Before seeing Hereditary I was expecting an interesting psychological and scary portrait of a warped family. It was that, but the movie was slow at the beginning, and did not engage my attention. There were huge gaps in the plot that didn't even attempt to shed light on the crazy actions that were occurring until a feeble bit of explanation was made at the end. I really can't recommend this one.
I looked forward to seeing The Equalizer II since I enjoyed the first entry in this series, and, again, Denzel Washington delivers. Has this actor ever been less than excellent? Yes, the film has the usual amount of violence and mayhem that we see in action movies. Here, however, the story takes the time to show supporting characters who are struggling to make their lives better despite the punishing realities they must face. There is the alcoholic trying to stay sober, the Holocaust survivor searching for a long lost relative, and the youth with artistic talent being sucked into the gang culture in his neighborhood. Washington's character, who has suffered the loss of people he loves, is a control freak, lining up his fruit in formation and constantly checking his watch to make sure he meets his self-imposed time limits. But, there is one scene where his inner demons break loose, and we see that he is as tortured as those he tries to help. There is an actual hurricane in the movie (and Washington starred in the film The Hurricane). It is symbolic of the uncontrollable forces that seem to batter all of us on the outside and also on the inside.
If you want action, great stunts, digital or otherwise, Mission Impossible: Fallout delivers. It would help to have seen previous entries in this series concerning the characters, but it is not essential. There are many plot twists, maybe too many, because it is not easy to follow all of the scams being perpetrated. But, the plot keeps the audience alert with its many surprises.
I was skeptical of how successful the remake of Murder on the Orient Express would be. The plot in the newer version was changed enough to make it interesting to watch even if you saw the earlier Sidney Lumet directed movie. The cast was good, but it didn't top the previous one headed by Albert Finney as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot with Ingrid Bergman’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar performance. If you haven't watched the first one, try viewing it and then compare it to the recent one. Then, decide for yourselves which you prefer.
I noticed that the movie Tully came out on DVD. If you get a chance to see this movie, it's well worth it. Charlize Theron is great in this film, and should get an Oscar nomination. The film does not idealize motherhood, showing how tough modern times are on being a female parent. If you're observant, you'll see the plot twist that will come at the end of the story.
BlacKkKlansman is a powerful film that gets its message across using humor mixed with deadly serious drama. Spike Lee is not a subtle filmmaker, but he is a very accomplished one. The thrust here is story and theme, not character development. He uses his movie history knowledge to comment on how racism in the motion picture industry has existed since the original "Birth of a Nation," through the Tarzan films, and in the stereotypes portrayed in Shaft and Super Fly. This story is based on an almost unbelievable true story about a black policeman who infiltrates the KKK on the phone, and then sends a white cop to meetings in person to be his alter ego. Lee uses phrases such as "America first," and the desire to start another "Tea Party," as ways of connecting the story to current times. He shows how the white supremacists used fear of immigrants to further their cause, obviously making a reference to recent events. In the end, he uses footage of the Charlottesville, VA riot to cement his argument that racism has a long and unhealthy history in the USA.
Maybe you haven't heard of the recent film Eighth Grade, but it received great critical response, and rightly so. Those middle years have always been rough for unpopular or socially-challenged youths. This movie brings that struggle up to the current day when cell phones and social media play a part, for better and for worse. The main character basically talks to herself through supposedly shared video posts. She is really revealing her true nature below the shy exterior shown in public. Through these posts, she is actually urging herself to come out of her shell and make more of her life. The movie also shows when adults don’t act their age, trying to relate to kids by using youthful words and actions, they come off looking lame.
The Meg is what a friend of mine would call a “no zzz movie.” There is so much action that if you fell asleep during this one, you should check yourself into a narcolepsy clinic. Jason Statham plays a wisecracking testosterone-fueled character (you expected something else?), as he reluctantly gets involved in saving others from the prehistoric supersized shark that humans released from under an ice covered ocean bottom natural aquarium. It’s sort of payback for science messing too much with mother nature. Good special effects, but no real character development. Probably the fourth best shark film I have seen after Jaws (of course), The Shallows, and Deep Blue Sea. Actually, fifth best if you include Open Water, but that’s more about abandonment than sharks. Because of another recent film, when I saw the shark attacking eastern tourists at an upscale beach, I thought of a mash-up: Crazy, Rich Tasty Asians.
I was just watching Schindler’s List again for my next post. It was interesting to see Ben Kingsley portray a Jewish business manager helping Jews escape occupied Poland in that film, and then watch him in the polar opposite role of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale. I remember as a child watching excerpts of the trial of Eichmann on television, showing him housed in a bulletproof transparent cage in the courtroom. It was the only time I saw a Nazi who was involved in the Holocaust, and it was chilling to see him even at an early age. The recent film references Eichmann’s role of being in charge of transporting Jewish prisoners to ghettos and concentration camps for eventual extermination. Israeli agents, headed by one played by Oscar Isaac, go to Argentina (whose compromised law enforcement departments protected the Nazis) to extract Eichmann, not assassinate him. The goal was to have the world witness his trial and remember the atrocities that Hitler’s Germany inflicted on millions. The best scenes are between Kingsley and Isaac, as Eichmann tries to present himself as not really believing in the “superior race” concept, since none of the Nazi leaders looked Aryan, including the dark-haired Hitler. He also argues that he actually tried to save some Jews. One flaw in the film is that it doesn’t deliver on the danger built up surrounding what might happen to the Israeli agents if they didn’t get on the plane to Israel with Eichmann. Also, Argo is more effective in dramatizing a real life escape from a hostile country, and the fictional film The Debt is more intense and dramatically satisfying depicting a similar story of Israeli agents capturing a Nazi criminal and trying to bring him to justice.
The next film to be analyzed is Schindler’s List.