King Arthur: Legend of the Sword- Like America, Britain doesn’t have myths really. There’s no Zeus or Jesus or Jupiter that can be traced back that far. Every country has mysticism for sure, but true deities are hard to find. As far as modern Britain goes, the closest myth I can think of (as a self-centered dumb American) is the story of King Arthur and I have to admit that I have a soft spot for the era and the tale. Some people like Cowboys, I like Knights. It’s because it is a myth that people feel they can be a bit loosey-goosey with the story and Guy Richie is just careening around the genres in this tale. This Arthur is part Robin Hood, part 300, part Lord of the Rings and all Snatch. If you have any love for the Legend, this will either be a fun romp or a disgrace to the Round Table.
Dunkirk- I don’t know anyone’s name in this movie and that is probably the only thing wrong with it. It has incredible cinematography, pounding/incessant score, amazingly subdued/realistic CGI and real world in-camera effects but I didn’t really truly care if anyone lived or died. I mean, I wanted them all to live of course but whether they died was inconsequential. This may seem negative but it’s just a byproduct of a film that sets you in the middle of war with no beginning and no end. On one hand, these characters are given life by the reality of the film expertly crafted around them but have life stolen from them by being essentially nameless. Many of the main character’s names are either “officer” or “soldier”. It’s beautifully done and a must see. It’s just not a must rewatch.
Paterson- Warning, nothing exciting or of note happens in this. What a waste of time. So repetitive. Every day, Adam Driver’s character (a bus driving poet), kisses his wife, goes to work, goes home, goes to the bar and goes to sleep. This happens every day over the course of a week with little variation. This seems boring and it mainly is but between Adam Driver’s dynamism and Jarmusch’s intercutting daily life with effective poetry and verse ohMYGOD I THINK I ACTUALLY LIKE THIS MOVIE. Seriously though, nothing happens but it sucks you right in and its strength is hidden below the surface. That is a nice thing to hold on to when life seems heavy or bleak like I imagine Paterson, NJ might be.
Trolls- Nothing to hate here. Good music, infectious optimism. Zooey Deschanel as the scullery maid is unrecognizable and the funniest part of this. I have quoted her 5 times since I watched it. I should despise this movie but I can’t.
Crash- (2004) There is a moment in this Best Picture Winner™ where a soft song is playing while we recap where everyone is right then. I thought, almost aloud, if they ALL start singing to the soundtrack I’m turning this weak Magnolia rip-off, uh, off. This is not a bad movie but it’s boring and probably deserved to win in the 2006 shit show of movie nominees. (I’m looking at you Seabiscuit and Finding Neverland.) It’s an ensemble of sub A+ actors who are doing their best nevertheless but it doesn’t amount to much other than coincidence. I live in a town with 49/10000ths the population of Los Angeles and can go a week without seeing someone I know let alone ending up in a stolen SUV with them. I am an identifier when it comes to characters in film and I couldn’t care for anyone here.
One Good Thing: The intro was great.
Watch Instead: Magnolia
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Taxidermia-Oh man. What a find. Three generations of Hungarians are chronicled in grotesque Gilliamesque fashion. This is an equal parts disgusting and beautiful movie that is burned into my brain. It creates a world so believable I’m still not really sure that it doesn’t exist but I refuse to look it up. Probably for cinephiles only but that’s a shame as it has pretty much everything other than a battlefield scene. It’s tactile and sickening and rich with color and sound with subtle camera tricks. This is a gorgeous movie and very few people will thank me for recommending it.
Everest- A friend once posited that the future of movies and television was in virtual reality. That you would one day be on the set of say, The Big Bang Theory or, more likely, Avatar 9. That would require some trickery as standing on the set of either would reveal the massive amount of lighting, cameras and crew persons standing around but it’s no stretch of the imagination that you could digitally alter that. The only way Everest could seem any more realistic is if I was hovering on some sort of digital sofa over Jake Gyllenhaal’s head as he struggled up the mountain. 4k surround is just not good enough. We deserve more.
Point Break (2016) – I’m pretty good at remembering basic, if not detailed, information about movies. Often times it’s even a movie that I haven’t seen but I still know a little bit about it. I have seen the original Point Break and couldn’t definitively explain the plot of the remake. Something about Life of Aquatic challenges maybe?
One Good Thing: Edgar Ramirez. He is good in everything.
Watch Instead: Point Break (1991)
Free State of Jones- This movie was panned somewhat but I found it to be a well-directed/acted if somewhat boring piece of history. I think we’re running out of compelling historical narratives. We may have to start fabricating it. One thing to point out is that this movie does not take place in entirely Civil War-era South. There is an occasional baffling cutaway to the descendant of the titular character who is undergoing court proceedings due to his distant African heritage. It was never explained why this was being shown.
Becoming Mike Nichols– I am wary of any movie titled “Becoming” “Finding” or “Searching For” with the name of the documentary subject. Like putting “American” in front of some noun, it strikes me as lazy. I just watched Andre the Giant on HBO. Great movie, simple title. They didn’t call it Looking for Andre, just his name. If they had called it Dinner with Andre though that would have been great. Titles aside, this is a wonderful movie. Nichols is being interviewed both in private and in front of a live audience. The two interviews are deftly weaved to create a seamless conversation interspersed with his works and life.