CATCHING UP

 

by Alan Yudman

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

Meh. This movie felt too long and too much. They seemed to try to pack in about three movies into one and still it wasn’t enough.. we have to wait for a part two next year. That is unless you were wiped out by Thanos’ finger snap.
These mega blockbuster hero movies are wearing thin on me. The stories are kinda boring. Characters don’t get a chance to fully develop. Really in this movie Thanos is the one character who has an interesting arc. The heroes do hero stuff and not much else.
I prefer the movies that focus on one hero. We learn more about the character and there’s less bombast.
Yes, I’ll see Part 2 just to see how they un-kill everyone.

OCEANS 8

This was a funny movie with a satisfying story and a twist I didn’t see coming. The ensemble is greater than any one character. The weakest link seemed to be Sandra Bullock. She played it very straight. Maybe she was going for George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, but her character lacked some of his charm.
Standouts were Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and James Corden.
Ann Hathaway shined. She played the stereotype of herself and stole the movie.
All in all, a successful sequel.

SOLO

Man the fanboys (and fangirls) didn’t like this movie. A lot. I don’t know what their problem is. And I don’t have a degree in psychology that would enable me to figure it out.
This movie is fine. It was fun. It was entertaining. The challenge here was telling an origin story where we already know the characters, maybe too well. So it could have turned into and eye roll, but it didn’t at all.
Alden Ehrenreich was good. Woody Harrelson was sold as usual.
Emilia Clarke is very good in Game of Thrones. But I keep seeing her in the same type of role. I need to find more movies she’s done because I’m tired of seeing her play this type of character.

DEADPOOL 2

This is what I was talking about in my AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR review. The DEADPOOL movies focus on one guy and the world surrounding him rather than 30 characters in a big universe.
The original DEADPOOL was such a refreshing divergence from the usual hero movie, it would have been easy to rest on laurels and be lazy in DEADPOOL 2. Ryan Reynolds was apparently not going to let that happen. This is just as funny, just a meta, just as surprisingly great as the first movie.
Adding a great actor like James Brolin was the right call. He’s better here than as Thanos. And it has a message about the danger and consequences of revenge.
Should they make a third? They probably will given the financial success, but I’m satisfied if it ends here.

RED SPARROW

A decent cold war spy thriller. Lots of twists and turns and it’s not hard to follow like, oh, a John le Carré novel. Jennifer Lawrence is fine as the ballerina turned Soviet asset. There’s nothing especially great here, but it’s solid. The better Cold War thriller from the past year or so is ATOMIC BLONDE. Much more stylish.
Jeremy Irons is solidly wonderful but I kept hearing Simon Gruber (DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE).
Seemed like a caricature of cold war Russians until you remember.. oh yeah.. 2016 Election meddling.

ISLE OF DOGS

Another great film from Wes Anderson. The animation is a step forward from THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX. The way the dogs’ fur moves in the wind.. the expressions and detail. It’s really spectacular in a very non-Pixar way.
This is a love letter to dogs. The only bad dogs are not really dogs, they’re robots. It’s fun with point about otherness and a commentary on internment.
There are a couple of problems involving race. The main dog Chief, goes from bad to good when he gets a bath and goes from a black dog to a white dog. I don’t think Anderson was intending it as racist, it was more of a way to identify who Chief really was. But I could see where people might have an issue. Some also have a problem with the way the Japanese characters are portrayed. I will leave that for someone else to comment on.
ISLE OF DOGS is a fun and funny ride and is very Wes Anderson. That’s usually a very good thing.

READY PLAYER ONE

Steven Spielberg returns to making a film about aspiration. That couldn’t be more welcome from where I sit. E.T., the Indiana Jones movies, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND were some of the best movies ever made. READY PLAYER ONE shoots for that type of feeling. It doesn’t always hit the mark but it does enough to make you be thankful for Spielberg.
There’s lots of fun ’80’s nostalgia for those of us who are.. um… old.
Seeing Lena Waithe in anything is a treat. The rest of the cast is ok, but Mark Rylance casts a gigantic shadow over everything because he is that much superior to the rest of the actors.
All in all it’s worth your time.

WRINKLE IN TIME

I’ve heard folks who read the book say it is a story that is impossible to turn into a movie. That’s not hard to believe. This was very disappointing given that it was directed by Ava DuVernay. Storm Reid was wonderful as Meg. But the rest of the talented cast was only ok.
Oprah as a god was a little too on point. It just felt meandering and endless which is odd considering it is under two hours. One positive is the visuals. It looks spectacular. But that feels like more of a technical achievement than a creative one.

HEARTS BEAT LOUD

This is a wonderfully charming movie. Nick Offerman as a single, widowed Dad raising a teenage daughter was perfect casting. The fantasy of him trying to hold onto his daughter by trying to start a band with her didn’t feel outrageous or weird in the least. That’s a tribute to the direction of Brett Haley and script by Haley and Marc Basch. Kiersey Clemons as his daughter is a bright shining star in the making. HEARTS BEAT LOUD is fun, touching and entertaining. It’s the small movie that is better because it is small. Definitely worth a rental.

JULIET, NAKED

This is another charming, funny movie that is centered around music. Nick Hornby (ABOUT A BOY, HIGH FIDELITY) wrote the novel and Jesse Peretz directed from a script he co-wrote with his sister Evgenia, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins. Rose Byrne is always delightful in these types of roles. Ethan Hawke as the washed up singer Tucker Crowe is perfectly cast. The best part here for me was Chris O’Dowd as Byrne’s boyfriend who is an obsessive Crowe fan. The music is great, the visuals set on the English coast are gorgeous. The story about second chances is familiar, but the take on it is fresh. This is another small movie with fine performances that is good, but just misses the mark by a hair. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, but felt it could have been a smidge better.

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