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.


Berkeley Square (1933)

After inheriting a stately home in London, a modern American man becomes convinced that he can interact with the former inhabitants in their time, 149 years prior.  If he's right, he just has to be sure not to mess anything up while there.

It’s a cool premise that should have been used to much better effect than just having the man from the future come off as weird and kinda scary to the old timers. 



The World's End (2013)

Takes too long to get to the “aliens took over our hometown” plot and then that plot doesn’t really pay off.

I think, weirdly, that this story would’ve been a heck of a lot better without the aliens.  The basic story is great: a group of former high school buddies, none of whom are leading meaningful or fulfilling lives, reuniting for another stab at an epic pub crawl they attempted in their youth.  Only the one who’d peaked in high school has the clarity to realize how much a meaningful life is defined by those for whom you fight and who have your back in return.

There were glimpses of honesty that were truly affecting, but they were buried in the aliens gimmick. 



Young Winston (1972)

So. Very. Boring. It was like listening to a story told by a doddering old man who can’t keep the narrative straight and has lost all ability to discern what may be of interest only to those in his immediate family. Excruciating.



The Escapist (2009)

A long-timer is determined to get out of prison to see his frail junkie daughter before it’s too late. To do so, he puts together the crew he needs in record time while trying to placate the big man on campus and the big man’s petty creep of a brother.  The escape’s planning is intercut with its execution, which is a storytelling choice that really pays off.

Gary was just in love with it -- more so after talking it through.  This was a tense thriller that was also, somehow,  poetry.


Hit & Run (2012)

Some good ideas handled clumsily.  I forgave it a bit when the credits told me that it was written and co-directed by star Dax Shepard, though.

The one part that made me laugh the most (Bradley Cooper’s admission of prison butt sex) also made me feel guilty for doing so. And, dude. A dash of Tom Arnold can be fine, but this was Tom overload.



Marie Antoinette (2006)

Fairly straight retelling of Marie's life -- from her marriage to Louis through their fall during the French revolution -- just with a modern soundtrack. But, boy, what a difference that soundtrack makes in the feel of the story. It was young and relatable rather than (ugh) historical.



Last Summer (1969)

This transported me right back to the feeling of being a teenager in way over my head in co-ed groups -- scared of my own sexuality and even more scared of not fitting in.  The "mean girl" stuff was especially, almost nauseatingly, familiar.  I can't say that I really liked this, but it was definitely effective.



Shame (2011)

With the bare minimum of story and a serious economy of words, we see a sex addict at the top of his “game” start to lose it when his sister crashes at his place for a few days. It’s clear that there’s a weird history there, but we’re not clued in to what it is nor why they’re both so damaged. Fassbender is mesmerizing and the movie is like a poem -- a sordid, painful, quiet, wide open to interpretation (so sure to be misunderstood) poem.

And there's this little number, as a gorgeous bonus:



King of California (2007)

Something about this story just got to me. It’s an irresponsible parent/responsible child set-up -- something I’ve seen dozens of times -- but it transcends that somehow. There was a patience to the kid and an intelligence to the parent and a complete innocence in both that I found hard to resist. I felt as though I was watching a dynamic I’d never seen before. Plus...buried treasure.


Sound of My Voice (2012)

Atmospheric and spare film about an aspiring documentary filmmaker infiltrating a cult led by a woman claiming to be from the future. I was on the edge of my seat for most of it.  But, although I usually applaud movies that leave a bit of mystery -- those that refuse to tie up neatly just for the sake of doing so -- this one left me a little unfulfilled.  I really wanted to know.



Hide-Out (1934)

Mob “protection” guy/womanizer extraordinaire gets shot by cops and speeds off down the road. A nice farmer finds him and takes him home to recuperate...and to fall in love with his daughter. The “before the farm” scenes were necessary, but they didn’t give an accurate picture of the worthwhile charm that was to come.



I Heart Huckabees (2004)

An eco-warrior experiencing a coincidence consults a pair of existential detectives to help him sort it out, but they uncover much more than he bargained for.  I was along for the ride and enjoying it immensely -- but the fun didn't last all the way to the end. Once Isabel Huppert came on the scene as a proponent of meaninglessness (a polar opposite view to the one taken by the detectives), things got more strained than strange.

The cast is completely game and story is warped and fun, but it just needed to figure out when to say when.