Biggie & Tupac

This director has to be one of the worst documentarians on the planet. And definitely the worst narrator. And yet I managed to learn a few things from this movie. And strangely, the people that he approached for interviews and filming seemed oddly to allow him a level of access that I wouldn’t have expected. Why? How?

This is probably only for real fans of the title characters. Otherwise, just check out Notorious – much more entertaining.

Arrival

There’s no way in hell that she would’ve learned that amount of the aliens’ language in such a short time frame. But that is a minor quibble. And ironic, in a movie about time travel. Or is it simply seeing the future?

Amazingly gripping, when so little really happens. But maybe that’s just the former language teacher in me speaking. What’s really different about this, in terms of a modern science fiction film – or really just about any genre these days – is that it’s more interested in the underlying ideas and philosophical questions that arise when we make contact with aliens – or they with us – than in intergalactic warfare or conflict in general. The only ones fighting here are the humans.

 

Sour Grapes

How much is that bottle of wine? Where did you get it? Check the label, carefully. And the foil. And the glass. And also the contents…

Fascinating account of a wine savant gone rogue. It’s juicy, but something doesn’t smell right…

Blade Runner 2049

Wow.

A sequel worth seeing. Not only worth seeing, but quite possibly better than the original… this is very nearly a masterpiece.

Some will say it is too long, but I think that the pacing is very deliberate, and quite necessary. It allows the viewer the time to think, to ponder the questions that are being asked, and to come to the same conclusions that K comes to. This flies in the face of most current moviemaking, and that’s fine with me.

I was reminded at one point of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” when a key character talks about how memory is essential to identity. And it is the intersection of memory, DNA, robotics, and all of the ethical questions raised by those things that make this movie so interesting.

See it and think…

Get Out

I don’t watch a lot of “horror” films, because they are almost always too predictable and clichéd. This one is anything but. It is very good at making the viewer feel a little bit uncomfortable, and then very slowly ratcheting that up. Until all hell breaks loose.

I did not see that ending coming…

Girlfriend’s Day

There just wasn’t enough movie here. Who thought an interesting movie could be made around a greeting card writer? Even if it is Bob Odenkirk? The material is not good enough. I lost interest, and now I can’t remember any plot details…

Cold in July

The first third of this was way too fast, but also pretty lame. Everyone seemed flat, and while it’s nice to see something that doesn’t go for any cheap thrills or cinematography that’s too in-your-face, this was a little lacking. All set-up, but was the payoff worth it?

Sure, the twist was a good one, and there was more energy in the middle third. But then, but then… really? We’re going to have the scene of the dudes loading their guns? Slo-mo of them walking to the car? Leaving no doubt that the movie’s going to end in a gun battle.

Ho-hum.

The Invitation

This tried to be a slow-burn mind-fuck, rather than a crazy slasher film, for the first 3/4, and basically it succeeded. I like when it’s a cast of unknowns, except for maybe one (John Carroll Lynch), who do a respectable job. But then of course it went a bit off the rails, and I found myself yelling at the screen, as usual.

Still, watchable, for sure.

The Barber

Scott Glenn is game, but like so many other movies in this genre, it tries so hard to make itself unique and memorable that it just ends up kind of ludicrous, with no real suspense, and an unsatisfying ending.

Serial killers are still all the rage, I guess. though perhaps they’re being upstaged by mass shooters these days…

An Honest Liar

I like this guy. James Randi deceives you, and tells you the truth. A very direct and unflinching look behind the curtain.

But won’t someone tell him to trim those eyebrows?!