It's movie time again. A mixed bag this time.
Fate of the Furious (2017) Every so often The Beloved Spouse has a hankering for mindless “blow shit up” movies; this franchise is a favorite in that genre. I once in a while am not as attentive a husband as I
might should be and feel a need to
make it up to her. Fate of the Furious
came out about the time these two personal traits required reconciling, so we
actually went to a theater and saw it opening weekend. I’d seen a trailer and
assumed there was a tongue-in-cheek element, which was my first mistake. I was
familiar with director F. Gary Gray from his deft handling of the remake of The Italian Job. Gray should have
watched that one again, like a hitter watching video or past at bats when a
slump has him down. (Actually, we
should have watched that one again.) Kurt Russell tries and Helen Mirren
succeeds, but the only time the movie’s potential for comic absurdity works is
near the end, when Jason Statham and a baby shoot their way out of an airplane
in flight. I didn’t expect much and was greatly disappointed.
Drive (2011) Ryan Gosling does his considerable best, and I know this is a cult film and James Sallis is a cult author I’ve read and enjoy, but there’s no there there. The film has potential, and it has moments, and it’s a great set-up for a noir story, but there’s something missing. I’m willing to admit this might just be me, but the high hopes I had from the first 20 minutes did not hold up.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2016) Seth McFarland tries to do for the old West what he did in Ted, one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. A Million Ways has its moments early—describing Parkinson’s Disease as “another way God shows us he loves us” and the listing of several of the ways one could die in the American West that are often overlooked in romanticized versions—but overall it’s sophomoric in the execution as well as the writing. I can forgive one or the other. Not both.
Silverado (1985) Lawrence Kasdan’s homage to 50s Westerns. I didn’t like it as much as I remembered and near the end I remembered why not: there’s a lot of crap in 50s Westerns. Give me the revisionist stuff that begins around the time of Sam Peckinpah, such as Ride the High Country and The Wild Bunch. Wonderful production values and a great cast, though Kevin Kline is miscast. Homage is great, but this needed more originality in doing so.
The Right Stuff (1983) Damn, this is a great movie. It won four Oscars and anyone who doesn’t think it’s is a better movie than Terms of Endearment probably shouldn’t be voting. Perfectly cast and executed. I even loved the soundtrack and I’m a notorious prick about soundtracks. (Bill Conti did win the Oscar.) Perfectly cast and hits all the right pitches, though not a “Make America Great Again” gloss-over; it shows the early space program warts and all. Now I’m going to have to read Wolfe’s book again.