I managed to catch a handful of post-1970 films in September — most of them quite enjoyable, but there’s always at least one dud, isn’t there? Here are brief reviews of the five films!
The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) – This has to be one of the craziest movies I’ve ever watched. Bears on bikes, brothers in love with their sisters, stuffed dead dogs, foiled terror plots… it’s just all over the place. I don’t mind a story with a lot going on, or one that has some disturbing/taboo subject matter, if it’s at least told well. This film, however, jumps maniacally from super-dark to wildly-paced slapstick in a matter of seconds, and on several occasions. It feels fragmented and imbalanced, making it all the more difficult to enjoy.
Jackie & Ryan (2014) – First off, for those of you watching 52 (or more) films by women this year, this one qualifies and is available on Netflix! Written and directed by Ami Canaan Mann. It’s a somber and somewhat slow-paced film, but I found it interesting to watch. The indie-folk tunes are surprisingly well-performed by the cast, and I like the fact that it’s a very “human” drama — a simple story about people dealing with the trials of life (divorce, poverty, custody issues, dream-following, debt). I also enjoyed the dynamics/bonds between daughter (Emily Alyn Lind), mother (Katherine Heigl), and grandmother (Sheryl Lee), and the brutal honesty of Jackie’s struggle against her cruel, emotionally manipulative, soon-to-be-ex husband.
The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Remakes always have me a little bit skeptical, and this one had me doubly skeptical since it’s a remake of a rework. The original (Seven Samurai, 1954) held in very high regard by classic movie buffs, and the first remake has its fans, too. Through those several layers of interpretation, The Magnificent Seven doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground, but I enjoyed the heck out of it as pure entertainment. It’s not Seven Samurai-level great, but it has a nice ensemble cast, simple story, lots of action. When viewed simply as a 2016 Western, it’s a strong effort. I thought it was very nicely shot, too. Vincent D’Onofrio steals many a scene and Peter Sarsgaard makes a good villain. But most importantly, Dear Hollywood, I *need* more Denzel westerns.
Sully (2016) – Another top-notch performance from T. Hanks. The tension is much lower than I expected from a film about a man forced to land a plane in the Hudson River, though I suppose this could have been a deliberate choice, to reflect Sully’s ability to remain calm/do his job well under immense pressure. I still enjoyed the film, especially Hanks’ performance and his friendship with Aaron Eckhart’s character (his co-pilot).
When the Bough Breaks (2016) – A fun one if you’re a fan of somewhat corny “erotic thrillers” in the vein of The Boy Next Door. Jaz Sinclair does a fantastic job of walking that line between cheesy and chiller. I don’t think I’d seek it out for a second viewing, but it was a blast to watch in a packed theater.