Featuring the films:
Space Station 76 (2014) ***½
Wishful Drinking (2010) ***
Man of Steel (2013) *½
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) ****
Magic in the Moonlight (2014) **
Week 2 of March was five movies. Pretty simple. Pretty good.
“Space Station 76” was the surprise of the bunch. It’s set up like some sort of period space adventure spoof. With a costume and production design straight from the mid ‘70s, the movie begins like some sort of spoof exploring social issues that couldn’t have been mentioned at that time, like the class system, female equality in the workplace and homosexuality. As the plot moves along, however, its approach to these social issues becomes more serious and it turns into a serious drama with the flavoring of a movie like “The Ice Storm”. This might be a transition some audiences can’t make. It is quite unclear exactly for whom this movie is made, and yet it worked quite effectively on me.
“Wishful Drinking” is the one-woman show written by Carrie Fisher about her strange Hollywood life and career. I read the book a few years ago. It was a brisk and entertaining read and the same can be said for the documentary concert film made of her stage show. There are many differences between the stories told in the show and those told in the book, so it’s fresh even if you’ve read the book. It isn’t particularly deep, but it will fill in the gaps for fans of Princess Leia, and Fisher is adept at self-deprecating humor.
I was determined to revisit my negative review of “Man of Steel” before Zach Snyder forces his vision for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” upon the world. Does it bother anyone else that they’ve dropped the “s” from “vs.” like it’s some sort of sports confrontation? It’s a little thing for which I have no good reason, but it ticks me off. So anyway, I still hate “Man of Steel” for all the same reasons I originally detested it. It’s too much like watching a video game and not enough like watching a movie with a good story and character arcs, or solid themes and a classic story structure. Pa Kent is totally mishandled by the writers although Kevin Costner does the best he can to make their thematic automaton into a human. And, they only use half of the mythology of what makes Superman an American God figure. What struck me this time was just how much violence there is throughout the entire movie. It is wall-to-wall action with almost no dramatic development whatsoever. The pace never stops for a breath let alone a revelation of any kind.
The rest of my family had yet to see it. I’m glad for them that they enjoyed it, but I’m quite concerned about what Snyder has in store for the Batman mythology on top of his lack of respect for Superman’s.
Then I had the most extreme pleasure of witnessing the mysterious J.J. Abrams produced “10 Cloverfield Lane”, a sort of companion piece to his 2008 found footage production “Cloverfield”. The two are only related by their mysterious natures and by product and other visual references that make them part of the Abrams multiverse seen in other movies and television shows produced by Abrams, such as “Lost”, “Fringe”, and “Super 8”. It’s also one of those movies where the less said about the plot the better. It’s an amazing example of Hitchcock’s theory on suspense. If a bomb goes off under a table, that’s thrilling. If you know there is a bomb sitting under a table and it doesn’t go off, that’s suspenseful. This movie finds ways to keep the suspense building even after the bomb goes off, and the bomb is the entire situation in which the characters find themselves.
Finally, I saw Woody Allen’s 2014 comedy “Magic in the Moonlight” about a magician who sets out to debunk a psychic medium and ends up falling in love with her. It pretty light fare, even for a Woody Allen comedy. I can’t say it will offend an audience in any way, but it won’t necessarily satisfy many either. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are infinitely charming as the leads, but this one is probably only for Allen enthusiasts.
Here are the tweets.
#SpaceStation76 is a space oddity indeed. Set up like a spoof. Plays out like a drama. Patrick Wilson is under valued. #DLMChallenge No. 70
Carrie Fisher proves that she's more than just a space princess without a bra in her one woman show #WishfulDrinking. #DLMChallenge No. 71
#ManofSteel isn't a Superman movie. It's an alien invasion movie where an alien saves the Earth. The humans do nothing. #DLMChallenge No 72
#10CloverfieldLane is an excellent thriller that could be a class in how to keep tension building. #DLMChallenge No. 73
3/13Despite the unending charms of Emma Stone and Colin Firth, #MagicintheMoonlight is Woody Allen lite. #DLMChallenge No. 74