12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 11)

Only one more of these left after today. THANK GOD. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing for you guys. But writing for 12 days straight is a bit draining. So when this is over I’m gonna take a few days off. But until then, let’s talk about the penultimate movie for this series.

So for today we’re talking about a brand new movie (oh my god). That movie is “Happiest Season”, a christmas dramedy about Harper (Mackenzie Davis), a young woman who is bringing her girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) along for christmas with the family… except they don’t know that Harper isn’t gay, so the pair have to keep it a bit of a secret until Harper feels ready to come out of the proverbial closest. Cue the sneaking around, misunderstandings, emotional baggage, and personal demons. While I wouldn’t say that “Happiest Season” is the best movie I’ve seen this year, I still think it’s really solid. It handles its subject matter with a fair bit of tact, giving us a pretty nuanced take on this premise. While the movie primarily acts as a comedy, it isn’t afraid to get a bit more serious, really letting us sit with the characters and their emotions for a bit. And while I do think it gets the balance of comedy and drama down quite well, it doesn’t always hold up perfectly in that regard. When you have serious contemplations about the nature of your relationship one minute and awkward slapstick the next, it can get slightly jarring. It’s not enough to ruin the movie, but it did take me out for a sec.
Also, I just have to go off on one thing for a second. Dan Levy. Dan god damn Levy. This guy is gutbustingly funny. Any time (bar one more serious part) he was on screen he made me absolutely lose it. The rest of the cast is great too, there’s not a weak link in that department… but Levy is definitely the MVP here.
So in conclusion, “Happiest Season” may not be perfect, but it’s still a really solid holiday dramedy that both made me laugh, and made me care about these characters. I’d happily watch it again next year.

On the eleventh day of christmas, I watched something gay
And hey guess what, it was truly quite good, yay

Movie Review: Identity (2003)

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? I don’t mean in real life, because murder is fucking horrible, but I mean in movies and television shows. There’s something about murder mysteries that I just love. Even when they’re not that great and kind of formulaic (like most crime procedurals), I still enjoy watching them.

Ladies and gents… “Identity”.

It was a dark and stormy night… what, I’m not trying to be funny, it was actually dark and stormy. Anyway, a group of strangers find themselves stranded at a motel in the middle of nowhere during this weird storm. And soon they start getting killed off one by one. Basically it’s “And then there were none” in a shitty Nevada motel. But that is a formula that has proven successful in many different movies and shows, so maybe it could work here too. And while there are a lot of conveniences in this plot, it is still overall an eerie and suspenseful mystery. I found myself invested in this plot, trying to figure out who the hell was guilty. There are also a few twists in this movie that I will not spoil, but let me just say that they will polarize audiences. I for one thought they were for the most part pretty good. It’s really hard to explain why some of them worked so well without spoiling the twists, but I honestly thought that they did work pretty well. The only twist I’m a bit iffy on is the final one. It’s not awful and doesn’t detract too much from the plot, but it did feel a bit odd. But overall this is an interesting mystery that has some flaws.

The characters in this movie are pretty shallow and not the most interesting. I didn’t really hate them, but I also didn’t love any of them… they were okay. But while the characters weren’t the most compelling, the performances were great. I wouldn’t exactly call any bad, all of them were good, so I’m just gonna list some of the actors. John Cusack, Ray Liotta, John C. McGinley, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Clea DuVall, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, and Alfred Molina.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri and it was great. The stuff he composed for this movie is eerie, tense, and just overall very well composed. It really helped elevate some of the scenes throughout.

This movie was directed by James Mangold and yes, I missed that this was a Mangold movie during the “Mangoldathon” and I feel a little bit of shame over that. Still, better late than never. Anyway, I thought he did a really good job here. The shots look great and he manages to create a good amount of suspense with his direction. The biggest problem with the directing is that there’s one obvious (and kind of dumb) jumpscare in the movie, but it doesn’t bring the movie down for me. It’s quick moment, over in a second, nothing to be angry about. But overall his directing here is really good. Really, this is a damn pretty movie.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Identity” is a really interesting albeit flawed thriller. It features a good plot, okay characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing. The flaws come from some notable conveniences and the final twist being a bit odd, and the characters aren’t really the most compelling. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Identity” is an 8,97/10. It’s flawed, but I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Identity” is now completed.

I’m so happy that this movie gave me an excuse to write “It was a dark and stormy night”… always wanted to do that.

Movie Review: Girl, Interrupted (1999)

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Hello there, guys! The “Mangoldathon” continues! What, you thought I forgot about it? Pfff… no. Anyhow, let’s get into it!

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Girl, Interrupted”.

Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) is a troubled young woman who in the 1960s gets put in a mental hospital. And we follow her as she gets to know her fellow inmates and also maybe learn a bit more about herself. While the plot itself was good, I never found myself fully invested in it. I mean, it wasn’t bad at all, and I was never bored… but I also never felt “Yeah, this is really immersive and investing”. And that’s a bit of a shame, really. Because like I said, the plot in itself isn’t bad, and it is clearly aimed to be dramatically investing… however I was never really invested in it. So it’s overall.. okay.

The characters in this movie are all very interesting. Winona Ryder is great as Susanna Kaysen, perfectly portraying the troubled young woman. Angelina Jolie plays Susanna’s fellow inmate, Lisa, and she is fantastic. Her performance is believable and also a million flavors of fun. Then we also get a whole bunch of great supporting performances from people like Brittany Murphy (R.I.P), Whoopi Goldberg, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave, Jared Leto, and Elizabeth Moss. It’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Mychael Danna, and I think it’s really good. It was dramatic, it had some good energy to it, and it overall just fit the movie very well. There was also some really good use of licensed track in the movie, most notably “Downtown” by Petula Clark. The music in this movie is really good… not much else I can say about that.

As you probably picked up on through the intro of the review, this movie was directed by James Mangold. And he did a great job here. His directing is confident and it makes scenes flow very well which helps make the pace much better. It’s also a very good looking movie, with smooth camera movements and such.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 54% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actress (Jolie).

“Girl, Interrupted” is a flawed but still pretty solid drama. It has a pretty good plot, good characters, great acting, really good music, and great directing. However the plot isn’t as engaging as it should be. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Girl, Interrupted” is an 8,88/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.
worth-buying

My review of “Girl, Interrupted” is now completed.

I might review one more movie for the “Mangoldathon”. Not entirely sure yet.