The Tower- This is a complicated set up to describe for a film so follow me here: Interview survivors of the University of Texas shootings in the 1960s. Cast actors as their younger versions to speak their words and act out what happened. Then animate that using rotoscopic animation. Combine all, bake at 350. It throws so much emotion and visuals at you it’s hard to ignore. In light of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, Florida and (insert number here) other shootings that have happened since, this seems all the more important to watch. My first reaction was how can someone kill that many people, that fast and from that kind of vantage point? Tower illustrates it, literally, in painful detail. 18 people died in Texas that day but this is America and we only put up big numbers so if you’re curious whether these shootings will stop, here’s your answer.
Pawn Sacrifice- Act your fucking heart out Tobey. You can do it. McGuire plays chess champion Bobby Fischer when he was less paranoid and only hated Jews slightly. It’s a very good movie about an increasingly unlikable person but the cast rounds out his antics enough to keep you going.
Furious 7- These movies are great. I can’t stress this enough. Good dumb ride with great blending of CGI and real stunts/sets, fun characters in an ever evolving cast, and super hero levels of action. They could beat the Avengers through some quickly hatched “plan” as long as it involved cars. It might make the Avengers actually interesting again. Speaking of, I recently saw a group photo of everyone who is currently in the Marvel Universe. It was like a class picture from elementary school but every kid is stuck making some spandex movie thereby depriving us of a better movie. Even Vin Diesel was there. He could be making another Fast movie right now but noooo he has to voice a CGI tree that only ever says three words.
Urban Cowboy- On the surface this movie is about mechanical bull riding, but at the core it’s about…the same thing? Debra Winger is lovely and Scott Glen is just fucking cool here. But not good guy cool, he’s a dick. But a cool dick. It’s like they threw in the dick part at the tail end just so you’d root against him. Travolta is the good guy but he’s a baby (emotionally not physically) so it’s hard to root for him. I merely wanted Debra Winger to come out unscathed and appreciated. I would ride a mechanical bull for 1980 Debra Winger.
The Founder- This was really overlooked last year. Michael Keaton’s comeback keeps getting eclipsed by politics and timing. This damn thing wasn’t even nominated and it’s a great piece of business/American history and Keaton plays slick businessman unsurprisingly well. I believe Ray Kroc’s underhandedness is well known but probably not to this extent not to mention his innovations in franchising. A movie about how a white man games the system and gets filthy rich was just not the topic du jour at last year’s Oscars.
Live by Night-Again, Ben Affleck’s body is weird shaped and this movie is a giant misfire but it’s difficult to say where. Direction is solid, story is from a lesser known area of prohibition, and it’s got dames and guns. I don’t know it just didn’t work. He should just stay behind the camera that’s the whole goal of going to the director’s chair anyway right? So you don’t have to act?
Gold– Matthew Mcconaughey makes me want to shower in this. He’s just covered in a not metaphorical greasy sheen the whole movie. It’s an interesting story, but the players feel too vaguely defined to latch on to. The boardroom scenes smack of Wolf of Wall Street but with a different layer of slime. The story is pretty fascinating albeit half fabricated. My problem is I want these guys to win for some reason. I hate the Scorsese downfall that comes in these types of films. But it can’t be a success story if you start from the top and there’s no redemption if you don’t get knocked down. The jungle scenes are the best parts of the film and thankfully there’s a good amount.
Ghost in the Shell (2016)- Spitting in the face of a classic, this has all the hallmarks of “we can do it better” and failing. I’m not a purist but there was just nothing wrong with the original. From its very inception it smacks of disrespect by casting the surely good intention-ed Johansson. It’s got to be hard to turn down roles, especially for females who must be uber-conscious of their image and how it’s projected, and this one probably plagued her. It’s the people that thought to cast her at all that should be scolded. I googled “Japanese actress”. There’s a bunch. It comes down to the fact it’s a business and they don’t care about anything but money. Ridley Scott said it best (worst). “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed.”
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Deepwater Horizon- Holy shit have I been sleeping on Peter Berg. This is one of two “recent history” movies he directed in 2016. There’s not a ton of what you might call style but he has a flare for juggling multiple characters/locations to where I couldn’t tell you any of the character’s names, but I know where everyone physically is in a confusing mess of a situation. His ability to build tension is amazing and it just feels real. Mark Wahlberg breaks down crying at the end of this movie and I didn’t even know why the scene existed but it was incredible.
A Dark Song- I try not to watch trailers anymore. It creates unrealistic expectations and shows you all the good bits. I succumbed to the trailer for A Dark Song just because I wasn’t quite sure about the content and ended up wanting to see it. The good bits here were great but far too few. The first half of this movie is one-of-a-kind but it falters afterward not knowing what to do with all that momentum. I enjoyed the culmination of it all but the steps there were muddy.