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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- July 2017
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 29 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Netflix- 1hr. 32min.
While it does resemble something of a Y/A version of a Coen Brothers movie, Deidra & Laney Rob a Train is able to infuse enough wit and style of its own to stand on its own two legs. The writing is solid and the filmmaking is too, its well-paced and properly energized, but the film belongs to its cast, specifically its leads. Ashleigh Murray and Rachel Crow are so charming and assured in their characters that even had the script been crap, the film still would've been worth a look. It doesn't always work; like most of these indie-caper flicks, the end isn't as strong as anything that comes before, and the script does let a few characters down. These are minor flaws though, and the film is just a fun, breezy view.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Supporting Actress- Rachel Crow
DVD- 1hr. 39min.
Collide is an especially bland action movie that squanders a pretty solid cast. Kingsley adds some decent ham to it, but there's not enough cheese to really balance it out.
Before I Fall (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 39min.
It doesn't always go down smooth, but Before I Fall is mostly successful Y/A-Groundhog Day hybrid. It can be heavy-handed and too "on-the-nose" for its own good (subtle, this film is not) , but the film gets a lot of mileage out of its inherently intriguing set-up, some perceptive insights into modern teenage life and a great lead performance from Zoey Deutch.
DVD- 2hrs. 28min.
Director Martin Koolhoven deserves praise for the ambition that he brings to Brimstone; it's an epic about obsession and abuse that shifts across multiple timelines and perspectives, featuring exceptional performances and strong craftsmanship. Unfortunately, his ambition is often let down by a reliance on suffering as a means to driving the story. Pain can be mined some great storytelling, but when its used as a crutch to propel your story, instead of genuine character work, then it becomes repetitive and dull. Despite some great strides, the film can't overcome the repetitiveness hollowness at its core.
The World's End (2013)
War Machine (2017)
Netflix- 2hrs. 2min.
There are some great individual scenes featured in War Machine; some funny, some insightful, some thrilling, some perceptive. Trouble is, none of them ever really feel like they should be in the same movie. This thing is a tonal mess, sometimes playing scenes for over-the-top yucks, others for sobering historical drama. This tonal frenzy extends to the lead as well; Brad Pitt gives the oddest, most stilted (though it seems intentionally so), tick-heavy performance of his career, and rarely does it ever seem properly calibrated to the film at hand. While enough of the individual scenes worked for me (some are exceptional), I can't overlook the fact that it never really comes together to form a coherent whole. If director David Michôd would've settled on a tone, one that doesn't distract from or contradict others, and reigned in his lead, this could've made for a great film. As it stands, it's a weird hybrid that is only intermittently strong.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Take Me (2017)
Netflix- 1hr. 24min.
While not the most original of films, Take Me is an exceptionally-executed two-hander with a smart script and excellent performances from Pat Healy and Taylor Schilling. You've likely seen this kind of film before, kidnapper and kidnappee, but Take Me diverges by adding some elements of mystery about consent and assault, often blurring the lines. It sounds a bit heavy, but the film often works due to the comedy that comes from this friction, which the leads handle brilliantly; its their movie, and the film lives and dies based on everything they do. Healy, also the director, adds enough ambiguity to his performance that the seemingly sympathetic character often tows the line between vulnerability and creepiness, and it works very well. Schilling gets more to do here than on Orange is the New Black, and she handles it with gusto; she, too, tows multiple lines that you're often questioning the motives of the character. The fact that the film ends in a surprisingly predictable way highlights the intelligence of film; it keeps you guessing even when you've seen it before.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Actor- Pat Healy
Best Actress- Taylor Schilling
DVD- 1hr. 41min.
There are a few scenes that prove to be amusing, but Chips feels content to be a shitty 21 Jump Street knockoff, without even an once of the wit or charm that that film (and its sequel) had. Had this been made in the 1990s, then maybe it could've passed for hip or subversive; today, it's an often painfully unfunny and weirdly homophobic/sexist turd that doesn't feature one genuinely-conceived joke in its whole damn runtime. Had not been for one of the films featured below, it would've easily taken this month's "Worst Picture" prize (or "prize").
A Cure for Wellness (2017)
DVD- 2hrs. 26min.
A Cure for Wellness is such a weird film, and not always by design, that even the worst scenes are alluring. It doesn't really fit neatly into a box; it's not quite a horror film, or sci-fi, or fantasy, or even romance. At best, you could say it's a "gothic" something (probably one of the above). The story takes so many different routes, that it was bound to be fairly uneven; the ending doesn't quite live up to what's built to it. Despite a few narrative issues, this film is an often hypnotic enigma that will, if you're willing, completely grab your attention. The film is so damn immersive in its design that its hard to look away; production-wise, this is an immaculately made film. Sure, the story does falter at times (and its overly-long), but there's enough meat to it that, combined with the craft, it can be forgiven for its missteps.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Director- Gore Verbinski
Best Cinematography- Bojan Bazelli
Best Score- Benjamin Wallfisch
Best Production Design- Eve Stewart, and Mark Rosinski and Michael Standish
Table 19 (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 27min.
The cast is quite good, and a few of the angles that the film explores admirably try to break from genre cliches, but Table 19 is still an often bland, typical ensemble comedy. Really, the cast is essentially the only thing propelling this film; the script is light on laughs and more on convoluted relationship drama, none of it presented organically (friction just sort of appears).
Teenage Cocktail (2016)
Netflix- 1hr. 28min.
Teenage Cocktail hits a lot of the check-marks associated with a modern internet-age nightmare; sex, drugs, teenagers, etc. Though it does a lot right, the cast is exceptional (particularly Bloom and Healy) and the filmmaking is more thoughtful than the script its acting out, but it can't get away from full-length PSA trappings, at least not completely. The script is, also, a bit lopsided, with several strong scenes but too many with not much narrative meat (nor real character development). There is enough good here to recommend a view though; its one that'll probably provoke differing reactions from those viewing.
DVD- 2hrs. 1min.
Had it not been for the cheesy, poorly-developed script, and haphazard execution Knowing might've had a chance at glory. The bare-bones of the story hint at an exploration of science and religion and faith; destiny and fate. A few times, the film actually seems to hint at something truly spectacular, but never really engages with it. There's some solid spectacle on display here, but its not enough to overcome a poorly executed story.
Free Fire (2016)
DVD- 1hr. 30min.
The plot is exceedingly thin, but Free Fire owns that; this is a film that you watch for the energy and the quips, and it mostly succeeds in both of those departments. The cast is delightful, hitting all of the marks that this film needs, and director Ben Wheatley injects the film with enough energy that the narrative flaws, or lack of narrative entirely, can be forgiven. Solidly fun picture.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Editing- Amy Jump & Ben Wheatley
Their Finest (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 57min.
Though it can be exceptionally cloying and maudlin at times, Their Finest is an often exceptionally charming ode to the power of cinema and all the misfits it attracts. The story is inherently attractive, and the movie understands that. While it does contain a fair amount of melodrama, that can be chalked up to the era of filmmaking that it's attempting to emulate (though one plot turn towards the end had me screaming at the screen). The cast all hit their roles with natural likability, and its period-appropriate design is pleasant. Its a fun little movie.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actor- Bill Nighy
Best Adapted Screenplay- Gaby Chiappe
Best Costume Design- Charlotte Walter
DVD- 1hr. 32min.
Overly twee and excessively dull, This Beautiful Fantastic squanders a perfectly likable cast and a, not totally, terrible story on a collection of feel-good/"live life" platitudes. It's about 90 minutes of nothing of genuine note; things happen, but they're so damn cloying that they'll likely repel you enough to forget. The three-star rating can be attributed to the efforts of the cast, who manage to charm more than they should with a script this poor.
Netflix- 1hr. 30min.
Operator is a mostly successful probe of the links between technology and humanity, even if it frequently skirts those issues in favor of relationship drama. The biggest issue the film faces is likely the inelegance of the script; it poses a lot of great questions, but consistently gets bogged down with relationship tedium. The relationship stuff isn't bad; it's the meat of the story, and Starr and Whitman do some great work with it. It's just that they end up conflicting with each other to the point that it ends up feeling underdeveloped. Still, a solid effort that is never less than good.
Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Netflix- 1hr. 32min.
While the plot gets fairly difficult to follow as the film goes on (by design, but still), Berberian Sound Studio is a predominantly queasy psychological thriller that puts you into the shoes of it's protagonist, scaring the shit out of you. The sound design is superb, which should be expected with a film that has the gall to put "sound" in it's title, and Toby Jones lead role helps ratchet-up the tension. The story does get a bit questionable towards the end, but few films capture the terror of psychosis this well.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Sound
Secret Agent (1936)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 26min.
Secret Agent was made 81 years ago; i.e. no matter the quality of the story is, it's bound to feel a bit dated. That "bygone era" feel to is honestly quite fine; seeing how movies were made when the medium was still in its infancy is always an amusing activity. This is all a long way of saying that if the story is fine, the aging wouldn't matter much. Unfortunately, the story for this Hitchcock film is rather dull, and he can't squeeze much from it. There are scenes where the craftsmanship and ambition are enough to carry it along, but boring story and stilted dialogue make it a curiosity watch at most.
Netflix- 2hrs. 1min.
Warning: Okja is one of the more depressing films I've seen in a long time. Sure, its packaged as an action-adventure (which it is, and superbly so), but the film's harsh depiction of GMOs adds terror to underline the picture. Despite this, the film is often thrillingly fun with some great action, especially the many chase sequences, and performances, which range from subtle to, in Jake Gyllenhaal's case, gonzo. What makes the movie what it is is the message underpinning it; GMOs, and humanity's, treatment of animals is horrendous and inhuman, and leads to rampant immorality. It can be pretty heavy-handed in this message, but it's also frequently powerful because of it. It isn't a complete success, but Okja is an exceptionally immersive experience.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Original Screenplay- Bong Joon Ho and Jon Ronson
Best Visual Effects
The Zookeeper's Wife (2017)
DVD- 2hrs. 6min.
It can be a bit bland at times, and its wholly predictable, but The Zookeeper's Wife is an amiable, well-made (and well-intentioned) history lesson with a strong central performance from Jessica Chastain. It's overlong and doesn't have much flavor, but there is enough complexity to the characters and situations to merit interest. I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend it, but it's a solid movie with an important story, so maybe it's necessary.
DVD- 1hr. 34min.
It's as rambling and unfocused as its title protagonist, but Wilson often works thanks to a superb performance from Woody Harrelson, and a wealth of oddly-perceptive humor. There's a lot to like with this movie, and individual scenes work exceptionally, but the film can't quite overcome the episodic nature of the script, which packs scenes on top of scene without much connection; granted, there's definitely a through line to the film, but the scenes occur tangentially related in a tonally-ajar manner, meaning there's a disconnect from scene-to-scene. There are still too many strong moments to discount the whole though, and Harrelson captures the misanthropy and weird enthusiasm of the character perfectly.
Netflix- 1hr. 50min.
City of Tiny Lights has some strong elements (cast, setting), including a semi-fresh perspective to frame a neo-noir around. Unfortunately, all of this is often rendered incoherent by some exceptionally poor stylistic decisions. Sure, the plot doesn't actually warm up until the second half, but that would be acceptable, or at the very least palatable, if the editing weren't so frantic and/or the cinematography so jittery. This genre derives so much from calm and stillness that even a little movement can feel out of place; here, the camera never stops moving, to the point where seemingly normal scenes are all over the place that basic plot elements end up being lost. The editing doesn't help matters, throwing us in and out of scenes with reckless abandon. I would love to see a movie with the same script, but this time made borderline competently. That would be a genuine sight.
DVD- 2hrs. 2min.
I am being as honest as I can when I say that Correspondence is, quite possibly, the most boring movie that I have ever seen. The film's story was, presumably, written on a cocktail napkin, and never evolved from there. Repetitive, nonsensical, cloying, dull; there are hundreds of negative adjectives that I could ascribe to this film, but that would require me to think about the film more than I wish to. Only watch this movie if you're interested in wasting two hours of your life.
Monthly Wesley AwardWorst Picture
Number of Movies Watched: 29
Newly Watched: 22
Time Spent: 52hrs. 13min.
Best New View: Okja
Worst New View: Correspondence
7 votesThe Complete Wesley: 2017 Movie Journal (13 lists)
list by BradWesley123
Published 3 years, 7 months ago
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