Welcome to week five of this project! This week’s films were quite varied; I watched some old comforts, dipped my toe into some new releases, and rekindled my love of Pixar films. Here’s what I watched this week for my COVID-19 Lockdown 2.0 Movie Challenge:
- Wednesday 5 August 2020:
The Last Dance, Jason Hehir (2020) 4/5
I’ve been dipping in and out of this doco series for a few months now, and it just keeps getting better. I’m a bit ambivalent toward basketball as a sport, but not for any particular reason, I’ve just never warmed to it. This series is so expertly pieced together, following Michael Jordan’s career with insight given from current day talking heads. For someone who didn’t know a lot of the major events in his career, it’s truly fascinating to watch it all play out. There’s also enough depth in here to enjoy it if you are familiar with the timeline. I’d highly recommend this, even if you’re not into basketball.
- Thursday 6 August 2020:
Ratatouille, Brad Bird (2007) 4.5/5
A few months ago, Ryan Bergara and Shane Medej (previously of Buzzfeed fame and now as part of Watcher, their own media company) released a video ranking the best Pixar films. While their rankings are unequivocally wrong (Cars should not feature in any of these lists), I am ashamed to admit that when compiling my own list, Ratatouille was a lot further down than it should have been. This movie is great! It contains the best example of visual storytelling, save for the intro sequence in Up, and excels in every technical aspect. Lighting, colour, depth of field… everything. The only gripe I have with it is the love interest storyline, which wasn’t needed and just feels clunky. It was a joy to revisit this film, and has cemented itself in my top 5 list, which for the record, is as follows:
- Inside Out
- Monsters Inc.
- The Incredibles
And just for fun:
- A Bug’s Life
- Toy Story
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story 2
- Toy Story 3
- Friday 7 August 2020:
Paterson, Jim Jarmusch (2016) 3.5/5
I’m a bit torn on this film. To be quite honest, this is the kind of film that made me feel a bit stupid. I knew it was doing something, but I didn’t understand it. A quick Google afterwards confirmed that the critics saw something I didn’t. Unfortunately, I think Jim Jarmusch is inching towards the Charlie Kaufman category of directors for me. I know that their work is good, but it results in more of an appreciation for their films rather than an outright love. I just don’t personally feel connected to it. However, I have been thinking about it pretty much every day since I watch it.
Adam Driver is excellent. Honestly, I don’t know how he was doing anything else other than acting. He’s perfect. Some of the performances from the supporting cast weren’t great, save for a cameo by William Jackson Harper, who is superb.
I’m still not really sure how I feel about this movie. I think a second viewing might be in order, but I might need to let it sit for a bit.
- Saturday 8 August 2020:
Julie and Julia, Nora Ephron (2009) 2.5/5
This movie is an old favourite, and I’m sorry to say it’s suffering the same fate as Crazy, Stupid, Love did a couple of weeks ago. It now feels severely dated, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but so much of the story feels no longer relevant. The sets are poorly constructed for Julia’s story, the ups and downs of the “capital I” Internet don’t stick, and Amy Adams’ haircut is so distracting. I don’t know… it just doesn’t have the same magic for me anymore. Even Meryl’s performance (dare I say it) is a little too broad in this one.
It’s certainly not Nora Ephron’s best work (for that, see Sleepless in Seattle for direction or When Harry Met Sally for writing), but it’s good for an easy watch.
- Sunday 9 August 2020:
Unfortunately, this day was solely assignment writing for me. The perks of university.
- Monday 10 August 2020:
The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh (2019) 1.5/5
Steven Soderbergh is such a hit or a miss for me. How can the same director make Erin Brockovich AND Contagion? Ocean’s Eleven AND Logan Lucky? Unfortunately, The Laundromat is a very wide miss. With a cast of Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer, Sharon Stone, and James Cromwell (albeit for one scene), it’s almost a miracle that they got it so wrong. The Panama Papers scandal is interesting in itself, but the divided storyline weakened each of the narratives. Some meta commentary and an impersonation of the Statue of Liberty aren’t enough to make an Adam McKay-like film, Steven. It lacks any of the sophistication I was hoping for, and unfortunately makes out looking like The Big Short’s poorer cousin.
- Tuesday 11 August 2020:
The Great Hack, Karim Amer & Jehane Noujaim (2019) 3.5/5
If you want to feel angry about the 2016 US election all over again, watch this film. You know how we all know that Facebook targeted alt-right ads to their users to help Trump win the election? Well this doco is about the company that helped them do that.
The graphics are exceptional, and the topic is interesting enough to get you outraged. Overall it was a little surface-level to be truly engaging for me, and I didn’t buy Brittany’s altruism one bit, but it is a very fascinating look at how data is used against us. Be right back, deleting any trace of online activity I’ve ever had.
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