Monday, March 18, 2019

The Cable Guy (1996)

IMDb plot summary: A lonely and mentally disturbed cable guy raised on television just wants a new friend, but his target, a designer, rejects him, with bad consequences.
Directed by Ben Stiller. Starring Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, and Jack Black.

I can definitely see why people hated this. It very carefully straddles the line between comedy and thriller, and it's really not until the latter third of the movie for me that it really settles into both of those. When it does settle, though, it got a few laughs out of me (I giggled a bunch near the very end at the guy whose cable goes out and he suddenly discovers the joy of books), and it also hits a decently creepy vibe. The genres finally mesh. The first two thirds are a little bit spottier -- there aren't actually that many jokes written in, and it seems to be mostly relying on the inherent funniness of Jim Carrey's "cringey goofball" shtick, which never sits well with me. But as the movie progresses, it's easier to see it as played for horror, and it kind of works. I am intrigued that two years later, Jim Carrey would star in The Truman Show, another movie about people's dependence on television -- though that movie is in my top 10. But this settles into something I can kind of get behind, though I can't really imagine wanting to rewatch it.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Cable Guy > The Hangover
The Cable Guy < Doctor Strange
The Cable Guy < The Forest
The Cable Guy > Kung Fury
The Cable Guy > The Act of Killing
The Cable Guy < Guys and Dolls
The Cable Guy < Loving Vincent
The Cable Guy > Prometheus
The Cable Guy < Clueless
The Cable Guy > Corpse Bride
The Cable Guy < The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Final spot: #1174 out of 2929, or 60%.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Major League (1989)

IMDb plot summary: The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a purposely horrible team so they'll lose and she can move the team. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her.
Directed by David S. Ward. Starring Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Margaret Whitton, and James Gammon.

This is one of those movies that is exceptionally difficult for me to write about because it wasn't *bad* for me so much as a total nonentity. It hits so many familiar beats that I felt like I've seen this movie a hundred times before. They're all competently told, and it never really makes a misstep, but it never really steps outside the box either, and for a sports movie to win me over it really has to add something special. Not bad, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to forget it instantly.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Major League < The Misfits
Major League > The Matrix Reloaded
Major League < Hysteria
Major League < A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Major League < The Great Escape
Major League > In the Line of Fire
Major League > The Dinner Guest
Major League < Dr. Strangelove
Major League > Mystic Pizza
Major League < Deja Vu
Major League < On the Waterfront
Major League < Multiplicity

Final spot: #2121 out of 2928.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

IMDb plot summary: A kindergarten teacher in New York becomes obsessed with one of her students whom she believes is a child prodigy.
Directed by Sara Colangelo. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal, and Ato Blankson-Wood.

(Spoilers ahead.)

As an arts teacher myself (though not for kindergarten-aged kids), I found this movie terrifying. Maggie Gyllenhaal is excellent as the epitome of a villain who is convinced she's doing the right thing, and with every new thing she'd do to overstep a boundary or increase her obsession in this child, I found myself tensing up. I appreciate how the movie empathizes with Gyllenhaal's restlessness but is never truly on her side, not even in the final moments of the movie where it does set up the possibility that restoring the child to his parents may, in fact, result in his artistic talent being overlooked. It's an uncomfortable and unsettling movie with some incredible acting.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Kindergarten Teacher > Outbreak
The Kindergarten Teacher > We're No Angels
The Kindergarten Teacher > Breaking Away
The Kindergarten Teacher < Kes
The Kindergarten Teacher < The Fountain
The Kindergarten Teacher > Sabrina (1954)
The Kindergarten Teacher < Once
The Kindergarten Teacher < Trust
The Kindergarten Teacher < Welcome to Dongmakgol
The Kindergarten Teacher < Sita Sings the Blues
The Kindergarten Teacher < Footloose (1984)
The Kindergarten Teacher > American Psycho
Final spot: #319 out of 2927.

The Vanishing (1988)

IMDb plot summary: Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are on vacation. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor.
Directed by George Sluizer. Starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, and Gwen Eckhaus.

(Spoilers ahead.)

While I totally dig the chilling ending to this movie, it's so very, very slow up until then, and most of its work goes into plot development rather than character development, where I really wish it had focused. I really love that it subverts the expected tropes by revealing the culprit fairly early on, but then it doesn't do nearly as much with it as I wish it had. Intriguing, but not captivating.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Vanishing > Outbreak
The Vanishing < We're No Angels (1955)
The Vanishing < The Help
The Vanishing > Love Me Tonight (which I feel must accidentally have jumped up to this spot in the chart)
The Vanishing < Les Miserables (2012)
The Vanishing < Hopscotch
The Vanishing > Rushmore
The Vanishing > Deconstructing Harry
The Vanishing > Irma La Douce
The Vanishing > Mrs. Miniver
The Vanishing < Cat's Eye

Final spot: #1237 out of 2926.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tea With the Dames (2018)

IMDb plot summary: Dames Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith get together for tea to reminisce and discuss their acting careers.
Directed by Roger Michell.

This is the kind of documentary that I typically have the least interest in, taking a celebrity and just having them share their experiences and thoughts on whatever in front of the camera. The lack of a narrative journey ultimately leaves me dissatisfied. The four women here are charming and fairly interesting, and it's nice to see their interactions with each other, and it was extremely cool seeing their discussions juxtaposed with footage of their roles as younger actresses. But you never get the sense of true intimacy here. There's a definite guard up, an awareness of being on camera and of carefully phrasing everything. Maybe they phrase these things just as carefully in their everyday interactions, but in the end, it feels simply like a long celebrity interview, and less like a film that has anything to actually say, which makes it a slightly dull watch for me.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Tea With the Dames < Outbreak
Tea With the Dames > American Made
Tea With the Dames < The Preacher's Wife
Tea With the Dames > Zero Charisma
Tea With the Dames < Stand and Deliver
Tea With the Dames < A Girl of the Limberlost
Tea With the Dames > The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Tea With the Dames > Our Paradise
Tea With the Dames > Star Wars Uncut
Tea With the Dames > Destry Rides Again
Tea With the Dames > Django Unchained

Final spot: #1966 out of 2925.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Hereditary (2018)

IMDb plot summary: After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.
Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Toni Collette, and Milly Shapiro.

(Spoilers ahead.) Maybe my expectations for this were too high, but I found myself slightly disappointed with this one. Some great performances from Toni Collette and Alex Wolff, but the story as a whole lacks the cohesion and the thoughtfulness I ached for in a movie with this title and this premise. It's got some good scares, but the performances are too good to be used on a final narrative with such lack of nuance. And it's too outright depressing to function solely as a great horror movie. Maybe I've been spoiled by the last few years of really intriguing and deep horror hits. I just wanted... more.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Hereditary > Iron Eagle
Hereditary < Evil Dead II
Hereditary < The Help
Hereditary > Seven Chances
Hereditary > Finding Vivian Maier
Hereditary > Hamlet (2009)
Hereditary > Undercover Blues
Hereditary < Bridge of Spies
Hereditary < The Slipper and the Rose
Hereditary < Thor
Hereditary < Josie and the Pussycats
Hereditary > Hamlet (1990)
Final spot: #1117 out of 2924.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

IMDb plot summary: When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.
Directed by Marielle Heller. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, and Ben Falcone.

Melissa McCarthy is definitely the shining star of this film. The script is mostly solid, though it seems to be missing a few beats in the latter half, but it is an academically interesting story to follow, and McCarthy imbues humanity into her character in a very engaging manner.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Can You Ever Forgive Me? < Evil Dead II
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > John Carter
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > Mean Girls
Can You Ever Forgive Me? < La jetee
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > Taxi Driver
Can You Ever Forgive Me? < Au Revoir Les Enfants
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > The Pianist
Can You Ever Forgive Me? < Laurence Anyways
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > Pushing Tin
Can You Ever Forgive Me? > The Long Day Closes
Final spot: #851 out of 2923.