erik lundegaard

Movie Reviews - 2019 posts

Thursday July 18, 2019

Movie Review: Stuber (2019)

WARNING: SPOILERS

Chekhov was right: A guy talking about jumping in front of a bullet in the first act will jump in front of a bullet in the third.

And he’ll do this even if, in that first act, the mere idea of it is dismissed by a veteran cop. “You know how fast a bullet travels?” Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) asks his Uber driver, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), who’s broached the subject out of nowhere. “I guess I didn’t really think that through,” Stu replies in that halting, “Gee, I guess I’m not that smart after all” tone Nanjiani has perfected. Great scene. I laughed.

Then they have to get all Chekhov on us. Stu jumps in front of a bullet to save Vic’s superhot daughter, Nicole (Natalie Morales), and ... we can see where this is going. You see, Stu is also coming to realize that the woman he’s had a crush on for years, Becca (Betty Gilpin of “GLOW”), isn't worth it. And a man breaking up with the wrong girl in the first act will find the right girl in the third. That's a Hollywood rather than a Chekhovian principle.

Everyone’s a douche
I laughed a lot during “Stuber” and don’t recommend it. The idea is fine—a cop who’d just had lasik eye surgery relying on his Uber driver to get him from place to place in LA to take down the bad guys—and the casting is fantastic. Nanjiani is my man, while Bautista, who plays Drax in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, is that rare musclebound WWE guy with good comic timing.

Despite this, the movie keeps failing. And flailing. I’d watch scenes and think, “Yeesh, this is not working at all.” They’d go on too long, the timing would be off, the dialogue or language or violence would be too over-the-top. Sometimes over-the-top works, sometimes it just feels desperate. Here, it mostly felt desperate.

With a plot this contrived, you really need to make it make sense. Why does Stu stick around besides passivity and politeness? Why does Vic keep putting Stu and others in danger besides blind dedication to the job? The filmmakers make it too complicated—something we have to revisit every 10 minutes. Stu says he’s finally leaving (to go schtup the wrong girl); Vic says no, or makes a threat. Often the threat involves giving Stu a one-star rating. This works until it doesn’t. And of course, in the third act, when he’s finally allowed to go, he spots the clue that necessitates a return to save the day. 

All the clichés are here:

  • The diabolical and seemingly indestructible villain (Iko Uwais)
  • The sympathetic police chief who’s really a diabolical mole for the bad guys (Mira Sorvino)
  • The dad who doesn’t have time for his daughter

Everyone’s a douche. Stu works days at a sporting goods store managed by the douchebag son of the owner (Jimmy Tatro), and he’s the one who gives Stu his nickname and the movie its title: Stu + Uber = Stuber. Ha ha, yeah no. He’s stupid, it’s stupid, and yet they made it the title of the movie. The movie’s a douche, too.

One star
Who do we blame for this hot mess? It was written by Tripper Clancy, whose credits are few and unreleased (“Four Against the Bank," “Hot Dog”), and it was directed by Michael Dowse, who’s mostly done Canada-related comedies: “Fubar,” “Goon,” “Fubar: Balls to the Wall.” Not a winning combo. 

The editing didn’t help. Afterwards, I assumed it was two hours and told my wife, “They really should’ve edited it down to like 90 minutes.” It’s 93 minutes.

Kumail, choose better next time. One star.

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Posted at 09:10 AM on Jul 18, 2019 in category Movie Reviews - 2019   |   Permalink  
Tuesday July 16, 2019

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

WARNING: SPOILERS

Marvel Studios isn’t wasting time, is it? Two months ago, “Avengers: Endgame” ended the saga that began with “Iron Man” in 2008, and now they’re already positioning the new Iron Man, the spectacular Spider-Man, (Tom Holland), while suggesting the beginning of a new saga. Time is money, after all, and poor Marvel/Disney only has all of it.

Not only is much of “Spider-Man: Far from Home” about the dilemma of replacing Tony Stark on the world or cinematic stage, but the mid-credits sequence is a callback to the ending of the original “Iron Man,” with its shocking rock ‘n’ roll line: “I am Iron Man.” This one ends with, whoa!, the return of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, now bald, and broadcasting to the world that “Spider-Man is .... [static] ... [more static] .... Peter Parker!”

Yes, a little different. Instead of tooting his own horn, which is the Tony Stark way, Peter is shamefully outed, which is the Peter Parker way. But the effect on us is the same. Just as we’re winding down, the movie gooses us. Wow! What happens NEXT? We suddenly anticipate the sequel. We may even watch this one again to sate ourselves in the meantime. Which is entirely the point.

As for the end-credits sequence? Not a fan.

Not smart?
Overall, I liked “Far from Home” well enough. Not as much as “Homecoming” but enough.

OK, it could’ve been better.

It’s the opposite of “Homecoming.” There, Peter did everything he could to prove himself worthy of being an Avenger. Here, he runs from the role. There, he wanted to be Spider-Man; here, he just wants to be Peter. I guess being dead five years might do that to a soul.

Hey, I just realized it’s also a little similar to Tobey’s second Spidey. Pete runs from being Spider-Man in order to enjoy life as Peter Parker with friends and MJ (Zendaya); then he has to return to being Spider-Man in order to protect his friends and MJ; then MJ discovers who he is. The details are different; but if you pull back, it’s similar.

JJJ aside, the world probably would’ve found out sooner or later that Pete was Spidey simply because he’s not doing a very good job of hiding it. I get “face time” for actors but good god he’s unmasked a lot here: on the rooftops of Venice, in a tavern in Prague, on a bridge in London—which all eyes and cameras in the world are on because of the destruction Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) has caused. Not to mention at the beginning of the film, backstage at a fundraising gig hosted by ... who? Oh, right, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Really, Pete? No distance there? Plus right before the JJJ reveal, he takes MJ for a spin around NYC as Spidey. What happened to keeping loved ones at a distance because Spidey will always have enemies? Not smart.

That’s actually a question the movie unintentionally raises: Is Peter Parker ... not smart? Constantly unmasking is just part of it. He also trusts Mysterio with the most powerful weapon mankind has created—Tony Stark’s glasses—which Tony, RIP, entrusted to him. First, yeah, stupid move, Tony. Second, Pete, buddy, I get that you want to give MJ the dahlia pendant on the top of the Eiffel Tower, and don’t have time to save the world, which includes you, MJ, the dahlia pendant and the Eiffel Tower. But to just give it up to a guy you met like the day before? Give it to Happy (Jon Favreau). Give it to Nick (Samuel L. Jackson). It’s even more infuriating for Spidey fans because we know Mysterio is the villain. And yet there you are, like a doofus, unmasked in front of him and all customers in this pub in Prague, and handing him the one thing your mentor and idol left you after he saved half the universe.

That pub scene may have bugged me the most. After Mysterio and Spidey (as Night Monkey, but obviously Spidey) “defeat” the fire monster, they have a drink together in a Prague tavern—sans masks. And no one stops to congratulate them? Slap them on the back? Buy them a beer? 

Pete: I’m 16, I’m not allowed to drink.
Prague dude: Maybe in America. But here all 16-year-olds drink, particularly ones who save our city!
Everyone: Yay!

Plus there’s a dude in like lederhoesen or some shit? I thought that whole scene seemed off before it was revealed to be a Mysterio illusion. And Spidey senses none of it? Not even with his Spidey sense? For something he finally uses to defeat Mysterio—and jokingly referred to as the “Peter tingle” here—it’s on vacation for most of the movie. It’s always a little frustrating dealing with a superhero who doesn’t want to be a superhero until it’s almost too late. Cf., “Superman II,” “Spider-Man 2,” Superman in “Batman v. Superman.” It’s a theme of second movies. Look for Spidey to “turn evil” in the next one.

Mysterio is handled well. I don’t remember the raison d’etre of the original, or if he had one, but here, the 2.0 version, he’s a Stark underling who felt he never got the credit he deserved; so he uses some combo of tech and drones to create elemental disasters he “saves” people from. Essentially Marvel Studios turns him into a kind of Silicon Valley CEO, barking orders at tech underlings to keep the illusion going. By the end, you despise him. You also understand his power. Illusion is a tough thing to overcome. Just look at all the fools listening to JJJ/FOX News.

Power/responsbility/Etc.
In the end, Spidey gets it all back—glasses, respect, etc.. He also gets MJ, who knows Pete is Spidey but likes him for being Pete. Awww. That said, I don’t sense much chemistry between the two actors—Zendaya and Holland—who supposedly like each other in non-camera life. Maybe it’s a generational thing. This MJ has too hard a shell for me. Love is about vulnerability, and between the two Pete has 95% of it.

Gyllenhaal is excellent—at first, charming, then super annoying—while Martin Starr (“Silicon Valley”) has fun as a hapless teacher buffetted by events.

But the end-credits reveal left me cold. Both Nick Fury and Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders) are Skrulls? Let me ask the Ira Gershwin question: How long has this been going on? We see him hanging on a simulated beach on a Skrull spaceship, then reluctantly going back to work. One theory has Fury being played by a Skrull before even “Avengers: Infinity War,” which means he was dipping toes while Thanos snapped out half the universe? Nice work ethic, asshole. And, hey, where’s the real Maria Hill anyway? We just see the real Nick. If we’re talking face time, good god, give me Smulders.

Anyway, not a fan of all that, but I am excited for the return of JJJ and his fake news. The MCU could make it a great commentary on Fox and Rush and Sinclair and all that bullshit. With its billions, Disney certainly has the power to do it. It probably won’t, which is a shame. I read somewhere that with great power comes great responsibility; but that was written a long time ago, in a Marvel far, far away.

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Posted at 07:45 AM on Jul 16, 2019 in category Movie Reviews - 2019   |   Permalink  
Tuesday July 09, 2019

Movie Review: Rocketman (2019)

WARNING: SPOILERS 

When I first became aware of the radio, of rock ‘n’ roll as a current thing, it was about 1973, I was 10, and Elton John reigned supreme. He was what the cool older kids of maybe 14 or 16 listened to. They had his albums with the odd titles: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.” Except ... I’ve already screwed up the chronology, haven’t I? “Captain Fantastic” wasn’t released until 1975, which is when I became a regular radio listener, every Sunday night writing down the top 40 songs in the nation along with Casey Kasum like it mattered. Like I do with box office today. I did that for about a year.

So no, I guess I never really learned Elton’s discography or history—not like with the Beatles. I was a completist with the Beatles but as a kid I owned just one Elton album: “Elton John’s Greatest Hits.” I wanted to be the Beatles—or Paul—but never Elton. Feather boas and glitter and those crazy glasses? Who wears glasses? Nerds. Who wants to be a nerd?

It’s astonishing that he was ever a rock star, really. Rock stars were lithe, sexual beasts with long hair who went crazy on guitars and microphones and drums. Elton was a vaguely pudgy, balding dude in glasses and feather boa tinkling on piano keys. But there he was. Everywhere. Even—it was rumored—wearing 10-foot-tall platform shoes in the movie “Tommy.” Bigger kids saw “Tommy.”

There were rumors about Elton but not necessarily about that. “Bennie and the Jets” was about drugs, doofus, don’t you know anything? I also misheard the lyrics: “She’s got electric boobs/Her ma has, too.” Were there rumors of his sexuality? That wasn’t talked about much back then. It was just a playground insult, or something you might see on an episode of “Barney Miller.” Besides, how could he be gay? He was obviously obsessed with electric boobs.

The way he broke in the U.S. also had its own weird path. He didn’t get big in Britain and then ride that wave across the Atlantic. He didn’t keep playing bigger and bigger venues until he wowed us all on American TV. Instead, it was some club in LA. He started there.

Suck-sess
Interesting thing about not knowing Elton’s chronology: “Rocketman” doesn’t know it, either. Or it doesn’t care about it. In fact, it doesn’t care more than I don’t know.

The movie is essentially a jukebox musical, a biopic told via music videos, so it uses what it wants when it wants. The first song he sings at The Troubadour, for example, is “Crocodile Rock,” which is like three years early. Worse, after that show, he meets superhunky John Reid (Richard Madden of “Game of Thrones”), there’ a flurry of headlines about Elton’s success, then he’s back in a London studio recording “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” with Kiki Dee. Reid shows up there, and they become lovers, and Reid becomes his manager, setting himself up to be the villain of the piece. But to me it was like: Wait, the Troubadour in 1970 was the beginning, and “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” in 1977 was near the end—Elton’s last big hit before the MTV-era comeback—so what about the rest? When he reigned supreme? I get jukebox musical; I get truncate as you need; but if you lose too much chronology, you lose the thread and the story.

I also don’t get why music biopics don’t ride the crest of the wave longer. That’s the fascinating part, but here it’s just dealt with in a flurry of headlines. He wows at the Troubadour and then he’s selling 4% of songs worldwide. Give me the steps in between. I’m sure tons of performers wowed at the Troubadour and were never heard from again.

And what do writer Lee Hall (“Billy Elliott,” “War Horse”) and director Dexter Fletcher (“Eddie the Eagle,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”) focus on instead? The dullest story there is: addiction. Booze, drugs, sex—anything to fill the void where love should be. (Cue: “I Want Love.”) The void is interesting, the addiction isn’t. It’s always a long slow fall, and the only question is if there’s a bottom.

Maybe all post-rock ‘n’ roll success is dull. Here’s what biopics tend to give us:

  • Addiction
  • Overwork
  • Abuse
  • Band tensions/breakups

“Rocketman” has all of it. Elton is addicted to drugs and booze, he’s overworked by John Reid, at one point he’s slapped by John Reid (which supposedly didn’t happen), and he and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) suffer tensions and break up. Success never looked so sucky.

You know the real disconnect? The movie is about Elton’s life as represented by his songs ...  yet it’s Bernie who writes the lyrics. We see Bernie writing the lyrics. So how do Bernie’s lyrics correlate to Elton’s life? I guess I’m asking. Because sometimes they do. Look at “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” Lyrics by Bernie but they describe a moment in 1968 when Elton tried to commit suicide because he felt trapped by his engagement to Linda Woodrow, whom he didn’t love, and by society’s expectations of who he was supposed to be. So he tried to asphyxiate himself in a gas oven. The “someone” who saved him is bandmate Long John Baldry, from whom Elton took his rock surname—the John Lennon bit in the movie is fiction. Meanwhile, the relationship with Woodrow in the movie is treated comically—clothes chucked out from a second-floor window as if he were a 1950s husband. You wouldn’t suspect he nearly killed himself because of her.

According to the movie, their songrwiting partnership went like this: Bernie wrote the lyrics independently, and Elton read them at the piano and, bam, came up with music on the spot. C’mon. Let’s dig into it. Who’s Daniel? Who was the young man in the 22nd row? Whose farm metaphor keeps popping up in every other song? Is “Rocket Man” a takeoff on Bowie’s “Space Oddity” or is it how Elton felt skyrocketing to fame, with the line “I’m not the man they think I am at home” an obvious allusion to his homosexuality? If so, how was this communicated to Bernie? I wanted more of that in the movie.

And do they really suggest the line is “I miss the earth so much/I miss my life?” To be PC? Watching, I felt a little like Alvy Singer. “You heard, right? It’s wife. I’m not crazy here.”

That said ...
I thought Taron Egerton fucking nailed it. New respect. “Robin Hood” is now forgiven. It’s a shame last year’s Oscar went to an actor playing a ’70s Brit pop star managed by John Reid and directed by Fletcher because there’s no way they’re going to go there two years in a row, yet Egerton is the more deserving. He sings, for one, and his transformation is more spot on. At times I wondered if they were showing us clips of the real Elton. Just look at that LA concert when he comes out in the glitter Dodger uniform—the way Egerton stands, poses, etc. Perfect.

You know who else I liked? Kit Connor, the preteen Elton who winds up at the Royal Academy of Music and then plays early rock ‘n’ roll at honky tonks with his swept-up red-haired pompadour. He was the first one to get to me. Maybe because he reminded me a bit of my nephew at that age. Or maybe that’s the age when true vulnerability shows.

New respect for Bryce Dallas Howard, too, playing his mom, Sheila. “Jurassic World: Forbidden Kingdom” is now forgiven. (Kidding. Nothing forgives it.) I couldn’t figure out who the actress was for the longest time. I assumed British; she’s that good. Howard should play disdainful more, too.

I’d still recommend the movie. If I was on “Sneak Previews,” my thumb would be a titch above 90 degrees. But I keep thinking of all they missed. The Beatles conquering America in 1964—meaning rock ‘n’ roll could travel westward, too: What impact did that have on a 16-year-old Elton? How about AIDS and the work he did there? Singing at Lady Di’s funeral and rewriting “Candle in the Wind” and turning it into the biggest single ever? The movie pretends that in the early 1980s Elton pushed away the baggage (addiction, Reid) and stormed back with “I’m Still Standing”; but rehab was in the early ’90s, Reid managed him until ’98, and “I’m Still Standing” only reached No. 12 on the U.S. charts. There’s a better story here. 

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Posted at 02:11 PM on Jul 09, 2019 in category Movie Reviews - 2019   |   Permalink  
Wednesday June 05, 2019

Movie Review: Meeting Gorbachev (2019)

WARNING: SPOILERS

I learned a lot. But enough?

I‘ll start with the superficial: I had no idea Mikhail Gorbachev was so good-looking as a young man. In photos from the ’40s and ‘50s, he seems almost movie-star handsome. At the least, a B-actor in underrated noirs for Warner Bros. He would’ve given Sterlling Hayden a run for his money. 

An endless chain of catastrophes
I didn’t know he was from the provinces, or the story about his rise: how he didn’t really achieve national attention until the late 1970s. The doc also made me flash back to Ronald Reagan’s incredible good fortune of coming into office as a slate of Soviet general secretaries were dying. We were used to the opposite. Brezhnev came into power in Oct. 1964 and ruled until his death in Nov. 1982—so through the presidencies of LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. Five presidents. We kept changing, they stayed the same. Then suddenly they kept changing and we stayed the same. During Reagan’s first five years in office, three General Secretaries took the dirt nap: Brezhnev in ’82, Andropov in ’84 and  Chernenko in March 1985. I’d completely forgotten about Chernenko, to be honest, which makes me think of this line from “Doonesbury”: “Do you realize I have absolutely no memory of the Ford years?” Chernenko was the Soviet’s Ford.

I think all of this helped Reagan. How could it not? It was like he was slaying enemies. He stood tall, they dropped. 

Director Werner Herzog has fun with this—trotting out the funeral march again and again, as if he’s reveling in the deaths of these Soviet leaders who divided his country for so long. It’s kid-in-the-back-row stuff—and works. The audience at the Seattle International Film Festival roared.

This is a different kind of Herzog, by the way. You know those mock motivational posters that include nihilistic quotes from Herzog? “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony but chaos, hostility and murder” or “Human life is part of an endless chain of catastrophes, the demise of the dinosaurs being just one of these events.” Yeah, we don’t see that Herzog. It’s not just that he isn’t a nihilist, he’s a fan, and unabashed. He brings Gorby gifts: sugar-free chocolate from London. I think he even tells Gorbachev he loves him. For what he did. Or didn’t do.

That’s the tragedy, or maybe the tragic irony, of Gorbachev. He set in motion glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”), which led to rebellions against the Soviet Empire, which he could’ve ended with a word. He didn’t. He began a movement that swept him away. He felt the Soviet Union needed greater democracy and it led to Putin, who managed to undermine the world’s great democracy.

I’d forgotten about the putsch, too. Gorbachev and his wife Raisa were on vacation in Crimea when eight older members of the CCCP tried to seize power. They claimed Gorbachev was ill but he taped a message for the world that got out. People protested, Boris Yeltsin, the president of Russia, took advantage, and afterwards Gorbachev seemed a diminished figure. He misread the Soviet satellites. He underestimated nationalism. Or maybe he thought the Soviet was the nationalism. 

Does Herzog’s Gorby-love get in the way of the story? I don’t think he gets enough into his post-Soviet life, while his interviews aren’t particularly enlightening and a little dissonant. They’re speaking different languages—Gorby Russian, Herzog English—and Gorbachev will finish a story with his face expectant of the payoff from the listener; then he’ll have to hold that position awkwardly for a while until his words are translated. Some part of me thinks Herzog likes this awkwardness. It’s part of an endless chain of catastrophes. 

Gestures
Gorbachev is heavier now, and slower, and I don’t think he’s long for this world. He’s probably grateful. The love of his life, Raisa, died in 1999, shortly before Putin took power. He wants to join her. In either the afterlife or oblivion.

Some of the most powerful moments from the doc are actually from another doc, “Gorbachev. After Empire” by Vitaliy Manskiy, which shows the tears Gorbachev shed at Raisa’s funeral, as well as the man himself puttering around the yard, putting lids on trash cans, in 2000 or 2001. The man who could’ve kept the Cold War going with a word or gesture. He’s not appreciated enough for not saying that word or making that gesture.

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Posted at 05:06 PM on Jun 05, 2019 in category Movie Reviews - 2019   |   Permalink  
Tuesday June 04, 2019

Movie Review: Alice (2019)

WARNING: SPOILERS

I can’t remember the last time I was as angry at a movie character as I was at Francois Ferrand (Martin Swabey), the husband of Alice, while watching Josephine Mackeras’ feature film directorial debut, “Alice,” at the Seattle International Film Festival last weekend. I was almost shouting at the screen. Anyone who knows me knows this is aberrant behavior. It’s the opposite of how I want to act.

Give the movie credit that I cared this much. But is it also a problem with the script? The character got me so angry not only because he was awful but because our title character acted so stupidly. 

A terrible fix
Alice (Emile Piponnier) is the wife of Francois, and, as the movie begins, a bit of a nonentity. She’s ultra polite. Ironically, given what she becomes, she’s just a girl who can’t say no. At least that’s what her husband, a lit professor and would-be novelist, tells her before a dinner party she’s prepping, after one of the party guests says she can’t bring the wine and would Alice do it for her? Alice says yes. She can't say no. 

She also can’t say no to her husband. When he arrives home, she asks him to get their son, Jules, out of her hair so she can prep the meal, and instead, he and the boy hover over her. Some of it is cute—he pretends the chocolate is the detritus of fairy tale monsters, etc.—but it’s definitely not helpful, and in retrospect pretty creepy.

The next day she’s buying items at a pharmacy when her credit card is denied. So is her backup. She can’t withdraw money from the ATM and her husband is not picking up. Eventually she goes to the bank inn person and a bank rep spills all:

  • For the past year or two, her husband has been withdrawing their savings, and there's nothing left
  • He hasn’t paid their mortgage in that time
  • The bank is about to foreclose on their home—didn’t you get the notices?

And still hubby isn’t picking up. What begins as polite pleas ends in angry shouting and phone-throwing. After she figures out his computer password, she learns the problem: He’s been spending their money, including the €90,000 her father left her, including all that mortgage money, on high-end hookers.

Me in the audience: Wait, that much money? Is that even possible? I expected another shoe to drop, but that was the shoe. 

Going in, I knew the movie was about a woman in dire circumstances who becomes a hooker and winds up enjoying the power/control of the profession. What works is her path. It's believable. Initially she's merely investigating how much her husband paid for the service. But because she’s tall, thin, and with a girl-next-door face, she gets the gig she didn’t even know she was auditioning for. And because it pays €1,000 or so a throw, and because she immediately owes €7,000+ or she and her son will lose their home, she takes it.

What are the customers like? No one’s horrible; most are tentative; all are men. She starts shy and bumbling but soon gets the hang of it. Her mentor in all of this, and soon her best friend, is Lisa (Chloe Boreham), a tough ex-pat from New Zealand. She tells Alice the ritual: change into something sexy, offer a back massage, soon they’ll turn over, then finish it with the usual protection. Easy peasy.

That we are.

Yes, one dude is a little creepy but he’s creepy internally. He’s working out his own deep issues, but he’s never harmful to Alice.

Watching, I assumed two things. I thought the bank manager, to whom she was paying off the mortgage, would wind up a customer and know where the money came from. Nope. I also imagined that once she got her life in order again after the chaos her husband caused, he would return to cause more chaos. That happens, but it happens much, much sooner than I expected.

Oughter say nix
One day he's just there, back in the apartment, seemingly contrite, with a thin shin of sweat on his pale skin, and taking but really absolving himself of all responsibility. Where was he? At a friend’s. What does he want? To get back together with Alice. What does Alice want? A babysitter.

She’s no “Belle de Jour”—and, yes, someone needs to write an essay comparing the films—because she’ll do it at all hours, at a moment’s notice. In other words, she’s still the girl who can’t say no, but this time for money, and her friends, such as they are, are no help with last-minute babysitting. That’s how Francois worms his way back into her life. She needs a sitter.

Question: Does she think she’ll get away with it? That he’ll accept those terms? That he won’t try for more? How dumb is she? Because of course he finds out what she’s doing, is both turned on and repulsed, demands she stop, then essentially blackmails her: Let me back into your life or I’ll take Jules from you. A last-minute reveal that goes nowhere: The high-end hooker he used most was Lisa.

How does she fight back? She pretends to go along with it, then poisons his meal and chops him up into little bits and puts them out with the compost, where they’re mistaken for worms.

Kidding. She pretends to go along with it, then she and Lisa take everything, including Jules, and move to New Zealand. This dovetails with earlier conversations about Alice wanting to feel the earth beneath her feet, etc., but it leaves questions. I thought she got into hooking to help save her apartment? So did she? Or did she merely stave off the foreclosure for a few weeks/months at exorbitant rates? I mean, once Francois fucked up everything in the beginning, couldn’t she and Jules have simply moved somewhere else and started anew? Without the hooking? So doesn’t the end undercut the entirety of the movie?

“Alice” is winning awards on the festival circuit, and it’s fine for a first feature, but it’s not all that. 

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Posted at 07:22 AM on Jun 04, 2019 in category Movie Reviews - 2019   |   Permalink  
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