Our decade of terror nearly missed out on having a Martin Scorsese movie, as Shutter Island was originally slotted to be released in October 2009 before being pushed back to February 2010. The reason given at the time? The recession was hitting too hard and Paramount needed something to help buoy their slate in the early part of the new year. So they pushed the movie with the bankable star and acclaimed director based on a book from a famous author. This announcement came about a month after Universal similarly moved their Wolfman movie from November 2009 to February 2010. Both these developments were covered on a humble blog in the form of tastefully titled reviews. I bring up these things not because they are interesting, but because I found it horrifying how long ago a decade can feel in our breaking-news-every-15-minutes world.
I’ve had a bit of trouble settling on a verdict for Hobbs & Shaw, the first(?) Fast & Furious spin-off film. On one hand, it is a very silly, over-the-top buddy cop action movie. On the other, it seems like the product of a bunch of bad decisions that just had to be followed through on because: money. It’s a movie where Dwayne Johnson pulls a helicopter out of the air, like Captain America. It’s also 135 minutes long and feels like it. Is this too much of a good thing?
Flyora (Aleksey Kravchenko), a 14-year-old who recently joined the Soviet partisans, and Roubej (Vladas Bagdonas) have just caught a break. Roubej had led their supply run directly into a minefield which claimed the lives of their two comrades, but these two made it through and found a collaborator who has a cow. They threaten the man and make him roll around in manure, then steal the animal. This cow will save the lives of partisans and villagers if they can get it back. But before they are even out of sight, a German machinegun blasts them. Roubej is instantly killed, but the poor bovine lives long enough to try to understand what just happened as it suffers through its last labored breaths. It’s just the latest in a never-ending deluge of devastating blows thrown at Flyora, made all the more depressing because the filmmakers really did shoot a cow and film its death. Come and See is just that kind of grueling.
It was funny seeing Lena Dunham in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last weekend because, while I guess her social media presence means she still grabs the occasional headline, it seems like pop culture has decided to be done with her since Girls ended in 2017. Which I don’t think is entirely fair, she seems like an extremely outspoken person who has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth with surprising regularity but that’s nothing compared to plenty of other scumbags in Hollywood who are nonetheless considered less toxic. But the reality of seeing Tiny Furniture in 2019 means being unable to give its writer/director/star any benefit of the doubt, to its detriment. Because like that TV show, I can imagine having liked this a lot more back in a time when I knew a lot less.
Jeffrey Eugenides’ debut novel, The Virgin Suicides, was released in 1993 and instantly drew critical acclaim. One of the book’s fans was Sofia Coppola, the daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola who had been heavily criticized for her performance in 1990’s The Godfather Part III. Declaring her acting career over, Coppola turned her efforts toward filmmaking and found inspiration in The Virgin Suicides, which she decided to adapt. At the time, she claimed it was just a writing exercise, but the rights became available shortly after she finished her treatment of the screenplay. Soon enough, she was making her first feature film. What are the chances, am I right?
As John eluded to in his hot take, filmmakers like Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, and Steven Soderbergh seized on technological advances in the late Eighties and showed that you could make a movie on a shoestring budget. They helped pave the way for the indie explosion of the Nineties and, more importantly for this post, inspired Whit Stillman to give up his illustration company, sell his apartment, and go all in on making a personal comedy about wealthy young socialites. The result was Metropolitan, a film that feels equal parts frivolous and vital and serves as a reminder that there was a time that we could feel sympathy for the rich.
With Endgame finally crossing the all-time box office record this weekend and Marvel announcing the opening salvo of their next phase of movies, I got the feeling I should finally write down my Spider-Man: Far From Home thoughts. MCU tradition dictates each Avengers sequel must be followed up, perhaps a little too soon, by a bug-themed solo adventure. This time it was Spider-Man who drew the short straw and had to follow the biggest movie ever with his own smaller-scale story… at least it seems that way from the outset. Far From Home begins as a chance to decompress after the cataclysmic conclusion of Endgame but soon grows into a staging ground for the next MCU saga. And the more time I’ve had to think about it, the more exciting that seems.