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.


Who Took Johnny (2014)

Documentary about an unsolved missing child case from 1982. Though it’s not particularly well-done, there was enough what the fuckery to both hold my interest and make me queasy.

Johnny Gosch, 12 years old, was delivering papers in Iowa on an early Sunday morning. Laws at the time said the cops couldn’t investigate a missing child as a possible crime until 72 hours had passed, but they didn’t seem particularly interested in investigating even after that point. Johnny’s mother is sure -- with good reason -- that her son was taken into a child pornography/prostitution ring.

I don’t know what to believe about this particular case other than that our public servants owe us their SERVICE and that the evil in this world (too much of it tolerated by those charged with shutting it down) is beyond measure.



The Way He Looks (2014)

Best friends Giovana and Leo experience a bump in their relationship when the kind and good-looking Gabriel joins their class. They become a threesome, but it isn’t long before Gi feels like a third wheel. Leo is only just learning how to push his familial boundaries (since he’s blind, his parents haven’t afforded him much freedom). He’s also discovering that his sexuality might be less hetero than he’d previously assumed.

Nicely done without a lot of artificial drama.



Laurel Canyon (2003)

Young couple relocates to California from Cambridge for his medical residency, planning to stay at his mother’s empty home. Problem is that mom hasn’t vacated it because she’s behind on producing an album in her home-based studio. Though the son warns his fiancee away from his mother, she gets sucked into the excitement of a more free existence than she’s ever experienced.

I mean, I got it. The new is always appealing -- especially if you've always stayed in the lines -- and Frances McDormand as the record-producer is irresistible. But neither member of the young couple is at all sympathetic. He’s rigid and holding on to baggage and going way beyond flirting with a fellow resident and she’s suspicious and going way beyond flirting with both the lead singer of the band AND her fiance’s mom, while blocking any chance of moving out of the house by pretending she can’t find a suitable rental.

I didn’t care about them, so it was hard to care about their story.



Zero Motivation (2014)

The administration division in an Israeli army outpost is made up of less-than-enthusiastic women. If they weren’t so lazy with their friendships as well as their work, this could have been much more enjoyable. As it was, though, I could barely stand anyone.



Danny Collins (2015)

Aging rock star cliche who gave up on his own music to publish a more “for the masses” catalog finally receives the letter John Lennon wrote to him 40 years earlier offering him advice and help. That’s the all the push he needs to strive for a return to whom he intended to be musically and, especially, to reach out to the now-grown son he never met.

There’s a sweet story here with winning performances from Pacino, Bening, Cannavale, and Garner... but also oof. There’s something missing -- I'd say that this movie is to a good movie is as a Hilton Hotel is to a home. And hey, note to the director: you’re allowed to fire kids when it turns out they’re terrible actors. They’re more resilient about these things than adults are.



Sweet Bean (2016)

Manager of a small Japanese dorayaki shop needs help, but isn’t impressed by the elderly woman with crippled hands who applies. But once she brings him a sample of her homemade bean paste, he’s convinced and hires her to make the fillings. 

There’s a decent blend of melancholy and kindness running through this story, but it may tilt a little bit too far toward the melancholic. I liked it, but also wanted more. And I also now want to make dorayaki (sweet bean paste sandwiched with small pancakes).



Blazing Saddles (1974)

Had to sit in the front row as I left buying tickets way too late, but it was still fun to see this in the theater, especially in the wake of Wilder’s recent passing. Doesn’t age particularly well, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a whole lot of laughs to be had.

The one piece that doesn’t work at all is Mel Brooks’ womanizing and profoundly stupid governor -- it’s lazy and a waste of film.


What's in a Name? (2013)

Lifelong friends (and one wife) get together for a casual dinner at home and emotions and voices go sky high when one of them announces that he’s naming his yet-to-be-born son “Adolphe.” Smart, funny and frustrating.

Man, I miss having friends with whom I could have angry arguments like this while secure in the knowledge that it wouldn’t mean the dissolution of that friendship.