It is not a good sign for a movie when one of the first things the audience hears is how New York just isn’t New York any more. I’m not sure if New Yorkers know this, but the vast majority of people in this country don’t live in New York City. Weird, right? In fact, most of that majority have never even been there, so the statement is completely meaningless to most people other than to reinforce how full of themselves are New Yorkers. To quote Siobhan Fallon Hogan from Fools Rush In, “Why does every guy from New York think there’s nothing west of the Hudson?” Exactly. Not only is The Only Living Boy in New York full of itself, but it’s also complaining about modern New York City as if 1970’s New York City was some quaint little town. If that’s not enough to immediately turn you off to this movie, wait until you meet the loathsome and vapid characters that dwell in this film.
Sure. That’s culture.
(SPOILER ALERT because this movie deserves it.)
Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) is an early twenty-something pining for his friend, Mimi Pastori (Kiersey Clemons). Mimi is your classic hot girl stringing along her kind-of-dorky friend because she’s that shallow. But, they had a “magical” night together and Thomas is hooked. After learning that she is going off to Croatia to study, Thomas goes home to his apartment and meets W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges), a new tenant. We also know W.F. is the narrator waxing nostalgic at the opening of the film because nobody else sounds like Jeff Bridges. W.F. immediately starts nosing into Thomas’ business and the first guess you have is that he is a psychologist. Oh, if only.
Soon thereafter, we meet Thomas’ parents, Ethan (Pierce Brosnan) and Judith (Cynthia Nixon) at a dinner party where the entire table is reiterating Gerald’s opening narration about the loss of New York’s “good” culture. It took incredible restraint for me to not shout “fuck you!” at the screen. A short while later, Mimi and Thomas are at dinner when Thomas spots his father kissing the neck of Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), who is definitely not Cynthia Nixon. Thomas becomes obsessed and starts stalking Johanna, but is found out almost immediately. Not only does she know he’s following her, but she knows Thomas is Ethan’s son. After a couple more run-ins, they start having sex. At this point in the movie, you should just leave because this movie only gets more disappointing. If not, it’s also incredibly predictable. Seriously, leave the theater.
She’s just not that into you. Take the hint.
If it’s not gross enough that Johanna is knowingly sleeping with father and son, she also seems to be in on the secret that gets revealed at the end of the movie. But, since this movie is telegraphing every move, you should guess it the moment we find out W.F. is a writer and whose new book is about Thomas. She is truly an awful person and when she professes to be in love with both of them, you’ll want to puke in your popcorn bucket. That’s why the bucket is so big, by the way. And Thomas isn’t any better. He can’t take the hint with Mimi, decided screwing his dad’s mistress was a good idea despite insisting how much his dad’s affair would devastate his mother, and doesn’t even seem to have a job while complaining about Ethan trying to help get him a job. If you’re keeping score, that’s one incestuous mistress, one douche-nozzle son, one incredibly nosy neighbor, one cheating father, and one crappy friend. Kind of hard to care about a city’s past when this is the cross sample of people who talk about it.
Thankfully, this movie is less than ninety minutes, so I walked out of it with little more than a shrug. Further contemplation made me realize how far it had its own head stuck up its ass, but that’s not what makes it a subpar movie. That honor goes to the uninspired script, including a lot of telling us things when it should be showing us things, and a cast of characters that are about as undeveloped as you can get. Generally, a movie should want us to sympathize or relate with its characters, and I’m guessing there are very few people out there sleeping with their dad’s mistress. Throw on the predicted reveal and the explanation of how it happened and you will wonder what you did in life to deserve watching this movie. Unless you are the person complaining about all the things that are gone now – you deserve it.
Rating: Ask for all of your money back and don’t forget to root against the Yankees.
You’ll float too! Enter to win passes to the advance screening of IT in Denver on Sept 5th! Visit https://goo.gl/forms/7EIz4QgjUrioXI6t1 to enter. Entry deadline is 8/29 when winners will start to be notified! Be sure to say you heard about the contest from us here at WorldViral and good luck! #ITMovie in theaters Sept 8th!
In theaters September 8th
New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “IT,” is based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name, which has been terrifying readers for decades.
The film tells the story of seven young outcasts growing up in the township of Derry, Maine, who call themselves the Losers’ Club. Each of them has been ostracized for one reason or another; each has a target on their back from the local pack of bullies…and all have seen their inner fears come to life in the form of an ancient shapeshifting predator they can only call It.
For as long as their town has existed, Derry has been the entity’s hunting ground, emerging from the sewers every 27 years to feed on the terrors of its chosen prey: Derry’s children. Banding together over one horrifying and exhilarating summer, the Losers form a close bond to help them overcome their own fears and stop a killing cycle that began on a rainy day, with a small boy chasing a paper boat as it swept down a storm drain…and into the hands of Pennywise the Clown.
The last shot of the movie Wind River has a title card stating that no data is kept tracking the number of missing Native American girls. This is a strange way to end a movie that isn’t about missing girls, but is about solving the murder of a Native American girl. It also seems to be trying to say something about whom to blame for the sorry state of reservations, but it’s really not clear who. The movie throws shade at both the local Natives and the white man, then quietly drops the conversation. For an otherwise great movie, its ability to convey a strong social message is fairly lacking.
(Early SPOILER ALERT.)
I don’t want to get political with this movie, but considering the attention being paid lately to Hollywood whitewashing, it’s worth a mention. This isn’t the typical whitewashing in that no white people were cast in roles that would be better served by actors of a different ethnicity. In this case, it’s the literal and figurative depiction of the great white hunter saving the day for the Native Americans. Not only is the protagonist a white guy (Jeremy Renner) hired to hunt predatory animals, but he’s literally dressed in all white for much of the film and ends up hunting the murderer. Top that off with a tribal police force consisting of half a dozen cops who come off as idiots, led by a wise-cracking, wizened old police chief (Graham Greene) who long ago forgot what police procedure consists of, and of course the white man must be the savior. It’s 2017, but we’re still getting movies with this kind of messaging. Ok, let’s move on now.
While out hunting a mountain lion, Cory Lambert (Renner) comes across the body of a young woman in the snow in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming on the Wind River Reservation. He alerts the tribal police and they call the FBI, since a murder on a reservation is FBI jurisdiction. Wait, it is? Googling…Googling…yep, that’s true. In response, the FBI sends agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who might be the worst agent in the FBI. Or maybe she’s just really new. Except, she doesn’t know that it’s cold in Wyoming in the spring, which is the kind of thing an FBI agent should know prior to the academy. She claims to have been sent from the closest office – Las Vegas, Nevada. Googling…um, no. There are field offices in Denver and Salt Lake City, even three satellite offices in Wyoming, so I’m going to call bullshit on that one. To be fair, this was done to add more to the idea that she was out of her depth on this case (and that the white man couldn’t be bothered to send more than a token of help), but really this was just an excuse for showing Olsen in a thong (which I’m not complaining about, by the way). But again, 2017.
Through much of the film, the writer (Taylor Sheridan, also directing) goes out of his way to make sure we never forget that murder cases can’t be solved by police or FBI agents trained in investigative techniques, but only with the help of Salt-of-the-Earth guy. Corey is an expert tracker, so every clue in the investigation is found by Corey pointing at the snow and repeating to us that “the clues are all out there.” Basically, this consists of him pointing at very obvious snowmobile tracks that escape the sight of law enforcement and eventually lead to the climactic reveal. Kudos to Sheridan for religiously sticking to the tracker/hunter theme. Okay, I guess this movie is your typical murder mystery, but I promise it’s better than many others.
The one competent tribal cop.
The film is basically a drawn-out police procedural, but with much better acting and pacing. The pacing is especially good, never moving us too fast or too slow through the investigation and always breaking up the slow discovery scenes with bits of action. Strong camera work also helps put the audience into the hunt with the characters, though there is one scene that ruins the emotional beats with the always-obnoxious shaky-cam. There are also great emotional beats throughout the film that are placed perfectly. Olsen and Renner nail their roles, but the supporting cast, especially Greene and Gil Birmingham (the dead girl’s father), are just as noteworthy. Birmingham is in just two scenes, but he owns them. All of this leads into a great climax scene that comes in two parts. The first part is the revealing of the events leading to the girl’s death and the second part is the wrapping up of the investigation. These two parts are what make this movie and I promise they are worth the wait (and putting up with the political angle I mentioned earlier). Googling…googling…yep, most reviewers agree with me.
Rating: Ask for two dollars back and donate it to whatever charity is trying to help out reservation police. Apparently, they really need it (because they’re legitimately under-resourced).
Let’s just get this out of the way right now. If you are a fan of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, at the very least, you are probably going to be disappointed in the movie The Dark Tower. At the very most, you’re going to be pissed off for days, cursing Sony (the production company) and willing The Man in Black to pay visits to the director (Nikolaj Arcel) and writers (Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, and Arcel). And I would not blame you for hating this movie. When compared to the books, it’s a travesty, especially since you (and I) have been waiting for a film adaptation for decades. To say this movie is loosely based on the books is to abuse the word loosely. I’m sure, at this very moment, my writing colleague is tearing this movie a new ass hole in his review. But I’m not going to do that because I expected this would happen.
The Dark Tower literary series is a massive, sprawling epic covering eight whole books and tying into dozens more books. There is no chance in hell a 95-minute movie (I still can’t believe that length) could do any kind of justice to even a portion of a single Dark Tower novel, let alone the entire series. The first clue was in the title of this movie. The first novel is titled The Gunslinger, which means Sony had no intention of this film being anything more than a placation of clamoring fans. They figured they’d grab the iconic characters from the first book, include a bunch of things from throughout the series, toss in a bunch of additional Easter eggs for Stephen King fans, and call it a day. The strange thing is it turned out to be enough to placate me.
Just one of many placations.
(SPOILER ALERT. For the movie, not the books.)
Supposedly, production on a TV series is slated to begin in 2018, and if true, is the only good way to handle adapting the series. Like with Game of Thrones and Outlander, the only way to do the books justice is in super-long form television. That allows the show-runners to focus on all aspects of the writing rather than forcing them to cram things into what amounts to a two-part episode. Knowing that, it’s hard to get worked up over the latest example of Hollywood failing at adapting a beloved book. From a purely cinematic standpoint, The Dark Tower is an adequate movie.
Maybe I’m cutting the movie too much slack, but there isn’t anything in the film that is bad. In all honesty, they captured the plot of the entire series fairly well. All of the universes are protected and held together by a Dark Tower. Walter, a.k.a. The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), wants to destroy the Dark Tower so that the Crimson King can rule all. Roland Deschain, a.k.a. The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), wants to avenge the death of his father by killing Walter. Eventually, Roland accepts that the Dark Tower is more important than his vengeance. That’s all captured in this movie and, all things considered, is…well…adequate.
That’s Roland alright.
I did mention the film features all of the major characters from The Gunslinger and that includes young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor). Jake has psychic powers and Walter is hunting and capturing kids with those powers in order to assault the Dark Tower. This being a standard Hollywood action flick, Jake’s power is far beyond any other kid’s and Walter believes Jake is the key to finally bringing down the Tower. In another creative decision sure to piss off fans, Jake is this movie’s protagonist. That’s right, get all your cursing out now, I’ll wait. After some really quick character development, Jake ends up crossing through a portal into Roland’s world and the two of them journey together to stop Walter. It’s really that straight-forward of a movie, complete with the by-the-numbers hero’s journey. Again, adequate.
The slack I’m cutting is mainly for three reasons. One – the casting was very good. Idris Elba nails Roland and Tom Taylor is Jake to a tee. The two of them carry this movie and, despite the short running time, create decently fleshed-out characters. McConaughey is also good, but he didn’t quite make it all the way to menacing. Oh, he looks the part and comes close, but his Walter comes off a little flat. Making up for it, the folks playing Walter’s henchmen (the Low Men) really look the part, especially Abbey Lee Kershaw and Jackie Earle Haley, both playing Walter’s lieutenants.
They definitely look the parts.
Two – the way Roland interacts with his guns really sells how skilled he is. There are several different ways in which he can reload his revolvers and his marksmanship skills are second to none. Granted, the movie goes fairly stupid in also giving Roland super-powers (fast healing, enhanced strength, impervious to falling from tall heights). This feels like studio meddling, but Akiva Goldsman’s writing and producing credits indicates he might just be that bad a writer.
Third, and definitely the nerdiest, are those Easter eggs I mentioned earlier. I realize how manipulative those moves are in tricking fans into a more favorable view of the movie, but I’m owning it. The number 19, a low-rider Cadillac toy, a shout out to Pennywise, the Shine, a spider, 1408, roses, and probably others that I missed all had me grinning like an idiot.
The way I felt at the end of this film reminds me of how I felt after watching Ender’s Game. It’s missing a whole lot of what made the book such an incredible read, but at least they didn’t completely fuck it up. Yes, the big emotional moment from the book with Jake was missing from the film, but I saw the previews and I knew this movie was really only a token gesture at bringing King’s opus magnus to screen. It’s enough for me that Roland was written and portrayed well, that Walter was at least a formidable foe for Roland (despite the silly action movie ending), and that a bunch of fan nuggets were thrown in. I know I’m being much kinder to this movie than for many other movies, but, like I said, I’m owning my placation.
Rating: Unless you are in the outraged group of fans, ask for two dollars back.