In Order of Disappearance

What a surprisingly decent Norwegian black comedy this turned out to be. The story centers around a snowplow driver who’s son is mistakenly murdered by a drug lord, and said snowplow driver’s quest for revenge as he climbs his way to the top of the criminal food chain, one murder at a time.

Maybe Liam Neeson wasn’t available but Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd did a fine job as the wronged father, and he played it in an oddly effective understated way. As if suddenly murdering a bunch of people was no big deal to him.

The film was full of great characters, including the drug kingpin whose personal life is in shambles, the retired criminal brother with an inexplicably surly girlfriend, the kingpin’s young son who’s clearly had enough of this shit, and two Fargo-esque parking enforcement officers.

Quite an enjoyable romp, I must say.

The Light Between Oceans

This type of film isn’t really my bag, but it’s hard to not want to see something with Fasspenis, Ex Machina robot and Rachel Weisz in it, all excellent actors.

The story revolves around a lighthouse keeper, his wife, and a stolen baby. You might be asking yourself how an isolated lighthouse keeper and his wife could steal a baby, but you’ll just have to see the movie (or read the book) to see what the mechanics of all that is.

But for me the story wasn’t really about the baby, it was about loyalty, truth, the lengths you’ll go to make someone happy and the sacrifices you might make to that end.

Alicia Vikander was especially good. Played in a different way, she could have come off as conniving and manipulative, but instead you really believed that she believed the nutty ideas she was espousing.

Pretty to look at, well acted, well directed, etc., but more of a romance novel sort of story that’s more for the chicks.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

This complicatedly-named film is the latest from Werner Herzog. It’s ostensibly about the Internet, past and present, but is less of a cohesive history than a collection of smaller vignettes about interesting people and events related to technology and connectedness.

There wasn’t a whole lot in there that was new to me, but half the fun is listening to the soft, dulcet tones of Herzog’s beautiful narration. It was interesting, kinda fun in parts, a little depressing in one part in particular, but not much new or groundbreaking. For that, see Zero Day instead.

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life

This excellent documentary has Floyd Norman, who I’d never heard of, as a subject. Floyd was the first, among very few, black animator at Disney. The interesting thing is that the documentary, and Floyd himself, don’t really play up this angle very much. One of the main themes is ageism, and was most interesting to me because Floyd is old enough to have worked with some of the original Disney animators as well as Walt Disney himself. He’s 80 and he’s more or less still working as an animator/consultant for Disney (it’s complicated.)

Floyd is simply an interesting guy that has lead an interesting life and it was educational and entertaining to spend about 90 minutes with him.

Hell or High Water

Funny thing, we saw this on the same day we saw Sausage Party. Thank goodness we saw this one second. On a day when we saw what will probably be one of my least favorite movies of the year, Hell or High Water comes in and saves the day.

The plot was very, very simple and overall it was almost a set of three character studies that was the common thread throughout the movie. Everything about it was just perfect. The pacing. The setting. The acting. The writing, which was unexpected since the same guy wrote that piece of garbage Sicario.

Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster (why doesn’t that guy get more work?) were especially good, and New Captain Kirk was pleasantly surprising. I guess he has more range than I thought. Overall I’d describe this as a modern day American western noir, and somehow all those words together work.

Since I apparently notice cinematography a lot now… it was exceptional. You could randomly pause the movie on any frame and it would be a work of art. There were a lot of rather technical camera moves, actors hitting their marks, camera hitting its mark, all Steadicam or dolly work. I didn’t notice any shaky-cam at all. Aside from the great ‘substance’ of the movie, it was beautiful to look at.

Anyway, big thumbs up. I don’t see this getting a really wide release but if you like this kind of thing it’s worth seeking out.

Sausage Party

I wasn’t originally going to bother with this one, the trailers didn’t make it look very good. Then it hit over 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and some critics I like (Richard Roeper, Michael Philips, OA Scott for Christ’s sake) gave it a positive review, so I figured what the hell. And then I dragged my wife along with me to make matters even worse.

This was crap. Garbage. I like juvenile comedy as much as the next guy, but this was somehow worse that I imagined it could be. It was like juvenile comedy that was actually written by a juvenile. You can be juvenile and smart at the same time, but this was just horrid.

They tried to construct a sort of religious parable, and I commend them for the attempt. It must have looked good on paper, but the execution was not much beyond a third-grader’s grasp of world religions. It cut a pretty wide swath and offered no insight. I know, I know. It’s a cartoon. I wouldn’t normally be so harsh but this cartoon aimed high and missed so thoroughly I can’t bring myself to cut it any slack.

I think I chuckled a little bit maybe twice. Mostly because it’s hilarious to hear swearing in Salma Hayak’s voice. I’d rather have watched an entire movie of that, with nothing on the screen.

If you imbibe in the chronic, and get really, really high before seeing this, maybe it would be somewhat funny. Maybe. But you’d have to be higher than Snoop Dogg on an average day for this to even make a small dent in your funny-bone.

Don’t Think Twice

Funny! I like.

This is a film from Mike Berbiglia that seems to cut a little deep because you know a lot of it is probably biographical.

It’s essentially about a group of improv comedians, where one of them gets a cherry gig on SNL (not called SNL in the movie, though) and how it changes the dynamic of the group. Some in the group want to make it big but perhaps haven’t had the guts. Some people are just fine being starving artists and don’t feel like they belong in the big time. While others are desperately trying to make it big while pretending they are content in their podunk little theater playing to 10 people a night.

Anyway, it was really funny, poignant, happy and sad all at the same time. Surprisingly effective and much better and more insightful than I expected it to be.

Suicide Squad

I had high hopes for this one. But alas, the were dashed.

Not dashed too hard, but this one showed a lot of promise and failed to deliver on it.

They were smart to focus on Harley Quinn on the trailers. I know everyone’s all ga-ga about Margot Robbie. Yeah, sure, she’s hot. But she can also act. I didn’t like Wolf of Wall Street but she was very good it in, maybe better than Leonardo. And she’s very good in this.

But, much to my surprise, Will Smith was also very good. Joel Kinnaman was good. Cara Delevingne was actually pretty good, except for that weird gyrating thing she was doing toward the end. Plus there were a few other characters hanging around.

I think that may have been part of the problem. Too many characters, not enough background. Marvel did good by having a few standalone character movies come out prior to The Avengers. Then they didn’t have to waste time on who they all were, where they came from, etc. Suicide Squad didn’t have that luxury so they had to start the film with a bunch of vignettes about the characters, where we don’t really get to learn much about them.

The plot wasn’t that great, either. They’re assembling the Suicide Squad to do the government’s dirty work, but then one of the squad goes rogue, and the rest of the movie is about them trying to reel her back in. I actually wanted to see them do the promised dirty work, not just bring one of their kids inline. I thought it was originally just going to be a quick side-story, but then I realized that the movie was half over, so that was going to be it. Lame.

I think they’ve already decided to do a standalone Harley Quinn/Joker movie, which is good. Leto and Robbie can carry that. I hope they put a Deadshot movie together, that’s something I’d want to watch. I might even be intrigued by an Enchantress movie, were she goes back in time to ancient Egypt and wreaks havoc on King Tut or some shit like that. But the rest of the squad was just sort of there, uninteresting.

Star Trek Beyond

Meh. Not the best Star Trek film in the reboot. I feel like the plot was pretty thin or something. It was okay, but the other two were better.

They introduced a new female character that I kinda like, I hope she sticks around. Her not 100% command of the English language was pretty funny. And she can kick people in the face. Can’t go wrong with that.