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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- April 2019
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 36 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Jonah Hex (2010)
HBO Now- 1hr. 21min.
Jonah Hex is about as incoherent a film as they get. The storytelling is bad enough, but the editing is just insane; there's, maybe, two scenes that are understandable, the rest, even some simple conversational scenes, are incomprehensible. It's a movie that seems to be in a rush to get to the end; somehow, it feels much longer than 81 minutes (it's about 73 without credits). There's no flow, no grace, no tangible storytelling savvy; either Warner Bros. or DC (think Justice League or Suicide Squad)have some of the worst editing pinch-hitters in the business). Really, the visual aspects of the film are the only parts worth discussing with, mild, respect. The cinematography is actually solid, nicely saturated; the costumes worn-in and specifically detailed; the makeup suitably grimy. Hell, even the cast is fine; Brolin would make a compelling Hex in a watchable film. Those praises are feint though, as this is an abortion of a film.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Costume Design (Fantasy)- Michael Wilkinson
Eye See You (2002)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 36min.
Two movies hacked to shit in a row. Eye See You takes a home-run premise, an ensemble murder mystery set in one location, and botches it through a combination of poor filmmaking, lazy writing, and schizophrenic editing. It can never decide if it wants to be a straight mystery, or some sort of slasher film; it splits the difference, and is a dour, muddled mess for it. If not for inherent general curiosity about the killer's identity, this one would been an easy 30-minutes and out. I don't recommend you do the same; turn it off, and do something better with your time.
Second Act (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 44min.
Second Act should've been an amiable JLo vehicle; obvious, cliche-riden, but likable. It is that, to be fair, but it's also unnecessarily melodramatic, with a plot-twist that takes a fair amount of air out of the balloon. Most of the humor and/or uplift that could be found here get tangled up with it, leading to a bland film without much charm. The cast tries hard though, with Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens doing some decent work, even elevating a few moments. They can't save a pandering script though.
DVD- 2hrs. 1min.
I'm not sure what I was expecting with Constantine. An odd, mid-2000s curio? A failed Keanu Reeves franchise? A messy, over-the-top fiasco? A surprisingly engaging fun religious/fantasy epic? Whatever ever it was I lucked out, with all of the above proving correct. It is a messily plotted film, admittedly, with too many narrative contrivances for its own good and too much mythology, which does a lot to hinder the first act. It is, however, also an engrossing film with a compelling story, expert filmmaking, and an ensemble, clearly, having a blast with this off-the-wall material. Also, despite being an adaptation, it's a rather original piece; theological-tinged detective stories are rare, and one with this much craft is even rarer. Some might find it a dreary mess; I found it to be a fun, occasionally goofy, evocative film.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Director- Francis Lawrence
Best Supporting Actress- Tilda Swinton
Best Cinematography- Philippe Rousselot
Best Costume Design (Fantasy)- Louise Frogley
Best Production Design (Fantasy)- Naomi Shohan and Douglas A. Mowat
Best Sound Editing
Batman Forever (1995)
Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993)
Unicorn Store (2017)
Netflix- 1hr. 31min.
Unicorn Store is a very uneasy blend of character-driven, arrested development indie cinema and twee, whimsical magic realism. It is, also, rather charming in it's shagginess. In her directorial debut, Brie Larson does a solid job with both the aforementioned tones the film is going for, but can't merge them satisfyingly; it feels, at times, like two separate films. If she can marry tones in the future, for a complete picture, she'll have a future behind the camera. Despite the standard use of too much handheld work, the filmmaking is solid. Her best instinct as a director, however, is her ceding of the emotional heft of the film to her performance. While it doesn't come together that well, her performance is so good that she saves a scenes (especially the emotional climax of the film, which she sells so well that it almost convinces you that the whole film was that good). A scrappy, well-intentioned film that works when it sticks to the emotion.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actor- Mamoudou Athie
Best Costume Design (Contemporary)- Mirren Gordon-Crozier
Best Production Design (Contemporary)- Matt Luem and Christy McIrwin
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Avengers (2012)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Holmes Watson (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 30min.
I won't lie and say I didn't laugh during Holmes & Watson; there are enough odd segues and historical-period specific jokes that I did chuckle a few more times than I'd care to admit. With that said however, I can also say that I laughed a fair amount at the stiff awkwardness of the filmmaking and poorly constructed story. If you've seen either of the past Ferrell/Reilly team-ups, you're fairly primed for the shtick; loud buffoonish idiocy, and mile-a-minute jokes. In Talladega Nights and Step Brothers though, everything was more pointed and focused; the jokes had a point, and they were, unlike here, predominantly funny. Holmes & Watson is a shaggy, shapeless film with no story construction or reason for being, leaving a reliable comedic duo flailing to generate any interest.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Period)- Beatrix Aruna Pasztor
Stan & Ollie (2019)
DVD- 1hr. 37min.
Along with, quite easily, being the better of John C. Reilly's 2018 ampersand titles, Stan & Ollie is a well-made, loving tribute to the classic comedic duo. Well-made is, maybe, an understatement, or too glib of one; it's as well-oiled as the routines Laurel & Hardy would perform. In fact, the film works best when it focuses on those routines. The mechanics, the jokes, the timing; director Jon S. Baird best honors his subjects by showing the hard work that made them legendary. The film, also, does a strong job of underlining the differing ethics of the men, allowing for Coogan and Reilly to brilliantly dig into the bond and tension that this creates. The script follows the biopic blueprint too heavily for the film to truly breakout, but this is a strong one with wit, vitality, and warmth.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Ensemble Performance
Best Production Design (Period)- John Paul Kelly and Claudia Parker
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 43min.
I'm not quite sure that it tackles it's thornier topics with enough nuance, but Ben Is Back is a, mostly, satisfying emotional journey through addiction with suitably frank, empathetic filmmaking and outstanding acting. Director/writer Peter Hedges wisely reins in his usual sentimentality for this one; it's still present, as is his too blunt style of character/plot motivations, but he's going back to what he did in his best film, Pieces of April, and setting up a relatable, human plot and letting his actors do the rest, and that's what they do. He's assembled a strong ensemble but, really, this is a two-hander as Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (Hedges' son) turn in raw, powerful performances that rank among the best that either have previously done. They sell a shared history, with love and pain, pride and resentment, intertwined convincingly. The plot mechanics get a bit too obvious at times, but the leads bring this one home.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Actor- Lucas Hedges
Best Actress- Julia Roberts
Best Original Screenplay- Peter Hedges
Best Score- Dickon Hinchliffe
Welcome to Marwen (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 55min.
I didn't dislike it the way that many did, but Welcome to Marwen is, nevertheless, an unnecessarily hokey, simplistic look at trauma. It almost every turn, Zemeckis turns away from all of the interesting and thorny topics that Mark Hogancamp's work introduces; i.e. the reasoning behind his assault; is his work helpful or a crutch? Is there something fetishistic about the way he uses the women in his life? There to all is the simple "he's a good guy going through a tough time." A truth, sure, but not an unimpeachable one. Instead, Zemeckis keeps things simple; focusing on the assault, the trauma, and, of course, the visual effects. While one can dwell on the uncanny valley of it all, the effects are pretty impressive, often to the film's detriment; one gets the sense that it was an experiment in search of a story, rather than the other way around. It's a corny film with rudimentary storytelling that awkwardly places a cgi adventure next to the story of a man trying to get past a major trauma with art. And yet, I couldn't hate it. It's willingness to go for broke, to embrace it's maudlin weirdness and near-fairy tale logic earned it a sort of odd respect from me. Its failings are not the result of a lack of care or imagination, but from overeagerness; it tries to run before it can walk. Not a glowing endorsement but, as many films this month prove, you could do a lot worse.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Visual Effects
Major League (1989)
Black Panther (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Executive Decision (1996)
DVD- 1hr. 50min.
The biggest issue that A Private War is contending with is familiarity. Biopics about heroic people in war-ravaged zones (i.e. great people doing great things) are old hat in Hollywood; the kind of film that you make so you can score awards. With that in mind, War wisely sidesteps convention wherever possible. Despite some dips into addiction cliches and grandstanding (the latter of which is, certainly, the most jarring in relation to the more ground-level nature of the film), it's a gritty, impassioned tribute to a woman who gave her life fighting for the voiceless. Though his direction can hue too close to anonymous in the homefront scenes, Matthew Heineman's narrative debut works thrillingly in the warzones, imparting a sense of tension and unease. It's also propelled by a powerful performance by Rosamund Pike. She sells the more actor-friendly, overly-done big moments just as well as the small character ones; a nuanced performance that feels perfectly calibrated each scene. It can be pandering, but it's also got enough power to overcome it's lesser moments.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Adapted Screenplay- Arash Amel
Best Editing- Nick Fenton
Best Song- "Requiem for A Private War"
Best Sound Mixing
DVD- 1hr. 47min.
Replicas is never a particularly good film, but it doesn't become an outright awful one until the last act. It's a rough watch from the outset, but not quite ludicrous; it's just run-of-the-mill bad, occasionally fun enough (terrible plot, dialogue, clumsy direction, mixed acting, etc.) to merit the time you're wasting. It isn't until the last act where things take a baffling turn, becoming an absurd Taken-lite. In this section, the movie becomes somewhat enjoyable. It's just for the wrong reasons (side note: this has some Syfy movie level visual effects that'll give you a smile).
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Vudu- 1hr. 59min.
After watching this one, I wanted a better version of My Cousin Vinny. Don't get me wrong, it's a relatively fun film with a great premise and a wonderful lead duo, but it felt needlessly awkward at times. The gags are solid, mostly (there's a lot of yokel stereotypes that get old quick), but most lack energetic execution, leaving Pesci and Tomei to do most of the heavy lifting, which they admirably due. The courtroom proceedings fair better, with a level of intrigue and detail that is, actually, taught in legal classes. This includes the closing scene, that packs enough energy to makeup for most of the sloth, hinting at the better film that could've been.
Number of Movies Watched: 36
Newly Watched: 12
Time Spent: 69hrs. 30min.
Best New View: Constantine
Worst New View: Jonah Hex
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