The problem is the movie doesn’t always realize this should be a hoot. Rami Malek and Christoph Waltz realize what movie they are in. And I love Craig’s Bond, but there are times when he’s trying to be a Connery Bond in a clearly Roger Moore Bond movie.
Vacation Friends isn’t exactly groundbreaking or revolutionary in its comedy — it does have a few stock situations and characters (the extended stylized drug scene, the disapproving father played by Bunny Colvin) — and one could argue that it doesn’t have much in the way of nutritional value. Yet it allows us to enjoy empty calories in a way not many movies of its ilk do, offering just enough to elevate the genre.
When the characters are just being the characters, instead of listening to exposition, this is a really fun movie. (And Destin Daniel Cretton excels at characters.) It’s all here. And it’s why I’m really looking forward to the next chapter now that we got all the explaining out of the way.
The beauty of Pig, the new Michael Sarnoski movie starring Nic Cage as a bedraggled truffle forager, is that while it is utterly bonkers, it’s not bonkers in any of the traditional ways that we’ve come to expect. It’s quietly bonkers, meditative and subdued, rather than loud and frenetic.
The beauty of Green Knight is that it’s so fully realized on every level — score, cinematography, production design, acting — that even when you don’t know entirely what Lowery is on about you can’t look away. It’s almost as if every individual shot has a narrative arc unto itself. It’s so compelling on a micro level that the “big picture” becomes irrelevant.
The good news is you get about an hour of a movie that could be deemed “entertaining” or “enjoyable.” The bad news is, after that first hour (and like so many movies inexplicably do today), someone decided, “Look, hear me out, what if about halfway through we make this movie super convoluted? Like to the point it would be hard to explain the plot to anyone?” And then someone else decided, “Yes, that’s exactly what we should do.”
While Roadrunner is a love letter to Bourdain and a nostalgic watch for all of us who thought we saw something of ourselves in him, it’s also a comment on our inability to truly know anyone else. In that sense, it’s a fitting tribute to its subject, a man who tried assiduously not to present himself as someone who had all the answers.
As always, it’s impossible not to be impressed with Soderbergh’s ability to stage and shoot a scene, a talent he has historically put to use in some of my favorite stories (The Knick, for instance). But when he uses that talent to just sort of breeze through a rough draft story before flitting off to the next project, it’s a kind of disrespect to the subject.
As long as these movies keep their earnest, fun, ’90s action movie tone, there is no ridiculous plot point these movies could come up with I wouldn’t believe. By this point they’ve earned that. They are family.
It’s a film that seems to go to great pains describing the very specific niche that each character occupies, carefully crafted anecdotes defining attributes ultimately signifying nothing. Detailed information is given, then discarded. It’s almost an anti-movie.
It’s a movie that feels like hope as actual hope stares us smack in the face. We are almost there. In the Heights didn’t ask for this responsibility, but it will forever be remembered as the right movie for the right time. It’s the kind of movie that will make you want to dance in the streets. And after this year we’ve all had, we all deserve to have our moment dancing in the street.
It’s true, North Hollywood‘s story isn’t quite as affecting as its style. As such, it’d be easy to label it “all style, no substance.” But as North Hollywood proves, when you do it well enough, style is substance.