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.

Bright

Magic is so unsatisfying. When anything is possible, the screenwriter can be so lazy. Just wave a wand at it. So while the premise of an alternate society that evolved with fairies and orcs alongside humans is sort of intriguing, and makes the race relations story somewhat fresh (?), I just can’t commit my full attention to this kind of movie. I spend too much time complaining out loud…

The Seven Five

In an era when dash cams and citizens with cell phones record the worst kind of police brutality and abuse of power, this story may seem like a quaint piece of history, but in his day… there was police corruption, and then there was Michael Dowd. Wow. This guy was epic, with his cash grabs and protection of dealers, etc.

However, in his testimony, as well as in the filmed interviews, he comes across as a pretty stand-up guy. And the fact that he refused to implicate any other of his fellow officers raises him in my estimation. I don’t think he ever shot anybody without justifiable cause…

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 Son of No One

  1. The mustache was ridiculous.
  2. How many variations on one scene can we have? Tatum loses his shit, yells and curses a bunch, punches the wall.
  3. If you tell the kid to stay put and not go anywhere, then of course he’s going to take off.
  4. The cast was good, but I still don’t like Katie Holmes.
  5. Al Pacino was pretty reserved. This was a plus.
  6. Ray Liotta, as a crooked cop? Really? Who woulda thunk?

Missable.

Running Scared

No. Just no. Paul Walker was a terrible actor. And Vera Farmiga can’t pull this off on her own, while Chazz Palminteri phones in another corrupt cop with a Jersey accent.

Sample dialogue (and you could fast-forward to just about anywhere in the film and get this): “Fuck! Fuck!” [Slams hands against wall, or steering wheel, or whatever is in front of him] “Goddammit!” Alternatively, if someone is speaking to one of the child actors – who, come to think of it, gave the best performances – “You stay here! Do not move!” Which of course is a sure sign that the kid will be taking off within a few minutes…

Does it matter what the plot/story consists of? Do we want to try to decipher what the bits of surreal comedy were intended to add? Or the stylized, yet seen-it-all-before photography? You don’t need to see this movie…

Sicario

Despite my reluctance to accept Emily Blunt as an FBI undercover drug agent, she came close to convincing me. All except for the scene where she falls for the guy who’s going to kill her… that just didn’t ring true.

Otherwise, a respectable bit of storytelling. And it never seems to hurt to have Benicio del Toro in your movie…

Dragon Eyes

Nearly incoherent.

A movie like this is really all about the fighting, anyway. But the martial arts are not that good, in fact. The fight choreography is uninspired. And was JCVD billed just to sell tickets? He’s in like 5 minutes of this thing!

I’m not going to list all the clichés. But did they REALLY have to have the guys sitting around the table stuffing bullets in guns? Really? All we were lacking in the tired-and-overdone department was the fireball explosion with silhouetted dudes walking in slo-mo toward the camera…

The best I can say is that they did cast a lot of very interesting faces.

The Cleaner

Better than expected, descending into just so-so at the end.

Sam Jackson is always competent in these kinds of roles. And here he plays it a bit more reserved than usual.

Ed Harris also, dependable. No surprises.

Eva Mendez is a better actor than she gets credit for.

So overall, this film should get good marks, right? Well, it does, but the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts…

 

Nightcrawler

Riveting, and mostly believable, right up until near the end, when it deteriorated into a kind of Cronenbergian homage to Crash, with the same kind of perverted sexual charge from the sight of e.g. car crash victims. Yes, this too wants to be an indictment of our cultural fascination with violence and bloodshed, and the resultant focus on “if it bleeds it leads” kinds of stories we are presented with by the press, in an endless circle…

And Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing.