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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- July 2018
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 32 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Tomb Raider (2018)
The Death of Stalin (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 46min.
While it's, surprisingly, more sobering than funny, The Death of Stalin contains some great satire, an excellent ensemble, and some deft historical filmmaking. The biggest issue that the film faces is tone; the ending is pure drama, but the comedic moments before that occasionally have a difficult time wringing the humor out of such bleak history. The cast have no problems with this, however; they're uniformly great with most giving, especially Beale, near career-best work. Make no mistake, there are some hilarious moments here, and Iannucci continues to show that he understands political scheming more than anyone else in contemporary entertainment, but it does feel, at times, that the film is biting off more than it can chew. Still, this is a strong film that enlivens a very dreary period of world history.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Supporting Actor- Simon Russell Beale
Best Adapted Screenplay- Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin and David Schneider
Best Ensemble Performance
Best Costume Design (Period)- Suzie Harman
Best Production Design (Period)- Cristina Casali and Charlotte Watts
DVD- 1hr. 33min.
While the last act is a bit of a letdown, Gemini is a, mostly, strong mystery film that prods the nature of celebrity and friendship. Director Aaron Katz effectively crafts a cold, desolate vision of California here, equals parts foreboding and forlorn. This atmosphere, aided by a top-notch cast and solid story, gives the film an, occasionally, unnerving and tense edge. The ending leaves a bit to be desired; it's not a cop-out per se, it's actually quite inspired, but the handling deflates the otherwise engrossing mystery.
HBO Now- 1hr. 30min.
It's a messy film, and the last scene plays like an unnecessarily cruel gotcha moment, Identity mostly works thanks to taut direction, solid plot twists, and a terrific ensemble. While the twists are, frankly, absurd, they're handled quite well. This is thanks to the subdued manner with which they're presented, with the cast handling it all with aplomb, and Mangold's measured, atmospheric direction. The plotting does get a bit jumbled after the big twist is revealed and the aforementioned last scene is disappointing, but it doesn't diminish the quality filmmaking that came before it.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Fantasy)- Arianne Phillips
Best Production Design (Fantasy)- Mark Friedberg and Cindy Carr
Set It Up (2018)
Netflix- 1hr. 45min.
It's derivative and cliche-ridden, but Set It Up has enough filmmaking energy to enliven many of them, as well as a two charming performances from its leads. Claire Sclanon's direction wrings as much as it can out of the okay script, with her smartest choice being to cede the film to her leads. Deutch and Powell are immediately likable, and have an easy, charming chemistry that overpowers many of the scripts weak spots. They can't save everything, but's their efforts are enough to make the film an easy, quick, worthy viewing.
I was, frankly, surprised by how much I enjoyed Acrimony. Don't get me wrong, it's not a particularly good film, but there are some moments, and a few ideas, that suggest Tyler Perry is somewhat capable of crafting a genuine, well-crafted adult drama. There are a few ideas he toys with here (mental health, victim mentality, marriage problems) that are handled decently; he, smartly, tries to both sympathize and place blame on the two acrimonious parties (though Henson's character gets a bit more), and examines these elements with a defter touch than usual. Unfortunately, it does go off the rails in the last act, when the chips are down and things descend into Fatal Attraction-esqu domestic horror, short-changing the solid first two (though the first act flashbacks are a bit much). Still, it's got some strong moments here and there, and it's well-made and acted. You could do worse than Acrimony.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 51min.
Rememory has an intriguing premise, one rife with potential. Unfortunately, it, mostly, squanders it on a languid murder-mystery that the film never truly invests in. There are a few strong scenes that actually work, predominantly those that deal with memory itself, and not the actual plot. It also gets a boost thanks to Dinklage's empathetic performance it's center, one that imbues even the weakest scenes with something close to pathos. The film is mostly a model of what could've been; never outright bad, but one that needed a bit script to reach it's full potential.
DVD- 1hr. 49min.
Beirut is an admirably lean geopolitical thriller with quality filmmaking and strong casting, that is letdown, a bit, by pedestrian storytelling. Aside from the relentlessness of the camera, it is always moving, the film is quite well made, with special kudos going to the editing and sound departments, and the cast, particularly Hamm, lend the film an authentic gravitas that grounds it all. The script is really the only weak point; it's not bad, it balances a lot, but several beats towards the end feel too convenient and unearned, lessening the film's overall impact. It doesn't overshadow all of the film's pleasures though, and the film is a worthwhile viewing.
DVD- 1hr. 35min.
Terminal is an unbelievably absurd throwback to both stylized 80s noir-thrillers and Tarantino/Ritchie aping gangster flicks of the 1990s. This, at it's core, makes the film a mixed bag; when it goes for heightened, glossy camp, it is gleefully silly enough to be a fun viewing. When it goes for the "witty" dialogue-heavy scenes though, it's a bore. There are a few things the film's got going for it. Firstly, Robbie is terrific; she fits into this world like a glove, nailing every insane/asinine element that writer-director Vaughn Stein throws at her. She's aided by the pornographically kitschy production and costume design, and striking neon-infused cinematography, that do a lot to distract from the frequent turgidity of the plot. I can't call it a good film, because it is not, but I can safely say that the film preposterous enough that I did find myself, often, enjoying it. Do with that whatever you like.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Cinematography- Christopher Ross
Best Costume Design (Contemporary)- Julian Day
Best Production Design (Contemporary)- Richard Bullock and Zoltán Frank
Class Action (1991)
HBO Now- 1hr. 50min.
While the legal proceedings aren't the most tension-filled or involving (the fact that courtroom scenes are slim and the case doesn't really come into play until the second hour is likely to blame for this), the character moments often ring true enough to make Class Action intermittently compelling. Hackman and Mastrantonio are the real reasons to watch, and when it allows their fraught father-daughter to play out (as it does in one extended scene in the middle), it works exceedingly well. The legal stuff just never works though; not enough time has gone into crafting a very interesting or thrilling courtroom showdown. One half of the movie works exceptionally well, while the other never gets that much momentum.
DVD- 1hr. 47min.
There are a few solid, thrilling moments, but they're primarily lost in a see of bland and tedious storytelling. 7 Days in Entebbe can, occasionally, thrill thanks to the compelling nature of the true story, but it's too muddled thematically to make an impact; the lack of a solid lead to focus the picture (there are about five or six characters vying for that title), a plot that foregoes messy real-world intrigue for basic beats, and a subplot, featuring an Israeli dance troupe, that is fatally inexplicable (it, essentially, destroys the raid finale). A dull and plodding motion picture; just pass.
Central Intelligence (2016)
How It Ends (2018)
Netflix- 1hr. 53min.
How It Ends has some thrilling moments, and some solid performances, but it's script just doesn't try to push the formula, not even a little bit. The solid moments to be found in this film are on the filmmaking side of things, though none could be called inspiring; the competent craft found in some of the finer set pieces, and the moments of tension that director David M. Rosenthal is able to enliven. The story just plods along though, culminating in an ending that can only loosely be called an ending; no conclusions or closure to be found. Diverting enough, but you'll wish the film tried for more than that.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Sound
Best Visual Effects
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Hulu- 1hr. 46min.
Allure is a tough viewing. It's subject matter is tough, it's story is tough, it's execution is tough. It grapples with some truly disturbing material and, while it doesn't quite nail everything it attempts to, it's vital, timely storytelling. The story, smartly, presents no easy options or answers, and consistently clouds otherwise clear motivations, to the point where we feel just as unsure as the characters. Though this does get the film into some murky territory that it doesn't quite wade through completely, the victim-victimizer roles felt a bit manipulative at times, it still deserves credit for posing the topics in a way that films natural. The film is, also, propelled thanks to some truly superb performances, with the whole cast just crushing it. Stone does some breakout work with her increasing unsure and isolated character, and O'Hare makes his character difficult character feel unnervingly human, but it's Wood's career-best work that carries the film, crafting a pitiful, complex portrait of a woman living in and passing on a cycle of abuse. Not an easy or completely successful film, but it's a powerful viewing experience, love it or hate it.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Actress- Evan Rachel Wood
Best Supporting Actress- Julia Sarah Stone
DVD- 1hr. 46min.
It's all technically compelling and clearly presented, but Chappaquiddick is too cold and didactic to make anything resembling a lasting impact. Again, it's a proficient film; it's quite well-made, and the cast, particularly Clarke, all do solid work. There's just no blood pumping through the film's veins, with no real emotion and/or point-of-view guiding it. It's fine, but this story deserved more than fine.
HBO Now- 1hr. 57min.
While I wouldn't necessarily call it a revolutionary, revealing documentary that revises the audience's understanding of who Robin Williams was, Come Inside My Mind is an exceptional eulogy that digs into the stars style and methods, painting a vivid and touching tribute to the icon. If the documentary truly excels at anything, it's illustrating just what a unique and one of a kind talent Robin Williams was, and chooses some exceptional clips and stories to show that fact. It's an exceedingly entertaining and powerful look at Williams life; one that does, often, truly get inside the star's mind.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Documentary
Best Editing- Poppy Das & Greg Finton
The Face of Love (2013)
Netflix- 1hr. 32min.
If the The Face of Love committed to the style and emotion of the melodrama's that it's plot aspires to, it would be more than the blandly respectable film that it is. I say "respectable", even though the film is, mostly, a bore, because it's all competently made, with some terrific performances and interesting ideas. Aside from the work of Bening and Harris, who do a lot of heavy lifting, the film just feels like a missed opportunity.
Hulu- 1hr. 33min.
While it doesn't necessarily break any new ground in regards to documentaries on cinema, Score is a fun little piece of ear porn that'll satisfy cinema and music fans. The biggest disappointment of the film is that it doesn't really delve too deep into the process of creating music for films. While it does offer a few insights, too much of the film is devoted to the history of scoring. It's all quite fun, even the history, the one does wish the film went for more specificity.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
The Late Show (1977)
FilmStruck- 1hr. 33min.
It takes a little too long for the film to come together, around the second act, but The Late Show eventually becomes a fun little mystery with two exceptional performances from Art Carney and Lily Tomlin. As mentioned, the movie doesn't start cooking until the second act, as the first is a bit too reliant on exposition and setup; it's doesn't really balance this well with character beats and momentum. Once it puts Carney and Tomlin together, and leans into their comedic sensibilities, the film excels, becoming a fun mystery that entertains.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Original Screenplay- Robert Benton
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
DVD- 1hr. 30min.
It's not the easiest of film's to appreciate, but You Were Never Really Here is an effective, blunt and brutal piece of pulp-thriller, powered by Ramsay's mastery of filmmaking and yet another powerful performance by Joaquin Phoenix. The story is a fairly rote one, but Ramsay's direction heightens the brutally to new artistic heights; this isn't forced faux-grittiness, this all serves the world and story's purpose. It doesn't work without Phoenix though; bulkier than ever, he's a hulking, intimidating figure with a propensity for violence, of both the rage-filled and cold-blooded variety. Not for the squeamish or fans of fast-paced cinema, but those looking for a slow, brutal burn should likely come away pleased.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Director- Lynne Ramsay
Best Actor- Joaquin Phoenix
Best Score- Jonny Greenwood
I Feel Pretty (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 50min.
While there's a fun and interesting premise at the core of I Feel Pretty, the film never truly probes it, instead coasting on strained and tired jokes, and too-general portrayals of the beauty industry and their social effects. While the theme of body positivity is always welcome, the film goes about it so bluntly there's little nuance to explore. At the end of the day, however, it's a comedy, and it's success or failure is dependent on the jokes. Ultimately, they're just not up to snuff; the cast elevates the whole thing, but can completely enliven the frequently stale material. There are enough charming moments and, again, the film's central message are strong enough that the film isn't a complete wash, but there's so much more that could've been done here that it registers as a solid disappointment.
Knight and Day (2010)
Truth or Dare (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 40min.
An interesting set-up gives way to a tedious, cliched, and outright stupid "horror" film. It's hard to truly review a film like Truth or Dare; it's bad, obviously, but's somewhat immune to criticism. As bad as it gets, it's never less than watchable, and it's occasionally mildly entertaining (not necessarily in a good way); i.e. I can't really say "don't watch it", because it's absurd enough to warrant, at least, a half-watch. That said, it's a bland mess of cliches in the storytelling department (one scene though, involving a character's attempt to come-out to their father, is actually original though, primarily for it's misguided cruelty), the cast is prettier than they are good, and the direction is "competent". Though it does deserve some credit; it's one of the few dumb movies that finds a way to have an ending dumber than anything that came before it.
Monthly Wesley AwardsWorst Picture
Best Worst Picture
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Number of Movies Watched: 32
Newly Watched: 20
Time Spent: 58hrs. 50min.
Best New View: You Were Never Really Here
Worst New View: Truth or Dare
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