July might have been the quietest month for the movies this year, as theatres were forced to delay would be re-openings as a second and stronger wave of COVID-19 struck. However it may have been in a way the best month of the year for me when it comes to movies as two of the 8 films I saw this month were actually rated A+ by me. So here are those films and my quickie reviews for each of them.
But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like:
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd
With all that out of the way, lets get to those quickie reviews already…
- The Plot: An unforgettable cinematic stage performance, the filmed version of the original Broadway production of “Hamilton” combines the best elements of live theater, film and streaming to bring the cultural phenomenon to homes around the world for a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- The Review: A masterpiece that I can’t believe I’ve missed out on for years. The music is genius and gets away with carrying the stage play from start to finish with little actual spoken word dialogue. This is absolutely a new favorite as a filmed play and as a musical soundtrack. One of the best things I’ve ever seen in this medium. A+ for HAMILTON
- The Plot: A gang of thieves plan a heist during a hurricane and encounter trouble when a disgraced cop tries to force everyone in the building to evacuate.
- The Review: This could actually end up as a passable film to watch on streaming or TV when bored - where it not for Mel Gibson barely being in this versus what the marketing promised and a hilarious out of nowhere subplot involving an actual creature. This movie is bad enough for MST3K to rift on. Skip this unless you wanna’ poke fun at it. D+ for FORCE OF NATURE.
- The Plot: Led by a warrior named Andy, a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile, the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary.
- The Review: A pretty paint by the numbers action adventure thriller with some fantastical elements mixed in. Its where it belongs on Netflix as a stay at home watch rather than a theatrical release. C+ for THE OLD GUARD.
- The Plot: A first-time captain leads a convoy of allied ships carrying thousands of soldiers across the treacherous waters of the “Black Pit” to the front lines of WW2. With no air cover protection for 5 days, the captain and his convoy must battle the surrounding enemy Nazi U-boats in order to give the allies a chance to win the war.
- The Review: There’s a lot here to like, especially with the amazing visuals of the battles at sea in this. But unfortunately as much as I enjoyed this it also felt like some more depth to our main protagonist was missing and as if the film needed just a little more fat to it. Its a frustratingly good film in that it flirts with greatness but never quites reaches it. B+ for GREYHOUND.
- The Plot: When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
- The Review: An absolute home run in the way it has a fresh take on the GROUNDHOG DAY movie trope, adding romance and introspection to it and all in a neat not too long, not too short, just right run time. Hands down of the best films I've ever seen much less one of the best of the year. A+ for PALM SPRINGS.
- The Plot: Ellie tries to mend her marriage with her husband Marcus after a brief encounter with an old friend, David, only to find that David is more dangerous and unstable than she’d realized.
- The Review: A horribly executed attempt at a role reversed FATAL ATTRACTION that makes baffling story decisions and barely brings the sizzle to a sex thriller. You just end up making fun of the movie than ever being on the edge of your seat. Unless you’re going to poke fun at it, skip it. D+ for FATAL AFFAIR.
- The Plot: A family must use a magical box of Animal Crackers to save a rundown circus from being taken over by their evil uncle Horatio P. Huntington.
- The Review: This film took years to find U.S distribution and I can see why. The animation, the script, etc all seem like this was made for television rather than for a feature length film. The only thing major in this is the ridiculously big voice cast in this, some who seem to be having fun with this and others who just seem to be looking for a quick check. This found the right home at Netflix, because I would not recommend this as a big screen film. C- for ANIMAL CRACKERS.
- The Plot: The story of Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and her extraordinary scientific discoveries—through the prism of her marriage to husband Pierre—and the seismic and transformative effects their discovery of radium had on the 20th century.
- The Review: This feels like a slightly big budget attempt to make one of those biographical films they played during off days at school. The flash forwards to show the positive and negative effects of Radium could have been cut to make a tighter movie. That said while this isn’t a film that should have gotten to the big screen, its just fine as an educational stay at home viewing. C+ for RADIOACTIVE.
And that wraps up a whole month of quickie movie reviews from me for the month of July 2020. In the next post for this newsletter I’ll be running down my quickie reviews for the August 2020 films that caught my attention. Stay tuned…