Movie Diary 2/29/2016

I just returned from a 21-day cruise giving talks as a Smithsonian Journeys Guest Speaker aboard a Regent Seven Seas ship. We went from Lima to Buenos Aires, and yes, it was a wonderful experience. A great thanks to all involved.

I didn’t keep a movie diary, but I saw some things. Mostly these were viewed on airplanes and the ship, a chance to catch up with titles I’d missed during 2015.

Fantastic Four (Josh Trank, 2015). Generally a pretty tinny experience, without even the shrewdness that goes into the bigger Marvel properties. Feels like a misfire, and the actors look like they’re on their own.

Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015). Have to wait until giving this a definitive response, as it came well into a very loooong travel day. I dozed during parts of it, mostly the stuff involving dinosaurs chasing people. I think I saw some cinematic ideas in there, though.

Trumbo (Jay Roach, 2015). I appreciate Bryan Cranston’s skills, although most everybody in this looked like various degrees of caricature. The history felt a little shifty, and everything a little too clear-cut.

The Intern (Nancy Meyers, 2015). Some pleasant moments and ideas tend to get overshadowed by the contrivance involved. Meyers seems to be straining to play somebody else’s game, which wasn’t true of her best films.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie, 2015). Not knocking the efforts of the two lead actors, but miscasting is the big problem here. And it is big. When Alicia Vikander is the best spy on the lot, the two men need to pick up their game. Some good action beats, however, and I did enjoy the period music. Not a bad airplane movie, overall.

Aloha (Cameron Crowe, 2015). It would be great to go against the consensus on something like this – did anybody like it? But Crowe seems to be laboring to make scenes come to life, and the presence of Bradley Cooper only reminds us of how well David O. Russell has cornered the market on nice-wacky Americana, a market Crowe seemed poised to inhabit. Among other things, I would love to see Crowe work with a non-jukebox soundtrack. And find something with a harder edge.

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