Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Talking About Some Movies"

A movie is like a person.  Every one of them – even the sequels which try not to be – is different.  You cannot hate a movie for being different.  Though you are free to dislike it for other reasons.

We saw these movies over the last few weeks and I neglected to talk about them.  That oversight ends today.  With apologies for the delay.  (And the unscheduled rhyme.  Which may occur from time to time.  Quick!  Get me out of this paragraph!)

Okay, here we go.

Beatriz at Dinner

It’s a funny thing about a movie concerning an uncomfortable situation.  It can easily make for an uncomfortable movie. 

Beatriz at Dinner involves a culture clash between a New Age healer/slash/massage therapist whom accidental circumstance requires to be an invited member of a dinner party including an upscale real estate developer/slash/ a guy who kills animals for sport in Africa and since he’s the other guys’ tyrannical boss they would unquestionably kill animals for sport in Africa as well… along with their boundlessly entitled, though politely more sensitive, upscale spouses.

Since Beatriz is not given to strategic silences in the face of outrageous opining and bragged-about ugly behavior, sparks cannot help but inevitably fly.

And that’s the whole movie.  Which we saw at the AMC Showplace Michigan City 14, an unusual selection for that venue, but the distributors said to the Michigan City theater owner, “If you want Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you have to also take Beatriz at Dinner… is most likely what happened.

Hence Beatriz at Dinner, at the AMC Showplace Michigan City 14.  With four people in the audience.

THE OTHER TWO PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE:  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was sold out and we didn’t want to go home.”

US:  (LYING OUR HEADS OFF):  “Same here.”  

A woman too good to live confronts a supercilious super-capitalist (played with consummate contempt by John Lithgow) who does not deserve to live.  How does it turn out?

Why spoil the unfortunate ending? 

I have, as of this date, been unable to write about the turbulent issue of virulent,  “personal entitlement”, though this worrisome concern is rarely distant from my mind.  My view, however, is that if your subject in question is a contentious reality, I need a palatable formula for writing about it.  So far, I have been unable to connect with one.  The writer of Beatriz at Dinner faced a similar dilemma.  But, unlike me, he thought, “Palatable, schmalatable.  Full steam ahead!”

Apparently not minding – or actually relishing – awkward dramatic situations. 

What do you say?  Kudos for him for taking the shot, or kudos for me for holding back?

Bottom Line:  It’s a matter of taste.  For the writer and for the audience.
Wonder Woman – First of a Series (The last part’s not in there, but who are we kidding?)
Show me a battle scene pitting soldiers with guns against warrior women with archery equipment – and I’m in.  And thoroughly enthralled.  But that’s that was the last time I had fun at Wonder Woman.  And unfortunately, there was a long way to go before it was over.
To me – and my moviegoing companion – a battle scene is a battle scene, unless there’s the chance of seeing lassos against airplanes.  Otherwise, it’s multiple explosions and meaningless CGI. 
Once they left the island – or wherever those warrior women reside – it was “business as usual” from there to the end, with the promise – unless it bombed at the box office – of future Wonder Woman adventures yet to come. 
The eponymous lead character is played by an Israeli actress, whom I satisfactorily enjoyed.  Knowing, however, that the movie studios during World War II, at least before America entered the fight, bent over backwards not to disparage the Nazis for fear of offending the lucrative German film-going audience, I curiously wondered, were today’s studios not equally concerned about losing the non-Israeli, Middle Eastern audiences as well?
“We’ll set records in Israel!”
“Yeah, but what about Bahrain?”
Maybe studios today are less concerned about such calculations.  Yeah, right.  I mean, maximum, six million Israeli ticket buyers versus seventy million “No ways!”?
“What, they couldn’t find an Arabic ‘Wonder Woman’?”
I’m surprised there wasn’t an exhaustive search to locate one.  Maybe there was, but the studio PR flacks kept the aborted campaign assiduously under wraps.
“We had this sensational Arabic actress.  Looked great in the costume.  But she was a disaster handling the rope.”
Maybe that will be one of the sequels:  Wonder Women 7 – The Showdown.  Like Rocky fighting the Russian during the Cold War.  (Forget it.  Today, Russia would be secretly helping Rocky.)
We saw Wonder Woman at the AMC Showcase Michigan City 14 as well.  After Beatriz at Dinner, the remaining thirteen possibilities were equally “Oy.” 
Unfortunately, so was Beatriz at Dinner. 
Although, because she… wait, I don’t want to give away more than I already have… Let’s say, we are unlikely to see “prequels” of Beatriz at any subsequent repasts.
Lastly, a small curious observation.  That should get me into an only moderate amount of trouble.
We saw Moana on Netflix at the cabin.  (Mainly because three year-old grandson Jack amazingly sings the entire “You’re Welcome” song with all the lyrics, and I was curious to catch the original.  (Unbiased Assessment:  Jack’s version is decidedly better.)
One troubling point, besides the fact that I can’t believe children can possibly follow Moana’s storyline. 
You know, Dumbo had big ears, and he learned he could fly without the feather – who doesn’t understand that?  But “Spiritual redemption in a Polynesian locale”?  You’re saying young children can actually “get” what’s going on?
Hey, if you’re Disney, you can sell anything.  Besides, it’s summer.  What could be more rescuingly welcome than a Hawaiian babysitter?
Common Denominator: 
Beatriz at Dinner.  Wonder Woman.  And Moana.
Three movies, essentially about pure-of-heart women, wallowing in a sea of corruption.
A curious trend, there.  Have men been written off entirely?
It seems a bit harsh, don’t you think?  I mean, some men are okay.
Just like some movies.

Tomorrow:  Two movies I actually enjoyed.  One of them, a lot.

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I don't think the Chinese teenaged boys who are the ultimate profit-making target for WONDER WOMAN will care whether the actress is Israeli, Arabic, or Martin as long as her bust size would please readers of the Daily Sun (joke for Johnny Miller, should he read this).