Sunday, October 29, 2017


I kind of wonder what the timeline on this movie is, because between it and Gambit, I'm kind of wondering if the films that the Coen Brothers write but don't direct are initially developed for themselves, handed off to someone else when they can't get it to work (because, hey, might as well get paid for the effort even if it feels like a dead end), and then made into disappointing movies because, as good as George Clooney and writing/producing partner Grant Heslov are, they're not brilliant like the project's originators are, and probably don't have a different-enough perspective to make it work when the genuine geniuses couldn't.

Of course, they're talented enough that they don't really screw things up, but it really feels like they're working backwards at times - they've got the pretty fun third act, with Oscar Isaac and the escalating violence, and they need to get there, and never really fill in enough of the story to make it worth it.

This wasn't even my actual plan for the afternoon - I was going to see the animated film from Japan - but the MBTA's continuing use of shuttles because the Longfellow Bridge is still being rebuilt was even slower than usual this week, because there's apparently another section of the subway that needed shuttle buses this weekend too, and they got the actual MBTA buses and drivers and the middle of the Red Line got the charter buses that really don't fit a lot of people for their size and staff who maybe aren't quite as used to moving a lot of people around as the public transport specialists are. So I missed the start of my movie, bought tickets for this, and wound up with a bunch of seniors around me.

I've covered this material before, but for all people complain about millennials and teenagers always pulling out their phones or talking during movies, I always have worse luck with boomers, who just chat constantly, especially during a film set during their youth, giving them lots of chances to say "I remember that" while they're whispering about what they figure is going to happen in a not terribly tricky thriller. Just a constant nuisance though only worth hissing "be quiet" to once or twice.

But, still, it's worth remembering - people of all ages can be terrible at the movies; it's not just the people younger than oneself. And, come to think of that, isn't that sort of an appropriate thing to accompany a movie about how the good old days weren't that good?


* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 28 October 2017 in AMC Boston Common #17 (first-run, DCP)

They didn't mention race much in the trailer for Suburbicon, or give much attention to the kid who resides closest to the center of the movie, and while keeping something in reserve isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's also kind of something that happens with the movie itself, in that director George Clooney never really gets into the good, meaty stuff.

The film opens with a sly comment on integration that quickly gets pointed, as an animated sales pitch for the titular town touts its diversity with lily-white families from all across the country, only to freak out when the African-American Mayers clan buys a house there, leading to freakouts and alarmed town meetings. Their backyard abuts that of the Lodge family - father Gardner (Matt Damon), mother Rose (Julianne Moore), and son Nicky (Noah Jupe) - and Rose's sister Margaret (Moore) prods Noah to go play with his new neighbor Andy (Tony Espinosa). A few nights later, two men break into the Lodge house, knocking the entire family out with chloroform - something the already-disabled Rose cannot handle. It's a weird crime, and just gets weirder the closer anyone looks.

Not that there's a lot there; the mystery storyline is both exactly what it looks like from the start and missing a few details that might make it memorable. There's a number of things about the set-up that seem like they'd be really nifty if fleshed out - Margaret is a mass of potential contradictions while Gardner is presented as so generic that it's tough to get a handle on what he wants, with the filmmakers seeming to have little interest in what's in his head once they've done the jokes about everyone offering him the same platitudes. It's a story that only really comes to life when it gets weird or derailed by truly random events, although the basic material is strong enough to work regardless.

Full review on EFC.

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