2020 JULY MOVIE RANKINGS:
Basically a month of Scorsese and miscellaneous, July 2020 isn’t all too surprising in terms of how my reviews stack up. It’s roughly half-and-half regarding the amount of good quality films I analyzed. Biggest takeaway? Who ended up winning first. Now that’s a shocker. Some film enthusiasts might cease contact with me, but… what is a film score, really? One of the most frustrating things about reviewing cinema is the compare/contrast element to it when it comes to grading. If I give so-and-so a better rating than another, more prolific film, what does that mean? Honestly, it could either mean I think it is genuinely better (everyone’s entitled to their own opinion), I had a better experience, or the film in its own right is great for its genre. Movies hold a ton of apples and oranges. You’ll find that most critics don’t grade them. They simply say whether you should see them or not. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope for a rating at the end of a review. Eh. Whaddaya gonna do?
Rant over, let’s get to these rankings…
#7- “Boxcar Bertha”
50%= Burnt Popcorn
Pros: Solid production design/wardrobe, decent performances, the cinematography is does its job, and there are some sparse moments that are fun.
Cons: The story is all over the place, there wasn’t much to hold my interest, and the pacing is slow; really, it’s just a poor man’s “Bonnie and Clyde”
#6- “New York, New York” (1977)
69%= Burnt Popcorn
Pros: Fantastic performances by the leads, fun music, beautiful melodies sung by Liza Minnelli, fantastic set pieces, and at the very least, a unique/entertaining narrative.
Cons: The two main characters did not mesh for me, primarily because there was nothing to their relationship in the first place (and not in an artsy moralistic sense). They certainly have charm in their own right, but they could have been more compelling.
#5- “Hondo” (1953)
70%= Burnt Popcorn
Pros: Breathtaking cinematography, surprisingly well-done action sequences (for its time, and considering it was shot for 3D), the performances are decent, and the character of Hondo makes for an interesting lead.
Cons: It’s tit for tat what you’ll find in any other western, and doesn’t do too much to make it one of the elite.
#4- “Mean Streets” (1973)
75%= Juicy Popcorn
Pros: Awesome performances from Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro (the rest did a good job as well), entertaining to watch unfold (especially in seeing these stars so young), great choice of music, and leans into the Scorsese style well.
Cons: The mob side of this story was not as developed as I wanted it to be, making the aspect of Keitel wanting to take his uncle’s business not as strong as the other elements. Also, the film kind of just… ends.
#3- “Train to Busan”
87%= Juicy Popcorn
Pros: Terrific action sequences, good character development, engaging narrative, and has a great sense of pacing.
Cons: The character archetypes aren’t anything original (not like they should be, I’m merely saying that while the story structure is sound, the characters themselves are reminiscent of other post-apocalyptic archetypes).
#2- “Raging Bull”
93%= Juicy Popcorn
Pros: Genius/Unique way of shooting boxing sequences (cinematography is great overall), stellar performances (especially from Robert De Niro, who kills it), incredible character study, and intriguing tale to watch unfold.
Cons: What’s the problem with “Raging Bull”? Good question. Really, I think it boils down to the sum of the parts. There’s quite a bit of memorable moments laden throughout this, but by the end I didn’t feel as head-over-heels or enthralled with the picture as everyone else. It’s number two. Sue me.
94%= Juicy Popcorn
Pros: Tense story, star-studded cast (that do incredible), beautiful cinematography (Roger Deakins, duh), different take on the kidnapping sub-genre, and engaging mystery.
Cons: There could’ve been more time given to the maze element to the story. It was more so used as a visual candy than story weight.
We’re chugging away through this COVID year, as “Prisoners” walks away the winner of July. It will compete against “1917,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Parasite,” “Uncut Gems,” “Silence,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “A Ghost Story,” and the rest of the monthly winners to decide if it has what it takes to become the next Movie of the Year.