Hey everyone! After catching you all up on my recent TV and series watching I have 6 movies to do the same for. It’s been a very busy time for me with theater, movies, television, books, podcasts, travel and more but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Here are my thoughts on 6 recent movies:
I know there are many who vociferously defend director M Night Shyamalan. I am not one of those people. I find him to be a very gimmicky filmmaker who tries to outsmart the viewers rather than simply telling a good story. His latest Old has an intriguing premise about a group caught on a beach where they rapidly age including the children who we see as 3 different actors.
The problem with Old is it takes a 22 minute short and stretches it out to 2 hours. There’s not enough story here. The actors try especially Thomasin McKenzie who I have loved in many projects like Jojo Rabbit and Leave No Trace. But the actors aren’t given enough development for their characters and are strapped with terrible dialogue. I also really disliked the camerawork, full of extreme close ups and blurry one shots. It took me out of the movie every time as if Shyamalan wanted to draw attention to himself instead of the story. It also has at least 2 endings too many, so overall it’s a pass on Old for this critic. It’s not one of the director’s worst but that’s really not saying much.
3 out of 10
Once I Was Engaged
Back in 2015 there was a sweet little movie called Once Upon a Beehive. Ostensibly a faith-based film but one that focused on tolerance, kindness and acceptance by girls at a Latter-day Saint teenage girls camp. Now because we can’t have nice things we have a sequel called Once I was Engaged. While this film does take some narrative risks I admire, it did not work for me as a comedy.
It’s a little hard to talk about the story choices without giving away spoilers but let’s just say it sets up as a traditional wedding movie but there is always something off with the couple. It’s just not quite working the way it should. The problem is the jokes feel like a Mormon movie from the 2000s with easy jokes like watching The Princess Bride, eating tons of froyo or having Mitt Romney record a wedding congratulations video. I don’t know how funny jokes like that ever were but they certainly aren’t amusing now.
The problem with a movie like this is if the chemistry is off and the jokes aren’t working the whole thing feels very self-absorbed and tiresome quickly. A wedding is just a day. A marriage is what actually matters. These movies lose that.
4 out of 10
Director Tom McCarthy is certainly making a name for himself with one of the most eclectic filmographies working today. Of course, he has the Oscar winning film Spotlight from 2015 that I loved but he also has sweet dramas like The Visitor and family films like last years Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made that I adored. Now he has the new slice of life drama Stillwater starring Matt Damon that I admire more than I love but I’d still recommend seeing.
Stillwater tells the story of Bill Baker, a rough and tumble oil-rig worker from Oklahoma that goes to Marseille, France to try and help his daughter (Abigail Breslin) out of prison in an Amanda Knox type scenario. While there he becomes attached to a French woman and her daughter as they seek to find out the truth in his daughter’s case.
The strongest thing about Stillwater is the performances. Damon is fantastic and completely believable as Bill. Breslin is also good along with the entire cast. It feels like a slice of life with the highs and lows that go along with it. However, it also feels tonally disconnected and the story is all over the place. One minute it’s a light romance. The next a father/daughter family movie and then an investigative thriller and even horror. It’s a lot and the pacing is very slow. One can’t help but feel a lot of scenes are unnecessary and could have been cut.
Still, I recommend it for the positive attributes.
6 out of 10
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with Annette. This film opened the Cannes Film Festival this year and it is without a doubt one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so strange it seems destined to become a cult classic and that’s probably where it belongs. It is only for the aggressively artistic filmgoer. Mainstream moviegoer beware.
The best way I can describe Annette is it is a musical by the Sparks Brothers as directed by Leos Carax. It stars Adam Driver as a controversial stand up comedian who has an opera-singing wife in Marion Cotillard. They have a baby named Annette who is depicted in various types of puppets. The music is not your typical Broadway style but wild rock ballads that accompany strange, sometimes shocking imagery. The plot is thin and at 139 minutes I became exhausted with the shenanigans on stage.
I have to say I didn’t hate the experience of watching Annette unlike some super artsy films. There is a charm to it that movies like The Dead Don’t Die or Film Socialism don’t have. Those movies pander to their audience. This puts audaciousness out as art and hopes the audience has fun with it.
However, I don’t really know what it is trying to say or why it had to be so inaccessible? Couldn’t it have even more of an impact if it had a cohesive story and narrative? A lot of the good parts feel wasted in an orgy of nonsensical imagery. That said, if you are up for something completely bizarre give it a watch. It has strong sensuality so be forewarned.
All the singing and music is really good. Cotillard didn’t need to be dubbed in La Vie en Rose. She’s a great singer along with Driver!
5.5 out of 10
An Artsy Smile Worthy
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
From a super nutty arthouse film to a standard run-of-the-mill action film we have it all on this set of mini reviews. By way of Hasbro and Paramount we have a new action film loosely in the GI Joe family called Snake Eyes. It is an origin story for the character of Snake Eyes played by Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians fame. I love Golding. He is a movie star in the making and may be the most handsome and charming actor working in Hollywood today. He’s definitely in my top 3.
And to be honest he is the main reason to watch this film. While they don’t take full advantage of his charisma and charm he’s still a solid leading man and puts up a good performance. The action is generic and uses too much shaky cam but it’s a serviceable fun martial arts style action movie. Not great but watchable. It left me mildly curious for the next installment. Hopefully in that one they will use Samara Weaving more because she is totally wasted here.
I’d say it is similar in quality to this year’s Mortal Kombat but this one has Golding so it gets the edge and the mild recommendation. I also liked Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, who’s character is arguably a co-protagonist. Also I know nothing about GI Joe so can’t speak to that aspect of the film
5.5 out of 10