American Animals mixes actors and the real-life characters they portray in a sometimes very effective and other times distracting suboptimal way. On top of that, the movie dragged out too much. There’s no reason for it not to have been 30 minutes more compact. But the performances were good and compelling, and the movie redeemed itself at the end. The climax and immediate aftermath swung American Animals back into positive territory. 6/10
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.
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
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.
Lady Macbeth started and ran strongly for about the first two-thirds, before running into territory that was a bit mishandled, and less than optimal even if handled perfectly. Still though, very good and fully engrossing — and the biggest reason is the film’s star. Adam Graham, The Detroit News:
With quiet menace, [Florence] Pugh chews through director William Oldroyd’s handsomely composed period thriller like a rat gnawing through a wall. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and her nightmare stare lingers longer than any poor sap who dares to get in her way.
This brilliantly feminist British indie film plunges a cold, sharp knife into the back of bonnet dramas.
Indeed. A lot of (evil) fun to be had here. Maybe think of as a companion piece to The Little Hours, which is sticking with me enough that I’m considering bumping it up a notch. Every time I think of it I smile inside. As for Lady Macbeth: 8/10
I though Elle was going to be about a woman who was sexually assaulted, and then took that experience and instead of feeling victimized by it, turned it around, flipped the script and used it to her empowerment.
Instead, we get a muddled take on Basic Instinct-cum-pseudo Hitchcock psychological crime drama. Operative word is muddled. The movie held me well enough through the first half or so, but lost its way later on. A disappointed, marginal no. 5/10
With The Nice Guys, his wildly entertaining new detective comedy, Black visits the smog-choked, libertine Los Angeles of the mid- to late 1970s, a few years and a few miles removed from private eyes like Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye or Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice. Only, The Nice Guys doesn’t linger in the haze. It has the byzantine plot of an LA noir, but races through it with the breathless energy of Black’s other work. From a simple missing-person case, the film opens up a full-to-bursting array of running jokes, ornate action set pieces, municipal schemes, and twists large and small. The only trouble is keeping up with it.
A few critics speak to a confusing or multi-layered plot, but I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I found the story quite straightforward, even simple — if not especially robust. But the film does move along well, with lots of fun scenes moving quickly from one to the next. “Wildly entertaining” is overselling it a bit, however. Toward the end, The Nice Guys devolves into a sort of fermented corn-and-cheese mixture: the “ornate action set piece” finale I found trite, an obvious take-off on the much better opening sequence of the second Indiana Jones picture.
With its several significant flaws, The Nice Guys nonetheless has more in its favor than against it. It’s mostly a lot of fun. The squandered opportunities which yielded American Hustle and Inherent Vice were making me think that no-one could produce a decent ’70s-set movie in this vein, but The Nice Guys comes out on top of this heap. On the low end of 7/10.