What do you think of when you hear the name Shane Black? If you’re in the know, as I pretend to be, you likely think of two or more clever-by-half characters exchanging shuriken-like witticisms against a backdrop of intrigue and mayhem.
When I heard Black’s name in conjunction with the those of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, my heart nearly skipped a beat. There’s no reason why The Nice Guys—with it’s talented writer/director, cast, and setup—shouldn’t have knocked it out of the park. Instead, the final product is a disappointing and painfully meandering reminder of what could have been.
It seems to me that the action genre has been maligned in recent years, probably because at least ninety percent of it consists of creatively bankrupt, pitifully vapid, painfully generic dross. When I first saw the trailer for Hardcore Henry, I admit that my first reaction was a pretentious sneer at the blazing neon lights blatantly forming the words “Gimmick! Gimmick! Look at me!”
So no-one was more surprised than I at the fact that Hardcore Henry turned out to be one of the most raucous joyrides that I’ve had the pleasure to experience all year.
I don’t say this about movies very often, but Deadpool made me want to kill myself.
Yahtzee Croshaw once said that an attempt at comedy that falls flat is the basic unit of raw despair, and nowhere is that more evident than in Marvel Studios’ newest superhero extravaganza.
Just as the so-called “movie brat” directors of the 70s often cite John Ford, Hitchcock, and Antonioni as some of their major influences, younger directors often reference the movie brats scene when asked about their own influences.
Even among giants like Scorsese, Malick, and Altman, one director seems to be talked about more than any other: Steven Spielberg. For many of these younger directors, we’re seeing Spielberg’s films not just as inspirations, but as templates from which one creates one’s own work.
I saw a film yesterday. It starred actors, was presumably filmed using a recording device of some description, and consisted of scenes which were acted out and arranged in sequential order. The name of the film was Fateful Findings, and I was changed by it.
Even now, in the relative safety and repose of my room, and enjoying the old familiar comfort of my writing desk, I find myself struggling for the words to describe this…experience. I feel uncommonly labored as I write this, as if I have to dredge each individual word from a stinking, fetid pit of tar, and, even then, they seem unfitting for the task at hand. Where should I start?
It’s a tricky question, because one does not simply appraise a film like Fateful Findings based on artistic merit or technical execution. Rather, I think the degree to which the film makes one lose their grasp on reality is a more meaningful method of evaluation. That said, I suppose I should start at the beginning.
Of the myriad types of movies that can be made about Wall Street, it seems like you can either go the Wolf of Wall Street route—bright, energetic, lots of swearing—or you can go the Margin Call route—darkly serious, brooding, lots of swearing—although, interestingly, it seems like Adam McKay’s latest feature, The Big Short, melds the two approaches—with surprisingly positive results.
With The Martian
, director Ridley Scott has finally found a story worthy of his filmmaking talent. Matt Damon stars as Mark Watney, Mars’s most optimistic botanist, who is abandoned on the planet by his fellow astronauts, believing him dead. Isolated, wounded, rapidly depleting his supplies, and unable to contact Earth, Watney is faced with an impossible task: he has to MacGyver together a plan for survival on a planet with no food or oxygen–all in a way that doesn’t feel hopelessly contrived. And boy, does he rise to the occasion! Damon’s superb performance and Scott’s expert handling of the subject material make The Martian
not just one of the best films of 2015, but the most fun movie-going experience I’ve had all year.