MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Brainstorm- At some point, actors can become parodies of themselves. Pacino, Nicholson, Freeman and DeNiro are all really doing the impersonations that others do because their visage and beats are iconic. Walken is a prime example of this. He’s never been a leading man in the way that the aforementioned were. His acting style and mannerisms were always a little off and have only amplified over the years. Pacino seems like almost a different person at times from the actor of his youth. So to see Walken as a young man here is refreshing. You can watch him in this weird sci-fi tale, similar to Strange Days, and see what he was like before the amateur impersonators (myself included) got a hold of him. This was Natalie Wood’s last film as she died before filming completed. Her character, along with Louise Fletcher, bring strong female elements to this story that you don’t see in many films as they are very muli-dimensional. All three have complex motivations that create a sci-fi story with depth and love.
Sully- In a long enough time span, every director will make some bad choices or, when those bad choices pile up, a bad movie. Spielberg’s 1941 and Coppola’s Jack come to mind. For Eastwood it’s got to be Hereafter (though I contend Gran Torino and American Sniper are lazy entries in his oeuvre) but his track record is pretty damn good. I’ve been giving him a hard time though and Sully brought me back into the fold. Did you see that movie Flight where Denzel Washington plays an alcoholic pilot that saves a bunch of people by flying upside down? It’s like they took the already impressive Sullenberger story and tried to make it a fantastical. Sully is compelling and Tom Hanks fades into the role which is hard to do. Through “present day” and flashback sequences it focuses on the main story while casually alluding to other narratives without actually veering down that path. Sometimes realism is enough when done right.
Wizard of Lies- Just seeing Michelle Pfeiffer back on screen is pretty worth it. They don’t paint Madoff in a nice fashion either so it may ease the pain of reliving this story for some. Karma was quick for Bernie but it was really his family (and his victims) that suffered the most. I’m vaguely aware that this is not a well liked movie by critics. It’s interesting how that might affect my feelings about it before but not after. It’s not a masterpiece, it’s HBO. Probably not a slogan they want to switch to but you get the point.
A Bigger Splash- Casting Tilda Swinton but not letting her speak is either genius or stupid I can’t decide. It seems like something she might have decided on her own. Ralph Fiennes is just oozing everywhere and creating such an uncomfortable yet fun environment. I’m on the fence about the end. Dakota Johnson bothers me but I’m not sure why. Fifty Shades has permanently tainted her in my mind along with Mr. Grey Jaime what’s-his-face. I think a lot people will be seeing this movie now that director Gudagnino’s Call Me By Your Name was nominated for Best Picture.
The Green Inferno- More South American craziness from Hostel director Eli Roth. The time it takes for them to get there is overlong but once in camp the blood factor is relentless. Overall, there’s a lot of unnecessary plot on what is essentially jungle torture porn. I believe the National Review critic enjoyed this movie because environmental protesters were killed in horrible fashion. Those guys over there are pretty cool it sounds like.
War Machine- I guess the point of this is to reveal the inner workings of wars and what it takes to win them (physically, publicly and financially) but all that interesting shit goes to the side so we can focus on milquetoast Pitt’s character. Hard to finish. Wait, did I finish this? I honestly can’t remember now.
One Good Thing: Watching Brad Pitt’s weird running style.
Watch Instead: War Dogs
Death Race 2050- In what is a currently crumbling democracy and Trump’s slogan-drenched rise to power, the future shown here should have been a lot more defined. It wants to create the world of Idiocracy but doesn’t have the wit or foresight even when it’s playing out in the news as we speak.
One Good Thing: Malcolm McDowell slumming it as a future pseudo-Trump.
Watch Instead: Idiocracy, Death Race 2000
Dig Two Graves- What is happening in this movie can be hard to pinpoint so I will simplify it for you. A boy dies and gypsy magic complicates everything while Ted Levine scowls at everyone. There, isn’t that easy to understand? It’s not bad just tough to love.
One Good thing: Great blending of dual timelines in the same scene.
Watch Instead: Lone Star (maybe)
Focus- When did Will Smith stop being bankable? He is still fun to watch but did we collectively decide not to pay for it at the theaters? This confidence genre is entertaining to me but the race car setting (along with them literally showing you the twist ending) lessened the effect.
One Good Thing: Criminal montages.
Watch Instead: Confidence
Legend of Tarzan- This is a visually dark movie with some complex political things happening in the background. I enjoyed the time frame/setting of it and Margot Robbie’s character’s familiarity with Africa. I also appreciate that the British Empire is not the villain again but now that I think of it I can’t remember the villains. Prussia?
I can suspend disbelief for most things but I do not believe that just because Africans (in this movie) can jump off huge cliffs into massive trees (basically they’re all Tarzan too) that Samuel Jackson (an American) can naturally do it as well. It’s kind of racist actually. There is a blink and you miss it explanation of Tarzan’s physiology changes due to his upbringing that was a nice touch although maybe impossible? I am not Darwin but this movie supposes we could all be Tarzan so which would you prefer?