TL;DR This Week in Cinema: Hollywood Ruins Everything
Welcome to the Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. Now that the election has simmered into a compote of confusion, it's time to get back to the business of cinema.
Unfortunately, quality releases are slim pickings this week - the studio gods have not seen fit to gift us with gold, instead trotting out tired old tropes and tales sure to provoke a yawn. Fear not, dear readers, for I have dug deep to find the nuggets of goodness for you.
It gets kinda personal towards the end. In a good way!
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN
The trailer begins with shots lifted straight from Peter Jackson's King Kong, and leads to name-dropping and terrible CGI. Welcome to the trope codifier for contemporary "blockbuster" cinema, y'all - an overly buff white guy pretending to be a wildman for a fawning pack of fake apes and a pasty white girl.
Does the world need another Tarzan film? Another exploration of the 'noble savage' adapting to both the jungle and the modern world? The answer is no, particularly when the filmmakers don't see the irony of casting Djimon Hounsou (a fantastic actor in his own right) in yet another tribal leader role.
The casting is token, with heartthrob Alexander Skarsgård adding yet another poor film to his repertoire, and Christoph Waltz playing yet another kitschy character doomed to obscurity. The tagline is meaningless. Actually, the entire film need not exist. This is not worth your time or money.
tl;dr The kind of dull, gritty remake that makes you look forward to the missing link overwhelming us.
MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES
Put it in the bin. The whole thing. In the bin. Now, please, for the good of us all. The lazy titling of the film should be a warning. Abandon all hope of lols, ye who enter here.
Zac Efron's abortive adult career began with the death of Robert De Niro's credibility. Need we continue to drag Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick through the same bad choices? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SINGING, ANNA?!
If the trailer made you laugh, we're very different people. And that's cool! Good for you, live your life. I'll continue hanging out with people whose IQs are measured in positive numbers.
tl;dr Hollywood kills your idols.
Ah, Julianne Moore. Without doubt one of the great character actors of our time. Here she turns her hand to a character initially deemed a 'psychotic bitch' because she doesn't get on with her cheating husband (Ethan Hawke) or the woman with whom he's sleeping (Greta Gerwig).
Fortunately, director Rebecca Miller is cleverer than all that - at least, according to the critics. Sporting a rather spectacular score on Rotten Tomatoes for what is essentially a rom-com, Maggie's Plan promises some sweet subversion, even if the trailer does leak a lot of laughs.
It also features Ethan Hawke being bad at relationships. Poor guy's found his type, it seems.
tl;dr Typecasting - it's a drag.
SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ
I've always been dearly fond of both Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek-Pinault, but it seems they, too, have fallen foul of classic Hollywood bullshit. This time, it's the old 'colour-blind casting', where these two Americans (one of whom is Mexican) apparently suffice for Iranian Jews. It's a sad misstep for the promising Wayne Blair, Aussie director of The Sapphires.
A nuanced novel based on true events is turned into standard Islamophobic appropriation, with comfortable, familiar faces subbing in for the ethnics so that Western audiences can pretend they care about foreigners. Wealthy, Oscar-winning foreigners who aren't Muslims.
The scariest thing is that the slew of films villifying Middle Eastern folk like this is only likely to change when we find someone new to fear. Now that Pauline Hanson's in the Senate (nice job Australia), that could be just about anyone.
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
Yes, you heard right! And I haven't even failed my mandate! Three plays from London's National Theatre are making their way to Event Cinema screens in the coming months, and the first is One Man, Two Guvnors with the lovable James Corden.
This comedy classic sees the naive Francis Henshall (Corden) accidentally come under the employ of two different criminal factions at once, and desperately try to keep it a secret. It's a very particular style of comedy, linking the British comedy-of-manners style to Italian commedia dell'arte, and it may not be everyone's bag. But who doesn't like James Corden? LOOK AT HIS LIL' FACE.
And hey, if this ain't your jam, there's plenty of live theatre going on... like, maybe, Scott Parker's commedia dell'arte-inspired Godface - a show at 107 Projects which closes this Sunday and toward which I'm not even slightly biased...
tl;dr If he were here, James Corden would want you to support independent theatre. #istandwiththearts
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
You might be needing something to pep you up in these uncertain times, and with the exception of one somewhat subversive rom-com, it's a piddling release week. Maggie's Plan gets my cinematic vote, but the adventurous should get down to 107 Projects and see Godface which OK I am performing in.
Until next week!