Review by Paul Preston
Welcome to Today I Watched…, a series of posts documenting my new challenge – watch a movie a day for the rest of my life. Keep coming back to TheMovieGuys.net to find out what I watch each day…and get my take on it.
When I see a movie that’s a new release in theaters or on demand, I’ll give it a proper review in the “Reviews” or “Home Viewing”, otherwise, I’ll write about it here.
July 12, 2017 – Alone
Eureka! Another Alone that’s not a depression or bullying short. I actually needed this HORROR short to not be so bummed out. The description on their YouTube post lays out plenty of disclaimers, preparing you for disappointment – “little personal project”, “I wanted to try and make something…”, “experimental project”, “no one was paid”, “students”, “volunteered their time”, etc., but they shouldn’t be so apologetic before the film begins, ‘cause it’s actually put together quite well. It’s everything I’ve seen before, especially in other Alone horror shorts – girl by herself in her house (get a roommate for the love of Odin!), she hears a noise, she investigates. I don’t really care about her or what’s happening like I have in other short films not called Alone, but the filmmakers do a decent technical job of creating a horror film situation. They’re right to say this is an experiment in atmosphere, but if nothing else, they succeed in that.
July 13, 2017 – Alone
Yes, another Alone, and less than minute into it, sure enough a dude is walking. For long stretches. The film felt it necessary to show how a character got from one place to the next, even though nothing happened until the character arrived there. This is a short film, there’s not enough time in the narrative to spend much of it on transport. But this film by Anudeep Reddy, a self-proclaimed social awareness short film, has a satisfying ending, even though I came away with the feeling this film had little hope. Good message, but I wasn’t left with a good feeling or a feeling to take action. The other problem with it is execution. There’s no dialogue and still the performers are overacting. Wanna see an earnest short about the social outcasting of the transgendered? Watch below, but there are far more nuanced attempts to tell their stories.
July 14, 2017 – War For The Planet of The Apes – read the review of the satisfying finale of this unlikely successful trilogy in the REVIEWS category of TheMovieGuys.net.
July 15, 2017 – Nowhere Boy
I haven’t given much extra thought to Aaron Taylor-Johnson from way back when he was Aaron Johnson. Loved him in Kick-Ass, couldn’t hold the lead in Godzilla. He comes and goes from The Avengers and I’m unchanged, but I thought he was great in Nocturnal Animals. He worked a lot between 2000 & 2009 but I went back to ’09 to see what put him on the map – Nowhere Boy. Taylor-Johnson plays the legendary John Lennon and it turns out there was just as much drama in his pre-Beatles life as there was once the Fab Four got going.
This film came recommended by Beatles fanatic Julia Marchese and we watched her copy (watch these pages for when we meet up to see Backbeat together, too). I was worried this might play out like Jimi: All Is By My Side, the Jimi Hendrix film about his years before he hit international fame. What I missed there was the Hendrix songs! Since that story took place before “Foxy Lady” and “Purple Haze”, we got Jimi doing a lot of blues and covers and I missed the hits. Well, that is the case with Nowhere Boy, but it plays better. You won’t get “In My Life” or “Norwegian Wood” but you do get “Rocket 88”, “In Spite of All the Danger”, “Hello Little Girl” and more. But where Nowhere Boy comes out leagues better than Jimi is that we learn over the course of two hours that Jimi Hendrix is a total asshole, but what we learn about John Lennon is that he’s complicated. He has ups, he has downs, but he’s always fascinating.
Taylor-Johnson gives a refined performance as Lennon and we delve deep into his relationship with his mother (you can see how and why she played out in his songs). He does meet Paul McCartney (Thomas Sangster) and there’s are some of the scenes best films, especially seeing the simplicity with which they’re played out, all the while knowing these are two of the most iconic people in recent history. Anne-Marie Duff is outstanding as Julia Lennon, John’s mother, and I didn’t know much about her so her energy and general vitality was a wonderful discovery.
See it, and get yourself on a Beatles kick, not a bad thing at all to be on.
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Release Date: October 15, 2010
Run Time: 98 Minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company