Three shitty movies you have to leave your home for.
The Green Knight
The amazing and gorgeous visuals of David Lowery‘s The Green Knight are completely wasted on a supremely undercooked and emotionally vacant adaptation of the 14th century poem (took them long enough to adapt, huh?), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The problem lies not only in the screenplay, or lack there of (couldn’t have been more than 14 pages), but in the pacing as well. I love a good slow burn as long as I have something to hold onto, any character or piece of information that is relatable that can navigate my way through the story. I don’t have to be spoon-fed, in fact, I detest it, but give me something. Mulholland Drive, for as unconventional and bizarre as it is, remains engaging because the audience cares about Naomi Watts‘ character and her emotional journey. The even more avant-garde Eraserhead is compelling because at its core it’s really about the frightening responsibility of parenthood as seen through a slimy, shell-less hermit crab monster baby. The Green Knight is so obtuse it’s almost impossible to follow, and since we don’t understand any of the characters, we end up not caring. It’s not even obtuse in an organic way, it’s like it’s own living organism or thing. It’s forcefully obtuse, like the filmmaker panicked at the thought of the film being too narratively straight-forward and the characters/motivations skewing too modern, so we end up with a big pretty pile of nothing. It’s like The Green Knight is frantically trying to decide itself what it wants to be while we watch it. The cast is uniformly excellent but they all struggle to be memorable with the lack of character development they’re given. Joel Edgerton is a king or something, Alicia Vikander has a double role as a poor peasant lady and a queen person and Dev Patel gets outshone by his own cumshot. The only bit player that manages to assemble something memorable is the always great Barry Keogan, whose vagrant land pirate slyly reveals several layers of mental illness while throwing sticks into the distance and yelling paranoid how’d-you-do’s. I admire so many technical elements of this film and while I think it’s ultimately a failure, it’s extremely evident that so much talent went into making this. Only a talented filmmaker could have the confidence to lay an incomprehensible smelly egg like this. It’s far and away the most interesting thing in the multiplexes, it’s just not a good kind of interesting. Grade: C (In Theaters)
Just as disappointing as The Green Knight, but for entirely different reasons, is Disney’s Jungle Cruise. An adaptation of one of their most famous theme park rides, Jungle Cruise somehow has a more coherent plot and developed characters than The Green Knight, which was based on actual literature. However, the characters and story, while certainly easy to follow, aren’t very deep at all. Essentially, Jungle Cruise is a less fun version of Brendan Fraser‘s The Mummy, shot like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It’s a shameless carbon copy of each film’s narrative and style, that offers little to no variations of their own. This is true filmmaking by the numbers, utterly soulless but never unpleasant. The Rock is a less goofy Brendan Fraser with a tendency to tell stupid dad jokes that people hate. Emily Blunt is basically Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, a plucky intellectual who finds herself in action-packed situations she’s somehow able to handle beautifully, all while the men are upset she’s an intelligent female and wearing pants. Jack Whitehall is a carbon copy of Rachel Weisz‘s brother character in The Mummy, the less intelligent and physically strong of the two siblings who basically acts like a giant coward the whole time. The decision to make him gay reads insulting (maybe unintentional?) as it dips into the whole homosexuals are sissies stereotype. The undead zombie bad guys, who are former power hungry conquistadors from the 1600s, are basically multiple versions of Arnold Vosloo from The Mummy and finally, Jesse Plemmons‘ Nazi bad guy, who is after the treasure the main characters seek, is a random plot thread plucked from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It cannot be overstated how bad Plemmons is in the role. Maybe his horribly unfunny one-liners are partly to blame, but whenever he shows up there’s a long awkward silence like someone cut a monster fart. He’s not even a Nazi, he’s like a German soldier before WWII but still very much in the vain of Hitler. I’m sorry, I’m not extensively versed in German history. He looks like Dr. Evil dressed up like a Romanoff. Anyway, he’s terrible but luckily a lot of the thrills and chills aren’t reliant on him. There are several swash buckling action sequences, all passable at best and derivative at worst. Jungle Cruise is nothing more than a Sunday afternoon time killer, offering nothing exciting but also nothing unbearably awful either. Grade: C (In Theaters)
While The Green Knight is too high concept and Jungle Cruise is too low concept, M. Night Shyamalan‘s beach magic scream fest Old is downright insulting to our intelligence. It’s about a bunch of one-dimensional asshole hotel guests that get dropped off on a secluded, secret island where they age seven years per hour. A lot of them grow old and die and of course, they all get paranoid and turn on each other. It’s all really predictable, but somehow, Old is a movie you leave not quite realizing how stupid it actually was. Walking out of theater, I turned to my sister and her fiance and was like “This was really stupid but at least it was entertaining. Some stuff didn’t check out, though.” When I got to my car I realized that everyone on that island would instantly die since they weren’t constantly eating. If you age seven years in an hour, you’d have to be constantly eating food or you’d starve to death. I also realized that my Kia key fob fell out of my basketball shorts in the movie theater. Heading back inside the Alamo Drafthouse, the manager informed me they could not locate my key fob, so I had to get a ride back to my house from my sister, grab my spare key fob from my bedroom and then, have her drive me back to the theater to retrieve my Kia. I felt like an idiot and kept apologizing to my sister. She started telling me about her job and as I tried to focus on what she was telling me, I started to tune out. I couldn’t help but think about how much I disliked the movie. It was like a dumb person who thinks they’re smarter than you trying to pull one over on you. The fucking audacity! The “twist” ending isn’t even a twist, I guessed it five minutes into the movie. The actual twist is what I assumed would eventually snowball into the big twist, but Old revealed itself to be far more straightforward than I imagined. Any Twilight Zone, X-Files or sci-fi mystery fan could decipher it almost instantly. The characters are all one-dimensional and dumb, going around telling everyone what they do for a living and their age for some random reason. Here’s how a typical character conversation goes in M. Night Shyamalan‘s Old:
INT. HOTEL LOBBY – Day
CHARACTER’S WIFE collapses in an epileptic attack. OTHER CHARACTER walks by…
Hello, my name is John and I’m a nurse, this is my wife Suzie, she’s a teacher. Please help. My dad is a dentist and my step mom is an osteopath. Our grandfather was a fire fighter. Please help.
Ok, we need to keep her head elevated and put this wooden spoon in her mouth. By the way, I’m a cop and my wife Suzanne is a dog catcher. Our parents are both lawyers.
This serves really no purpose other than a minor character’s profession comes into play towards the end. These characters don’t act and speak like human beings so immediately we are less invested in them, and a character based thriller like this depends on our emotional investment of the material. I couldn’t care less about these fucking saggy-titted losers, even if they are played by some of the best actors working today. There’s so many other holes in Old that I won’t reveal as to not spoil anything, but I will say one involves a human crab monster, rust from a old knife, six year olds knowing how to have penetrative sex and swimming that proves deadly at the beginning of the story but somehow proves not deadly towards the end. It’s worse than The Green Knight and Jungle Cruise because it’s the most infuriating. It treats the audience like mouth-breathing morons because I think deep down, it’s a moron itself. Maybe the biggest twist of M. Night‘s career is that he makes good movies on accident.
P.S.: M. Night‘s cameo in this is so on-the-nose I vomited all over my sister’s boyfriend. JK, it’s bad though.
Grade: C- (In Theaters)