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

19Feb/170

Hell or High Water (2016)

David Mackenzie's (Spread, Asylum) 2016 surprise is a movie that you'll like if you go in with very minimal expectations. If you think it's going to be your typical bank robbery thriller, you might be disappointed. If you think it's going to be filled with drama and suspense, you might likewise be disappointed. If you are interested in a simple character driven story with a little more than meets the initial eye, you might enjoy Hell or High Water. It's definitely a bit more quirky than you might think. If you are expecting a heavy bank caper drama, this isn't it. Mackenzie tries to take a different angle with this movie, adding some humor, recklessness, and interesting side characters to a story that is, primarily, still a bank heist film first. And while this movie has a 98% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, this doesn't mean that most reviewers are scoring it a 9.8/10. Rather it means that 49 out of 50 give this movie a positive review. While it is an interesting film (and the first one of 2016 that I have watched twice), it is by no means a Best Picture candidate. I know there was talk that it might sneak into the race. I have no idea how it got a nomination for Best Picture whereas a movie like Sully did not. While Hell or Hgh Water is a decent movie, I think a lot of people (including myself) expected it to be something far greater than it actually was.

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.

3Jan/170

Passengers (2016)

Passengers is one of those movies that your interest would be better served if you looked at the audience score rather than the critics' scores. A 30% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that you skip this one. But a 70% audience score suggests something more. This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Plus I try to see everything. But even I was skeptical when I saw how it was getting panned by so many different critics. Even my most respected site (Roger Ebert's site) only gave the movie 1.5 stars. But I talked to a couple of different people who go to the movies a lot, and they said, despite some holes, that they recommended it. The only thing I knew about Passengers going in (I never saw a trailer) was that it starred Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, Joy) and that they were lost in space. And while I suppose there were holes in this movie, they didn't in any way deter my enjoyment of this film. The parts that I found more troublesome than anything else were the personal emotions and the relationship between the two leads and, really, I didn't even have a problem with that.

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.

24Nov/160

Cassandra’s Dream (2007)

Not the biggest Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Match Point) fan myself, I feel that his movies I have seen in recent years, particularly Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris, lack the overall substance I desire in my romances as well as my dramas as well as my romantic dramas. Cassandra's Dream is a movie I would never have given a chance when it had been released back in 2007. I'm not a huge fan of Colin Farrell (The Lobster, In Bruges) or Ewan McGregor (The Impossible, Incendiary). Ferrell has grown on me by shedding his bad boy, box office revenue chasing persona and doing a lot more indies. McGregor just never really has. The point is is that I never thought I would have liked this movie and am surprised that I even watched it. I'm grateful that I gave it a chance some nine years after it was released. It was a nice, simple film that kept me entertained the whole time.