Two of Peter’s classmates have a whirlwind romance on a school field trip. Nick Fury is grumpy about his calls going to voicemail. And to Peter’s consternation, Happy and Aunt Mae are flirting. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” flips the cliché of a blockbuster where we marvel at the action sequences and yawn at everything in between. My mind did wander at times during the film, but it was during the bravura special effects – because we live in an age where everything that makes it to theaters has bravura special effects.
It’s hard to take a movie seriously when the movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and that’s why “Tank Girl” (1995) isn’t good. Still, it is an interesting style piece that does everything it can to portray a dystopian Earth that requires a big budget when the filmmakers clearly have a small budget; it’s sort of a cheap answer to “Waterworld,” also from 1995. Every time panels of the comic flash on screen, it both adds spice and reminds us that this stuff works better in comics.
Making a great fictional tennis movie is a tall order. The sport is naturally cinematic and filled with personal drama, and there’s no way made-up people and events can compete with what’s really happening on the pro tours. (By contrast, in a team sport like baseball or football, the idea of zeroing in on an individual has enough novelty value that even fictional people can be compelling.) Considering everything stacked against it, though, “Wimbledon” (2004) does not embarrass itself and is rather likable, if not memorable.
Although the two versions of “About Last Night” are one and two degrees removed from David Mamet’s stage play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” – on which the first film is based (the second film is then based on the first film) – some Mametian traits are still in evidence. Here are my takes on the two movies, one of which is worth the effort to track down:
What We Do in the Shadows” (2014) opens with a close-up of an alarm clock going off, followed by a hand reaching out of a coffin to turn it off. The film’s comedy of contrast – which we follow in various permutations for the next 90 minutes – is illustrated right away: vampire lifestyle mixed with the daily grind. While I admit that writer-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi find various angles into their premise, the movie gets a little long in the tooth, and I suspect it plays better as a sitcom (Season 1 recently wrapped on FX), which benefits from shorter bursts of story.
Ihadn’t seen the 2014 movie “What We Do in the Shadows,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into FX’s spinoff series of the same name, but man, this show is hilarious. Basically, it’s like watching “The Office,” but with vampires.
You know what kind of movie “Always Be My Maybe” (Netflix) is, and the people who made it know what kind of movie it is, but that shared knowledge works in its favor. In this tale of two childhood besties who are soul mates but don’t realize it, Ali Wong and especially Randall Park give the types of performances where they know they’re in a movie but they let it all flow over them, from the clichés to the plentiful moments of at least mild inspiration.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call” (2016) was labeled as ill-conceived before it came out, with people asking “Why remake a classic?” The good thing is that it’s not a straight remake of the beloved 1984 original (which is slated to get its second sequel next year). Although it has the same general threat of a portal linking New York City to a ghost dimension, and the team is pestered by government agents, it’s more of a re-imagining than a remake.
Ghostbusters II” (1989), which feels even more Eighties than the 1984 original, is a prime example of one of those old-school blockbuster sequels that’s defined as much by the fact of its existence as it is by the continuation of the story. Today, everything is nostalgic, and we can find fans of all but the most obscure stuff online. Thirty years ago, an entertainment property was either “in” or “out,” and “Ghostbusters II” seems consciously aware that it’s “out” and weaves that reality into the fictional narrative.
Following two escaped convicts who take cover as “priests” in a small American town along the Canadian border in the 1930s, “We’re No Angels” (1989) doesn’t have the biggest hook among David Mamet’s writing resume. But because the premise is so straightforward, it stands as a stark example of his sharp situational plotting skills. Over the course of 106 minutes, Neddy/“Father Riley” (Robert De Niro) and Jimmy/“Father Brown” (Sean Penn) nearly get caught several times, but always get out of their scrapes thanks to humorous random chance.