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The Laundromat (2019)
Asides Spoil a Decent Plot Idea
The plot premise is excellent. A story about global money-laundering by oligarchs is a compelling story. Add some very good actors, and you should have a good movie, but alas it is not.
The actors break the fourth wall, and the asides are exceptionally annoying and distracting. The movie can't find its flow because of the erratic direction, poor script and whatever the heck Gary Oldman was doing.
Good Acting Can't Save a Bad Plot
This is a lot good about this movie. The direction, cinematography and acting are all well done. Unfortunately, the plot is so absurd that the movie just kept losing me more and more as it progressed.
The plot got the law wrong. The plot got business interactions wrong.
What a waste of talent.
Book Club (2018)
I know these actors can act. I have seen them - well, some of them - turn in good performances in past movies. With the campy soundtrack and the listless direction, this movie comes across as a dumping ground for washed up actors.
The script is limp, corny and predictable. I couldn't make it until the end.
After School Special for Adults
The plot idea is a good premise. There are a lot of pressures on aspiring actresses, and this is a cautionary tale on one of the choices that can make it easier. Unfortunately, the implementation was flawed. Seriously flawed.
The acting from the leads were ok, but broke down in some scenes. The acting from the secondary players was consistently weak. The direction was film student quality. There are too many voice-overs, instead of telling the story though actual acting.
This isn't the worst movie I have seen. I did make it through the end.
Shark - Meet Arthur Fonzarelli
I watched the first episode, but couldn't get past the absurdity of the plot points. They were full of the worst tropes. We have super-villans. We have psychologically super-human FBI agents. The writing is lazy garbage. It has all of the realism of a Mavel Comics movie.
The acting was ok, but over-done at points.
I didn't get the sense that this was worth any more time.
Cinematically Beautiful View Into an Ugly Event
As a piece of cinema, this is truly a sight to behold. The filming is beautiful in its ability to tell the story of a horrific shooting in Montreal in 1989. The black and white filming and the direction remind of the "Dekalog" by Krzysztof Kieslowski.
The acting is exceptional. The performance by a young Karine Vanasse is powerful in its understated subtlety.
The story is deeply moving. This type of plot isn't for everyone, but if realistic drama is enjoyable to you, as it is to me, then you will be impressed by the quality of this movie.
Goodnight, Charlene (2017)
I watch a movie like this, and I appreciate how hard it is to make a good movie. Those involved with this did not summit that high mountain. I just could got get over the awful, awful acting. It clouded anything that could have materialized as a plot.
Your time will be better spent doing anything else.
Dog Days (2018)
It's What You Think It Is
This is about as formulaic as you can get. There's nothing new here, but if you like cute animals, and don't mind a thin plot, you will enjoy this movie. The acting is good enough. The direction is pretty stock.
I personally look for a little more substance in my movies, so it wasn't for me.
Capturing Mary (2007)
What Was This About?
The performances by Maggie Smith and David Walliams was excellent, as expected. The filming was beautiful as well. However, I have absolutely no idea what this movie was about. There was no point that was made.
I feel like I wasted 100 minutes of my life. What a fail!
Englishman in L.A: The Movie (2017)
Too Much Camp for Me
This was a pretty good send-up of Hollywood. The execution didn't work for me, however. The acting performances were over-the-top, and the dialog was a little campy. I like a more realistic treatment of subject matter, but if your comedy sensibilities lean toward over-the-top, there is some good insight here.
The Happiest Place on Earth (2015)
Decent Story - Flawed Storytelling
I am not a film maker, but I can appreciate how difficult it is to make a movie. There is a lot good here. The story idea is good, but there are issues with the film that ultimately make it fall a little short. I understand it is a student film, so I suspect these things will improve with more experience on subsequent films.
First the cinematography is weak. There are too many extended scenes in near darkness that are off-putting. A bigger complaint is very weak acting by most of the secondary characters. The female lead does a pretty good job, though.
Second is there is a lack of clarity in the script. At times, I got lost if the person in scene was a lawyer or other professional (don't want to add a spoiler).
How Do You Know (2010)
There is no chemistry in this movie. You could dump the reel of celluloid in a bucket of acid, and there would still be no chemistry. I didn't expect a decent performance out of Owen Wilson, and he didn't disappoint.
I did expect Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd to make this a worthwhile movie, but the incredibly awkward dialog and failure of direction made this movie unbearable to watch.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
I Understand Why Cassavetes is Admired
This is my first John Cassavetes movie. Over 40 years after it's debut, the film making holds up. The acting and direction is well done. The plot is interesting.
I couldn't rate it higher because it was a failure of editing. This 2-1/2 hour movie really should have been a 90 minute movie. The extraneous scenes and the length of many scenes ultimately made the film almost intolerable to watch.
Even so, this was clearly innovative for its time, so I give it due respect.
Dirty John (2018)
Poorly Produced - "Lifetime" Vibe
I enjoyed the podcast. This is a compelling story. Eric Bana and Connie Britton are decent actors, but the production had a cheap, "Lifetime" made-for-TV feel to it. The scene constructions weren't well done. The narrative seemed to get lost at times.
It wasn't horrible, but it really wasn't worth the time. I would recommend spending the time listening to the podcast.
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
I couldn't finish this movie. There were extended scenes that had no purpose. They were just painfully metaphorical. It was too slow to get into any sort of coherent plot. Maybe if I would have stuck it out, it would have made sense eventually, but life is too short...
Killing Eve (2018)
They Jumped the Shark on This One
There is a lot to like about the show. The acting is very good by Sandra Oh, and especially Jodie Comer. Unfortunately, the writing is ridiculous. There are so many plot holes and so many times that the characters don't take the obvious action. It is lazy writing to keep a flimsy story line moving.
They Doubled-Down on Dumb
This movie has some positive aspects. Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams put in their typical, exceptional acting performances. Other technical aspects of the movie - direction and cinematography - are well done, but not exceptional. These elements aren't easy to achieve. It's hard to make a good movie, because ALL of the aspects of the film have to come together.
In this case, the plot was formulaic and not a single dumb melodramatic trope was left out. (Oh, I guess no one got cancer, so they mercilessly left out one manipulative trope).
This plot is just a pathetic, unoriginal manipulation of the audience. As a lover of good movies, I expect more.
Exceptional Filmmaking in All Aspects
There is so many movies from so many services, but it is still hard to find ones that are outstanding. This is one of them.
I am not in the industry, but I have a deep appreciation of how many things have to come together in the right way to create a true work of art.
First, the acting in this movie is exceptional. There are quite a few recognizable faces from "Downton Abbey," and that's a great place to start for acting talent. Lily James is nothing short of radiant. The direction and cinematography highlight her fine work in bringing this story to the screen.
The direction isn't limited to the rich characterization that Lily James brings. It is exceptional throughout. The pathos is apparent, but not melodramatic.
The best movies are built on a great story. The story here is exceptional. I put it up there with "Fried Green Tomatoes." It unfolds beautifully. It is compelling and engaging.
Platinum Blonde (1931)
Doesn't Pass the Test of Time
Film making has changed considerably since this film was made in 1931. It might have been ok for the times, but it doesn't work after the subsequent decades in innovation.
I was hoping for something similar to another Frank Capra film, "You Can't Take It With You," made the prior year. This had more significant problems, including some poor acting by Jean Harlow. The direction and timing is off throughout. The "witty" dialog just doesn't seem that witty.
Dakota Skye (2008)
It's Hard to Make a Good Movie
There are a lot of things that have to come together to make a good movie. This was short on a couple of very important ones.
The plot premise is good. Unfortunately, the plot was tiresome and tedious. The acting was second-rate at best. The timing of the dialog was off and the actors didn't interact.
The camera was perpetually out-of-focus as well.
Solid Execution on a Trite Storyline
There is a lot of positive in this movie, but unfortunately, it fails to deliver overall.
There are few cast members with any screen time. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have to deliver and they do. The acting is solid. The special effects and cinematography are also well-done.
For a movie to be good, a lot as to fall in place. In this case, the plot fails to deliver. I've seen a LOT of movies, and there was nothing original here. The story arc is exactly what we would expect. As a lifelong technician, there were some eye-rolling moments on the technical aspects of the storytelling as well.
It's not a bad movie, but it is uninspired. With so much to chose from, I should have chosen another way to spend my time.
American Gods (2017)
Over indulgent, Incoherent
I hadn't read Neil Gaiman, so i came in cold to the series. The direction, and writing was incoherent. I can't really comment on the acting, since there wasn't a proper scene or plot structure in which the actors could work.
It felt like someone had a vision, but they failed to impart that vision on me.
Doesn't Quite Hold Up Over Time
It's a timeless story that deserves to be told. The acting by Cicely Tyson is top notch, but unfortunately that's the highlights.
Most of the supporting actors don't turn in good performances. The direction is awful. There are scenes where you can see that actor on their mark who start to walk when "action" is called.
The cinematography is definitely made-for-TV quality. While the story is good, the plot itself skims on some important topics with the cliches of the 1970's.
I enjoyed it when it first aired, but with decades of experience watching cinema, this doesn't quite hold up.
Before I Fall (2017)
"Groundhog Day" for Teenage Girls
I can almost hear the pitch. "It's like 'Groundhog Day,' except a teenage girl finds her proper path instead of Bill Murray."
That's it in a nutshell. Nothing more. The movie is executed well, however. The acting - especially that of the charming Zoey Deutch - and direction is good, so this ends up being a very watchable movie.
The Crossing (2018)
At Least It Started Out Good
The pilot was a grabber. The opening scenes are very much an attention-getter. It looked like perhaps the networks were capable of putting together a compelling show. Steve Zhan is good in this. Natalie Martinez is very good.
After the pilot, things settled into a very familiar network television scenario. There were some credibility issues with the plot due to lazy, formulaic writing. The pace of the plot slowed to the boredom level.
If there was less choice of content, this would be watchable, but it has to get better than this for me to commit to a series, given all the choice out there.