Movie Mondays ~ Monday, January 21, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ Monday, January 21, 2019

Recently, I launched a new blog feature that runs on Mondays focused on movies. I’ve got an eclectic mix of film genres, subject matter and quality for this edition. Tomorrow happens to be a very big day in the Kuhn household because Tuesday is Oscar Nom Announcement morning. If you followed my Oscar Run antics last year, you’ll recall that I blogged about the films that made up the Run viewings, whether at the theaters or in my own living room. This year, given my new Monday movie mini-review blog each week, I’ll be featuring those Oscar Run stops within my Monday blogs. So follow along and if you’re an Oscar fan or fellow movie buff, always feel free to jump in with your own comments.

 

For now, here’s what I viewed in the past seven days and my mini-reviews. As always,  thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.

 

FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 01/14/2019 – 01/20/2019

 

11. Coco

Animated, Family (2017)
Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos

What a pleasant surprise. I will admit that I watched this film in two sittings – broken up at about the halfway point. After seeing the first half, I thought to myself: this is the most unusual Disney film I’ve ever seen. Sometimes spooky and creepy, and at other times, I was enthralled with all of this new information I was learning about cultural traditions unfamiliar to me. And I thought I’d seen it all with WALL-E, a particular favorite of mine, that defies all of the rules of animated family entertainment. But the second half of COCO completely caught me off guard. I found myself totally engaged in this sometimes charming and sometimes far too mischievous Mexican boy’s mission to fulfill his passion for music much to the dismay of his family during the Day of the Dead festivities. I won’t divulge more about the plot for fear of giving away some fun  twists, but I sincerely appreciated the intertwining threads of cherishing family, creating art simply for the joy of it, supporting loved ones and making our imprint on the lives of others. Not since the opening of Disney’s UP has a scene in an animated film gotten me so choked up as one late in this film featuring the movie’s Oscar winning song, “Remember Me.” Click here for a link to the audio of the song played earlier in the film. (I wouldn’t dare spoil the later scene. You must see it for yourself!)  Sweet, loving, fun, joyful. COCO is a beautiful find for me and one I’ll enjoy watching again someday.

Score: 91

Coco

 

12. Vice

Comedy (2018)
Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell

I broke one of my movie rules: thou must enter the theater with contained expectations. Years ago, I learned the hard way that when a film is hyped so much for being funny, do not – I repeat – do NOT enter the theater expecting it to be hilarious. I believe I suffered from high expectations when I walked into this film. The acting did not disappoint – I have yet to see Bale, Adams, Carell or Rockwell give a bad performance in anything this powerhouse of four has done. So if you’re going to the film to watch some of the best actors dazzle yet again, you will be very happy with the end results. If, however, like me, you are going to see a really entertaining look at a public figure – former vice president Dick Cheney – who we think we know but expect we’ll learn more, this one might leave you a bit lukewarm, too. I think given the re-teaming yet again of Bale and Adams that I wanted it to have the coolness, cleverness and perhaps soundtrack of AMERICAN HUSTLE. There are scenes that absolutely deliver great charm and humor – one in particular which completely throws audiences with its tongue in cheek attempt to follow cinematic protocol and then ricochets off the wall with a zinger we know is coming but aren’t quite sure what it will look like in its delivery. Some moments do work, and others feel contrived or forced. I’d say the acting scores in the 90s and the script and plot in the 70s, so I scored accordingly. If you see it, go primarily to be mesmerized by the performances, the makeup and the synergy across a cast chock full of one familiar face after another. Don’t worry. You can look ‘em up later on IMDB, too.

Score: 84

 

13. The Last Laugh

Comedy (2019)
Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Andi McDowell

I wanted to love this film. I grew up on “Saturday Night Live,” and some of my favorite films star one of the lead two guys (CADDYSHACK, SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES, AMERICAN GRAFFITIMR. HOLLAND’S OPUS). But the film doesn’t give the guys much to work with, offering a weak script about a former talent manager who meets up again with his one former talent who almost made it big but didn’t. As the film progresses, we learn more about what happened all those years ago and new information that adds a sense of urgency to this mission to finally hit the big time. There’s just one big problem: Dreyfuss’s character is supposed to be this unbelievably funny comedian never discovered and we hear the jokes. He’s not all that funny. I would have hoped that maybe an actually funny comedian would have been hired to write the script, but it is evident this wasn’t the case. And when the funny lines aren’t particularly funny, the rest of the dialogue can be awkward and maudlin at times. I really wanted to be able to recommend this one because at their best, Chase and Dreyfuss can be a joy to watch, but this isn’t that vehicle. Instead, I would recommend you sit down and see one of their classics I listed above, maybe throw in my favorite Andi McDowell film, too, SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE for something of a darker shade but so captivating, especially when joined by a then-finely coiffed James Spader spewing some of the best movie lines of its time. THE LAST LAUGH doesn’t deliver all that many laughs.

Score: 77

 

14. Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You

Documentary (2016)
Norman Lear, John Amos, Amy Pohler

I believe I saw this documentary or at least parts of this film on PBS the year it came out. But I checked my movie rating book and it never made the list, so I will share my thoughts here today. If you love television, this is a must-see. Lear was an amazing creative force in early TV, and had he not turned his attention away from the medium to focus on bigger issues like civil rights and other human rights-related activism, there’s no telling what he could have done to transform TV in the 80s if given the chance. But nothing will ever take away his thumbprint and it’s a mighty big one on 70s comedies that had bite, character and edge and featured characters unafraid to say exactly what they wanted to say and stirring controversy left and right. The documentary does an outstanding job of following the path of Lear’s career and interweaving his own personal story and beliefs throughout, and it’s done creatively in the man’s own words as he appears in the piece to speak for himself. I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary. My only complaint might be the pacing in the final third seemed to feel a little slow, hindered also by an arty gimmick involving a little boy in silhouette who keeps popping up on the set. It doesn’t really work and every time he reappears, it only reminds me ‘oh yeah, I’m watching a film.’  Any good film should have you completely lost in it until the final frame. Overall, worth a TV lover’s time.

Score: 87

 

15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 **

Action, Comedy (2017)
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Kurt Russell

Whenever you see a ** at the end of a film title, it means this is not the first time that I’ve watched the film. I saw this one as I do most Marvel features, at the theaters and loved it, but I had not seen it again since then. Not surprisingly, I found it just as charming, entertaining and attention-grabbing the second time around. I love this group of superheroes because they have this wonderful chemistry, great dialogue and this streak of normalcy that runs throughout their interactions and conversations that makes them more accessible than many of the other superheroes. Cooper may only be providing the voice but he’s hilarious, Pratt and Saldana are in their usual top form, and though Vin Diesel didn’t really need to show up to play Groot this time as with last time, the animators have created their most adorable, scene-stealing Groot yet. I challenge anybody to watch that opening title sequence set to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” and not find themselves turning red from laughter and smiles stretched ear to ear. And may I also mention that the addition of one of the coolest cats in the film industry, Mr. Kurt Russell, only makes this second volume of Star-Lord and crew’s adventures even more satisfying! Just as good if not better the second time around!

Score: 93

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyVol2

 

1 Comment

  1. mary gillispie

    I loved your Movie reviews.

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