Movie Review

Veteran movie reviewer Jim Erickson shares his no-holds-barred opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

I am mystified by the continual popularity of Jane Austen, whose neoclassicism seems to me as outside modern aesthetics as my own. The audience I watched Love and Friendship with laughed a lot more often than I did. But the stiff formality of Austen's times kept the characters speaking in a conversational manner with hands hanging at their sides until they sounded too much the same, and their grammatically pure sentences sounded too literary.

The Nice Guys is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery thriller along the lines of the Lethal Weapon series.

The film offers Ryan Gosling as the slick detective who can't quite make it slick, and Russell Crowe as the slob detective who is a little too brutal for his role, but who has a soft side brought out mostly in relation to 12-year-old Angourie Rice, a remarkably restrained and natural actress who functions as heroine and is as good a detective as the other two and a stretch more likeable.

Money Monster is a first-rate suspense movie about a hostage situation, frequently compared to Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino's Dog Day Afternoon. But Money Monster is a lot more complicated than Dog Day Afternoon, with a lot more to think about. The hostage taker this time has a much more public motive, and the movie has a lot more relevance to public issues and current public debate.

I avoid comic book movies successfully enough that I really can't judge, but Captain America: Civil War does seem to have more thought content than is usual with action thrillers.

Everybody Wants Some is the only movie I can think of that reminded me of My Dinner With Andre, from back in 1981, in which Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory sat down to dinner in the first shots and didn't get up until almost two hours later, after accomplishing nothing but meandering chatter--they didn't even eat their dinner. In Everybody Wants Some, a gaggle of college baseball players and other college students report to campus a few days before classes start and squander a little over two hours of screen time accomplishing even less.

In the first place, The Huntsman: Winter's War, which is supposed to be some kind of sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which had Kristen Stewart as Snow White, has neither Kristen Stewart nor anybody else as Snow White, whose birth is announced at the very end of the movie. It also kills off just about anybody who might have a role in the real story of Snow White, so the creators of this strange trilogy are going to have to create a whole new cast for the third movie in order to get to the Snow White story at all.

Criminal starts out with a premise strongly suggestive of a horror movie, progresses with fairly believable developments like a mystery story, and concludes with a sudden outburst of violence like an action thriller. The progression is not particularly illogical, but it is misleading, and it may leave everybody with a feeling of having been served satisfaction at one point or another, but very few being happy with the movie as whole.

As much as I could figure it out, Midnight Special is a fascinating movie full of suspense and mystery, a sort of challenging brain teaser that I'm willing to risk spoilers in my review of because I'm not at all sure my interpretation is right. You may want to pass this review up if you think you're going to see Midnight Special, but it might give you a bit of a head start.

The new drone warfare thriller Eye in the Sky is not only a first-rate suspenser but almost a police procedural about the use of drones in assassination attempts, with big drones the size of small airplanes, little drones the size of birds, and tiny drones the size of junebugs. 

You might be afraid a story about a seventy-year-old woman who develops yearning eyes toward a young man of maybe thirty would inevitable be either romantically sentimental or cynically satiric, but Hello, My Name is Doris is neither one; it's serious but somehow cheerful made by people who like people and think life is worthwhile despite the ways people act occasionally.