Peace and love, cinephiles! Welcome to my inaugural edition of My Cinema Landscape. If you are familiar with My Gaming Landscape, this is the same idea but with movies. I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently and I’ve wanted to write about them but haven’t had the time to write about them individually, despite my best efforts. Therefore, like My Gaming Landscape – where I write about my thoughts on games I’ve been playing recently – My Cinema Landscape will be about movies I’ve watched recently. They will be informal mini-critiques and impressions and not meant to be comprehensive in the way a full blown review would be. With the post being explained, let’s talk about three movies I’ve seen recently.
The Two Faces of January
I heard about this movie from watching Film Brain’s Projector video on it. So when it came out on Blu-ray recently, I decided to give it a shot. I really couldn’t get into this movie at first and really only found it watchable as it went on. The big problem is while the mental games between Chester and Rydal (played by Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Issac) is kind of interesting, the stakes for said mental games are too unbelievable. Most of the film shows the group running from a circumstance that could be easily avoided if anyone acted like an adult and weren’t so impulsive. What’s worse is Kirsten Dunst’s character Colette is mostly wasted despite being the link between the two men that made the aforementioned mental game intriguing. Two-thirds through the movie, she’s removed out of the movie in an unbelievable manner just so the final act can devolve into a chase scene, which clashes with the slow methodical pace of the rest of the movie. The cinematography of the movie is beautiful and could act as a tourist guide of Greece, where the movie takes place, but that’s not enough to keep you engaged. It’s not a bad movie but it’s a safe pass.
Love is Strange
Slow moving movies often suffer from being so slow that any mesmerizing or intriguing elements of the film are lost in a cloud of monotony. Love is Strange unfortunately suffers from this problem but does still managed to have some elements. Ben and George (played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) are a gay couple living in New York. George is laid off from his Catholic music teaching job due to his recent marriage to Ben. The two must now live with loved ones in separate homes and all must deal with the pressures of living outside of their comfort zone. The interactions between the characters can be interesting and how everything winds up playing out is all very grounded. It’s not like there’s no drama but nothing out of the ordinary happens that you wouldn’t expect from real life. Ben’s nephew’s wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) is having trouble adjusting to Ben being around, George severely misses Ben, Ben has an accident, Ben accidentally irritates his grandnephew, and then George finally finds him and Ben a new place to live. Ultimately, Love is Strange is just as interesting and boring as anyone’s real life may be. It nails how uncomfortable having a house guest is but doesn’t do anything more than that.
Lucy has a dump premise. Lucy has stakes that become less and less relevant as the movie goes on. Lucy has a villain who is completely unthreatening by the end of the movie. Finally, Lucy has a plot that goes beyond the realms of logic by the end. In fact, I should just say that the final act of the movie is a pseudo-intellectual action film power fantasy that borders on masturbatory. However, if you can overlook that idiocy of it all, you’ll find a fun popcorn movie that at least isn’t as cliché as it’s contemporaries. Scarlett Johansson is amazing as Lucy and gives it her all. The effects in the movie are pretty well done and the action scenes are flashy and just cool looking. I will say a couple of things. One, there’s a CGI monkey in this movie that doesn’t look right. Uncanny valley alert! Two, as Lucy uses more of her brain, she loses her ability to feel emotions. This doesn’t make any sense, even by this film’s standard as they should be heightened instead. If anything, maybe she would be able to understand herself and what she’s feeling more than ever! That said, this is a fun movie to watch and it’s great to see a kick ass female protagonist. It’s good for a rent but that’s probably it.
And that’s everything! Thanks for reading my very first Cinema Landscape! For movies I do have a lot of thoughts on, I will do full reviews of, such as on Get On Up, The Boxtrolls and The Angry Video Game Nerd movie. Peace and Love, cinephiles! Colorwind out!