Today we’re doing our regular rounding up of the pick of the week’s US cinematic releases to see what’s worth a visit to the local multiplex, what’s probably best left to a later viewing at home and what’s not worth wasting your precious time at all… Love it – or leave it!
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK – dir. Edward Zwick
Hope Madden asks ‘Who is Jack Reacher? “The guy you didn’t count on.” Or, the guy spewing some tired, tired lines’. She reviews the Tom Cruise-starring sequel in which ‘the action’s far less interestingly choreographed, the humor is nonexistent, the villain is far blander’. Director Edward Zwick provides ‘stale direction’ and ‘the closest thing to panache comes by way of the now de rigueur chase across urban rooftops. Yawn’. Zwick’s ‘greater crime may be the screenplay he co-wrote with Richard Wenk and Marshall Herskovitz, adapted from the Child novel. There is a difference between streamlining text and discarding character development, plot movement and sense. You spend 30% of the Film thinking, “Well, that was certainly convenient”’. In her full ☆☆ review, Hope labels the film thus: ‘Incompetent plotting, weak catch phrases and a shocking lack of chemistry among any and all actors will keep a project from succeeding. Hopefully everyone involved – including the audience – can leave the film and never go back’.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES – dir. Greg Mottola
Cinema Siren dubs KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES as a ‘cinematic weapon of mass distraction’ due to it being ‘funny’ and ‘silly’ and ‘a celebration of sisterhood and bromance, it’s just what the cinematic mood surgeon ordered’. It’s ‘a bit of a riff on the wildly successful Mr. and Mrs. Smith, albeit with friendships between couples taking the focus instead of romance. That’s not to say there isn’t romance. The chemistry between Gadot and Hamm is off the charts. Galifianakis and Fisher also come across as believable in their roles as comfortable yet jaded marrieds. It’s the friendships, however, that make the film memorable and most entertaining’. She continues, ‘Unbelievably, in the midst of two known comedic actors with Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm is the standout’, going on to say ‘were I a producer in Hollywood, he’d rise to the top of my wish list for all comedies, both broad and nuanced, going forward’. In her full ☆☆☆1/2 review, Cinema Siren writes that KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES isn’t reinventing the espionage comedy, but it is ‘un and light, and has very pretty people being funny’.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE – dir. Ti West
Cat McAlpine writes of Ti West’s western as having a ‘lack of gratuity’. ‘IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE benefits from West’s time in horror. The build is steady and slow. Paul transforms from quiet stranger to calculating killer, but all the blood is earned. The shootouts aren’t elaborate but they are grisly and realistic’. She comments upon the performances which are ‘as realistic as West’s measured use of bullets and blood. Hawke is brooding and dangerous, but soft too. His dog is an excellent device to extrapolate the way PTSD can function. Paul confidently banters with his dog, makes her promises, plots with her… but when he’s faced with people he keeps his mouth shut and his eyes low’. Travolta has ‘equal restraint and mastery. He’s quiet but commanding, a good match to Hawke. As he devolves into panic, he becomes funnier and more terrifying’. In her full ☆☆☆☆ review, Cat summarises with ‘IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE is an homage to the traditional western with updates from the horror genre, not with blood, but with tension. Paired with a fantastic score (Jeff Grace) and a cast that delivers, West has avoided the trappings of the modern shoot-em-ups and rejoined the classics with some fresh perspective’.
HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER – dir. John McNaughton (limited release)
Hope Madden writes of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER as being ‘unlike any film of its time’. Director John McNaughton ‘offers a uniquely unemotional telling – no swelling strings to warn us danger is afoot and no hero to speak of to balance the ugliness. He confuses viewers because the characters you identify with are evil. Even when you think you might be seeing this to understand the origins of the ugliness, he pulls the rug out from under you again by creating an untrustworthy narrative voice. His film is so nonjudgmental, so flatly unemotional, that it’s honestly hard to watch’. She labels the film as ‘diabolically fascinating’ with Michael Rooker’s performance that ‘unsettles to the bone’. In her full ☆☆☆☆1/2 review, ahead of the film’s limited run in 4K on its 30th Anniversary, Hope simply labels the film; ‘This is horror. You should see this’.
FILM OF THE WEEK: IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE
The post Love It Or Leave It? US Cinematic Review Roundup October 21st appeared first on ScreenRelish.