Critical MeMe

Time spent watching films, even crappy ones, is time well-spent.

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Location: Missouri, United States
    These aren't comments on ALL of the movies through which I've cried, yawned, laughed, and rolled my eyes, but just about everything I've seen since early 2002 is here plus a few from earlier. Post dates reflect my screening & parenthetical dates are the year of US release (aka Oscar eligibility).
    Yeah, a movie review blog isn't very original. But originality is overrated. Just ask Michael Bay.

6/25/2016

Pride and Prejudice (1940)

It’s hard to grade this one. If I had been unfamiliar with the story and/or had seen no other adaptations, I’d probably have been charmed. But since the source novel, the BBC miniseries and the Keira Knightley version are all so masterful, this just pales.

One of the biggest issues was the casting. I love me some Greer Garson, but she played Elizabeth as more snide than smart and she was just too old (mid-30s) for me to buy her in the role.

C+

6/24/2016

Pariah (2011)

Lee knows she’s a lesbian and is trying to explore what that means while keeping her strict family in the dark.

This is an understated film. There are no big epiphanies. Although everyone knows (or at least strongly suspects) the truth, the bravery to be open and force the rejection or acceptance is terrifying. I appreciated that it wasn’t tidy.

B+

6/18/2016

The Fifth Estate (2013)

I’m sure this movie has some bias but, regardless of its level of authenticity, it was a decent story. Renegade truth-teller with a tragic past creates a new method of information-sharing which promises a haven of anonymity for those providing the information… but is it really safe to blow the whistle? And is it responsible to say “we publish all truth, regardless of any danger that truth could pose?”

Going in, I really didn’t know a whole lot about Wikileaks. I was familiar with their biggest stories (e.g. the “Collateral Murder” video) but hadn't followed along with the material on Assange himself. It did drag on a bit and the repeated imagery of a huge office with rows of rows of desks representing the nonexistent “hundreds of volunteers” got pretty old.

B-

6/17/2016

Fruitvale Station (2013)

I’m assuming this is was a heavily-fictionalized look at the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, the young man who was shot by a cop while face down on the ground in front of dozens of witnesses. Now, maybe there was more some truth to this depiction of who he was, but especially in the scenes where he was alone (dumping his stash of weed, showing compassion to a dying dog), it got a little tough to swallow.

I wish the movie had trusted the audience a bit more. Just as in “The Accused,” who the victim is should be completely irrelevant. It was a crime perpetrated by those who are sworn to protect and serve and that’s tragic no matter who the victim is.

B-

Man Up (2015)

Jaded singleton Nancy is mistaken for Jack’s blind date and she just rolls with it. What a nice surprise that such a silly premise turned out to be a really fun and rather wonderful story. I didn’t have high hopes -- I don’t love romantic comedies -- but this rose above its own cliches and delighted Gary and me.

 B+

6/15/2016

Wish I Was Here (2014)

Braff is an out-of work actor with a patient provider-wife & a couple of kids. His dad decides to pull the tuition cash he's been using to pay for the children’s private school because he’s dying and wants to use it for his treatment. Fair enough. So Braff takes on the kids’ schooling in what I think was supposed to be a free-spirited way (camping trips, wig shopping, pool plastering), all the while carrying around an institutional-sized “swear jar” full of cash to finance their exploits.

Just ugh. It was forced and boring as hell. When they “insisted” a man take a sexual harassment seminar “seven times” while also getting him fired for giving voice to his fictional half-boner, it was just one more thing in this movie that doesn’t reflect life at all. Has Braff ever met real people? Hated every single bit of this. Every. Single. Bit.

D-

6/11/2016

Paper Towns (2015)

When enigmatic Margo discovers she's been betrayed by her popular-clique friends, she drags her neighbor (and former childhood bestie) Quentin along with her for a night of revenge-lite. Next day, she’s gone and Q is determined to find her.

It's possible that today's teens delight in this the same way that I did in “Breakfast Club," but I sure pity them for having make do. The story reeks of cliches and was all surface. It's my guess that, for whatever reason one sits down to watch this movie (e.g. for a good laugh, a little romance, or something fresh), it's just not going to do the trick.

C-

Ricki and the Flash (2015)

Mom Meryl Streep left her midwestern husband and three young children to be a rock star on the West Coast. Now the kids are grown and she's fronting the house band at a small bar by night and scans groceries by day. When her ex-husband calls to enlist her help in pulling their daughter out of depression, she finds herself back in the lives of the family who’ve had to do without her for 20 years.

I wanted to like this movie. I remember that the trailer made me weepy -- it's that part where Rick Springfield tells Meryl that it's her job to love her kids, not the other way around. But, despite some nice moments, it lacked any real depth.

C+