Movie Diary 11/14/2022

Vengeance (B.J. Novak, 2022). It is officially 2022 catch-up time. Whatever you think about this movie, the fact that a sitcom actor took a stab at something big (Novak writes, directs and stars) while also making a very funny film is worth kudo’ing. It’s certainly the greatest example yet of blending Chekhov’s gun with Whataburger. Oh, and Novak makes Ashton Kutcher in serious contention for Best Supporting Actor lists. There is something here.

Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland, 2022). It’s not always clear where Strickland falls on the line between satirizing the pretentious art world and embodying it, but this one is consistently engaging. The cast is so odd and so into Strickland’s vibe, you wish he would make a movie with them every couple of years: Fatma Mohamed as the leader of a culinary/performance troupe, Nadine Labed and Asa Butterfield as her collaborators, Gwendoline Christie as the hifalutin’ chief of the institute where the group has a residency (if you’ve ever met one of these people, you know how precisely Christie has this down), Makis Papadimitrou as a flatulent (literally, not figuratively) writer, Richard Bremmer as a pompous doctor. Gawd, what a group.

Causeway (Lila Neugebauer, 2022). Earnestness carries the day in this small-scaled piece about an Afghanistan vet (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from a head injury in hometown New Orleans. Intelligence, delicacy, and a strong central performance do not quite make a movie, even if you can kind of feel what New Orleans feels like at night.

Living (Oliver Hermanus, 2022). A remake of Ikiru. Bill Nighy plays the lead, and he is lovely, as you expect. Individual scenes are also lovely, with Kazuo Ishiguro’s screenplay scoring with a collection of touches. The question is, does this quite make a movie? I think mostly not.

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