NFLX2019 April 19th: Music Teacher

Music Teacher. Sarthak Dasgupta. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

I’ve been following the “drama” and “comedy” lists here and thinking that I was getting all the Netflix Originals. But then I noticed that I wasn’t getting “The Silence”, which I thought was a Netflix Original.

It turns out that it’s on this list instead, which is a list of movies Netflix doesn’t have distribution rights for in all markets. So is it a “Netflix” movie? Uhm…

If I’d know about this before I started, I would have added those movies to the plan, but I didn’t, and now it’s too late, so we’ll go with the original definition of “Originals”.

Besides, that stupid table doesn’t include any release years, annoyingly enough. And why is it split into all these sub-tables anyway instead of just adding more columns to segment and then people can sort as they want?

Gah.

ANYWAY. This movie!

Oh, it’s another Indian movie. Is this the first one in Hindi that I’ve seen in this blog series?

Most of the previous ones have been “social issue” movies, but this looks like it might be slightly more entertainment oriented…

Oh! And now he started singing! This is the first musical in this blog
series! Yay!

Or… perhaps it’s not a musical: The protagonist is a music teacher, so there’s a few natural chances to drop in some singing here and there without going full dance production.

This is a very good-looking movie: It’s got fabulous locations, sensitive cinematography and attractive and convincing actors.

It’s got a very simple plot of longing and love and regret and envy and is easy on the brain. I like it, but I feel it insisted on some bits for way too long.

And the denouement when we finally get to see this fabulously famous singer is a let-down because it’s autotuned and melodyned to death and the show looks kinda cheap.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 19th: Someone Great

Someone Great. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

I’m like totes caught up with the Netflix (this movie was released today), so I’m watching other movies on the side. But since they’re not really uh conceptual? then I’m not blogging about them, for which everybody’s happy, I guessing.

But I’ve discovered over the years that it’s really handy to have an external log of the movies I’ve seen: If not I just forget whether they’re any good or not.

The nightmare is over! I started a new “slush movie” blog! Which is a web log of movies with or without comment.

You’re welcome.

BUT HERE WE ARE BACK AT THE NETFLIX BLOG SERIES!

So what’s this then? It’s one of those modern comedies about young people, and from the title there’s probably romance involved.

I enjoy the performances of the central actors… They’ve got a kinda semi-raunchy lighthearted vibe going on. Less successful are the dozens¹ of Daily Show/Saturday Night Live guys who show up in minor parts.

And the jokes OK, but they’re not gut busters. I did love the horrified look on the fashionishta’s face when she felt a denim jacket: “It’s so crunchy. Is that NEW DENIM!?”

(It was somewhat confusing, though, because the denim jacket she was touching was a very well-worn, soft vintage one. I guess the prop/costume person didn’t get the note.)

The script has the usual signs of being generated for Netflix: There’s a random walk of elements (a pot movie with young women, and this time the Wise Black Man Giving Advice (and selling drugs) is RuPaul).

I like it.

In the final third it predictably crashes badly when they try to engineer The Serious Last Act.

I see that some reviewers question why this isn’t a TV series instead, but to me it doesn’t feel like a TV series at all. The structure is totally movie, and the cinematography is definitely a step above. The colour grading (or something) is a bit weird, though: You have a super-saturated scene, and then we switch to the reverse, and then everything’s washed out, and then back again.

——-

¹) Not accurate.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 12th: The Perfect Date

The Perfect Date. Chris Nelson. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

I think imdb says it perfectly:

i think this in one of the many netflix-production that will place itself in the basket of inrecognition, unless you like social network-work, and the freshnes of new juicy fruits entering the silver screen with beauty and galore . i think the cast does a decent job, with acceptable acting, but the story are to innovative anb the characters are too boring,so its lack of sting makes this flick a bit benign. the concept of ideas are good but a bit spoiled on the fun. the filming are ållreit, but the timeline and quantities of customers makes it a bit blurry.

ANYWAY!

This is a mvoie that wants to be a zany Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn screwball comedy. Only in 2019. And I’m not sure that it fails. I mean, not completely. The actors have got it going on, and the characters are fun. None of the lines are actually really literally funny, but there’s plenty of amusement going on.

The physical comedy bits made me smile a lot, and the montages are perfect.

As usual I’m totally at a loss for how old people are supposed to be in these movies. Several of them mention being in high-school but look like they are in their mid-20s and act and speak as if they’re in their early 30s. It’s odd.

It’s a pretty weird movie, and it’s one of those that gets better as it goes. It’s very 2019 with all the apps and the ridic jobs.

This doesn’t feel like an algorithmically generated movie, so it bucks the trend of these Netflix movies. Instead it kinda out of the left field, and I love that.

The fun kinda pauses in the third act. They decide that they have to get real at the end. I hate that.

But then they add a fun ending. Yay.

So: It’s a bit uneven, but I really admire the sheer kookiness of it all. I smiled a lot, but I didn’t laugh.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 12th: Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island?

Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island?. Jota Linares. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

A Spanish Netflix movie! I am exite!

But… well, there’s good bits. They’ve gone for a very low-makeup look for the actors (you can see every pore), and the actors are pretty good. Especially the women. But it’s difficult to get into this movie: I mean, what’s it even about? It’s a bunch of pretty and pretty young people talking and flirting with each other, but the dialogue feels pretty awkward and unnatural. And not in a heightened reality way, but just… well… awkward.

The cinematography is pretty off-putting: It’s all done with a very mobile camera: It’s either a steadiccam or just some guy with an Iphone. It’s not shakycam per se, but the camera is never not shivering and moving.

And the colours are all washed-out and everything looks like it’s happening on a sunny Sunday morning.

Most of the Netflix movies I’ve watched for this blog series have had a pretty obvious audience: “If this is the sort of movie you like, you’ll like this movie” all the way. Except the Indian movies, which are somewhat baffling.

But I can’t really pinpoint an audience for this either. It has no obvious hooks, and just kinda seems to meander aimlessly… That’s a thing I normally like, but I wonder whether the filmmakers promised “we’ll make a movie that Pedro Almodovar fans will like!” and then didn’t quite know how to deliver.

Or… are they going for Tennessee Williams? I think they are!

It doesn’t help. The “shocking” “reveals” during the Night Of Truth are… well… positively medieval.

Andrea Ros is good, though.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 5th: Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store. Brie Larson. 2017. ☆☆☆★★★

Huh. Brie Larson? But she’s Captain Marvel? Two movies released at the same time?

Errr:

It screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It was released on April 5, 2019, by Netflix.

So it’s two years old, but now suddenly it’s a “Netflix Original”? Hm… perhaps that means that nobody would pick up the movie for distribution? But then Netflix did… for release at the same time as Captain Marvel?

Anyway: This movie was released on Netflix yesterday, which means that I’ve officially caught up with the Netflix release schedule, and further entries in this blog series will be pretty close to release dates. Probably.

This is a cute little movie. It goes for a zany cooky vibe. Think… er… Yeah, like that TV series Dead Like Me. Perhaps it aims for Wes Anderson, but it hits Bryan Fuller.

It’s like it doesn’t have confidence in itself. Brie Larson, when confronted with craziness, is given lines like “This is crazy!” And all scenes of wonder are fully scored with tinkly winkly orchestral music, like they have to tell the audience, yet again, that something wondrous and kooky is happening before their very eyes.

So it doesn’t really help that much that Brie Larson is charming and Samuel L Jackson does his usual magical wise guy bit.

But there’s little bits in here that it’s impossible not to snicker at. And the characters are charming. It’s OK, but it works best when it avoids the drama.

I can see how the final scenes gave everybody cancer. It’s a lot.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 March 29th: The Highwaymen

The Highwaymen. John Lee Hancock. 2019. ☆★★★★★

Does it say anything about our times that Netflix found it attractive to make a movie about Bonnie & Clyde where the heroes are the men who hunt them down? Or is it just the result of a random walk performed by the Netflix movie generator script?

I’m thinking it’s the latter, because this movie is nothing but clichés strung together, from the hire-the-retired-cop-for-a-final-job to… well, every cinematographical choice made.

Oh, right, it’s yet another project that Netflix picked up after all the other movies passed on it for more than a decade:

The film had been in development for many years, with producer Casey Silver looking into the project as early as 2005. Originally pitched by Fusco as a possible Paul Newman and Robert Redford project, the film began development at Universal Pictures but never came to fruition.

Oh!:

The production reportedly had a budget of $49 million.

It doesn’t look like it, so I’m guessing 90% of that budget went to the Waterworld guy and the Cheers guy.

I can see why the Netflix ML chose to pick up this movie: There’s a sizeable audience that wants to see the Waterworld and the Cheers guy talk half an octave below their natural ranges about manly, manly stuff. The level of gruff cannot be overstated. The movie is one “cool” scene after another. I mean, you can’t beat the Waterworld guy going into a gun shop and buying half their stock to the bewilderment of the sissy-men gun sellers. Whooo-heee! *punches air*

It’s a risibly heavy-handed movie. If you can’t switch off your eye-rolling instinct you’ll miss two thirds of the movie.

I like slow movies, but this doesn’t really have anything more to fill the ponderousness with than TV cop show clichés.

It’s a pretty loathsome movie: it’s a paean to police brutality and murder, but it’s also whiffy in other ways, like the lingering shots of stunningly fake 30s destitution which looks like they’ve rolled in a bunch of extras and painted them up with Dirt, The Make-Up For Hobo Parties.

Scott!

Heh heh::

An insolent gas station attendant claims not to have any intel on the culprits’ whereabouts, and that he wouldn’t share it even if he did, so Hamer assaults him. He then gives a stirring speech about responsibility and justice to take the edge off of the casual police brutality, and the man nursing a mouthful of broken teeth undergoes a change of heart.

Indeed.

In conclusion: This movie is insanely boring, and for that I deduct one ☆ it perhaps deserved otherwise.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 March 29th: 15 August

15 August. Swapnaneel Jaykar. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

Hey! Another Indian movie. Netflix are really going after the Indian market?

The other (three?) Indian movies so far this year haven’t all bin good, but they have a better track record than the American Netflix movies, so I’m excited.

One slight puzzling thing about the Indian Netflix movies is that none of them have been… well… entertainment? They’ve all dealt with some Social Issue. This one looks like it’s going to be more fun, but still no big dance numbers.

The cinematography is playful and interesting. It’s mostly subdued colours… perhaps a bit too adjusted towards teal? But it’s quite picaresquely pretty.

You know what this movie reminds me of? Fellini’s most meandering looks at small town life. It’s got the huge cast and the way the film progresses less by plot than by scenes happening adjacent to each other.

You’ve also got the humour and the tragedy and everything intertwined.

In these kinds of movies, it all depends on the cinematography (which this movie has nailed) and the acting. Which is… Well, you can’t do naturalistic acting, but the style they’ve adapted here isn’t super-stylised either. It’s kinda just TV acting. Which is a pity.

This is basically a farce (with a very annoying central conceit), but it’s not actually funny. It feels way too long. I can understand why, because individual scenes have good pacing, and they probably wanted to have it build and build in absurdity.

I loved the bit where the forlorn lover is looking forlornly at his beloved and it starts pouring rain. Most amusing. And the over-the-top ending is brilliant. But it took us a long time to get there.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.