I haven’t had much time lately — for watching movies or for writing — so this is a catch-up post of some movies I’ve seen over the past several months. I’ve actually been a bit wary of posting my not-so-mainstream thoughts on some of these too. However, throwing caution to the wind, here goes …
Black Panther (2018)
I totally see how significant this move is. In March, Black Panther became the top-grossing superhero film of all-time in the US, as reported in TheHollywoodReporter, and it is still ahead of Avengers: Infinity War, domestically. The fantastic box office results should be a demonstration to the powers that be that a movie does not have to be dominated by white-skinned people to make money. With a predominantly Black cast and with the writing team (Joe Robert Cole, Ryan Coogler) and director (Ryan Coogler) also being Black, this movie puts the action in the fictional African nation of Wakanda and tells a story that places both heroes and villains firmly in that African world. I hope that this is a precursor to a day when movies can have casts as diverse as our society.
That being said, while I thought the movie was good, I didn’t think it was as great as I had heard it would be. To me, it was really a pretty typical superhero movie, but for the African themes and black cast. Nothing wrong with that, and my family enjoyed it a lot, but I was expecting something more.
Admittedly, three things may have coloured my opinion:
1. The older I get, the more that 3-D films and glasses make me motion sick. I spent the whole movie fighting nausea, as the camera had us zooming headfirst down a long tunnel or turning upside down. There was one point where I actually had to turn away to avoid throwing up. Maybe I should have opted for the 2-D version!
2. There were little kids (like maybe 3 years old) at this PG movie, one three seats over from me and one just in back of me, and both of them talked continuously throughout the movie. Why do parents let this happen? My younger son was a kid who didn’t get the concept of “indoor voice” in a movie, but I always at least tried to warn him beforehand and to keep him quiet during a movie.
3. I had heard so many rave reviews leading up to my seeing this movie, that I think my expectations were probably overly inflated. Again, I did like the movie…. just maybe not as much as many other people did.
Lady Bird (2017)
I was really predisposed to like this because I had enjoyed Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and Laurie Metcalf in Roseanne. The acting was good and a lot of the scenes rang true in terms of not-so-perfect parent/child relationships — I have to admit that I saw myself and my son in some of the scenes, although thankfully he has never actually tried to throw himself out of the car like Lady Bird did! However, I unfortunately found the movie quite boring. I watched it on pay-per-view and noticed myself pausing the play several times just to see how much longer until it ended. Rather than being a fluid story, Lady Bird is a series of scenes from a short time period in the lives of the daughter and the mother. I feel that it could have benefited from longer scenes with more time to explore each situation. And I guess I really prefer a movie that has more of a plot, rather than just showing us a time period in a coming of age story.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
I really loved this movie, although I had my usual issue with black comedies. My kids tell me that this movie was hilarious, but I found it touching and sad, rather than funny. I have trouble laughing at a real person who was so certain that he was making an amazingly great movie — whereas it actually turned out to be probably the worst movie of all time. James Franco is great in this, especially if you see any video of the real Tommy Wiseau for comparison, and I totally understand why he won a Golden Globe for this performance. Franco also directed the movie and I appreciate that Wiseau is shown, not just as being comically deluded, but also as being someone to be admired for his fearlessness, self-assurance and belief in his dream. The relationship between him and Greg Sestero (played by Dave Franco) is portrayed as a mentor/mentee relationship, even though with many flaws. Wiseau apparently watched the movie and was pleased, and reportedly his biggest complaint was that the lighting could have been better!
I haven’t seen Wiseau’s and Sestero’s actual film, The Room, but if it plays around here anytime, my son and I might just have to check it out! It’s become a cult classic. Will I find it funny in its awfulness… or will I just feel sad?
Jake Gyllenhaal really threw himself into the full creepiness of this role, even to the extent of losing 30 pounds and looking almost skeletal. The movie is about a guy who turns himself into an accident-chasing freelance videographer, going to any lengths to get the money shot for the TV news. Gyllenhaal is totally believably and the movie is hard to watch but impossible to stop watching, as he goes from just filming the events to having a role in making them happen. The creepiness factor is right up there with One Hour Photo (2002), starring Robin Williams. Nightcrawler is very well done and really makes you think about the sellers and the buyers of “news” and entertainment.