3 Stars Movies

A time twisty scenario: Interstellar

Interstellar‘s torturously complex premise requires a constant stream of exposition throughout, something I don’t recall being a problem in Christopher Nolan’s other time twisty scenarios like The Prestige and Inception. It’s also less emotionally urgent than either, perhaps indicating that the premise and structure overwhelmed everything else.

If Coop (Matthew McConaughey) — and by proxy, the audience — needs to have everything constantly explained to him (before, during, and after anything happens), maybe he’s not the right person for the job. I know, I know, he’s the pilot, and realistically each member of such a crew would have their area of expertise. But perhaps the protagonist of the film, and the one that is most lauded by humanity at the end, should have been either Murph (Jessica Chastain) or Amelia (Anne Hathaway).

And I think maybe we were supposed to feel sentimental affection for the robots? I couldn’t even tell you how many there were.

3 Stars Movies

Ocean’s Eight is a pleasantly diverting trifle

Gary Ross’ Ocean’s Eight is, like all Ocean’s films before it, a pleasantly diverting trifle. But its relative deficiency of zip and pizzazz makes me wonder if co-producer Steven Soderbergh positioned his own Logan Lucky as an act of sabotage. I found myself mentally compiling a wishlist while watching:

  • I believe it was intended as a plot twist that James Corden’s insurance investigator was chummy with career criminal Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), but it only reduced the stakes.
  • Nice to see Elliot Gould and Shaobo Qin, but a cameo from Julia Roberts would have been fun and fitting.
  • Speaking of cameos, I would have LOL’d if one of the hapless chefs Cate Blanchett was training had been Topher Grace.
  • The insurance investigator could have been a female English star — how about Emma Thompson? Kate Winslet? Thandie Newton? Yes, thematically, it makes sense for the character to be a male antagonist, but it still seems like a missed casting opportunity.
  • I didn’t note one, just one, quotable line of dialogue — like “and then he’ll go to work on you” or “allllllll reds” or “did you check the batteries” or countless others from Ocean’s Eleven.
  • A score by David Holmes would have gone a long way.

Some praise: Anne Hathaway was totally the MVP. As in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, she stole all the scenes, and elevated the material.

Some trivia: I was startled to hear an unmistakable sample of No-Man’s “Dry Cleaning Ray” repeated several times in Daniel Pemberton’s score. I’m a big No-Man fan, and this is a deep cut. I hope Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness were cut a check.

2 Stars Movies

Everything is… fine… in The Intern

Nancy Meyer’s 2015 trifle The Intern is a little outside the usual scope of this blog, but it sparked a couple thoughts I needed to get out:

What a waste of a decent premise: a retiree reenters a transformed workforce, while the young founder of a startup grapples with success. But so little is at stake for either.

Ben (Robert De Niro) enjoys a comfortable retirement, with a nice home, stable finances, and good health. While he’s a widower, he hardly seems overtaken with grief or loneliness. His urge to reenter the workforce stems from a vague, half-felt malaise, not out of any financial or emotional urgency. He’s… fine.

Anne Hathaway in The Intern
Just because she’s a boss doesn’t mean she can’t be quirky and adorkable.

Jules’ (Anne Hathaway) primary dilemma is whether she should maintain her company’s status quo (which has been functioning… fine) or bring on a more experienced CEO as her business grows (which would also be… fine). She’s also… fine.

The overall feel of this movie is like taking a warm milk bath, where every character was fine, is fine, and will be fine.

But for all its gentle geniality, The Intern does briefly dally with melodrama, as Jules’ frustrated stay-at-home husband smooches another woman. Here, old-school Ben takes a more feminist stance than she. For once, she does not take his seasoned advice, and opts to avoid confrontation with her husband. Similarly, she decides to do nothing with her company. So… everything’s fine.

1 Star Movies

Every line must rhyme in Les Misérables

Les Misérables left me cold
Nothing shown and everything told

All that hollering and shrieking
Leaves my head aching

Every line must rhyme
Across its excessive running time

No subtlety of emotion
The screen filled with commotion

Eddie Redmayne sings a song atop a pile of doors
My god what a bore

Hugh Jackman sheathes his claws
To grimace and overemote without pause

Russell Crowe huffs and puffs
Cashing his check to afford more foodstuffs

It’s Anne Hathaway’s big Oscar chance
Which she almost ruined by forgetting her underpants

Every theater nerd knows all the words
Everyone else calls it a turd

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