Which Witch? (Film Thoughts: The Witches)

Since it’s Halloween, I thought I would want to watch something on the ‘scary’ side. To be honest, I probably am not the best person to be writing about these films, as the genre just isn’t for me. It just doesn’t interest me, and as much as there’s a lot of things happening on screen when I watch them, I just get bored.

But I wanted to watch  ‘The Witches’  because of Anne Hathaway, as I am always fascinated by her work. And she is fantastic here in this film. As The Grand High Witch, Hathaway is absolute perfection. She has crafted a real character, with a wardrobe to die for, and an accent that is post Melania Trump. She preens and coos and she is scary, but of course, as great as the character is, it’s all costumes and CGI to me. There real isn’t much humanity in there, but then why am I looking for some?

The plot is pretty standard witch fare. The first half of it worked better for me, as there was actual narrative. Th second half struggled to keep my attention, as it was more of the same – all soaring musical score and special effects. As I said, this is just not for me, and I surprised I was able to hang in that long

The Water Is Dark (Film Thoughts: Dark Waters)

dw‘Todd Haynes has a new movie coming out,’ a friend of mine said to me about a month ago, and of course, I got excited. i do not love everything he has ever done, but more often than not, his films are interesting, and they all have very specific moods. Then I realized the film he directed was ‘Dark Waters,’ a movie whose trailer I had seen a couple of times already. My first thought was that it didn’t look like a Todd Haynes film. And after seeing the film, I surmise that it is, and it isn’t. ‘Dark Waters’ is a conventional thriller, and it had a specific thing to say, and it says it succinctly. It tells of a simple story, of how a large chemical company, int his case, Dupont, knowingly unleashed a chemical to the public – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – via its products, specifically teflon, which is used in cooking pans and carpeting, among other things. Even as they discover its dangerous effects on people, they concealed this information to the public, and did harm to their employees. Mark Ruffalo (who also produced this) plays Robert Billott, who single-handedly fights the corporation, seeking justice.

The film has marvelous pacing – two minutes into the movie and you are right in the middle of the story.  The screenplay moves fast, and there are a lot of scenes that for me were difficult to watch.  Ruffalo plays the character as a dignified hero – no big scenes, no monologues that will catch the Academy’s eye – and the result is muted, but not less effective. Poor bewigged Anne Hathaway is treated like decoration here, but in the handful of scenes she is in, she shines. All in all, I was all in from the start of the film, and didn’t let go until the very end. As a thriller, this is a fantastic watch. As a film, it skews on the subtle side, and for some, that may not be enough.

The Highs & Lows of Love (Television Thoughts: Modern Love, Amazon Prime)

modern-love400Amazon Prime’s new show ‘Modern Love’ seems to be this generation’s version of the 70s anthology ‘Love American Style,’ but the stories on this show are culled from The New York Times column of the same title, and these are stories about New Yorkers, and the way they live and love in these modern times. Sounds like a fantastic idea to me. I have seen the first four (out of a total of eight) episodes and there are great highs, and also some lows. The first two episodes are tops: it starts with one starrign Christine Millotti as a NewYorker who has a ‘special’ relationship with her doorman – as a father figure who guides her in her life choices. It’s nice and sweet, and sets the tone for the show. I liked that it was a little irreverent, and featured situations that are real, and obviously showcases the heart and humanity. And the second episode is my absolute favorite so far. Starring, Dev Patel and Catherine Keener, it shows a pair of parallel stories of following your heart in the midst of the turmoil of life. Keener is great here as an author who reconnects with the ‘man that got away’ who was supposed to meet her in Paris seventeen years ago. But the third episode was disappointing even as it starred the charismatic Anne Hathaway. As a bipolar young woman strugglign with life, Hathaway was game, but I felt the story went nowhere. And Tina Fey and John Slattery had chemistry for days in the fourth episode (written by Sharon Horgan) but the story abotu a couple trying to reconnect did not connect with me.  Of course I am already hooked with this and will surely finish all the episodes shortly. For now, I’ll just say that the second episode is one of the best I have seen on any series so far.

Super Serene (Movie Thoughts: Serenity)

serenity-ka-1I probably would not have paid any attention to ‘Serenity’ had I not read that there was a surprise ‘life-changing’ twist in the middle of the film that everyone is saying is so insane it had to be seen to be believed.  And of course, since I hate surprises, I went along and searched the internet for this ‘twist.’ Well, it turns out that this twist is the only interesting thing in this movie – which is essentially just a generic thriller/potboiler that we all have seen before. I cannot believe Matthew McConnaughey, Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane all got attached tho this piece of crap. I mean, I probably will watch Hathaway read the phone book (and she will make it interesting) but here they are not able to save the flimsy plot and tepid direction, utilizing some of the stupidest cinematic cliches (mysterious woman wears a wide brimmed hat)  Perhaps I should not have read up on the twist – because it made my experience more boring – there was nothing else there for me to be excited about. I am giving it two stars, one star just for the gall of the ‘twist.’

How Deep Is The Ocean (Movie Thoughts: Ocean’s 8)

o8This isn’t really my kind of movie. I never saw the previous ones, and I am probably the only one in the world who hasn’t. But sure, this all-female cast is alluring, and surely anything with Cate Blanchett in it is worth my time, so, yeah I went ahead and played and saw ‘Ocean’s 8.’   And I didn’t die from watching it. Ultimately, I was underwhelmed. I expected glitz, glamour, over-the-top production. It didn’t deliver that.

What I got was a mild action film, with a snazzy performance from Anne Hathaway – she steals the film from all her co-stars. Sandra Bullock was competent, and her assured subdued confidence is certainly appealing, but too low-key at times. Cate Blanchette just showed up and did what she did – she wasn’t given that much to do, and she did it well. Rhianna was just there – she really did not make any splashy impression, showing as much ‘star power’ as Awkwafina (What the eff is that name, by the way)

yrThis could have been much better. I think it would have benefitted from a female or gay point of view. For example, I think it would have been great if the ladies’ wardrobes reflected their characters more – I am imagining Rhianna’s Island wardrobe, for example. And the screenplay could have used some tightening. I was expecting non-stop action instead of the press and play pace we have here. All in all, it wasn’t a total disappointment, but ultimately unmemorable.

When Monster Calls (Movie Thoughts: Colossal)

colossal-posterjpg‘Colossal’ is one of those difficult movies to describe, and that almost turned me off it. It’s a comedy, a little bit of a drama, a thriller, a sci-fi. It’s a lot of things, but director Nacho Vigalondo makes sure everything is balanced. the first part of the film is kind of fun, as it sets up its whole premise, and the second half of the film gets a lot darker. Some may think the film is a bit schizophrenic that way, but that didn’t bother me as I thought the progression was warranted. To say anything else would be to spoil the movie.

And it has great performances. I had wondered about Anne Hathaway – has she suffered the Academy Best Supporting Actress curse? But she is great here, giving an innocent yet guilty vibe that reminded me of her earlier less-affected performances. Jason Sudeikis nearly steals the movie from her come the latter part of the film. I have never gotten his appeal, as he always played affable guy roles. I think now I would like to see him in darker roles.

colossal_poster_1rrAfter all that, I would say that I wish I loved the movie. I liked it a lot, and admire it as well, but I had no connection to it. It’s not one I would seek to see again or ever. It’s all me, for sure. And it is also a little sad that audiences aren’t discovering the film, but I bet it will find audiences at home, and will have a cult following.

Alice and Looking (Movie Thoughts: Alice Through The Looking Glass)

large_alice_through_the_looking_glassI was Netflix-and-Chilling with a friend and we were trying to figure out what to watch when we chanced upon ‘Alice Through A Looking Glass’ and he suggested we see it. This wouldn’t have been my first choice – nor fifth – but sure I will go with the flow and see it. I remember seeing the first Tim Burton directed one, and it was okay, but not really my cup of tea – haha, see what I did there? I know this film was sort of a flop last year, and I know it was only produced and not directed by Tim Burton.

Again, for me, it’s just okay. There is a very thin plot – that of Alice (Mia Wasikowska) going back and forth with time – to ‘rescue’ Mad Hatter’s family, sort of an explanation to the Hatter’s sadness. Of course, the special effects here is awesome to look at – everything looks vibrant and full. But of course, I am not going to be the best judge of these things but visually I was impressed. Emotionally. this film is barren. I don’t think anyone connected with each other, and their interactions all seem very by-the-numbers, wherein reactions are more indicated than felt. Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen certainly tries, but you can see the rest of the cast – Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway in particular – phoning it in. One thing I have to say about the film, though: I wasn’t bored, and maybe that’s more because of my company than anything else.

Internal Affair (Movie Thoughts: The Intern)

the-intern-movie-review-hollywoodI don’t know why some people snark on Nancy Meyer’s movies. I love most of them because I love  they make me feel, so what’s the rub? I know, yes they are art-directed within an inch of their lives, but don’t you want to look at pretty things when you are watching a movie/ Her newest, “The Intern” follows the formula of a romantic comedy. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, they get back together. Only this time, the relationship is between Jules Ostin, a CEO of an e-commerce company, and her “senior” intern, Ben Whitaker. Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro are pretty much perfectly cast – they have a relaxed and vibrant chemistry, and you aren’t able to take your eyes off them. The 120 minute running time (a bit long, if I may be honest) goes by relatively quick, and in the end, the film satisfies. I know there are a lot of Hathaway haters and I never got that – she is a formidable actress, and in here she effortlessy essays the role of Julie. In the hands of a lesser actress, this could have been an unsympathetic role, but she injects the character with intelligent and charm. As for DeNiro, we have seen him do these comedic roles in the more recent part of his career, but what makes this more effective for him is his easy banter with Hathaway. Aside from a jarring scene in the middle of the movie that seems to be out of s different film, the tone for every scene is perfect – when things turn slightly serious in the last third, we see both actors display their acting chops. See this film for the performances, stay for the feel good.