Robert Benton was no slouch (Kramer v. Kramer, Places in the Heart). Indeed, he wrote and directed one of my favorite films (Nobody’s Fool), and I could watch Paul Newman sell Tang. Throw in Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman and James Garner (and super young Reese Witherspoon and Liev Schreiber) in a noir-ish tale of an old Hollywood murder and it seems can’t miss. But miss Twilight does. Sarandon is too young for the role of the former grand dame and the love story between her and Newman is unconvincing. Worse, the mystery is just not that intriguing. Still, the picture has Newman, who is wry and world-weary in that Newman way. Hackman is fantastic, as always, and Garner is just the right mix of folksy and sinister.
As for Still of the Night, it alternates between psychological thriller and moody, smoldering romance. It is terrible at both and badly cast as well. Roy Scheider is best caustic and as a man of action, a terrible choice for a quiet, introverted psychologist. Meryl Streep as a breathy young ingenue wrapped up in a murder is all wrong. She’s many things, almost all good, but carnal and smoldering ain’t in her bag of tricks. Her performance nears a Saturday Night Live character.
The film is drab and clunky. It has aspirations to be Hitchcockian, but it lacks all of the care. The romance is preposterous, and the score is sickly sweet. And as a whodunit, the killer can really only be one person.
George Clooney’s overly meditative, end of the world film makes the initial mistake of not quite telling us what happened to the planet. Something about radiation, and since he is alone in the Arctic, we are alone with him and his flashbacks and perhaps his hallucinations as he dies of cancer. But once you get a sense of the kind of ridiculous, ass-backward people living in the future, the cause of their extinction is of no great moment. They say chickens are so stupid they’ll drown in the rain. That’s us forty years hence.
But Clooney has one last task before he perishes. He must get word to an incoming space vessel from Jupiter that the world has gone to pieces. They have been on a two year mission and soon, they will be “in range” and Clooney can tell them, “Go back to the habitable moon near Jupiter. Great danger here.”
This film is set in 2049.
Now, imagine I am Peter Finch. I want you all to stop reading, and go Google, “How long does it take to send a message to jupiter”.
Result: “approximately 35 minutes. Radio waves travelling at 300,000 km/second would take approximately 35 minutes to reach a satellite orbiting Jupiter depending on alignment, and the same time to travel back to Earth, equaling about 1.2 hours.”
But filmvetter, you might say, the radiation threat just came on so quick there was no time!!! THERE WAS NO TIME!!!!!!
Nonsense. When the ship does get “in range” of Clooney and they establish contact, a message is downloaded (ha!!!) from the wife of crew member Kyle Chandler.
In it, she states that she is being evacuated and their sons are sick.
So, this calamity took some time. Indeed, the opening scene shows continued evacuations and there is a later reference to survivors underground.
I guess in all the panic, however, no one thought, “Hey, let’s send a raven to the incoming ship from the potentially habitable moon off of Jupiter.” It’s like the president was George Costanza and someone yelled, “Fire!”
It gets worse.
In The Martian, I raved about Matt Damon’s intrepid skills when he was stranded, and I also nit-bitched about the hip slackers on the ground (“the people who work at NASA have a certain blasé “I worked in a Blockbuster and I will never wear a uniform again” mien”)
I owe the NASA staff in The Martian an apology. They were the cream of the crop compared to this lot. And while Damon was dexterous and tough, here, the crew presents as a mixture of incurious and frivolous. When they learn that life on our planet has not only changed, but that the planet is lethal, half of them somberly insist on going to their homes to face certain death. They literally abandon ship. The other half head off back to Jupiter with a badly damaged vessel minus two critical team members. But all four seem unperturbed. Where is Chuck Heston and “You maniacs! You blew it up!” when you need him?
Oh, and the two who are Jupiter-bound are Captain Daniel Oyewelo and Felicity Jones. It appears the good captain has been at it with the crew, because she is pregnant with his child! Another crew member, Tiffany Boone, throws up several times because she has to make her first space walk. And she’s not even the one who is knocked up.
Or is she?
Mind you, this was not a 20 year voyage.
It was two!!!!!!!
(A good friend did note that at least the movie progeny will be something special, as the offspring of a filmic Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.)
Alas, NASA, apparently, becomes the DMV in the future.
Ultimately, the film is not only stupid, it is depressing. In the future, we supplant bravery and common cause and sense with uber-narcissism.
The schmaltzy, arty ending is insufferable.
Adding insult to injury, there’s a crew sing-a-long to Sweet Caroline.
When I saw the original Midway in 1976, it was notable for four reasons. First, the movie was good, smartly re-creating a confusing and often complicated naval battle while inserting a family drama (a young aviator is in love – with a Japanese internee – and needs his father and high ranking Navy officer to get her out of custody). Second, the film seemed out of fashion even for its time, loaded with classic movie stars like Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Glenn Ford, Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, and Robert Wagner, and, of course, Charlton Heston. Third, the film, like two contemporaries, Rollercoaster and Earthquake, was presented inSensurround (I wonder if Heston, the lead in Earthquake, was the only actor to ever have parts in two Sensurround movies). For the uninitiated, Sensurround was a gimmick (like Smell-o-Vision) where theaters installed large, low frequency, horn-loaded speakers, so every time a bomb dropped on screen, the entire theater shook. That was pretty cool. Lastly, when I saw the picture, some kids were throwing popcorn and goofing around in the front row, and an older man came down and picked up one of the boys by his shirt, shook him violently, and then told him to “shut the hell up.“ That was really cool.
The remake is an absolute abomination. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with more clumsy exposition. Just one example. Paraphrasing, Admiral Halsey (Dennis Quaid) sits on an aircraft carrier and says to his aide, “See that man down there. That’s Doolittle. He’s one of the greatest pilots ever. He’s going to bomb Tokyo and because he won’t have enough fuel to get back, he will have to ditch his plane in China.”
And regrettably, the aide does not answer, “ I know dipshit. I was in the meeting. Do you think I’m deaf?”
If the dialogue is not overt, it is so corny as to make you wince. A taste:
Dick Best: I don’t know how to lead these men. Ann Best: They’ll follow you anywhere.
Wade McCluskey: Men like Dick Best are the reason we’re going to win this war.
Wade McClusky:Every time we go up in one of those planes, there’s a chance we won’t come back. Now, it’s hard to follow a man who doesn’t know that. Or even worse, doesn’t care.
Dick Best: [to his men] I’m not going to sugarcoat it, boys. Nobody thinks we can go toe-to-toe with the Japanese. Not in a fair fight. Today, we’re going to be big underdogs. Me? I think the men in this room can fly with anyone. Maybe that’s because I’m a cocky son of a b**ch. But it’s also because I’ve seen what you can do. You’re ready for this.
Clarence Dickinson:We’re going to give them a shellacking.
William ‘Bull’ Halsey: God bless those boys. Turns out all they needed was a fair fight.
Worse, as delivered by the actors in this Roland Emmerich crap-pile, the lines come of as perfunctory and insincere. Henry Fonda as Admiral Nimitz seemed to give a big line his absolute all. Woody Harrelson as Nimitz sounds somewhere between talking to Sam and Dianne at Cheers and late for a dinner reservation. Apropos for a film that reduces a historical and tide-turning naval engagement to a commercial for what I expect will be a first-person shooter/flier video game.
Also, the Naval personnel are so spot clean and well coiffed they look like cast members in Jersey Boys. Or 1/5 of the Village People. Or the kid on a Cracker Jack box.
Finally, not only is the picture anachronistic, with characters saying things straight out of 2020, but it even has a modern message at the end.
Elizabeth Moss plays a Courtney Love/Patti Smith-type frontwoman for Something She, a band she creates and then destroys through narcissistic, destructive, drug-fueled misbehavior. We are treated to her downfall in five separate scenes at varying intervals in her career. There’s not one scene that is not uncomfortable, Moss’ overacting is over indulged (my wife says she doesn’t really have facial expressions so much as different sneers), her character’s musical talent is not evident (Something She’s music sucks) so the entire endeavor feels like punishment, and it ends with some kind of cringe-worthy, unpersuasive, girl power mumbo-jumbo. Just awful.
A colossal failure, saggy, haphazard, wholly disinterested in its own mystery, and unforgivably unscary. The boys (and one girl) are back in the town of Derry because our favorite clown has returned after 27 years to feast. In order to consign him to the depths once again, they have to undergo torments/flashbacks individually and then as a group. Why is poorly explained (something about a ritual and native Americans in the nearby woods).
The script has no keys to locks, no trail of breadcrumbs, no rules and hence, holds no interest. The picture doesn’t hold together or tie up and drags interminably at over 2 and a half hours. On the upside, Gollum from Lord of the Rings makes an appearance, we get to see Bill Hader vomit (twice!) and true love and belief in yourself conquers all.
I had the misfortune of catching half of Cate Blanchett’s fun, sumptuous and engaging Elizabeth recently. The comparison makes this turdfest even more unbearable.
Sairose Ronan is fiery, wild eyed, and indignant as Mary Queen of Scots, perpetually perturbed and always speechifying. Margot Robbie is her nemesis Elizabeth, but Robbie appears way out her depth. She acts like she’s in a high school production.
The performances, however, are the least of this picture’s woes.
The script is charmless and dull. Intrigue has no deftness. People just argue briefly, declare and then act.
The lone battle scene is so badly handled, you don’t know what the hell is happening. It presents like kids playing war in the backyard.
The script is also obsessed with its feminist hot take, particularly with Mary, who is put-upon by a man’s world and way ahead of the curve. Mary’s ladies in waiting are like The View, and Mary is forced to rape her homosexual husband (very unconvincingly) to have an heir. John Knox inveighs against Mary, not because she was a Catholic, but because she was a damnable woman who enjoyed sins of the flesh (he calls her “whore of Babylon”, “strumpet” and “harlot” in one speech). We even get to see Mary menstruate.
Elizabeth gets in on the act as well, hectoring her male advisors with “we could do well worse” than Mary as queen and bemoaning Mary’s fate with “How cruel men are.”
Girl power, apparently, trumps Power power.
Indeed, when they eventually meet, there is no enmity. Just a couple of gals dishing on inequity, the glass ceiling and the unfairness of it all.
Until Mary gets wild-eyed and entitled and the girl power card loses its oomph.
Then, bitches get stitches and Mary is locked away, eventually to be beheaded.
The writer secures revenge in the post-script, however, lording Mary’s fertility over Elizabeth’s mere 44 year reign.
Modernity infects this dog in many other ways. When Mary’s gay attendant stops just short of breaking into a show tune, and pulls himself up short, the modern and reformed Catholic soothes him with a “be whoever you wish to be with us” (when he sleeps with Mary’s husband, kneels before her and begs for forgiveness, she soothes him again – “you have not betrayed your nature”). Before battle, she assures one of her Protestant soldiers that should they die, they will all see the same God.
Best line. “I will not become a lady Henry VIII dispensing husbands as he did wives.“
Terrible, excessive, a yawning blot of a movie. I can’t get enough. From the opening scene, where our protagonist is shown as a boy, watching his father fight a fire, and his father blows up, in slo-mo, before his eyes, and the old man’s fire chief hat rattles at his feet, to the sobering realization that this boy has grown up to be a firefighter himself. Verklempt.
Better, the boy grows up to be a male model firefighter (in the guise of Billy Baldwin, straight out of Zoolander) who gets the rookie treatment (“wash my socks, cook my food, hey, stand in front of this thingie I call a firehouse . . . rook”) and his greatest tormentor is Kurt Russell, his older brother, who says things like “The only problem is that in this job is there’s just no place to hide. It’s not like having a bad day selling log cabins. You have a bad day here and somebody dies… and that’s just not fucking good enough.”
Which is an awesome line and can be replicated in all professions every day.
Of course, Baldwin looks like he couldn’t lift an IPhone much lest hoist a hose, but he does have a few humdingers himself. Like “you did it man. You did it all the way Steven, you were really a hero today.” Allowing Russell to retort, ” Brian… its not about being a hero. I went in because there was a kid up there. You know, I just, I do what I do because that’s my way. And it was Dad’s way. Maybe it’s not everybody’s way. ”
Which can also be replicated in all professions every day, but it helps if you’re talking to your brother.
It’s not all sweet, sweet perfection. Baldwin’s love scene with a Jennifer Jason Leigh is, uh, unconvincing. But it is on top of a fire truck and has the feel of a Whitesnake video.
Basically, this is a two hour fellating of the brawn, brio and body odor of American firefighters, scored by whoever did Triumph of the Will (okay, too much, but I was close – it’s Hans Zimmer). There is also a mystery stitched in this cupcake, and when solved, it is not just preposterous, it defies the laws of physics.
There is only one explanation-Ron Howard fell in love with a firefighter and made him a valentine.
Yes, yes. I have no one but myself to blame. It’s like eating 6 Zingers and expressing displeasure at the ensuing bloat and shame. But there is awful, and then there is awful on just an entirely different level.
When I was watching Mission Impossible on the IMAX, I saw the preview for The Meg and thought, “A shark the size of a tug boat!? When he eats bathers, they’ll be like krill. What can go wrong?” And fronted by Jason Statham? As a friend mused, “How is he going to be able to drive a car into the mouth of the shark?”
I expected camp, calamity and chaos. I got a dead-straight, cookie-cutter snoozer that still managed to entertain, only because the film proved to be so bizarre. I’ve concluded it was written by someone who just learned English and directed by someone under the influence of Quaaludes. I have to say, I enjoyed it, even though:
The lead actress, Li BingBing, is so bad, she’s good. She is beautiful, but her acting chops can be best equated to the work of Siri. I laughed loud and often.
The comic relief, Page Kennedy, is almost as bad. It’s not that he can’t act, but as the sassy, African-American, tell-it like it is, I hate the water stereotype, he was given an impossible task. Be Kevin Hart. He’s not Kevin Hart. He’s not Gary Hart.
Statham seems like he was actually never present for filming. I mean, he’s there, but his mannerisms suggest that he’s acting to a green screen.
Statham’s first 15 lines reference beer. He has to be coaxed to risk the depths “one last time” after his last dive ruined him. And he is coaxed from some backwater Thai sea town bar, where he drinks a lot of beer and licks his wounds. And apparently, talks a lot about about beer. And offers everyone beer. I have never seen the beer Statham is hawking, but I assume it is Asian, as the film is up to $150 million globally (and $60 million domestic).
The driver – the reason Statham is licking his wounds in the bar until he is called upon to perform “one last time” – is nonsensical. The film opens with Statham and two fellow rescuers extricating survivors of a downed nuclear submarine from the ocean floor. Statham has to make a split second decision when his fellow rescuers are trapped – go back to save them, or shove off. He shoves off. Now, there would be conflict if we, the audience, never learn the fate of the fellow rescuers. Or better, we are provided information that they died a slow, long harrowing death. But in The Meg, 2 seconds after Statham makes his fateful decision, the subs blows up. So, he was right. Verifiably, provably correct. And yet, he is pilloried.
BingBing has a child, a precocious sweetheart of a daughter, who stays with her on the underwater research center. The Meg appears at that center. Thereafter, for some unknown reason, the child is brought along on almost every mission.
That said, I don’t think the child was in any real danger, because people are not eaten like krill. In fact, this picture has a body count just north of Murder on the Orient Express.
But the visuals, you say. The CGI! They must have made it worthwhile. Unfortunately, no. Most of this flick looked like it as filmed in the shallows of Rockaway Beach.
Almost everything wrong with modern cinema is exhibited in the first five minutes of this 2016 loose remake. The bad guy (Peter Sarsgaard) arrives like Lex Luthor to plague a town, the surrounding land of which he needs to rape, er, mine. He tortures a child, burns a church, shoots an unarmed man in front of his wife, and then, one of his men throws an axe into the back of a fleeing woman churchgoer. That’s what the filmmakers believe is necessary for you to give a shit.
It ain’t nearly enough.
It’s an execrable film. The score is excessive and deafening. The western garb is better suited to a Manhattan runway. The heroes escape no demons, and no one ever misses a shot. Everyone is twirling a gun or a knife or a mustache. Marvel movies have more depth and gravitas. Video games carry greater danger.
The film is plotted by a moron. In a seminal scene, Chris Pratt (aka, Billy Rocks, I shit you not) takes all of the money from a poker table, yet within 15 minutes, he miraculously does not have the five dollars to buy back his own horse. Thus, he is enticed by Denzel Washington to save the town! He really needs that horse.
Speaking of Pratt, he is fundamentally, constitutionally unserious and insubstantial. He’s perfect for light, wiseacre comedy. He can’t do much else and when he tries the hard stare, Lord, is it painful.
Five more dummies sign up for the suicide mission because, well, just because. I suppose some inducement comes in the form of a frontier gal whose husband was shot in front of her. It is her pitiful story that serves to secure Washington‘s agreement to save the town. Thankfully, she shows cleavage throughout, even though she tells Washington, “I am just a simple farm woman.“
After Washington and Pratt, we get syrupy Southerner Ethan Hawke (swear to God, his name is Goodnight Robicheaux, and he had “23 confirmed kills at Antietam” – ha ha ha ha ha), Vincent D’Onofrio (he comes off like Steinbeck’s Lenny had he become a bounty hunter), the inevitable Indian (Martin Sensmeier as Red Harvest, who is mystical, perfectly painted and manicured, and accompanied by his own tom-tom score), and two other total nobodies, all of whom join up for similarly unexplained reasons. The third thing Washington says to Red Harvest is, “we go to fight wicked men. Probably we all die.“ The Indian wordlessly and naturally joins up. Again, Washington did bring the gal with the ample bosom to this recruitment meeting. It is all I can figure.
Wait. First, Red Harvest (which upon reflection sounds like a maize-based cereal rather than a fearsome warrior) cuts the heart out of a deer and makes Washington eat it. Then he joins up. And later, kills a bad guy Indian, to whom he says, “You’re a disgrace.” That’s the Indian way.
Of course, we learn in the end that Washington has a personal score to settle. Because Sarsgaard had men rape and murder his homesteader mother and sisters. Which makes the recruitment effort by the buxom farm woman superfluous, as Washington should have been spending his every waking moment hunting Sarsgaard. Or, Washington is just kind of a flighty pussy.
The re-creation of the famous James Coburn knife scene is nothing less than an abortion, but thankfully, it is the only thing the filmmakers try and lift from the original, and accordingly, the only thing defensible about this movie.
Wow. Somebody remade the goddawful Sisters. But instead of unfunny sisters, it is unfunny moms. A lot of slo-mo partying, over use of the words “tits” and “vagina” by women – FOR WOMEN- some celebs (JJ Watt, Martha Stewart), and a weird veering between cartoonish and melodramatic. In the midst of this asinine film, we get real tears from Mila Kunis’ daughter and an alt-something duet as defeated Mom Kunis breaks down JUST BEFORE THE BIG PTA VOTE! But don’t worry. She gives a big speech to all the other moms and . . . well, I won’t spoil it. But one word: uplifting.