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)

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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

DARK

Finished season 1 of this Netflix/German co-production last night. Very “Lost”-ish in theme with “Twin Peaks”-ish characters. This must have been fun to write but a nightmare when it came to keeping the character relationships straight. As with any time-travel story (that’s not a spoiler — you know early on), the plot has holes and paradoxes. One warning: Although deliberately paced (read: “slow” — could have been compressed to 8 episodes instead of 10 with no loss of story or character), you must pay attention. This is not a series to watch while reading a book or playing a game on your phone. I know because I didn’t pay close attention to the early episodes and had a helluva time keeping the characters straight at their varying ages later on. I hope the director gets over his love affair with his rain machine for the next season. Do I recommend it? Depends on your patience and your ability to suspend disbelief. You might love it or your screen might be damaged by the shoes you toss at it.  FF=1

KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS

Finally saw this after a long search (it was on Amazon all the time). I love the deep-focus look of these old (1949) films. Quite enjoyable, with Alec Guinness playing 8 parts. It might be described as a cozy serial killer film, if you can imagine that. Well paced with a couple of nice twists at the end.  FF=0

GRABBERS

A horror comedy made in Ireland that puts an Irish twist on all the monster movie tropes. You have to hand it to the Irish: They can laugh at themselves. An isolated island village is besieged by tentacled, blood-sucking monsters who are allergic to alcohol in the blood. If you’re Irish, the solution is as natural as it is obvious. If any other ethnic group had been skewered thus, the outrage monkeys would be hopping all over the place. A fun flick.

THE CIRCLE 

Could be the scariest film of the year. The title refers to a global tech giant with a suffocatingly “inclusive” corporate culture that pressures all employees to be “involved” (sound familiar?). The maguffin is a tiny fish-eye camera that can be stuck anywhere and watched by anyone from anywhere. The company encourages everyone to stick there EVERYWHERE. The goal is “transparency.” Everything is stored in the cloud. No more secrets, because criminals and terrorists and child molesters thrive in secrecy. Now everyone can know everything. Would-be Cassandras warning of the death of privacy are drowned out as social media wildly embraces it. Emma Watson becomes a global heroine after she volunteers to stay online 24/7.
The scare — for me, at least — is that this technology is so very feasible in the near future, and I can see the drones populating FB and the Twitterverse totally jumping on it. I’m well aware that privacy is a myth these days, but imagine Google or the government (they might be the same before long) knowing even more about you than it does already. A credible nightmare.
As a film, however, not so great. I loved Emma Watson as Hermione, but she’s flat here. There’s no suspense, but I was okay with that, because the premise is so horrifying.