365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

17May/170

The Wall (2017)

First things first, if you think you're going into this seeing a John Cena movie, you will be sorely disappointed. This movie is similar to a move like 127 Hours, Cast Away, I Am Legend, or All Is Lost in the sense that it revolves almost entirely around a single character. The are a couple of major differences though between this one and those just stated. There are no flashback scenes. This movie is done almost entirely in real time. And it occurs in a single location, though 127 Hours, for the most part, does as well. The Wall is similar though in the sense that each of the mentioned movies experiences EXTREME periods of hopelessness during a part or a majority of the movie. The Wall isn't nearly as good as these other movies, but it was unique enough that it held your interest. Whereas 127 Hours was based on a true story, where All Is Lost is easily believable, and where I Am Legend is more of a science fiction movie that we have to suspend our belief for, The Wall falls somewhere in between. I loved that it was just 81 minutes long. It didn't need to be any longer so why drag something out when it doesn't have to be? And the first 20 minutes were completely engrossing. I knew a little bit about the movie, but not enough to know where it was going. But then it took a turn for the weird that took the believability aspect out of it and turned it into a game of cat and mouse that, while entertaining, was not something I'd expect out of my war movies.

19Jan/170

Elle (2016)

Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Total Recall) Elle opens with a scene that even the most jaded person would find difficult to watch. Whenever we see a rape scene on the big screen, we are mortified. Rape is a crime we abhor and, next to murder, the one we find most unacceptable in society. To start a movie with a brutal rape sets the immediate somber tone of the movie and, ironically, a tone that we often get away from. There are so many genres in this French subtitled film. It can be classified as a drama, romance, suspense, thriller, revenge, mystery, and even comedy. I'd be lying if I said I understood every component of this movie without having to do some research for it afterward. Apparently, the older gentleman didn't have that problem as he began clapping as we rolled to credits. The reason I saw this film was because Isabelle Huppert (Things to Come, Amour) is a lock for a Best Actress Academy Award nomination after winning a Golden Globe. I think she has a solid chance to win. I think her only real competition are Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Emma Stone (La La Land) I'm uncertain, at the time of this writing, which way I would lean. I wasn't the biggest fan of Jackie, but Natalie Portman did nail the role perfectly. It was dark and dreary and I wasn't sure the movie was needed. Elle was fresh and original and while the content was dark, Huppert gives a career-defining performance as Michele, a woman who refuses to show any reactionary human emotion for the events she is put through. If someone forced me to make a pick today, I would say that my heart says Huppert, but my mind says Portman. It would not be unprecedented for an actress to win cinema's top prize. In fact, there have been two winners in the past decade (Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose and Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as well as a slew of other nominations, including two in the past four years. And Portman already has her Oscar for Lead Actress (2010's Black Swan). While Huppert might be an unknown commodity in the western hemisphere, she has been one of the most revered actresses in Europe for the past 40 years. With no Oscar nominations to her name yet, the one she receives this year may come with the trophy itself.

25Nov/160

Allied (2016)

While a 65% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that a movie should be checked out (2 out of every three critics liking the film), sometimes you wonder why the score isn't higher. Allied, the Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, The Walk) World War II love story set in both Casablanca and London about two intelligence officers from opposite sides of the world says a lot. The movie, set in both Casablanca and London, has been loosely referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Smith (because of Brad Pitt) meets Casablanca (because of the period and location). While I understand the reference, this is far from the truth. I did not like either of these other two movies (I know. I know. Casablanca is one of the greatest movies of all-time...yawn), but I really enjoyed Allied.

20Nov/163

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Almost perfect. While it may not even end up in my top five movies of the year, Tom Ford's (A Single Man) Nocturnal Animals was almost perfect. There was so much I liked in this movie and Ford almost created a masterpiece, but the movie just felt short. An A- for sure. Maybe even an A. But it won't be the 49th movie that I've seen that I would classify as an A+. Jake Gyllenhaal (Love and Other Drugs, Everest) is better than ever and he COULD end up with an Oscar nomination for this film. In a perfect world, he would, especially since he very well may have been the odd man out both in 2015 (Nightcrawler) and 2016 (Southpaw) for a Best Actor Academy Award. But with four of the five slots pretty much locked up (Tom Hanks - Sully, Denzel Washington - Fences, Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea, Joel Edgerton (Loving), that leaves only one more nomination between Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Warren Beatty (Rules Don't Apply), and Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge). And, to be honest, while his performance was great, it wasn't nearly the performance he gave in either Nightcrawler or Southpaw. Ford's chances for a Best Directing nod look even dimmer, and an impressive performance by Amy Adams (The Fighter, American Hustle) may be completely overlooked because she will likely receive a nomination (and may even be the frontrunner) for Arrival, a movie that was released just a week before Nocturnal Animals.

13Nov/160

Arrival (2016)

Alien, Fire in the Sky,  Independence Day, Men in Black, Starship Troopers, Cloverfield, Signs, Prometheus. These are some of the many movies that have successfully explored contact in some form with extra-terrestrial beings in some form. And then you have movies like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Cocoon, Contact, Solaris, District 9, Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian that are also movies about either extra-terrestrial encounters or innovative space exploration that deal more with the human component or relationship building than they do action, adventure, and/or a post-apocalyptic future. Add Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario, Prisoners) Arrival as the latest movie to try to get itself on this impressive list. The critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (82%) have both enjoyed this movie. I wouldn't say that I disliked this movie, but I don't have the same praise as many of these others. If you haven't seen Villeneuve's Sicario, please see this movie. It was one of the five best movies of 2015. I haven't met many people who have seen this movie and didn't like it. It's an incredible movie. I hoped Villeneuve could recapture that same success with this follow-up, but, ultimately, it was a movie that I found interest in, but one that was a little all over the place and not one that I could ultimately relate to or, to an extent, even understand its purpose.