Sunday, September 02, 2018

Movie Reviews: An Anemic August

I theorized in July that I might not have any reviews for August.  Moviepass was heading into a dark place at the end of last month.  It seems to have avoided crashing all together for the moment, but the service is now merely a shadow of its previous greatness.  Often when I tried to use it this month, the attempt ended in frustration.  My closest theater rarely had options and I was hesitant to drive 20 minutes to another theater when the movie could disappear before I purchased my ticket.

So, I only saw four movies in August.  That was not all due to Moviepass.  I teach and it was time to head back to the classroom this month.  Also, I think I was getting a little burnt out on movie runs.  Years ago, my son won a contest at a local gourmet popcorn place – a bag of candied popcorn each week for a year.  After about 6 months, we grew a little weary of going each week.  I have been feeling some of that in regards to Moviepass.

In any case, Moviepass is limiting members now to 3 movies a month.  I will have to decide when my annual subscription ends in November whether I will continue.  In any case, if I only get to do 3 a month, the days of seeing the more obscure titles are over.

This month, 3 of my 4 movies were true stories.

The Meg: C+
Everybody loves a good shark movie.  The best was Jaws, so where do you go from there?  Deep Blue Sea genetically altered their intelligence.  Another series had them attack using tornadoes.  The Meg grabs a prehistoric one so they can make it really, really big.

Aside from the size of the shark, The Meg doesn’t do anything particularly unexpected.  But, it has some fun cast members, a couple laughs, a few jumps, and is entertaining enough for a summer film.

BlacKKKlansman: B+
Based on the true story of Colorado Springs’ first black cop- who finds himself infiltrating a local chapter of the KKK.  When I saw the trailer, the editing work made it feel like it was going to be a comedy.  It had its funny moments, but overall it was a police drama.

It is a great movie for our times.  It is a reminder of how things used to be and how they still are.  Beyond the history lesson, it was just a good movie– and you get to watch @**hole white supremacists get their just due.

Papillon: B
Adapted from the autobiographical novel by Henri Charrière, Papillon tells the tale of a French safecracker in the 1930s who is incarcerated at a penal colony in French Guiana.  The story follows Henri as he forms relationships, has varied escape attempts, and spends years in solitary.

I enjoy the work of Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek, the two lead actors, so the movie was an easy sell for me.  The movie is a great period piece and works well as a prison escape movie.  It had a few moments where the pacing seemed to drag but overall, I was completely drawn into the story.  After watching this, you will be grateful to be a free person in the modern age.

Operation Finale:  B+
The true story of secret agents from Israel capturing a Nazi hiding in Argentina in order to have him stand trial for crimes committed during the Holocaust.

One of my favorite scenes in Xmen: First Class is when Magneto goes Nazi hunting in Argentina.  I have often said that they should have made a whole movie focused on his exploits as a Nazi hunter.

This movie gives one that same opportunity to cheer-on Nazi hunting.  It is a great spy movie and has the added benefit of being a history lesson.

For me, the movie had only one, minor, flaw.  Ben Kingsley is an amazing actor and handled the role of Adolf Eichmann excellently.  However, I was at times pulled out of the narrative because he was simply too old for the part. He had two sons in the movie who would have more appropriately been his grandchildren.  In addition, Eichmann was a Nazi white supremacist… having him played by someone who has a mixed ethnic heritage felt a little disjointed.

Operation Finale also sparked my frustration again that so many Americans are vague with their opinions concerning Nazis.  I left the movie angry with some of my fellow citizens.  There are no “fine people” among Nazis. There never were, there never are.

Not sure what my movie theater habits will be in the months to come… but movies will be graded.

This article first appeared in Salt Lake Film Review.
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