Cinebites #21

Welcome to my mini movie review series. I watch a lot of movies and I thought it’d be fun to share a few thoughts on some of the things I’ve watched.

These are all SPOILER FREE reviews so you can enjoy these films at your leisure.

Charade (1963)

A woman returns to Pairs to find that she is now a widow and her entire world is turned upside down by a charming but beguiling man, a rabbit hole of mysteries, and the realization that she doesn’t know, and may never know, who is telling her the truth. This is part mystery, part romance and all charm. As dark or deep as the movie might sound it’s not quite what it seems on the tin instead this is a light-hearted, at time tongue-in-cheek movie that plays the sunshine to Hitchcock’s darkness.

Final Verdict: I had such a fun time watching this. A lot of people cite the chemistry between Hepburn and Grant but I’m never really sold on it because I’m at Hepburn’s age [34] and couldn’t see myself falling for a 59 year old – no matter how good Grant looks. However both of them play such absolute characters in this film population by a series of other really fun characters. With a script and story that roll like a moving target and an energetic score and camera you’re always trying to think one step ahead and then getting surprised. Hepburn puts in some of the most energetic and playfully quirky acting in this film and best of all this has action, romance, and mystery so even if you’re not here for one element the others pick up the slacks easily. Watch this if you haven’t yet!

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

This is a classic film for a pretty interesting reason, it received an “X” rating and thus is the first and only Academy Award winner with that rating. If you’re unaware Midnight Cowboy was the first It’s the oldest story in the book a naive cowboy moved from his backwater town to the Big Apple to be a prostitute and make it big. This is an unflinching piece that examines what the American Dream looks like to people on the down and out in the late 60s. How sexuality, perception, poverty, and city life all swirl together to make desperation and disconnection.

Final Verdict: This was such an interesting movie. I couldn’t really say if I liked it or not even a few weeks after watching it but I kept kind of wanting to discuss it with everyone I knew. The pervasive loneliness in a film about two people who live in a highly populated city and especially the sympathetic portrayal of how difficult and alienating it is to be poor in a world that disdains people for lack of money. I think what I loved the most about this movie is that the two protagonists are never really seen to be good people, but the audience is guided to know that they don’t deserve their misery.

Another Round (2020)

This is the darling of the movie world right now so it’s hard to say things that haven’t been said I suppose. It’s kind of just a movie about having a midlife crisis but then you add in alcohol. Four friends decide to try an experiment where they drink a small amount to say at that “pleasantly buzzed” level where you feel good and uninhibited but not free. The rest of the movie follows nearly exactly as I would have written it for better or worse.

Final Verdict: Good performances elevate what became an honestly boring movie for me. The ending didn’t lift or move me the way it seems to worked for other people so maybe I just couldn’t connect with it. I spent a lot of this movie feeling very much like everything was just happening around me which is almost never how I want to feel. Is it funny that a movie that is so ordinary in its problem could feel so rote? At the end this left me depressed about the wrong things but odds are pretty good if you’re not me you’re going to like the film a great deal more.

A Star is Born (1954)

After seeing the 2018 version of this film (for which I didn’t really care that much for) I realized I’d never seen this 1954 version of it. It’s so interesting to me that there are countless stories of talented young women getting discovered and rocketing to fame and yet, this is the persistent one. This is the tale we remake and remake again and again. This version of it is a bit overlong and can be hard to swallow but honestly the performances are overwhelmingly good and there is something to be said about this movie as a reflection of Garland herself making it almost too intimate to watch at times.

Final Verdict: Absolutely go watch this. You’ll have to put a little bit of a snooze button on your modern and realistic sensibilities but this movie straddles the line between film and musical so personally I found it easier to do that then I would have been able to in a regular film. Garland is giving the performance of her life and the perfect balance of vulnerability, naiveté, and stunning wells of sadness she is able to tap into make this, if not a joy, at least a masterclass in action.

Kajillionaire (2020)

I don’t want to ruin this movie so its best if you kind of go into it blind. Empathic, deeply weird, and unlike anything I’ve seen in a while this movie hits some really interesting notes using some of the most interesting characters I’ve seen in a while. The film takes its time creating a story that we kind of come at sideways, a train wreck of desperation that is both a long time coming and so sudden when it hits that you’re surprised. The quirkiness of less film is less twee and more deeply alienated outsider. While the film gets surprisingly emotional it never felt cheap or constructed despite what is honestly, a very artificial series of set ups. I came out of this not sure if I liked it or not and a few weeks later I can say that maybe I didn’t love it so much but I see the value in it.

Final Verdict: While I didn’t quite vibe with this movie (and gosh, the vibe is so weird folks) it’s definitely going to be one of those films that becomes an absolute classic among a small set of people. It’s major premise was great and I enjoyed the ride but at the end I felt a little bit short changed I suppose. I wouldn’t say the movie was like something I have experienced but there were some shades of my life in it and I found myself more uncomfortable than interested because of that so your mileage may vary. However this was probably one of the most interesting visual takes in 2020 (which had been a good year for visual movies) and I am excited to see what comes out of Miranda July next.

That’s all for this time! See you soon (hopefully) with 5 more films!

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