I’ve rebooted my ‘A Movie A Day’ quest, but as of now I feel like I’m back on the path. My CinemAddicts buddy Anderson Cowan is hoping I’ll last at least 30 days without missing beat, and seven days in I’m surviving. Details on the flicks you should see (Mom and Dad, Like Me) and skip (The Snowman) below!
The “A Movie A Day” rules is I’ll watch at least one movie per day for the rest of my life, excluding days that are marked with tragedy. The film must be completed on the exact day, meaning I can’t give myself a head start on a Monday and finish it on Tuesday (to give myself the Tuesday credit).
Once I fail on finishing or watching a movie on any given day, the journey reboots. I have failed 4-5 times before, but lately I’ve realized, as a full-time nanny, my time is short. And since YouTube has decided to eff small bloggers like me in the you know what, I’ve decided to go an entirely different route. Instead of being fixated on reaching the 1,000 subscriber mark on my YouTube Channel, I’ll spend my free hours making pennies doing the thing I love: watching movies.
The goal of this column is to provide some value added reaction on the films I checked out, grow the CinemAddicts cinephile community, and to catch a few movies that are recommended by fellow film lovers out there in the universe.
So Week 1 is down and here’s the list – please feel free to comment below on any of these films or my ridiculous mission!
Close Encounters of the Third Kind – This movie was given as a gift from a friend of CinemAddicts as a show of appreciation (thank you Ryan Ralf!).
The movie’s obviously a classic that I haven’t seen due to my lifelong problems with cinematic procrastination. There are simply some movies (e.g. Harold and Maude, one of Anderson’s favs) that I put off, believing that I will eventually get to them some day. Watching Close increased my overall respect and love for Steven Spielberg.I had no idea that Melinda Dillon was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work, and that Richard Dreyfuss was just as effective.Though it is an “alien” film, the picture essentially focuses on how this supernatural event affects the lives of three people (Dillon, Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut). Known for its iconic John Williams score and visuals, Close Encounters of the Third Kind also boasts one of Spielberg’s funniest moments in cinema (Dreyfuss throwing the proverbial kitchen sink into his home, leading to Teri Garr’s exit with the kids, is a total keeper). Rating: 5 out of 5 (Watched: Saturday January 16)
2. Bone Tomahawk – Anderson has taken me to task (in amiable fashion) for not watching this hybrid Kurt Russell toplined Western, and I finally hopped to it. The flick centers on a dutiful sheriff (Russell) who sets off to rescue captives from a group of cannibalistic cave dwellers (they’re called troglodytes). Accompanying on his mission is an egotistical gunslinger (Lost’s Matthew Fox), the well meaning and dimwitted deputy (Richard Jenkins), and a hobbled ranch owner (Patrick Wilson) whose wife is one of the abductees. Running at a not too brisk 132 minutes, the movie does have stretches of slow moments, but considering the flick’s nail biting third act, everything eventually fits together. Director S. Craig Zahler gives enough space to let his characters breathe, and when the bell finally does toll, we actually get to care if they live or die.It would also have been way too easy to let Russell reprise his tough guy Wyatt Earp take in Tombstone, but this lawman is simply trying to do his job and get home alive. Russell’s trademark charisma is refreshingly stamped out with this role, as he imbues Hunt with a heroism sans the self congratulating glory. Fox, Wilson, and Jenkins also do first rate work in this Western, and I’m hoping Zahler (his latest flick is Brawl in Cell Block 99) returns to this genre in the future. Rating: 4.5 out 5 (Watched: Sunday January 6)
3. Mom And Dad – A mysterious illness, disease, or phenomena leads parents to hunt down and kill their children. Narrative centers on the life of one family, as “mom and dad” (Selma Blair, Nicolas Cage) are determined to eliminate their kids (Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur). My full review is on Deepest Dream, but in short, check this movie out if you dig wtf narratives and love watching Nicolas Cage flicks. Selma Blair and Anne Winters are also very good in this feature, which is now out in theaters, Digital HD and VOD, Rating 4.5 out of 5 (Watched: Monday, January 18)
4. The Conjuring – Another film that I should have seen back in 2013 but ignored due to its enormous popularity. Being a contrarian usually leads to regrets, as this scare flick is actually an interesting look at the lives of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) as they attempt to help a family being terrorized by a demonic presence.Lili Taylor is memorable as the matriarch who sustains the biggest punishment from this evil spirit, and I’m definitely on board for the 2016 sequel. Just realized this was the second Wilson movie I saw over the week, and though Bone Tomahawk was more up my alley, The Conjuring is still a more than worthy watch. Rating: 4 out of 5 (Watched: Tuesday, January 19).
5. Little Sister – I picked this movie to get better acquainted with Addison Timlin’s work, as my only recollection of the actress came from her stint as a teen pop star on Californication. If you’re into double features, Little Sister is a great pairing with Lady Bird, as both movies have a religious undertone to the proceedings.Colleen Lunsford (Timlin) is a nun who returns to her childhood home (in Asheville, North Carolina) for a war veteran brother Jacob (Keith Poulson) and her live and let live parents Bill and Joani (Peter Hedges, Ally Sheedy).Jacob, his faced badly burned from war, drums at the parents home all day, shielding himself from the real world (Kristin Slaysman plays his longtime girlfriend. Colleen’s main goal is to gradually reconnect with the family she left behind and hopefully bring them back into her new, spiritually devoted life, but that’s not the easiest of tasks.
Director/writer Zach Clark doesn’t overdo it with the black humor and avoids preachiness with his narrative, leaving us to plainly observe the inner workings of a fractured family. Along with this film being a great introduction to Timlin’s gifts as an actress (she wisely underplays her character, letting everyone else shine int he process), the narrative also reminds us the greatness of Ally Sheedy. Her scenes with Timlin, crackling with understandable heartbreak and frustration at being a flawed parent, are the narrative’s standout moments.
I also appreciated how Colleen’s own devotion to religion doesn’t turn her into a judgmental person. Rather, she’s fully engaged in the lives of others which, as a Catholic, I struggle with all the time. Whether he meant to or not, Clark crafts a fully realized story on how one can be religious without sacrificing the abiding love of family. This movie is streaming on Amazon, and if you’re into solidly crafted dramas, Little Sister does the trick. Rating 4 out of 5 (Watched: Wednesday, January 20)
6. Like Me – I was all prepared for another great Addison Timlin performance after receiving a screener link for Like Me, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll be posting a full review on Deepest Dream this week, but if you love visually driven, mind-bending narratives, Like Me should check a few boxes.That being said, Like Me is an acquired taste, especially if you love linear based storytelling. Kiya (Timlin) is a social media obsessed lady who takes innocent bystanders to the limit and captures their reactions on her phone. Wanting to get as many “likes” and views as possible, Kiya is a sign of the dehumanizing effects of devoting your time to YouTube and Instagram. Timlin gets a showy and unsentimental role with Like Me, as she and co-star Larry Fessenden (he’s a motel owner who becomes Kiya’s captive) make an unlikely (yet highly watchable pair). The film comes out January 26, and there’s a ton of story to cover in just 80 minutes. Be warned – there are a ton of uncomfortable moments in the feature, and Kiya is a person you probably won’t sympathize with, but it’s still a flick that should linger after the end credits. Rating 4 out of 5 (Watched: Thursday January 21)
7. The Snowman – This flick is a total train wreck, and even though I am giving the Blu-ray away, there is only one way to defend this flick. I love watching cinematic train wrecks, especially ones that harbor horrifically weak narratives, inexplicable performances (Val Kilmer anyone??), red herring subplots (a toast to J.K. Simmons, who’s simply wasted in the film), and uninspired work (the snowmen made in this picture has more life than Michael Fassbender’s performance).It’s amazing to think that 10-15% of the film wasn’t even shot by director Tomas Alfredson due to production nightmares, and the patchwork job is seen throughout the picture.Rebecca Ferguson, a standout in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, is simply wasted as Harry Hole’s (Fassbender) partner-in-crime.Along with the cheap thrill of watching a movie fail on almost all levels, the picture does succeed on providing us with beautifully shot landscapes of ice and snow.Alfredson’s movie doesn’t look cheap, and if you’re not really paying attention to coherent storylines, maybe The Snowman will work for you. I have been dubbed by Anderson as “four star Greg” due to my unabashed love for most movies, but The Snowman is a movie that just didn’t work.Honestly, I’m aghast over the slapdash attention to the story, and as much as I love Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Solder Spy (I still haven’t seen Let The Right One In), this is a total stain on his resume. This might be Fassbender’s worst film, but I still haven’t seen Assassin’s Creed. Rating: 1 out of 5 (Watched Friday, January 22)
***If you have any thoughts on these films or movie recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment below! Here’s this month’s episode of CinemAddicts: