Gomorrah- I am unenlightened. Even casually meeting with me it’s pretty obvious I’m a surface dweller when it comes to a lot of things. This includes, unfortunately, film. My analytical skills are comparatively weak if we’re talking about reviewers and strong only next to the average person. I’m basically the movie version of the guy who wears a jersey of the team he’s watching on TV but probably wouldn’t paint his face at a game. Probably. There’s some deep European values or regional things to consider when watching a film like Gomorrah that I just don’t have a grasp on. It deals with present day Sicily and the mafia there and I appreciated that it’s not the Godfather scenario that’s been playing in my head for years but I still didn’t really get it. It’s all just guns, quarries and dressmaking which sounds interesting but ends up being…not.
Gunfight at the OK Corral- The more old movies I watch, the more I get it. We all grow up hearing the names and they are so ubiquitous that you never really consider them. Monroe. Dean. Kelly (Gene AND Grace). Lancaster. Douglas. But then when you see them for the first time, you understand why they are revered. The term “star” has changed over the years depending on the requirements of fame, but true star power hasn’t. Tom Cruise has got it. Julianne Moore, too. Watching Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas spar within the complicated relationship of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday is a beautiful thing. Burt Lancaster makes me wish Armee Hammer got more work. I mean, he’s eating for sure but I think but we need the square jawed Adonis in certain films. More on him later.
To Kill a Mockingbird- A common theme I’m discovering in watching a lot of these old movies is that they are not exactly what I thought they were. That sounds obvious but when you grow up with movies like To Kill a Mockingbird constantly in the popular culture, you feel like you know what it’s about without ever watching it. I’ve been happily surprised by all these films to see that they are more than just the scenes or the quotation that remind me of them. That being said I don’t love this story or the movie but I understand why they are lauded.
Dream Dangerously- It would be nice if every documentary with good subject matter was done by an Alex Gibney or Errol Morris but that’s just not the case. Neil Gaiman gets a lot of air time but the movie wanders around too much, content to just have him in the frame no matter that nothing much is happening. Of course Neil Gaiman is an interesting writer but that doesn’t mean watching him sign hundreds of books will be interesting.
XXX: Return of Xander Cage-Vin Diesel tries to apply the fun “team” mentality of Fast and Furious here and it fails. Unfortunately for Diesel, It mostly shows who the weak link in the Fast franchise is. Toni Collette does stuff here but she’s goes against her strengths as a questioning and funny actress. XXX illustrates just how ludicrous James Bond is and rather than play it for laughs like an Austin Powers, the always super serious Diesel succeeds in being an Xtreme knockoff.
One Good Thing: Donnie Yen is the gawd.
Watch Instead: F8 of the Furious, Any James Bond (Except Never Say Never Again).
Lucky Them- Hunt for a missing grunge rocker. Thomas Haden Church is unexpectedly awesome in this. I mean in general he is fun to watch but his character is so odd that at first you don’t like him but he charmingly slides under your skin (and into your DMs, presumably). The setting for the story is bit of nostalgia sided with a present-day music industry parable. I probably enjoyed this more than I should have as the subject matter is near to my heart. While the resolution was somewhat of a slap against the forehead, everything here felt honest. Toni Collette (again) but this time in a role more suitable for her style and strengths.
Divorce Italian Style- This is supposed to be a comedy and at times it is, but mostly I just felt bad for the wife. She was doting and loving to her husband and all he did in return is plot against her. It should have been called Entrapment. Then that burglar movie with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones would be called “Divorce Italian Style”. Now THAT would be funny. Interesting side note: If you’re familiar with George Clooney’s clicking noise in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, you can hear it done first here by Marcello Mastroianni who is pretty goddamn delightful even if he’s the worst. This movie is begging for a remake with a little more agency (and intelligence) thrown in for the wife.
Glow- Little known history of televised female wrestling that’s become more well-known now that the original Netflix series of the same name has aired. The fact that most of the women are still around really strengthens the narrative, showing multiple backgrounds and where they are now.
Gator-Burt Reynolds is really trying to charm his way through this and I’m just not buying it. As a director he does not know when to cut and as an actor the little under-his-breath asides are annoying. As usual, stunts pre-1990s look dangerous and near real.
One Good Thing: That fight scene through the beach stalls is incredible.
Watch Instead: I don’t know. Smokey and the Bandit? It’s the same shit but less heavy and probably more plausible with the exact same two leads.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Death of Superman Lives-Fun unearthing of a movie that almost was. It’s a shame as the current iteration of Superman is more nativity that creativity. This one had Batman-era Burton directing with a partially Kevin Smith-drafted script and insane plot lines involving the Superman suit having a life of it’s own. Not to mention Nick Cage.
UPDATE: It was recently reported that Cage will voice Superman in the upcoming Teen Titans GO! movie. This is a genius move.