Week 7 of 2019 (2/11 – 2/17)

2/11What If2013
2/13Happy Anniversary2018
2/14Dependent’s Day2016
2/15George Marshall and the American Century1994
2/16Cars 32017
2/17Marathon Man1976

February 11

Day 42 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! The run-up to V-Day continues with 2013’s What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first “normal” film after the Harry Potter franchise and several historical pieces. Set in Toronto, Radcliffe plays Wallace, a med school dropout who has given up on love after a bad breakup. Then he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and they hit it off. But when she tells him about her boyfriend, he decides to try and just be friends with her.

This was a cute and funny movie! It ends pretty much how you would expect (it IS a pretty standard rom-com, after all), but Radcliffe and Kazan are great together and it’s supplemented by a terrific supporting cast, especially Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis. After the slightly darker turns of the last couple of movies, it was nice to have a light fun time with a story. I’d also point out that Kazan also stars in The Big Sick from 2017, arguably the one of, if not the best, romantic comedies of this century so far.

February 12

Day 43 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s selection in our run-up to V-Day is 2016’s Unleashed. Kate Micucci stars as Emma, a woman whose beloved pets turn into humans during an astrological event. Hilarity ensues as they help her learn to trust other humans again.

The movie itself had a lot of funny moments, but the film is largely overpowered by the hilarious antics of Justin Chatwin and Steve Howey as Emma’s cat & dog (respectively). Chatwin’s Ajax/Diego immediately grasps the situation while Howey’s Summit/Sam is a little slower, but overly friendly with people. The two of them fight over gaining Emma’s affections, who believes her pets have run away, and they eventually have to work together to help her through her troubles.

Again, while the film has a lot of funny moments and it worth watching, I felt like it never quite completely gelled as a GREAT movie. The two transformed pets spend half the movie with the standard “fish out of water” antics before getting back to Emma. It’s an interesting attempt to play with the formula, but the film would have been even stronger if the formula had been adhered to, having the pet/humans reunite with Emma quickly, then have all the antics in the middle.

February 13

Day 44 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today I watched the Netflix original Happy Anniversary, starring Ben Schwartz (House of Lies) & Noël Wells (Mr. Roosevelt) as an unmarried couple who spend their 3rd anniversary together considering whether to stay together.

This was a really fun movie! Schwartz has been great in just about everything I’ve seen him in to date and his performance as Sam is no exception. Wells’ Mollie more than matches him with her own comic timing and energy. The whole film takes place over the course of one day and involves funny moments with a great supporting cast as well, including Joe Pantoliano and Annie Potts as Mollie’s parents, who have been together for years but almost never talk to each other. The relationship between Sam & Mollie feels real and the whole course of their lives together so far is glimpsed through a great use of flashbacks (often used in a more slapstick way in Family Guy). Well worth a watch!

February 14

Day 45 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! We wrap up our rom-com week with 2016’s Dependent’s Day. To save money, Alice claims her struggling actor boyfriend Cam as a dependent on her taxes, bruising Cam’s ego and causing quite a bit of self-inflicted strife on their relationship.

I thought the movie was pretty good overall. Some of the dialogue was a little clunky, especially in the opening scene, but the performances were pretty solid*. I kind of identified with Cam and his journey (minus actually having a relationship at all 😛) and I felt that his decisions, rooted in pride and desperation, really can be related to by a number of my fellow actors in the industry. This is not a straight-up comedy like most of what I watched this week, and the ending might leave you wondering if it was the best option, but it does fit well with all the other movies I watched this past week and is worth watching.

*Full disclosure: I’m a little biased because my friend David August has a sizable supporting role in the film!

February 15

Day 46 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! I’m changing things up from all the rom-coms I watched as a palate cleanser. Today’s film is the 1994 documentary George Marshall and the American Century. Narrated by veteran actor E.G. Marshall (no relation, to my knowledge), it tells the story of his life of public service from his time in the Army serving in both World Wars (he was in charge of the entire US Army during WW2) to his stint as Secretary of State, where he created what became known as the Marshall Plan.

This was a fascinating doc. General Marshall is still to date, as far as I can tell, the only soldier to have ever been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize… and that’s probably the only major public honors he ever received. He was a man who put service ahead of his ego and there are a couple of really good examples of this in the documentary. Many people know about the larger leaders of the war — Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur — but I certainly was unaware of just how much of an impact Marshall had on the course of the war.

The really interesting aspect of this doc is the same that I found in the Hedy Lamarr doc from last month — a lot of narration comes from Marshall himself, the result of a series of audio interviews conducted for his biography before his death in 1959. And there’s a really interesting anecdote told by President Truman during a filmed interview that I quite enjoyed. If you’re a WW2 buff and haven’t seen this, it’s definitely worth checking out.

February 16

Day 47 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s movie is 2017’s Cars 3, which was a good choice while I’m sick in bed. After a bad crash, Lightning McQueen tries to stage a comeback against the much-faster new generation of racers.

This movie was definitely more in line with the first movie, than the completely off-the-wall sequel. (Still, Mater was the best thing about Cars 2!) In any case, there’s not much overall to call this a great film, but it is all right. There are some moments I really enjoyed, including a scene in the middle involving Lightning and his new trainer accidentally ending up in a demolition derby. I suspect most of the Pixar fans out there will have already seen this movie, but I’m glad I finally had the chance to see it.

February 17

Day 48 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! While I’m still recovering from this head cold, I decided to watch something light and fluffy. So naturally I chose the classic 1976 thriller Marathon Man, starring Dustin Hoffman as a grad student who gets drawn into a web of conspiracy and intrigue involving a Nazi war criminal and a stash of diamonds.

The film doesn’t really get going until the second half, but that doesn’t mean the first half isn’t suspenseful. William Goldman does a great job with the script, setting up the scenario and building the suspense, then having the roller coaster peak at the halfway mark so that you are plummeting all the way to the end. Sir Laurence Olivier earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in this movie (he was undergoing cancer treatment at the time!), and it’s even better than his later performance in 1978’s The Boys From Brazil“. Dustin Hoffman, William Devane & Roy Scheider are terrific, too. If you’re on the fence about whether to watch this movie, all you have to ask yourself is…

“Is it safe?”

This week was a bit rough, although not with the movie watching, of course. I finished up my week of romantic comedies on Valentine’s Day, just in time to get hit with a head cold. That didn’t make for a great weekend, but that’s how it goes. I also finished binge-rewatching Parks and Recreation for the millionth time, which I love because it’s so positive and uplifting. I find it a great remedy when Depression decides like usual to be a filthy lying liar who tells lies.

Anyway, out of the movies I watched this week, I was surprised by how much I liked Marathon Man. I’m not a huge Dustin Hoffman fan, and I think I kept confusing this with The Boys From Brazil for a number of years, keeping me from watching it (because Olivier’s in both), but it was a well-constructed spy thriller with a satisfying ending.

This coming week, we’re continuing ARTC rehearsals for our upcoming Library Show this Saturday (2/23), where I will… *gulp* … SING in front of a crowd. By myself, mostly. No joke. The piece I directed for the show will be missing our lead due to scheduling conflicts, so I’m taking over the part this time out! Here’s hoping my cold clears up in time and that I perform well.