I met 20 movies in March, 4 of which were very much not good.
Burning Sands (2017)
Directed by Gerard McMurray
What we have here is a clumsily crafted film with a muddled, unintelligent script. I saw this at a screening, and it was a complete slog to get through. So much so, that I can’t imagine actually finishing it if I were to watch t on Netflix (which is where/how it was released).
The rather green cast is the least of this film’s problems. In fact, the performers aren’t really a problem at all, but there’s also no way they can save it either.
After hearing co-writers Berg and McMurray speak at a Q & A, it’s clear that they were trying to do far too much with this script. Sadly, the film they think they wrote and the one that plays out on screen are so far apart that it seems fair to blame them for the majority of the movie’s problems.
Burning Sands lacks direction and winds up feeling diluted and confused. Even worse, some of the messages it tries to convey don’t come across as particularly well thought out either (combining Frederick Douglass quotes with a fraternity hazing narrative feels suspect at best). Lack of clear or coherent direction aside, the film is also cliched, boring, and terribly predictable.
For what it’s worth, this often feels like a knock off version of last year’s Goat, a film that doesn’t deserve to inspire copycats.
The only good thing here are the shots of Trevante Rhodes shirtless.
Directed by Craig Johnson
Though I don’t know much about Daniel Clowes (sorry), I was initially intrigued by Wilson, as it represents Johnson’s followup to The Skeleton Twins. Unfortunately, it’s not a good follow up, and I have a feeling that the fact that Clowes (and not Johnson) wrote the script might have something to do with that.
There are some chuckle-inducing moments here, and both Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern do some solid work here. That said, the vignettes and stops and starts don’t cohere into anything substantial, and the whole thing makes for a long, unfulfilling 100 minutes.
Wilson‘s narrative tries to cover too much ground, and has a number of wasted moments and holes alike. Perhaps the script was too large and a number of things got lost in the editing. Or maybe Clowes doesn’t have enough experience with screenplays.
Hopefully this doesn’t damage Johnson too much. His last film had a much narrower scope and felt more complete. It was also funny and more touching than this one.
Wilson wants to be quirky and offbeat; instead, it’s just off. And it doesn’t warrant much more than a disinterested shrug.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa
The murderous alien in this film is named “Calvin,” and all of the characters insist on calling it that even though it’s completely ridiculous omg.
Life is the sort of empty, intellectually lazy, bloated, uninspired bull shit that pisses me off. Especially since nearly $60 million dollars were spent creating it.
I also hate Life because sci-fi is great, and it very much isn’t.
It’s as if someone put Alien and Gravity into a blender and then sucked all the depth, character, craft, and good ideas out of them. The resulting concoction can easily be sipped through a straw, but it’s so bland that I can’t imagine why anyone would want to consume it.
Monster/creature movies don’t work if the monster/creature can ONLY be read literally…
After the first 20-30 minutes or so, it becomes insufferably repetitive and predictable. One exception to this is the very end (which is savage and hilarious), but by the time it rolls around, it’s far too late.
There’s also an alien-pov sequence in this that is so laughably bad, pointless, and out-of-left-field that I’m still confused by it. . .
A boring, frustrating thing.
The Ugly Truth (2009)
Directed by Robert Luketic
I would never choose to watch this movie. But, as a grad student, choice isn’t something I seem to have much of.
The class I watched this in presented it as an example of a “bad movie,” which it is. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of bad that can be enjoyable. Sure, I may have laughed a few times while watching this, but I only did so as a way of coping with just how unintelligent, clunky, boring, and offensive so much of it is.
This “romantic comedy” is neither romantic nor comedic. It is sexist, cringe-inducing, and inane though.
Heigl and Butler and both off, and Butler’s accent slips every five minutes or so.
Cheryl Hines is the only bright spot here, but she only has a couple of scenes. (For what its worth, she shows up in Wilson too).
Until Next Time
April will be my busiest month this semester, so my movie-watching may slow down in the coming weeks. I’m also hoping to post some more developed writing here over the summer though.
Best of March coming soon.