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Friday, June 30, 2017

The Beguiled

Like a Virginian.

In January, I listed my New Year’s Wishes for 2017 at the movies. I wished that Wonder Woman would be wonderful, Logan would be the Wolverine movie we’ve been waiting for and that the clearly uninspired remakes and sequels, specifically Baywatch, Mummy, Alien and Fifty Shades, would tank at the box office. I wished that the Oscars would move beyond #oscarssowhite. And I wished that Sofia Coppola would make our day with The Beguiled. 

Most of my wishes have come true, but while The Beguiled entertained me for a bit, it certainly did not make my day, and it won’t make my Best of the Year list. 

Director Sofia Coppola took best director prize at Cannes for The Beguiled. I can understand some of that. It is craftfully created, and each visual drips with the mossy visuals of a Civil-war era Virginia holding on to what beauty is left — but it’s not the film I hoped for. 

The story, a remake of the Clint Eastwood film from 1971, is a slight one. Colin Farrell, who I really want to like in a movie one day, is no Clint Eastwood. 

What does work, other than the Southern gothic scenery, is Nicole Kidman. Her politely suppressed character, like the best British and Southern movies, is sublime. I can tell you now without a spoiler, one static look in the final act will make her career montage.

Kidman is having one heck of a year from Lion to Big Little Lies to this. I should have wished for more Nicole Kidman in 2017.

Simply put: Not the film I hoped for, but a fine and pleasantly short film as counterpoint to the lengthy summer blockbusters at the cinema now.

Award potential: Nicole Kidman has a shot at Best Supporting Actress nominations on this one, but summer films are famously ignored. Kirsten Dunst was fine, but forgettable.

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baby Driver

Baby Driver
This summer’s joyride.

Sorry super friends, guardians, monsters and transformers, Baby Driver is the coolest movie of the summer. 

Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) directs this baby with style and swagger and unlike anything he’s done before. Watching this film is as breezy as listening to the soundtrack that fuels it. 

The script gives us iPod-adorned Ansel Elgort (Baby) as the getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and an assortment of bank robbers (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez). It’s a cleverly written heist movie, but on speed. 

Get ready for brilliantly-shot car chases, stylish crime capers and a twee-rific love story featuring Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey). Each scene rolls in seamlessly, like a perfect mix tape, until it all boils up to the final act. It’s a drive worth taking. 

Simply put: Rev up. It’s Fast and Furious for the cool kids.

Award potential: Not an Oscar-type film, but expect to see Baby Driver on plenty of 2017 top ten lists and perhaps on some short lists for Golden Globe nominations. I'll give it the "coolest pic' of the year" award right now.

The Ten Buck Review:
Worth ten bucks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman

It's super.

I’ve heard a lot of people who are surprised at how long it took Wonder Woman to get to the big screen. After all, “What could go wrong?”

For starters, she’s an Amazon princess, who is related to the Greek god Zeus. She wears a red, white and blue bustier, and fights crime with a shield, sword, magic bracelets and a golden lasso that makes people tell the truth. To make things more difficult, she is lovingly remembered by her 70’s TV incarnation that had a theme song with the lyrics “In your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red, white and blue.” She is all that and a feminist icon as well. One more thing; it’s a DC movie (Green Lantern, Batman V. Superman). Yikes! 

In other words, about a million things could have gone wrong — but didn’t. Wonder Woman is everything we want it to be, and it's here to save the summer. Gal Gadot has big-screen star power and you just can’t look away from her. 

You can’t look away from this film either. Director Patty Jenkins (Monster) has set a new standard for balancing comedy, myth and action. She's Warner Brother's new hero.

Somehow Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg flipped all the things that could go wrong, such as her famous tights. By the time we see Diana Prince (Wonder Woman's secret identity) stretch a bit in restrictive 20th Century garments, any viewer can kinda understand why she pops into her skimpy, and otherwise absurd, attire to go to battle. The lasso of truth? It’s a beauty onscreen. The typical comic book final 20-minutes where the enemy gets big and the hero has to blow the big thing up amidst twirling VFX madness? Well, OK, they didn’t solve that. Next time. 

Like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, but unlike most superhero films, I want to see more stories about Gal Gadot’s blazzingly heroic Wonder Woman. It’s not just super, it’s superb.

Simply put: Wonder no more, Wonder Woman beaks the mold.

Award potential: In the mix for Best FX and Best Original Score and Best Sound and Sound Mixing Oscar categories. Look for Gal Gadot to be mentioned in early Golden Globe shortlists.

The Ten Buck Review:
Worth ten bucks.