I saw five movies in July, all of which I really liked. Here is what I thought of them:
I saw five movies in July, all of which I really liked. Here is what I thought of them:
Back in June I went to a double feature of this film and Time After Time, both of which star Malcolm McDowell. He was at the screening, and spoke for about an hour between the films about his experiences making them. He had some great stories and was energetic and highly entertaining.
I’ll be honest, this was a weird film. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it even two months later. I liked some of the stylization choices, like the opening sequence in the desert and the David Bowie theme song.
The rest of the film is bizarre. A young woman discovering her own sexual awakening is the reincarnation of another woman from a different time. This woman and her brother have lived with an ancient curse that involves turning into panthers when they are too sexually charged. Like I said, it’s weird. It’s also very 80s despite being a remake of 1942 French film (which also explains a lot).
I thought all of the performances were pretty good, and as I mentioned the style of the film was pretty cool but the overall idea just felt hokey. Perhaps the French version is better but this one felt dated in a lot of ways and I just couldn’t get past the whole turning into panthers thing.
An interesting take on the Ted Bundy story, this was well acted and effective in its tone and messaging. Rather than focus on the crimes, this film is all about the trial and events surrounding Bundy’s captures. There is more emphasis put on the impact of these events on his girlfriend. This shift in focus allows for heartier performances from the two leads, Zac Efron and Lily Collins.
Both Efron and Collins give good, solid performances. Collins can sometimes lean toward the melodramatic but she is convincing as the emotionally abused, naive Liz Kendall. It is Efron, however, that steals every scene he is in. Obviously he is the focus of the film but he deserves the credit. He is egotistical but charming, and he is incredibly delusional. Efron fully immersed himself in this role, and the result is a captivating performance that carries the film.
While the performances are good, the pacing doesn’t always work. Whereas The Deliberate Stranger did a thorough if not necessarily exciting job of laying out a detailed timeline of Bundy’s attacks, this film jumps around to try and hit certain “highlights,” so to speak. It plays more with style rather than paying detailed attention to accuracy. As such, it is an interesting experience in entertainment but not as any sort of historical commentary. The editing choices were also a bit odd at times. Again, I think this was a style choice that ended up making some things a bit hard to follow, if not pretty or interesting to look at.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the film are the reactions from people during Bundy’s trial, and his “celebrity” status. The film doesn’t shy away from casting Efron as Bundy in a good light but it also makes a point to contrast his charming personality with the violence of his behavior. Thus when his fans show up at the trial, they are not presented in a flattering manner.
Despite some pacing and editing issues, as a performance piece, and commentary on murder obsession culture, I thought the film was effective and insightful.
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.
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.
With all the buzz around Netflix’s Ted Bundy Tapes and their acquisition of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, I thought I’d check out the original interpretation of the infamous killer’s rampage. I went in search of the 1986 television film starring Mark Harmon, eventually finding it for about $17 on DVD on Amazon.
Now that it has been several months since I actually saw this, as well as the other Ted Bundy film, I guess I should get a review up. This is a two part television special series that originally aired over two consecutive nights on NBC, and covers Bundy’s attacks in the late 70s, as well as his capture and trials. It was released in 1986, three years before Bundy would be executed.
I’ll start off by saying I really like Mark Harmon as an actor. He always has a lot of charisma and usually he is playing a really likable character, so this was an interesting role for him. He still has the charm but he’s playing Ted Bundy, who of course is not a likable person. I wasn’t around when all of these events were taking place (I was born a year before his execution), so I don’t have a frame of reference for how well events in the film match up with real life ones. However, as I’m told, it is a fairly accurate representation.
This is a pretty straightforward telling of Bundy’s story. It hits all of the story points from the start of the investigation into the disappearances, to his attacks in Seattle, Utah, and Colorado, and finally his recapture in Florida and the subsequent trial. There isn’t anything really innovating in its approach but I think it is an effective film. Harmon is good in the role, and by trying to be as inclusive, and as detailed as possible with the number of attacks, the filmmakers successfully drive home the point of just how violent and vicious Bundy was.
Saw the latest MCU installment, so of course, I had to do a review. These are my thoughts on Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Catching up on all the movies I saw in May and June. Check out my thoughts on them in the video below.
Shaft Lookback Podcast:
It’s been so long since I actually watched this that I’m a bit fuzzy on the details. Essentially the film is a sort of horror comedy about the modern art world. It follows a cast of characters that all at some point interact with the artwork of a recently deceased man. As they begin passing off the artist’s work as another’s they start experiencing strange things. I won’t say too much about what they see and what happens to them except that there is definitely something supernatural amiss.
I enjoyed the film very much. It was creepy in the right places and built tension effectively throughout. It was also really funny. The filmmakers had much to say on modern art, and its people, and neither came out looking very good. Pretty much everyone you meet in the film is a despicable human being, and seeing them get their comeuppance was gratifying.
The cinematography and production design were both gorgeous. It’s hard to make museums look bad. This presented an interesting contrast in themes that I thought was very successfully executed. The gorgeous, clean look of a museum contrasts brilliantly with the ugly, terrible acts and personalities of our main players.
Velvet Buzzsaw was a freaky, fun ride made up of beautiful images, and a cast of highly unlikable characters who get their just desserts in creative and gruesome ways.
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.