Broadcast News (1987): They sure don’t make romantic comedies like James L. Brooks’s film anymore, though I’m not sure they ever did make many romantic comedies with endings this sober-minded yet un-cynical that also worked just as well as media satires (in this case like Network if it were an actual film with characters instead of a very long self-satisfied rant). Add to that sharp and deep acting performances by Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks, dialogue that’s cutting and funny and wise and absurd all at the same time, direction that does a lot of thematic and emotional work without ever pointing to its own class, and you’ll be as confused as I am that this thing was actually once nominated for seven Oscars (but didn’t win any, don’t you worry).
Cave (2016): Another point to add to my list of “things
movies taught me”: going on an illegal cave diving expedition isn’t such a swell
idea if you are the members of a love triangle. Apart from bringing me that
helpful insight, Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken’s cave-bound thriller looks slick and
contains one and a half truly creepy scenes but lacks the psychological depth in
its characters to be a proper character-based thriller, as well as the tight
control a film like this needs to be truly suspenseful. It’s competent and not
particularly clever, yet still would be a film I’d recommend for a bored
afternoon or so, but the rest of my goodwill for the whole affair got eaten up
by its ending. For after not even eighty minutes of plot, the narrative just
stops on a cliffhanger (not a proper open ending, mind you) with titles
informing us the sequel is going to be in cinemas soon, adding insult to injury
and making quite sure I’m not going to waste my time on said sequel.
The Axe Murders of Villisca (2016): Taking place in the
house where a bunch of historical axe murders happened, this indie production
directed by Tony E. Valenzuela turned out to be rather better than the teenagers
versus ghosts flick I expected it to be. The characters are somewhat more
interesting than usual in this sort of thing (and well acted to boot), the
script knows where it wants to be and how to get there, and the photography is
often effectively moody. The film doesn’t quite manage to hold the tension it
has built up throughout its final act but I enjoyed my time with it quite a bit.
And unlike Cave, it has an actual ending.