Reviewing the movies I watched this weekend
I can't do "best of" lists forever, but I can write about movies forever. I watch a ton of them, from all genres and years so here are the movies I watched this weekend, all fresh in my head.
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
Not entirely sure I really 100 percent "got" this movie. It is on the surface the story of a war vet, Joaquin 'The joker' Phoenix, who returns to the USA and spends his time caring for his elderly mother while rescuing children from trafficking rings on the side. That seems like the perfect hero, some guying killing scum and rescuing kids, its almost as though it's some hero fantasy he created to deal with his own childhood trauma.
The movie sort of leaves it up to the viewer to determine what they think is the truth. I have read a few interpretations. I don't want to give away too much, great film. I think a lot of people thought it was going to be a popcorn action flick instead of heavy psychological drama and were let down. It did poorly at the box office, but today's film viewers are pretty much only interested in super heroes it seems.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
This was one of the best movies I have seen in years. Frances "Fargo" McDormand and Woody Harrelson star in a story about a mother whose daughter was raped and murdered while the crime remains unsolved by the town's somewhat incompetent and bigoted police department. Fearing the criminals would never be caught she pays for 3 billboards to be erected outside town blaming the sheriff (Harrelson) for his inaction. This turns the whole town against her after it is revealed the sheriff has cancer, and a careless media pretty much points the finger at stress from the billboards being the reason he is dying.
Frances McDormand is one of America's greatest actors. She totally kills it in this role as an imperfect and trashy mother dealing with extreme grief but still in possession of an infinite amount of empathy. Even her wife beating ex, she recognizes he too lost a child, instead of just seeing him as a violent monster. She is a complex character, she makes mistakes, is impulsive as hell, but she is trying to to do the right thing.
Sam Rockwell nails his character, a really unlikable and dumb racist cop. This movie was powerful, a the story of redemption, even for the "bad" characters. Woody Harrelson is great as the well meaning sheriff in charge of a bunch abusive and lazy cops he has to try and reign in, while simultaneously dying of cancer. This was pretty much a masterpiece of modern cinema, although my overly critical friend called it "Cohen Bros Lite."
John Hawk , Peter Dinklage, and Caleb Landry Jones co star.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
I usually check what other people think before writing a review, everyone seems to like this one but me. It was watchable I guess, but I see people raving about it. The story of a widowed woman who incorporates a Ouija board into her crooked seance business. A prequel to the first Ouija movie, which I hated, this was pretty much just jump scares and a lame possession with cheeseball effects. I watched it after a few beers, you might need some kind of chemical intoxication to watch this one.
I bought the Criterion Godzilla box set the other day and its pretty awesome. Its contains a book full of cool art and essays on the films. https://amzn.to/2QtUtUa
Every Godzillia film from 1954-75 on 8 Blu Rays
First film I watched was the original from 1954. A black & white monster flick that owes a bit to American monster films of the early 20th century Godzilla was made in a time and by a people for whom the horrors of nuclear war were not some distant abstract idea. They had two bombs dropped on them and saw the horror fist hand, Godzilla was a natural extension of that fear. A fire breathing monster, really he is attacking us for our evil ways. The model's being destroyed are pretty detailed, and the black and white cinematography is beautiful. This was the film that started it all, definitely required viewing for fans of Japanese monster films.
All Monsters Attack (1969)
After getting the box set I didn't sit down and watch all the films, instead I wanted to see a few of the Godzilla movies I hadn't seen yet, and 1969's All Monsters Attack was one of those. Its not that great, it has too much baby Godzilla and overly cutesy side character that may franchise fans, myself included, don't like. I'm glad I can check it off the list, but it is one of my least favorite Godzilla films.
The Fanatic (2019)
In the running for the worst movie of the year, I have to say The Fanatic is bad, really bad. Directed by Fred "Limp Bizkit" Durst and starring John Travolta, in a wig, I wonder how this project got green lighted by anyone. The standard crazed fan thriller, it is full of cringe. Travolta plays the obsessed fan named Moose really badly, I'm guessing he was going for autistic spectrum, but he is no Rain Man.
This movie had the worst opening of any movie in Travolta's career, and he was in Look Whose Talking Too. Also has Limp Bizkit music in the film, probably because no one listens to that shit anymore and no other movie would use it. Fred Durst needs to go to film school, and the co writer has only this credit to his name. Awkward and amateurish, it doesn't even have a so bad it's good charm like the Room. It's just bad bad. The technical aspects are fine, well lit, well shot, has some nice cartoon parts, its just terribly written and executed. Nothing works and I will never watch it again. But you can buy the blu ray here lol https://amzn.to/2KBvScn
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
This movie was not bad. The non linear storytelling thing has been pretty played out since Pulp Fiction, and this is exactly that style. The story is of a bunch of strangers staying in an old mostly abandoned hotel on the California/Nevada border that may just be a CIA honeypot, as well as being a gangster meeting place, and a place for kidnappers to bring their victims.
No one is who they seem to be, and that stuff is mostly revealed in the first 30 minutes. There weren't any great plot twists after that. It's got the standard, for these types of films, over the top violence. Its a bit of a tired genre, and this one isn't really adding anything new. Its okay, and it's watchable, its not destined to be any kind of classic though I don't think.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lawrence of Arabia is one of cinema's great sweeping epic films. Somehow I had never seen it, or I saw it really young and forgot. At 3 hours and 45 minutes it is a commitment. There is a brief intermission, pretty sure I would need at least one pee break if I saw this at the theater. Anyway it is he story of an English officer, T.E. Lawrence, who led a coalition of Bedouin tribes against the Turks in the first World War. He's cocky and rebellious at first and his superiors are somewhat in disbelief at his ability to unite desert tribes into one big army. He is traumatized by the violence he sees and his loyalty to the tribes seems destined to conflict with his allegiance to his own government.
Anthony Quinn and Alec "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Guinness are in brownface, and there is a bit of white savior theme but I think it's probably still a pretty fair depiction of the times and of British colonialism. One the greatest movies of all time, some of the shots of thousands of tribesmen riding into battle must have be insane to coordinate in the days before CGI. Filmed mostly in Morocco, the list of locations it was shot is impressive.
Thanks for reading!