation. A group of friends gathers to arrange an intervention on a married couple that’s having a hard time making life work. Naturally, all the interventionists have their own problems, deftly swept under the carpet, which come to bite them in the ass at one point or another. I enjoyed the conclusion, which refrains from neatly bow-wrapping the jig, even if it does take a fairly optimistic view of how quickly tears in the relationship wall can begin to heal. The movie never really takes on too much, which is why I don’t rate it higher, but for what it does and says, it does and says it well. 7/10

The controversy, the integrity, the been there, done that

  • The Post (2017): There’s something sadly anachronistic about Spielberg’s The Post. The movie looks at the moral imperative that news publishers had to write about the cover up leading to the Vietnam war. The problem with it is that this idea that a sole publisher might make the news is to some degree obsolete, in this heavily fragmented marketplace, where the truth has gone missing in between all the non-truth that’s floating around it. This relativization of news is what’s lacking and it makes The Post feel like an old-school movie, your usual by the numbers affair brought to you by Mr. S. Add to that the feminist angle brought by Post owner Kay Graham, lauded for her ability to gain a foothold in a world run by men, but also spared any serious critique for the aristocratic/elitist tradition she represents. Beyond that, the great cast works well and the movie did hold my attention for what it is. But it ain’t no Spotlight (2015)7/10

Talking about blind eyes

  • Paterno (2018): Pacino drew me to this nefarious affair of college football, which portrays the child abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and those guilty of knowing about it and not doing anything. Pacino plays Joe Paterno, head coach in this period, and his performance definitely kept me glued to the action for the most part. With no background knowledge on the matter, Paterno felt like an ambiguous guy, who fits in the institutional climate like the one that allowed for this kind of prolonged abuse to occur. Although there are many interesting things going on, director Levinson’s lack of focus ultimately hurts the movie, making it feel disjointed emotionally and undecided on the judgment of its ‘hero’.  Moreover, Sara Ganim, the reporter who broke the story and went on to win a Pulitzer prize for it, felt oddly like a secondary character, which is also a symptom of the unfocused approach. In spite of this, I’d  still recommend Paterno, for Pacino, as well as for its depiction of institutional crimes and the power of looking the other way. It just gripped me with its disoriented tragedy and I guess I’m a sucker for downfalls. 7/10

Movies of the Week #13 (2018)

I was on holiday last week, so my movie diary got a bungled up. As usual, when with many others, re-watching movies is in order, both the recently released and the not-so-recently-released. There’s some big hitters though in each week, with no strong favourites though for the MotW title. Alas, there must be a winner and to make it a competition, I refuse to allow past winners back in competition (sorry GO and TDA).

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When art meets fart

  • The Square (2017): I loved the comment I saw on icheckmovies. It simply states: The Square is better than The Circle (2017). Hard to deny that. The Square is a multi-layered experience, about the world of art, social expectations and prejudices. It’s terribly ambitious and at times manages to sweep you off your feet, both visually and thematically. Overall though, I would argue that Ruben Östlund, in spite of receiving the Palme D’or for this effort, did better with Force Majeur (2014), a more focused movie that bears some of the same stylistic and thematic traits as TS. I’ll complain, as usual, about the runtime, which goes up to 2.5 hours, a symptom of the overcrowded nature of the film, which still leaves quite a few threads hanging by its conclusion. The threads that bind, though, feel pertinent and artistically sane, which means that it wouldn’t be too hard to make a case for TS as one of the best movies of last year. I have my own qualms though with social awkwardness, which is elevated to a spectacular level here, and although its effects are as intended, I failed to appreciate them. All this, I guess, makes The Square an acquired taste, like placing piles of ash in a museum and calling them art. But a bit better. 7/10

Family rebuttal

  • Wakefield (2016): The simple premise of Wakefield does little to enlighten the prospective viewer – “A man’s nervous breakdown causes him to leave his wife and live in his attic for several months.” (IMdB). Maybe I would disagree with the term ‘breakdown’, because there’s some deliberate, rational element to Mr. Wakfield’s decision to not go back home one evening and rather relocate in the garage across from it. His observations from afar provide an unusual, one-sided perspective, full of prejudice against and resentment of family life, as Bryan Cranston portrays the man who is hard to like. It starts out as a foolish gesture and then escalates into an unmanageable commitment.  Unfortunately, the movie is satisfied with not providing a proper conclusion, which was a major disappointment and cop out. Up to that point and especially in the last half hour or so, I found myself abstracting the unlikely and simply wondering about how such a character would come to be. The movie’s premise, lacking any premeditation, can more accurately be summed up to ‘man chases raccoon into attic and decides to abandon his life’. Who wouldn’t want to watch that to know more? 7/10

Put me up, put me down, in the sunken place I’ll frown

  • Get Out (2017): Rewatching it, exactly a year later, didn’t alter Get Out much. It’s still the same excellent experience it was the first time around. The only thing I contemplated, was whether I would have preferred the existing alternate ending and I think the answer is yes. It doesn’t make that much of a difference, but it felt like it belonged more tot the movie’s systemic critique. 8/10

When Lohan was more relevant than Logan

  • Mean Girls (2004): I first watched MG close to its release. Surprisingly, although it embodies my preferred high-school backdrop, I seem to have hated it. I don’t recall hating it and upon revisiting, it felt like a mild diversion, with no fundamental sins that would require penance. Gist of the story: nice, home-schooled girl joins actual school, sees it for what it is (a cesspool), then slowly becomes active part of the cesspool without realizing it. Starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Kaplan, Amanda Seyfried, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (who also wrote the script), there’s no shortage of big names here, although most barring Lohan weren’t that big in 04. So, you know, it’s not that bad and if you bother with it, you can enjoy some pertinent takeaways. 6/10

Still tearin’ me!

 

Movies of the Week #12 (2018)

I was away last week, but still managed to pull my quote. #pride #thelittlethingsinlife #hashtag

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Oh, pitches…

  • Pitch Perfect 3 (2017): Wow, talk about a movie being painfully unfunny and depressingly one-note. As a fan of the previous two movies, I felt insulted by how little they tried here. There’s nothing special about PP3, which is really just a schmaltzy send-off for the girls we grew to know and not care too much about. The same old template, some flashy songs, some inane plotlines, basically non-existent rivals, everything is off about this movie. So just don’t. 3/10

All the stand-up you can handle

  • Ricky Gervais: Humanity (2018): The uber-expensive Netflix stand-up featuring the former Golden Globes host is a fun dose of Gervaisianism – a brand of humor that makes few concessions. In this 80 minute show, Gervais mostly stays well tuned and produces some solid material, taking on American media item Caitlyn Jenner, impending old age, choices on having children and some other topics. Barring the occasional miss, it’s the humorless personal politics of the man which lessened the experience towards the end, in something that felt like an attempt in self-redemption – an expose on animal suffering and his support towards causes fighting against it, tagged onto an almost apologetic remark about the usefulness of Twitter, which gets a lot of bashing otherwise. Still, not too shabby from the soon to be old man. 7/10

All the drama in the world of film

  • All the Money in the World (2017): With all the controversy surrounding the recasting of Kevin Spacey, it sure felt like Ridley Scott’s latest would be doomed. In fact, it turns out that the movie works well enough and that the reasons why it fails are not related at all to Spacey’s replacement, Christopher Plummer. On the contrary, Plummer is probably the best thing in a movie which otherwise doesn’t gel together very well. This loose  retelling of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and the family’s reluctance to pay the ransom requested plays on the avarice that tends to run through the veins of some of the richest men on the planet, as was the case with the elder Getty. It’s a palatable Hollywood topic, taking on these cardboard outlines of the flawed rich and their exploitative, insensitive ways about life. (Un)fortunately, characters still matter in movies, and all other characters bar the one played by the more senior Plummer (fun fact, Charlie Plummer, cast as the younger Getty, is just an unrelated namesake) feel lifeless and unrelatable. Add to that a meager final act and you have a bit of a flop, which is perhaps better than AtMitW deserved to be after the backstage drama surrounding it. 6/10

The Italian nut-job (haha, sorry!)

  • La pazza gioia (2016): I’ll be truly honest – it took me three attempts to finish La pazza gioia. That’s mostly because watching a movie that treads the fine line between being mentally ill and just being in existential pain as well as this one does is hard. For me, at least. The glorious performances of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Micaela Ramazzotti are key to expressing the ambivalence of their characters, two women who find themselves in a psychiatric recovery home and yearn to be a part of their own lives again. Barring a far-fetched, but emotional finale, Paolo Virzi’s film is a delicate study of pain and happiness that’s worth the struggle. Definitely. 8/10