Logan Lucky, but you ain’t

Four things:

1– Logan Lucky is exactly the same movie as Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven, but more entertaining.

2– The so-called humor is partially Coen-esque, partially Tarantino-esque (think Django Unchained), and almost entirely non-humorous.  Best to let the Coens handle Coen-esque humor, and Tarantino Tarantino-esque humor.

3– No title is just plain lazy.

4– Not quite sure why this was marketed as a car-race movie.  It ain’t one.  Maybe they realized marketing it for what it really was (see below) was a non-starter.

Back to point one: If overly fake-a-fied heist pictures like Ocean’s Eleven are your bag, Logan Lucky is for you.  I was hoping Soderbergh would reach the heights of his Side Effects, but my aspirations were dashed.

I liked part (the good part) of Logan Lucky, and its characters, enough to raise my opinion to 5/10.

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Film Brief: Wonder Woman

Credit Apple TV marketing for finally pushing me to see the biggest movie of the year.

What I do is not up to you.

There are nice bits of Wonder Woman that absolutely soar.  But…

* * *

Perhaps my biggest problem with superhero movies is they all end exactly the same.  Wonder Woman is no different, which is too bad — because otherwise I found myself having a good time.  I didn’t even mind the beginning non-titles (see posts on Les Miz, Selma, and the upcoming one for Logan Lucky.)

Two trailers included below. This movie is growing on me, but for now my original evaluation: 6/10

One to Watch: Ingrid Goes West

I first saw Aubrey Plaza in the delightful Safety Not Guaranteed and have relished her appearances ever since.  Ingrid Goes West pairs her with another fave of mine, Elizabeth Olsen (from among other things, the magnificent Martha Marcy May Marlene).  It can be thought of as a modern/social media take on Purple Noon/The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is to say there’s a lot of completely original material here.

Emily Yoshida, Vulture:

a hypercurrent satire of Instagram celebrity and the kinds of lifestyle aesthetics that flourish there, is such a vivid and minute portrait of our boho-chic, mid-century modern, reclaimed wood, custom typography, shrub-swilling, microgreens-on-heirloom-quinoa moment

And Peter Travers, Rolling Stone calls Ingrid Goes West a “bonbon spiked with arsenic, wit and malice.”

Ingrid Goes West will frequently make you feel uncomfortable.  But that’s a lot better than not making you feel at all.  8/10

Film Brief: Patti Cake$

I wouldn’t call it an “unambiguous joy,” as did the oft-overstated Manohla Dargis, but I did like it.  Jake Coyle, AP:

The Sundance sensation “Patti Cake$” may flow with formulaic beats but it’s got spirit for miles (eight of them, at least) and features one of the best mother-daughter relationships of the year.

I would have liked Patti Cake$ more had the music, in this case the rap, been more effective on me — only one track swayed me.  Call it a minor case of the Inside Llewyn Davis Syndrome.  Still though, on the high side of 6/10.

Comparison Notes (recommended): 8 Mile

Not the Good Time you might expect

IF ONLY the filmmakers had been half as creative as the poster artist

Good Time is right up my alley — just the kind of movie I can  really get into.  If only it were any good.  Though it did hold my interest throughout, I don’t think that’s enough on its own to recommend a movie.  In many ways, Good Time seems like a film school senior project that should have been left in film school.

The entire film is rather pointless.  I kept waiting for it to reach some sort of greater level, but it didn’t.  And the flaws!  SPOILER ALERT!!  SPOILERS FOLLOW – SKIP to the next paragraph to avoid.  It’s called a dye pack for a reason.  It doesn’t just rinse off with water.  And handcuffs aren’t so easily foiled.

The many hackneyed sequences, e.g. the search at Adventureland, contribute to the sense of one gaffe after another over-running Good Time.  There was a good idea here, but it was half an idea.  That is, half as much as necessary for a whole movie.  I’m seeing a lot of this with A24 — let’s hope it improves.  5/10

Comparison Notes: recommended: Buffalo ’66; not recommended: Fruitvale Station, Room

Film Brief: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan wrote the abysmal Sicario, and the very good Hell or High Water — so perhaps it figures that Wind River, his most recent release, falls somewhere in-between.  Which is to say that it’s marginally recommended with the normal caveats.  I think Sheridan, who also directed, was maybe trying to go for a No Country for Old Men style of unraveling the mystery at hand, and utterly fell short.  But the performances were good, and I liked the way the film was resolved.

If you like Elizabeth Olsen — and how could you not — that’ll help.  6/10

PS  I’m always questioning my scale:  PT Anderson’s The Master is a movie I keep going back to.  Perhaps I need to watch it again at some point.  It’s hard to recommend Wind River only to recollect that I rendered a thumbs-down for The Master.

Film Brief: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes features lots of great visual sequences, and a sense the filmmaker knows what he’s doing — which is refreshing.  A generally well-executed story, if a not particularly original one.  (SPOILER:) See Comparison Notes to understand why not particularly original.

War is inferior to the last episode of the franchise, but it’s still good.  Note: despite being billed as “the end,” it won’t be.  A fourth film is in the works.  7/10

Comparison Notes (recommended): Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom