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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- April 2018
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 31 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Starz- 1hr. 50min.
Its not an easy movie to like, its often too opaque and obscure for its own good, but Never Here is a frequently fascinating probe of the voyeurism and the relationship between the artist and their subject. It's a film that you'll never completely "get"; it starts on reasonable terms, but scatters as it goes along, wringing tension out simple shots (Sebastian Winterø's leering, unsettling camerawork is invaluable here). It gets a bit too frenzied for its own good in the middle section, veering close to indecipherable, but it actually works to the film's advantage as it nears its conclusion. While Here is really a filmmaker's showcase, and Thoman makes a strong impression, star Mireille Enos's mix of knowing control and complete uncertainty often produces more tension than the storytelling, selling the hell out of every scene. Again, it's not a film for all tastes, but it's a worthwhile viewing.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Director- Camille Thoman
Best Original Screenplay- Camille Thoman
Best Modern Cinematography- Sebastian Winterø
Best Production Design (Contemporary)- Chris Trujillo and Nora Mendis
Justice League (2017)
The Little Hours (2017)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 29min.
The Little Hours is a slight film, but that slightness allows it to revel in its own farcical nature, crafting a smart and often hilarious comedy. The storytelling can be a but hit-or-miss, as with most comedies, but its historical setting, and source material, gives it a bit more narrative heft, and the whiplash of seeing an exceptional cast throwing around modern language (with a liberal heaping of "fucks") often manages to wring a lot of laughs (though it is used as a crutch at times).
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actress- Kate Micucci
Best Ensemble Performance
Best Adapted Screenplay- Jeff Baena
Hulu- 1hr. 29min.
At the very least, We Don't Belong Here is almost entirely intriguing. The filmmaking choices may be pretty derivative (you could describe the film as, among other things, "Lynchian"), but they often keep the story uncertain and opaque enough to illicit interest. Unfortunately, it's some interesting choices in service of a story that doesn't have much to say, and only hollowly grazes the subjects it touches on. Try as they might, the exceptional ensemble is no match for the muddled script, though they often come close (Yelchin gets the most out of it). I wouldn't call it a worthy viewing (it's not very good), but it's certainly a unique one.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Score- Michael Yezerski
PBS- 1hr. 22min.
The Child in Time is a hard viewing, but its a worthy one thanks to some solid filmmaking and excellent performances. The biggest issue that the film has is it's fractured narrative; while it leads to some mystery in the narrative, a more straight-forward, linear would've cleared a few odd touches up. It's brevity, its less than 90 minutes, is also a bit of a problem (this is a story that could've used a bit more probing). With those issues in mind, the film still, mostly, sings thanks to the inherent drama in the story, and an exceptional central performance from Benedict Cumberbatch that sells every bit of the story's emotion. Strong supporting work from Kelly MacDonald and, especially, Stephen Campbell Moore aid his, but Cumberbatch is so strong that he carries the whole thing, elevating every scene.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest TV Movie
Best Actor/Best Actor in a TV Movie- Benedict Cumberbatch
Best Actress in a TV Movie- Kelly MacDonald
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie- Stephen Campbell Moore
DVD- 1hr. 19min.
It is inherently interesting thanks to it's filmmaking skill and makeup innovations, though Creature from the Black Lagoon is a bit hamstrung by the era it's made. While there is a classic charm to the story, it's a rather bland one that doesn't start to form until the last fifteen minutes. There is, also, a serious lack of the title Creature; this is likely do to the fact that technical innovations limited the filmmaking possibilities, despite some legendary makeup work for the Creature. That said, there's a lot of old-school, classic b-movie/horror charm that makes it interesting despite the poor storytelling. You'll want more of the Creature, more moments that define him as more than a monster; you'll have to settle for a few solid minutes.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Classic Picture
Best Cinematography (Black & White)- William E. Snyder
Best Costume Design (Fantasy)- Rosemary Odell and others
Best Classic Production Design/Best Production Design (Fantasy)- Hilyard M. Brown, Bernard Herzbrun and Russell A. Gausman, Ray Jeffers
HBO Now- 1hr. 47min.
Paterno is one of the better-made HBO biopics, with strong technical marks and solid acting, but it's just too reserved and opaque to make a huge impact; it comes and goes without much bang. It also starts off with a poor storytelling choice, with the central question being whether Paterno knew of the abuse; he did, and a better question instead of "did he know?" would've been "why did he do nothing". It's a well-made film, with strong acting (though Pacino goes a bit too hard at the "muttering old man shtick), but it doesn't have much of a pulse; i.e. a typical HBO film.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Supporting Actress in a TV Movie- Riley Keough
Blu-Ray- 1hr. 52min.
Father Figures is an oddly conceived film; it is, ostensibly, a comedy that doesn't really have many jokes. Sure, there are a few, but the film has a fundamental tonal flaw in that it can't understand whether it wants to be a slapstick comedy or an indie-level dramedy. In all honesty, it works better when it moves towards the drama, including a weirdly semi-touching final reveal that probably only works thanks to Glenn Close's presence; when it leans towards R-rated humor, it feels rather strained, as if the director just let Helms and Wilson vamp for a few minutes. Again, it's the weird comedy that's better when its not being funny. Not a truly bad film, but one that could've been much better if they'd figured out the genre of film that were making and stuck to it.
DVD- 1hr. 43min.
Despite the honor I've bestowed on this one below, Looking Glass is, stunningly, not that bad. Sure, the storytelling is clumsy and slowly devolves into torrid nonsense, and the cheapness of the picture can be a bit distracting, but the film is, overall, occasionally solid. The set-up, a mystery involving two-way mirrors and voyeurism, is stuff of classic pulp, and it makes the first half of the film pretty intriguing; in fact, one might be tricked into believing that this will be a pretty good film for the first 45-60 minutes. This is mostly due to the work of director Tim Hunter, who takes a wildly clunky script and is often able to wring genuinely interesting moments through silence and building tension. Cage is also fairly reliable here, he only has a couple of moments that register as absurd (he does a "turn away then look back" move that is pretty hilarious, and is facial hair registers more as a merkin). It isn't until the actual plot kicks in that the film begins to crumble; once the mystery is gone, you're left with a rote, preposterous film that comes off as second-rate swill (or any other recent-Cage flick). For a few solid minutes though, it's surprising.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Worst Picture
DVD- 1hr. 58min.
What should be a crime flick with finesse and cool mixed with the professionalism of something like Heat (a mix of Soderbergh and Mann-isms would've made for a hell of a film), instead becomes an overly-plotted slog with a bland lead and bored filmmaking. The biggest issue with the film comes from the Hackford's direction; the heist scenes, which should be when the movie comes alive, are listless and perfunctory, exuding the sense that the film would rather focus on it's lead. The other big problem is that the lead is, presumably in keeping with the overall theme, is dull. Statham goes for a calm, cool professional, but instead lands at something akin to a charisma-vacuum. The movie only really comes alive when Lopez on screen; she doesn't get particularly riveting material, but she has a lively presence that energizes the film. Had the film focused on her, it would've likely been a success; as is, it's a pretty boring film.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 50min.
While the first act begins a bit too episodically and the film, at times, tries too hard to be funny, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels hits its stride as the one-ups-manship becomes more exaggerated, allowing Caine and Martin (and Glenne Headly, as the film goes on) to really dig in to the solid material.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Supporting Actor- Steve Martin
Best Costume Design (Contemporary)- Marit Allen
6 Balloons (2018)
Netflix- 1hr. 15min.
It's a bit blandly made, and its brevity means that it doesn't delve into the subject of addiction with enough depth, but 6 Balloons predominantly works thanks to some smart filmmaking choices, strong insights, and two exceptional performances from leads Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco. Had a little more time been spent with the characters, giving us a sense of their plight and history, the film would've hit with a more emotional punch (a more singular filmmaking style wouldn't have hurt either, instead of the standard indie, hand-held, natural lighting "grittiness"), though the leads do strong enough work that the ending feels genuine (the editing, too, is pretty solid), and the trip worthwhile.
The Book of Henry (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 44min.
What an odd film. The Book of Henry is like a labyrinth of baffling filmmaking decisions; the plot verges in unexpected directions, but does so in ways that feel truly inorganic, not to mention implausible, and tonally schizophrenic (it' more like two separate films). The movie does deserve some credit; it's bizarre plot machinations are jumped into with such bravado that its almost respectable. Also, the fact that the cast gives such strong performances is worthy of merit. It's just not a good film though; it's unsatisfying narrative and lack of a strong tonal foundation make it a total mess; it actually might've been worthwhile if the film had embraced this absurdity.
The Avengers (2012)
Hollow in the Land (2017)
Hulu- 1hr. 39min.
Hollow in the Land is a bit too hollow at the core (please, forgive the pun), missing a strong through-line that would make it's mystery sing, but it's got some strong moments, and Dianna Agron is quite strong in the lead role. The film is fairly well-made; it does resort, too much, to shaky, poorly-framed "action" that distracts more than invests, but director Scooter Corkle does well with mood and atmosphere, framing his film like, somewhat, a Canadian Winter's Bone (though this film could use some of that one's storytelling prowess). The story, though, doesn't work that well, with too many diversions that take away from the central story. It's reasonably well-handled though, enough so that it isn't that hard to invest in the story and the protagonist, who Agron invests with such a quiet pain and humanity that she's compelling even when the story isn't.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Actress- Dianna Agron
DVD- 1hr. 29min.
So, you've got a title and setup that sings with fun, 70's era blaxploitation potential, and a charismatic star as your lead; what do you do? Well, if you're the team behind Proud Mary, you waste a hell of a lot of talent on a nothing movie that is devoid of basic plot mechanics and humor, crafting a truly perfect waste of time. This is a truly boring movie that not even Henson's solid turn can make mildly interesting. It's poorly written, and even more blandly made. Even at around 80 minutes, it feels like a drag; don't waste your time.
Monthly Wesley AwardWorst Picture
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Greatest Showman (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 45min.
The Greatest Showman is a, often, lovely spectacle to behold, but hollow where it counts. The costumes, production design, etc.; this is a pretty movie to look at, and the camerawork dazzles at time. That said, the music can be hit or miss, with some numbers trying patience, and a couple (like the opening number and "This is Me") point to a better film. The direction, like the numbers, comes alive at times, but is utterly pedestrian in others. The real dagger though is the script, which is utterly horrible. The dialogue, the structuring, the story; almost everything about this film rings false and hollow to the point where you may roll your eyes so hard that you go blind. No matter how many underdog narratives, bland romances or big ballads they throw on screen, the film can't escape the fact that the story of P.T. Barnum is one of an asshole who fucked a lot of people over to get his way; as much as they try to cover this history up, the film version of Barnum still makes him, frequently, an ass. Had they leaned into that more, it may not have been a crowd-pleaser, but it sure as hell would've been more interesting than this.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Costume Design (Period)- Ellen Mirojnick
Best Production Design (Period)- Nathan Crowley and Debra Schutt
Best Song- "This is Me" by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Phantom Thread (2018)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Doctor Strange (2016)
The Illusionist (2006)
The Commuter (2018)
Blu-Ray- 1hr. 45min.
Of the four films that Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra have collaborated on, The Commuter likely lingers towards the back of the pack; veering closer to the okay but muddily-plotted Unknown, and missing the Agatha Christie-on-a-plane thrills of Non-Stop and the sheer energy of Run All Night. In theory, it should be a spiritual sibling to Non-Stop (they have very similar plots), but The Commuter doesn't really give its cast much to do (Neeson is fine, but his everyman character is less interesting than his specialist), nor a particularly enthralling mystery at its center (it's not focused enough). Collet-Serra is able to stage some solid thrills when the film hits it's stride (around the middle portion), but doesn't try to get anything out of a rather bland script. It's a solid film, but one that doesn't even reach for its full potential.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Sound
Den of Thieves (2018)
DVD- 2hrs. 20min.
Despite the fact that it relentlessly rips from other, better crime-thrillers (most notable Heat), Den of Thieves is still an entertaining film thanks to some effective filmmaking, and a surprisingly magnetic performance by Gerard Butler. This isn't the type movie that lives or dies by the script; we know the characters, the plot, the motivations. That said, this script is too overstuffed for its own good; it's nearly two and a half hours long and only a few characters actually get a moment to stand out, and the story could really just be streamlined to maybe 110-120 minutes of lean heist drama. That said, when the action comes, it's pretty well made, and the central heist is one of the more interesting ones in recent cinematic history. It also benefits, greatly, from Butler's big swinging-dick, man's man performance. It's a character we've seen in movies before, but Butler really goes hard at it, and it's hard to keep your eyes off of him; it's one of his best performances (didn't expect to say that). Overall, it's a solid film, but one that could benefit from 20 minutes less runtime.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Editing- David Cox, Joel Cox & Nathan Godley
Number of Movies Watched: 31
Newly Watched: 17
Time Spent: 58hrs. 16min.
Best New View: Never Here
Worst New View: Proud Mary
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