Movie Mondays ~ January 14, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ January 14, 2019

Last week, I launched a new Monday blog feature, a look back at the previous week of movies viewed. Whether seen at home or at the theaters, I will offer my take with a mini-review and a grade (0-100). I’ve never doled out a “0” or “100” in my decades of reviewing movies in private journals. I hope I never will because (A) I would never want to subject myself to a movie so bad, it cannot score a single point and (B) no film is truly perfect anyway. So sit back, grab some popcorn (or if it’s still morning when you read this, maybe a nice latte and some oatmeal) and let’s hop to it!


Here are this week’s films. Oh, and if you’re trying to figure out why it starts at #8, that’s because it’s the 8th film I’ve seen this year. So I’ll be keeping track of how many films are seen throughout the year, as well. As always, thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.


FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 01/07/2019 – 01/13/2019


8. Isle of Dogs

Drama, 2018
Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson

This has to be one of the oddest animated films I’ve ever seen, but then again, look at its director — Wes Anderson. The man only knows how to make slightly off-kilter films. For me, Wes Anderson either works in a quirky, interesting way (like RUSHMORE) or his films can leave me totally bored or incensed for trying too hard to be weird or hip (as with THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS). In this case, I appreciated the unique look of the stop-action animation and how well it went with the setting and plotline. The basic premise is in a world where an epidemic sweeps Japan that appears to be blamed on the presence of dogs, leadership decides the best way to eradicate the problem is to ship all of the dogs off to an isolated island. But what leaders didn’t take into account was the Mayor’s ward and his affection for his own dog also removed. As the young man sets off to find his beloved Spots (voiced by the can-he-play-anything-but-cool Liev Schreiber), he meets up with the other dogs on Trash Island and the film offers some sweet, thoughtful moments. There’s certainly plenty of built-in messages about the value of respecting and caring for Mother Nature and its creatures, not treating them so poorly. What you can always count on from a Wes Anderson film are loads of great actors in the cast, and this film is no different. You see the list above. That’s just for starters. A great ensemble as always. Overall, I liked that this film didn’t feel like your standard family animated feature (one of the characteristics that made me adore WALL-E so much) and for that reason, I recommend to adults who enjoy Adult Swim and perhaps some of the anime shown on Cartoon Network. It is more artistic than entertaining, so I don’t think I’d recommend it for kids under 8. It is slow moving at first and I’m not sure it will be as satisfying for the younger lot.

Score: 84



9. Life of the Party

Comedy, 2018
Melissa McCarthy, Matt Walsh, Julie Bowen, Molly Gordon, Maya Rudolph

I wanted to love this one, but I find I’m not loving many of the star vehicles featuring Melissa McCarthy in the title role and I don’t blame her because I continue to find her a breath of fresh air on the big screen. Hell, I’ve been a huge fan since her days on the small screen as Sookie on “The Gilmore Girls.” Granted, for this mess, she and her husband Ben Falcone (who appears in a cameo as an Uber driver in this…look for him) were responsible for the script and hubby directed, so I guess I have to blame her somewhat because so much of this story is hard to believe and not always as entertaining as we might anticipate. But there is such a charm with her as a performer, and I did enjoy her interaction with her daughter played by Molly Gordon and Gordon’s sorority sisters who range from dim to shy to odd duck, of course, most of us would probably emerge a little odd if we’d been nicknamed Coma Girl after being in a coma for much of our youth and gaining fame for this horrible distinction. In this latest McCarthy comedy, she plays a mom sending her soon-to-graduate daughter back to college in the fall only to be given some not so gentle news by the hubby that compels her to re-examine her own lifelong dreams and return to college herself. It can be goofy and silly, hilarious and bawdy, and just plain dumb. Truly a comedy all over the place with some hard to reach plot points that only a McCarthy fan will forgive. If she weren’t in the lead role, I seriously doubt this one would have scored as high as it did. If you like McCarthy, I’d suggest THE HEAT instead, co-starring Sandra Bullock. I found it far more entertaining.

Score: 79


10. Private Life

Drama, 2018
Paul Giamatti, Kathyrn Hahn, Molly Shannon, Kayli Carter, Denis O’Hare, John Carroll Lynch

At various points of this film, I would have scored it quite possibly as high as 89 or 90. The acting is top-notch, as you’d expect with these two lesser known gems in the lead. I’ve been a huge fan of Giamatti’s work onscreen for a long time, and Hahn, in more recent years. We watch a couple in their forties go through the continuous struggles to get pregnant, as they try every possible means only to face disappointment for various reasons. Suddenly, there may be an unexpected solution they had never considered when the arrival of a houseguest offers the possibility of one more chance. I will say no more than that for you cannot predict where this film will take you or not take you, and viewers may or may not be satisfied with its ultimate path, but what they won’t be is disappointed by the performances. The film’s pace felt slow at times to me and sometimes the script created some hard-to-fathom moments that did not feel authentic to the kind of film it seemed to be striving to create. But overall, both leads deliver brave, stark and impressive performances. And that’s what kept me watching until the conclusion.

Score: 82



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