AVENGERS: ENDGAME

While I’m not a Marvel fan and couldn’t identify a lot of the players in the last battle, I thought its tie-up of so many loose ends hit most of the plot points and emotional buttons (I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Agent Carter) and was quite moved.

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944)

Billed as “Ernest Hemingway’s…” but it’s really a remake of Casablanca, debuting a 19-year-old actress named Lauren Bacall (who thinks she can sing). She’s no Ingrid Bergman, Dan Seymour is no Sidney Greenstreet or Conrad Veidt, Marcel Dalio is no Peter Lorre, and Claude Rains is sorely missed. Walter Brennan is just annoying. As much as I like Howard Hawks’s work (and as much as I think he’s winking at the audience here), this is a stinker.

THE NAKED CITY (1948)

This procedural may be considered a noir classic but I found it talky and plodding until the finale on the Williamsburg Bridge. What I did find interesting was the use of NYC locations with natural lighting on the exteriors and the ambient drone from the streets running beneath the interiors. The narration gives it a documentary feel.

THE PREDATOR

I came up with a log line while watching this: “Predator meets The Dream Team” (the Keaton film). I could give you a cliche countdown, starting with the savant child and psycho NSA-type agent, but I’ll simply sum them up for you: Been there, done that. FF=2.

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

LA MANTE

If I had to logline this 6-episode French/Netflix thriller I’d say it’s “Silence of the Lambs” meets “Se7en.” (Keep in mind that loglines are never entirely fair or accurate.) It’s well paced and incorporates pretty much every plot twist imaginable. Def worth a look.
FF=2

SIGHTSEERS

If you’re in the mood for a British black comedy about a serial-killer couple (and who isn’t?), this is your dish. It’s wacky and uneven, but offers some laugh-aloud parts. Lots of driving through beautiful countryside and even a little leyline mythology. Def worth the 90 minutes.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

Although Snatch and LS&2SB remain two of my fave films, perhaps Guy Richie wasn’t the best choice to direct this. Too many missteps, starting with the eponymous character’s 21st century fade hairstyle. And did I see a direct appropriation of Frazetta’s “Death Dealer?” His trademark camera tricks are jarring in a medieval setting. On the whole I found it watchable but at the end I’m wondering what else I might have done with those 2 hours.

GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

I seem to be in the minority (as usual) but I liked the cast and had some good laughs from this. If the 1984 film had never been made, this might have been the start of a franchise. But the 1984 film is in the canon, and its iconic cast and jaw-dropping succession of outrageous twists, culminating in the humongous Stay Puft marshmallow man, make this come off as an also-ran. Too much deja-vu / been-there-done-that to make me want another look.
FF=2.