Yay — let’s go to the movies! That’s something you don’t hear around our place very often during the spring or fall semesters, as B.’s teaching and grading schedule gets way out of control. But now that summer’s here, we couldn’t wait to get started. Maybe we should have waited just a bit longer.
While I don’t think any of my comments here contain spoilers, please be aware that, while a spoiler alert may not be necessary, a spoiler caution might be. And also, please know that the acting in these movies is absolutely superb. It’s just that the stories get a little weird. To wit:
First movie out of the blocks was a dark comedy, Beatriz at Dinner. (I think our problem with dark comedies is that we don’t get the comedy part; it’s taken years for us to almost appreciate the humor of Pulp Fiction.) This movie is about a sad holistic healer (Salma Hayek as Beatriz) who finds herself stranded at one of her client’s homes during a dinner party. This dinner of clueless, moneyed snobs includes Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), a billionaire racist of epic proportions. Predictably, after a few glasses of wine, Beatriz challenges Doug about his beliefs and about his very existence. All of a sudden what we thought was going to be a clash-of-the-classes comedy turns into a depressing, deeply disturbing drama that left us shaking our heads — and wondering why we hadn’t opted for breakfast at the beach, lunch at the zoo, or popcorn anywhere else but at this somewhat deranged dinner.
For our next cinematic foray, we chose The Beguiled. The trailer made the movie seem like an intriguing thriller. Set during the Civil War, it takes place at a girls’ school run by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), whose students are sheltered — but not nearly as innocent as they look. Into this bastion of estrogen comes Colin Farrell’s Corporal John McBurney — a wounded Union soldier whose life Miss Martha saves. Sort of. Let’s just say that what starts out as a compelling premise (did I mention how compellingly attractive Colin Farrell is?) turns into a mess. (Not even Colin can save it.) And while some reviews have called the movie deliciously wicked, believe me, you’re not going to be craving mushrooms or apple pie anytime soon.
Then finally, yesterday, we discovered a summer movie worth its popcorn. Baby Driver is a highly stylized crime story about a group of robbers and their getaway driver. Oh, but it’s so much more. The music in the movie is almost a character unto itself. The writing is excellent. The plot includes robberies and romance, twists and turns, slick humor and slicker characters, and a performance by Jon Hamm that kills (no pun intended). The whole thing plays like a comic book with good guys and bad guys (or maybe bad guys and badder guys). Fasten your seatbelt, baby — it’s exactly what summer movies should be.
That, and m&m’s mixed into your popcorn.
ⓒ 2017 Claudia Grossman