Movie Review – Motherless Brooklyn

 

Movie Review - Motherless BrooklynIt seems clear a lot of critics like this movie. I’ll go along with this to an extent — it’s clearly a labor of love for Edward Norton, who not only managed every aspect of the film and starred in it, but did some excellent research on the mental illness of Tourette’s Syndrome.

One of my early jobs involved working with the mentally ill, including those with Tourette’s, and Norton hit all the right notes. His character was whip-smart in spite of his disability. Lionel was aware of his affliction and apologized for his inappropriate outbursts. That his crew called him “Freakshow” was just a sign of the times in the 1950s, where it was acceptable to be casually cruel. It also served to underline the love between Frank (Bruce Willis’s character) and Lionel. Frank called the orphan under his wing “Brooklyn” — a much more affectionate term.

The Good Stuff

The historical period setting looked great too, although I’m not a fan of washed out bland palettes blended with noir. This was by no means a pretty film — and not intended to be — but two and a half hours of gritty, dreary grayness grated on my nerves.

What else can I add? Motherless Brooklyn was well-acted by everyone (although Alec Baldwin leaned a bit heavy on his SNL Trump act), well-written, and about a topic that absolutely bears both scrutiny and a relevance for our time.

It sounds like a great film, right?

Except. Except, yes, I was bored silly. I’m starting to find drama films less appealing than horror, and for me that’s saying a lot. I have a degree in Conservation Biology and am a staunch Humanist, so I feel deeply about the routine abuse of our peoples and planet by those in power. But I don’t want to wallow in a movie about it. I want my entertainment choices to lift me up, not drown me in despair.

If you want to feel sad about humanity’s mistreatment of marginalized people, this film will be right up your alley.

A fun time at the theater, it most certainly is not.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: I’ve got 3 Peetimes pretty well spaced out. The 1st and 2nd are really good, and the 3rd is your last chance to go before the final hour.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Motherless Brooklyn. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for language throughout including some sexual references, brief drug use, and violence
Genres: Crime, Drama, Noir

Movie Review – Hotel Artemis

This is one stylish mess. It’s got the noir notes, the off-kilter sensibilities, and a big muddled stew of a plot. Let me mull on this review a bit.

Movie Grade: C+

Alrighty. After due thought, I still think Hotel Artemis is trying for something it just didn’t reach. But I’ve got a sense it might grow into a minor cult favorite with time. [pullquote]The acting is very good (Jodie Foster never disappoints), the idea of a secret hospital for criminals in the near-future is intriguing, and the water riot is a great framing element. [/pullquote] There’s a noir-ish Blade Runner sensibility to the endeavor. I liked seeing Dave Bautista in a new role, and he really did a bang up job, proving that his fun work in Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a fluke. Jeff Goldblum plays the persona he’s marketed for himself with flair, but I wish he’d had more screentime.

Where this movie falls apart is in the sloppy narrative (there’s just not much story being told), and the relative lack of action in something being touted as as action film. Misleading trailers is a particular pet peeve with us at RunPee. (Rather than marketing something in a certain way just to get butts in the seats, wouldn’t it be nice to have the studios do service to their films by preparing audiences…ah, forget it. That’s probably never going to happen.)

Fine acting aside, the flashback scenes with Foster are unexpectedly weak. We saw the same sequence several times and didn’t get much payoff. Actually, most of the subplots didn’t work at all.  I’m not sure backstory is necessary to this kind of experimental film. It’s the concept that’s most interesting, encapsulated in Foster’s great line that it’s “Just another Wednesday” at the Hotel Artemis…where every night is a slice of life (and death) from the criminal underbelly of the City of Angels.

I think if people go into this with a sort of artsy mindset, the good things will be enough to carry the audience along.

One last note. Scriptwise, this would make a great play. It seems practically made for the theater, with one major set location, the small-scale jeopardy, and a very confined cast of characters who do a lot of talking (and not much else).

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New Movie Grade: B- (Taking away the expectation of an action/adventure flick definitely raises what’s compelling about about the concept of this kind of movie experience.)

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Runpee Meta: This movie moves along quickly and is somewhat confusing, making finding Peetimes a challenge. I’ve given you a long one and a short one. Both are before the mayhem to follow, so you won’t miss any action scenes when you step out.