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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- February 2019
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 36 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Netflix- 1hr. 52min.
There's a solid concept at the center of Velvet Buzzsaw, with the art world ripe for a solid satire (hell, the title Velvet Buzzsaw is pretty damn great), and horror/satire has become a rather booming genre as of late (look at what Jordan Peele's been doing). Unfortunately, writer/director Dan Gilroy doesn't know how to do two important things; satire and horror. He, also, doesn't come close to merging them in a cohesive way. He's probably better in the horror department, because he manages to compose a couple of solid thrills, and the film itself is just as, if not moreso, superficial than the art world it's lampooning. There are, also, a bunch of stunningly uninteresting subplots, (like one where John Malkovich plays an aging artist recovering from substance abuse who attempts to survive in the ever-changing art scene, that's played completely straight) and superfluous characters. Once most of them are dispatched, however, and Gyllenhaal takes over, the film does manage to become somewhat compelling. Not enough to make the film satisfying, however.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Fantasy)- Trish Summerville and Isis Mussenden
Best Production Design (Fantasy)- James D. Bissell and Jan Pascale, David Smith
The Wife (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 40min.
The biggest issue The Wife has is expectation; you expect it to go one way, and it does. The destination is telegraphed throughout the film, and it never does a whole lot to change that, or even make us think that it might. This isn't a killer, like it might be for most films, due to the fact that the film is exceptionally executed, with solid storytelling, subtle direction, and another powerhouse performance by Glenn Close (the cast is strong, including Close's daughter Annie Starke as the younger version of her character, but it's her show). It doesn't do anything new, but it does what it does quite well, with enough emotion bubbling under the surface to keep things engaging.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Supporting Actress- Annie Starke
The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)
DVD- 1hr. 58min.
The first two acts of The Bad and the Beautiful are damn near-perfect. The acting, craft and, especially, screenwriting are so on-point, so damn enchanting, that it's almost unbelievable how good it is; it's the essential Hollywood melodrama. Then the last story comes, and the film comes back down to Earth. It's well-told and performed, but it just doesn't have the bite of the first two. They do pull it together for the last scene though, bringing this satire of the glitzy underbelly of Tinsletown to a wonderfully bitter close. This is a must-see Hollywood classic.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Classic Picture
Best Director- Vincente Minnelli
Best Actor- Kirk Douglas
Best Ensemble Performance
Best Original Screenplay- Charles Schnee and George Bradshaw
Best Cinematography (Classic)/(B&W)- Robert Surtees
Best Score- David Raskin
Best Production Design (Classic)- Edward Carfagno & Cedric Gibbons and Keogh Gleason & Edwin B. Willis
Born Yesterday (1951)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 42min.
It's a bit too sitcom-y in it's humor, and a bit too pedestrian in it's politics, but Born Yesterday is a sweet, funny, and charming classic. While I wouldn't go as far as to say she deserved the 1950 Oscar (just look at the lineup there), Judy Holliday is a tornado of energy here. Her Bronx baby-doll voice, her comedic timing, the humanity she gives to a character that, easily, could've descended into parody; she runs away with an already strongly-tooled film, and gives the feminist story real bite. It'd probably be a solid film with another star in the role, it's a hard story to completely mess up, but it's Holliday that gives it legs.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Actress- Judy Holliday
Best Adapted Screenplay- Albert Mannheimer
Big Hero 6 (2014)
The Lego Movie (2014)
The Lion King (1994)
Darkest Hour (2017)
Happy Death Day (2017)
Hunter Killer (2018)
DVD- 2hrs. 1min.
Hunter Killer isn't a particularly good movie, but it isn't a total slog to watch either. In it's many attempts to be a real world analogy, with Russian-U.S. relations, tough talks/screaming, and Goddamn patriotism, it's veers to unintentional camp (the scenes with Gary Oldman are just excuses to see him scream). When it sticks to the action though, it's surprisingly solid. Sure, the story beats are highly inelegant (or outright simple) and the visual effects are, mostly, distracting bad, but there's enough decent thrills to entertain on a snowy Sunday afternoon.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Sound Editing
Best Worst Picture
DVD- 2hrs. 3min.
Cimarron is at once both an impressive cinematic feat, and a hilariously aged ham-fest. One has to admire the effort on display; a 1931 film attempts to tell a multi-generation spanning story about the ramifications of ambition, and the inability to evolve one's perspective. For a film of that era to attempt that, and, in doing, craft sprawling spectacle is still a remarkable thing. It's storytelling is exceedingly spotty though; it's a lumbering film that never gains much in the way in forward momentum. It's messaging is, also, all over the place; we're supposed to be on Yancey's (Richard Dix, in one of the hammiest performances to ever grace the screen) side. He's a striver, his eye's always fixed forward. In doing this, the film attempts to vilify Sabra (a strong Irene Dunne) for being a rationalist; while she, certainly, holds regressive about gender, race and class, Yancey's an absentee asshat who just wants more. This lends something rather hollow to the final reconciliation. The film is, also, stirringly racist. Not in somewhat old-timey (bad, but somewhat stomach-able) ways, in a highly creepy, hilariously absurd way. Deserves to be seen, but not necessarily heard.
DVD- 1hr. 55min.
Gigi has, to put it mildly, not aged well. Sure, it's a sumptuously mounted production, with gorgeous costume and production design and beautifully vivid cinematography, but it's story is, at best, tone deaf, and at worst creepy as all hell ("Thank Heaven for Little Girls", despite being an earworm, was too weird for me to fully stomach). It also lacks the essential ingredients needed to make a great musical romance; energy, wit and, most importantly, heart. While it does level out towards the end (once it embraces that it is, in fact, just a warmed-over version of My Fair Lady), it doesn't satisfy.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actor- Maurice Chevalier
Best Costume Design (Period)- Cecil Beaton
Best Production Design (Period)- Cecil Beaton and Preston Ames & William A. Horning, Keogh Gleason & Henry Grace
Best Song- "Gigi"
Best Sound Mixing
The Apartment (1960)
The Sting (1973)
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 28min.
It's too scattershot, too hit-or-miss, and/or too outright lazy to provide more than a few cheap laughs, but Johnny English Strikes Again is, admittedly, harmless fun. Marking a definite improvement over it's predecessor, Strikes Again actually does contain a pulse, with a few gags that give Atkinson some okay physical comedy to play with. Few are particularly inspired, but benefit from the lead's commitment (the VR bit is too obvious to really satisfy, but Atkinson sells enough to enliven it). If the English saga truly wants to course correct though, it'll take stronger jokes and more, or any, consistency.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Production Design (Contemporary)- Annie Hardinge
Forrest Gump (1994)
Million Dollar Baby (2005)
The Departed (2006)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
The King's Speech (2010)
The Artist (2011)
The Shape of Water (2017)
The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 55min.
Abandoning the exploitative violence and emotion of the Swedish series, and the cold, lurid pulp of Fincher's film, The Girl in the Spider's Web brings Lisbeth Salander back for a rather bland outing. Claire Foy does fine in the lead, though not as immediately incendiary as her predecessors, but she's not given a whole lot to work with; the script is a basic boilerplate Euro-tinged thriller, with conspiracies and violence abounding. Director Fede Álvarez does some decent work with the action, but can't marry them with the bland absurdity of the plot. It's watchable, and even somewhat engaging later in the film, but a major step down from any of the Millennium films that came before it.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Costume Design (Contemporary)- Carlos Rosario and Ellen Mirojnick
Netflix- 1hr. 30min.
Despite being a bit too cold and stagy for it's own good (Soderbergh's almost voyeuristic camera takes some of the emotion out of it, and the film is too reliant on two person face-offs), High Flying Bird is a smart and energetic examination of the ways that black men are often defined and exploited by sports. Soderbergh's direction is a bit too static for the material; this has nothing to do with the iPhone that he uses to shoot the film, or technology itself (in fact, I've been impressed with what he's doing lately with phone photography), but the cold way he shoots this conversation-heavy film. A few different angles here, some silhouette lighting there; too repetitive. That said, he gets some great stuff from his cast (especially Andre Holland in the lead) and milks a crackling script by Tarell Alvin McCraney for all it's worth. A more full-blooded approach could've done the film good, but this is a timely film with some stirring insights.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Cinematography (Modern)- Steven Soderbergh
Best Editing- Steven Soderbergh
Netflix- 1hr. 32min.
Agatha and the Truth of Murder is a perfectly amiable, watchable film. And that's about it. For a film as easygoing as this to truly stand out, it's gotta have a deep reservoir of wit and charm and, while there are certainly flashes (especially in Ruth Bradley's winning performance as the legendary author), it just doesn't have enough. If all you're looking for is a likable diversion though, this one should do fine.
Monthly Wesley AwardsMost Forgettable Picture
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 37min.
If you're looking for a Y/A adaptation to watch, may god have mercy on your soul, and you could do a lot worse than Every Day. In fact, this one is infinitely better than most. The concept at the center, falling in love with a being that inhabits a new body each day, is one that could lead to some very interesting ideas about race, gender, sexuality, and the idea of self. Despite touching on these a bit (gender and sexual orientation mostly), the biggest issue the film has is that it doesn't commit to them, or, at the very least, any one of them. The being's affliction is treated, predominately, as, simply, an obstacle; it is, but there's a lot of potential ground here. It's well-made film, with a compelling lead performance from Angourie Rice, and a story that is never less than intriguing. If only the story went deeper, looking at the concepts of love though societal lens like gender or sexuality, then it would've been so much more.
Number of Movies Watched: 36
Newly Watched: 12
Time Spent: 65hrs. 43min.
Best New View: The Bad and the Beautiful
Worst New View: Hunter Killer
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