Month: February 2018

DVD Review – Camelot (1982)

Category : DVD Review

Director: Marty Callner

Starring: Richard Harris, Meg Bussert, Richard Muenz

Year: 1982

In 1960, Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot opened on Broadway and ran for 873 performances.  Based on the classic T.H. White novel The Once and Future King, this bold musical would go on to have a U.S. tour and appear on stage in London, but it wasn’t done just yet.  In 1967, there was a film version adapted for the screen starring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave, which revitalized the show and led to a revival of the stage version in 1980.  In 1982, a live performance was captured on tape at the Winter Garden Theater in Manhattan, which is how we come to this DVD and a rare opportunity to revisit this lovely musical.

The Movie

The story of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table is well known, based on British legend that is most likely one part rough reality, one part pure fantasy.  In this version of the story, we meet Arthur when he is a young king, unsuited to the job and needling at being married to a woman that he has never met, a princess named Guenevere.  His faithful teacher is Merlin, a wizard who is living backward in time, a wise man who knows all the answers, but might not know exactly when to share them.  Merlin is taken from Arthur just when he is needed most, when Arthur meets and falls in love with his destined bride.

Guenevere is afraid of missing out on her maidenhood, a time of fancy and fun that she will never know, being married to the greatest king in all the land instead.  But when she meets a young man whose identity she doesn’t at first know, she falls in love, and realizes that her dreams are about to come true.  She marries Arthur and the pair create a home in Camelot, a place of wonder and glory where love fills the halls.  Arthur’s vision of a peaceful England where knights fight for right, not for might, is becoming a reality, especially with the addition of the noble Lancelot, a man whose deeds are too amazing to be believed, and unfortunately too attractive to be denied.

Lerner & Loewe were coming off of an enormous success in My Fair Lady when they launched Camelot, so the pressure was on and the expectations were high.  Their followup wasn’t as big a smash as their previous hit, nor was the film version as beloved, but for my money I’d choose Arthur Pendragon over Eliza Doolittle any day.  So would John F. Kennedy; he was a huge fan of the musical, it was his favorite album, and to this day we refer to his presidency as Camelot, in part because of the ideals he stood for, but also because this show was like a background soundtrack for his life.

Watching this version is a very unique experience, because we are essentially audience members for a live performance, a chance like that, to go back in time, to me that can’t be oversold.  It’s a sketchy recording for sure, you won’t expect more, but that just helps lend an air of authenticity to the whole thing.  It’s just a pretty show, with such nice music; you wouldn’t call it perfect or a masterpiece, it’s too simple for that, the songs are too easy to sing.  Richard Harris isn’t actually a strong singer at all, but he doesn’t really need to be, and I’m not sure why more community theatres don’t do this play; perhaps it’s a rights issue.  But you should enjoy this treat at least once in your life; it’s full of iconic music and wonderful costumes, a tragic drama to rival Shakespeare but with a comfortable quality that makes it seem almost home made.


Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, originally airing on HBO, and then released on tape, the video quality of this DVD is exactly as awful as you’d imagine, but that’s absolutely no one’s fault.  It’s a live recording of a play in the 80s; you’ll understand when the picture is terrible and you have to constantly rub your eyes, look away, and remind yourself that real life doesn’t look this fuzzy.

Audio – The disc was done in English, but there are no sound options or subtitles.  The audio is poor, of course, but without the echoing you might expect, and not too bad if you put it in context.  The music of the show is a major highlight, so enjoy that, just don’t expect clear, crisp sound.

Extras – In the main menu, the film can be played all at once or parceled out into three acts.  Also, there is an Image Gallery that takes 2 minutes to cycle through.  That’s it for the special features.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  A strong recommendation for this feature will have to come with some asterisks, out of necessity.  One would be that you have to accept thatis a recording of a play; it feels very different from an actual film.  The other would be that you have to love live theatre, especially musicals that aren’t Les Mis or Phantom, but are instead something much sweeter and easier to consume.  This movie is a good representation of the production, so go in with an open mind, pretending that you’re being transported back in time, and you’ll be alright.  The video is bad, obviously, the sound isn’t much better, there aren’t any real bonus features, so don’t count on any technical marvels.  Enjoy Camelot for what it is, have the songs stuck in your head for days, don’t be too hard on it, relive a night on the town that you may not even have been alive for.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay



Movie Review – Mute

Category : Movie Review

Director: Duncan Jones

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux

Year: 2018

Duncan Jones has directed four films: Moon, Source Code, Warcraft, and Mute.  He also wrote them, except Source Code, so there’s no denying that he has talent, but his latest movie isn’t a very good display of that fact.  Moon was so cool; simple, subtle, compelling, heartfelt, and a great example of the modern sci-fi/drama genre.  Mute takes place in the same universe, but lacks all the qualities that made Jones’ first project so successful.  Its star doesn’t speak, which is an interesting gimmick, but one that gets old very fast.  Its costar is a known goofball, which is hard to get over.  And its entire plot banks on the fact that you’re extremely caffeinated and easily excited by tiny details that never add up to a story worth watching.

Leo is a mute bartender, never regaining his voice after a boating/swimming accident when he was a child.  His family was strict Amish, so they let God take healing his wound in hand, and apparently God had better things to do.  Now, as a grown man, Leo works in a bar in Berlin, where, 40 years in our future, things are as messed up as they were 30 years in our past.  His girlfriend, Naadirah, works alongside him as a cocktail waitress, but she’s involved in something sinister that she can’t tell Leo about, knowing how stridently he keeps to the straight and narrow path.  When she goes missing, no one is safe from his wrath and his investigation, including two underworld surgeons named Bill and Duck, a pair of men with more than their fair share of secrets.

Netflix is really pissing me off lately.  They looked to be turning the corner, leaving middling dramodies behind for much more solid fare, like Win It All, War Machine, The Meyerowitz Stories, Mudbound.  But then came Bright, Cloverfield Paradox, and now Mute, movies that are now below this production company, or at least should be.  While at the same time, Godless, The Polka King, and A Futile and Stupid Gesture were all super, so I don’t know what to think.  Maybe Netflix simply isn’t to be trusted yet; they definitely didn’t earn any with this flop.  Mute is what happens when someone with the skill of What Happened to Monday thinks they can pull off Blade Runner 2049, but they really can’t, and that’s not a major knock on Jones, he just got in over his head.  The movie is pointless, plotless, boring, too much happens, and not enough happens; it’s a sticky mess, and unfortunately it has nothing to do with Moon.  Netflix will try again, they’ll do better, and so will Jones; I guess we’ll just have to be patient.

My rating: ☆ ☆


Movie Review – Moon

Category : Movie Review

Director: Duncan Jones

Starring: Sam Rockwell

Year: 2009

With all the talk circling around Sam Rockwell’s performance in Three Billboards and his first Oscar nomination, I’m over here yelling that this most recent role is nowhere near his strongest, and should only prompt us to look back to the past, not offer awards in the present.  For example, his Wild Bill in The Green Mile is something other-wordly, and should be recognized as so.  Also, in the lesser-seen The Way Way Back, Rockwell plays up the polar opposite to smashing success.  He’s an incredibly versatile actor, and that fact is on display perhaps no more clearly than in Moon, a tricky sci-fi experience that demands little from CGI but loads of talent from basically the only human involved.

In the recent future, Earth will begin to run out of resources and fuels, but luckily Lunar Industries is there to save the day.  They mine the far side of the moon, sending back precious gases trapped in the rocky surface that will serve to keep the world’s lights on.  Alone in a tech station near the harvesting machines is Sam Bell, a man trained in the operation of the robots.  He has signed a three-year contract to live three days away from his home, but it feels much further than that.  And when he crashes his moon rover, the feeling of isolation gets even worse.  He isn’t completely alone though, there’s GERTY, his faithful computer system, and perhaps there is someone else, a mysterious man who appeared right after the accident, although Sam has absolutely no idea from where.

Rockwell is the only real actor in the film, with a few periphery characters hovering around but making no impact.  There’s also Kevin Spacey, but he’s just a voice in a computer, though he’s excellent as always anyway.  This might be the first time I’ve watched him in a film since the assault allegations; I’ll just choose to ignore that for the purpose of this review.  The movie is all about Rockwell anyway, and he leaves nothing in the tank, he gives us everything he’s got with this character.  The sci-fi element is almost secondary, with a little technology and some effects, but they seem pretty trivial and even a little low-budget; it’s better to focus on the story, which is really fascinating.  The “twist” comes early, the rest is simply a clinic on situational drama, and if for some reason you missed Moon when it came out, you need to get that fixed.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Review – The Godfather: Part III

Category : Movie Review

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Franc D’Ambrosio

Year: 1990

As big, powerful, successful, and special as The Godfather and the The Godfather: Part II were and still are, The Godfather: Part III is equally horrific.  Released sixteen years after the second in the franchise, it was an obvious ploy to capitalize on the fame of the first, and audiences might even have been eager to hear more about the Corleones, no one would blame them.  Shockingly, the film was nominated for seven Oscars, SEVEN, although it didn’t win a single one.  It seems like a kind and appreciative nod from the Academy, for Coppola’s classics that came before, but I think pretending like Part III was anything other than an embarrassing disaster is just unkind.

How the years have flown by, but my how people stay the same.  Back in New York, the Corleone family has sold all its interests in the casinos world and is attempting to become somewhat legitimate, building a Catholic charity run by Michael’s daughter Mary, and keeping out of mafia-related problems.  Michael’s big plan is to finance the Vatican’s European interests, thus making himself the richest man in the world; pretty lofty, but if anyone can do it.  Trouble comes in the form of Joey Zasa, a two-bit drug dealer who wants in on the action and who is being bankrolled by some mysterious power higher up.  Sonny’s illegitimate boy Vinny will protect Michael from this goon, but once the gears of war start spinning, it’s hard to slow them down.

Perhaps they waited too long to make the third, perhaps it never needed to be made, perhaps the stars simply didn’t align; no matter the reason, Part III is a complete, disgraceful failure.  How anyone could think otherwise is a head-scratcher to me; it’s plain awful through and through.  First, it feels like a Silk Stockings episode, complete with Bridget Fonda in a tiny role that feels ridiculous and Andy Garcia dressed in silk robes.  But the biggest problem is Sofia Coppola, who I could write a novel about, describing how her acting killed my soul.  She’s the director’s daughter, she stepped in at the last minute, she can’t act, it’s obvious, unnerving nepotism, and she destroyed any credibility the film might have been able to build.  I can’t put the blame solely on her shoulders though; Pacino was bad, Diane Keaton was as well, no surprise, there was no one to step up and fix things (Sonny, Tom, Fredo), so the entire plot fell apart while being riddled with F-list acting.  To top it all off, the story was mind-numbingly boring and didn’t contain one original idea.  The very last big scene held such raw emotion that it almost saved the day, but maybe all it really did was save the film but being a one-star dud.  I get upset with the Academy sometimes for their choices; this one takes the cake, and should serve as a reminder to not trust anyone’s cinematic taste but your own.

My rating: ☆ ☆



Movie Review – The Godfather: Part II

Category : Movie Review

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall

Year: 1974

Two and a half years after The Godfather made history, after it was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, Part II was released, and brought home 11 nominations itself to match.  This second installment was broken into two parts, the past and the present, weaved together to make one spectacular film.  For my money, Part II is slightly better than Part I, but only slightly, as both are excellent and both are regarded as perhaps the best movies ever made.  IMDb ranks them as #2 and #3 all time, behind only The Shawshank Redemption and with The Dark Knight tapping on the shoulder; hard to argue against that, personal preferences aside.  Coppola returned with a bang to give us more from this world, more blood, more money, more betrayals, and more Corleone magic.

The Godfather has died, as has his eldest son, leaving Michael in charge of the family.  Operations have moved to Nevada, as power switches from the streets into the aisles of the casinos, where money can be made hand over fist.  But an attempt on Michael’s life, in his very home, with his wife and kids present, sends the delicate balance of the underworld into an incredible uproar.  The Corleones are attempting a massive deal with Jewish investor Hyman Roth and the Cuban government, a relationship that will develop a lawful criminality that will deliver pure freedom to the any mobster who gets in on the ground floor.  But this assassination attempt may foul the works, as Michael keeps the deal alive while searching for the rat in his own walls at the same time.

If this movie is an improvement over the the first, which many would argue against, it’s because of a couple things, which I’m happy to point out.  One is the backstory of Vito Corleone, played by Robert De Niro, a role that didn’t require his to speak much but for which he still won an Oscar.  It’s awesome to see old Sicily, Vito’s criminal beginnings in NYC, the family he supports by way of the gun, and also how this plot is pieced together throughout the modern one.  The second incredible aspect to this film is the way it ends, with a finality that simply feels amazing.  Lastly, the music; my god.  It’s a phenomenal score, it won the Oscar, it can’t be overstated, and it literally makes the movie.  Pacino is great as maturing Michael, Duvall is a spectacular straight man once again, and I’ll still always love Fredo; what a tricky character.  I could do without Diane Keaton and Talia Shire, but that’s what it is and doesn’t detract too much.  Coming in at 200 minutes, watching is an investment, but it’s one worth making.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Review – The Godfather

Category : Movie Review

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

Year: 1972

Almost no film in cinematic history is bigger than The Godfather, in either pure success or in scope of story.  Almost 36 years old, it’s a movie that still ranks at the top of most lists, with every other feature scurrying at its feet trying to reach the level it skyrocketed to with such ease.  It’s almost like the Beatles; they may not be your favorite band, but you know a ton of their songs, and you respect them for what they did, knowing that they’ll always be the pinnacle we look up to.  That’s the way it is with The Godfather, there will never be another quite like it, no matter how harm filmmakers try.  It may not be perfect, but it is the definition of ‘iconic’, and it will last for as long as we remember movies.

The Corleone mafia runs New York the way the old regimes used to run Sicily; with a firm grip on its family and a choke hold on the rest of the world.  Don Vito Corleone, the Godfather, is a man you do not cross, or you invariably wind up dead.  You can ask him for favors, he will grant them, nothing is beyond his reach, but he will call upon you one day to return the kindness, and you had better not say no.  Vito’s three sons and one daughter are the apples of his eye, and he will do anything to protect them; Sonny, Fredo, Michael, Connie.  But when a hit is put out on the Godfather himself, when the pieces rise up to defeat the chess master, his children will be the ones to protect him, with Michael, the youngest son, rising to the occasion to take over the family business.

I assume most people have seen The Godfather, but I think the number of people who have caught parts on TV and have never sat down to experience the entire thing might be larger than we think.  Asked to give it a shot now, to really focus for 170 minutes on a movie from the 70s about gangsters, I wonder how many would decline, how many would assume that the story would be too boring; well-made, but boring.  I just have a feeling that this contingent exists, but they have very little to worry about; this film absolutely does not disappoint, it’s #1 for a reason, and on the off chance that you have been skeptical before, I nudge you to give it a shot.  Classic scene after classic scene, too many excellent, Italian characters to count, murder plots, revenge killings, risings to power; I have never read the Mario Puzo book, but I assume this movie does it total justice.  A young Al Pacino is a rising star, Robert Duvall plays Tom Hagen to perfection, and I’ll always love Fredo, he’s a fascinating character, especially as the saga continues.  Don’t shy away from Coppola’s masterwork; its vision will knock your socks off and the bandwagon always has room for one more.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



DVD Review – The Square

Category : DVD Review

Director: Ruben Ostlund

Starring: Claes Bang

Year: 2017

I have never seen a film quite like The Square, and perhaps that feeling is bolstered by how little I was prepared for it.  I knew it was a talked-about foreign film, I heard Elizabeth Moss’s name, and I saw that it was 140 minutes long, and so I guess I made a bunch of assumptions that held me back from making it a priority on my list.  But what I didn’t know turned out to be so much more important.  I didn’t know that this was Ostlund’s next feature after the excellent Force Majeure, I didn’t know that Moss and every other actor were merely supporting, and I didn’t know that the story would be the exact level of bonkers that I’ve been enjoying all year, from Mother! to Sacred Deer, another in a delightful trend of wacky movies that make remarkable points through their pure, enriched intensity.

The Movie

Christian, the curator of a Swedish contemporary art museum, is coming face to face with decisions of character and of direction that will completely alter his personality and his path. A controversial new exhibit is coming to the museum, the Square, a place of empathy and helpfulness by advertisement, but also a stunning juxtaposition to the world outside its small borders. This exhibit acts as a catalyst, but the events in Christian’s personal life reflect the battle going on within each of us. His wallet is stolen; how will he react. He sleeps with a journalist; how will he treat her. He gives to a beggar; how far will he go. The bizarre events of the film are as unpredictable as they are hilarious, but they have a darker side as well, one that we typically don’t choose to see.

Set against a backdrop of the kind of art that is often seen but rarely appreciated, the plot takes on a similar quality; every day conversation and awkward moments that are part of our typical lives but that aren’t often shown on screen.  These more mundane pieces of reality are mixed in with the more insane experiences in a person’s life, creating a timeline for Christian that is a mix between boring and completely unexpected.  Thrown in, seemingly at random, is one of the most captivating movie moments of the year, the Monkey Man, and what he signifies might be the strongest message the film has to offer.  Prepare yourself for something strange, but also something strangely important.

This is one of those movies that the more I think about the more I like, that I want to revisit again to enjoy, but that I also want others to see so I can tell if I’ve gone insane or if it actually is that good.  I’m relieved that it was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar; maybe I’m not that original after all, maybe everyone recognizes that The Square may be tremendously weird but that it is also simply tremendous.  Partly in Swedish, partly in English, it’s a roller coaster ride of physical sensations and existential musings, an uncomfortable plot that’s funny because it’s true.  Bang plays Christian to perfection, other characters swirling around him as he sinks deeper into the whirlpool of his conscience, and in the end you completely understand what he just went through because you went through it right alongside him.

It’s a film that needs to be labelled as “not for everyone” if ever a film did, not because of content exactly, perhaps because of its lack of content instead.  There is a story, there are reasons to view from point A to point B, but mixed in are some of the most radical scenes you’ll see this season, unpredictable happenings that take the movie to another, existential level.  The plot slides along, but the people Christian meets become as important as his actions, and it’s the way they weave into his narrative that gives the movie its mood and its humor.  Because The Square is a funny film, it’s hilarious at times, but often uncomfortably so.  The entire experience is uncanny and unconventional, but that’s exactly what makes it great.


Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (Widescreen) and shot using an Arri Alexa XT camera with Zeiss Master Prime lenses, the video quality of the DVD is quite nice, without being so impressive that you’ll want to buy simply for the visual excellence.  The cinematography is stunning, based heavily on art and architecture, instead of the conventional landscapes and sunsets.

Audio – The disc was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, with subtitle choices in English, English SDH, or Spanish.  The film is Swedish and so that language is spoken throughout, with subtitles for American audiences, but it also switches to English quite often.  The duel languages work well, the sound quality holds its own, and so the audio won’t disappoint.

Extras – There are a few special features on the DVD, if you’re looking for a bit more from this story.  Behind the Monkey Man Scene is a 12-minute look at the iconic moment.  Casting Tapes are available to view from many of the cast members.  A Behind-the-scenes Photo Gallery can be accessed here.  And there are many previews as a bonus, including a theatrical trailer for the film and a look at other Magnolia features.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  This recommendation comes with some hesitance, not because I am unsure of my own opinion of the film, but because it’s extremely hard to guess how other audiences might react.  As I said before, there isn’t a ton of mature content, the story is not so out there that I need to warn people away, it’s not five hours of paint splatters and sad faces.  It’s simply a higher level of expression circling around a plot that’s wacky at its core, without too many standard American elements, which always make us feel a little better.  The video is very nice, the audio holds its own, there are some extras on the disc; you won’t be let down hard by the technical aspects.  But if you are to be sucked in, it will be by the absurdity and the audacity on display, not by any one feature that you can point to.  So come for a unique viewing; stay because it’s a success.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay



Movie Review – There Will Be Blood

Category : Movie Review

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds

Year: 2007

In the last fifteen years, I have rated only four films as 10/10: Love Actually, WALL-E, Black Swan, and There Will Be Blood.  I don’t think I’m stingy with my praise or my ratings, I’ve rated many films as 9/10, which means I absolutely loved them, but I am reluctant to go all the way.  Out of every movie I have ever seen, which is about 2500 at this moment, I’ve only rated sixteen total as 10/10, and I think I know why.  In order to get my perfect score, a film must be nearly perfect in execution, but it also has to touch me in the exact right way, has to make me feel something I have never felt before.  Maybe that basically only happens when you’re 16-20 and you’re building your tastes alongside your friends with some of the best cinema the world has ever seen, maybe that’s the rare era that you open up your heart and let art affect you in a way it never will again.  Regardless, I don’t give top rankings lightly, but There Will Be Blood is in a league completely its own, with no other word to describe it other than ‘masterpiece’.

Meet Daniel Plainview, and if he tells you he’s an oil man, you will agree, as his numerous successful wells across this great country of ours prove that he speaks correctly.  He travels with his partner and son, H.W. Plainview, and the pair get the job done wherever they go.  Daniel knows oil, where to find it and how to get it up, and he’s willing to cut a deal on a moment’s notice to secure himself the most money and power possible, to create an empire for his family that will shock every man who ever wanted to make a dime.  That’s just the way he operates, and it has proven to work, until he runs up against a young man named Eli Sunday whose family owns a tract of land that Plainview desperately wants.  Eli is the head of a local religious group, the Church of the Third Revelation, and what he says goes around town.  Daniel will be forced to set aside his ego and his control in order to make a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but he is a busy man, and revenge can wait.

Paul Thomas Anderson is the goddam man, with Daniel Day-Lewis not far behind him.  PTA directed Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, and Phantom Thread; let that sink in for a second.  He’s an artist beyond compare, a visionary (if that’s not too insane and grandiose a word) that we’re lucky to have making movies in our lifetime.  I may claim that his prowess is dropping off slightly, that the meat of his work in the middle of his career is by far his best, but that time includes this film, so I’ll try to stay focused and not wander off into critiquing his entire filmography.  So, with that in mind, There Will Be Blood is one of the handful of features that I would call perfect, or at least as close as possible, and that’s not something I state lightly.

The story is based on the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair, which is among the best you could ever hope to read.  But it’s completely different from the movie; PTA only used some of the material for his film, going on in a unique direction once a few similarities were established.  The rest he seemingly left up to Daniel Day-Lewis, who carried the action on his back, while the book focuses on the sons of the story, both the oil magnate’s and the farmer’s.  DDL has never been better, and while he has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar six times, with three wins, I think this one was his most deserved (although I’ll always be personally partial to his performance as Hawkeye in The Last of Mohicans).  But it wasn’t just he who soared in this picture; Paul Dano is awesome, the score is incredible, the period is perfectly captured, the patience the plot exhibits is amazing, and the cinematography (which won an Oscar) is mind-blowing, with so many still shots to choose from that I could hardly set up this review.  I hadn’t revisited There Will Be Blood in a few years; I’m not sure I appreciated it enough the first times around, which I feel like I need to make up for now.  It is magnificent beyond the recycled words I can think of to describe it, so excellent that I don’t think I’ll ever get enough.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Review – Suburbicon

Category : Movie Review

Director: George Clooney

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe

Year: 2017

Suburbicon is a combination of Fargo and Pleasantville, two of the best films ever created, so I’m not sure what else fans & critics want from a film that’s both bizarrely violent and vehemently representational of a time period that was far from perfect.  I understand that copying two fine films doesn’t guarantee that your movie will be a hit as well, and beyond that, any artist who borrows too heavily from his contemporaries doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.  But Suburbicon is a clever melding of two genres into something sinister and original, never apologizing for stealing more than a few elements from those who have had success before, but also not failing to be a fascinating story all its own, one whose lack of praise I simply don’t understand.

The Lodge family, from the beautiful city of Suburbicon, is about as neat & tidy as their hometown, but with a few shadows looming over their shoulders.  Suburbicon has its own darkness, which comes on display as a black family moves into the neighborhood and residents come out in numbers to display their racism, isolationism, and general, stupid fear.  But the Lodges are too busy for all that, even though the new Mayers family lives right across the fence, because they have a few problems of their own to deal with.  Mrs. Lodge was involved in a car accident, is now in a wheelchair, and had just died as the result of a home invasion where the entire clan was tied up and knocked out, but where she was the only one to perish.  Mr. Lodge doesn’t seem too broken up about it, and it’s up to young Nicky to unravel the mystery, while the entire town has focused its attention elsewhere and while no one else can be trusted.

I don’t think combining two movies was the problem here, I think that throwing in a bit of High Rise might have been what turned audiences off the most.  That film is wacky in a definite Terry Gilliam way, but without the precision to pull it off, so it ends up missing the mark by a fair margin.  Clooney wrote this script with the Coen Brothers, hence the obvious style, but they decided to add some dystopia to the mix, some bizarre, animalistic, poignant unreality, and I wonder if that’s when audiences checked out.  I understand why, but I didn’t react the same way, and the rest of the movie was good enough to make up for those specific oddities.  Damon was great as the villain, Moore was solid twice over, the kid was much better than kids usually are, and I’m biased because I absolutely adore the guy, but Oscar Isaac stole the show.  The plot is bonkers, there’s plenty of violence, some cutting comedy; I guess I can understand why Suburbicon flopped with audiences, but count me as a critic who was riding just the right wavelength to pick up what this team was throwing down.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Trailer – I Feel Pretty

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein

Starring: Amy Schumer, Emily Ratajkowski, Busy Phillips

Release: June 29th, 2018

These directors do bad movies, Amy Schumer isn’t really funny anymore, and this weird, backwards, all-female take on Shallow Hal just looks plain weird.