Movie Mondays ~ January 7, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ January 7, 2019

Greetings to my blog followers and any first-time visitors who may have been intrigued by the little hints about a new Monday blog feature debuting today. Welcome to Monday, beginning of the week and a chance to set foot into seven days of successful project launching and checklist completing. At least that’s what a lot of us set out to do each week. For me, Mondays are also going to be my opportunity to celebrate the previous week of movie-viewing.

 

Yeah, I’m a bit obsessed with movies, always have been. If you are a regular reader of my blogs and essays, you know this already. But what even you frequent visitors may not know is that for many years, I’ve kept movie rating books, rating the films I’ve seen for that year and at the end of the year, summarizing my best and worst lists. Yep, you’re right. We’re talking total movie nerd here.

 

Over the past decade, I’ve gotten bogged down with projects and lost focus on keeping up with the books. But in recent years, I’ve gotten better. This year, I’ve decided to help get that focus back on track by blogging a summary of the previous seven days of film viewing with mini-reviews in weekly blogs on — you got it! — Mondays! And I do mean mini. Just enough information to encapsulate my general assessment or highlights without giving anything away to those who haven’t seen it. (I’m no spoiler!) Along with each review, I’ll grade the film with a score using a scale of 0-100 with 100 being holy cow, outasite, spectacular, and no, I’ve never ever given a 100 before in my life. (A 95 or 96, yes, but no higher than that…)

 

So without further ado. Let’s do this! Lights – camera — oh, thanks as always for reading! — action! ~ Chris K.

 

FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 01/01/2019 – 01/06/2019

 

1. A Bad Moms Christmas

Comedy, 2017
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn

Not the sharpest wit but funny, raunchy at times. It may be too raunchy for some (not me), but I think the three core moms are good comedic actresses and they couldn’t have cast better their older counterparts as the title bad moms run into holiday hell when their dear old moms return home to their children for the holidays — played in solid form by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon. Enter with realistic expectations, and you might have a good time.

Score: 83

 

 

2. The Girl on the Train

Drama – Mystery, 2016
Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Rebecca Ferguson

Adore Emily Blunt these days. She is so talented in whatever role or genre she plays, and this performance is no different. My not-so-high score is not attributed to acting – everyone is great in the cast, Blunt especially in her role as an alcoholic woman who works with detectives to assist in the case of a young woman’s mysterious disappearance — but as with every mystery, there is so much more to the story. I found the pace sluggish at times, but its biggest faux pas for me is that it didn’t pass rule #1 of a good mystery — they didn’t stump me. I called the culprit in the first 15 minutes.  So much for suspense. Scored in the 80s mostly on account of Blunt being so damn good.

Score: 81

 

 

3. Bird Box

Drama – Sci-Fi, 2018
Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson

Another movie that scored higher because of the leading lady’s stellar performance. Struggled with how predictable this one was at times, but my greatest criticism is difficult to articulate here without spoilers. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that my problem with the storytelling of this post-apocalyptic tale of a woman trying to survive the world left behind is in the way events unfold. Directors have a choice with how they choose to arrange scenes and reveal information. Sometimes a non-linear arrangement can make for an exceptional film. Perfect examples are PULP FICTION (1994) and MEMENTO (2000). Those films would not be the same if arranged differently. This is a film that I would have liked to watch in the order as events happen. I think it may have resulted in a far more suspenseful and ultimately, satisfying payoff. Still, despite my grievance with the directing,  I think Bullock gives what may be the performance of her career. As a viewer, I am instantly drawn into her world and her perspective within the first five minutes and along for the ride to see what happens to this tough cookie.

Score: 85

 

 

4. Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour

Documentary – Music, 2018
Taylor Swift, appearances by Tiffany Haddish and Jennifer Nettles

Seen a lot of concert films in my time. I had only seen a one-hour special of Swift’s on network TV that I found charming and entertaining. In this expanded outing with an even thicker portfolio of songs since then, I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much. It felt over-produced and its attempts at providing arty, poetic interludes between portions of the concert felt overblown and forced. I think most Swift fans will be disappointed with stronger past songs left out of the lineup to make room for weaker, more recent tunes. Still, not a Swift hater – actually, I am quite a fan of her work. She’s a talented singer-songwriter. I’m glad I saw it, but this is not one I would go back and watch again as I have past concert films by other artists like Madonna.

Score: 84

 

 

5. The American Meme

Documentary, 2018
Paris Hilton, DJ Khalel, Dane Cook

Wasn’t sure what I would get going into this documentary. I did learn a lot about a variety of personalities who have built entire careers based on their social media platforms which have led to big business opportunities for them and the pitfalls of being so exposed (or over-exposed). But it felt like what started as an earnest idea to provide a unique, stark look at their lives became just more opportunity for self-promotion. Hate to say it but by the time I finished, I almost felt a little hoodwinked by the movie for falling for its claim of relevance.

Score: 79

 

 

6. Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust

Documentary – Music, 2017
Jeff Lynne

Now THIS is how a concert film is made! Tremendous music reproduced amazingly well onstage despite very intricate and sophisticated orchestral passages and complex vocal arrangements. Lynne is in top form, and he has surrounded himself with an incredible group of musicians and accompanying vocalists. The scans of the audience response support how successful the group is at capturing the magic of the Electric Light Orchestra live. Best of all, the behind-the-scenes footage shows what truly goes on behind the scenes, the camaraderie that develops between the group and the easygoing nature of the band’s founder and frontman.

Score: 90

JeffLynnesELO

 

 

7. Gaga: Five Foot Two

Documentary – Music, 2017
Lady Gaga

Gives a backstage pass to the life of a successful entertainer offstage. Appreciated the singer’s candor and never felt like she was hiding anything. Quite the opposite. She seems to go out of her way to expose herself, both literally and figuratively — the ailments, insecurities and vulnerabilities – revealed before the camera. Interestingly enough, the woman who is constantly being compared to Madonna has made a documentary that shares some of the qualities that make me enjoy MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE (1991), but at times, it can feel a little too self-aware and played out before the camera. By the closing credits, I didn’t feel I had been privy to a three-dimensional look as much as I did with Amy Winehouse in the Oscar-nominated documentary AMY (2015) or the Avett Brothers in the more recent gem MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS (2018).

Score: 81

 

 

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