Jun 22, 2012


PROMETHEUS:  Since this film is the most recent of the three, I’ll begin with it, though I have nothing good to say. Visually, it’s a big movie, but darkness is the constant, so why make it big? There is no variety in setting, pace, atmosphere, or emotion. (Well, some of the particulars have comic potential, but the movie doesn’t realize that). Every character has stepped from cliché or a comic book, and every event is a crisis. The plot takes big turns about every 40 seconds; after a half-hour I didn’t care what was going to happen next, or to whom—I knew it would be precipitous and bad. Apparently, the movie’s makers presume an audience attention span that’s rather like broccoli on meth. If you enjoy dimly lit, constant though meaningless action, go ahead. Maybe the popcorn will be warm. 

BERNIE:  I’m not much of a Jack Black fan, but he was just right in the role of Bernie—a gay mortician in east Texas, who develops an unusual friendship with the most hated old widow in town. There’s plenty of comedy here, but there’s also some substance in the character studies of Bernie and the widow (Shirley MacLaine).  So the humor often comes in a more casual, droll way, something like the pacing of Woody Allen or Ross McElwee rather than, say, a frantic Jim Carrey.  If you have a pulse, however, you will laugh at least a few times, perhaps at Jack Black, perhaps at or with the local Texans’ commentaries, which are woven into this narrative based on a true story.

HUNGER GAMES:  I’m usually not a fan of fantasy or sci-fi, but Hunger Games lives up to its billing. Jennifer Lawrence’s acting (remember her lead in Winter's Bone?) is the brightest star in this galaxy of fine performances.

The social criticism is inventive, and it precisely nails a new and ridiculous style for the people who run a futuristic, amoral and savagely absurd show.  The satire captures our human appetite for crime and carnivals, the more realistic, the better (though it’s not an especially gory movie).

We witness a voyeuristic bloodlust that’s become a central force in popular culture, with a special nod to reality TV and our need to turn everything into a game. (I also sensed slings and arrows directed at football and hockey).

The adult world in Hunger Games likes the fact that the participants are the innocent young. They have no trouble shaking bothersome social and moral restraints upon their hunger for violence and entertainment. If we're to commit a group crime on a massive scale—a socially embraced holocaust with a smaller body count—it might look like this movie’s update of Lord of the Flies. The hyper action and lovey-dovey stuff of the second hour are a bit over the top, but we’re likely to accept it all, for we are part of the movie’s target: we like what we like and want what we want, especially if, in a beautiful woods, the athletic hunters are young and beautiful, warriors and lovers, and these players are. 


Brenda's Arizona said...

You've inspired me to skip two of the three. That saves me, what - $20.00 in movie tickets alone?

Do you think Jennifer Lawrence is now/will be type-cast?

Jean Spitzer said...

Timely for here, where we are having extra hot days.

Banjo52 said...

B & J, Good. Glad to help when it means I can spout an opinion . . . Br, which TWO will you skip? "Bernie" is a little slower and understated, but it has much to recommend it.

This role for Jennifer Lawrence is sufficiently diff. from Winter's Bone that I wouldn't worry about type-casting if I were running Hollywood. Unfortunately, I'm not. But seriously, her emotional range is very, very impressive, and here she has to be somewhat athletic too.

What's better for bad weather than a flick?

PJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PJ said...

Your taste in movies is as eclectic as mine, Banjo Man. I've been waiting for Prometheus - more precisely, Noomi Rapace's performance - and now I'm reading such mixed reviews. I get discounted tickets from my Credit Union so I'll have to take a chance and see for myself.

Anonymous said...

Likely I won't be seeing any of these, but a word in favor of Jack Black -- I very much liked Margot at the Wedding. I may have been the only one who did.

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