Cinebites: #1

Welcome to my new 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. Since I’ve watched nearly a film a day all year I’ve decide to take the first few entries as catch up but only on selected films and once I catch up I might go more in depth. I won’t go too overboard so here are ten films I’ve watch this year and short reviews / thoughts on them

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

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

I tried to resist this movie. Being a “90’s kid” I do have extremely fond memories of the original Jumanji and I assumed that this movie was a weird cash grab (albeit 22 years later, gotta make that money off Millennial’s….children? I guess?) but while the movie is certainly meant for a tween and teen crowd I actually was shocked to find myself laughing a lot during this movie. That shouldn’t shock me so much considering it stars four extremely talented and notoriously funny actors who have a lot of freedom to play off each other despite that they’re all doing their best “I’m a dude playing another dude” Topic Thunder schtick. The worst part of the movie is when the Jonas brother shows up and the plot drags but since it’s only 10 minutes of the movie, I’ll allow it.

Final Verdict: Fast paced adventure and action movie with enough dumb laughs to keep you surprisingly engaged. Perfect for a sick day or bad mood night.

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

I have a difficult relationship with Michel Gondry films and this didn’t do anything to help. This is a quirky movie that never pushes anything far enough for me to feel a feeling for more than a passing moment. Even the cinematography in this one is much more stale than most Gondry films (and music videos). While Be Kind Rewind is a pretty novel story with a touch of fantastical elements and interesting set pieces it never coalesces into something meaningful. Mos Def is doing an okay job acting but he looks, honestly, like a giant hack next to Jack Black who is at 120% capacity at all times. The two never seem to be on the same page giving the movie a strange mood that feels alienating. In the end all I wanted from this film was a little bit of heart and I largely came up empty handed.

Final Verdict: Skip this one. If you’re looking for some boundary pushing you’d do better with Science of Sleep, if you’re looking for heartfelt community try Batteries Not Included, and if you want to see Jack Black be weird there’s always Nacho Liber

The Favourite (2018)

If I had to sum up this movie in one sentence it would be: three women act the absolute hell out of a movie. I was a little gun shy to see this because I’m not fan of Lanthimos’ previous film The Lobster. I’m happy to report that this film is nothing like that (except for all those fish eye lens I’m still trying to decipher). The Favourite is a distressing, biting, emotional, and raw romp through 18th century English court life that swirls around Queen Anne. It’s an impressive tale of manipulation, power, and absurdity told with the utmost care and humor.

Final Verdict: This is shot beautifully, acted impeccably, and styled to its teeth and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. The film is unflinching and will have you milling over its details for days after which is some of the highest praise I can give to a film.

Jonah Hex (2010)

I watched this out of legal obligation because it stars quite a lot of people who have no business in being in this film. At the end of the day, Megan Fox deserved better and this movie is terrible. This movie is not improved by heckling or by ingesting alcohol. Somehow this released just about the same time as Iron Man 2 but DC had not gotten the memo that we were at least supposed to give things a real effort. Everything in this movie is woefully under developed from the piss poor shot composition, the frankly embarrassing makeup, and the utter fire of a script. It’s really sad that a supernatural cowboy revenge story ends up this boring.

Final Verdict: If you’re going to watch a bad superhero movie, you could do a lot better than this. Daredevil is much funnier and has three Evanescence songs and at least in Batman & Robin you have all those nipple costumes and ice puns to laugh at!

In Time (2011)

This is easily the best worst movie I’ve watched in a while. This movie tells you all its themes and its main driving ideas within the first five minutes and after that its just a random game of cat and mouse between Justin Timberlake and Cillian Murphy. The premise is way more interesting than than actual movie which is such a shame but the corny dialogue, bad acting, and clunky allegories all add to the charm of a movie that is going in so many directions it never gets off the ground. This movie confuses me because it feels like a labor of love because there’s so many ideas thrown at the wall but absolutely none of them go anywhere.

Final Verdict: Utterly forgettable but if you wanted to curl up with some popcorn and let a movie flicker by on the screen, you could do a lot worse than this one. If you wanted to actually think about society and class and stuff, go watch Gattaca instead – you nerd.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

I’m not too proud to tell you that I watched this because Matt Smith is in it. This is a bad movie and it should feel bad. I knew what I was getting into but even the costume design and the idea for how the zombies work in this movie is lazy. The best things in the movie are copy-pasted right from the novel making the tone of the whole movie uneven and jarring and anything that isn’t taken out of the Austen novel is simply shoving a square peg in a round hole to the point that the first and third act seem to contradict each other. This wrung exactly zero laughs from me and left me woefully numb.

Final Verdict: Not delivering on the pride, prejudice, OR the zombies this film is a complete miss. If you’re a lover of strange / bad adaptions of Austen’s novels this may hit the right keys but as a person who doesn’t care for the original and prefers my zombies to be used as metaphors I’ll stick to zombies flicks set in this century.

I, Tonya (2017)

I went into this cynically. I remembered the Tonya Harding story unfolding as a child and I just didn’t know what they were going to do with the film as it was such a charged account at the time but this film is set up beautifully with an interesting way of doling out multiple accounts of single events and the acting is absolutely top notch. I love how dark and biting this movie is. While it may not be a full 100% true account the movie works hard to make a story that feels real. The what if and maybes weigh on you and since we’ll never know the truth, at least someone made something interesting for the camera.

Final Verdict: This movie just flies by. If you haven’t seen it, you should absolutely sit down and commit yourself to a wild ride for two hours. I laughed, I cried, I really enjoyed a lot of the cinematography right alongside the mash up between what is real and what might be real. This is such a wonderful piece, I really enjoyed it.

Perfume : The Story of a Murderer (2006)

I thought I knew what I was going to say about this film but sitting down to really distill the film to its core…is impossible. This is a movie that you might want to see for yourself. Directed by Tom Tykwer, who you probably know as the guy who made Run Lola Run, it is certainly a unique and intensely visual film. Tykwer brings us into the visceral world of a cursed and blessed peasant in 18th century France as he descends into madness and obsession through olfactory means. Absolutely brimming with strange moments and interesting acting choices this film never really won me over. I don’t know who would like this film but I’m glad I experienced it.

Final Verdict: The film is full of shocking and stark visual, shocking and stark themes, and then shocking and stark choices but it never really comes together for me. I didn’t feel like I was experiencing this fully with my senses. I’d probably suggest skipping this and watching The Cell or Being John Malkovich if you want obsession and spectacle. If you’re looking for lighter fare with similar themes, Amélie and Big Fish are pretty good places to start.

The Third Man (1949)

An out of his depth pulp fiction writer finds himself halfway across the world in post WWII Vienna accidentally investigating the death of his friend. This is just a wonderful twist on the ever classic noir genre. This movie makes absolute use of its setting wringing every ounce of confusion, alienation, and tension from the divided cultural landscape of postwar Vienna but the story never has to stray into bombastic blowouts or large scale international espionage to keep up the tension. Instead we are treated to a small story full of humanity and anxiety.

Final Verdict: At just over 100 minutes this is a speedy little noir film with fantastic acting that I think would be easily beloved by modern audiences without too much need to re-contextualize the story. I don’t usually recommend pre-70s films but this one is really lovely for anyone who likes thrillers.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)

Leave me to my trash pile! If I had to pick one word to describe this movie it would be “ditty”. While this movie probably isn’t going to change anyone it certainly has its charms. Everyone is doing send ups left and right as Amy Adams and Frances McDormand romp their way through a delightfully fun film. Adams is too over the top for me as a doe eyed starlet but it comes off as just corny enough to be good for a few laughs. Weirdly this film reminded me of George of the Jungle (a compliment from me) and honestly I was 100% here for Lee Pace putting on a British accent and playing the piano so I was never going to be too critical of this film.

Final Verdict: It does exactly what it says on the tin. If you like romantic comedies and want one that has just a little better acting and setting than average, this is your stop. If you want a more modern take with a little less cheese, might I suggest Always Be My Maybe instead.

That’s all for this post, see you next time with possibly a different style as I test out this idea a little more. Hopefully though this was helpful and maybe you even found something new to watch.

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