Time After Time (1979) Movie Review

This was a much more successful, and enjoyable experience of the Malcolm McDowell double feature I went to in June.

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In Time After Time Malcolm McDowell plays H.G. Wells, who has created a time machine that Jack the Ripper uses to evade capture. Wells must then pursue the serial killer across time, eventually arriving in San Francisco in the 1970s. The film also stars David Warner, and Mary Steenburgen, to whom McDowell was married. He actually made a very sweet comment during the Q&A that his favorite memory from filming was meeting and falling in love with his now ex-wife.


 


This film was a lot of fun to watch. The idea of H.G. Wells hunting Jack the Ripper is interesting enough on its own, adding in the time travel element kicks it up a notch. It was great to see these two characters react so differently to the new time period, and I thought both actors were good. McDowell was incredibly charming as the slightly bumbling but earnest Wells, and Warner was cool and calculating as Stevenson. Steenburgen was such a bright presence any time she was on screen and you could practically feel the chemistry between her and McDowell radiating off the screen.

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Seeing McDowell as H.G. Wells was a fascinating experience because I’m so used to him in darker, more disturbing roles. Here he got to play innocent and earnest, and I have to say he was quite convincing on both accounts. I highly enjoyed the film, and was glad that it was the second of the double feature as it allowed me to end the night on a high note.


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July Movie Wrap Up

I saw five movies in July, all of which I really liked. Here is what I thought of them:

Netflix Movie Review: The Highwaymen

Finally sat down to watch this a few months ago and really enjoyed it. I can’t believe Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson never worked together before. Their chemistry was great, and one of the best things about the film.

This, of course, tells the story of the two lawmen that eventually tracked down and killed Bonnie and Clyde. It follows both of them as they come out of retirement, and piece together when and how to catch the infamous duo.

The movie looked fantastic, which is almost a negative thing because I didn’t get a chance to see this in theaters. I know it had a limited release but I never saw any showings for it, and thus was stuck watching it on my TV at home. So, while it looked good, I bet it would have looked even better on a bigger screen. This is one of my frustrations with Netflix films.

The story was told in an intriguing fashion, with the messaging and deeper themes well established without beating you over the head. This film definitely has an opinion on the celebrity status of the two criminals, and I think there were a couple of effective moments that drive that point home. One choice made was that the reveal of Bonnie and Clyde only happens at the end of the film. By not showing them earlier, the message about destructive criminal celebrity is made more effective. The film aims to not glorify them the way history has. These two were killers, and many people try to make them out to be Robin Hood type characters when they weren’t. This film, rather than glorify their violent history turns the lens quite literally on their victims, and the viciousness of their crimes.

The film is rather long. It meanders frequently, and although I mentioned it looks great, we do get maybe one too many wide shots of open country. Sometimes the slow pacing allows for a a bit of character development and a good performance piece but it definitely could have chopped off fifteen to twenty minutes.

Overall, this was a solid film. It’s low on action, strong on story and performances. Under lesser performers the film would have felt dragged down due to the deliberate pacing. It is thanks to Harrelson and Costner, who are heavy weights more than capable of carrying this film, that it works as well as it does.

Netflix Movie Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

I really wanted this to be great. I’d been anticipating it for years before it finally came to Netflix, and I’m a fan of Emile Hirsch, so I was excited to see him in something again.

The film starts with the discovery of a body in a house where there was obviously some sort of attack. As the police investigate the crime scene, they send the body of the unknown girl (now a Jane Doe) to the coroner for a full autopsy. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father-son duo who own this small family mortuary, and now are tasked with performing the operation just as a big storm is about to hit the town.

The setup is great. The vibe is creepy, we get locked into our main location quickly, and the chemistry between Cox and Hirsch feels genuine. The first third of the movie was actually pretty good. You get thrown into the story without too much exposition, which adds to the creep factor because you aren’t really sure what is going on. Then, about halfway into the film spooky things start happening and the film decides it needs to explain why. The rest of the film is an info dump of theory that doesn’t feel earned as there hasn’t been any evidence laid out to support it before the characters start jumping to conclusions about what it all means.

Unfortunately, what is a great setup for a film does not always result in a great execution. There were some effective visuals and some creepy scenes but sadly, the film falls flat in the second half. By the end you don’t remember what worked at the start of the film because you’re just left with a feeling that everything ties together a little too conveniently without really making any sense at all.

April Film Wrap Up

Finally got my April Movie Wrap Up posted. I only saw three new films last month, and sadly the month started off with the year’s trend of not so great movies. Thankfully it ended with two really good films. Check out my thoughts in the video below.