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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- February 2018
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 33 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Starz- 1hr. 34min.
Flashdance is an exceptionally made film. The dancing, the editing, the look, the sound; it all makes for a technically superb film. Unfortunately, the story is chock-full in plot contrivance, terrible characters and unrelenting cheese. While this does make the film fun at times (though it's weirdly sincere streak undercuts that), but it's more often a slog. If it wasn't for an endearing performance from Jennifer Beals, it would be near-impossible to care about the story; with her, you can watch it, but you're enjoyment will likely be dictated by the technical achievements.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Editing- Bud S. Smith and Walt Mulconery
DVD- 1hr. 49min.
Obviously, Geostorm is not a good movie, and there was likely never any chance that it would be. Granted, the behind-the-scenes problems (poor screenings, extensive reshoots) probably hurt the film's quality but, let's be clear; this likely wasn't going to be a good movie because it's a fundamentally stupid movie. The most that it could have hoped for was that it was genuinely fun. It is fun but, unfortunately, not in the way that the people behind it were hoping for; it's a goofy, crazily illogical, and poorly plotted film without any decent characters or quality storytelling to make it worth recommending, beyond in a "so bad it's good" kind of way.
Fun Fact: Any time that my dog pees and poops, we say she's done a "GEOSTORM".
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Production Design (Contemporary)- Kirk M. Petruccelli and Anne Kuljian, Lori Mazuer
Best Visual Effects
Best Worst Picture
Frozen River (2008)
American Sniper (2015)
Space Cowboys (2000)
The Conversation (1974)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 53min.
Quite possibly the pinnacle of the 1970s paranoia-wave, or even the best in cinema history, The Conversation is a brilliant, simmering work that foreshadows the government surveillance state, as well as offering an expert mystery-thriller/character study. This really is a movie where nothing is really out of place; the storytelling and filmmaking is near-perfect, and there are no real misses. If there's one minor issue, it's that the opening scene goes on a little long, but that's really about it (at least for me). The foundation is very strong, but the movie wouldn't be what it is without Hackman's work; isolated and antisocial, but desirous of human contact, he makes you feel it all, embodying the themes of the movie in a hall-of-fame performance. It's the best of the month, and you of the best of all-time.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Director- Francis Ford Coppola
Best Actor- Gene Hackman
The Iron Lady (2011)
In the Line of Fire (1993)
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Netflix- 1hr. 42min.
Paramount really got off lucky when they sold The Cloverfield Paradox to Netflix. While it would've likely made a profit, it also would've likely killed the Cloverfield brand for the foreseeable future. It's story is one rife with possibilities (as is any movie featuring alternate universes), so much so that you can see a potentially better movie in every scene. Alas, we don't get that; instead we get a typical sci-fi/horror hybrid with bland writing, and supposedly smart characters doing insanely stupid things. Outside of Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who doesn't get to do much, but gets enough by virtue of being the lead), the cast is utterly wasted on cardboard characters in a boringly plotted story.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Fantasy)- Colleen Atwood
Last Flag Flying (2017)
DVD- 2hrs. 5min.
It's a bit too leisurely plotted, but Last Flag Flying works largely due to an exceptional cast and strong writing. The film is, mostly, a standard Richard Linklater film; not a lot of plot, but a lot of conversations. This lends the film his usual naturalism, and that really does help with the meandering. While this one has a bit more bloat than his other films (a few scenes are written too on-the-nose, repetitiveness in others), it's a worthy story about service and being a veteran, and all that that entails. His script is solid, though it usually works so well thanks to his leads, all of which do some terrific work. It is a slow film, but never a particularly boring one.
The Hours (2003)
HBO Now- 1hr. 54min.
The Hours can get lost in it's prestige at times (certain scenes ring like surface-value Oscar-grabs), and one of the three storylines doesn't really work as well as it should, but it's problems aren't enough to sink an emotional story about depression that features a litany of exceptional performances. It really is the cast that sells the film; the filmmaking can become too staid at times, and the story is a bit hit-or-miss, but it's a tremendous ensemble that brings a great deal of depth and feeling to a somewhat cold film. Two of the film's stories do work quite well; the Moore-led 1951 stretch, and Streep's 2001 one. Both stories have some real narrative juice behind them, and they feel genuinely important to the film. Oddly, the story led by an Oscar-winning performance is the one that feels non-essential; Kidman is solid, but it's a rather bland tread down biopic-lane, that doesn't reveal much about Virginia Woolf, nor contribute much to the overall story (it doesn't help that the other two are so strong). It's a strong film, but one that could've been better.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Ensemble Performance
Best Production Design (Period)- Maria Djurkovic and Philippa Hart
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
It takes a few minutes for Foreign Correspondent's power to kick in, it has a rather slow opening, but once the film hits the windmill setpiece, it quickly becomes and engrossing spy-thriller, as well as a tribute to the reporters that informed the world of Europe's troubles on the eve of WWII. The cast is exceptional, the writing economic, and the direction taut; it's strong story told with a great deal of flair, and Hitch's usual mastery of suspense.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Adapted Screenplay- Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison
Best Classic Production Design- Alexander Golitzen and Julia Heron
TubiTV- 1hr. 53min.
It starts off a bit slow, but Charade's gleeful contrivances eventually come together to make a wonderfully entertaining mystery. It's not a flat-out comedy, but it's hard not to smile at a film that winks this hard at it's audience; it knows that the story is goofy, but it takes it serious enough that it doesn't feel like a intentional farce. It's a messily-plotted film, but not a haphazardly-plotted one; contrivances pile up on top of each-other, but that's really the point. Add in a great deal of 60s-style and two eminently charming performances from Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and you get an exceedingly fun film.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Classic Cinematography- Charles Lang Jr.
Best Song- "Charade" by Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Starz- 1hr. 53min.
A sweet little film that doesn't come together the way it should; Sabrina is a solid romance, but one that can't help but stumble story-wise. There's a typical but strong set-up to Sabrina (not the weird, dated suicide attempt; the other stuff); an opposite's attract/class-clash romantic setup that should be a sure thing. The plot just never fully comes together though, with the central pairing (Bogart & Hepburn) only starting to develop a romance at about 45-minutes in and, even then, they never seem to really hit it off (at least not in a movie romance sort of way). It also doesn't help that the characters aren't that likable; Hepburn is, as usual, delightful, but Bogart's character, and performance, never really endear, and the supporting characters are just there to prop up the leads. That said, the movie is expertly made, and is often lightly charming if you don't think about it too much.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
DVD- 2hrs. 2min.
There's a good film lurking in the shadows of Roman J. Irael, Esq., but director Dan Gilroy never goes deep enough to find it. Washington gives a decent performance, though it's a bit too twitchy and tick-y to feel genuine, but the character is only in sketch-mode; no real shading or depth to back up the quirk. The story, too, never clicks together right; it starts off with a great deal of promise, before sputtering to an unearned ending. That's probably the feeling that the film is likely to elicit; unearned sentiment. It's a surface level film, that doesn't commit to the moral conflict that it drives it, leading to a well-intentioned, albeit mishandled, film that often feels hollow.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Contemporary)- Francine Jamison-Tanchuck
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Netflix- 1hr. 50min.
A sharp, acid-witted satire/horror-story of classic Hollywood and fame, Sunset Boulevard is a brilliant behind-the-curtain look at the dark corners of Hollywood, and the nightmare that celebrity can become. Everything comes together for this one, crafting a riveting that's hard to not become engrossed in. Top marks go to the blistering, witty script, and, of course, Gloria Swanson's historically superb performance that has inspired thousands of imitators, but none with the verve of specificity that she brings to the role.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Classic Picture
Best Actress- Gloria Swanson
Best Original Screenplay- Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and D. M. Marshman Jr.
Best Cinematography (Black & White)- John F. Seitz
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
DVD- 2hrs. 16min.
A little flat at times, and it takes too long for the film to get moving, but Sense and Sensibility is still a respectable period-romance with immaculate craft and a terrific cast. As mentioned, the film is fairly slow to start, and the story itself is rather dry if you're accustomed to the typical narratives. That said, the cast is great, with Thompson, Winslet, Grant, Rickman and company reveling in their chance to be in Jane Austen's world, and Ang Lee does know how to create that world's mood. It's a respectable, and frequently strong, film, though not the most memorable.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Period)- Jenny Beavan & John Bright
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The King's Speech (2010)
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
DVD- 2hrs. 32min.
To anyone who harbors the belief that Crash is the worst Best Picture winner ever; watch The Greatest Show on Earth, and tell me if you can still honestly believe that. Only the last half-hour of this film exudes any noticeable pulse; the train crash sequence, and it's aftermath, actually has some juice to it, and it honestly would've been a better film had the whole thing just been a disaster movie set around it. The preceding two hours(side note: this thing is so fucking long) are an interminable wasteland of empty romantic melodrama and tonal whiplash (it's also a genuinely ugly looking movie). There are a few okay moments; the cast is fine (Jimmy Stewart as the sad clown probably could've led his own film), and some of the tricks are solid. Those okay moments are lost at sea though, in an overlong movie that is often lifeless.
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
DVD- 1hr. 41min.
Most of Heaven Can Wait's problems come from the filmmaking. The script is solid, and the cast exceptional, but directors Warren Beatty and Buck Henry don't quite know what kind of film they're making; is it a melancholy film about life and death, or a slapstick comedy? The pacing is also off, with the film jumping straight into the story with little in the way of buildup or clarification. That said, it's also a frequently charming and entertaining film. It's a tonal mess, but it at least commits to whatever one it's going for, and it doesn't diminish the story with it's tonal shifts. It most works when it's a farcical comedy, with Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin's scheming scoring big laughs, as well as the fish-out-of-water scenarios that arise from the body switching. It doesn't ever really come together fully, but it certainly does work when it commits to one.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actress- Dyan Cannon
Best Score- Dave Grusin
Best Production Design (Fantasy)- Paul Sylbert, Edwin O'Donovan and George Gaines
La La Land (2016)
The Florida Project (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 51min.
Equal parts joyous and heartbreaking, The Florida Project shines a light on modern poverty through the lens of childhood. The film's smartest move is understanding that economic hardship is not some sort of all-encompassing tragedy; there are bad days, but there are also some wonderful stolen moments, highlighted by the gleeful trouble that Moonee often finds herself in. In the lead role, Brooklyn Prince is a hell of a find, selling every moment with a genuine sense of childhood wonderment. Also superb is Dafoe, who gives one of the more natural performances I've seen in a while, exuding a sense of fundamental decency in every scene that carries a strong emotional heft. The only real issue I had was the ending; it wasn't bad or wrong or anything, it just felt too abrupt. Maybe that was the point, maybe it wasn't, either way it did distract a bit from the rest of the film. Regardless, this is a humanist film that deserves to be seen.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actor- Willem Dafoe
Best Breakthrough Performance- Brooklynn Prince
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
It's a well made film, filled with great craft and some superb performances, but A Man for All Seasons is just too staid to make anything resembling a lasting impression. Paul Scofield is a sturdy anchor for the film, giving a cold but empathetic performance, but Robert Shaw's two scenes brim with such vitality that it's hard not to wish he had had a stronger presence in the film. Everything is just fine, and that's really my major takeaway; it's all good, and I respected every aspect of the film, but I just didn't feel much for it. It's a respectable film, but not one that really elicits a major response.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
DVD- 3hrs. 1min.
It's an uneven film with a story that really only works in spurts, but Dances with Wolves is such an impeccably mounted epic that it can work on craft and filmmaking alone. That's not to say that the story is bad; it's just not enough to compensate a three-hour plus epic (the white-savior inklings haven't aged that well, either). Regardless, Costner captures the west in through a more romantic lens than usual; it can be a cold place, but it's also an inescapably beautiful one too. His direction often squeezes the most out of scenes, leading to an exceptionally made epic with flair and passion propelling it. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece (Goodfellas should've won that Oscar), but it is certainly an engrossing film.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Modern Cinematography- Dean Semler
Number of Movies Watched: 33
Newly Watched: 17
Time Spent: 65hrs. 59min.
Best New View: The Conversation
Worst New View: Geostorm
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