Movie Mondays ~ Monday, February 11, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ Monday, February 11, 2019

When the week started, I thought I was finally seeing an Oscar nominee I was excited about – - – even if it was just a nominee for screenplay (and song, too). But I kept watching, and well, you’ll read more about that experience soon. I continued this week on my annual Oscar Run, this year across 10 major categories. After finishing the first film of the week, I decided to take a break from the Oscar noms and catch a few almost-noms, films that qualified for this year’s Oscars but weren’t nominated even though many prediction lists had both of them on it for best documentary or best picture. I’ll hop back on the actual Oscar NOM Run again tomorrow but for now, let’s take a look back at the films I viewed this week. And as always, thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.

 

FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 02/04/2019 – 02/10/2019

 

21. Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Comedy, Drama, Musical (2018)
Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Clancy Brown

As I alluded to above, I really did think I’d found my 2018 film to be excited about, something I could really get behind. I am a Coen Brothers fan generally speaking. RAISING ARIZONA is one of my all-time favorites, I adore FARGO, and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN blew me away. That’s not to take away some serious affection for THE BIG LEBOWSKI and O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU.  This film is comprised of six different vignettes from the Old West with little in common beyond setting — they all showcase different characters, storylines, tone and messages. I was so tickled by the first vignette starring Tim Blake Nelson, a parody of the old musical cowboys a la Gene Autry. What I didn’t know is that the vignettes would get progressively dimmer, less interesting and in some cases, downright boring. The best word I could use to describe this anthology is uneven.  The cinematography, score and overall feel of the picture is beautiful across all of the stories. I’m just not knocked out by three of the stories. Well, the James Franco one is okay, but the other two led by Liam Neeson and Tom Waits do nothing for me. And while the final two vignettes brought me back to the film again and raised the rating a teensy bit after it was sinking fast, I say keep those expectations in check with this one. A strong opening and an intriguing finish do not make a great film — only great parts of it. If you want to see Coen Brothers at their best, watch any of the others listed above. You won’t be disappointed. Or turn off the TV on this one after the first vignette.

Score: 80

 

 

22. Quincy

Documentary, Music (2018)
Quincy Jones, Rashid Jones

I love documentaries, especially when they are about people I have always enjoyed and admired as entertainers or great innovators. This documentary has such a personal feel to it, primarily because it is written and guided by daughter Rashida Jones (yes, that talented lady from PARKS AND RECREATION and more). We get an intimate look at the man in all facets of his life — as a father, husband, producer, musician, and humanitarian. I appreciated the transition to and from the past with a wonderful blend of documentary footage from past decades that also highlight the artist at work. Seeing him back in the 80s rattle off people to call to assemble what was to become USA for Africa for the recording of “We Are the World” and then later in his early 80s thirty-plus years later orchestrate the entertainment across various industries for the official opening of the National Museum of African-American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C., we see that this entertainment powerhouse hasn’t lost his touch. I really enjoyed this one and think it’s a shame it did not make the list of Oscar-nominated documentaries for 2018.

Score: 87

 

 

23. Eighth Grade

Comedy, Drama (2018)
Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton

This was one of the big snubs for this year’s Oscars. So many people had it on their list of the top films for 2018, and many movie critics predicted it would be up, so I had looked forward to the need to see it. And then — it wasn’t nominated. I wanted to see why this film garnered so much praise for first-time director and comedian Bo Burnham. What absolutely sucks in the viewer is the compelling performance of its lead actress Elsie Fisher as the shy, insecure Kayla – trying to find her place in the world and persuade everyone including herself that she’s not shy and quiet, she just chooses not to talk. Hosting a web show with no subscribers or views, she attempts to break out of her shell when no one is watching but even she doesn’t seem to believe most of the motivational advice she doles out online. I think most of us will find a chapter in our life that allows us to relate to Kayla, whether it was 8th grade or instead 6th or 9th grade and even if we were not in an era faced with the pressures of social media, school terrorism safety drills and technology in our eyes, in our ears and in our brains at all times. There are moments we cringe right along with Kayla, and others that make us want to cheer out loud. Most of the time, we want to scoop her up in a hug and tell her how awesome she is. Kudos to Josh Hamilton as dad Mark. He tries so hard and sometimes he completely misses but when he wins, it’s quite tender and beautiful to watch. See this one to see something meaningful. Hey, Academy members, you really blew it not nominating this one.

Score: 88

 

EighthGrade

 

 

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