Watchlist Completed 1/13/2017

As has been my custom lately, I picked a week’s worth of films to watch and review. Here’s are the fruits of my labors. Two are absolutely amazing, some are medium and one is to be missed at all costs!

  1. The Walk 01/12/17 A stunning spectacle and how he made it happen. Fear of heights folks will be challenged!
  2. Krisha 01/12/17 This tried to be something with all its might, so I gave it 2 stars.
  3. The Confirmation 01/11/17 The best film I saw last week! Thoroughly enjoyable drama of father and son on a quest where both grow and learn.
  4. Margot at the Wedding 01/11/17  Wanted to … just couldn’t like this one.
  5. It Had to Be You 01/10/17 Quite excellent romantic comedy. I can’t fault it for anything! Great comedy presented in a somewhat similar way but with it’s own modern charm.
  6. The Infiltrator 01/14/17 1] Dud alert.

The Infiltrator

This is one of those stories about the guy in the background and what’s he’s all about. Despite the film centering on the Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar, it watches more like a “Where are they now” episode on Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston.

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Having seen all seasons of Narcos in their entirety, I was hoping this would be more on Pablo Escobar. It wasn’t, in fact, he wasn’t even in it. I actually thought from the trailers that Bejamin Bratt was playing Escobar and was oddly curious about that. As it turned out, Escobar never graces the screen and this film is just a jumbled mess we’ve seen the likes of before. An undercover writer and cop decides to take part in a sting that will take down Escobar. Namely, the undercover dude is Bryan Cranston, who incidentally looks way too old for the part.

There is some stuff like, I dunno bowling, drinking beer, a few scantily clad women which there are never enough of in bad films. There is very little character development and I say that because I don’t care what is happening to anyone throughout the film. I don’t recommend this film. Pass if you get the chance.

The Walk

People with passion give life and inspiration to the world. Philippe Petit is one of those passionate people. His story rocked Netflix audience a few years ago in the documentary Man on a Wire. Robert Zemeckis saw the opportunity to make this event a major motion picture and he did it, and it works!

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Speaking with an authentic sounding accent, Josh Gordon Levitt plays Petit and he nails the part. The film brings a theatrical aspect the biography didn’t have. Mostly, the film parallels the biography but there are times Zemeckis is able to do things the biography missed, like showing the walk itself. The biography stated that all movie footage was lost of the walk. There are only stills.

What I got from it was that we all have an idea of what we need to do with our lives. That can be as small as wanting to work in a certain trade or art capacity or it can be as big as wanting to be a astronaut. In Petit’s case, he is wirewalker and he wants to put his wire in amazing places. As I watched his story, I got very inspired t teach better, blog harder, treat people more kindly, and dust off my guitar once in a while. For that inspiration, I thank Petit and Zemeckis. The man on the wire is a microcosm of what we all our in our own universe.

Krisha

Different movies for different folks. I’m sure you would agree with that. This is a film I can get into a little bit but not fully. It’s an art project that delves into the discomfort of addiction. It takes its viewers there through the character of Krisha. Sound like a fun ride at the movies? It really wasn’t for me.

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As if we need more family members like this in our lives. Krisha gives us the tension of Thanksgving. When they are looking at the turkey, we see a fish-eye view replete with knives glistening in the kitchen light. The sounds of laughing in the house are almost deafening. I assume this is all meant to recreate Krisha’s perception of the day.

It’s a creepy transition into talking and conversing with people who seemingly have no use for her anymore. Still, she is reaching out to them. She’s been lost but doesn’t seem to want to be found. She carried a pill container the size of a tackle box and seems versed in when to take her multiple meds throughout the day. Is this existence even worth living? Sometimes the critics rally to praise a highly uncomfortable film, this is one of those cases.

I recommend this as a wobbly experiment in discomfort, all in favor go for it.

The Confirmation

How does a dad who’s seen as lazy and out of the picture for a reason win back his son’s respect and admiration? For starters, he offers to watch him while his mom goes on vacation. Two guys, hanging out. A kid and a woodworker who really should work more. This is a simple recipe for drama, and a fine one it is.

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When dad’s tools get stolen, the tension starts to build. Without the tools, dad cannot work. Here we see father and son set out to find the tools. Through this process we learn second-hand what dad’s life is like. The tools don’t turn up and father and son are left to spend time with each other and chat. There is a great scene where dad tells son what he thinks about religion. I couldn’t have put it better myself!

We see the son and father go through each his own transformation. That’s a sign of good writing. The significant particulars all happen for a reason that unfurls in the last 1/4 of the film. We learn the boundaries of this divorced family. Dad can coeexist with mom’s new husband.

This is a captivating story of a father-son relationship. I’d recommend it for anyone in or from a step-family. It’s also a story that shows the value in being a loving dad to your child. This was a surprise hit with me, definitely check it out.

Margot at the Wedding

I like artsy films that are just about people living their regular lives. Call me a minimalist. For that reason, I did enjoy this film. There is another caveat. However, there should be character development and some sort of a story. Both of those were lacking in this film.

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This is really a story of a woman who hovers over her child and journeys back to stay with her high school friend for a while after her divorce. You get to see how her over-protective and overly healthy take on everything affects her son.

I’m a big fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jack Black but I felt the writing for them was disjointed and really didn’t create characters that lasted in my memory.

There is a conflict with a neighbor and some normal tensions that occur in a marriage with regards to flirting and such and then regretting it. The film really gives itself no reason to exist. It’s a shame a drama with such powerful actors never got off the ground. All I can guess is they were trying to make it like an independent film that has big names and that everybody loves even though it’s minimal. It didn’t work for me and I wouldn’t recommend it.

It Had to Be You

Once I realized I wasn’t seeing a gaunt Alyssa Milano in this film, I settled in and enjoyed a truly funny and modern love tale for our times. It wasn’t perfect, but the story was cute and it was a romance which always wins me points with my wife.

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So we have a female protagonist who is not ready to commit. This was seen last year in a big film by a stand up comedienne, it’s like that but totally different. This actress is younger and more unsure of her place in the world. That makes her more attractive I think. The couple in the film decide to give their relationship one last shot and there you have the basis for the plot.

Usually it’s the woman in movie that wants the man to commit. This is the other way around. They go through so much, and much of it is comical, to discover whether they are right or each other. He is a techie geek trying to get hired at Google. She is a music soundtrack artists doing whatever small ads and the like she can to pay the bills. When together, they shine like a post-modernist couple and I couldn’t help wanting to see them end up together.

This is a diamond in the rough as a date movie. If you can get a hold of it, you and your date will not be let down. I recommend it to fans of cutesy romances. It went over well at my house because my wife is very much one of those.

Watchlist to Complete by 1/14/2017

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My notes: I’ve been meaning to see the Bryan Cranston film for ages. Really glad to have it on my watchlist. The crimes of Pablo Escobar are significant and I’ve enjoyed other film takes on his life in the past. The Jack Black film looks good. I am atually half-way through it already. I love films about people and this one definitely paints a loely palette of several. There is an independent film in the bunch that also falls into the people category.

I’ve wanted to see the film on Petit and the twin tower walk for a while. I’ll report back on how it was of course. Finally, this Clive Owen film looks quite promising as well. I shall report back to you on or around the due date :)

My list on IMDb

Another Watchlist Completed 1/7/2017

Last week was the last of my vacation and I set out to review at least 5 films before going back to teaching my wonderful students. I was more than successful. I did not however manage to review Cronos due to time constraints. I saw several more movies however in addition to my watchlist: A Monster Calls, Marnie, and North by Northwest. To comment on my list, you can do so here or click on the image below to be taken to the list on IMDB. I appreciate you comments either place. Thank you in advance.

Links to my reviews (Jan ’17 Date, Title link, # of comments)

Green Room

If you knew punk like I did in the 1980’s, you should watch this if for no other reason than to see how much the punks of today have fucked it up. At the same time, there is a punk spirit still alive in this film that makes the film worth watching. It’s as violent as hell, so much so that is has been labeled as horror. I myself don’t agree it fits in that genre.

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The band is slumming it. I heard Michael Stipe talking about the early days of REM when they were in a van on “tour” of little America. They survived on bags of potatoes and beer. It’s the romance of the things that sounded so fun. I this film you see this same scenario only things aren’t going as well for this band as they did for REM.

There is some sort of scuffle in the venue they play and somehow, someone gets stabbed. The film grows in violence from that point to a raging crescendo of blood and gore that in some metaphorical way might be considered a video to a Sex Pistols song. Unfortunately for me, I got bored. Even though the cause was justified, the violence just seemed to predictable. The things we find below in within this jam house are also a bit predictable.

A lor of people were telling me the same thing about this film, so I’m surprised I felt the urge to see it. It’s not a bad movie per se but I just didn’t find anything worth running to the laptop over to share. For that reason, I don’t recommend Green Room unless your watchlist is about played dry and there’s nothing else really to watch.