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.


Wildlike (2015)

Teen is sent to Alaska to stay with her uncle while her mother rehabs, but she’s not safe from her uncle’s attentions, so she bolts.

This could’ve gone south fast, but instead it turned out to be a beautiful story about how, sometimes, people can make the world a little less scary and lonely for each other.



Mustang (2015)

The guardians of five Turkish sisters fear that they are becoming too promiscuous. In attempting to keep them free from worldliness, they go too far by turning the house into a prison. Their education is done in-home and is, essentially, wife prep.

Although this was well-done, I have no idea if there’s any resemblance to reality here. My thought is that the attitude is on point, but the extremism may be exaggerated. At least I hope it’s exaggerated.



Ilo Ilo (2014)

Filipino woman travels to Singapore to take a job as a housekeeper/nanny. The family doesn’t have much money, the wife is both controlling and jealous, and the 10-year-old boy is, frankly, an asshole. But somehow, it's still a prime position. By the time the family has to inevitably let her go due to financial constraints, the boy has become attached.

The film was never quite as moving as I thought it could have been, e.g. the nanny has an infant child back home but I couldn’t tell if that was causing her any great pain. Still, not bad.


King Jack (2016)

Higher schooler Jack is having a rough time. He has to attend summer school, girls share around his sexted privates for a laugh, and neighborhood bullies make sure he’s always got some fresh bruises. And now, due to a family emergency, his younger cousin is set to spend a few days in their house.

Though it’s a small story told over the course of just a few days, Jack's world is fully realized. His loneliness and desire to be liked were palpable, as were the motivations of almost every person we saw on screen even though we only spent a few minutes with some of them.

A superbly crafted slice of life that far too many of us will recognize.



Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

It feels like every time I see a Kubrick film I get the idea that he’s a HACK and how has no one ever noticed this in the history of cinema?? The Shining, Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, 2001, most of Full Metal Jacket and now this atrocity! ...But then I check out his IMDb page and am reminded that he was also responsible for Paths of Glory (my #2 all-time favorite movie/#1 favorite drama) and The Killing and Dr. Strangelove, and my theory falls apart. But still. What happened? He went from competent, lean storytelling to, well, I can’t even figure out what he was going for here so I probably shouldn’t speculate.

This film is a complete mess -- just more than 2½ hours of nothing much. In a nutshell: Dr. Tom Cruise runs into an old friend who tells him about a floating sex party that the doctor is desperate to attend, but once there everyone somehow realizes he doesn’t belong (though the explanations don’t fit with the early warnings he received) and he’s in trouble and ordered to strip until a woman comes to his defense by taking his place. After the party he’s being followed and is generally scared and finally comes clean with his wife who, after being hurt, says they should fuck. The end.

Other than the presence of an abundance of perfect tits, there’s really nothing to recommend this film. Though, actually, Kubrick even screwed up the boobs as there were soooo many that they became about as sexy as elbows. This is garbage.



This Isn't Funny (2015)

Young comedian and juice bar manager get into a “bike bumps car” accident. When she uses the incident as fodder for her stand up while he’s in the audience, they wind up falling for each other. 

Things are fun, then they're serious, and then they're sad. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it felt fresh and honest. I liked both of the leads and was rooting for them. The story is also often intercut with bits of stand-up which could have been annoying (e.g. early Seinfeld) but was instead good for the story (e.g. Louie).



Two Step (2015)

James is having a crap year: his parents died, he got kicked out of college, and he’s shown up at his grandmother’s as she’s experiencing the stroke that will kill her. Webb is also having a crap year: he’s just spent 8 months in jail, his girl isn’t waiting for him, she took their shared bank account, and he owes a local boss man 10k. It isn’t pretty when the two cross paths.

The story is pared to the bone -- like they lost every extra bit that they could to tell it as cleanly as possible. This is a tense surprise.



Hungry Hearts (2015)

Jude and Mina meet cute and are soon married with a baby on the way. Early on in the pregnancy, Mina has a hard time finding her appetite and rejects the intervention of medical experts, assuring Jude that natural is the way to go. After the birth, Mina becomes obsessive about shielding the child from the world at large -- and Jude’s concerns are met with accusations that he doesn’t trust her to know what’s best for their son. Jude’s drive to protect his son is at war with his desire to support his wife as she seems to drift further from reason.

It sort of plays like a horror movie, but it’s also like nothing else I’ve ever seen. There was almost always a feeling of being a bit off-kilter, which was incredibly effective. A haunting story with another terrific performance by Adam Driver.