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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- September 2017

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September 2nd

People who added this item 270 Average listal rating (188 ratings) 3.8 IMDB Rating 4.6

Netflix- 1hr. 40min.
First Viewing
Death Note is an exceptionally weird film; not so much in the story itself (though that is highly morbid), but in it's production. The tone shifts from scene-to-scene, going from black-comedy to brooding angst at a whiplash-inducing speed; so much so that it's hard to understand if it's a flaw, or if it's the key to the film staying, at least, constantly intriguing. Nothing comes together in any sort of satisfying way; almost every plot strand has a differing tone, meaning major shifts would be necessary for them to do so (they don't). One can't help but be intrigued by this mess though; there are some solid individual parts (especially Stanfield's character/performance, which is so affected to resemble an anime character that it borders something close to true originality) that are enough to keep things interesting during the rougher parts (the third goes off the rails, both figuratively and literally). It's not a particularly good film, but I can't say that I outright hated it either; it never bored me.

Monthly Wesley Award
Best Supporting Actor- Lakeith Stanfield
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Hulu- 1hr. 48min.
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September 3rd

People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (39 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.7

Netflix- 1hr. 34min.
First Viewing
Little Evil has a set-up that should inspire some very dark humor, but, surprisingly (though, a bit not) the film goes the more tame route, at times bordering on "family-friendly". This wouldn't be a negative, but the film can't seem to do interesting with it's more light-hearted tone, leading to an often toothless affair that only the cast can draw any interest from (especially Bridget Everett). It starts off pretty solid, but slowly dissipates to blandness.
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DVD- 1hr. 46min.
First Viewing
There are a few moments that hint at some frothy, gothic-romance uneasiness, but My Cousin Rachel is too staid to make any lasting impact. The script doesn't take advantage of the story, nor does the direction; scenes are shot and framed rather blandly (think more respectable BBC adaptation than engrossing cinema), and the characterizations are disappointing. The cast is excellent though, saving most scenes by merely hinting that something better is coming in the next one (it isn't), and there's enough juice in the central mystery to keep some interest.
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People who added this item 21 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 3.2 IMDB Rating 4.5
The Dinner (2017)

DVD- 2hrs.
First Viewing
If The Dinner had tightened it's plotting, moving more instead of the momentum paralysis that strikes for much of the second act, and gotten to the point more quickly (conflict doesn't really start to materialize until the end of the second act) then it would've been a stronger, more concise film. As is, it's a shaggy ensemble piece about mental illness and the way it impacts families (primarily children) that, frequently, works thanks to a stellar cast and a few cutting points. It's also overly-long and features a third act that deflates so much of the tension that the film has spent building. More good than bad, but missed opportunities mount throughout.

Monthly Wesley Award
Best Cinematography- Bobby Bukowski
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September 4th


Showtime- 1hr. 24min.
First Viewing
Claire in Motion starts off like with a solidly intriguing plot, but slowly becomes a fairly standard indie-drama with little plot acceleration. The script never really comes together, trying to couple the mystery elements with the more sobering dramatic ones; when it sticks to the drama, it works quite well, but when it leans into the disappearance plot threads, it goes cold. It's certainly watchable, and benefits greatly from an excellent performance from Betsy Brandt, but there just isn't enough life to be found here.
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September 7th


HBO Now- 1hr. 44min.
First Viewing
I haven't seen the original incarnation of The X-Files (I have of the more recent episodes), so I can't attest to whether or not I Want to Believe is more akin to an extended episode than a motion picture, but I can say this; whatever the hell it is, it isn't very good. There are some okay moments, but the script is just a mess of ideas and threads that are eventually smashed together to create blunderous ending that contains no thrills and/or emotional resonance.
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People who added this item 227 Average listal rating (152 ratings) 4.6 IMDB Rating 5.6

DVD- 1hr. 56min.
First Viewing
You can't just update an absurd television series by adding "fucks" and "shits" to it, as Baywatch constantly proves. The film just isn't that funny, which is something that the film might be able to overcome if a) it didn't try so hard to be and b) the action was better. The cast is solid though, and probably could've helped make an endearing franchise if the screenwriters had given them anything to work with, and a few scenes are salvaged thanks to their work. Not particularly terrible, just exceptionally lazy and bland.
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September 9th


Starz- 1hr. 59min.
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DVD- 2hrs. 17min.
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September 10th


DVD- 1hr. 52min.
First Viewing
It looks good, but The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is missing the heart, among other things, that the original two had. The story is weak, the actors are bored (Mario Bello is woefully miscast), and everything about it feels like an afterthought. It's a sequel that nobody really needed, nor wanted.

Monthly Wesley Awards
Best Costume Design- Sanja Milkovic Hays
Best Production Design- Nigel Phelps, Anne Kuljian and Philippe Lord
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People who added this item 118 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 4.7 IMDB Rating 5.2

DVD- 1hr. 41min.
First Viewing
Rough Night does, surprisingly, get better as it goes along. There are some funny bits here and there, but the film doesn't actually start to work until the last half-hour or so. The early problems start with the writing, which rushes into the plot and characters with reckless abandon, fleshing very little out; it's plot mechanics first, character work second. It also doesn't help that the characters are often annoying and act in ways that don't really feel genuinely human (which could be overcome if the tone was more slapstick, but it's surprisingly light on laughs in the early going). Only Johansson and Bell's characters feel necessary, with Glazer's and Kravitz's characters never really coming together and McKinnon's being exceptionally aggravating (there was no need for an Australian accent). The end, however, features more energy than anything that came before it, and the humor that peeked through the cracks finally bursts out. Had the film only started off with this style, it would've been one of the biggest comedies of the year; as is, it's an uneven film that misses more than it hits.
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September 11th

People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.1

Netflix- 1hr. 30min.
First Viewing
It gets a bit too maudlin towards the end, and it doesn't have the greatest grasp of mental health issues (at it's worst, the film uses them as a crutch), but The Sweet Life is a solid road trip film, that works largely due to the performances of Messina and Spencer, and the great chemistry they have. The story has some solid beats, but can get overly manipulative at times. The direction works well enough, with director Rob Spera's finest achievement coming from the fact that he cedes most of the film to his cast, who do much of the heavy lifting. A charming film that doesn't really deviate from previous films in the genre (think a less-manic Silver Linings Playbook), but finds the pleasures from said genre by sticking closely to it.
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September 14th

People who added this item 282 Average listal rating (177 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7

Netflix- 1hr. 36min.
First Viewing
There's a fun, screwball comedy somewhere hiding in East Virtue, with ample doses of fish-out-of-water and cultural clash plot points, that peaks out of every scene. Unfortunately, the film is too miscalculated to work, draining every possible scene of energy to the point of coma. There are some strong moments here and there, and the cast is pretty solid (though Biel, trying her damnedest, feels miscast), but very little comes together in a satisfying way; it's mostly just a collection of amiable scenes.
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September 16th

People who added this item 647 Average listal rating (487 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7

DVD- 1hr. 44min.
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People who added this item 1105 Average listal rating (750 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7

VUDU- 2hrs. 9min.
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September 17th

People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 5.3

Netflix- 1hr. 27min.
First Viewing
An odd mix of naturalistic character drama and surreal supernaturalism, The Midnight Swim is a film that is hard to really define. There's so much going on, but so little clearly presented, that even the most basic interactions take on a mysterious feel. It often feels aimless, and that lends to the relaxed feel that pervades throughout the film; it works up until the end, where things seemingly come from nowhere. Regardless, it's an ambitious and, mostly, successful film that benefits from director Smith's vision and three superb performances from its trio of leads.

Monthly Wesley Awards
Best Director- Sarah Adina Smith
Best Supporting Actress (TIE)- Jennifer Lafleur and Aleksa Palladino
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People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 4.1 IMDB Rating 5.2

DVD- 1hr. 45min.
First Viewing
I went in expecting this to be bad, but was disappointed that it was not the "good" kind of bad movie that I'd been hoping for. Don't expect an over-the-top Nic Cage performance, as he's not really in the film; instead, this is a plodding lifetime movie that neglects the WTF!? inducing craziness that makes them so much fun. There are a couple of goofy moments towards the end, but Inconceivable mostly plays it straight, which means that I have to judge it like a normal film; i.e. it's a turd.

Monthly Wesley Award
Worst Picture
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September 18th

People who added this item 35 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.9

DVD- 1hr. 45min.
First Viewing
Sleight is a pretty slight film (forgive the pun) that takes too long to get to the genre-heavy payoff, but there's enough good here to merit a look. The cast is pretty strong, especially Jacob Latimore in the lead role, and there's enough character work to warrant investment. The story is fairly rote though, relying heavily on urban crime and "better life" cliches that dilute the smaller pleasures at play here. It's still a decent film, but you'll likely wish more was done with the premise.
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September 22nd

People who added this item 256 Average listal rating (173 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6
Medicine Man (1992)

DVD- 1hr. 46min.
First Viewing
There are a few fun moments in Medicine Man, and it has an exceptionally interesting premise, but the film often falls back on cliches instead genuine plot/character motivation. Connery is solid in the lead role, and the film is very well made (including a strong score from Jerry Goldsmith); trouble is, the script is on autopilot, leaning on old "mismatched lovers" and adventure tropes so hard that it falls over frequently. It also doesn't help that Bracco is sorely miscast, never gelling with the story or Connery (to her credit, it's not a particularly well-written part). If the story focused on the characters and practices of experimentation and research in a more detailed manner, the film would've been better than the often boring one it turned out to be.

Monthly Wesley Award
Best Score- Jerry Goldsmith
Note: This wasn't a film that I sought out; it was merely played in a college science class that I was in, and we watched the whole film in one sitting.
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September 23rd

People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 4 IMDB Rating 5.6

Amazon Prime- 1hr. 27min.
First Viewing
I Remember You blows a pretty intriguing setup on a boring story with no real character development or plot payoff. The acting is fine, and the cinematography is often quite striking (mostly for it's color scheme; lighting and angles are solid, though unspectacular), but the story just never comes together, continuously stretching a story that needed more resolution and catharsis.
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People who added this item 486 Average listal rating (328 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7

VUDU- 1hr. 59min.
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September 24th

People who added this item 796 Average listal rating (502 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.1

HBO Now- 1hr. 46min.
First Viewing
It starts too quickly, and never really reaches the peak of it's clearly high ambitions (probably budgetary concerns), but Inkheart is a surprisingly fun little film with an ace premise that carries the film even in it's weaker moments. The script never really comes together, and there's a certain franchise-itis that take over the film towards the end (the last scene has, pretty clearly, been added in post for the potentiality of a sequel), but there's enough juice in the premise to be undemanding fun.

Monthly Wesley Award
Best Visual Effects
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People who added this item 23 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.5

DVD- 1hr. 36min.
First Viewing
The Hero plays with some well worn aging/stardom stereotypes and, while it doesn't fully outgrow them, is able to add some freshness to them, thanks to clean storytelling and a superb performance from Sam Elliot. While it's an okay film regardless, I'm not sure that the film would work without Elliot's gravitas; he lends much of the emotion that the story is able to elicit. It's not a surprising film, but it is able to make the most of familiarity.

Monthly Wesley Award
Best Actor- Sam Elliot
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September 25th


DVD- 1hr. 29min.
First Viewing
A surprisingly strong animated film that subverts several issues inherent in the more "kid-friendly" of the genre (cute animals, annoying catchphrases, poor humor, etc.) with flashes of wit and an excess of energy. Not everything comes out strongly though; the zaniness does start to strain towards the end, and the plot gets too jumbled as it goes along. Despite those issues, it's a movie that is smarter and more fun than the majority of modern animated films and solid enough for adults to enjoy.
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DVD- 1hr. 22min.
First Viewing
A surprisingly unsettling and claustrophobic film, Beatriz at Dinner dips its toes into a lot of subjects and, while not necessarily fleshing enough of them out, engages them more thoughtfully and emotionally than most films lately have. This is thanks to a cringe-comedy screenplay that, wisely, downplays the comedy, direction that wrings the most unnerving moments out of it, and an outstanding performance at the center. There's a strong ensemble to be found in the film, but Hayek does, possibly, the best work of her career as the title Beatriz, constantly ratcheting up tension with an internal performance that constantly keeps you entranced. The middle is a bit soggy, but much of the film plays out like a car crash that you can't look away from (and I mean that as a compliment).

Monthly Wesley Awards
Best Actress- Selma Hayek
Best Original Screenplay- Mike White
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September 29th

People who added this item 295 Average listal rating (199 ratings) 4.7 IMDB Rating 5.5
The Mummy (2017)

DVD- 1hr. 50min.
First Viewing
In all honesty, 2017's The Mummy was nowhere-near as bad as I'd been expecting; it's just another bland, often nonsensical, studio action flick. I really didn't mind the first hour or so, it wasn't that good but it was okay-ish; a forgivable set-up if the rest of the film had been able to inject some life into the film. It doesn't do that, however; once Russell Crowe shows up as a lifeless Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the film gives itself over to franchise expectations, adding convoluted point after convoluted point, before limping to an expected, dull ending. It never really goes off the rails, but it wobbles a lot, and it never picks up any steam. If Universal really gave a shit about making a viable franchise out of the "Dark Universe" (hilariously shoehorned into the opening credits), then they should've waited for Guillermo del Toro.

Monthly Wesley Award
Best Makeup
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September 30th

People who added this item 163 Average listal rating (122 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7

Netflix- 1hr. 47min.
First Viewing
The bluntness of the ending does hurt the concise storytelling that coursed through the film, but does help cap the empowering theme at it's center; Gerald's Game works as an unsettling suspense film, that builds its emotional core off of a woman finally breaking free from the male influences in her life. There are some horrifying scenes in the film, but it works best when it lets Cugino dig into her character, giving us one of the best heroines of the year (had it not been for Hayek's work above, she probably would've taken the month's "Best Actress" prize). It's a well-made film that excels in really every department, especially the, clearly, difficult task of a adapting this story into such a well-plotted screenplay. Regular Netflix bargain-dreck, this is not.

Monthly Wesley Awards
Best Picture
Best Adapted Screenplay- Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard
Best Editing- Mike Flanagan
Best Sound
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People who added this item 4354 Average listal rating (2806 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2

DVD- 1hr. 57min.
(Director's Cut)
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Numbers


Number of Movies Watched: 29
Newly Watched: 22
DVD: 15
VHS: 0
Blu-Ray: 0
Streaming: 14
: 1
: 2
: 1
: 6
: 1
: 1
: 2
Time Spent: 49hrs. 20min.

Critcal


Best New View: Gerald's Game
Worst New View: Inconceivable

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The Complete Wesley: 2017 Movie Journal (13 lists)
list by BradWesley123
Published 6 months ago



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