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.


Life of the Party (2018)

I've come to the conclusion that I just don't think Melissa McCarthy can carry a film. She's funny in short bursts -- e.g. SNL sketches or her supporting work in Bridesmaids -- but once you force her to fill 90 minutes on her own? It just low-key riffing that gets old pretty quick.

I have a feeling that each scene in the script said something like "At home: Deanna burns Dan's stuff -- improvise" and "80s themed sorority party -- improvise" because the story is see-through thin and the jokes are barely-there. I'm sure that everyone on-set was having a ball but, unfortunately, that fun doesn't make it to the screen.



Masterminds (2016)

This is based on a true story, but there's no way these caricatures were based on real people. You can have successful movies where every character is way over-the-top (Raising Arizona comes to mind), but the storytelling's gotta match the vibe or it just feels inept.



The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

This could've been -- should've been -- uproarious, but we never got above a mild chuckle.



Devil's Knot (2014)

Reese Witherspoon & Colin Firth star in this film concerning the murder of the children in Robin Hood Hills and the following trials of the "West Memphis Three."

This put me in mind of All Good Things, which was a fictionalization of the events covered in the brilliant documentary The Jinx. Just as with that film, I've seen the documentaries (Paradise Lost & West of Memphis) about this crime and those accused of it, which makes it difficult to judge this movie on its own. There's just no compelling reason for it to exist. If you want to know how things went down, you needn't bother with this when there are better sources readily available.


Finding Vivian Maier (2014)

Guy buys a whole bunch of negatives at a storage unit auction. The photos are brilliant, so he becomes consumed with getting them attention and with finding out more about the artist.

Vivian seems to be the type of person who was mysterious for the sake of being mysterious -- at one point even calling herself "The Mystery Woman" on tape -- and that's a whole lot less interesting to me than just being a person. But I have to admit that her photos are wonderful. The work deserves to be seen.


Eighth Grade (2018)

I have no idea how Bo Burnham -- a male -- tapped so precisely into the mind of a young teenage girl. It's almost unsettling how right it is.

Those pool parties where you can't fit in and the desperation to get that boy to notice you could have been lifted straight from my own experiences -- I both laughed and cringed in recognition. Even though I'm now 50, as Kayla moved uncomfortably through her days I was transported to a place I'd dearly love to forget.

The thing is: I know that Kayla will be alright. She's got a father full of love and acceptance. And that's really all that a kid needs in the long run.



Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

The thing I appreciate so much about the MI franchise is how exciting the stunts are. I can see them clearly, following all of the beats, and they are incredible. The story is usually lacking something -- in this case it seemed to be lacking a bit more than usual -- but the stunts? Mwah. And, let's face it, when I bought my ticket, it was for the spectacle not the quieter moments.



A Man Called Ove (2016)

We first meet Ove as he is losing his temper in a shop over a coupon. We then watch him stomp around his neighborhood, checking for the infractions of residents and we think "OK -- this kind of guy." But, with the help of some new neighbors and ample flashbacks, we are reminded that no one's born a grumpy old man and grumpy old men don't have to remain so.

I watched this alone and, though I long to discuss this with someone, I'm glad I had the freedom to stop and ponder (and also, on more than one occasion, cry my eyes out). It's a beautiful story told really well.