Friday, February 21, 2020

The Lost City of Z (2017)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: The Lost City of Z (2017)
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama, History
Length:  140 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Keep Your Head, MICA Entertainment, MadRiver Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, Amazon Studios, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Bleecker Street Media, Cathay-Keris Films, Cinecolor Films, Colossal Mega Films, Culture Publishers, Latam Pictures, Leone Film Group, NOS Audiovisuais, Sabay MVP, Spentzos Films, StudioCanal, The Searchers, Arthaus, Batrax Entertainment, Broad Green Pictures, Film & TV House, Film1, GEM Entertainment, IPA Asia Pacific, KVH Media Group, Mis. Label,  Telia, Yleisradio
Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray, David Grann
Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid, Clive Francis, Pedro Coello, Matthew Sunderland, Johann Myers, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Elena Solovey

Blurb from IMDb: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Major Percival Fawcett, who disappeared whilst searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

Cat’s Point of View:

I was really excited when we came across the trailer for The Lost City of Z among those that were in consideration for 2017s April Top 20 list. While this movie didn’t make the cut for Selina’s list, it was my #8.

Aside from the noteworthy cast, I compared the film to some of the great adventure film noir of yesteryear. This certainly wasn’t on the same level as The African Queen (1951), but it did deliver as an in-color period piece.

With the consideration that this movie is a biopic about an actual British explorer, I’d have to say that it was certainly successful in illustrating the drive, and near obsession, of Fawcett in his search for the lost Amazonian civilizations. The challenges of such expeditions were well depicted, and drew me in to investing in the goals and well-being of the explorer and his companions.

Currently, it seems like everyone’s friendly neighborhood Tom Holland (In the Heart of the Sea, Avengers: Endgame, Spies in Disguise) is everywhere. When not web-slinging, he’s been in a number of voice parts of late. Here in The Lost City of Z, we find a slightly younger Holland as the older iteration of Fawcett’s first-born son. I believe he suited the part well.

Another surprisingly good supporting role belonged to Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants, Good Time, The King) as Henry Costin. I’ll admit I’m not innocent of giving Pattinson grief over one of his most notable former roles in a fictional saga. Sometimes it seems like the poor guy can’t catch a break in that regard. His performance here, however, is rather riveting.

If I had to pick the one thing that took away from the overall experience for me, it would be the pacing and length of the movie. Even though the story is interesting, it just seemed too drawn out and I felt the entire two hours and twenty minutes passing. The consolation, of course, is that I don’t feel that it was time poorly spent.

I’d certainly have no problem recommending this film for anyone that enjoys a good historical drama. Though, The Lost City of Z is likely not one I’d return to for multiple viewings – even as a die-hard fan of Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Triple Frontier, The Gentlemen).

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 57%
Metascore – 78/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.0/10
IMDB Score – 6.6/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 17, 2020

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Ace Entertainment, Awesomeness Films, Netflix Studios, All The Boys Productions, Overbrook Entertainment, Paramount Pictures
Director: Michael Fimognari
Writer: Sofia Alvarez, J. Mills Goodloe, Jenny Han
Actors: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher, Anna Cathcart, Janel Parrish, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac, Trezzo Mahoro, Holland Taylor, Sarayu Blue, John Corbett, Kelcey Mawema, Julie Tao, Momona Tamada, Christian Darrel Scott, Jill Morrison, Susie Lee, Linda Ko, Ae Yon Han, James Li, Jerry Yang, Byron Noble

Blurb from IMDb: Lara Jean and Peter have just taken their relationship from pretend to officially official when another recipient of one of her old love letters enters the picture.

Selina’s Point of View:
I enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018). My interest in that film, however, went a bit deeper than just how good of a movie it is. I was curious about it because of what a cultural smash it seemed to be for the younger generation.

I’m not the target demographic for this film series. I’m about twenty years too old for that. Still, I like to think I’m young at heart. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I’m way too crotchety and tired for that noise. BUT, I remember being young. I remember the movies I loved and the ones that inspired me.

You already know what I’m going to say, because if you have any knowledge of my generation, then you know the movies I’m talking about are by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck). The Brat Pack movies, in particular.

Those films were good in general, but to little girls growing up in the late 80s and throughout the 90s, they were so much more than that. They were a blueprint to romance and high school. Molly Ringwald was the red-headed goddess we all wanted to be.

The world of most girls growing up in that time would look much different without those films.

With the movies in the To All the Boys trilogy, I think we’re seeing something similar. All the elements are there for a really good coming-of-age flick that speaks to teenagers. And I can see the influence from films like Sixteen Candles (1984) and Pretty in Pink (1986).

Maybe I should be more concerned with the fact that I had those films at the forefront of my mind while I was watching To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, but I’m not. Every generation should have those films. Growing up is hard. Sometimes it’s nice to pretend we have a blueprint.

This sequel took a few more risks with their cinematography. There was a bit more in the surreal category. I liked that they shook things up like that. Some of the scenes they did that with sent me right back to when I was a young girl and a song would come on that would make me feel like I was in my very own movie. There was a daydreaming truth to those scenes that I’ve never seen quite as accurately portrayed.

The director, Michael Fimognari (Gerald’s Game, Before I Wake, The Lazarus Effect), really put his own spin on this film, and I think he took it in a very interesting direction. It wasn’t better than the first, but it wasn’t worse, either. That’s more of an accomplishment than it sounds like.

To the best of my knowledge, this is a trilogy. In trilogies, the second movie tends to be the most difficult simply because of how plots tend to arc throughout a 3-part series. In the beginning of a story, you get to introduce people to everything. It’s exciting. It’s new. There’s so much to explore. In an ending, you have the climax. There’s a fulfillment to the conflict. All the threads of the story come together. There’s a final evolution.

In the middle, there’s mostly upkeep. Some minor introduction and a furthering of the core conflict or idea.

For a second film, P.S. I Still Love You was decent. It still felt kind of iconic. It still had a Hughes feel, a relevance, to it. And I can definitely be here for Lana Condor (Alita: Battle Angel, Rilakkuma and Kaoru, X-Men: Apocalypse) as this new generation’s Ringwald. She’s relatable and badass in her own way.

I’m looking forward to the next (presumably last) one. I’ve heard rumors that it’s going to be coming out at the end of the year, but we’ll see what happens. Keep an eye on the Top 20 lists. I’m almost positive you’ll see it there the month it’s due to come out.  

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 48%
Metascore – 54/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4.5/5
Movie Trailer: