Archives for the month of: November, 2017

There isn’t a strong chance for a movie called The Only Living Boy in New York not to be pretentious and terrible, and this one…does not take it. It is bad. It is over-written and under-directed, boring and vacuous.

MV5BODEzODA5NjU2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODkwNzA5MjI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_The titular Boy is Thomas Webb–always Thomas, of course, never Tom–and he is played by Callum Turner, which is how you know he’s going to swan about looking like a Romantic poet and probably seduce an older woman. He’d like to be a writer, but his father (Pierce Brosnan) is in publishing and has crapped all over his dreams. His mother (Cynthia Nixon) keeps her moods in balance chemically and throws dinner parties with insufferable people (inexplicably played by proper actors such as Tate Donovan, Debi Mazar, and Wallace Shawn, I have no idea why). Thomas also has a crush on a hipster nymph, Mimi (Kiersey Clemons), who is dating a guy in a band but enjoys keeping Thomas on the hook. They are both unbearable, so maybe they deserve each other.

There is a wise old recluse who lives in Thomas’s building: Jeff Bridges, playing someone whose name doesn’t matter, and who is so hackneyed it’s almost hard to believe. He understands love, he understands writing, he is the father Thomas always wanted–it beggars belief and induces nausea.

But it gets worse! Thomas’s dad is having an affair with a beautiful woman, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). And Thomas finds out, so he has an affair with her too. No one makes any sense. No one is trying not to be the worst.

The writing is inhuman, the pacing is nonsensical, and it’s just…bad.

Director: Marc Webb
Rating: R
Length: 89 minutes
Score: 1/5

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MV5BMjMyNDkzMzI1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODcxODg5MjI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Or, Thor: Ragnarok.

So. The Thor movies might be my favorite, as an oeuvre, because the Iron Man movies start out over-written and the Captain America movies become tedious. The Thor movies are just kind of joyously bad.

Except this one, which is joyously rather good.

Odin (Anthony Hopkins) dies, which depresses his sons and releases his daughter, Hela (Cate Blanchett), from imprisonment. She is the goddess of death, and she wants to take over Asgard. She manages to banish both Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to a garbage planet on which Thor becomes an enslaved gladiator and Loki becomes a member of the local dirtbag elite, because of course. This planet is managed by Jeff Goldblum (Jeff Goldblum), who runs the fights and has a hilarious and bloodthirsty assistant, Topaz (Rachel House). Also there is Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), an angry drunk lady (Tessa Thompson), and a sentient walking rock called Korg, who is voiced by Taika Waititi and exists solely for comic relief. He is terrific.

Naturally much of the film is the attempt to get back to Asgard and deal with Hela, but, unlike other Marvel movies which would take the “dead dad” and “goddess of death” and “fraternal friction” tropes and go to a miserable place of tiresome angst, Ragnarok keeps it light. That is not to say that this film does not take things seriously–it does, but with Waititi’s deft touch it does not get bogged down in the gravity. The movie is a little too long, but the pacing is sufficiently frenetic that this rarely grates.

And the soundtrack is great. It’s not trying too hard to motivate a specific kind of nostalgia (Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m looking at you), but is instead humorously on-the-nose: Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for Thor’s theme or “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka during what seems like an acid trip.

Stray observations:

  • “I’m not a witch.” “Then why are you dressed like one?”
  • Is Loki ever going to get a real person haircut? Also: this was a return to the original Thor‘s endless string of squirrelly Loki faces and I am at home for that.
  • I’m glad that Idris Elba isn’t too proud to continue being in these movies. A soupçon of Heimdall is very welcome.

Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13
Length: 130 minutes
Score: 4/5

I am too dumb for Coen Brothers movies and I didn’t need to see Steve Buscemi get stuffed in a wood chipper.

Frances McDormand is great.

Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
Rating: R
Length: 98 minutes
Score: 3/5