Take a Stab At It (Knives Out, 2019)

Knives_Out_PosterFamous Crime novelist Walter Thrombey is found dead after his birthday party. At first, declared a suicide, famous detective Benoit Blanc arrives and sees possible suspects in every member of his family. Caught up in it all is his nurse Marta who may have the most to gain.

I cannot really say more…so I am just going to say this:


It is superbly written, directed and performed.  It is hilarious and a rewarding watch.  This was the most fun I had at the movies all year.

Curses (Logan Lucky, 2017)

Logan_Lucky_PosterSteven Soderbergh retired from directing in 2013.  He directed multiple episodes of the Knick after that.  He has three more films in the pipeline after this years Logan Lucky.  The guy sucks at retirement.

But that is okay for me.  Logan Lucky is about Jimmy Logan…should have been football star who hurt his knee and went on to live the blue-collar life in West Virginia.  His brother, a one armed bar tender and vet Clyde, believes the Logan family is cursed.  Tragedy follows the family everywhere.  When he loses his job, Jimmy is desperate to find money to improve his situation.  His ex wife plans to move with her husband and take their daughter with them.  And this leads us to the heist at a race track on race day.

Like a blue-collar Ocean’s 11, Jimmy (along with Clyde and their sister Mellie) recruits Jimmy Bang (who in turn has them recruit his brothers) an explosives expert.  The plan is elaborate, and you almost wonder if the kind but somewhat simple Jimmy can manage it.  And here is the weird rub of heist films, for me.

I do not endorse robbing people.  I do not believe it is okay to come up with big heists.  But I sure do love a heist movie…watching the plan come together, watching the plan get executed…and the inevitable reveals of the stuff I missed.

And Logan Lucky does not disappoint there.  It is charming and funny.  Part of this is in the cast.  Channing Tatum has been one of those guys who I under-estimated.  As Jimmy Logan, he is soft spoken and gentle, but not afraid of a fight.  And Adam Driver’s Clyde is somewhat heart breaking yet endearing.  Riley Keough is the fast driving Mellie…and then there is Joe Bang…played to great comic effect by Daniel Craig.  Oh yeah… Farrah McKenzie as Sadie Logan?  Adorable little kid.

For the most part, the film loves these characters…the only characters that feel a little to over the top and cartoonish?  Fish and Sam Bang…but even they have their moments.  Logan Lucky was a lot of fun and even had a few moments  that made me tear up.  It plays out very in a very satisfying fashion.

The New York Post claims this film does not “get Trumpland”…but frankly?  Why should a person who just enjoys a fun movie care about that?

Bond’s Childhood Issues (Spectre, 2015)

bond_spectre_posterI confess, I was not waiting as anxiously for this film.  Craig has gone out of his way to show a real lack of enthusiasm for the role.  And yeah, some of the criticisms are very accurate, though I felt they were doing a better job as toning those things down and moving towards eliminating them.

Casino Royal was a game changer for the franchise that revitalized the series.  Craig was seen as one of the best Bonds.  Folks were excited for the next film…and then came Quantum of Solace.  And enthusiasm dampened.  Then they announced Sam Mendes as director for Skyfall.  And people started getting excited again.  Javier Bardem was announced as the villain and people got a bit more excited (but nervous when they saw his hairstyle).  And Skyfall came out.  And enthusiasm again dampened.

I did not hate Quantum of Solace or Skyfall.  They were okay, and far from the worst the franchise has offered.  but they focused to much on villains that were never that interesting with back stories so tied to bond, they felt like they lacked the bigger motives.  gone are the notions of Bond discovering a plan and being the fly in the ointment, he became their focus.

Any hope that Spectre would turn things around (and end Craig’s run on a high note) were dashed.  It is simply enjoyable.  It has some great action sequences, and M’s heavier involvement in the resolution of the film (in spite of the film relying yet again on the notion of Bond being cut off and on his own) works well.  Same with making Q and Moneypenny heavier hitters, so to speak.

Yet, often, when the film gets talky, it gets immensely boring and never feels like it advances the story.  Wit and wordplay are part of the history of Bond, yet Spectre lacks any of it.  Craig’s Bond may be less of a misogynist, but he is also plenty dreary.

The film has decided the relationship between Blofeld and Bond needs to be intensely personal.  There is no need for this, and wastes a great actor like Christophe Waltz on a rather uninspired take on the villain.  The organization of Spectre lacks any ominous threat.

That said, the action sequences are solid and exciting.  And I really liked the opening credits sequence.  But if this is Craig’s last outing as Bond?  It does not end on a high note.

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