The Rhythm Section

To think that Jude Law’s character could have transformed Blake Lively’s from a drug-addicted prostitute into a trained assassin in a couple of months is the first and largest of a long list of improbabilities that we are meant to accept. The only slight nod to this is her sloppiness in carrying out her first hit, and her inability to follow through on the next.

At least we have – as usual – two good-looking leads giving respectable performances to make things watchable. But please, with the car chase and the explosions… ho hum.

Berlin Syndrome

This had some obvious parallels to Room, but it was a much simpler story, without the same layers and subtleties.

Imagine visiting Berlin, and only seeing this much of the city…

Crazy Rich Asians

This wasn’t as good as it was cracked up to be (Best Picture, Comedy or Musical, at the Golden Globes?), but it made for fine airplane fare. It was fun, and mostly witty and nice to look at. Lots of attractive people, clothes and cars and baubles and all that… it passed the time.

The Handmaiden

Is it fair to say that this is Park Chan-wook at his most restrained? And most elegant. Which is appropriate, given the tale at hand, and its source material. It’s great to look at, and very solidly structured. My only real complaint is how easy it is to see what is coming, during the second third of the film…

Isle of Dogs

I like Wes Anderson best when he doesn’t have doesn’t have actual actors being so quirky. It’s better, and less cloying, when puppets are put into these situations, and saying these lines.

Even if the lines are in Japanese. Would I have liked this film as much if there were no Japan connection? I’m not certain. And I’m also not sure about the racist charges that the film seems to be attracting. Again, maybe because I know that Japan is… like this?

At any rate, first-rate eye candy, as usual. Superb attention to detail. I liked it.

Love & Friendship

This should be fertile ground for Whit Stillman, that lover of manners, class mores, and dialogue. And it’s enjoyable, but somehow lacks the punch of his more contemporary efforts – watch them first!

Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Not a major work. Not, apparently, very historically accurate. Not as interesting as basically any other Greenaway film that comes to mind.

And yet, still compelling enough to want to watch through to the end,  which says something about the director… If you like penises and food poisoning, check it out!

Byzantium

I had no idea that this was a vampire movie. Sorry if I just spoiled it for you…

Yet another bloodsucker story, updated to the present, with flashbacks going back a couple of hundred years. There’s no pretense at explaining the how or the why, and the ritual for actually becoming a vampire is one I haven’t seen before – it’s not a matter of simply being bitten and thereby “infected”…

Sort of an interesting slant – a coming of age, “I don’t want to be a vampire, this whole thing sucks!” (pun intended) sort of thing. But then love intervenes… and they’ll live undead happily ever, ever, ever after?

High-Rise

Kafka meets the cast of Brazil in a skyscraper, where they re-enact Mad Max, if it were cast mainly with stewardesses from 1960s-era Pan Am, and some soccer hooligans.

I spent most of the movie thinking that Tom Hiddleston was Michael Fassbender…

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

Wow. Who needs a plot? Just shoot zombies in the head. Drive around a bit. Repeat.

A little bit of backstory would’ve been good. What happened to start the zombie apocalypse? How is the disease transmitted? (“Something in the air” – really?!) Why do they produce gas? How do they run on their own gas at night but not during the day? Why is gasoline no longer flammable? Why don’t the normal people make themselves known to other normal people immediately, rather than risk being shot? What has the government/military to do with all of this?

Yeah, lots of questions. Very few answers. And not really very much fun.