By: Henry J. Fromage –
A trip out to Los Angeles for work means two things: lots of movies I’ve been saving for long airplane trips and some quality theatrical offerings.
Kevin MacDonald’s latest documentary is a rise and fall through the eyes of loved ones and primary sources Amy-style play, although it doesn’t quite match it for revelatory material. Still, it’s easy to forget just how much of a supernova and preternaturally talented woman Whitney Houston was and just how precipitously she went from literally the biggest star in the entertainment galaxy to a tabloid punchline to dead before 50. An American tragedy. Three Beers.
178. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
The Achilles heel of this franchise is how plot is always foregrounded over character. The finale makes an honest attempt to add pathos, and kudos to its DGAF attitude towards character mortality, but it doesn’t quite land. Every penny of Wes Ball’s budget is up on the screen, though- airplane movies come much worse than this. Three Beers.
I’m not sure I can quite get behind putting this in the best film of the year conversation like many critics have and will largely because of how terrible of people the principal threesome are, including oddly the perpetually slack-jawed protagonist/audience surrogate, but filmmakers of the caliber of Lee Chang-dong always have a plan, and the way the in retrospect pretty callable twist and denouement sneaks up on you is pure filmmaking mastery. So, not going to be #1 on my list, but a damn fine contender to slot in before #10. Two Beers.
180. Hotel Artemis
A rare and treasured Jodi Foster performance and the rest of the arguably overqualified cast (although Charlie Day and Jenny Slate are odd fits) hold this enjoyably original vision from first-time feature director (but long-time screenwriter) Drew Pearce, who I hope keeps getting the budgets to make whatever else is in his head, but the screenplay isn’t quite as Tarantino-style clever as it wants to be. Still, same sentiment as the above- you can do worse killing have an West Coast flight this way. Three Beers.
The trailers honestly struck me as some middle of the road Castle Wolfenstein wanna-be bullshit, but man, was I wrong. Director Julius Avery is going to see a lot of doors open for him based on how deftly he balances concussive WWII action with gnarly body horror while still largely delivering on story and character. Fences co-star Jovan Adepo and Kurt Russell progeny and until now largely comic actor Wyatt Russell are also due for a jump up the cinema alphabet list (not A yet, but heading there). Two Beers.