Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Monday, January 21, 2019
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa
Aquaman is dumb as hell and it doesn't even matter. It's fun and it's entertaining and demonstrates what Warner Bros/DC can do when it gets out of its own way and stops trying to reverse engineer a shared universe. At 143 minutes it's at least 30 minutes longer than it has any business being and it is way too over-stuffed with plot, but it succeeds largely on the strength of star Jason Momoa's charisma and on the fact that there's so much happening so fast that you never have the opportunity to be bored. It's not a great movie, but it's a pretty great watch, particularly on the big screen.
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams
132 minutes is a lot of time to spend saying absolutely nothing. While Vice may mock the post-Nixon Republican party for believing in nothing but the power of power itself, the film is just as intellectually, emotionally, and morally empty. Dick Cheney, pulling the strings of the Bush II administration, stripped away many of the checks and balances that are meant to keep American democracy from slipping into tyranny, destabilized the middle east by invading a country knowing that the reasons for invasion were specious, and just generally left the world in a worse place than he found it when he became Vice President. These are things that we already know, though I suppose it may be worth the reminder given the recent trend towards taking a softer view of the Bush II years in light of the mess that's now in power. Vice says nothing new, nothing insightful, and actually laughs at the idea that there is an insight to be had. "What do we believe in?" a young Cheney (Christian Bale) asks his mentor, Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), who can only burst out laughing in response. But nobody believes in nothing. Even the Joker believed in chaos, which is the absolute freedom of the individual to do as he or she pleases. A film that is content to argue that its protagonist believes in nothing is a film without a narrative rudder. It is sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Monday, January 7, 2019
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone
Most movies are lucky if they feature one really great role for an actress. Yorgos Lantimos' latest, The Favourite, can boast of having three. It's a delight that is nearly unheard of. Setting its action at the court of Queen Anne (played with entertaining petulance by Olivia Colman), The Favorite is all about the dangerous game of social dominance and power, of how leverage can be useful only insofar as someone knows how to use it properly, of how one might not even realize that they were gambling until they see how badly they've overplayed their hand. It's a dark comedy about two ruthless women, one of whom tells the other, "We'll make a killer of you yet" and lives to regret it when she sees just how good the other is at the game. It's fantastic.