Thursday, January 09, 2020

56 Movies I Missed from 2019 (Part 4)

34. Joker

My interest in Joker bounced back and forth. I haven't liked the character since the late '70s and really didn't care about seeing a Batman-less origin story for him. But then the trailer revealed that Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix had a very specific, personal take that looked interesting. But then it came out and everyone had opinions and were very loud about expressing them and the whole thing just made me tired. I'll get around to it one of these days.

35. The King 

I love the Henry V story. Especially Shakespeare's version of it. And especially Kenneth Branagh's version of Shakespeare's version. So I'm interested in a new version, but kind of feel like I'm just gonna compare it to Branagh's, which isn't very fair. Only now I realize that Timothée Chalamet plays Prince Hal and that makes me more eager.

36. Blood Quantum 

A zombie story made by First Nations people in which zombies attack a reservation as an analogy for European colonizers. Sounds fascinating.

37. Sea Fever 

I tend to be attracted to stories set at sea. This one's a horror story about a drifting boat with a water supply contaminated by a brutal parasite.

38. Radioactive 

Rosamund Pike (an actor I like a lot) plays Marie Curie (an important historical person I know very little about).

39. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 

I love Fred Rogers and the documentary about him (Won't You Be My Neighbor?) was my favorite movie of 2018. So I kept trying to get stoked to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but kept getting bogged down in the hype of it all. I worried that the universal raving about it was raising my expectations to an unrealistic level and besides... I already have a perfectly good Mr Rogers movie.

I think I felt about this the way I felt about Coco after loving The Book of Life. I didn't see Coco for a long time after it came out and I didn't see it in the theater. But I also loved it once I saw it and it's a great companion to Book of Life. I expect I'll love Beautiful Day in the same way, but I need some time to work myself back up to it.

40. Abominable 

My initial impression was that Abominable was going to be a cute, but trite film. Sort of a warmed over ET. But one of the trailers won me over with its emotional focus on Chloe Bennet's character and the role of music in the story. I never got around to the theater for it, but I'm eager to check it out.

41. Harriet 

I was a huge fan of the TV show Underground and especially loved the episode that was nothing but Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman talking for an hour to a roomful of fellow Abolitionists about her story. Hinds was always compelling as Tubman, but she carries that entire episode with very few speaking parts from any other characters. It's a great speech and she delivered it masterfully. There's humor, horror, and hope all wrapped into it, but most importantly there are Ideas. If Harriet is half that good, it'll be well worth watching. Probably multiple times.

42. Black and Blue 

I love the concept of Naomie Harris as a person forced to wrestle with her identity as a black woman and also a police officer. It got lukewarm reviews, so I don't know how well it handles that conflict, but it's a great idea.

43. 21 Bridges 

Chadwick Boseman being a badass New York detective on a citywide manhunt against a ticking clock. Love this kind of stuff.

44. Dracula 

In the midst of my attempt to watch as many Dracula adaptations as possible, news came of this super low budget version. From the production company's Facebook page it doesn't sound like it actually came out last year though IMDb still lists it as a late-September release. I'll keep in on my radar and give it a look as soon as I can.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I saw “Harriet” last night and it’s... okay.

I was impressed that they were able to get a lot out of modest budget. It shows in that there are no name actors and a lot of scenes seem to take place in the same section of the forest.

Unfortunately that means there is a lot of telling rather than showing, particularly when it comes to depicting the cruelty of slavery, which focuses on the division of families rather than through violence. It also means Harriet’s journey’s are often condensed into montages that loose some of that feeling of distance.

I did like the lead actress Cynthia Erivo who makes the transition from scared runaway to abolitionist leader well, even if it does feel rushed. She makes a great speech about freedom that helps pave over what we haven’t been able to see up to this point.

However there’s this odd subplot in which she experiences head trauma and fainting spells. It’s stated that this is her way of talking to God but the way it’s edited with black and white footage of later scenes and dialogue they seem to be implying that she’s able to ‘see the future’, which feels out of place.

Ultimately it’s simple but makes the most of what it’s got.

Michael May said...

Thanks for that review. It helps set my expectations to a reasonable level. I'm already worried that I'll compare it unfavorably to Underground, so it's good to get an opinion from you as someone who hasn't seen the TV show.


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