Posts Tagged ‘adam driver’

star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) obtains a wayfinder and makes his way to the previously uncharted planet of Exogal, where he finds out some interesting things, and has a new mission.  Meanwhile Rey (Daisy Ridley) travels to Passana and finds a dagger with Sith writing on it, which only C3PO (Anthony Daniels) can translate, and he refuses because he is programmed not to translate anything in the Sith language.  So Poe (Oscar Isaac suggests travelling to Kijimi to download the translation from C3PO’s memory, but doing that would result in a complete memory wipe for C3PO.

The translation is vital to find the way to Exogal, which Luke (Mark Hamill) was trying to do before his mission ended.   Exogal holds the answer to a lot of questions, including Rey’s identity , and the next mission for the resistance.  Does Poe extract the translation from C3PO?  Does the resistance make it to Exogal?  Does Rey find her true identity?  What is Kylo’s new mission?  Can the resistance get their act together to fight The First Order?

J.J. Abrams had one job, do not mess up the reveal of Rey’s identity, and it was a pretty easy job, the path was pretty well laid out , and it was pretty easy to make a cohesive interesting reveal from the identity issue, but Abrams tried to get creative, and in doing so, he not only screwed the pooch on this movie, he messed with the narrative of past Star Wars movies, and that is inexcusable.  In screwing up the reveal, he also screwed up the roles of other characters in this movie, and he had to back and fill a lot to give those characters soothing to do.  And the final scene between Kylo and Rey was nauseating, instead of being uplifting.  When this movie isn’t busy rewriting past Star Wars history, it is a script awash in sentimentality, gooey, sticky and largely unnecessary sentimentality.  And among its many sins, the movie’s heroes resort to doing things that are famous for being part of other non-Star Wars movies’ plots.  That is something that a Star Wars movie never has to do.   JJ Abrams has eight movies to draw from, why does he have to purloin tricks from other films?  Rise of Skywalker is another example of lazy, uninspired writing, and a wholly disappointing experience, not the way to end a series that inspired moviegoers for 40 years.

Daisy Ridley tried her best in this film, the script gave her an almost impossible task, and she almost waded through this b.s.  script, and made her character likable, almost. Adam Driver similarly suffers character whiplash, going from one extreme to the other to the point that he didn’t know which way was up.  Driver is a good actor, he deserved better than this steaming pile of excrement dropped at his feet.  He tries to make Kylo interesting, but the script pulls the rug out from under him.  Poor Carrie Fisher, instead of remembering that she brought a real heroine to life for millions of young women, audience will remember this poorly edited, badly written,  “performance.”  If she seemed absent from this role, it’s because she WAS.  Pity Oscar Isaac and John Boyega more, their characters were cut down to a few action scenes apiece and very little else. Any interesting chemistry between Boyega and Ridley and Boyega and Isaac was completely forgotten.

J.J Abrams seemed to be directing by the numbers, special effect, chase scene, special effect.  Yet none of the special effects really stood out, and the chase scenes seemed to be inserted in, instead of flowing organically from the story, the pacing was nothing special, except trying to jam every possible story element and plot point in history to try to satisfy the fandom, and that slowed the movie down a lot.  The performances were ok, the actors weren’t given much to work with, given the script.

Star Wars:  The Rise of Skywalker.  Palp-fiction.

 

The-Dead-Dont-Die

Many strange things are happening in the sleepy little town of Centerville.  Farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi) says one of his chickens is missing, and stolen by Hermit Bob. (Tom Waits) The ant colonies  are agitated, polar fracking is beginning, the sun is staying up a lot longer than usual.  But then,  Fern (Esther Ballint) and Lilly (Rosal Colon) are murdered.  Police Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) couldn’t care less about a missing chicken, but two dead people are another story.  Cliff, and his partner Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) try to find out who killed the two townspeople.  They have questions for the undertaker, Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton) who plays with a sword, has a giant Buddha on the mortuary grounds, and fashions herself a samurai, even though she’s Scottish. Ronnie tries to warn visiting hipsters from Cleveland, Zoe (Selena Gomez)  Jack (Austin Butler) and Zack (Luka Sabbat)  to stay inside their motel rooms with the doors locked.   Soon, Ronnie, and hardware store worker Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones) realize who killed the women.  Who was it?  Can they stop the killing?

The Dead Don’t Die is a sly, understated, low-key satire.  It’s a satire, not only about horror movies, but it’s a satire of movies in general, and also political satire.  It’s a self-aware movie, which just adds to the fun.  One of the political jokes is pretty blatant and meant to anger a certain segment of people, and it was right on target. Some of the recurring jokes weren’t funny, and writer Jim Jarmusch missed a golden opportunity to satirize smart phone and tablet users.   However, overall, this was a pretty enjoyable flick, and about half if the critics out there did not like it, which means they either didn’t like the jokes, or get the jokes.  But with all the swill out there masquerading as entertainment, this was a great cast, and a great screenwriter, making a pretty funny film.

Bill Murray is perfectly suited for this movie, he underplays his role perfectly, and his deadpan delivery is just what this role calls for. Adam Driver follows Murray’s lead and plays his character with a low key attitude, which makes the dialogue funnier when he blurts out the answer to the mysterious deaths.  Steve Buscemi is funny as a farmer who nobody likes, he seems to specialize in playing jerky characters , he plays this one with a twinkle in his eye and a pole up his butt.  Tilda Swinton steals this movie by parodying herself, by playing one of her characters from another movie.  The star studded cast definitely makes the material better.

Jim Jarmusch  is primarily a music video director, but he doesn’t  pull any music video tricks here, the pacing is good, the performances are good, there’s one big special effect, but not much else that makes this movie stand out.

The Dead Don’t Die: Dead on satire

blackklansman

In the early 1970’s, Colorado Springs’ first black police officer, Ron Stallworth, (John David Washington) is asked to infiltrate a black student union sponsored event with former Black Panther , Stokley Carmichael.  (Corey Hawkins) At the speech, Stallworth meets black militant student activist Patrice Dumas, (Laura Harrier) and the two become romantically involved.  Stallworth’s second assignment is self-propagated, he calls up the local chapter of the Klan, using his own name and asks to become a member of the white supremacist group.  Stallworth obviously can’t infiltrate the Klan, but his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) can, so he becomes the public face of Ron Stallworth.  The local Klan chapter wants to impress the visiting Klan leader, David Duke. (Topher Grace)  Local Klansman Walter Breachway (Ryan Eggold) just wants to meet Duke, but Felix Kendrickson (Jasper Pakkonen) wants to go further.  Does Stallworth and Zimmerman’s infiltration expose Kendrickson’s plan?  Do the local Klan members find out that Stallworth is black, and Zimmerman is Jewish?

There’s an unintended sense that Black Klansman is a bad joke, like a Dave Chappelle comedy sketch, actually it was a real investigation into the Klan and how they planned violence in Colorado Springs, but Spike Lee tones down the viciousness of the Klan and makes it seem like the Klan is just a social club interested in getting together and watching Birth of A Nation and burning crosses.  There’s no sense that they are a menacing hate group, a nationalist terrorist organization. There are interesting links between this local Klan group and the government, but that expose’ comes very late in the film. Stallworth and Zimmerman sound totally different in the movie and they don’t even try to sound the same. There’s a clunky romance, and the only interesting part is the interplay between Stallworth and Zimmerman, and the characters reaction to the Klan.  Other than that,  Black Klansman plays like a 70’s tv show, Starsky  and Hutch, if either of them were African American.  Actually, the most jarring part of the movie was the last 10 or 15 minutes, which only had a tangential link to the film.

The acting is good for the most part.  John David Washington is Denzel Washington’s son,  he does a good job with the role, trying to balance the character’s  life with the police force with his race, and the tensions they cause.  His white guy voice, however, sounded silly and trivialized the role, it sounded more like Eddie Murphy than Adam Driver, and that was a key part of  the role.  Adam Driver was very good as Zimmerman, the Jewish cop who finally has to face up to his religion, instead of running from it. Driver gives a complex performance of a conflicted man.  Laura Harrier plays a one dimensional, Angela Davis type militant black feminist role, in the mold of Angela Davis.  Jasper Pakkonen does a really good job as a hateful, vile bigot named Felix.  It is really difficult to play someone that hateful convincingly. Topher Grace is ok as David Duke, he plays him too mildly, he gets the snake oil salesman part right, but he doesn’t give Duke enough of the hateful edge that is part of Duke’s m.o.  Michael Buscemi, looking and sounding a lot like his brother Steve, does a decent job as a quirky police officer.

The direction by Spike Lee is disappointing.  The pacing is inconsistent, at times there are monologues, which slow the pacing to a crawl, at times BlackkKalnsman tries to be an action film, and so the pacing speeds up.  A trademark of Spike Lee films is that the colors pop off the screen.  Ernest Dickerson was Lee’s cinematographer until the mid-1990.  Since then, Lee has used different cinematographers, and this film is bathed in a dull sepia tone, which is meant to make it visually resemble 1970’s films, but just makes Blackkklansman look uninteresting.

BlackkKlansman:  Hood-lums behaving badly.

midnight-special

A little boy named Alton (Jaeden Liberher) with a supernatural power is kidnapped by his father, Roy (Michael Shannon) and his friend, Lucas. (Joel Edgerton)   Alton inspires a cult that follows him, an F.B.I. agent named Sevier (Adam Driver) is also tailing the trio.  As Roy takes Alton to see his mother, Sarah, (Kirsten Dunst) Alton gets sick, and Lucas advises Roy to take Alton to the hospital.  But Roy believes that Alton needs to go to a pre-ordained location in a 24 hour window, and he will not be deterred.  Do Roy Alton and Lucas make it to the location before Sevier can guess the location?  Does Alton’s illness affect the journey to their destination?

Midnight Special does a good job of keeping the suspense going for a while, it has obvious references the Branch Davidians, and even reminds me a bit of the the Elian Gonzalez case, and there’s one inescapable movie reference, but if I reveal that reference, I will spoil this movie.  But after Alton’s power and identity is revealed, the last half hour just drags. The problem with the identity reveal is that it creates more questions than it answers, and the film doesn’t try to answer those questions.  After all is revealed, here’s nothing left to do, and the movie goes on for another half hour when everything should have been settled.  So the viewer is “treated” to a lot of knowing looks and nods by the actor, and some meaningless special effects, as the movie limps to a finish.

There’s nothing wrong with the acting, the issue is the actors aren’t given a lot to do. Shannon plays the father with the requisite intensity.  Joel Edgerton does a good job balancing loyalties between Roy and Alton.  Kirsten Dunst plays the doting mother well, although one might wonder why she’s playing a mother of a pre-teen boy when she’s only 34.  Adam  Driver is interesting as the sleuth, but he figures things out way too quickly.

The direction is not that great, there are good visuals, but the pacing is horrid, and the running time should have been edited down, but the writer and director are the same person, so the director doesn’t dared edit his own work.  It’s a lot like Take Shelter, a sci-fi movie with a big buildup but little payoff.

The movie is produced by Steve Mnuchin, the name might not ring a bell, but he’s been nominated to be the new treasury secretary.  It’s not often that a Hollywood producer is nominated for a cabinet position.

Midnight Special Turns into a pumpkin long before midnight.

 

what if

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has dropped out of medical school in Canada, and now writes technical manuals of some kind. Despite a bad breakup and general cynicism about love, Wallace’s roommate Allan (Adam Driver) introduces Wallace to his cousin, Chantry, (Zoe Kazan) but Chantry has a boyfriend, named Ben (Rafe Spall) who works as a negotiator for the U.N.so Wallace and Chantry agree to be friends. They run into each other outside a movie, and start trading e-mails about silly things like Fool’s Gold, a bacon and PB&J sandwich which was Evis’ favorite.

Eventually, Chantry wants Wallace to meet Ben, chantry tries to introduce Wallace to her sister, Dalla (Megan Park) but the evening ends badly as Wallace accidentally pushes Ben out the window.  At the emergency room Chantry meets Wallace’s ex, Megan. Chantry finds out that Ben gets a job in Ireland, and will be all over Europe for the next six months.  Wallace and Chantry inevitably get closer, and Wallace is definitely in love with her, but afraid to tell her his true feelings because he’s afraid of losing her friendship.  Does Wallace admit his true feeling for Chantry?

I like this movie a lot.  It’s extremely funny, the characters are interesting, with interesting jobs Chantry is an animator, Ben is a U.N. negotiator, yet they have detailed conversations about trivial things, like a sandwich called Fool’s Gold or the name of whipped cream.  There are issues with the script.  There was a totally unnecessary relationship with Allan and a girl named Nicole, which could have been edited. What if is also very conventional, the cynical guy falls for the first girl he meets, Chantry introduces Wallace to her sister, and the ending is predictable. But this was a happy, light movie so the ending fit.  I’ve said it before, with romantic comedies, it’s not always the destination, but the journey, and this was a journey well worth taking.

The acting is very good.  Daniel Radcliffe, making a break from his sci fi/horror roles,  is a pretty good comedic actor, after a somewhat bumpy start.  Comedy requires a great deal of timing, and Radcliffe had some trouble with the timing at first, but caught on quickly, and did a nice job.  Zoe Kazan is perfect in her role, she is funny, and sweet, and she plays an animator, although the viewer never sees her draw a thing, it seems like she could be an animator.  She has a Zooey Deschanel quirky quality to her. But it is Adam Driver who absolutely steals this movie, he is funny, and outrageous, and has perfect timing.  I can see why he is such a hit on Girls, which I’ve never seen. Unlike Star Wars, he really gets a chance to be funny here and is. Rafe Spall’s accent slips here and there, so I’m glad Radcliffe didn’t try to do an American accent.

The direction is mostly good, the pacing is fine, a few of the subplots could have been edited down in the interest of time, but the story moved along quite well.  There were some nice flourishes with the addition of animation to the film, but I don’t think the viewer ever saw the drawings credited to her. The director gets good performances from everyone, so even though he’s a little known Canadian director, he did a decent job with this movie.

What If?  No question, a good rom-com.