Quick ‘n’ Dirty: January at the pictures

In a vain attempt to keep up with all the films I watch I came up with this new series of posts. The idea is to bundle up speedy reviews of the movies I saw at the cinema and at home for which I have neither the time nor the inclination to write a full critique. The posts will be distinguished in two types: “at the pictures” and “at home”. So, without further ado, here’s January selection of films:


The Lobster: intrigued by a quirky trailer and some good reviews, I went in with high expectations for a captivating indie movie with a great cast. I came out sorely disappointed and confused. The film starts with an engaging premise of a near future society with a little twist in its social mores but, then, it loses momentum making the plot more complicated and without a clear direction or thesis. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz gives solid performances but it’s not enough. Missed opportunity —4/10



Black Mass:  it aspires to be a new Goodfellas but doesn’t have the guts to go all the way. Irish mob in the seventies fights the competition with the help of complacent FBI agents: it sounds good on paper but it doesn’t fully deliver. Johnny Depp’s chameleonic transformation into James “Whitey” Bulger, who ascends from petty criminal in South Boston to FBI’s most wanted status, is convincing but lacks bite. Notwithstanding the efforts of a great cast, Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch in particular, the film has an uneven pace and not enough tension to win me over. I wonder what Scorsese would have done… oh wait, he made The Departed! No guts, no glory —6/10



The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2: typing this long title makes me already weary! First off: splitting the last part of a trilogy in two just to milk every possible dime from the audience is not cool, especially when there’s no real need for it. The story picks up exactly where it left off but a year of waiting it’s way worse than commercial breaks to get back into the rhythm and care for the characters. So Katniss and her ragtag gang of heros need to kill President Snow to finally end the civil war in Panem and it seems that they go at it all the wrong ways; I haven’t seen so many useless deaths since George Clooney’s in Gravity. Anyway, the good guys wins but there’s a price to pay…duh! It felt flat and unengaging and the multiple endings do not help.  Watch on TV —5/10



The Big Short: Adam McKay takes on the not easy task to explain the root causes of 2008 financial crisis using as a starting point the eponymous book wrote by Michael Lewis. He takes a few liberties with the source material but he succeeds in getting through the most important facts and information with clever and funny breaking-the-forth-wall speeches and using Ryan Gosling’s character as guide for the audience. With a stellar ensemble cast at his disposal, McKay skillfully tells the story of a few individuals who saw the end of the real estate bubble coming and all the problems connected with financial derivative products. Despite the complicated and, some might say, dull subject the film is well-paced and funny with convincing performances. Special kudos to Christian Bale! Relevant and entertaining —7.5/10




Filed under Seen at the cinema

12 responses to “Quick ‘n’ Dirty: January at the pictures

  1. I like Quick ‘n’ Dirty – great job!

  2. Nicola

    On The Big Short: my big surprise was Steve Carell. We knew that Bale has the chops for complicated parts, but seriously, Steve Carell? He really blindsided me….. Who knew the guy who struggled to make me laugh in Date Night could actually deliver a well rounded performance as a financial enfant terrible?

    • He’s really good, I agree; no surprise to me though, I’ve seen him playing against type very well before (Foxcatcher and The Way Way Back come to mind).

  3. I was disappointed by all of these, especially Big Short. While I enjoyed Carrel, I hated the 4th Wall stuff. Good quick breakdowns though!

    • I understand, breaking the 4th wall doesn’t always work for everyone. I think I had the advantage of having read the book, so I didn’t need the extra explanation of the financial details.

      • I think outside knowledge helps… But I also thought the movie set the stage well before the Margot Robbie scene. I was on board, even though I’m not super familiar with specific terms, I know the concept. For me, if the characters seem like they know the subject (in any movie – especially science fiction or something) then I’m on board.

        Big Short is just one of those movies that missed the mark for me. It’s not like I need to be challenged to enjoy a story, but it helps sometimes. I think by trying to please the audience, the director/writers missed the mark too.

        For me, I liked Spotlight a lot more. Now imagine if Michael Keaton stopped the movie to talk to us directly and explain what abuse is? Hehehe. Jokes.

      • I see your point Dan. The Margo Robbie scene was both funny and a little surreal, a nice idea.
        I haven’t seen Spotlight yet, though I hope to remedy that soon.

  4. Great idea Marta and well executed! I’m adding The Big Short to my list of movies to watch when they come out on dvd. 🙂

  5. I never fancied The Lobster, but was anticipating Black Mass with some enthusiasm. Sorry to hear that it didn’t cut the mustard for you, but then I was never a fan of The Departed myself.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • As Boston Irish mobsters go The Departed is better than Black Mass but I prefer the original Infernal Affairs.
      Let me know what you think when you do see Black Mass.

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