Ahh summer, that ever looming shadow of humidity and intense non-ending sauna love in a city like ours. Barcelona welcomes the tired, the pallid, the ruddy, the fuddy duddy and the resident with open arms and a lovely way to break the heat is a relaxing moment in front of the big screen. Alas, many a movie is being released this weekend, so we should talk a bit about the good, the bad, the sweet and the heavy. There’s a lot to talk about.
First…THE BAD. The only film I ever asked for my money back was several years back in Brooklyn. I was at the cinemas on Court Street and was one of those annoying-ass Americanos asking for a refund or free ticket after walking out fifteen minutes into a flick, which is what the manager gladly gave me. Before that, I had only walked out of one movie (Gun Men starring…ahem!…Christopher Lambert and Mario Van Peebles) whilst in early high school with my older brothers in tow, but Terminator 3 was absolutely a bust within the first fifteen minutes. At the time I was fresh out of university and not in any need to critique the franchise for my blog on a cherished magazine’s website. Terminator: Genisys (T5, let’s be real!) brings back ye olde series characters of the Governator, Sarah Connor (played by Ellen Page wannabe Emilia Clarke), John Connor in the future and past and uh uh uh he’s played by Jason Clarke. And then there’s the Kyle Reese character played by Australian actor Jai Courtney, a man who nominates himself to go 45 years back in time to 1984 from 2029 to protect Sarah Connor and ensure her safety from the evil and elusive Skynet who have sent a terminator to kill Mama Connor. Then, flash forward to 2017 with excruciating rehashing of the original terminator, literally some words by sequence, and the film’s “truthiness” falls apart with the exception of tongue-in-cheek, bad actor extraordinaire Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s a grown child’s T2 fantasy fashioned by a member of the fandom and retooled as Terminator 3000. Enjoyable if Arnie is there, horrid if not. Just…wow. ##
THE SWEET. Oh man, what a renaissance the ageing stars of yesteryear are having. From Tomlin and Fonda in new television hit Grace and Frankie to the new film Elsa and Fred with Christopher Plummer and the illustrious Shirley Maclaine AND even a small part by the great George Segal, stars over 70 are kicking it in the can. This film, and it should be noted that this is the American remake of the Argentinian hit of the same name from 2011, tells the story of the accidental pairing of two new neighbours played by the film’s aforementioned stars. While it certainly follows the formula of rom-coms, the fact that it revolves around these two great stars of classic cinema struck me as I watched. If you replaced it with younger actors, you might be able to do a bit more and turn it into a mad caper, but the thrill of watching these two grandparents do their thing makes the film, in my opinion, and yes despite the obvious Hollywood glitches, the sleep romantic film of the early summer. Screw all those Nicholas Sparks films from the spring. This unexpected, poorly received (at least Stateside) film will make a hot, sunny day feel a tad cooler and refresh your jaded mind if even for a spell. ..and the use of Fellini here, albeit camp, is just priceless. ###-1/2
THE GOOD. I remember a scene in Basic Instinct when Douglas is driving Stone to the police station for questioning (right before THAT scene) and she talks about suspension of disbelief. If one were to apply that element to Magic Mike XXL after having seen the first film, one might start reasoning that some would easily see the objectification of men as a new form of sub-cultural feminism, especially when viewed that many of the men who made behind the film did so with a feminist aspect in mind. One thing I noticed as a historian is that rarely in cinema have normal-sized and heavier women been allowed to, if even for small moments, be sensual on celluloid while hunks return the favour. The sequel is not as driving as the original, let’s be clear. I mean, Soderbergh vs. Gregory Jacobs (‘who?’ you might ask, followed by my “exactly!” reply). Don’t worry, he’s got the behind-the-screen street cred as assistant director to some of our modern greats from Soderbergh to John Sayles, Linklater and the Coens. The man is covered…and frankly so is the film, so long as the spectator goes in the movie theatre with no expectations, which is hard when, ahem, “hard” is the obvious word, you dig? Channing Tatum keeps hitting it on the mark for me and since The Jump Street revival and Foxcatcher, I swear to G-d the guy is truly one of the younger, under-appreciated actors of his generation. Matt Bomer throws in his not gay but fey, meditative vibe and the dance numbers are simply the bomb if silly. Why they had to bring back the Backstreet Boys (yes folks, it’s been 20 years this summer!) is a wee bit of some trite shite for my liking but the film is easy summer fun. Take your girl and both of you can enjoy the afterparty! ###
THE HEAVY and best! One of my uni roomies introduced me to the Beach Boys in depth when I was already about 21 or so, just after the new millennium. Along with some burned CDs of The Saints, he included a retrospective, anniversary collection of Pet Sounds which was actually 2 CDs long. I fell in love. When telling the life story of someone in a biographical sense, it is never an easy feat, especially when delving deeply into an historical figure in mainstream music. Sometimes, it is executed successfully (Ray, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Walk the Line) and others well not so much (Nowhere Boy, I’m Not There). This film, Love and Mercy, falls lovingly in the latter category. Brian Wilson as frontman of legendary group Beach Boys is so faithfully portrayed by Paul Dano (younger Brian and a certain acting award nominee come next winter, he’s that bloody good) and mid-aged Brian (again played effortlessly by the always great John Cusack. What struck a chord with me so glaringly besides the blessing of music, was the fact that even though large chunks of his life are missing, the velveteen cinematic touch of director Bill Pohlad and writers Michael Alan Lerner and Oren Moverman moved the story effortlessly. Sisters Carnie and Wendy PLUS main man daddy Brian Wilson have all given their blessing to the film. You’d fare well to check this lovely piece out and be blessed, as well! ####
Have a great weekend and keep yourselves cool and hydrated, lovelies! And make sure you tune in to hear your loving cine master (that’s me FYI) on Tuesday mornings from 9-10 a.m. on RKB 106.9 and Thursday mornings for the Metropolitan crew! We’ve always got your back!