Week Two COVID-19 Lockdown 2.0 Movie Project

Welcome to week two of this project! This week I dipped into a couple of oldies and a couple of newies, finally finished off my Bong Joon-Ho deep-dive, and cemented my view that we should have more movies that are ninety minutes in duration. Here’s what I watched this week for my COVID-19 Lockdown 2.0 Movie Challenge:

Week 2

  • Wednesday 15 July 2020:

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Joe Berlinger (2019) 3.5/5

This film had been on my ‘to-watch’ list for a long time. I’ll admit I don’t know a lot about Ted Bundy, and I’m not sure this film was the best option in terms of educating me on the crimes. However, I don’t think that was the point of this film. A lot of the criticism I have read, while praising Zac Efron and Lily Collins’ performances, disparaged the film for glamorising Bundy and his crimes. I certainly didn’t finish the film with that reading, and I completely disagree with the assertion that this film should treat the crimes as a sort of checklist to include. If I wanted to know about the crimes in detail, I’d watch The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019) instead. Extremely Wicked took a different approach, one that feels fresh and unique to me. I liked that this was a different kind of crime film. What kept me hooked was the relationship between Ted and Liz, translated so beautifully to the screen, and which undoubtedly could not have worked without these stellar performances. This is an approach to story that I really responded to as a viewer, and I think other films would do well to take a leaf out of Berlinger’s book.

  • Thursday 16 July 2020:

Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman (2014) 4/5

Firstly, I don’t know what everyone dislikes about this movie. I remember at the time of release the film received less than favourable reviews, describing the premise as a gimmick and Cruise’s performance as phoned-in. This was my second watch of the film and was prompted by a watch of Mr Sunday Movies’ Caravan of Garbage video about the film. Maybe liking this film cuts down my credibility in film analysis, but I don’t care. I love Emily Blunt, I love the premise, I love the gimmick, if that’s what you want to call it. I even moderately enjoyed Tom Cruise’s performance, and didn’t want to punch him in the face during the film, so I’ll call that growth. It’s a good film! It’s fun! And maybe it’s ok to like easy action films that we enjoy watching.

  • Friday 17 July 2020:

None

One of the many problems of having mental health issues is that you feel like you can’t do things that everyone else seemingly can with no problem. Case in point: doing a self-initiated challenge where you watch a movie every night. Long story short: I had a panic attack, and no movie was viewed this evening.

  • Saturday 18 July 2020:

The Fugitive, Andrew Davis (1993) 3.5/5

This is a cracking film, and I enjoyed it just as much the second-and-a-half time around as I did the other one and a half times. Harrison is amazing, and Tommy Lee Jones is at his frowning best.

Something interesting I picked up during this watch, definitely coloured by current events, was the undertones of police brutality, particularly against a black inmate. Yeah, I know the guy was a criminal, and he’d escaped custody, and he was holding a police officer semi-hostage, but still. Also, the treatment of female characters in this film is dismal. Julianne Moore is completely wasted and Jane Lynch, while she has a somewhat important role, acts more of a “Hey, I know that actress” moment than as an actual character. Hollywood was no doubt a boy’s club in the early 90s, and this film is definitely a product of its time. Still confused how Dr Kimble knows all those fight moves, and can survive that jump into the dam as just an ordinary man, but I’ll suspend my disbelief. Special shoutout to the score by James Newton Howard: true 90s action music if ever I’ve heard it.

  • Sunday 19 July 2020:

Memories of Murder, Bong Joon-Ho (2003) 2.5/5

I know this entire project is coming off like I’m a Bong Joon-Ho fangirl. And well, that’s because I am. But I’ve officially completed my deep-dive into his back catalogue of his films (until Barking Dogs Never Bite has a “for the faint-hearted” director’s-cut, I’m excluding it from the list). For me, this was the weakest of his films, but you can definitely see a through-line from here to Parasite. The script is strong, centring on South Korea’s equivalent of the Zodiac Killer, but it lacks the slickness and sophistication of Fincher’s equivalent. Some of the acting is hammy, and the pacing is a little off, but it got me emotionally invested and gave me a shot that will live in my nightmares forever (look out for a little head poking up amongst the tall grass in the background while a young woman looks around for whoever is following her). However, given this was made in 2003, and was Bong Joon-Ho’s SECOND directed feature film EVER, I’d be pretty happy to have this on my resume. If you’re interested in doing your own deep-dive, I’d probably recommend watching them in reverse order. That’s probably in line with my ranking of them too, save for The Host which I rate just under Parasite.

  • Monday 20 July 2020:

The Big Sick, Michael Showalter (2017) 4.5/5

I. Love. This. Film. It’s now become one of my favourites. The script, written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, and following their real-life relationship, is phenomenal. It’s equal parts funny, clever, sweet, and emotional. It’s not your average rom-com, with themes of cultural differences, an interracial couple, and an actor playing a version of himself. It’s just beautiful. And it has one of my top five favourite lines in any film ever, “You’re not funny to me. You just make me sad. You make me sad inside of my heart, and it makes me sad to look at you.” The context, the delivery, the phrasing… it moves me every time. Please watch this if you haven’t already. And if you have – watch this again.

  • Tuesday 21 July 2020:

First Man, Damien Chazelle (2018) 2.5/5

It shouldn’t be a secret that I love Damien Chazelle. La La Land and Whiplashare two of my favourite films ever, which is a big claim for a film nerd. But Damien… what were you doing here? Firstly, this movie is about three hours too long (it has a runtime of 2 hours and 21 minutes). I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I want a tight ninety-minute film. Slight detour, but I was watching a film analysis on YouTube recently which argued against the call for shorter films. His argument was, you’re paying the same price, and you’re getting more for your dollar, so what’s your complaint? My complaint is this: a runtime limit, while as arbitrary as an essay’s word count, also serves the same purpose – to refine. Making things shorter allows you to curate what you’re presenting, it cuts out the superfluous material and makes what you’re actually trying to say so much stronger. And that is desperately what this film needed. Ryan Gosling is great, as is Claire Foy, but this film just meanders all over the place.

I also remember criticism at the time of release regarding the manipulation of real events for dramatic effect. This is a topic I’m particularly torn on. On the one hand, I recognise that I am watching a fictionalised version of real events, so I’m not expecting a play-by-play of every real detail. However, I also think that if your source material is that interesting, like, say, man landing on the moon, then maybe the events don’t need any manipulation for dramatic tension because it’s already there, inherently. Either way, there is something quite primitive to me about watching an actor re-enact an historical event, like Ryan is circling around the campfire, putting on voices and wigs and recreating something I’ve already seem. Not sure I’m a fan, to be honest.

If you want an excellent film about the moon landing (albeit a documentary), I can definitely recommend Apollo 11, released for the 50-year anniversary and constructed out of found footage from the time. It’s so much more compelling than I thought it would be.

I’ve enjoyed week two of this challenge very much, although I’m still searching for the perfect butter flavouring to replicate movie popcorn…

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