Monday, 03 October 2022 12:42

This gentleman did not prefer ‘Blonde’

Few film genres are as well-worn as the biopic. We’ve been getting movies that offer takes on the life stories of real people pretty much since we’ve been getting movies. And when you’ve got a style of film that has been around for this long – everything from moment-in-time to cradle-to-grave – well … it can be tough to stand out.

And sometimes, even when you do stand out, it’s for the wrong reasons.

Andrew Dominik’s new film “Blonde” – currently streaming on Netflix – is one such standout. Adapted by Dominik from the 2000 Joyce Carol Oates fictionalized biography of the same name, it purports to tell the story (or A story, anyway) about the silver screen legend Marilyn Monroe. And in its way, it does that, taking us from her troubled childhood through her Hollywood ebbs and flows and her tumultuous personal life all the way to her tragic too-soon end.

The manner in which it does that, however, is … complicated.

The story plays out in a fractured and haphazard manner, both narratively and stylistically. We move through time in fits and starts, staying in some places too long and blurring past others. There are flashbacks upon flashbacks and frequent insertions of surreality. The aesthetics of the film wander with no seeming rhyme or reason, shifting from black and white to flashes of color at random and changing aspect ratios seemingly on a whim.

It's an undeniably bold effort – one that includes some exceptional performances, including by Ana de Armas in the lead – but that boldness seems utterly untempered by any mitigating influence. The result is a shaggy and meandering film whose staggering 167-minute runtime is marked by extended stretches that could be (and should have been) excised with little to no impact on the overall experience of the film.

Published in Movies

Haven’t you ever thought that the self-help and wellness realm is just a little … sinister?

We live in a world where the notion of improving one’s health – physical, emotional or otherwise – has become a billion-dollar industry. Yet we ALSO live in a world where, if there’s a way to make money through duplicitous and/or unsavory means, someone will do so.

Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing a lot of creative work that addresses that particular slice of the self-actualization pie.

The latest offering along those lines is “Nine Perfect Strangers,” the new limited series from Hulu. Created by John Henry Butterworth and television icon David E. Kelley and based on the 2018 novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, the show offers a look at a secretive high-end wellness retreat that – surprise! – might be considerably more than it appears to be.

With an absolutely stacked cast – Nicole Kidman leads the way, but there are exceptional talents scattered all over the call sheet – and a setting that looks both bucolic and expensive, the show has a lot going for it. And when you toss some weird and mysterious narrative developments into the mix, well … you’ve got something.

I’ll put it this way: for the most part, “Nine Perfect Strangers” gets the dosage just right.

Published in Buzz

We might have passed the point of no return regarding superhero cinema.

Yes, there are plenty of folks who would argue that we long ago reached cultural saturation when it comes to superhero movies. But in the aftermath of the Snyder Cut and with multiple MCU offerings on the immediate horizon – plus the wide swath of recent and forthcoming streaming series drawing from superpowered source material both well-known and obscure – well … it’s a lot, not all of it good.

And this is coming from someone who LOVES this stuff.

Netflix’s latest foray into the realm of the superheroic is “Thunder Force,” a new film written and directed by Ben Falcone and starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. It’s an effort to play the tropes for laughs and have some fun with the foibles inherent to the genre, relying heavily on the talents of its cast to carry the day.

It doesn’t quite work out the way they might have hoped.

What so many of these filmmakers forget is that while spectacle is at the forefront with superhero films, the story still matters. Without an engaging narrative, all we’re left with is a bunch of CGI nonsense that is difficult to invest in. And no matter how hard the actors try, they can’t salvage what ultimately becomes an effort to turn 45 minutes of story into 100-plus minutes of movie.

Published in Movies
Monday, 30 November 2020 14:47

‘Superintelligence’ not too bright

Creative collaborations between couples can be a wonderful thing. Two people taking advantage of their personal connection to enhance their creative work has vast potential. We’ve seen it a million times at the movies – think Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach or Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, with one member of the pairing in front of the camera and the other behind.

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have this sort of collaborative relationship. Their latest team-up – their fourth with McCarthy starring and Falcone directing – is “Superintelligence,” currently streaming on HBO Max. However, this particular pairing, while robust in quantity, doesn’t quite live up to some of the others as far as quality is concerned.

This new film, the story of a newly self-aware AI deciding to use the most average person in the world to determine the ultimate fate of humanity, is a fairly lukewarm effort. The characterizations are thin and the story is needlessly convoluted, and while there are a handful of decent jokes and moments of physical comedy, the majority of the humor is built on a rickety foundation of pop culture references and overlong bits. McCarthy’s charm keeps it from completely collapsing, but her talents aren’t enough to fully salvage the experience.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:51

Stop and smell the flowers with ‘Ferdinand’

Retelling of children’s classic offers sweet family fun

Published in Movies


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