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Quick Reviews: Week Of 06.03.2022
Flash Reviews Of The Upcoming Weekend's Movie Releases
Here are my thoughts on the movie releases from the weekend of 06.03.2022 in alphabetical order of their respective release dates. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE
- Plot: As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances. Timlin, an investigator from the National Organ Registry, obsessively tracks their movements, which is when a mysterious group is revealed. Their mission – to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.
- Review: Cronenberg’s newest film feels like its been selling itself as a shock value avant-garde flick months before it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. And while there are certainly some scenes in this that aren’t for those who have weak stomachs, I think folks are going to be underwhelmed by that hype. There’s stories of audiences leaving screenings of this but I wonder how much it was the film not clicking with them much more so than any body-horror moments.
With Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart as the biggest names in the ensemble and the main leads, I can’t say these are bad performances but there’s no real emotion behind them. I don’t blame them, I feel the script which feels…too detached? As the story plays out and we come to learn more about the future this movie is set in or the public spectacles that Saul Tenser takes part in, I kept waiting for the story to feel like it was going somewhere - it never really felt like it did. And by the time the movie comes to its conclusion, I found myself looking around wondering if the movie had been accidently cut early at my screening - it feels that sudden and that unsatisfying.
If it reads like I’m struggling to come up with more to say about this its because I am. This felt like I was watching humans interacting with no real feeling behind it all. Its a well-crafted film technically and there was a lot of potential in the lore it was building up, but it just ended up feeling like an incomplete movie even with an over one-hundred-minute runtime. This could have lived up to the hype but it barely even tried honestly. And that’s the real crime of this dud.
- Initial Grade: C+
- Plot: Two gay best friends take a trip to the Pines, a hamlet on New York’s Fire Island that’s a hotspot for queer culture. Over the course of their vacation, they party with friends and develop flirtations with two other significantly wealthier vacationers.
- Review: From the moment a cover of “Pure Imagination” plays as our protagonists are taken via boat into the titular location of the film, to the final scene as “Last Dance” plays us off with them dancing in the sunset, Fire Island had me literally laughing out loud from start to finish as I watched from my Hulu app on my cellphone.
Much has and will be said in regard to this being a queer rom-com, and admittedly as a boring straight guy I can’t comment on just how well done this depiction of the queer community is but given the talent involved and the queer critics I read and follow, it seems to be a home run for the most part.
Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang’s roles as the leads in Noah and Howie are really at the heart of this film, their friendship being an arc across two different would-be romances playing out. Conrad Ricamora plays Noah’s hard-to-get love interest in Will, and James Scully plays the affable love interest for Howie in Charlie. The movie is a bit of a loose queer remake of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice with some obvious nods to scenes from the original source material in a couple scenes here or there.
I will say I did think it was a bit overlong, the background characters could have used a little more depth, and there’s a bit of a trope here with Margaret Cho playing the Lesbian friend who feels like she’s just sort of there to be there and not much else past one-bit of dialogue of friendly advice she has for our lead Noah.
Regardless whether this was a rom-com with queer or straight romantic plots playing out, the the comedy hits and the heartful moments are felt. Rom-coms should be this consistently fun no matter which sex is falling for the other. If this straight dude can have a blast with Fire Island then I don’t want to hear any excuses from rom-com fans to miss this one.
- Initial Grade: B+
- Plot: When Stargirl’s mother is hired as the costume designer on a movie, they relocate to Los Angeles - where Stargirl quickly becomes involved with an eclectic assortment of characters.
- Review: When I learned this movie existed I think I may have almost shrieked out loud in terror looking at the page of coming attractions that gave me the bad news. The first film, Stargirl, based on a novel, was a tough watch for me. From the absurd character motivations around the title character who almost seemed more angelic than human and the boring pacing, it was one of my least favorites from a tough enough to get through 2020 movie season. So I came into this sequel (Which to my understanding isn’t based on the source material at all) with trepidation. So was it a significant improvement from the first? Yes, it absolutely is.
There’s still some lingering weaknesses from the first one, you can see shades of Stargirl being written as too perfect to relate to and there’s still that soundtrack that feels a tad too melodramatic with its song choices. But with this follow-up we actually get to see Stargirl feel more human and we can relate to some of the frustrations she has moving so frequently from place to place in her life. The coming-of-age romance here feels more natural (and more satisfying) rather than one character holding up the other as a goddess he must have, and the side-characters here are much more interesting thanks in part to an ensemble that gives commendable performances.
Grace VanderWaal plays the part of Stargirl once again and Judy Greer takes over the part of her mother. Uma Thurman also plays the part of a veteran ex musician, which she did so well I never realized it was her in the part until the credits rolled - and the subplot regarding her character is the most interesting of the movie for me, specifically in regard to the commentary it has on art and creativity versus the business side of it. The always lovable Judd Hirsch also appeared to my pleasant surprise as a movie-producing neighbor. Rounded out by Elijah Richardson as the new love interest and Tyrel Jackson Williams as his brother.
This isn’t something amazing that should have gone to theatres or anything like that, but compared to the previous movie this is Casablanca. I can’t believe I’m saying this about the sequel to a movie I made fun of two years ago, but I actually think Hollywood Stargirl might be worth a one and done watch for those of you who have Disney Plus.
- Initial Grade: B/C
- Plot: An Army lieutenant uses her years of tactical training to save humanity from sixteen nuclear missiles launched at the U.S. as a violent coordinated attack simultaneously threatens her remote missile interceptor station.
- Review: You know those movies that are so bad that they’re unintentionally hilarious to watch? Those films you laugh at rather than with? Interceptor is one of those films.
From some of the most cringe-worthy dialogue a script has ever contained (I seriously wonder if these actors weren’t laughing reciting this during the table read) to some really mediocre acting from most of the cast, and incredibly shoddy looking filmmaking. But the cherry on top is the bizarre cameos from a major A-lister that felt distracting more than a natural part of the movie. Every time the film cut to this individual it felt like I was being transported to another film because even the tone seemed to change.
God bless her, lead actress Elsa Pataky tries hard with the incredibly mediocre material given to her and Luke Bracey somehow manages to be the best thing in this thanks to pulling out a decent villainous performance that somehow punched above the weight of the anchors weighing this movie down.
The movie does try to have some commentary on discrimination and sexual predation in America but given the genre and the action playing out on screen, it feels forced and horribly mishandled. If anything it comes off a bit offensive when it goes there much than helpful.
All in all, this straight to Netflix streamer is a showcase on how a movie with interesting ideas can be executed so horribly that when one character’s life is in danger I laughed out loud at the dialogue of their would-be last words. Unless you need some laughter in your day, skip this one.
- Initial Grade: D+