Playing Catch-Up: Movie Edition!

Hello all!  If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know that I love film!  I love to go to the theater for both mainstream and independent flicks.  I love to rent from RedBox, I love to stream.  I’m very passionate about watching films!

Unfortunately, thanks to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, hosting guests, and getting the flu… I’ve been slacking on my reviews (and writing in general).  Because enough time has passed since I watched the following movies, I thought I’d buck the usual format and bring you a series of quick reviews of some of the things I’ve watched in the last month or two that (for the most part) weren’t impressionable enough to warrant a full separate post. Ready?  Let’s go!


 

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Title:  The House

Director: Andrew Jay Cohen

Starring:  Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Ryan Simpkins, Jason Mantzoukas

Rating:  D

Thoughts:  This movie was packed with some very funny and talented personalities and yet still managed to fall flat and be instantly forgettable.  Do we really need any more comedic attempts to illustrate how bad our current economic climate is that people will resort to ridiculous schemes/ideas just to pay for college for their children?  To add insult to injury, they cast Jeremy Renner as the Mob Boss Bad Guy?  Why?  No thanks.

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Title:  The Babysitter

Director: McG

Starring:  Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell

Rating:  D+

Thoughts:  I love the very small comedy-horror sub genre and although I don’t let my hopes get too high for said genre, I was excited to sit down and watch this after viewing the trailer.  I enjoyed ‘Happy Death Day’ and thought this would easily fall in the same category.  ‘The Babysitter’ was a real let-down.  The pacing is erratic, there’s a real sense of doubling down on its self-deprecating humor.  The over-the-top antics are presented without a sense of purpose; the dialogue feels unnatural, driven purely by desperation for laughs.  The gore feels bungled and at times unintentionally funny and the resolution during the finale seems like the screen writers had had enough and were ready to call it a day.  ‘The Babysitter’ isn’t as good as ‘Happy Death Day’ and is only marginally better than ‘Better Watch Out’ which didn’t even get it’s own place in this list because the less said about it, the better.

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Title:  Thor: Ragnarok

Director:  Taika Waititi

Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

Rating:  B-

Thoughts:  BP picked this one out (obviously).  I mostly went along because I enjoy this particular cast, even though I hadn’t bothered to see any of the other ‘Thor’ movies—I really only went because I love when Cate plays a baddie and because I think Hemsworth is actually one of the real breakout stars of this tired comic book universe.  The humor was a little too ham-fisted for me personally; I half-expected the actors to break the fourth wall for a little wink-wink-nudge-nudge after some of the dialogue.  I do think that Blanchett was a bit under-utilized and she didn’t quite pull of the wickedness that I had anticipated (I was hoping for more Charlize in the ‘Huntsman’ movies kind of cruelty/madness/etc).  It was lovely to look at though, as most Marvel Movies are these days.  Jeff Goldblum gives the performance one has come to expect.  Tessa Thompson was my personal favorite, even if her role was a tired one—great warrior experiences great tragedy, becomes a drunk, but ultimately kicks ass when it’s time to go to battle.

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Title:  Star Wars:  The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring:  Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver

Rating:  C

Thoughts:  Because of the insane popularity of the Star Wars franchise and its rabid fan base, this movie has been reviewed to death.  I think Rian Johnson made the exact movie he wanted to, regardless of the thoughts/ownership/entitlements the fan base has for this next chapter in the franchise.  A lot of questions went unanswered and for the most part, the entire movie felt silly.  ‘Reylo’ shippers are increasingly happy about the potential teaming up of Rey and Kylo, the later of which I personally think is still space trash (no offense to Adam Driver who is wonderful and does a great job acting, I just still really hate Kylo Ren).  ‘The Last Jedi’ is fine enough, but not as great (to me) as ‘The Force Awakens’ and yet still better than ‘Rogue One’.  I’ll still buy it when it comes out and include it in my marathon-ing times (unlike Parts 1-3 which I refuse to sit through even one more time).

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Title:  Good Time

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Rating:  A-

Thoughts:  ‘Good Time’ is actually one of the best movies of 2017, if you ask me.  I wish it had been picked up by my local independent theater, but I was able to catch it via RedBox. After a disappointing viewing of ‘The Greatest Showman’, I was really glad to feast upon this gritty delight.  The Safdie brothers are young (in life and careers) but based on this offering, I’m excited to watch them progress.  The score, pacing, and cuts make for teeth-on-edge anxiety to reach the film’s climax.  Pattinson is definitely an underrated actor and choices like this role definitely serve to sever him from his sparkling vampire days.  Lastly, the use of neon is handled with tremendous finesse, less garish than in the hands of directors like Winding Refn.  Casual movie watchers won’t enjoy this film, especially because the ending isn’t sewn up into a nice, compartmentalized package, but for me, this is one worth owning.

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Title:  Tulip Fever

Director: Justin Chadwick

Starring:  Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Christoph Waltz, Dame Judi Dench, Zach Galifianakis

Rating:  C+

Thoughts:  This film is definitely the victim of re-editing, casting dreams vs realities, under utilization of amazing talents and a directionless storyline.  For a movie titled ‘Tulip Fever’ the portion of the film developed to the actual tulip trade was so secondary that it could’ve been about anything else really and it wouldn’t have mattered.  Characters make a plethora of choices that seem incredibly baffling, and the high stakes seem to be rather low in all actuality, illustrated by the solutions devised by characters involved.  Critics were especially hard on this film, which wasn’t bad per se… it just wasn’t good either.

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Title:  Battle of the Sexes

Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Starring:  Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough

Rating:  B-

Thoughts:  Having pretty much no knowledge about Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, Tennis in general… ‘Battle of the Sexes’ wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated; I thought it would be more of a rival film but instead the focus was mainly on BJK—which I enjoyed, I just wasn’t expecting it.  I do feel like the entire story was watered down quite a bit, as if all involved were reluctant to really vilify Riggs (as he and his supporters deserved).  Riggs is treated more as a clown, even if his brand of sexism is still alive and well in 2018 and it’s clear there’s an attempt to humanize him (even during the behind-the-scenes vignette when Elizabeth Shue talks about him, which is disappointing and kinda gross really).  Emma Stone does a great job as BJK, and Alan Cumming lights up the screen whenever he’s present (as we’ve come to expect) but the real breakout performance was Sarah Silverman; I’m especially partial to comedic actors taking on more serious roles and Silverman nails it here as King’s manager, Gladys Heldman.  She doesn’t ham it up or make Heldman a caricature.  I won’t be adding this to my collection at home, but I’d watch it again if I came across it at a later date.


 

Have a suggestion for a movie from 2017 that you think I might’ve missed?  Have a difference of opinion on the movies I discussed?  Leave me a comment!

One thought on “Playing Catch-Up: Movie Edition!

  1. The comment about Winding Refn’s garish neon is so spot-on, Overall Refn is so ridiculously overrated by film buffs. His films have absolutely nothing to say about anything of any substance and his style seems to be completely overthought in the pre-production phase.

    Liked by 1 person

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