Movie Review

Movie reviewer Fletcher Powell shares his opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

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This review originally aired on September 14, 2017. It will be released on DVD next week.  

The humorist John Hodgman teaches us that nostalgia is a toxic impulse. He says the idea that things from our past are better than what we have now fuels the worst in contemporary culture. This doesn’t exactly capture the problems with the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It, but it gets close.

I’ve seen a lot of high-minded movies this year: A Ghost Story, Darren Aronofsky’s mother!... even Blade Runner 2049 dealt in some very lofty themes. So I decided to close out the year by going in the exact opposite direction—I decided it was time for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

If you’ve heard of Errol Morris, then you likely know that he’s one of the great documentarians of all time, and one of our greatest living filmmakers working in any genre.

I’m not someone who watches bad movies for kicks. I do sort of understand the appeal: There really is a kind of euphoric charge you get from seeing something transcendently awful. It’s just that there are so many good movies I’ve never seen that I just don’t want to spend time on the bad ones. 

It seems that people are interpreting Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on three different levels.

There’s a Mexican cultural belief that says we each die three deaths. The first is our normal death, when our body ceases to function. The second comes when we’re buried in the ground, out of sight. And the third and final death happens when there’s no one left who remembers us.

I remember when director Noah Baumbach and actor Greta Gerwig made the wonderful movie Frances Ha, and Gerwig had to work hard to remind people that she co-wrote the movie with Baumbach, she didn’t just star in it. It was a shame, and not just because women so rarely get due credit in Hollywood, but also because now that I’ve seen Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, it’s clear that she was the more important part of that writing team. Not that Baumbach isn’t talented. But Gerwig is just as clever and smart and funny, and more importantly, she has a heart.

I don’t know this for sure, but I’m willing to bet that the movie Wonderstruck is based on a book that’s been described as “unfilmable.” I mean, it is based on a book, that much I do know. And judging by the movie, I feel pretty good saying that if the book hasn’t been called “unfilmable,” it should have been. Because while the book has been highly acclaimed, the movie doesn’t seem to be sure exactly how to do what it wants to do.

I’m not the biggest fan of superhero movies. For the most part they all run together to me, with battles that go on too long and generally have pretty low stakes, given everyone involved has super powers. And even though most of them try to be at least a little bit funny, it usually feels like the jokes have been focus-grouped to death and are just kind of there to fill time between one battle and the next.

So here we have: a movie directed by George Clooney, who made the excellent Oscar-nominated Good Night and Good Luck; a movie written by the Coen Brothers, who’ve made some of the very very best films of the last 30 years; a movie starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, both nominated multiple times for Academy Awards. Can’t miss, right?