Friday, May 29, 2020

The Wrong Missy, 2020 - ★★★½

At first I wanted to hate it but Lauren Lapkus grew on me as the film went on. David Spade looks very old and it was interesting to see this right after watching Tommy Boy earlier in the week. I'm not sure how much more I can take of Rob Schneider playing ridiculous over-the-top characters but I guess that's really all he can do. Definitely worth a watch on Netflix and if you're turned off by Lapkus early on just give her a shot and don't give up right away.

Onward, 2020 - ★★★★

Pixar's latest offering is not really groundbreaking but once again the story is solid and the message towards the end really meant something to me. I was not emotionally as invested as with Coco but I still go choked up at the end of this. Holland and Pratt are really good in the lead roles lending their voices to two well-developed characters. The quest to restore Dad's upper-torso is an interesting plot direction but Director Dan Scanlon does a great job of moving the story along. Kudos to Octavia Spencer for providing the right amount of comic relief. This is not one of the best Pixar films but it's an entertaining well-crafted quest-tale that contains the right amount of heart.

The Lighthouse, 2019 - ★★½

This is a another crazy film by Robert Eggers who wasted my time before with The Witch. This is not AS bad as The Witch but still a nautical mess. The story (not much of one) focuses on two lighthouse keepers played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. They both go cuckoo-crazy over a few weeks of their shift. It's hard to understand what is real and imagined through all the visuals of mermaids and light-obsessed fancies. I enjoyed watching Dafoe talk like a pirate and Pattinson seems to be hitting full stride as a top-notch actor now. I just didn't love the black and white 4x3 aspect ratio and think Eggers is too loony for his own good.

If you want to see a movie that makes sense, skip this one.

Waves, 2019 - ★★★½

Heavy subject matter and great acting all around. I've never seen anything else that Trey Edward Shults has done but now I think I need to. Kelvin Harrison Jr. shines especially as Tyler, a troubled high school senior. His combative chemistry with the always excellent Sterling K Brown is terrific. The cast gives their all but there are some creative choices that aren't the best at times. I also didn't really enjoy the music throughout. Definitely worth a watch during quarantine.

A Hidden Life, 2019 - ★★★★½

I normally do not like Terrence Malick films. I hated A Thin Red Line and usually the plodding pacing of his narratives bores me to tears. I decided to give Malick another try earlier this month as I streamed the 4K version of A Hidden Life. Not knowing much about the plot (an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic refuses to fight for the Nazis in WWII) I jumped in with an open mind. What I witnessed over the nearly three hours of runtime was eye-opening.

Malick and his cinematographer Jorg Widmer have produced the single most beautifully shot film I've ever seen. Yes, there are better crafted films by other talented cinematographers (1917 with Roger Deakins is the most recent example), but I've never seen anything like the visuals in this movie. Malick is able to show a simple Austrian village and shoot it in true grand splendor. Rolling hills give way to vast mountainous vistas. There are some jaw-dropping "nature-porn" elements to this film that remind you of how much natural beauty there is on this planet. It's truly an example of taking a perfect filming location and letting it shine on its own. The detail of the village shown vividly in 4K is breathtaking to witness.

August Diehl plays the lead role of Franz Jagerstatter while Valerie Pachner plays his wife Franziska. Both actors give solid, realistic performances. Malick's story here is straight-forward and makes you think about the consequences of war. The contrast of the war-torn prisons that Franz is confined to are brilliantly balanced against the pristine farmland visuals.

This movie won't be for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed it and still think about it nearly a month after I saw it. James Newton Howard provides an amazing score that lifts the visuals off the screen even further. Simply put, this is a film that MUST be seen on a large TV in 4K. I can't overstate how beautiful this movie looks.