Originally Posted by lackblogger
Catching up on Denzel Washington:
Flight (2013) Sees Washington play a pilot who has quite the extravagant lifestyle, one might even describe him as a bit of a Hunter S Thompson. However, after one particular binge of intoxicants he manages to land a passenger plane that would have been crashed by any other pilot. However, while he's being praised as a hero by the masses his toxicology report comes through, putting him in a very curious position of potentially going to prison for the rest of his life.
The first half an hour were blindingly good. At this point I was stunned I'd not heard more about this film. Unfortunately, the middle section manages to be almost the opposite and it sort of trails off into a sort-of-romance movie before finally getting back to the main plot for the last twenty minutes. Which is a real shame as the bookends here are so good, what a shame the meat in the middle is so dry and overcooked.
The final scene of the film is also one of those 'and I'm now going to preach some arbitrary moral at you that was barely a feature of the film but kinda could have been if you wanted it to be', leaving a very disappointing final taste. An ambitious and interesting premise that got ruined by overly-obvious and poorly presented Oscar-bait. 3/5
2 Guns (2013) is quite the opposite. Here, a fairly boring and confusing opening 20 minutes leads into a nearly non-stop action routine before completing itself with a fairly bland and anti-climactic final 20 minutes. It has everything you'd expect of a Washington film both conspiracy and plot-twist-wise, but its all done so formulaic otherwise that it never feels interesting, merely more excuses to shoot guns at people and provide amusing odd-couple buddy dialogue. His co-star for the action being Mark Wahlberg, who I've never really imagined as an action hero but pulls it off quite well here. The late Bill Paxton also shows up for some great Paxtoning.
For all of its sound and fury though, its mostly forgettable schlock that entertains quite adequately while its on but washes out one's memory almost as soon as it's over, offering not much in the way of uniqueness. It doesn't take itself too seriously but isn't funny enough to be a quasi-parody, it just succeeds in making it easier to care less about any of the characters. 3/5
Catching up on Woody Allen:
Café Society (2016) doesn't actually star Allen, he's 82 now, but instead has Jesse Eisenberg play the Allen role in a fairly mundane and uninteresting love-triangle set during the heyday of both Hollywood and the prohibition era of America. As a result, the film looks stunning and sounds stunning as the most beautiful early jazz intermingles with scenes of 1920s high and low American society to perfection. The drawback here are the actors combined with the script.
If you're not overly familiar with Allen's films then Eisenberg might not irritate you, but as someone who's seen a lot of Allen all I could see was Eisenberg doing a poor man's version of Allen, a sort of cheap imitation as it were. I have no idea if he was coached to play it as Allen or if that's the only way the script could be played, but either way it really doesn't work IMO. Likewise, Steve Carrol's character doesn't work and, worst of all, the people playing the classic Jewish Brooklin poor family all seem to have the same problem with being believable in an acting sense, again, it was as if people were trying to do an impersonation rather than them being the things presented.
None of this is helped by the plot itself not really having any meat to it at all. There's no real stakes and its more akin to an afternoon TV movie in the level of drama. Just a very beautiful afternoon movie. You'd probably enjoy this one more the less you've seen any of Allen's other stuff and the more you're into casual soap opera drama, to which the above likely wouldn't affect you so much. I, personally, found it difficult to watch and even though its only 90 minutes long it felt like two hours by the end.
Looks great, but there's something off about it. 3/5
Wonder Wheel (2017) performed a lot worse than Café Society, both critically and at the box office, but I found this to be the superior of the two, by quite a large margin. I'm really struggling to see what people didn't like about it as I can't think of many flaws at all. Kate Winslet is fantastic in the lead role, Timberlake is surprisingly great, as is Belushi and everyone else for that matter. Again, it has a fantastic aesthetic and wonderful music, this time set in 1950s America.
And this one isn't so much as a love triangle as a love hexagon, or even octagon, which makes the plot vastly more interesting and edge of the seat than café society. Even just describing the characters is more interesting: The ex-actress turned waitress, the ex-drunk but still violent husband, the romantic artist, the ex-gangster mole, the arsonist; all combine to present something that I much more a tale of the struggles of human nature that anything Café society even came close to.
And it manages to do all this while walking a perfect tightrope between both darkness and comedy. I personally like films that are almost more like watching stage plays than films and this one is a great example with many of the scenes reminiscent of sitting and watching a play unfold before you. Looking at the IMDB reviews it seems to be one of those films that you either love or hate, however, even reading the negative reviews I can't offer anything in the way of agreed issues, I think its one you either find 'boring' or you don't, and I most certainly didn't. 4.5/5