In the past I’ve really enjoyed films like Black Death (1992), Outbreak (1995) and Contagion (2011). I still kind of do, but I have to admit that after the last two years, I haven’t seen a film in that category, and I wonder whether or not I’ll still enjoy them the same way I did before.
Last night I was convinced to go and see a film the whole concept of which I wasn’t feeling from the start. Denzel Washington, who can do very little wrong in my book, reprises role as Robert McCall from The Equalizer (2014), a film that kind of came out of nowhere at the time and I thoroughly enjoyed. The acting by Washington and Pedro Pascal was fine, the direction from Antoine Fuqua, who is very hit or miss, was not amazing, but I think what stood out the most was the bad writing.
The twist was a very chewed-up cliché which I saw coming from a mile away, but I could have overlooked that if the main character had been in some danger at any point. The only thing I liked was his relationship to a young neighbour with a creative talent who was threatening to go down the dark path of gangs and violence. When watching Denzel Washington act, or during interviews, he radiates a natural sense of calm and confidence that makes him the right template for the “second father” archetype.
Anyway, the first thing I said when the credits rolled was “Oh wow, I didn’t know Denzel Washington starred in bad films.”
Yesterday evening I watched Ocean’s Eight and I thought it was great (within the context of fun heist-comedy films.) It is without a shadow of a doubt better than Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, but not quite as polished as Ocean’s Eleven.
Sandra Bullock carried the film well. Blanchett as a tough, punk-rock chick; yes, please. Sarah Paulson was a delight. Rihanna had everything she needed to be the cool hacker. Awkwafina was perfectly quirky and I totally fell in love with her. Helena Bonham Carter as a troubled fashion designer was a great fit. And Anne Hathaway stole the show as the smart-than-she-looks socialite and film star who just wants to have friends.
The plot was perfectly ridiculous but immensely entertaining, and if I really haven’t find something to complain about, it’s that the magnet-lock subplot could have been a interesting narrative element, if it hadn’t be resolved twenty seconds later by asking someone’s little sister for a solution. Perhaps it was simply done to send the message that young, smart girls can be STEM-geniuses, but then still I would have loved to see that exposed more. (And I’m just going to ignore the giant “oh, the necklace must have fallen off my neck while I was running for the bathroom” plot-hole. Wasn’t it supposed to have a magnetic lock!?)
The recent trend of redoing a bro-film format (Ghostbusters, The Hangover, e.g.) with an all-female cast film (Ghostbusters, Rough Night, e.g.) hasn’t been faring very well. The all-female Ghostbusters was so awful even the amazing Kate McKinnon couldn’t save it. But this film made it work very well and in a way that felt like it wasn’t just a derivation of an already done format.
I love the book. I love the character. I dig the choice of Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs!
Recently I’ve noticed that I’ve been less interested in going to the cinema. Most films don’t seem to interest me at the moment. I think it came from a string of bullshit films that just left me disappointed. There’s a whole series of superhero films that I don’t even entertain. With the exception of Deadpool and Logan, two films I watched despite them being superhero films, I haven’t watched any superhero film since X-Men 2. They are just so bad.
I suspect it’s because I’ve been having a hard time suspending my disbelief. Usually that went hand in hand with immersion, but lately my demands of immersion have increased, probably due to a few really solid video games which have soaked me up, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
I’m writing this post to act as a marker, so I can look back upon it a little later down the line to see if my understanding what is at play here has increased.