By Bob Grimm
on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 12:01 PM
Paul Verhoeven, who never really recovered from the delicious calamity that was Showgirls (although Starship Troopers was pretty good), tries his hand again at a female empowerment movie (Yes, Showgirls was supposed to be a female empowerment movie) and he fails miserably.
Isabelle Huppert labors away as Michele, owner of a company that makes terrible videogames. As the film begins, we see her victimized in a graphic assault scene that Verhoeven revisits again and again throughout the film. Michele takes an unconventional approach to the event and, as the mystery of who the assailant is plays out, the movie goes off the rails with weirdness.
I guess Verhoeven is shooting for satire here, but what he winds up with is a ragged, less glossy rehash of eighties flicks like Jagged Edge. It’s a bad mystery movie that’s trying to be shocking and even funny, but it all feels desperate and trashy. Huppert is a great actress, and she does all she can with what she’s given. Verhoeven, on the other hand, has basically lost it. Actually, he lost it a long time ago. Maybe another director could’ve made the strange elements balance out, rather than having all feel exploitive and wasteful.
I hate movies that revel in their cleverness when they are totally not clever. I also hate that the movie tries to explain Michele’s behavior towards her assailant as a product of her violent past. Also, you’ll guess the killer long before the movie is half over. This is garbage.
Yes, I know it’s getting a lot of awards and nominations. It’s still garbage.
When going to school or working full time (or both at the same time—why did I decide to do both?), time can go by painfully quickly. Like, how is it February all ready? What do you mean it's 75 degrees outside? How is The Girl on the Train out on DVD already—didn't it open in theaters just last week?
Skip the previews (and the line for popcorn), and curl up at home for maximum relaxation time. These are this week's Top 10 movies for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home, courtesy of Casa Video:
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 11:15 AM
Robert De Niro delivers a good performance in a film that doesn’t match his prowess from director Taylor Hackford.
De Niro plays Jackie Burke, an aging stand up comedian dealing with a TV sitcom past he isn’t all too proud of. Straight up, De Niro does a nice job playing a Don Rickles-type, old school standup. He’s not entirely hilarious, but he’s convincing in his stand up sequences. He’s also good when Jackie is off stage being an ornery bastard.
Where the film lets him down is in its handling of modern day things like viral videos and reality TV. Hackford’s take on modern media is woefully out of touch, and De Niro finds himself stranded in some rather ridiculous, tone deaf scenes. Leslie Mann is her usual great self as a younger woman Jackie winds up trying to romance; the two actually make for a convincing almost-but-not-quite couple. Harvey Keitel is a little overbearing as Mann’s dad, but Danny DeVito scores as Jackie’s bemused brother; it’s the best work he’s done on the big screen in many years.
For everything that works in this movie, there are two things that don’t, so De Niro’s solid work is ultimately wasted. There are lots of cameos from standups like Richard Belzer, Hannibal Buress, Brett Butler and Jimmie Walker. Yes…Jimmie Walker is still alive.
By Bob Grimm
on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Martin Scorsese’s Silence, or, How to Torture a Jesuit Priest Until He Says, “Ah, Screw It!” and Looks for Another Gig, is the auteur’s most inconsistent offering since his misguided and sloppy Casino. It’s clear that Scorsese has poured his heart into the passion project, which makes it all the more sad that it doesn’t live up to his usual standard.
The movie is far too long, and repetitive to the point where it becomes laughable rather than having the desired effect of moving the viewer. Based on the Shusaku Endo book, and a project Scorsese had been trying to mount since the ’80s, it’s nothing but a colossal waste of a great director’s time. Bored to death is not what I expect to be during a Scorsese offering, but that’s what I was watching Silence.
Two Jesuit priests, Rodrigues and Garrpe (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), head to Japan in search of their mentor priest, Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Ferreira went missing during a prior mission years ago and is rumored to have gone into hiding as a civilian with a wife. The whole setup feels a bit like Apocalypse Now, minus the excitement, capable storytelling and fat Brando.
There’s a lot of violence as Japanese Christians and the priests are tortured for their beliefs. There’s also a lot of snoring as the proceedings carry on way too long.
During chilly days like this, there is a phenomenon at my house we like to call "Winter Time Cats." When the outside temperatures dip below 65 degrees, our antisocial little fuzzballs forego their usual scampering to climb onto our laps (and chests, heads and shoulders) for warmth and cuddles. It is the damn best.
Don't have a cat? Gogetone. Don't have anything to watch while you cuddle? Here's your weekly look at the most popular rentals from Casa Video:
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup shine in Mike Mills’s ode to his unusual mother, who raised him in the late seventies and tried to like punk music as much as she could.
Bening is terrific as Dorothea, perhaps the best work of her career. She represents the late seventies woman, still cool but perhaps slowing down a bit due to too many cigarettes and a general disillusionment with certain aspects of the changing culture.
Mills uses Dorothea as a sort of narrator from the future who talks about the events of the film while observing from a perch in years ahead. It’s an interesting technique, and Bening’s performance is a career milestone.
Gerwig and Fanning are great as two different women who hang around Dorothea’s apartment, both with their own highly interesting subplots. Cruddup chimes in capably as a local handyman who will sleep with you if you ask him to.
I must add, I love the way this film utilizes music on its soundtrack, from Talking Heads to The Buzzcocks. This is a great, accurate depiction of the late seventies, with a vibe that feels authentic.
By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Michael Keaton is flat out great as Ray Kroc, the sorta-kinda founder of McDonald’s.
Director John Lee Hancock’s film tells the story from when Kroc was selling milk shake mixers door-to-door, up to his wife stealing days as the head of the McDonald’s corporation. Hancock’s movie desperately wants you to like Kroc, but maybe we shouldn’t?
After all, he swept in and took the name of McDonald’s from the McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch), effectively cutting them out of most profits and leaving them in his dust. The film is at its best when it is in old time, Americana mode. It’s a beautiful looking movie that captures the essence of those old timey fast food joints that replaced the traditional Drive-In diners.
The movie slows down a bit and gets a little muddled when it tries to depict Kroc as some sort of commerce hero. I suppose if they went into details about how his co-creating McDonald’s has contributed to worldwide obesity and environmental concerns, McDonald’s themselves would’ve mounted up the lawyers and put the kibosh on the whole thing.
Offerman is great as the well-meaning, high standards McDonald brother that regrets the day he met Kroc. Keaton gets high marks for a film that is ultimately uneven.
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 9:05 AM
Writer-director Pedro Almodovar’s latest is one of his more quiet, introspective films. It also has the characteristically good looks and great performances his movies often have.
Julieta (Emma Suarez) appears ready to move with her boyfriend (Dario Grandinetti) and start a new life in a new land. A chance meeting with an old friend (Michelle Jenner) changes her mind. She leaves her relationship, takes up her old apartment in Madrid, and starts penning letters to her long lost daughter.
The film then switches to flashback mode where a younger Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) meets her daughter’s father on a train, and they embark on a complicated life together. That flashback eventually leads to the present and an ending that might frustrate a high percentage of its viewers.
Suarez and especially Ugarte are good here, keeping the movie from being too melodramatic with finessed performances. This one isn’t as original or captivating as past Almodovar works, and it’s certainly lacking in humor.
Still, it holds you for its running time, and the actresses are very impressive.