We got a smaller week than I’d have liked with this weeks installment. Got a little put off from watching some stuff thanks to me trying to plow through the next Bond book I’m up to. But with that, I did see some good stuff all around. Nice variety and a surprisingly effective 2015 release. It’s a hell of a week, even if one of them didn’t connect with me completely. But they’re all deserving of a viewing. Give it a go.
Fantasia (November 8th, 2015)
Director: Walt Disney and like 1000 guys
Starring: No one, it’s all music
This is gonna be a weird one for me because I know it’s great and I know it’s this landmark movie, a singular piece of animation. And some of it even really worked on me. But this is not something that spoke to me in a big way. I have no massive desire to rewatch it or even own it, which is a big deal if you know me and my gluttonous movie collection. It’s a marvel of animation and execution, a marvelously ambitious movie. But I’m so not a music guy that I wasn’t really the target audience for this. And in since it’s an anthology of shorts, some work great and others don’t. My personal favorite is the ending one with Satan and the neverending images of a heavy metal cover collection. Even when it isn’t working, the animation is gorgeous to look at and appreciate. The music is great. Just doesn’t work for me. But I’ll give it a high honor for it’s ambition and it’s execution, despite the lack of connection I have with it.
Dr. No (November 8th, 2015)
Director: Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, and Jack Lord
For more on this flick, click here.
Director: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Stefanie Scott, Lin Shaye, Dermot Mulroney, and Angus Samson
Insidious 3 was a guarantee, as it made a good boatload of money on a tiny budget. But with James Wan busy with Furious 7 for a lot longer than they thought, he just couldn’t come back to make another even if he wanted to. So they went to his co conspirator on this franchise, writer Leigh Whannell to take the directing mantle. Now, I like Whannell as a creative force. But he hasn’t directed before, and Wan’s strengths as a director was the biggest reason for the first two entries success. And the idea that it would be a prequel, showing Elise’s (Shaye) first job with two idiots (Samson and Whannell), made me a little wary as well. We don’t need to see that stuff. If you got a story to tell, tell it. Don’t get bogged down in prequel nonsense. And we wouldn’t have the family from the first two this time. So no Patrick Wilson, no Rose Byrne. We get a bland young girl (Scott), a girl custom made for these sort of horror movies. The biggest talent we get is Dermot Mulroney, and he’s no Wilson. And while many of these concerns effect the movie, one that didn’t was Whannell’s strength as a director. His work here pretty much is the main reason this movie works at all. The way he builds tension and sets up scares is pretty damn good. He picked up the pieces from Wan and continued the good work. There’s many moments in here that are bound to keep people on the edge of their seats and then push them off of them in fear. Sadly, the story here isn’t all that great. Following this young girl try to contact her dead Mom then get caught in this supernatural story wasn’t too interesting, especially coming on the heels of two movies that built up a solid supernatural family drama. Elise’s story is better, showing her grieving a loss and get lured back into the game. But her’s also has moments of pure prequelitis, setting up shit that happened in the first 2 as if it was destined, despite it not making too much sense. Trying to tie the old woman in black to some blood feud with Elise that would come to a head in the first two is ridiculous, something not even hinted at in them. And it makes those two less personal to the family, as it now turns it into a revenge plot against Elise. Especially when they end this movie with a jump scare before credits of the Darth Maul looking demon pop up behind Elise, saying that this shit has been plotted for 3 years before the first two movies occurred. So the movie isn’t perfect by any stretch. But Whannell is strong enough of a creative person that he makes this work. His visual acumen is strong and he wrings some particularly good scares out of this one, which can be described as Poltergeist meets Rear Window.
Mr. Holmes (November 12th, 2015)
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Ian McKellan, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, and Hiroyuki Sanada
I was definitely looking forwards to watching this but I was not expecting it to be this damn good. This flick is so good, it has currently cracked my top 10 for the year. And not only did I not expect it to be this good, I didn’t expect a Sherlock Holmes movie to be this heartfelt and human. For this is a movie that isn’t all about a mystery at hand. This is a movie about the passage of time, of regret and of losing one’s self. Cause Sherlock in this movie is 93 years old and his memory is slipping. He can still snap into deductive reasoning mode. But a name or an incident may escape him. And he knows it. And he’s fighting to halt the progress for just a bit so he can remember why he retired from the detective business 35 years ago. Seeing Holmes so hindered was much more effecting that I had expected. A century worth of Holmes adaptation made the man into an emotionless machine of crime solving capabilities. Yet Condon uses that to wring some real weighty emotion out of Holmes, thanks to the masterful performance by McKellan. McKellan has to play two roles essentially, since we flash back to the event that led him to retire. And the younger Holmes has a much different way about him than older Holmes. And McKellan does it masterfully. Without him, this would not be as effective. Same goes for the young boy played by Parker, who brings out the humanity in Holmes. The feeling of the past weighs heavily on this movie in every scene. Holmes is obviously haunted by the past in a way he can’t even remember. Linney’s husband has passed and it hurts her that her son can’t remember his father. Even a trip to Japan has Holmes see the way Hiroshima is haunted by the atomic bomb that was dropped on it. This is a surprisingly beautiful movie and one that effected me very deeply. It’s a small scale little flick that packs a subtle punch.
1. Mr. Holmes
2. Insidious Chapter 3
3. Dr. No