Posts Tagged ‘long gone summer’

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June 2020 Movie Reviews

July 5, 2020

Check out my profile on Letterboxd if you want to follow along as I write my reviews throughout the month and also because the site/app is amazing for film lovers.

Wow, this is getting a bit pathetic. My movie watching has gone way down. I went two weeks in between movies in the second half of June. I wonder how far I’d have to look back to find a gap that long between flicks? Of course, it doesn’t help that theaters have been closed for four months now. Even worse, my Martin Scorsese project has really lost steam – it’s been almost three months since I watched a movie of his! I’ve had Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore at home since April 29th. Yikes! I have just been preferring to watch T.V. shows instead movies when I have the time. Check out my TV Show Ratings page for scores for Dead to Me, The Crown, Hannibal and Ozark.

Long Gone Summer (2020, ESPN+)

I’m a baseball megafan… well I used to be. 2020 is challenging how I feel about the game. I’m not even sure I want a season at this point. But I remember the Summer of 1998, how magical and enthralling it all was, and how it helped restore interest in the national past time after the strike-shortened seasons of 1994 and 1995. It seemed like someone was making an assault on Roger Maris’ 30+ year old single season homerun record on an annual basis and yet it still seemed like some magic number that could never be reached. 61 home runs? Are you kidding me? And then McGwire and Sosa came along in 1998 and not only made a run at the record, but both of them demolished it, with any suspense about whether it was going to happen pretty much erased by the end of August.

I actually have some memory of when I found out McGwire broke the record. I didn’t get to watch it live because I was on a road trip with my high school’s girls soccer team as an acting sports medicine athletic trainer and our bus was stopped at a gas station somewhere.

The whole thing seemed surreal at the time and that’s probably because it wasn’t real. It takes a while for this movie to get to steroid allegations and I don’t think it really asks the hard-hitting questions. Prior to this documentary, Sosa hasn’t publicly admitted to juicing and while he all but confirms he was using PEDs here, he still can’t just come out and say it. Sosa is completely unapologetic for his role in The Steroid Era and maybe that’s something that should be applauded instead of vilifying him while McGwire gets inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Are any of these guys really sorry that they juiced and put up crazy numbers, made tons of money, and entertained the hell out of us? I doubt it. They are only sorry because they got caught and are faced public scrutiny. You kind of have to appreciate someone like Sosa that doesn’t even bother to pretend like he gives a shit.

I really enjoyed this documentary and as a huge baseball fan, it’s something I’ll probably revisit somewhat regularly. Regardless of how they did it, the Summer of 1998 will always hold a special place in my heart and memory.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The High Note (2020, iTunes rental)

I liked this well enough. It’s about a passionate music-lover that is a personal assistant to superstar singer but has aspirations of making a name for herself as a producer. This movie largely works for me because of Dakota Johnson and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. I just like what they bring to the table. Both of them have such natural screen presence and likability. Considering Johnson’s biggest role is as Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades franchise, I didn’t see myself becoming such a fan, but I’ve really enjoyed her in pretty much everything else I’ve seen. Harrison Jr. builds on a breakthrough 2019 that saw him crush his roles in both Luce and Waves with yet another impressive performance – he can sing too! His song “Track 8” from this movie is a really nice song and possibly a certified banger. I think the rest of the music in this movie ranges from decent to good though, so I wasn’t exactly blown away by that aspect of it.

I felt like this movie dropped the ball on the ending. It just didn’t make sense to me and seemed completely unnecessary. It could have had a feel good conclusion without going in such a forced and unbelievable direction. Still, I enjoyed it overall, so I’ll give it a light recommendation.

6/10 (Recommended)

The Greatest Showman (2017, Amazon rental)

I wanted to see this at one point in time but ultimately skipped it with no plans to go out of my way to watch it because critical response was decidedly poor. But a friend of mine listed it as one of his Must See movies and was willing to put his rep on the line over it, despite resounding skepticism from our group chat. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be good, but I showed him respect and watched it.

I knew 15 minutes and three songs in that it probably wasn’t going to win me over. It’s not like I have an aversion to musicals – I count Chicago, Moulin Rouge!, Dreamgirls, School of Rock, Frozen and Moana on my list of recent musicals that I really enjoyed. But The Greatest Showman immediately has a campy feel, the songs weren’t impressing me, and the actors didn’t even look like they were actually singing. Obviously, they record the songs separately, but it should still look like the words are coming out of the characters’ mouths.

It gets better. The song performed by Rebecca Ferguson’s character midway through the movie was pretty powerful and there were some other standout songs. Hugh Jackman is always pretty good and that’s the case here. I’m not a Rebecca Ferguson fan but I liked the rest of the cast, even if Zendaya and Yahya Abdul-Mateen are underused.

The Greatest Showman just never pulled me in. It’s all spectacle and no substance. It doesn’t help that it appears to paint P.T. Barnum in an inauthentic light. At least that’s what I’ve read. But I don’t know anything about him, so that didn’t influence my own viewing of the movie.

At best, I’d say this was mildly entertaining, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. You can probably find clips of the best songs/scenes on YouTube and save yourself 90 minutes. Somehow this Must See/Can’t Miss recommendation went 0 for 3 in our group chat. Take that for what it’s worth.

4/10 (Forgettable)

The Edge of Seventeen (2016, Netflix, second viewing)

Originally written December 17th, 2016:

The Edge Of Seventeen is one of the better coming-of-age films I’ve seen in years. Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a high school junior that feels like the whole world is against her, particularly after one of the few people that can relate to her, her father, passes away. Things are really turned upside down when her only friend begins dating her brother. While I can’t particularly relate to Nadine’s story, I do feel like the script paints an accurate picture of what it’s like to be a teenager – from feeling like your parents don’t understand you at all, to thinking of your sibling as your enemy, to making consistently poor decisions… basically, thinking of nobody but yourself. The Edge Of Seventeen features some amazing acting from the whole cast, but it’s no surprise that Hailee Steinfeld gives another performance worth of Oscar consideration. Having just turned 20, with multiple great performances under her belt already, Steinfeld has established herself as the number one actress 20 or younger. I found a lot of the situations in The Edge Of Seventeen to be quite authentic, like how Nadine swoons over the one dimensional guy she doesn’t know because she finds him attractive while putting the nerdy guy she actually relates to on the back burner. Even though I liked Woody Harrelson in his role as Nadine’s teacher, their relationship felt like a bit of a stretch. Do teenage girls ever share their pornographic text messages with their teachers and ask for advice? Especially when said teacher is a man? I’m thinking no.

There was very little not to like about The Edge Of Seventeen. It was interesting, frequently hilarious, and tells a complete story. Plus it features a ton of amazing acting. It’s not quite a must see film, but I found it very enjoyable.

Replay Value: I will enjoy watching it a second time.
Sequel Potential: I think that would be weird.
Oscar Potential: Steinfeld got a Golden Globe nom, but the Oscar buzz has been quieter. I think she’s deserving, but I haven’t seen all the best performances. A SAG snub is a bad sign.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Snowpiercer (2013, Netflix)

What a bizarre movie. Set in an apocalyptic future where all life on earth has become extinct because of a failed solution to global warming. The only survivors are on board a train called the Snowpiercer and what a strange world they exist in. The train is weather-proof and designed to withstand the cold of the Arctic and completes its trek around the world in exactly 365 days so the citizens on board know that everytime they pass a certain bridge it signifies a new year. This movie is from Bong Joon Ho, the writer/director of last year’s Best Picture winner Parasite, and is another commentary on social classes as the people in the back of the train are treated like sub-humans and fed “protein bars” while the people in the front of the train are the acting government and dine on steaks. This is one of the crazier movies I’ve seen in a while and I was definitely intrigued if not exactly enthralled. The art direction in the various train compartments was stellar, but a bit unbelievable. I didn’t love this movie, but it’s definitely worth watching and I’m at least somewhat interested in the T.V. series it has spawned.

6/10 (Recommended)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011, HBOMax, sixth viewing)

This review may contain spoilers.

Azkaban might be the best Potter movie, but this one is probably my favorite. The action is unrelenting and there are a number of scenes that still give me chills:

*Harry returning to Hogwarts and surprising everyone when he walks through the portrait

*Harry’s confrontation with Snape

*Harry going to the woods by himself to die

*Neville’s standing up to Voldemort

*Harry revealing to everyone that he’s still alive

and probably more that I’m forgetting.

The final confrontation with Voldemort left a little to be desired. Pretty much as soon as Harry obtains the Elder Wand, it’s game over. I did love how he called him Tom though. Such a nice touch that I don’t remember being in the books.

This is just such a nice cap to what is an absolutely wonderful film franchise. You have to give the filmmakers and studio credit for keeping the cast together for eight films and it was super cool seeing the kids grow up on screen. Some of them are pretty accomplished actors by the end of it.

This series is iconic. It’s inevitable that they will probably remake it at some point (hopefully not in my lifetime) but I seriously don’t want to see that happen. I think they did an A+ job the first time around.

8/10 (Must See)

Bloodsport (1988, Netflix, fifth viewing?)

This movie is pretty ridiculous with some hilarious acting – especially from JCVD – but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t still a fun watch. Chong Li is one of the more memorable action movie villains from my childhood. I’d guess I’ve probably seen this movie 5+ times but this is my first time as an adult and I still enjoyed it.

6/10 (Recommended)