Cinebites #20

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.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

Sometimes people tell me that they “don’t cry” that they’re just not “criers” and I believe them because people are all different in this world and that’s a good thing. Me, I’m a crier. I cry. It’s easy. I’m nearly crying right now thinking about this film again. This film was the absolutely wrong film to watch during a pandemic when you’re trapped, nearly alone, in the four walls of your house without any real idea of when you’ll be let back out into the “real world” to get back to your “real life.” I can’t tell if that makes this probably one of the best films during this time or the worst but as a person who probably would have always be reactive to the themes in this film, it nearly cut me off at the knees.

Final Verdict: I can’t tell if I liked this film or not but I did cry a whole lot after it and I felt both really connected and really alienated by it. The end of the film didn’t really do it for me the trip is short and well worth it. I would probably wait until you feel like you’re on some really solid ground before you watch this one but it’s extremely rewarding if not a little obtuse and hokey at times.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

This was both better and worse than anticipated. We’re in the season to gear up for Eurovision this year and so I finally decided to crack into this egg and while there were two or three good jokes and the movie was made with what is clearly admiration and love instead of disdain that doesn’t make the final product good, or cohesive. There is just no reason that this movie should be two hours long and it’s not difficult to see where the cuts should be made, off the top of my head I could have cut a good 20 minutes out and it wouldn’t have changed the film at all which is always a bad sign.

Final Verdict: The best part of the movie are any and all of the musical sequences but especially the party sing off with former Eurovision stars, not just because I like Eurovision but also because any time where people aren’t delivering the most hack-kneed dialogue the movie is pretty good. This movie could be good for a drinking game but if you wanted to watch something fun and musical, look elsewhere. Also this movie is SO AMERICAN it hurts.

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

The most striking thing about this movie is probably its production date making the lines strange and nerve ridden. As much as the premise and some of the lines themselves are funny there is a real tension that must have been felt by audiences in ’42 watching this farce. This kind of shocking, spit in your face satire of Nazis is exactly what I wanted to see. There’s plenty to love about this movie including a nearly perfect balance of comedy, drama, and action and especially the absolutely wild amount of timing and chemistry between the leads. I probably won’t go back for seconds but this was a really great movie.

Final Verdict: Would easily recommend this to nearly anyone. Oddly enough despite the absolutely bonkers story and actions of the characters the most believable part of the movie was the relationship between the husband and wife. They have just the right push and pull tension. The actors commitment to the stage no matter if there’s a war on, the Nazis being completely blinded to the mess everyone is making by bureaucracy and incompetence in heaping helpings, and the mistaken identity gags that keep on giving are just cherries on top.

Paper Moon (1973)

This movie is a swing out of left field but it kind of really works. Like most of the movies I watch I’m unsure how I actually ended up watching this but for a strange film about a con man and a kid it is both largely engrossing and extremely intricate. A movie about desperate times, desperate measures, and people doing what they can to get by – and they aren’t too pleased about it. The movie structure is more like a series of connected vignettes the story rolls out slowly until you’re completely engrossed.

Final Verdict: Really great, might actually re-watch this in a few years. What I really liked most about the film is that there isn’t really a big con (unless you count life itself). This movie has an incredibly organic feel to it probably in part due to the fact that the girl and man are real life father and daughter but also due to the fact that the script and direction never tries to take small moments and make them larger than life. There is a lot to be found in this movie and since I’ve never heard it discussed before I think it should move up on people’s to-watch lists!

Black Orpheus (1959)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Orpheus descends into the riotous, colorful, and mad streets of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro to find his lost love Eurydice. This movie is both exactly what it says on the tin but also so uniquely told and so stunning immersive that its a shame more people haven’t seen it. The acting is so alive and the colors so vibrant and the sense of place in this piece so overwhelming that despite the only minute changes to the story itself I felt completely absorbed by the piece the entire time. It’s blissfully speedy at 100 minutes with a wonderful soundtrack and perfect slice through of culture.

Final Verdict: It’s funny watching this after Hadestown the musical and Hades the video game have blown up in recent times but myth persists not only because it helps us learn lessons and communicate common ideas but also because it allows us to express something unique and special about the time and place we tell the story while still be relatable and digestible to a wide audience due to the commonality of the underlying tale. Black Orpheus doesn’t reinvent the wheel and I suspect for many people it will be boring because the tale is so rote but that to be is beside the point, the point of the movie is to let yourself be engrossed in the sights and sounds and color. Let them take you on a wild ride until you find yourself lost inside them as well. TL;DR No one goes to see Romeo and Juliet because they want to know how to ends.

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

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