I was away on vacation last week for the What I Watched, What You Watched segment, but I will make up for that with a Broadway Reviews article coming sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, it’s time for everyone’s favorite Sunday tradition!
As I have two weeks to make up for, I’ve watched a lot of movies to talk about today. And that’s not including the films I’ve reviewed for you already, like Tickled, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and Ghostbusters. I also saw a critics screening of Lights Out, which I will be reviewing on Tuesday or Wednesday, so be on the lookout for that.
As the two weeks began with the Fourth of July, I watched a couple of good old-fashioned American musicals with Yankee Doddle Dandy and 1776. While 1776 is an excellent musical, and the cast gives it their all, the staging of the film is just kind of boring, and doesn’t do the source material justice. Yankee Doodle Dandy, however, is a great film, and James Cagney’s performance is one for the ages. I also started Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, and while I haven’t finished it yet, I’m enjoying what I’m seeing. Tom Cruise is great, and I’m amazed I’m still capable of liking Oliver Stone movies after how much I hated JFK and every film he’s made since 2004. I’m looking forward to the second half, which I hope to catch up with this week.
I also had the opportunity to see Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb on the big screen, which was a truly amazing experience. Not only is this film the greatest comedy of all time, but I now realize that this film is absolutely perfect. Sadly, I was stuck in the all-too-familiar situation where my own piercing chortles were surrounded by muffled chuckles. I’m forever cursed with being the smartest one in the room, I guess.
On Wednesday, after seeing Tickled, I walked across the street to another theater and saw The Shallows. The things we do for what we love. Anyway, The Shallows is a fairly simple little thriller, and Blake Lively is fine in it, but what really makes this one stand out is how gorgeously the film is shot. Each frame saturates the screen and overpowers the senses in such a way that even when the film risks becoming too stupid, you at least have the cinematography and production design to feast upon.
At home over the past week, I managed to get in four films. I started the week getting around to the controversial Chappie. Chappie received a lot of hatred when it came out due to the over-the-top acting by Die Antwoord or the stupidity of the plot. However, while the first half is a lot worse than I think anyone intended, the second half really embraces its own stupidity, allowing it to explore its own themes a lot more and making for a much more enjoyable experience, not unlike the works of Adam Wingard. I wish I had been around two years ago when Chappie came out. Perhaps I could have helped its Rotten Tomatoes score.
Since we’re on the subject of movies I’ve heard are bad, I also decided to check out Jennifer Lopez’s The Boy Next Door. Jesus, was it terrible. They honestly don’t make films like this anymore-a special blend of so overtly dumb and yet completely hilarious. From the first edition of The Iliad, to the infamous “cookies” scene, to the epi-pen finale, every second of this film got dumber and dumber until it achieved a level of The Room-esque disaster. Bravo, Rob Cohen and Jennifer Lopez. Bravo.
I followed that travesty with The Witch, a horror movie released earlier this year. I didn’t think it lived up to the hype that surrounds it, but I did appreciate the fact that it embraces what horror is supposed to be: an exploration of humanity using our base fears, and tension built by dramatic irony instead of “jump scares.” I find this to be much scarier and enjoyable than the hundreds of Annabelle-style horrors (or Lights Out, for that matter) that come out every year.
Finally, I watched What We Do In the Shadows with my father for the first time since it was released. And good lord is this film still side-splittingly funny. I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my memory, but it is just as funny now as it was a year and a half ago when I was (again) the only one laughing in the theater. Jemaine Clement is a true comedic talent, and Taiki Waititi’s performance and direction make me want to check out his new film Hunt of the Wilderpeople. Maybe I’ll check that one out and review it soon.
Television wise, I’ve been watching a lot of different stuff. As usual, I’ve been having my Monday Night Bachelorette Wine and Cheese night, which is getting more ridiculous each week. I’ve also really started getting into ABC’s Sunday Night Game Night and The Great British Baking Show on PBS. And of course, there’s always the ever-interesting Girl Meets World. This week, in honor of the Emmys, I’m probably going to try to finish Master of None and Mr. Robot, and maybe start a different Netflix series before Friday, when my time will be dedicated to the return of BoJack Horseman.
How about you? What movies and television shows have you all been watching? Start a conversation in the comments section and get this site going. Don’t be shy!