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Misfire, by Bob Connally

5 Mar

In the years since his final appearance as Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe has made interesting and admirable career choices. Steering away from other big franchises, he’s taken chances with live theater as well as smaller films and television shows. In one of the more unique films of the past several years, Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe played a talking corpse who becomes a suicidal castaway’s new best friend. Radcliffe’s performance is truly wonderful and one of the better and more memorable film performances of the past decade. Now he stars in Guns Akimbo, a new film with a premise almost as bizarre as Swiss Army Man’s, though it sadly lacks that movie’s imagination.

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Classically Good, by Bob Connally

4 Mar

Some novels hold up as such classics that one adaptation just isn’t enough for film or television studios. Just a few months ago, Greta Gerwig’s wonderful big screen interpretation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women became a critical and box-office success, although there have been numerous adaptations- some in different languages- produced dating back to the silent era. Gerwig’s success was due largely to her finding a way to speak to modern audiences with material that was first published 150 years ago. Her Little Women doesn’t feel like it could have been made quite that way before now, which is what makes it such a deeply worthwhile venture in a world where so many other films and mini-series’ based on the novel already exist. Now, director Autumn de Wilde is delivering the seventh adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved Emma. (There are even more if you count Clueless and its Indian remake Aisha). So does it find a way to break through as strongly as Gerwig’s Little Women? Not quite, but it still has plenty to enjoy.

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Old Dogs, by Bob Connally

27 Feb

In 2010, Sylvester Stallone assembled a collection of big name action stars for The Expendables, what turned out to be a kind of sad attempt to reclaim ’80s glory. 2018 saw the much quieter release of Black Water, a film that trotted Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren onto an unconvincing submarine for one of the most boring action movies I’ve ever seen. Also, as of this moment Harrison Ford nears the beginning of production on a fifth Indiana Jones film and his 78th birthday. Expectations are not high. So why then does VFW work so well? It’s in part because, unlike The Expendables or Black Water, it doesn’t attempt to protect the vanity of its stars. Their ages are not only acknowledged but essential to the mentalities of the characters.

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Dropped Call, by Bob Connally

21 Feb

Jack London’s 1903 novel The Call of the Wild is the story of a dog torn between life as a pampered companion to humans and a life in his natural state as a wild animal. Chris Sanders’ new film adaptation is torn between the sensibilities of an animated kids movie and a dramatic live-action adventure that appeals to adults. This film’s inability to commit to one or the other leads to an ultimately dull movie that falls into that category of “Who is this for exactly?” It’s not a movie that will make you feel upset for having watched it, because you really won’t feel anything at all.

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A Long Way to Go, by Bob Connally

9 Feb

The first episode of VidAngel’s biblical television series The Chosen is a mostly dull approximation of a cable prestige drama. To the show’s credit, there is an attempt at production value but it doesn’t do much to draw us in over its first hour.

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The Bob Awards!

6 Feb

Cinematography
1917 – Roger Deakins

Costume Design
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Arianne Phillips

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The 2020 Bob Award Nominations!

19 Jan

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It’s that time again. For the fourth year in a row here at More Than One Lesson I’m holding my own movie awards ceremony which involves neither a ceremony nor trophies. But the good news is no celebrities in designer clothing will be made uncomfortable by Ricky Gervais saying something that’s true, so you can stop making that face, Tom Hanks. As always, whether you agree with these or not I hope you enjoy the list and instead of complaining about what you disagree with please just start your own movie awards instead like I did. Unless your name is Bob, too. Then you’re just going to have to live with these.

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Bob’s Top Ten of the 2010s

12 Jan

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Top ten lists are difficult. I both love and hate making them. I started this with the idea of making a list of what I felt were the 10 best movies of the 2010s or tenteens or whatever we call the decade that just ended. That was excruciatingly difficult but that wasn’t the problem really. The problem was that it felt impersonal somehow. I asked Tyler if I could do a list of favorites instead which he happily agreed to. It was still hard to make and there’s certainly some overlap here but it made it feel like a personal list that I am much happier with. I came to the realization too that, “Wow! I really love big ensemble casts.” It also means that no one can tell me that I’m wrong because I can say, “It’s not a best list, it’s favorites! Ha!” Of course you can tell me that I’m wrong but whether you agree or not, I hope you enjoy reading it. So here we go.

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Cinematic Panic, by Bob Connally

12 Jan

As a child, Sam Mendes was told the story of a messenger surviving through No Man’s Land during World War I. The story was told to him by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes who was in fact that messenger. In his autobiography, Alfred stated, “The snipers got wind of me and their individual bullets were soon seeking me out, until I came to the comforting conclusion that they were so nonplussed about seeing at seeing a lone man wandering circles in No Man’s Land, as must at times have been the case, that they decided, out of perhaps a secret admiration for my nonchalance, to dispatch their bullets safely out of my way.” Aside from being potentially the most dryly British sentence ever written, it serves as the inspiration for Sam Mendes’ new film, 1917, which presents a far more harrowing view of a trip into No Man’s Land.

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Saving the Universe, by Bob Connally

6 Jan

Three episodes into the new Disney+ series The Mandalorian, I wrote, “Given how divisive the films have become, Star Wars needs something that unites the fans in a positive way. Right now it looks like The Mandalorian could end up being just that.” Now that the first season of the series is complete and The Rise of Skywalker has been released, it appears that The Mandalorian is indeed the thing that has united the Star Wars fanbase more than anything else in this Disney era. There have been a few bumps here and there, but overall series creator Jon Favreau’s dive into the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars universe has focused on character while telling relatively small scale stories well. Compare that to the noisy, busy, and unfocused The Rise of Skywalker and it’s practically night and day. As much as J.J. Abrams’ film is an attempt to appeal to fans of the original trilogy, it’s Favreau who has made something that actually feels like those films in the ways that truly matter, which is in regards to character development, tone, and pacing.

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