Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

Ballad
None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Kissing
Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

DINNer
And that is also true about life, I suppose.

Slice

Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

sLIce
Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

tale
These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

Basmati Blues

I first heard about Basmati Blues at least 2 and a half years ago. I tend to rather frequently look up the Wikipedia List of Musical Films By Year. It is always good to know what is coming up, because damn it, I like musicals. Just like how I waited for almost two years for The Greatest Showman.

But this was different. This one had the star of Room , which was wildly popular at the time, and it was a goddamn musical. It just took forever to come out, with delays, and then eventually a quiet VOD and even quieter DVD release.

This is a film they tried to bury, instead of riding off of her coattails. Can it be that bad?

Dance
Foreigner learning to do local dance scene? Check.

Rice 9 is amazing! It gives more protein, more rice per yield, less waste, and blah blah blah. It has been genetically modified to be the very best rice there is and can do a lot for hunger and poverty!

The designers of this crop are the father daughter team of Eric (Scott Bakula) and Linda (Brie Larson), although Linda did most of the legwork despite her younger age. She is passionate about helping save the world and happy that she works for a company that is trying to get things rolling. However, there is a problem. Their rep that was supposed to go to India to sell the plant to a small group of farmers to prove its effectiveness got into some really bad trouble. He wouldn’t be welcome in those parts.

The heads (Donald Sutherland, Tyne Daly) need to find someone new to send over stat. Someone who is passionate, kind, and believes in their product. And although she is just a scientist, they think Linda is just the girl for the task.

Now we have a girl going to a country she has never been, to peddle a product she loves, to farmers who are mostly resistant to change. And because she is alone, why not throw in some love complications as well? Oh yeah, also, the corporation is bad.

Also starring Utkarsh Ambudkar as our love interest / competitor, Saahil Sehgal, and Lakshmi Manchu.

Musical
Corporation revealing their evil ways in a plan with office workers? Check

No, I wouldn’t say it is that bad. But it is is that forgettable. There were definitely songs and it was definitely musical songs. I imagined this could be a movie where the songs came out naturally and realistically, like Begin Again or so. These songs however are mostly the show stopper type films, breaking the ordinary, music playing in the background. I have no hate for these type, I love them!

Just this one didn’t have too many and they weren’t too spectacular (spectacular). I can’t remember really any of the songs, just maybe 1-2 seconds. None of the tunes stuck in my head and maybe only a few made me smile.

The plot and the story is relatively weak. I am happy it was anti-corrupt corporations and not anti-genetically modified food, which is where I thought it would go. They are totally fine with genetically modified food, just not fine with dick companies who lie.

It was strange to set a musical in India and not go harder for the actual Bollywood feel. We had a Bollywood ending number, and the rest was just standard fare. The cinematography during the songs is incredibly low key, and just felt like a movie that was filmed in about a week.

Basmati Blues is the thankfully not the only musical to come out this year. Check out Hearts Beat Loud for my current number one if you need something to get you moving.

1 out of 4.

Hello, My Name Is Doris

Hello, My Name Is Doris first premiered at the Austin, TX SXSW festival in 2015. And it took a whole damn year to come out. Literally, the 2016 SXSW is closing as this film is starting to get its nationwide release.

Some film companies really like to take their time I guess.

I didn’t know a whole lot about the movie going into it. I just knew it had Sally Field, who has barely been in anything lately. Outside of a TV show, she had three recent movies, a couple Spider-Man films and Lincoln. Her last movie before that was all the way in 2006. I have to assume she is getting close to retirement, or she doesn’t need the money and only wants to work on things that look interesting to her. Not Spider-Man though, because she apparently only did it for a friend and didn’t for the films that much.

But hey, at least she isn’t going the Robert De Niro route and starring in every shit film known to man.

Love
Love can do strange things to a little girl.

Doris Miller (Sally Field) is in her mid-60’s and she has just lost her mom. She has lived with her mom her whole life in the same house on Staten Island. It is a bit inconvenient, as she has to take a ferry to work because of it. According to her brother (Stephen Root) and his wife (Wendi McLendon-Covey), their mom was a hoarder and it makes Doris a hoarder too. They also want her to move out of the house, the one she has lived at for over 60 years taking care of their sick mother on her own, so that the junk and house can be sold. She can get a cheaper smaller place in the city and not have a huge commute to work! Well fuck that.

Speaking of work, she is an accountant/data processor type person, in a fresh hip magazine company thanks to some mergers and acquisitions. On the stuffed elevator, she meets John (Max Greenfield), a friendly person who happens to be squished up against her, and sure enough he is a new art director in their company! And he is so dreamy. She starts to day dream about him, despite the serious age difference. She wants him.

And after meeting a self help guru (Peter Gallagher), with her best friends Roz (Tyne Daly) and Val (Caroline Aaron), she decides that anything is possible and she should work for it. She deserves love after all this time, and she deserves John.

Smaller roles are played by Natasha Lyonne, Beth Behrs, Isabella Acres, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Wisocky, Don Stark, Rich Sommer, and Elizabeth Reaser.

Dreamy
He is so god damn charming in this movie. The opposite of his New Girl character.

Squeee, what a cute and cringey movie. Doris is the best character Sally Field has played in YEARS, and no just because she has barely had any roles over the last decade. It has been so long that I have forgotten that Field has won Best Actress twice in her life (in the 70’s and 80’s) and just now associate her as a once great actress who shows up every now and again. But she wasn’t just a great actress in the past, she is still a great actress now. Doris is an amazing character and she is brought to life by Field in an almost magical way. Her performance was funny and sad at the same time. Not super realistic for the most part, but the situations she was in and how they were handled were realistic. It would be impossible for a viewer to not join her on the roller coaster of emotions and feel the way she feels.

Hell, the film even did a good job at subtly letting the viewer really see how hoarding takes place. She says at one point that every item has emotional value and a story, but we are allowed to see that play out naturally with just a single broken pencil. One woman’s junk is another woman’s purpose.

The supporting cast was also noteworthy. Greenfield showed that he can play non-douchey roles and can be a multi dimensional character. But even more of a stand out was Daly as Doris’ best friend. She was about as unique as Doris with her own weird quirks, but together they made an incredibly believable performance of two women who have been best friends for over half a century. You could tell they both cared about each other and it was an exciting side arc to see along side the main story.

Field was great in this film. She deserves an acting nomination most definitely, despite coming out so far away from the awards ceremonies. You will laugh, you will almost cry, and you will cringe from all of her mistakes.

4 out of 4.