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BradWesley123's Movie Journal- June 2018
Movie list created by BradWesley123
Sort by: Showing 37 items
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The 15:17 to Paris (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 34min.
When the film actually spotlights the events on the title train, it's a thrilling and vital viewing. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't actually focus that much of the story on the event, with The 15:17 to Paris choosing instead to focus on the life stories of the heroic passengers, leading to a mostly boring, often amateurish film filled with laughable writing and unconvincing performances. While their valor is unquestionable, the central trio don't make for very compelling actors, with only Spencer Stone (the de-facto protagonist), makes much of an impact. With a more hand-on director, their inexperience could've been used to great effect, but Eastwood's one-take-and-gone approach does them no favors. Despite the hollow performances, the script is the film's main problem, choosing to fall back on boring storytelling tropes and some truly atrocious dialogue ("My God is bigger than your statistics" is easily one of the worst lines I've ever heard uttered in film). Despite it's good intentions, this film is, predominantly, a bore.
Netflix- 1hr. 34min.
Ibiza will make you want to party. Alex Richanbach's filmmaking puts you into countless late night/early morning parties, making all of them burst with life; the kind of once-in-a-lifetime parties that you'd remember for your whole life. He also nails the feel of the A.M. hours; restless, brimming with anticipation. Unfortunately, the story that the film tells is a fairly rote one about romance, friendship, and "living in the now". While the central trio of stars each do exceptional work (especially Jacobs in the rare lead role), they just can't overcome a rather pedestrian script that doesn't come close to fleshing out their characters, and forces them into, often, implausible comedic situations. A better script, and more interest in the lead characters, would've yielded a film as fun as the nightlife it portrays.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Editing- Josh Salzberg
Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
Game Night (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 28min.
While Birthmarked is well-acted and, often, comically amusing, it also never fully engages with the premise of the film, even shortchanging it for the sake of making a "likable" film. The "nature vs. nurture" debate is one that could make for a hell of a thought-provoking motion picture; a debate that is inherent to the film's story. Unfortunately, it's not tapped into here; instead of looking at the clear drawbacks and ethical concerns of the study, it sweeps them under the rug for a familiar family dramedy in the vein of Little Miss Sunshine. The cast if solid, and it's competently made, but it feels like the film is the bumper-lane of it's story; it tells the main points, but doesn't explore them in any satisfying and/or critical ways.
DVD- 1hr. 33min.
It's an impeccably mounted little supernatural-horror film, with great craft and exceptional control, but The Lodgers is just too cold and unfulfilling a film to recommend wholeheartedly. While he has a heard time getting a satisfying story out of the script, director Brian O'Malley does a strong job of creating a slow, foreboding, ominous tone that, often, instills a rumble of uneasiness. Trouble is, as mentioned, that he can't get much from the story and characters, meaning that even some of the best thrills end up feeling a bit hollow. It's a solid effort, but it just doesn't come together fully.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Costume Design (Period)- Sarajane Ffrench O'Carroll
Best Production Design (Period)- Joe Fallover, David Jones and Therese O'Leary
The Game (1997)
Showtime- 2hrs. 8min.
Despite the fact that the movie gets parodically absurd in the final act, The Game is another, mostly, taut exercise in Fincherian controlled suspense. The plot is pretty bonkers, but Fincher masterfully keeps everything serious and opaque; nothing is what it seems, even if it seems obvious. Everything goes pretty great until the third act, where things take a bizarre turn to the outright absurd; while the first two acts set up a pretty crazy plot, the third act is only one that doesn't seem to have a firm grip on the story. While I wouldn't put it past a filmmaker like Fincher to take this sharp detour, it still doesn't work all that well. Opinions will certainly vary on it, but it doesn't take away from the skill displayed in the first two acts.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Production Design (Contemporary)- Jeffrey Beecroft and Jackie Carr
Miss Congeniality (2000)
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Netflix- 1hr. 18min.
Happy Anniversary feels like the bloated pilot to a mid-2000s network sitcom; it's got mild jokes, bland protagonists, and deep truths about relationships that are neither deep nor true. The cast does what they can with it, but this is low-stakes material made unfussily; it would be admirable if the quality were there, but it isn't. There a couple of funny bits, but they're few and far between in this 70-plus minute film.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Ocean's Twelve (2004)
The Incredibles (2004)
DVD- 1hr. 55min.
Though it doesn't reach to heights that Garland was able to reach with his directorial debut Ex Machina, Annihilation is a beautiful enigma that poses some heady questions about human nature and it's impact on environment (and vice versa). If there's one major problem with the film, at least to me, it's that Garland doesn't really invest much into character work; while the actors all do exceptional work, they're doing it for inert characters that don't have much humanity (maybe that's the point). Aside from that, the story is pretty strong, give or take a few doughier areas found in the film's middle section. The ending will, no doubt, be divisive; it's opaque and symbolic, not quite forthright. That said, it's damn fine cinema; a 20-odd-minute sequence that is more captivating than anything that comes before it. Though the story doesn't quite come together in a wholly satisfying way, the film is a strong addition to the genre of of idea-driven sci-fi filmmaking.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Director- Alex Garland
Best Adapted Screenplay- Alex Garland
Best Cinematography- Rob Hardy
Best Production Design (Fantasy)- Mark Digby and Michelle Day
Best Score- Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury
Best Visual Effects
DVD- 1hr. 32min.
An exceptionally crafted warped-teen dramedy, Thoroughbreds is a coldly passionate tale of friendship and growing up that features a first-rate screenplay, and some exquisite acting. Finley's script crackles with an excess of wit and irony, and allows both Cooke and Taylor-Joy to explode of the screen with powerhouse performances. While the first act tries a bit too hard to build the plot, the film soars as it goes, becoming a surprisingly perceptive, if highly deranged, portrait of friendship.
Monthly Wesley AwardsBest Picture
Best Actress- Olivia Cooke
Best Supporting Actress- Anya Taylor-Joy
Best Supporting Actor- Anton Yelchin
Best Original Screenplay- Cory Finley
Inside Out (2015)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Death Wish (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 47min.
There is one great scene in the 2018 Death Wish; the murder of the Ice Cream Man. It's framed and shot (midshot, no movement) in such a quiet, mundane manner that, in a good film, it could've been an all-time classic. Here, it's just a quick glimpse of what could've been. Death Wish is, mostly, just another rote action/revenge flick that takes sadistic glee in brutal violence and suffering. Director Eli Roth doesn't really seem to care that this story, in a modern context, could use a more deft touch, with more thought going into the revenge angle, and especially gun violence itself; there are, in fact, several scenes that, in a smarter film, veer closer to satire of gun culture (likely left in from Joe Carnahan's mostly scrapped script). Instead, this is another movie that has an almost pornographic lust for gun violence. This may sound a bit too overtly political, but this is a pretty short comment without it because, taken on it's own merits, the film just isn't very good or particularly interesting (sans a couple of scenes).
DVD- 1hr. 41min.
There really isn't much to say The Hurricane Heist. It's not really so-bad-its-good, and it's sure as hell not interesting in any way. In all honesty, the best compliment that one could pay the film is to merely acknowledge its existence (which is still pushing it).
Monthly Wesley AwardWorst Picture
Best Worst Picture
DVD- 1hr. 50min.
Gringo is one of the most tonally ajar movies that I've seen in quite some time. It will shift, mercilessly, from wacky hi-jink comedy to sobering violence in a split-second, to everything in between. With those tonal shifts in mind, it's no surprise that the story is pretty all over the place; at it's core, it's another one of those male empowerment films where the "wimp" (Oyelowo) has to grow a spine. Trouble, it's unclear if that's really the main storyline, as Theron (who is exceptional here) and Edgerton's stories get equal billing, and often outshadow the other. In short, Gringo is a messy film. That said, there are solid elements to be found; the film suggests that it could've done well in any one tone had it settled on one, the cast is uniformly strong, and the film is solidly made (though the editing could've been toned down). Too much plot, not enough focus.
Personal Shopper (2016)
Showtime- 1hr. 45min.
Personal Shopper is a hard movie to love, but an even harder one to hate. A divisive film to be sure, I was often enamored with the film's slow, deliberate pacing, and opaque, alluring storytelling. A murder-mystery/ghost story, the film doesn't easily fit into clear narrative boxes, which is often what keeps it intriguing; there are no clean, easy answers to the existential questions it poses, but the elegance with which they're asked often give the film it's edge. While pacing can get a bit too dull during the last half of the film, it's an exceptionally crafted film with a natural lead performance (sorry K-Stew haters) to center it, and a continuously interesting story propelling it.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Costume Design (Contemporary)- Jürgen Doering
All of Me (1984)
Amazon Prime- 1hr. 31min.
Despite the humor being a bit too spotty and forced at times, All of Me makes the most of it's absurd story thanks to some genuinely funny humor and a classic performance by Steve Martin. The script sets up some great comedic potential, and Tomlin, too, always excels, but Martin's work really does power this thing. It's one of the finest examples of physical comedy to grace the silver screen, and a great performance in general. Even when the material is a little tepid, he still elevates it.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Actor- Steve Martin
Jurassic World (2015)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
The Mummy (1999)
Love, Simon (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 50min.
While it can, at times, veer into the cliched and outright corny, Love, Simon is a charming coming-of-age story that, mostly, puts a refreshing twist on a ages-old story. While it does use it's LGBT-positive story to great advantage, it's the film's energy and earnestness that work to make it special. Though it does, as mentioned, fall prey to some of the more banal machinations of the genre (emotional manipulation, character issues, messy plotting), the film is able to rebound thanks to it's care and wit, as well as solid storytelling.
Monthly Wesley AwardBest Ensemble Performance
DVD- 1hr. 26min.
A forgettable sequel to a forgotten original, Sherlock Gnomes has a couple of funny moments, and the voice cast is pretty solid, but is never anything more than a quick, disposable viewing. Maybe enough to entertain small children, but likely not enough make much of an impact on anyone above the age of four.
Wind River (2017)
Taking Lives (2004)
Netflix- 1hr. 42min.
Taking Lives is a pretty standard serial-killer/mystery flick, albeit one with a pretty lax sense of momentum, and a rather overqualified cast. That last bit is important, because it's really the only major selling point here; the cast is pretty strong, elevating the perfunctory material with energy than it deserves. The story is nothing special, with twists that everyone in the audience will see coming a mile away, but it's handling really does little to wring any life out of it; a filmmaker worth his or her salt probably could've done something solid here. That said, the cast and a few solid scenes (one set in a creepy basement, in particular, is obvious, but surprisingly well handled) work overtime to keep this from being a total bore.
Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
DVD- 1hr. 51min.
As incoherent as any Transformers film, but too bland to fit in with those film's indulgent madness; Uprising kills the potential Pacific Rim franchise with forgettable storytelling and dull action. While the original wasn't a masterpiece, it had some real filmmaking to show off, with a genuine, and often too earnest, interest in the world and characters it created. This sequel features none of that; boring characters (though Boyega is more charismatic than Charlie Hunnam from the original) just flop around in a derivative and poorly told story that is merely in service to it's okay, but never truly engaging, action. Never outright bad (though, in outright awfulness, it might've at least been more interesting), but just a true bore that doesn't live up to the energy of the original.
Hulu- 1hr. 27min.
Josie is an odd combination of Lifetime Channel-esque middle-aged man/teenage lust film and an indie-flick ruminating on life and death. Until the ending, it's a pretty unsurprising affair, albeit one that's reasonably well-acted and solidly paced. Then, that twist ending; one so out-of-left-field, yet weirdly unsurprising (it becomes mildly visible once the backstories come out). It doesn't really change or re-contextualize much that came before (it mostly feels ripped from a darker, though stupid, film), but it does make it rather memorable. It's not a particularly good film, but there's enough here merit a viewing.
Number of Movies Watched: 37
Newly Watched: 18
Time Spent: 65hrs. 46min.
Best New View: Thoroughbreds
Worst New View: The Hurricane Heist
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