Five quick reviews for the movies: Death Wish, On the Basis of Sex, Den of Thieves, Knives and Skin and Spider-Man: Far From Home
A Bruce Willis movie like all other Bruce Willis movies, complete with gun propaganda. In this movie, WIllis’ house is robbed. He is not there, but his wife and daughter are cooking dinner together when the robbers unsubtly sneak in. The robbers and the women get in a tiff which ends up with the wife dead and the daughter in a coma. Very sad. We know it’s very sad because we’re human, not because the movie makes you feel anything. Willis then goes to buy a gun, in a scene that feels like it’s directed by a person who doesn’t know what he wants to say about the ease of buying a gun in America https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbNsHFpWojk. Is this an endorsement of guns reminding us that we should be safe, or is it mocking the fears of gun owners and their commercials? Anyway, Willis buys a gun and then begins a revenge mission of finding his wife’s killer. Along the way, he just starts shooting any criminal he comes across and gets a nickname from the media: “Grim Reaper.” The rest of the story is just Willis killing all the robbers and realizing he doesn’t need to be the “Grim Reaper” anymore, now that his daughter is out of a coma. There is nothing in this movie that hasn’t been done twenty years ago by three other, better movies.
One out of five.
On the Basis of Sex
This is one of two movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg that came out in 2018. Is her life suddenly more interesting? No, but Ginsberg has become something of a public icon lately. This movie is cashing in on it, even though it could have been made ten years ago.. Rather than a traditional biopic, this movie only focuses on the first part of Ginsburg’s life, up to when she won the case Moritz v. Commissioner. We see Ginsburg met her husband and her husband fall ill to cancer. We don’t really see him get better, but then he doesn’t die so apparently that’s resolved? She has a daughter, and a large part of the second half of the movie focuses on her relationship with her daughter. At one point the girl skips school to go see Gloria Steineim speak. Ginsburg is angry, but then — surprisingly! — comes around to her daughter’s feminism during a scene when it’s raining. Ginsburg tells her daughter, “You’re a liberated young lady” and it’s just too on the nose for me to take seriously. And on a final, picky note, the song that plays over the movie’s credits is widely different in tone than the rest of the movie. Anyway, if you love Ginsburg then you will probably have a good time with this movie. If you are looking for a complex, interesting movie on an American public figure, this is not that. I would recommend the documentary RBG over this movie.
Two out of five.
Den of Thieves
The opening scene of this movie shows us a tightly executed robbery that goes south and ends in a shootout, killing multiple cops. This begins a feud between the cops and the gang of bank robbers. The cops begin investigating the bank robbers using any means possible, including torture. The bank robbers, meanwhile, decide they want to rob the only bank in the city that has never been robbed before. This creates a vehicle to watch two groups of angry men shoot at each other. The action here is well-paced, believable and holds attention. While the action of this movie holds up, it’s too bad the writing does not. By the end of the movie, every character is unlikable. The plot of this movie is unmanageable. There are too many turns and twists for me to care. It doesn’t feel like “Oh shit, that was cool, this bank robbery is so smart!” It’s more like, “Wow this movie sure is dragging along.” There are too many characters to keep track of, considering they all look pretty similar (except for the black guy and the fat Latino guy). One character in particular was so grating and frustrating that by the end, I was only watching the movie hoping he would die. He did not, and I think that makes the movie worse. There is an ending twist in this movie that was entirely unnecessary to my enjoyment and understanding of what happens, and seems to only be there to impress the audience with trickery.
Two out of Five
Knives and Skin
Fuck this had a good trailer. But all the cool lines and quality aesthetics were in the trailer. There was very little to the story — girl dies, townspeople search for her. We see her old friends come back together to be a little sad about her disapperance, but none of the town’s members had any depth of character that would make them interesting to watch. They don’t seem to care about the dead girl, or react in significant ways. They felt like high schoolers, and it didn’t seem like they developed throughout the story, even though their friend is dead. So the story falls flat, but the music and production design are flashy, colorful, and consistently surprising. Every single bedroom is lit with contrasting bright colors, but the color pallete doesn’t say anything or do anything interesting. I’m reminded of last year’s Mandy, which also had intensely saturated colors, but lacked comprehensible story or meaning behind the striking color choices. This movie is better than Mandy though. The production design has some high moments, including a melting ice cream, talking lion shirt and smashing of a doll’s house are stricking and shot with like they have deep meaning, but the story fails to give them any meaning.
Two out of five, but a strong two.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
I made a promise to myself that I was done with Marvel movies. But Spider-Man is different. Spider-Man is bigger than Marvel. But this movie is a snoozefest, especially considering the breath of fresh air that was Into the Spider-Verse from last year. This movie feels like a paint-by-numbers Spider-Man. We follow Peter Parker as he goes with his class on a school trip to Europe. But oh no! He has to be Spider-Man when a huge water monster starts attacking in the area that his class is visiting. But another superhero comes and saves the day. Parker trusts that hero, but then that hero turns out to be a bad guy. This Spider-Man is played by Tom Holland, who is the least interesting version of Spider-Man I have encountered. At least Garfield was fun to watch. This Spider-Man feels like he would vomit before cough up a quick line. It’s the Spider-Man whose balls haven’t dropped yet; he can’t even talk to the girl he likes. The villain of the movie is Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is by far the most interesting part of this movie. As he appears on screen, you (the moviegoer) are left asking, “God how much did they have to pay him to rope him up in all this?” Of course the movie doesn’t answer this central mystery. Rather ends it by wrapping up the central mystery of “Does MJ like Peter Parker?” well this is a Spider-Man movie, so that isn’t a mystery at this point. Just an exercise in remembering what we already know.
One out of five.