HIS GIRL FRIDAY

After seeing “The Front Page” on B’way, I rented this 1940 adaptation by Howard Hawks. The central character, Hildy, is changed to a woman (Rosalind Russell) and Walter Burns is not only her editor but her ex-husband. The gender switch works, adding romantic conflict to an already very busy storyline. But the real star here is Howard Hawks and his trademark overlapping dialogue. How you direct three actors all talking at once and keep it comprehensible is beyond me. But he does it. I sit and watch/listen with jaw agape. There’s real chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and the film flies along.
FF=0

BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Nowhere near as bad as I was led to believe. The effects were excessive and the direction/editing cornfusing at times, but I was more engaged than I expected. High point: Gal Gadot as WW; Linda Carter go away, this Gal (sorry) owns the part. (Must see WW feature.) Low point: Jesse Eisenberg as LL; wrong-wrong-wrong for the part; get Corey Stoll next time.
FF=2

A MAN CALLED OVE

Ove is pronounced OH-veh.  A gentle adaptation of a gentle story about a lonely curmudgeon who’s softened by the younger family that moves in next door. (If you’re flashing to “St. Vincent,” I’m right there with you.) Frothy, sentimental, predictable, but…soothing.
FF=0

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

Many years ago I was given an ARC of Dan Wells’s first novel for a blurb and described it as “un-put-downable.” The film, unfortunately, is not so well paced. The setup: small-town teenager John Wayne Cleaver knows he has all the makings of a serial killer and organizes his life to avoid opportunities to act on his impulses. But then a serial killer starts murdering people in his town. Max Records’s portrayal of John is haunting. It’s a well-done adaptation of an intriguing story. Just be patient.
FF=1

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE

At the suggestion of David Schow, I streamed this Norwegian revenge flick through Netflix. Think “Death Wish” crossed with “Fargo” and “Yojimbo” and you’ve got the idea. The Norwegian snowscapes are as daunting as they are awe inspiring. (There’s something majestic about those snow plows sending up endless plumes of white.) Good cast, mostly strangers but so few of them survive it doesn’t matter. It’s all done with a bit of a wink; I even LOL’d in a couple of spots.
FF=0

THE MAGNIFICENT 7 (2016)

Okay, the first question is “Why?” The 1960 version, from its iconic cast to its rousing score, is nearly perfect. The remake ups the violence and creates a more politically acceptable villain (i.e., a white businessman instead of a Mexican bandito). Sarsgaard’s villain is a flat, mustache twirling psycho murderer, whereas Eli Wallach’s Calvera was mostly looking to keep his men fed.

But the worst change is making it personal. The charm of the original was that the 7 were dinosaurs with little call for their skills and looking to earn a few bucks. When Calvera captures them, he doesn’t kill them because he’s afraid all their friends will cross the border looking for revenge. The sad irony here is that these guys have no friends up north. All they have are the bonds forged with each other as they worked with the peasants on defense. And lo and behold, they’ve become invested in the village. The remake gives Denzel’s Chisolm a personal reason to gather the 7, which strikes a false note at the end.
Wisely, they kept some of the iconic lines, like, “I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.” And “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Vincent D’Onofrio (not one of my fave actors, as a rule) is a hoot here; he and Pratt look like they’re enjoying themselves.
FF=1