Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Reviews from gulag: But Batman and Robin will never die!

And now, the rest: The Big Sick, Lady Bird, Power Rangers, The Greatest Showman, The Book of Henry, and Good Time.

It is not correct to call it "Michael Showalter's The Big Sick," and if you've seen it, you know why, inasmuch as it was barely directed in the first place, and it really does show: practically the only thing I remember at all about the look of thing (beyond "extreme bland semi-competence," anyway) is a match-cut montage of its protagonist driving an Uber, which, you know, is fine, I guess, and the whole movie looks exactly like what a TV show on the same subject might have looked like at the dawn of HD.  We don't expect much from our comedies these days, and with that bigotry of low expectations firmly in place, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani's The Big Sick made a few waves back in the summer of 2017, when it was finally given its wide release, hot off the campaign of well-intentioned (and at least partly-deserved) hype that came out of its showings at Sundance in the January of that year.

There is, of course, plenty of bigotry to go around in The Big Sick, which tells the semi-fictionalized tale of how the sort-of interracial couple of Emily (Zoe Kazan) and would-be stand-up comedian Kumail (himself) hooked up after a bout of cute heckling and eventually got married, and also how, in between those two events, Emily keeled over and almost died after breaking up with Kumail due to his family's disapproval of either her whiteness, her heathenism, or possibly simply her non-Pakistaniness, but Nanjiani wound up dragooned into exercising a power of attorney over Emily anyway, at least for the limited purpose of inducing a medically-necessary coma when she got sick.  The big sick, as it were, and with her illness living up to that grandiose title, Emily Gordon winds up very much a tertiary character in her own romance, albeit one whose presence does continue to loom over the action even while she's doing absolutely nothing (though if you forgot, for example, what Emily's goals in life were before eating her coma sandwich, I think you could be forgiven).  Anyway: calling it a Kumail Nanjiani biopic that happens to co-star Gordon's parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) is probably a little more accurate than "a romantic dramedy about Kumail and Emily."

It isn't true that I have nothing against The Big Sick, but I do like it, because there is, after all, plenty to like about it.  The most obvious points of recommendation, beyond a doubt, are the Gordons, demonstrating for the billionth time that Hunter is an excellent actress, even if the role demands very little of her beyond "be a gruff but still-loveable small woman," and demonstrating for possibly the first time that Romano can invest a role with genuine heart; but that's unfair to Nanjiani, who carries the romantic and dramatic weights of his role reasonably well, perhaps even shockingly well, given that that apparently really is the only voice he has, and it was not well-designed for roles beyond his niche of the weird mostly-a-straight-man on Silicon Valley.  And there are a great many little bits here and there that are fun; if not a romantic comedy as such, the movie is still a comedy-comedy, and easily carves out some small place in the genre.  The best stuff, though, is funny only as a second-order effect: it's how scathing Nanjiani and Gordon's screenplay can be when presenting Kumail's stand-up comedian community, basically by simply showing it as I presume it was—absolutely terrible.  The highlight of the movie as a comedy is arguably Kumail's one-man show about the history of Pakistan, which he thinks is funny; the highlight of the movie as a drama is when he breaks down on stage and just starts monologuing through tears at his situation.  But there are about as many actual laughs in both.  This isn't Don't Think Twice, and The Big Sick doesn't have a lot of illusions about the general quality of Nanjiani's profession.

On the other hand, the whole pursuit feels slightly off, doesn't it?  Though it registers only subliminally, the fact that Nanjiani is playing himself as he was over a decade in the past (while his and Gordon's screenplay unwisely updates their story to the present) never quite stops getting in the way of a series of events that makes the most sense to have happened to a guy who was in his mid-twenties, rather than in his late thirties.  Probably by accident, then, you find yourself having to agree with Kumail's dad (Anupam Kher), that maybe this life just ain't for him.

Not that you find yourself agreeing with him, or his wife (Adeel Akhtar), very often, and this is what I actually do have against The Big Sick, which is how incredibly easy it lets off the Nanjiani clan for their egregious fucking racism.  The Big Sick really, really wants to be a feel-good movie about overcoming your upbringing (as well as the broader racism of American society at large), and it certainly has those elements (though this is another reason why Nanjiani's actual age sticks in the craw, of course: a man of nearly 40 years having to rationalize his way around his parents' bigotry is exponentially more pathetic than a man in his twenties doing so, and it's still laughably pathetic even then).  But it has no coherent critique of the family who spends a third of the movie's screentime trying to ensure a literal purity of blood, whereas Emily just flips like a switch when the movie needs her to (that is, at the last possible second, in a fairly solid romantic scene that really, really emphasizes just how much this screenplay is about Kumail), and while we can impose the real world onto The Big Sick if we want—it seems clear that whatever problems Nanjiani had in 2006, they were resolved to Gordon's satisfaction—Kumail the Character in This Movie simply isn't that convincing when he pleads that his past behavior shall not be repeated, because when he repudiates his family, he does it in the most bizarrely subordinate way possible, it sticks for about five whole minutes, and I sure as hell didn't see them change in the meantime.

Score: 6/10

Greta Gerwig is terrible, but I'll give her both a real compliment and a backhanded one: based on her debut, Lady Bird, she might be a better director than Noah Baumbach; by the same token, I'm now much more apt to blame Gerwig for the movie she starred in for and co-wrote with Baumbach, and which Baumbach directed, Frances Ha, because now I know she was as much that film's author as he was.

Lady Bird, like Frances, was well-received (so well-received it got a Best Picture nomination, and why not? it was a weak, weak year for middlebrow garbage); but that makes sense, inasmuch as Lady Bird kind of is Frances Ha, except in prequel form.  Gerwig has remarked that Lady Bird draws from elements of her own biography.  Both films feature screeplays that gain some of their traction from the contempt they generate for their title characters, though Baumbach's film is much less self-aware about it, far too enamored with Frances (as, indeed, Baumbach was enamored with Gerwig) to do anything useful with it.  Still, between the two, you get the distinct feeling that Greta Gerwig might not even like herself all that much.  Nor should she.

Anyway, Lady Bird is the superior picture in that I didn't despise it, based primarily on the fact that the personality animating the title character of Frances Ha, that of a dreamy, flighty girl in a perpetual state of belligerent confusion as to who she wants to be when she grows up, or even who she is right now, is vastly more tolerable in the context of a story about a teenager than it is in a story about an adult woman scraping up against the edge of thirty.  That about sums up Lady Bird, though for diligence's sake I'll recap a little more: Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who has elected to use the name "Lady Bird" for reasons never stated—though it bothers her mother (Laurie Metcalf), which is certainly reason enough—is in her senior year of high school in Sacramento, which is somewhat presented as if it were a small hamlet, rather than a city of about 500,000 people.  The McPhersons are poor, and although her dad (Tracy Letts) is nice and indulgent, Lady Bird chafes.  More than anything, she wants out and away—New York looks nice to her, because she's 17, and to this end this middling student applies to Columbia (hahaha, yeah, right) and, more realistically, several other schools in NYC.  Lady Bird puts on a lot of airs and does not realize she is almost the least interesting person in her movie—and only almost, because that prize obviously goes to one of Lady Bird's boyfriends, Kyle (Timothee Chalamet, taking the slightly-brain-damaged honeypot thing he did in Call Me By Your Name at least two or three notches too far, and turning into some kind of lizard in the process).  Please direct your attention to the unathletic girl in the corner, now, who shall be used as a prop in Lady Bird's High School Judas arc.  See her?  Cool.  But this movie's about Saoirse Ronan, a pretty "girl," whose petite stature has managed to keep her in Catholic schoolgirl skirts four years into her third decade on this Earth.

So what we get is basically Rushmore without a plot, and Wes Anderson, pre-coagulation variant, is stamped all over Gerwig's aesthetic—nowhere more apparently than in those 90 degree shots of Ronan walking through a match-cut montage—as well as in the character construction, which is why I say Gerwig's possibly a better director (certainly, of this kind of material) than Baumbach, because even though she's stealing, she's stealing the right stuff.  It keeps Lady Bird watchable, though it serves mostly to impress upon you how essential it was for Rushmore to have that fun "love triangle" plot, because it drove all of its jokes and its significantly-deeper emotional arcs.  Lady Bird is more concerned with biological parents and children, though, and it gets some real mileage out of Metcalf and her deeply-unpleasant mother, who reminds me of the line from Angels in America about being old enough to understand that your parents don't love you.  And don't let me fool you, Gerwig gets a good performance out of Ronan, too, although this matters little.

In terms of telling her story, Gerwig is kind of fundamentally incompetent, though inconsistently so: she starts her film with her very strongest play, which lets you know exactly who this "Lady Bird" is, like her or not, in the quickest, broadest (and even pleasingly-cartoonish, but still mostly-credible) strokes, and it is very much downhill from there, and as we approach the two hour mark Lady Bird up and ends something along the lines of four fucking times, Return of the King style.  The middle is a muddle, and while this sort of suits a movie about a senior in high school, it bounds up and down spastically in terms of inherent interest—Lady Bird abandoning her best friend (Beanie Feldstein), Lady Bird lying about her family's near-poverty, Lady Bird trying to fuck a gay guy—but the film never bottoms out as hard as when it hard cuts away from a scene of gropey making out, in such a way that cannot be read as anything else but "classily taking its leave of the two teens about to fuck," then comes back around, twenty minutes later, and says Lady Bird's still a virgin.

The film kind of just dies in the middle, then, insofar as the middle is spent resting upon Kyle, and Kyle is categorically unacceptable, an ebon void with a sign next to it that reads "Stereotyped Teenaged Masculinity."  Kyle's funny, yes, but in a wholly negative sense; he's the one character in the film that appears to be written as a complete joke (his traits are left-ish conspiracy mongering, good-looking glowering substituting for a personality, profound dickishness, and, of course, premature ejaculation, because where would we be without that extremely fresh take on teen sex).  Meanwhile, the rest, even the most amusing—that's Lady Bird's brother, Jonah (Daniel Ruiz), by a Northern California mile—at least sort of fit into reality.

Lady Bird is not the worst thing in the world, and I can squint and sort of see how some people might be able to draw something meaningful out of it (the mother-daughter dynamic really is something).  But it is hit-and-miss, extremely so, and the misses, while they probably don't even technically outnumber the hits, certainly wind up being almost all the things you remember about it.

Score: 4/10

(Minor spoilers) At some point during 2017, I watched Dean Israelite's Power Rangers, and boy, do I remember almost nothing about it except the following things: it was fun and engaging in a light-schlock sort of way, right up until it degenerated into a mostly-lifeless slog of a third act action scene, which frankly just puts it precisely on par with the superhero movie as we know it today; it has almost no interest in its Breakfast Club as a whole, and is concerned almost exclusively with the Athlete (or Red Ranger), the Brain (or Blue Ranger), and the Princess (or Pink Ranger), even though the Criminal (the Black Ranger) and the Basket Case (the Yellow Ranger) seem like they probably ought to be part of this story in a meaningful way; it would be a lot better if the Ranger they killed was the Red one, because that would've put the Blue one in an interesting position of unasked-for leadership; it would be better, also, if the Ranger they killed wasn't the black one (that is, the one of African descent), because you're not doing that in 2017 (are you?), and we know you're just gonna bring him right back; and Elizabeth Banks is off the fuckin' wall in this movie as Rita Repulsa—and Israelite helps a lot, by juicing all her scenes with a whole heaping helping of great kitsch horror movie technique—and Banks is a fine, fine reason to watch Power Rangers without reference to anything else in it at all.  Oh, I also liked Alpha (Patton Oswalt Bill Hader) (thanks Brennan, I'm a dummy).  But I always kind of liked Alpha even on the TV show, because he's just the worst, but in the best way.

Score:  6/10

That brings us to Michael Gracey's The Greatest Showman, the big song-and-dance musical biopic of 2017 that clearly would have been better off setting its sights on "C.T. Farnum" rather than its actual subject.  And yet its embarrassing disregard for reality lines up thematically with the film very nicely, for it is all about the power of artifice and pretty lies to entertain and (theoretically) edify—but use this argument against people who hate this movie at your own risk, because, honestly, they are right and you are wrong.

Still, I like The Greatest Showman a lot, absolutely despite myself, because almost everything I could point to liking about it is, well, trash.  The songs, while never offensive, are all generic pop, and atrociously-overproduced generic pop at that, and they have a tendency to sound so similar (this on top of reprises being a major factor here) that you almost get bored with the film's musical aesthetic; its very best number is also its first, "The Greatest Show" (natch), a dream sequence that introduces you to Phineas Barnum (Hugh Jackman) with extraordinary dynamism and emotion before vanishing into the subconscious ambitions of the American peasant child that Barnum started out as.  And it's actually pretty great—I honestly love this opening and was saying to myself "10 out of 10, should I buy the 4K?" before it was over—but it is never a good thing (see Lady Bird, above) that a movie only ever goes downhill, on average, from its first few minutes.  I might also have appreciated, just for deep background's sake, if the film had offered even the slightest sense of what a Barnum show actually looked like, outside of the fantasia of a dance number; but, unfortunately, Gracey denies us this.

Meanwhile, the story is barely extant, though there are many events; I only realized I was watching a Dissolution of Fame Melodrama at about the instant that the movie told me I was watching one, and that Barnum has been pursuing his dreams for all the wrong reasons, because what he really needed all along, he already had (spoiler: it's his wife and children).  It's not even a good Dissolution of Fame Melodrama; it pulls a major punch that leaves you wondering just what those awed-and-horny reaction shots of Jackman's face, when he sees the woman he doesn't try to sleep with, were even supposed to signify.  The Greatest Showman has an Interracial Romance in Olden Times Module attached to it, too, and this works in the sense that there are songs to be sung about it and leering shots to be seen of Zendaya's great gams, and it's at least more scorched-earth than The Big Sick ever thinks about being to its paternal bigots; and, of course, it makes a gesture toward an empowerment narrative for the various non-normative folks Barnum hired/enslaved for his New York museum, though this is mainly self-contained within a single song, even if this is sort of what the marketing campaign said the movie was going to be about.

Still: even if the points of recommendation are hard to form into a coherent list, there's an attitude to The Greatest Showman's deployment of completely hollow spectacle that you'll find either totally repulsive or perversely charming.  I opted for the latter, and it's easy to get swept away by the machinegun pace of its happenstance and the musical numbers that flail around like an even-more-coked-up Moulin Rouge, or, if not that, then the 110% commitment of its star; Jackman has not had more fun in a movie in ever than he's having here, belting out every lyric like they might not hear him on the streets outside and posing in every insert shot like he was Dr. Facilier, and it's a damned shame that he's not in more movie musicals, his last go-round being Les Mis, which I am happy to say I would never choose over this one.  This man was born to wear a top hat and use it as a prop to distract from how he can't really dance at a professional level.  (Yet he was also born to play Wolverine.  The inescapable conclusion is that Jackman is one incredible actor.)

But if I had to give you something solid to hold onto—assuming Jackman is not enough, though he should be—then there are elements of The Greatest Showman that you can throw superlatives at, and actually see them stick: it's the best-staged movie musical in a while, or, at least, the most-staged.  And that's something that's easy to forget about, these days; songs are songs, and while it's obviously better if they're great (or at least something you'd feel more comfortable calling good), live-action musicals live not on music alone, but on the arrangement of bodies within a frame, in their kinetic interactions with each other and with the environment they're in.  The Greatest Showman gets that, and despite everything about it that's kind of unlikeably modern, it's arguably a more faithful throwback to the bulk of the musicals made in the 50s and 60s than La La Land actually was.  (That movie, although superior in every single respect, was too dedicated to hybridizing Arthur Freed and Vincente Minelli with Jacques Demy to feel typical.)  The Greatest Showman doesn't find its world, it wills it into being with art direction and brute enthusiasm—never more thrillingly than in the masterpiece of choreography (and, sure, editing) that coincides with "The Other Side," this being Jackman's duet with Zac Efron (as Barnum's reluctant protege, Phillip Carlyle) and also, interestingly enough, the one song in the movie that doesn't sound like all the rest.  "The Other Side's" dance, or dance-like human movement, really—it involves drinking at a bar, and is perhaps best likened to the Atari game Tapper—is like an experiment in just how microscopic and precise you can get a piece of choreography to be, but it pays off in huge ways, every little movement of the performers and the shot glasses and beer mugs and barstools and everything combining into a mesmerizing display of perfect synchronization.  It's actually a pity nothing else here is remotely on this level—though there's still plenty to get at least a little worked up about, like a dance on a rooftop, or a bit where Jackman rides a (probably CGI) elephant as a grand romantic gesture.

I'll admit it—it's easy to overvalue The Greatest Showman, because it is, sadly, the only show in town anyway.  (Was there another major musical released last year that I missed?)  Going by rarity probably isn't a very objective way to evaluate a movie, and when the choice is between this or literally nothing, "choose this" doesn't seem like a meaningful recommendation.  Even so: you don't have a choice, and it could be worse.  This one's good-bad, the best-bad, in all the ways you secretly need.

Score: 7/10

Also good-bad, probably even better-bad, after its fashion, is Colin Trevorrow's The Book of Henry.  I want to be brief, because I want you to see it, and there's no point in talking about The Book of Henry at any length unless you get into the whole heap of bananas that constitutes its plot.  In short, then, The Book of Henry is about Henry (Jaeden Lieberher, who between this, Midnight Special, and It has positioned himself as the go-to child actor for kid's adventures these days—and he's batting a terrifically solid .333 for "actual good movies," too! this kid in goggles is a bad omen, it turns out).

And, well, Henry is a genius—like, a Silver Age comic book-style genius, as capable of building weird Rube Goldberg machines in the woods as he is managing a stock portfolio (or, in a later scene, discussing cancer with a doctor who realizes he might actually be outmatched).  He has a little brother (Jacob Tremblay), who is not a genius; both of them live with their single mom, Susan (Naomi Watts, too good for this, and that's not rhetorical flourish, she's literally acting too much in this, in a way that makes it even more laughable, because she's actually putting a good performance in).  Susan works as a waitress, despite being a hundred thousandaire from Henry's financial manipulations, in the first of Book of Henry's many, many Questions That Are Raised and Rapidly Dismissed, though you can sort of answer it yourself, because as much as this film tells instead of shows, it makes one thing very plain very quickly: Susan is definitely not a genius.

This is probably the first thing that goes wrong here, and arguably the very worst, but best we punch through the premise to get to the plot while we still can: Henry makes the acquaintance of a neighbor girl (barely), and, through his heightened powers of Holmesian deduction, realizes that she's being abused (you know how—or at least the movie assumes you do) by her stepdad (Dean Norris, also too good for this, in the same way as Naomi Watts).  Going through the usual channels is useless, of course, because he's the local police chief.  So Henry has no choice but to take the law into his own hands.

Here's where we stop, though there is much more to Book of Henry (the title suggests where it goes, but I won't reveal anything else).  Suffice it to say that it gets even batshittier than it already was, and it is glorious.  They make bad movies all the time, but, these days, they almost never make them like this—competently-made films by actual filmmakers (Trevorrow sucks, but he is an actual filmmaker, like it or not) that are so bad conceptually, and so bad narratively, that they're perfectly, even compulsively watchable, while slapping you in the face every three or four minutes with one more outlandishly bad idea.  The most thoroughgoing is the way it treats Susan and Henry—their dynamic is less "mother and precocious son" and a lot more like husband and wife (condescending husband and subsmissive, borderline-handicapped wife, even), except with that frisson of mommy stuff that, I expect, is what got Trevorrow interested in the first place.  (See Jurassic World for a different flavor of mommy stuff in Trevorrow's career: in that the mommy is mean and wears heels.  For another example, see Kathleen Kennedy.  But in this, the mommy is nice, and probably too stupid to even know it's inside her while she plays her Gears of War on XBox Live.)

Susan is just great, in the most terrible way—the movie can't give her one scene without impressing upon you how inept and helpless she is, and one of the more hilarious things about Book of Henry is how it tries to justify this as her "arc"—but God knows, she's not alone in being ludicrous.  Henry himself is played by Lieberher as Data from TNG, except smugger, and is also routinely funny on accident; Tremblay plays the kid brother as an ambulatory, nearsighted fetus; the film is nominally "about" the neighbor girl, whom I think has maybe ten lines; the only genuinely solid character who ever feels like he's in the right movie doing the right things is the doctor played by Lee Pace, who gets one of the film's few line reads that comes off like what I would have to imagine Trevorrow and screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz intended, when he starts a conversation with Henry with a patronizing tone and then, fluidly, with the most subtle discomfiture but also with something like relief, rises to the genius' level to discuss his illness with him like an adult.  And then they find nothing for Pace to do after that, except sort of stalk Henry's mom.  It's weird.  And, of course, how can we forget Sarah Silverman, who spends the movie playing a cartoon drunk, and then gets a scene where she mouth-kisses a ten year old boy?

And this is only the first half of the movie; the other half is just as demented.  You can sometimes see what Hurwitz was going for: a dark comedy, maybe, or something along those lines; a sort-of pre-pubescent Donnie Darko without time travel, maybe.  (There's a fair amount of—startlingly effective!—cross-cutting in the gun-wielding climax, where this clicked for me.  Doubtless because it reminded me of Sparkle Motion.)  But what we actually get in Trevorrow's direction is much better than what Hurwitz wanted, a film that drips with Ambliny gold and cod-Spielbergian sentiment even as it proceeds into the richest mess of gross nonsense 2017 provided.  It is one of last year's worst films, but definitely one of its funniest comedies, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Score:  2/10

And here I'll actually be brief: the Safdie Bros' Good Time, hailed as an instant classic by all sorts of people, and which left me utterly cold.

Now, it doesn't start that way, because it starts running, with a thrumming electronic score by Oneohtrix Point Never, gritty but colorful neon-heavy cinematography by Sean Price Williams, and a heist gone awry, whereupon two brothers are separated in the process: Nick Nikas (seriously?) (co-director Benjamin Safdie), somewhat developmentally-disabled, gets picked up by the cops, and Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) gets away, but Connie remains determined to get Nick his bail money, even though the heist money is a little too covered with dye to be used for this purpose.  Thus begins Connie's dark mission through a New York night, where he grifts and bamboozles and steals and cheats and lies and is really, really mean to a lot of people.

It's a Stupid Criminal Story, which could go either way; but it's played by the Safdies, and by Pattinson, in the grubbiest manner imaginable.  Good Time works like a shark: so long as its moving, it lives by its own momentum.  Halfway through, it slows down, and it never recovers, because without that momentum, what we're left with is Nick, and Pattinson's performance of Nick: a Stupid Criminal rendered as basically an animal—which many critics have deemed a fascinating spectacle, and even counter-intuitively humanistic. But it rises, I think, only to the level of technically interesting... and viscerally repugnant.  Which isn't nothing, but it's not exactly inviting.

In any event, if Nick is animal, he's not devoid of animal cunning, not at all.  This Criminal is certainly Stupid by any standard metric, but he's incredibly cunning.  Though it's worth mentioning that he seems this way in part because everyone around him is dumb as a fucking brick, which is the film's first problem.

The other problem is that Nick is almost wholly without a code, or personality, or even charisma—Pattinson's a fine actor, but charisma's kind of never been his thing—and, even though his quest be (in a sense) righteous, I found it incredibly hard to care about this particular featureless scumbag, who would more typically be found getting knocked out with a batarang in the first few pages of any given issue of Detective Comics, while narration boxes primed us for the real story.  I shall not dwell on the particulars of the film, for it's possible you may wish to listen to everyone else rather than me on this one, and you may be right to do so.  So there's a kind of race thing going on in the movie, that's mildly interesting in theory, and never interesting in practice (Nick gets out of a few jams because he's white); there is a sort of sidekick/antagonist (Buddy Duress) who winds up on Nick's side temporarily, who looks at Pattison's charisma deficit and says "I can do worse than that!", and annoyed the living shit out of me every time his mouth opened and his horrible, horrible New Yawk  accent spilled out; Barkhad Abdi is in this, and I am always glad to see Barkhad Abdi get work.

It ends with a wet fart of a climax—it's like every scene is an attempt by the Safdies to see if they could make Nick's adventure more grounded and lamer—and by that point, I really had no use for the movie whatsoever.  It's an emotional, narrative, and formal nothing, and I kind of wish I hadn't bought it blind, but so it goes.

Score:  4/10

3 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow let me process.

    The Big Sick: Michael Showalter really is a wholly unexceptional director, isn't he? But then again, comedy has really been getting the short shrift lately.

    Lady Bird: I'm disappointed you weren't feeling this one, but as a gay theater kid with a sister and mom in kinda-sorta-almost small town California, I was pretty primed to relate to this one. Timothy Chalamet can go suck a peach though.

    Power Rangers: Saban's Krispy Kreme's Power Rangers was, yeah... It was alright! Wasn't the robot played by Bill Hader though?

    The Greatest Showman: I'm glad you liked this one, too! I have no idea how many layers of irony are involved in me loving the movie, but I truly do. The best thing about it is that it's an easy rewatch, because it's like you're fast forwarding past all the plot bits to get to the musical numbers, considering that they weren't there to begin with.

    The Book of Henry: Right? That movie needs to be seen to be believed.

    Good Time: Haven't seen it, so I can't contest your low score a la Lady Bird. I'm sure you're right on this one though.

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    1. The Big Sick: people (maybe just Tim Brayton, who's like the only person who cares at all anymore, yet also actually appears to process audiovisual information differently than I do) have been saying nice things about Game Night. No, wait, you said nice things about Game Night! I should watch Game Night some time.

      Lady Bird: I liked what I liked, but what I disliked was tremendously unbalancing. It's possible that, eventually, Gerwig could make a good movie, rather than being a good ascended extra, ala Jackie. She's good in Jackie! Has about five lines, but she's good.

      Power Rangers: yes, you're right, and that sucks, 'cause I like Hader; he's a solid voice actor and one of the reasons I like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs so much. I'll correct that.

      Greatest Showman: And you don't have to fast-forward much, because, well, there are a lot of musical numbers, which I appreciated. I'll cop: I'll probably buy this if I ever see it for eight bucks or so.

      Book of Henry: honestly the best time I had watching a movie at home in a while, even though it's terrible. I usually am not a proponent of the "so-bad-it's-good" thesis--usually things are just good, or they're bad, and being "wacky" or "weird" or "dumb" isn't quite the same as being "bad." But then there's Book of Henry, the best (only?) good-bad movie I've seen since Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, way back when.

      Good Time: eh, I have no real animus toward it, which is strange, because it cost me $15 and my reaction should be magnified on account of that.

      The Beguiled: so it turns out I forgot to do the Beguiled. That's sort of a review in itself, but I'll stick to the 6/10. It's basically an exercise in underlighting/natural lighting that more-or-less still works as an (surprisingly un)erotic thriller.

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    2. The Big Sick: I wouldn't get TOO excited about Game Night, though it is an exceptionally solid comedy. It's entirely too easy to overvalue it in the current comedy climate. But yeah, Tim does see a lot of things like he's from a different dimension. I wish I could see what he sees, and I occasionally do, but there's a place where I steeply plateau away from his interests.

      Lady Bird: I DO think Gerwig the director got in the way of Gerwig the writer, and in that respect our opinions certainly align.

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