Cinebites #18

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.

Here Comes Mr.Jordan (1941)

I don’t know how I ended up here but if you wanted to know where a handful of tropes originated, it seems plenty of them have come from this movie for better or worse. Terribly charming but at times a little random this movie played right in to my expectations for it. After watching Little Foxes last month I’m a little disappointed in this but it was cute and clever enough to keep me from switching it off for 90 minutes.

Final Verdict: Unless you’re an old movie fanatic this has been done bigger, better, and dozens of times over until it was honed to an instrument of perfection. It’s your bog standard “man gets second chance at life and finds what he was really missing all along.” A kind of heavenly intervention (this time by mistake) to set a guy back on the “right path”. I guess you have to be in the mood because it kind of rolled off my back.

The Forty Year Old Version (2020)

Sharp but a little stilted this is a surprisingly interesting piece that came out of Netflix with very little fanfare. I’m always really yearning for stories about women who are over the age of 25 and aren’t about their marriage and kids so this was a total breeze of fresh air because not only is that not what it is about at all but also it’s from a perspective we almost never get to see also. A little crass and a little off kilter but always with a lot of heart this moved me to both laughter and tears and is absolutely worth your time.

Final Verdict: At the best of times this film reminded me of that honest and rawness in Watermelon Woman, it has the same 90s heart, that nearly romantic love of the city, and the quixotic immersion in time and situations one finds themselves in (especially when those situations aren’t exactly how we imagined them) but there’s some moments and some characters in this film that do not work for me at all. While I love the main story running throughout the film, it feels like the film gets sidetracked a lot by things that either contradict the main themes or don’t add anything sometimes bringing the tension and momentum to a crashing halt. I loved the cinematography and the comedic timing is absolutely on point making me really excited for Radha Blank’s next project.

Logan’s Run (1976)

There are three major things I would preface anyone going to see this movie with: this movie came out less than one year before Star Wars, people are surprisingly naked or almost naked for no reason during most of the movie, and this is Cats. Yes Cats, as in the Broadway musical and TS Elliot poetry book and I called that about 8 minutes into the film way before an old man started reading that poetry book to me in the third act making me blink dumbly at the screen wondering if I had attained psychic powers. Other than that this is a mess. A stack of possibly interesting ideas absolutely and completely squandered on noisy, messy dialogue and a lack of coherent ideas and themes. There’s so much crammed in here you’ll absolutely find something to latch on to and love but as a whole this thing is a sprawling jungle of noise.

Final Verdict: You probably already know what you think of this movie because most people have seen it or know the premise, it was even turned into a TV show but I’m going to be 100% straight with you: I thought this was awful. I can’t stop talking about it because there was so much in the movie that was a possibly interesting idea presented in the dumbest way imaginable and for that it’s a cult classic of course. This is also the only movie in the entire world that has explain to me why people love Star Wars. I was born in a world that already contained Star Wars and while people are very quick to say Star Wars invented people’s love affair with sci fi / space / opera like movies it didn’t. Plenty of them were floating around in the 3-5 years before Star Wars, that’s how that movie got made. However, just one look at the “robot” in Logan’s Run named Box who appears for 30 seconds and is a man in a tin foil wrapped suit that might as well have been made by a 5 year old compared to C3P0 and suddenly the level of intensity around Star Wars despite its paint by numbers plot made all the sense in the world. It’s not even that Logan’s Run isn’t trying or that there aren’t some interesting sets, good effects, world building, etc but the sheer gap in execution in stunning. Probably would have helped to mainstream this movie if people were less naked? Is this because of the mainstream porn boom in the 70’s? Yes? YES?????

After Hours (1985)

How come no one talks about this film? This is such an interesting film! While it’s probably not going to top my personal list of black comedies it’s certainty vying for a spot. The journey in this movie moves you from state to state in a near dreamlike quality, not as fluid and disarming as a Lynch movie but instead a sort of semi-permeable state where you can nearly seen the way out before you keep getting sucked back in. The main character is so mired in modern culture that he is a parody of yuppie getting eaten alive by their deepest fears of city life. Some of this film gets stuck in the 1980s but it kind of makes it a charming snapshot as to which anxieties we have conquered and which ones have only become stronger over time.

Final Verdict: I loved this but if you’re not a dark comedy person and you’re not very interested in cinema as a visual art (since at times the dialogue goes into parody levels of absurd or dry) you probably won’t enjoy this. If you’re here for gritty, grimy Scorsese I think you’ll also be extremely disappointed. While this movie employs plenty of dark themes it’s never gross or showy. Things appear only as long as they need to be absorbed and then you blink, and they’re gone.

The whole time I thought this might have really influenced Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice but it turns out that originally this film was supposed to be filmed by Burton himself and now I feel very chicken and the egg about whose style influenced who.

Mama Mia 2: Here We Go Again! (2018)

It took nearly a year of pandemic / being mostly stuck in my house all day and not being able to see my loved ones for me to absolutely have a meltdown and decide I needed to finally watch this movie despite a whopping ZERO people asking me to do so. I don’t know if this was winning or not. This is a much more put together and polished movie than the first one somehow while also simultaneously looking CGI because it has some weird color grading choices (it was shot on location in Croatia though!).

Final Verdict: You know what you’re in for but I wanted to put this on my review list so you know I’m not 100% some sort of weird art house loving monster. I do enjoy a good turn off your brain movie that lets you just enjoy the raw ABBA of life every now and then. The most important thing to know about this movie is that it has a Cher break. Literally between the 2nd and 3rd act Cher appears. She is both a plot point and the breaks on the train of the story and while I don’t have real complaints about it (because I would put Cher in my movie if I could), I’m not actually sure the movie needed it. Maybe I just needed a big glass of wine with my viewing to fully absorb that much raw Cher. If you liked the first at all you’ll find the second one even more impossibly charming. I remain pleased but lightly skeptical.

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

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