Critical MeMe

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

My Photo
Name:
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.

11/02/2019

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2019)

A small family -- two sisters and an aged uncle -- live in quiet isolation after the poisoning deaths of the other members of their family years earlier. They are mostly shunned by the other townspeople and sometimes harassed. When their cousin shows up for a visit, the dynamic in their home shifts.

I've read the book and this just can't hold a candle to it. On screen, the proceedings seem silly and unbelievable. Perhaps it's due to the fact that Merricat, in this portrayal, is clearly a deeply disturbed young woman so that most of the mystery is lost. On the page, I was with her -- I didn't consider her behavior to be off, just odd.

Really not worth the watch.

D+

Labels: , , , ,

11/01/2019

A Simple Favor (2018)

Prim widowed housewife whose son is her life gets swept up in the hard-charging life of another mother at her school. She enjoys the adventure and day-drinking at first and then enjoys the drama and sleuthing of figuring out what happened when that new friend goes missing.

It's not high art, by any means, but that's just fine. It's fun and fast and the whole cast is just going for it. Much better than I was anticipating!

B

Labels: , , , , ,

10/31/2019

Us (2019)

As a young girl, Adelaide experiences a traumatic event involving her doppelganger at an amusement park. The trauma is still affecting her as an adult and, during a trip to their beach house, her entire family meet their own doppelgangers.

This just didn't live up to the hype. It's a standard, inexplicable, horror movie. Yeah, there's a cool little twist at the end, but it's not enough.

C

Labels: , , , ,

10/13/2019

A Star Is Born (1954)

An actor who is becoming more famous for his drunken antics than for his acting happens upon a talented but unknown singer and decides to give her a push toward stardom. Well, it works, and she quickly starts rising as he starts to wane. If there were any spark between the two leads, this could've worked. But the relationship never felt like anything other than a source of pain.

And -- oof -- those musical numbers. I could barely buy that she was becoming adored for her work when the work they showed was so bland. I think this is the least successful of the three adaptations I've seen.

C

Labels: , , , , ,

10/05/2019

Shoeshine (1947)

Two young friends work as shoeshine boys on the streets of Rome, saving up to buy a horse together. To earn the rest of what they need, they take a job delivering blankets to an old woman -- not realizing that they're part of a bigger scheme to rob her. They are picked up for the robbery and thrown into juvie, where they must adapt quickly.

This really moved me. The terrible cycle of poverty. the joy of friendship, the pressure cooker of prison, and the pull of family obligation are all well-realized here. These boys broke my heart.

B+

Labels: , , ,

9/22/2019

Downton Abbey (2019)

Every series has disappointing episodes. This is simply the longest and most disappointing episode that Downton Abbey has made. And was anyone really asking for it? And, if so, couldn't it have just been run as a PBS special?

Mary's superior, Carson's obsequious, Branson's tamed, Robert's benign, Cora's a non-entity, Thomas is gay, Violet's snippy, Daisy's ambitious, and Molesley's an absolute idiot -- none of that's changed. But the things that did change didn't do so for the good. Andy turns into a jealous asshole (don't worry, Daisy's into it), and most of the Downton staff goes off the deep end trying to sabotage the visiting Royal staff. Oh, and Branson thwarts an assassination attempt on the king because he may not be a royalist, but he ain't down with murder!!

It all just felt thin and unnecessary. Perhaps Downton was always this slight but the smaller screen kept my expectations in check.

C-

Labels: , , ,

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

Karin, her husband, her brother, and her father are all gathered at their rough seaside home after her recent stay in a sanitorium. They are all, clearly, there for Karin -- hoping she's recovered herself -- but those hopes are in vain. She has several schizophrenic episodes in which she can see what no one else can and no longer wants to try to stay tethered to the real.

The cinematography is beautiful and the acting is solid. The story itself, however, is pretty seedy. At one point I'm pretty sure she had a romantic interlude with her teenage brother. I spent the entire time with my nose wrinkled.

D

Labels: , ,

9/21/2019

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

Cameron is being raised by her Christian aunt and, since this is 1993, it doesn't go over well at all when she's discovered making out with a girl. Cameron is sent to "God's Promise" -- a kind of gay conversion boarding school run by a brother and sister.

This is a quiet film; it's much less sensationalistic than "Boy Erased," which tackled the same type of subject. The school seems to be well-meaning even as the students understand that they can't really be helped, which was just so familiar. I'm not gay, but I grew up taking all of the rhetoric -- especially the purity crap -- to heart and always feeling like I was the only faker in the room. The damage can last a lifetime & this film does a decent job of conveying the despair of the kids forced to see their sexuality as perverted.

But, even though the film gets the vibe right & conveys the message perfectly, it feels as though it's not quite enough. I think the biggest issue is the character of Cameron: she's erected a wall between herself and everyone else for most of the movie. Good -- that's probably accurate -- but that wall is present between Cameron and the audience as well. I feel like I had an experiential "in" for the subject matter. I wonder if those viewers who haven't lived Christian school, church, and church camp felt anything.

B-

Labels: , ,