Thursday, August 25, 2016

Maggie's Plan

Watching this dramedy I would have sworn to you it was a Noah Baumbach movie, which, from me, is a very high compliment. The script was crisply written, the characters well shaped, and the direction very clean and modern. It lacked the emotional resonance of a Baumbach film, for which I deducted half a star, but this was a fine film. I enjoyed it. 3.5/5

Maggie's Plan on Netflix

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Labyrinth of Lies

This German drama about the generation after the Nazis attempting to reconcile the actions of their parents and their country is truly affecting and quite well written. The acting is solid and I was thoroughly engaged throughout. This was a period of time for Germany I really didn't know much about - I was pleasantly surprised by this. 4/5

Labyrinth of Lies on Netflix

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sky

I'm a bit conflicted about this film. We get thrown into a story in medius res, which normally doesn't bother me, but much of it was in French without subtitles. I speak enough French to understand some of it, but not all of it, which left me wondering why these things were happening. The movie takes a sudden transition half way through and becomes a largely different film. I liked the second part of the film much better, and I really wish the whole film had been that story. The acting was very solid and I love the angles of the direction. This end strong, but the weak opening earned a demotion in rating. 3.5/5

Sky on Netflix

Monday, August 22, 2016

To Write Love on Her Arms

This story is about the real life struggle of Renee Yohe, whose story inspired the charity To Write Love on Her Arms. The problem with this movie is that it never actually tells us the story of Renee Yohe. We get maybe fifteen minutes of brief flashes of her past life, but no real idea how she struggled or what she went through. We never even hear her tell any of her life story to the man who eventually founded the charity, so there is really no way to know why this woman's story is inspiring at all. It all felt much like a Lifetime movie, except not even as deep as many Lifetime movies can be. I was disappointed by this - it could have been so much more. 2.5/5

To Write Love on Her Arms on Netflix

Friday, August 19, 2016

Get a Job

This is pretty cute and funny in parts with solid acting from the whole cast, especially Kendrick and Teller. I have to roll my eyes at the premise of the film, but it's well executed. Good, not great. 3/5

Get a Job on Netflix

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Intruders

An exceedingly boring, predictable, and very average thriller that was filled with bad acting and a plot I saw coming a mile away. Ugh. 2.5/5

The Intruders on Netflix

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Demolition

Jake Gyllenhaall has really been picking great scripts these days. This tragic and poignant drama both tests Gyllenhaall's reach and use of subtlety, and his very quiet breakdowns that escalate throughout the film are really affecting. The script was a bit scattered at times, but the overall tone and direction was really beautiful. I really enjoyed this. 4/5

Demolition on Netflix

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Road Within

I don't know when or how, but about twenty minutes into this I realized I'd seen it before and vaguely remembered it. However, it was funny enough that I watched it again. It's more than a little bothersome how the various mental illnesses are portrayed, but it is a pretty laugh-worthy picture nonetheless. 3.5/5

The Road Within on Netflix

Monday, August 15, 2016

Being Evel

Growing up as a kid in the 70's I knew and loved Evel Knievel. I had his toys, I thought he was a god. This documentary did a good job of separating the man, the myth, and the legend. I enjoyed this. 4/5

Being Evel on Netflix

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gloria

When we first meet Gloria, played by the 54-year-old Paulina Garcia, she is dancing alone in a club with sexy abandon. This is a woman confident in herself and her sexuality, and it is truly glorious (pun fully intended) to behold. Funny that it takes a Spanish import to make a film with such a strong, capable, sensual older woman as the lead, but it's just marvelous. I really enjoyed this film, and the ending? Superb. Highly recommended if you like good character studies. 4.5/5

Gloria on Netflix

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Lobster

This is an utterly unique movie, which, in this day and age, is no mean feat. It's hyper-stylized, but in a way I found intriguing, not off-putting. The choice of dialogue delivery confused me for a little while, until the allegorical layer of *why* everyone spoke as they did occurred to me. When I began to realize that nearly everything in this movie was layered with meaning, I became ever more intrigued. I could spend a year analyzing this and probably still miss things, but I really was totally enthralled by it. Very daring. 4/5

The Lobster on Netflix

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Evil Dead

In my eyes, there were three things that made the installments in "The Evil Dead" franchise iconic and memorable. One, a strong leading man presence in the character of Ash, played by Bruce Campbell. Two, a strong vein of black comedy to take the edge off the gore. And three, innovative, never-before-seen camera usage by Sam Raimi. This remake has none of these three things. Hell, Ash isn't even a character in the film! This is a very standard demon-and-gore fest with nothing special or memorable. It didn't even need to be called "Evil Dead", as it departs so much from the original that I don't know why they even named it that. As an unrelated horror flick it's decent enough, but it's no "Evil Dead", not even close. Hell, they didn't even have the card premonition scene, which is one of the most iconic moments in the first film. Disappointing. 3/5

Evil Dead on Netflix

Queen and Country

In my quest to watch every film Caleb Landry Jones is in I found this period British dramedy. I almost didn't recognize Jones without his glorious ginger locks, but he was captivating as ever even without them. I wish I had known this was a sequel to "Hope and Glory", which I have never seen, as it might have made the seemingly disjointed plot a bit more clear. I found the story jumped around too much and couldn't seem to settle between drama and comedy for more than a few minutes, which was off-putting to me. However, the acting was superb all around, and the film kept my attention throughout. All in all, good, but not great. 3/5

Queen and Country on Netflix

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

After Earth

Well, this wasn't good at all. However, it wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting. Let's start with the positives. The effects were decent. The plot wasn't overly complicated. And, for once, there was no big twist to screw up the end of a Shyamalan movie. I've certainly seen worse Shyamalan films before. However, that's where the praise has to end. The acting in this is awful, just awful. Jaden has a bizarre way of speaking that made him extremely difficult to understand. Many of his lines just seemed garbled, and I felt that the other actors in the film were almost trying to copy his "accent". Will Smith was bad, but Jaden was *really* bad. But perhaps the thing that bothered me the most was the central point of the film, that fear is a choice. Well, Mr. Smith, since you wrote this garbage, I would like to invite you to live in the body of anyone with an anxiety disorder and tell me fear is a choice. It's not, everything we know about biology and psychology says it's not, and I couldn't get past that to actually enjoy the film. It was just poor writing and there was no real way through it. Unless you're a Shyamalan completist, skip this one. 2/5

After Earth on Netflix

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Because I know I have readers of all kinds of political stripes, I am not going to comment on the political or factual accounts of this film, but rather only discuss the quality of the filmmaking itself. This is perhaps one of the best action thrillers I have ever seen. I never thought Michael Bay would be able to pull of both the sweeping broad strokes of the action as well as the simple intimacies of the relationships, but he did so beautifully. The acting was superb, the pace taut and compelling, and I never felt the film too long or drawn out. I admit I was so caught up in everything that I cried through the end - it was that good. A wonderful film. 4.5/5

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi