December 31, 2016

La La Land

A very bouncy yet melancholy music romance.
I have to get over my hangup about "movie musicals" and just appreciate this movie for what it is- a romantic comedy with some singing and dancing; So what if Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone can't sing all that great and don't do too much dancing- they have ALL THE CHEMISTRY, way more than Debbie Reynolds did with Gene Kelly.
My wife loved it, and I could tell right away because she was so engaged with it on the ride home. We talked about it like Harry & Sally discussing Casablanca:
Harry: "He wants her to go!"
Sally: "I don't think she wants to stay!"
I enjoyed La La Land but my wife loved it so I'll give it a bump from a B+ to an A grade
(with Em, West Newton screen 2, New Year's Eve)

December 24, 2016

Moana

Me and my boy saw Moana on Christmas Eve, the classic "get the kid out of the house so Mom doesn't go crazy" move. I suspected the multiplex would be stuffed with families, but I guess people were spending the holiday with their families? We both liked Moana very much, even if Hawkeye wanted to leave during the scary parts. Moana has good music - one song sounded especially Lin-Manuel-ish -  and it was nice to see the young capable, brave woman taking charge and saving the world despite the help from the masculine demigod.
with Hawkeye, Christmas Eve, Aviation Plaza Linden.

December 16, 2016

Rogue One

A very well executed underground rebellion spy movie, but, you know, set in the Star Wars universe. They've perfectly placed this story within the events leading up to the 1977 Star Wars movie, like a precision-cut puzzle piece, with a bare minimum of winking fan service.
As a Star Wars superfan I loved the attention to detail, but a casual viewer will have no trouble enjoying this film too.
This is the kind of entertainment that George Lucas could never imagine or tolerate as he smothered his saga to near-death. Why not make "non-saga" Star Wars movies set in different genres? Rogue One is a war/spy film. How about a Western with Boba Fett as the villain? A young Obi-Wan Kenobi as a hard-boiled detective? A buddy road comedy with Han and Lando? A schoolhouse comedy with Yoda teaching remedial Force lessons to a bunch of teenage Jedi delinquents?

I especially appreciated the background actors and bit parts in the Rebellion were chock full of pale Englishmen with bushy hair and mustaches, just like the 1977 film.
Ironically, the only white men in lead roles are Mads Mikkelsen as the Oppenheimer-esque scientist, and Ben Mendelssohn as the ambitious Imperial antagonist. The rest of the lead roles are all nonwhite men, non-Americans, and women! Well, Alan Tudyk voices a droid, but the droid is black, so....?

Arlington Capitol Screen 1, with Adam.

NOTE: I have added this movie to my list of "World Cinema" action movies that are mostly cast with non-white men and/or are not set in the United States:



December 15, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Clark Kent's most relatable moment ever is when he climbs into
this bathtub with Lois Lane. To hell with our security deposit,
let the bathroom flood!
Finally saw Dawn of Justice: Bombastic, glacially paced, stole all its best ideas from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Bizarre dream sequences. Amy Adams in bathtub!
By the way, this is a terrible title for a Justice League origins movie.
Should the Avengers origin movie have been called Iron Man v Captain America: Dawn of Avengers?!
(At home on HBO Go)

December 9, 2016

Mr Holmes

Ian McKellen is terrific as Sherlock Holmes. He's never been my favorite detective character, but McKellen is an excellent choice to play him. In this story McKellen plays Holmes (in great old-age makeup) as a decrepit old man in 1947, grappling with infirmity and dementia while trying to recall his last case in 1918 that may have led to his ultimate failure...if only he could remember it (shown in flashbacks also by McKellen).
The Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock TV show has directly addressed Holmes's personality disorders in a modern context; this movie illuminates how Holmes's clinical, logical understanding of the facts can make him a poor detective; solving a mystery is not always the same as successfully closing a case.
Laura Linney plays the widowed housekeeper-turned-home health aide who's trying to pull away from Holmes while her young son finds the father figure he desperately needs. She's a talented, subtle actress, but she's not convincing as a ignorant, near-illiterate housekeeper.  We already know she can play the sad, hopeless lonelyheart (see Love Actually) but somehow she doesn't play 'low class and uneducated' as well. Also her accent is a mystery- she sounds like an American with some English accent creeping into her voice, but the script doesn't mention this.
Amazon Instant Video, with Emily