Week 8 of 2019 (2/18 – 2/24)

2/18Robot & Frank2012
2/21The Theory of Everything2014
2/23Professor Marston and the Wonder Women2017

February 18

Day 49 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s movie is 2012’s Robot & Frank. Frank Langella stars as a retired jewel thief whose son buys him a robot assistant to help around his house as he struggles with the slow onset of dementia. After being against the idea, he eventually teaches the robot his skill set to assist in burglaries.

I really enjoyed this movie. It’s a good look at aging and how technology has changed how different generations look at the world, even in the near-future setting of this movie. The friendship between Frank and his robot is very sweet and I was really enjoyed watching the struggle between his ongoing drive to steal versus the reality of his condition. There’s also a reveal at the climax of the movie that caught me by surprise, which is the mark a really good storytelling to me.

February 19

Day 50 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is… well, it’s just not that good. It’s called Starship (aka Lorca and the Outlaws or 2084 or Redwing: Flucht vor dem schwarzen Droiden) and it was an early 80s Australian sci-fi film.

In the future (presumably, 2084), workers on a remote mining colony fight back against their android oppressors… at least, I’m kind of sure that’s what the plot is. It wasn’t all horrible — it’s definitely not Alien from L.A. or Robot Holocaust, thank goodness. But the execution of what actually is an interesting premise was not well done. I’ll chalk it up to a low budget for the time. The talent in the movie is middling, although there are two who are now bigger names: Deep Roy (who recently played the Oompa Loompas in Tim Burton’s Willy Wonka remake) playing a friendly android named “Grid”; and Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max & Mad Max: Fury Road) as an absurdly hoarse bounty hunter with the very menacing name of… DANNY!

Overall, the film is laughable. I don’t know that it’s quite Rifftrax-worthy, though. The argument could be made that this film, with some reworking of the script and a slightly bigger budget, is worth a remake in the current era, facing growing corporate power over governments to the detriment of the people they’re supposed to serve.

NOTE: Starship is not really available on any streaming service, but a savvy Youtube search may turn up a copy to watch.

February 20

Day 51 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is 2017’s Kodachrome, starring Jason Sudeikis as a man struggling in his career who reluctantly reunites with his estranged father (Ed Harris) to help him deliver film to the last facility in the country that develops Kodachrome film.

Inspired by a 2010 NYT article on the actual end of Kodachrome film, this was a typical formula — estranged family w/ ailing patriarch gets together one last time. The ending was incredibly predictable… and yet, the emotional impact was earned and really felt.

That’s largely due to the incredible performances in the movie. Ed Harris is riveting as usual, almost re-channeling his portrayal of Jackson Pollock (from his 2000 directorial debut & star vehicle Pollock) into this role as a legendary photographer/terrible father. And Jason Sudeikis is rapidly becoming one of my generation’s best underrated actors. Some additional fantastic supporting work from Elizabeth Olsen, Bruce Greenwood and Wendy Crewson fleshes out pieces of their lives and what drove them apart.

Ultimately, the film stood out for me because of the father-son dynamic. Does it make me miss my own father? No, because we’re different people than the ones in the film and I got my closure*. But the film gives a nice punch on the importance of family communication and how it can always be good to talk and be open.

*My father’s not dead… as far as I know. I swear.

February 21

Day 52 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is 2014’s The Theory of Everything, the Stephen Hawking biopic starring Eddie Redmayne in his Oscar-winning portrayal & Felicity Jones as Hawking’s first wife Jane.

This was a nice love story wrapped inside a biographical story. Based on Jane Hawking’s book, the movie is largely from her point of view, starting from when they first meet in college through his rapid physical deterioration and how they adapted to it. It also doesn’t shy away from the deterioration of their marriage towards the end of the movie, which led to a divorce, but the film never really goes super-negative or dark. You can see the end coming a mile away (mainly because this stuff already happened in real life) as Jane & Stephen reconcile as friends.

There were great performances all around, with excellent supporting work from Charlie Cox, David Thewlis and many others. The time jumps between the scenes make the progression of Hawking’s ALS all the more stark & Redmayne did a terrific job keeping track of that, especially when you consider the film was shot, like most features, out of sequence.

February 22

Day 53 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s movie, 2007’s Transmorphers, is probably one of the earlier entries of the current age of “mockbusters” — movies that are (usually intentionally) marketed to confuse viewers and draw in potential fans of major tentpole movies while having absolutely nothing in common with them. And one of the largest makers of these is The Asylum, which made today’s movie as well. You may know them if you’ve seen any of the Sharknado movies… yeah, that’s them. The only thing this movie has in common with Transformers is alien robots that kind of change their shapes.

This film is set in the future after the robots have invaded Earth and decimated everything. The remnants of mankind live in one (possibly more) underground cities and are just waiting for the robots to make their final assault. They pull a renegade soldier out of prison to lead a near-suicide mission to…

No. You know what? It doesn’t even matter what the plot of this is. It’s just a laughably bad film. The cast mostly shout their lines at each other through the whole thing, even when indoors (a common feature of these films). The CGI is terrible, the characters have relationships that make no sense, and I have no idea what the hell was going on. There’s also a prequel that was released a couple of years later, and I may try to sit through that and see if it’s any less painful.

February 23

Day 54 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is definitely not family-friendly. 2017’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a fictionalized account of the development of the now-iconic character of Wonder Woman. (The film says “based on a true story”, but the Marston family denies it as inaccurate.) Luke Evans stars as William Moulton Marston, credited as the creator of Wonder Woman, who was a Harvard psychologist working alongside his wife (Rebecca Hall). They take on a new teaching assistant (Bella Heathcote) who ends up becoming romantically involved with them both. Their unorthodox relationship causes problems with society at large.

In the end, it’s a movie largely about expressions of power in relationships and the things we do behind closed doors. The fact that Wonder Woman was inspired by these folks is secondary in this movie, merely an artistic outlet.

The movie is not bad, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

February 24

Day 55 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film was 2013’s Raze. Zoë Bell stars as a one of a group of women abducted and forced to fight each other to the death as entertainment.

Like a lot of the films I’ve seen so far, it’s definitely not terrible, although I felt it had some serious problems. Bit of a downer ending (semi-spoiler!). Also, I wasn’t super-clear on why the folks who abducted them were doing this (doesn’t really matter, though). On the plus side, I thought several of the performances were great. Doug Jones gives another fun performance as the main villain and several of the women, particularly Tracie Thoms and Bailey Anne Borders, give great supporting performances. Keep your eyes open for a cameo from Rosario Dawson in there!

This was a very overcast and rainy week in Atlanta. Oddly enough, it didn’t rain heavy, but it was constant… like I’ve heard it gets in Portland and Seattle. It is definitely something I didn’t expect when moving from the desert, so I guess that’s on me.

We had another great performance of our Library Show series for ARTC. A smaller audience this time, but that’s okay because it’s a lot less intimidating to sing for a dozen or so people than for a large crowd. We’ll have one more performance next month for now, because we’ll be leaping into our heavy convention performance season, including shows at 221B Con in April, LibertyCon in June and DragonCon over Labor Day weekend! Plus working on additional projects in studio and some other things that aren’t firm yet, I’m really excited to be a part of it all.

For the movies this week, it was definitely an interesting mix of films. Not as eclectic as it could be, but still a good mix for this dreary weather. The best one for me by far was Kodachrome. It was a little formulaic, but the performances really sold it. If you have Netflix, I highly encourage you to check it out.