Is Honey Boy bland or bitter?

There’s a reason the marketing for Honey Boy emphasizes the pie in the face and the big airplane crash scenes, making it seem like some quirky piece-study. I imagine test-marketing what this film is really about, an intimate study of a father and son in a less than ideal relationship where very little happens and the story is thin as a wisp, didn’t fare so well.

The irony here is that reading about Shia LaBeouf’s early life proves a much more fascinating, or at least a significantly more compelling story than the snooze-fest put on screen. Not quite sure why he had to downplay much more interesting events of his life that he’s already admitted to. Not like he’s hiding anything here.

Glenn Kenny of The Times:

One could watch “Honey Boy” musing that it must be nice to have someone finance a movie of your 12-step qualification. That assessment is actually too generous.

For such a short film (95 min), Honey Boy was draggy. Not terribly so, but there’s little story here. Another breaking of the Tomatometer. 4/10

Comparison Notes: Maybe two opposites: Fences and The Firm. The Firm is a movie, also with great acting, in which stuff actually happens. A stretchy comparison note, I know. Also: Mid 90sBlue Valentine, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Boyhood

Four Directors and A Funeral

…for them, and many more, en masse. Another good article in the Times. I’m wanting to see some of these movies.

Wiping out great art just because the artist did some bad stuff is tragedy.  I’m sure we wouldn’t agree with everything the Egyptians did, let’s bulldoze the pyramids. And the history of this country? Maybe give it all back.

Now they’re talking about taking down all the Gauguin paintings. Any museums who don’t want it can give them to me.

Film Brief: The Lighthouse

Underwhelming is the operative word here. Overrated claptrap pops up too. Nowhere in my imagination would I think The Lighthouse would make Robert Eggers’ previous effort The Witch look good by comparison, but it does.

As expected, there’s plenty of atmosphere, and, aye sir — the square frame is fittin’. But I’ve said it a million times — atmospherics aren’t everything. You need a good story. Eggers, once again, is well short of the mark and lacks a clear vision. The conclusion — no spoilers needed here — is downright lame. 4/10

Comparison Notes: Dead Man, Mad Men, Antichrist. The concluding scenes of The Lighthouse brought to mind Antichrist. And it makes you realize what a genius Lars von Trier is. Eggers, by comparison, is a poser, a wannabe hack, one attempting to appear as some great art director, but hollow at the core. Because story is always the core.

Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema

Perhaps there’s a better word than “cinema,” which is just another word for movies. There’s room for debate as to word choice. The 4th definition down in Wiktionary is “The art of making films and movies” — so we can choose that one.

Either way, I agree with the hall-of-famer. Superhero movies generally bore me, so I avoid them. I thought the highly-regarded Black Panther was a slog. Give me a movie that takes me in, that grips me in the unexpected. Not a theme park.

Parasite wants to snuggle up with you


Tragedy: when a film so precise and careful in so many ways can become utterly riddled with logic holes. Parasite glows brightly with many moments of sheer brilliance, but much is swept away in the impending deluge. From early on, a suspension of disbelief is required — though with the film speeding along as it does, it’s easy enough to let go those hang-ups because you’re too busy holding on to the ride. Still, the gaps stack up and prevent Parasite from being any sort of ‘masterpiece’ as hailed by many critics (The Wall Street Journal, e.g., and it won the Cannes top prize).

One big problem is believing that this otherwise destitute family — each member — has the whole time been a pack of highly-skilled tradespeople who are simultaneously masterfully adept con-artists. We just didn’t know it, and neither did they. Another is that issue of basic human maintenance, of how to get clean when you cannot bathe — I lived that. Parasite makes it a theme, but then slaps the idea in the face. There are plenty of other holes of equal magnitude, and an array of smaller ones, that really drag the movie down.

The hilarious Snapple commercial — “other than that, pretty fun trip” — sums up Parasite. It’s fun and engrossing. But I wish the rabbit hole it literally starts going down had a more satisfying payoff. 7/10

Comparison Notes: Ex Machina, Catch Me If You Can, Metro Manila, La Cérémonie, The Housemaid, Roma, Purple Noon, Us, House of Sand and Fog

Pain and Glory, or at least one of those

I don’t generally like movies where characters speak extensively to convey remembrances or current thoughts.  I like it when the movie does the talking, not the characters. Put another way: I like movies in which stuff happens. Look no further than Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In for a movie where stuff happens. And look at an adjacent finger on his hand to find Pain and Glory for a movie in which little happens. It’s not all narrative dialogue, but there’s a lot.

I came to watch a movie, not listen to an audiobook. Or, as it were with subtitles throughout, read a book. And a dull one at that.

The Skin I Live In is one of the most extraordinary picture’s I’ve ever seen.  It’s like a completely different filmmaker is at work here. Maybe, in an ironic twist of truth, Pain and Glory after all is an autobiographical account about a filmmaker, Almodóvar himself, who can no longer make movies. Unfortunately for his audience here, that reality bleeds too convincingly across the screen.

Pain and Glory probes the extents of neither. I liked the way it began and ran for maybe the first half, and there was something compelling about Antonio Banderas’ performance.  There was a lot to like about this movie, especially in the flashbacks. But the story — especially in the latter part of the film.  Ugh.

5/10

Comparison Notes: Cinema Paradiso, A Ghost Story, To The Wonder, Wild Tales, Neighboring Sounds