HOTEL ARTEMIS

Not sure what to make of this one. It’s a mess but an interesting mess. A visually engaging noir =Nashville= in a future skid-row underworld hospital which seems to operate under the same rules as John Wick’s Continental Hotel. Jodie Foster is deliberately unglamorous and it looks like Jeff Goldblum was hired for one day of shooting. Sofia Boutella is her usual alluring self, and Dave Bautista is Drax. The peripeteia is a contrived groaner. There’s nothing and no one you haven’t seen before but you’ve never seen them all gathered in the same place. FF=1

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OCEAN’S 8

OCEAN’S 8 and TAG — I saw these back to back (yeah, I know — totally wasted evening). I feel they belong together here because the first is a totally lackluster caper film with an all-female cast and the other is a totally dumb bro film with an all-male cast. OCEAN’S 8 was the more engaging (marginally) of the two but suffers from the same problem as OCEAN’S 13: we simply don’t care. You can double down on Don’t Care re TAG. Don’t waste your time. FF=4 for each.

TAG

OCEAN’S 8 and TAG — I saw these back to back (yeah, I know — totally wasted evening). I feel they belong together here because the first is a totally lackluster caper film with an all-female cast and the other is a totally dumb bro film with an all-male cast. OCEAN’S 8 was the more engaging (marginally) of the two but suffers from the same problem as OCEAN’S 13: we simply don’t care. You can double down on Don’t Care re TAG. Don’t waste your time. FF=4 for each.

THE MEG

As you might expect, The Meg is dumb. But it’s fun dumb. It’s dumb in the way its characters always choose the option that will put them in the most jeopardy. This is not necessarily good for their lifespan, but it’s good for those of us watching from our cushy recliners. I, for one, appreciate the action set pieces sparked by their dumb choices. I think The Meg incorporates just about every big monster cliche, but so what? You’re treated to great sets and a great monster. A perfect summer movie. Feel free to turn up your nose. I had a great time. (No FF — seen in theater)

RAMPAGE

As expected, a truly dumb movie. But, as a kaiju fan, I had to see it. Though the effects are good, it possesses none of the mythic undercurrents of the Tojo films and suffers for it. The trio of giant monsters lack gravitas — they’re just dumb animals who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. George, the albino gorilla, has a “Mighty Joe Young” vibe, but that can’t save the film. Instead of hubris, the plot turns on humdrum avarice. The Rock gives his usual solid performance (sorry) but Jeffery Dean Morgan steals every scene he’s in. FF=2

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDDY LAMARR STORY

I found this documentary fascinating. A brilliant, beautiful, and very troubled woman. Her revolutionary technology could have shortened WWII if it hadn’t been shelved — supposedly because its inventor was a woman and, really, what do women know about radio frequencies and guidance systems? Definitely worth your time.  FF=0

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Even though it contains sly dark humor, this is by no means a feel-good film. McDormand nails her part as a mother whose only remaining emotion is rage. Starting with “Cheers,” Woody Harrelson has always been a better actor than he seems (because he doesn’t seem to be acting), and Sam Rockwell proves again why he’s my favorite male actor these days. One plot turn made me groan aloud but they were only playing with my expectations (which made me very happy). This film totally engaged me.  FF=0