Film Brief: The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The Last Black Man in San Francisco got to me very mildly on an emotional level — a pretty good accomplishment considering there’s almost no story.  And besides having very little story, it’s not as beautiful as it’s made out to be, and definitely not exultant.  If you’re looking for a movie which continues to surprise and delight you, this is not it.

David Lynch tells budding filmmakers to put down an idea on an index card, then another, then another.  When you have seventy of those, you have a movie.  I think Last Black Man had maybe five tops.  4/10

Comparison Notes: House of Sand and Fog, The Pursuit of Happyness, Fruitvale Station, 99 Homes, Do The Right Thing, Everything Must Go (Will Ferrell), All is Lost

VOD Log: Revenge

Revenge is a French I Spit on Your Grave set in the desert.  It’s not as good as that movie by a long shot — among other things, it’s plagued by problems of both logic and execution — but it’s not without it’s positive attributes.

My first reaction upon finishing Revenge was that I was mildly entertained, so a marginal thumbs-up, but I reflected on those numerous, nagging logic gaps, and then on the overall feel of the film.  It was striving for something that it just couldn’t accomplish.  Between the poster and the trailer, I thought I would really dig the look of the film’s desert setting — but that setting, and the movie itself, felt off and flat.

4/10

Comparison Notes: first and foremost, the previously mentioned I Spit on Your Grave; Eden Lake, Straw Dogs, Last House on the Left (these 3 in Riveting Rentals), After Dark, My Sweet

Film Brief: Ma

Think of Ma as a cross between a very meek, held-back Cape Fear and Revenge of the Nerds.  It’s got a lot of problems, mainly the meek part.  It definitely does not go for the jugular.  All the more surprising given the Blumhouse stamp.  Titles MIA for no good reason don’t help, and makes one wonder if Blumhouse was so ashamed of this product that it kept its imprimatur hidden.

Despite overall meekness, there were some potent moments, and I was reasonably engaged and mildly entertained — so a marginal thumbs-up.  6/10

Rocketman: Launch Failure [u]

In Walk the Line, a music producer tells an as-yet unrecognized Johnny Cash that he doesn’t need any more gospel songs.  Ready to dismiss him as another act doomed for failure, the producer asks Cash the following:

If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying,
and you had time to sing
One song people would remember before you’re dirt…
One song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth…
One song that would sum you up…
You telling me that’s the song you’d sing?
That same Jimmie Davis tune we hear on the radio all day?
About your peace within and how it’s real and how you’re gonna shout it?
Or would you sing something different?
Something real, something you felt?
Because I’m telling you right now…
that’s the kind of song people want to hear.
That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.
It ain’t got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash.
It has to do with believing in yourself.

With trepidation and little confidence, Johnny Cash then begins to sing one of the most powerful songs ever written in the history of rock or country, “Folsom Prison Blues.”

That is one big “AH HA!” moment.  The kind of moment that the weak, ineffectual Rocketman never gets within a country mile of.  And that is one of the keys to why, despite partial success as a musical, Rocketman is a broken movie.

As a drama, it fails utterly and completely. Compare to Love & Mercy, which as far as telling a story about love and finding happiness, stands as a minor masterpiece when viewed next to Rocketman.   As a biopic, Rocketman face-plants.  I.e., it’s a disaster.  Even the supposed alcoholism of Elton John – low-hanging fruit – is mangled badly.

On top of all that: with all the music included, there is but a scant brush of “Candle in the Wind, ” and omission entirely of the obvious “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” “Funeral for a Friend”/”Love Lies Bleeding,” and “Levon”. There’s no rule that you have to include songs A, B, C, D.  I have no problem including lesser songs to tell your story.  I have no problem taking your own approach to the story.  But if you’re going to do that, the result has got to be a lot better than Rocketman.  Generously: a low 5/10

Comparison Notes: Crazy Heart, Shine, Walk the LineGet on Up, Love & Mercy, Ray, Amadeus, The Doors: “Let me tell you story about heartache, and loss of God” — and does he ever

UPDATE 7/1/19: I don’t know why I was being generous before.  5/10 felt wrong the moment I typed it. This movie’s got some good music, naturally, but it peeved me.  4/10