May Weekend Flicks: What I’ve Watched Lately (Part 1)

Finally I found some time to sit down and watch a few movies. Several of these are horror/thrillers which Sam and I watch regularly, others are a nice blend of animation, action, and drama films. films and a some very recent productions added up to some quality May film viewings. I’ll continue adding to this over the next couple days.

Here’s what I’ve been watching:

Ponyo (2008) – Animation/Fantasy – Score: 9

You always know you’re going to be happy watching a Miyazaki film, and this one didn’t fail to disappoint. Colorful tones, joyful music, creative scenery and likable characters make this a wonderful addition to his portfolio. He has this ability to evoke emotions that you don’t normally feel when watching most animated works. This film seems so simple, but I know a fully grown man could sit down with his daughter and be genuinely happy watching it. Great for any age.

Howls Moving Castle (2004) – Animation/Adventure – Score: 8.5

This movie showcases some of the best frame-based anime art I have ever seen – particularly in the way they show machinery grinding and churning. You will see a still frame and see its complexity, detail and colors, and then in a moment it is gone – replaced by another equally as impressive art piece or setting. The setting in particular was magical and interesting. The house as the focal point of the film served as both a mystery and a home for the characters. Much is left unsaid in this film, and I imagine you are supposed to be carried along for the ride with the main character. Not my favorite of his by any means, but a wonderful viewing worth it for the art alone. Plus, Christian Bale voices Howl which is just too funny.

Call me By Your Name (2017) – Drama – Score: 9

This is one I have been hearing tons about since it first hit Sundance Film Festival in 2017. Saw it with a few buddies tonight and enjoyed it! Beautiful setting and atmosphere to this movie. Sort of a Lost in Translation vibe but set in the warm, lush Italian countryside. You genuinely felt like you were there experiencing the awesomeness of summer with the characters which made everything so much more engaging. Characters were lovable and very well-acted. I am particularly impressed with Timothy Chalmet here – he’s gonna be a big name in the future I have no doubt. I don’t usually look for romance films, but this is from a cinematography standpoint excellent and had you feeling all kinds of emotions from smiles to sadness. Very well-done film deserving recognition.

Summer of 84 (2018) – Thriller/Horror – Score: 6.5

Playing off the familiar 80’s horror movie tropes and feeling like a combination of Disturbia and Stranger Things, Summer of 84 is a fun timepiece starring likable characters and a familiar, creepy villain. It’s the son and his friends vs. the world in this one – with them trying to prove their neighbor is a killer. Some good laughs, plenty of fun, good atmosphere buildup and synth tones throughout which build the mood well. Definitely was cliche as hell and predictable, but easy to watch and pretty entertaining. Ending was MUCH darker than expected and took it up a notch for me.

Source Code (2011) – Thriller/Sci-fi – Score: 4

I am a sucker for time-dilation pieces like Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow, but this one definitely missed the mark a bit for me. Mediocre acting, a largely failed plot with very, very little actual mystery involved at all (although thats how it was positioned to me). Gyllenhall is annoying at best, and his supporting cast OUTSIDE the train is terrible. Cheesy, cliche and unnecessary at times, I found myself wanting to step away a few times. It had some great moments, but way too many cringey ones which outweighed anything good. Pass.

The Lodge (2019) – Thriller/Horror – Score: 5.5

This movie is just honestly so messed up its insane. Unique plot with an absolutely sinister twist at the end that I LOVED and was not at all expecting. In short: Dad’s new girlfriend (past wife committed suicide) and his kids go to the lodge for the weekend but get stuck (minus the dad) for days without supplies. Turns out the issues are far from supernatural and much more close-to-home. Interesting, but wouldn’t watch again.

The Platform (2019) – Horror/Sci-fi – Score: 6

Nick got me to watch this one night this week and I was pretty freaked out by this one. Essentially the whole movie is a sort of social experiment pitting prisoners and paying (or recieving) customers in a massive tunnel, leveled off in pairs by floor, that extends 500 floors into the ground, slowly carrying a tray of food. Will there be enough for everyone – or are those up top too greedy? It’s a wonderful metaphor for spreading the wealth and thinking of those who are below you economically or socially. Not a well-made film (poor music, very limited characters (unlikable), strange cuts and sequences), but an interesting idea nonetheless.

To be continued…

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