TON of Movie Reviews–“Cargo,” “Generation Wealth,” “Dog Days,” “Black Klansman,” “Ant Man 2,” “Puzzle,” “Spy Who Dumped Me” “Tau,” “Papillion,” “The Wife”

By | September 15, 2018

A bunch of random movie reviews that have nothing in common except I watched them all recently. Hey, I’ve got to post two months worth of movie reviews in a day, so things might get a little condensed…

Cargo…An atypically low-key, emotional zombie film in which Martin Freeman (recently bitten) has to find someone to care for his infant daughter in the Australian outback before he turns “full zombie.” It’s a quietly beautiful film, more cries than scares. Grade: A-

Generation Wealth…Documentarian Lauren Greenfield (“Queen of Versailles,” a superior look at vain-glorious excess) likes to make deep films about shallow subjects, but that doesn’t quite come off here. The film is supposed to be about how shallow and money-driven our times are, but you can’t quite shake the feeling Greenfield is much more comfortable around the people she’s “exposing” than their cash-strapped victims. Grade: C+

Dog Days…Woof. A romantic-comedy about dogs and dog lovers has been done before (and better), and all you’re really left with is three central couples that are blandly likable, but completley forgettable. Grade: D+

Black Klansman…A sturdy, socially relevant police procedural featuring a great dual performance from John David Washington and Adam Driver (Washington plays an informant over the phone, Driver in person–for obvious reasons). They have a nicely laidback chemistry together, but you might wish this film had a little bit more of Spike Lee’s signature fire and strangeness. As is, only one sequence in the film (the beginning, where Alec Baldwin records a hateful propaganda video) really feels like it couldn’t have come from anyone other than Spike. Grade: B+

Ant Man 2…Sure, this movie is better than the first “Ant Man,” but I still don’t think anyone can accuse this film of being in the same league as “Black Panther” or even “Avengers Infinity War.” Too much of it still feels like a “who cares?” shoulder shrug, and there are times when you can almost feel Paul Rudd saying “can you believe this shit?” In fact, I found myself rooting for Hannah John-Kamen’s villainess or Walton Goggins’s slick thug. Grade: C+

Puzzle…A film I wanted to like a lot more than I did like. Kelly Macdonald plays an unsatisfied, mentally numb housewife who takes an interest in competitive puzzling (will she fall for the handsome Indian partner she enters the doubles-tournament with?). All of this is a good set-up for a movie, but the result is less of a romance than a dreary, repetitive slog through the main character’s home life. Worse, we don’t find out all that much about the world of competitive puzzling and various strategies. Sure, that might sound boring, but any topic can be made interesting. It’s much stranger to use competitive puzzling as a backdrop when you have no real interest in it. Grade: C+

The Spy Who Dumped Me…Yikes, this action-comedy is pretty short on actual laughs, despite the dream pairing of Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. The kind-of far-fetched, dumb-ass comedy that’s like a bad 90’s script somebody found in a drawer. Grade: D

Tau…The classic “girl meets boy, boy kidnaps girl in order to train an articial intelligence system” sci-fi drama. The first “Ex Machina” rip-off is finally here. Grade: D

The Wife…An emotionally chilly, somewhat implausible drama that feels beyond dated (it’s set in 1992 for seemingly no reason at all other than it’s the only way we’d believe a literary novelist could still be such a sensation, and that women authors have no choice but to publish under a man’s name). Glenn Close gives a terse performance as the titular character married to a blowhard novelist, and even though the performances are worth-watching, this is a world you’ll be grateful to escape. Grade: C+

Papillon…It’s not a bad movie at all, and there’s something strangely comforting about it as it unfolds but a movie about a brutal island prison and the decades spent trying to escape probably shouldn’t be comforting. It reminds me of a lot of Charlie Hunnam movies–a little too stately for its own good, as if James Gray (“The Immigrant,” “Lost City of Z”) dropped in to ghost-direct. Grade: B

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