Little Women (2019)

Rating: 3.5/10

The tale of four sisters told by Jo March, the writer of the sisters, through their troubles and trials of being a family and being alive.

The costumes and set pieces were all very good and matched the late American 19th century setting, so good it was easy to get lost in the painting-esque feel of each scene. I also really liked the music. The score perfectly matched, and at points even uplifts certain scenes that are otherwise boring or out of place. I also rather liked the acting, in particular Saoirse Ronan as Jo was very good, even if her arc was a bit hard to follow. Also, the cinematography was very well put together and edited to match the feel of the rest of the film. Very good job to the props department as well. Everything came together very well for this film when matching the places and time period.

Okay, I’ve successfully danced around the real issue: this film has no plot. It doesn’t help that it starts somewhere in the middle of the story then flashes back 7 years, but outside of the first time, it jumps back and forth between the two time periods without any really good way to follow it. The characters themselves, though well-acted, are rendered mundane because their stories are too hard to follow. The scenes themselves don’t flow together and because of this it feels like there is no story, simply a series of short films with similar characters and places but otherwise have little to do with one another. I feel like if I watched it again I might have less of an issue with this, but after how bored I felt throughout it doesn’t give me any incentive to want to watch it again. Also, until pretty late in the film, Jo doesn’t feel like a main character, more just the person on the sides telling the story. But there’s no one else stepping up taking the place of a protagonist either, and we’re left with an empty space with no real driving force for almost an entire movie.

Actually there was one point, still not aligned with anything else, but about ten minutes from the end, things got excited and interesting for a few minutes. It felt like they could have made the movie more like just this brief moment it would have been a lot better overall.

SCORING:

+2.5: There’s an old adage I remember from college, “you can’t make a good movie with a bad script” and this shows just that, maybe with a little more focus on a plotline, or a stronger main character with additional drafts, but even with all the pretty sets and costumes, the whole thing feels half-baked

+1: A good sequence that stand out against the rest, it breaths a little levity into an otherwise lifeless movie

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

Rating: 7/10

Jay and Silent Bob discover a movie is being made about them and go on an adventure to Hollywood to stop it. In the process they revisit characters from every other movie in the View Askewniverse and make some new friends along the way.

Again, Jason Mewes really does an outstanding job at playing Jay. He adds just the right amount of cartoonish stoner humor and carries the movie flawlessly on his shoulders. I suppose Will Ferrell deserves some credit as well, as he plays a great villain for this film, and possibly the only person in the View Askewniverse that’s dumber than Jay, but his humor stylings perfectly match this hilarious adventure flick’s tone.

Though the humor is amazing, there are a few jokes that just fall flat on their face. I think the problem is that Kevin Smith works best when he can combine his high ideas with his low-brow humor, creating a dynamic that you really can’t find with other directors (for the most part). Here, the ideas in this one don’t really have a lot of force, though the humor is great most of the time, without the philosophising over the human experience like characters in Smith’s previous films. Jay doesn’t really have the mental capacity for such trivialities (as I’m sure he would see them), it just comes a bit short in comparison. Still, one of my favorite stoner comedies of all time, but it’s not much more than a stoner comedy, albeit a pretty great one.

SCORING:

+8: It’s a fun filled adventure movie and is all the better thanks to Mewes and his hetero-life-mate Kevin Smith, a hilarity-filled adventure like no other (at least, until the Reboot of 2019)

-1: Though most of the jokes are great a few lack any real substance which only shines a light on how little substance this movie actually has (I still love it but it’s true, sorry)

My List: Dogma (1999)

Rating: 10+/10

Due to a loophole in Catholic Dogma, two renegade angels are trying to enter a monastery during its centennial in order to resolve them of their sins and allow them to get back into heaven. Unfortunately, if they do that they would destroy the world by defying God’s will. Even more unfortunately, the only who can save them is Bethany, a woman working in an abortion clinic, and the two “prophets,” Jay and Silent Bob.

This movie works on every level. The acting is excellent from everyone involved. The story is hilarious, original, and just keeps building on the last so that each scene is better than the one before it. It’s a hilarious movie that asks big questions while also telling Smith’s practically signature dick and fart jokes throughout the film. Again proving that a movie can be as high-class as it is low-class, which is another Smith staple.

Also, though Jay and Silent Bob are only side characters again, they get a much bigger role than in any movie in the View Askewniverse up to this point, and it’s great, providing terrific comic relief while also showing that even stoners can be noble and brave. Really, some of the best acting in this movie comes from Jason Mewes, oddly enough, and this is a movie which also includes Alan Rickman.

SCORING:

10+: a movie with an incredible amount of levels, I feel I notice something new every time I watch it. I know many might not agree with my opinion of this film, but to me this is a perfect film

My List: Chasing Amy (1997)

Rating: 9/10

A 90s romantic-comedy that shows love through the eyes of an actual 90s romance. There’s as many laughs as there are real dramatic moments that shows the real tragedy and turmoil to it takes to be in love. The story follows Holden (Ben Affleck) as he falls in love with Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), a known lesbian at the time, as they’re relationship grows through thick and thin.

This is a bit of an oddity in both the romantic-comedy genre and the View Askew films as it has a much more serious tone than both might have in a normal outing. It’s a lot more personal and realistic than Kevin Smith’s other films, even the usually cartoony Jay and Silent Bob are in a lone, mostly serious scene where usually Silent Bob gives a very personal speech on his one lost love and how he’s been “chasing Amy” ever since. It’s also the best scene in the movie and one of it’s most emotionally powerful. Though if you’re saving Jay and Silent Bob for just one scene it might as well be the greatest one, I suppose.

My one complaint is a modern day one and that’s the outdated conversations about sex they have earlier in the film. One stands out led by Jason Lee about how you need a penis in order to have sex, and if it had been left to just one conversation I feel this might have been fine and I would have considered a joke in poor taste because it was the 90s and we didn’t know any better. But it continues as a consistent theme of “there’s no such thing as a true lesbian” which doesn’t help that it’s about a man getting romantically involved with one. And about that latter point, Alyssa didn’t have to be a lesbian in order for this tale of real love to be told. If she was just a straight woman with some stuff she was ashamed of in her past it would have been basically the same and yet slightly more believable, actually.

SCORING:

+10: Realistic romances are a lot more common today, just take Marriage Story (2019) as an example, but this was very new for it’s time and stands out as something unique and meaningful while also having the low-brow humor of Kevin Smith throughout

-1: Too many conversation about lesbians from a man’s perspective. It’s kind of lecturing and strange for this kind of film and doesn’t add anything to the story

My List: Mallrats (1995)

Rating: 8/10

The second movie from Kevin Smith, Mallrats is about Brodie and TS after their girlfriends dump them, they go to the mall to try to get over them. It’s a zany adventure as TS goes to the most extreme measures you can (while in a mall) in order to get his girlfriend back.

Let’s see, the first 20 minutes or so were full of too much exposition, not enough laughs, and when compared to the great opening of Clerks with Dante falling out of the closet to answer his phone and claim he’s not even supposed to be there today, this was all we needed to know about the beginning of that movie and it was perfect. But here, it spends way too long on these introductory pieces when really they should have started at the mall if they could have.

Once the main characters get to the mall though, this turns into a great 90s R-rated comedy (that’s also aimed at teenagers). This was something that happened often in the 90s, but the studios quickly learned that teens can’t see R-rated movies in theaters and it didn’t really do well in the box office. But, it sold very well on video and DVD, and probably would have done really great on today’s streaming services had it come out today. But at the time, it captured a slice of life, much like Clerks did, of what the youth really thought and felt without the Hollywood fairy tale of how we wanted to show young people to be.

Also, I want to compliment Jay and Silent Bob as every time they were on screen was probably the best and funniest parts of the movie. And to think the studios almost managed to replace Jason Mewes with Seth Green in this part. But Mewes makes this role, and not just because the character was based on him from the beginning, but he brings more heart and breaths more life into this silly stoner than anyone else ever could.

SCORING:

+7: Not quite as good as Smith’s first movie, Clerks, and maybe a little too silly for its own good, but still a funny and entertaining film that is worthy of being in Smith’s View-Askewniverse

-1: Too much exposition in the beginning and it feels like the film could have just started in the mall where things start to get exciting

+1: Honest 90s youth culture combined with off-the-wall zaniness really works for me

+1: Jay and Silent Bob make this film what it is

1917 (2019)

Rating: 8/10

Two soldiers are given the important task of delivering a message to call off an attack before Allied forces are caught in a trap by the German army at the height of WWI. In one continuous shot, Sam Mendes tells this heroic story across a chaotic, war-torn countryside.

I use the term “one continuous shot” loosely since there are a couple very obvious cuts as our main character is knocked unconscious. Still, it’s quite an experience watching continuously from one man’s perspective as he faces the horrors of war. It’s a race against time that doesn’t leave much room to breath and even when things seem to have slowed down for a bit you can feel the tension as the clock ticks precious seconds away before the British army walks head first into a disaster. There’s something that feels more akin to a survival horror video game than a war movie and that’s that the stakes are raised from a whole battalion to just one person trying to complete his mission in the face of a blatantly psychotic situation.

My one complaint of this film is that because it’s a “continuous shot” it has quite a few bits where people talk to essentially eat up time as we wait for the next conflict to happen. I understand the use for a continuous take, to show just how nuts war can be from a very personal level, and it’s quite effective. But the problem lies in these scenes pulling me out of the story to interrupt with a random conversation between soldiers. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t add anything either, so why have it in there?

SCORING:

+9: very powerful war film told in an interesting way

-1: too many pocket scenes that go nowhere

Agent Carter s2e6: Life of the Party

Rating: 10/10

With Peggy injured and SSR corrupted, time is running out on stopping Whitney from unleashing Zero Matter on the world. Peggy is forced to recruit her greatest enemy in order to complete the mission before it’s too late.

I like that Whitney goes from being an already major threat to a full-blown supervillain in this one. I’m very excited to see where the rest of the season is headed. I even liked the romance subplot in this, it wasn’t too overbearing on the actual plot and added a little comedy to an otherwise serious episode.

Lots of action in this one too, something this season has been missing for the most part. I like using Dottie again as a sort of an ally for the moment but an enemy at every other point. The ending is suspenseful as well and makes me excited for the next episode.

SCORING:

+10: Great episode

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Rating: 6.5/10

Henry Ford II is determined to defeat Ferrari at their own game by beating them at Le Mans, the 24-hour-long race in Europe. He hires Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and his ace racer Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to design a car fast enough to win the epic race.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Racing genre, if you can even call it a genre since I can only name a handful of movies from it, but this one was pretty good. It was well acted from the principal cast and had a lot of thrilling moments throughout that kept me at the edge of my seat. It was different from other racing based movies as it was more about the people who made these epic moments rather than the moments themselves.

What doesn’t work for me is that the movie was too long, and the thing of it is that you could essentially cut off the first 20 minutes of screentime and the last 10-15 and it would have been a perfect movie at a slick 90 minute runtime. The beginning has some good moments but doesn’t add to the story and it could have started right when the idea to buy Ferrari is first presented to Ford, and the ending could have been with the end of the race, or not long after it anyway. If the movie shortened in these ways, it would have better overall.

About the ending specifically, everything is a tragedy on a long enough timeline. I’ve said this before and I don’t really want to keep saying it, don’t take a movie until one of the main characters dies just because you don’t know how to end your movie, especially in a movie like this where you have a great ending not long before the actual ending. Tragedies are meant to show just how noble a person can be, not just to make your audience sad because someone died. Also, just killing off a character doesn’t automatically make your movie a tragedy. Just saying.

SCORING:

+8: Good movie that’s mostly about cars

-1.5: Could have cut off the ends without any issues at all and the story would have been better for it

Judy (2019)

Rating: 9/10

Renee Zellweger plays Judy Garland towards the end of her life. No longer as famous as she once was and in need of money to keep her kids, Judy takes a job doing shows in England in order to make ends meet.

Renee Zellweger absolutely brings the titular character to life. She’s great in this film as I’ve never seen her before. She showcases a story of a rise and fall of a Hollywood superstar, except in Garland’s case, rising feels a lot like falling already what with how much she was practically force-fed pills and not allowed to eat or sleep while doing 18 hour working days. And this was at a time when she was most famous and should have been allowed to live a little, but it was all ruined by the studio’s control over every aspect of her life. This was something that affected her until the day she died.

Judy was a great film. It’s a movie that pulls on your heartstrings and really makes you feel exactly what Judy does as her journey progresses. And being more of an emotional piece it really hammers emotions into practically every scene. But, though the film had a good flow, it also had many scenes that felt they could have been left on the cutting room floor, along with more than a few parts that could have been trimmed down without any detriment to the story, or the emotions presented, as a whole.

SCORING:

+10: Great film with amazing acting from Zellweger

-1: Some parts dragged

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Agent Carter s2e5: The Atomic Job

Rating: 7.5/10

Peggy and Jarvis team up to steal a corpse, only to discover a plot to set of a nuclear bomb. They have to to do everything in their power in order to save the day.

Considering the title of the episode, I guess I was hoping for more heist tropes than what is presented here. There’s some, but Ocean’s Eleven this is not. Decent episode all the same with a lot more comedy than is normally found on this show. Not that it’s without it’s funny stuff or anything. Decent episode with a lot of action too.

Though I’m fine with the unbelievable comic book stuff, like an actress who suddenly finds herself with the power to absorb anything, but I’m a little thrown by the science-is-magic gadgets in this episode. It does make for some funny stuff though, and I’m guessing this episode is trying more for the romantic-comedy genre, oddly enough, than the normal spy-superhero fanfare.

SCORING:

+8: Good, lots of comedy and a decent plot

-0.5: wacky gadgets throw me off a bit