Dope (December 13th, 2015)
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revelori, and Zoe Kravitz
I wish I liked this movie. A movie about kids into 90s hip hop culture in current day gang infested LA seems like something I would dig. But this movie is a big case of missed opportunity. And it all boils down to a really bad script that doesn’t know what it wants to be. First it wants to be a movie about nerds being bullied and coming of age, then it wants to be a crime story about a kid getting in too deep, then it wants to be a movie about racism in America. It does none of these well. At all. The points it tries to make are really muddled. It isn’t funny on any level when it tries to be and it’s attempts at drama is just hollow. Nothing connects and it’s a shame since the cast is game and the visuals are good. Famuyiwa wrote and directed it, so it all falls to him. He’s got an obvious visual skill, but his directing does not extend beyond that. His work building this world just fails, making it all feel phony. It feels like a movie made about black people for white people. There’s nothing dangerous to it despite it trying to feel dangerous. Just fundamentally not a complete package. Just a shame and it makes me wonder what people saw in it to make it such a buzz worthy movie. Nothing worked in it at all. Oh well. I wish I could say more about it, but it just didn’t inspire anything in me. Not an utter embarrassment and not an interesting failure. Just bland, phony writing destroyed this.
127 Hours (December 15th, 2015)
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, and Treat Williams
Gotta love the range that Danny Boyle has. He rarely (if ever) makes the same movie twice. And the only thing that really clues one in to being a Boyle movie is that they’re really visually stylized with a lot of energy. And even in the recent years where it seems like he is very interested in making Oscar bait, there’s more to them than that simple description. Slumdog Millionaire might be a little too neat and cute for my tastes, there’s an undercurrent of darkness in it that most bait movies won’t tackle. And the recent Steve Jobs is a movie that very much has, on the outside, the air of Oscar desperation. But it’s much better and ambitious that a simple Oscar movie. There’s Trance, a high concept pulp movie that has no pretensions of awards contention. So even with the narrative that he’s out for awards now, Trance and the upcoming sequel to Trainspotting are pushing against that narrative. A movie that didn’t help to alleviate that narrative was 127 Hours, a true story about a guy who gets his arm crushed by a rock and survives 5 days before having to cut his own arm off. This sounds very much like a movie out for the gold, with the true story and the locked room aspect that has a big star playing it on his own for acting accolades. But Boyle isn’t content to rest on his laurels and making something so bland and uninspired. What he crafts here is a really tense, human and flashy tale about man vs nature. His visual style truly elevates the movie. Franco as good as the only real character here, but without Boyle making the movie set in one crater in the Earth a cinematic experience, this movie would have been a flop. It’s electric and truly keeps you hooked onto the screen and Francos predicament. Franco is fantastic here, playing a real human being in a role he doesn’t half ass. This gives him a free pass for some time while he jerks off in art films. It’s a one man show, but in reality it’s a two man piece. And Boyle steals the show. Boyle is one of those guys that’s so good and so uninterested in doing the same thing over and over, you forget that he’s made so many great movies. This is far from his best, but that’s a damn fine compliment for the man’s career. If you’re claustrophobic or afraid of nature or some shit, steer clear cause this will set you off. For anyone else, this is a real treat.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 17th, 2015)
Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, and Harrison Ford
For an obnoxiously in depth look at this, click here.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awaken
2. 127 Hours