Movies of the Week #14 (2018)

It was really hard to pick a standout movie this week. Ultimately, my gut went with Paterno, although The Post is a more coherent affair, with the two even being tangentially related. But I simply refuse to promote ‘modern’ spielbergianism until it decides to take a chance at something other than itself.

MoTW14

When rough is not rough enough

  • Rough Night (2017): Movies as deplorable as this are pretty rare. The first hour or so of Rough Night feels like a lesser version of The Hangover. The Hangover 3. Except that it’s driven by female ‘characters’ and stereotypes, wasting its perfectly capable cast. The latter half hour paradoxically becomes bearable and slightly entertaining, but not to the extent that it might ever be a movie you should waste any time on. 3/10

On having meddling opinions about others

  • The Intervention (2016): Clea DuVall’s directorial debut is a mostly inspired depiction of married life in your 30s. I might not be talking from experience, but I am talking from observation. A group of friends gathers to arrange an intervention on a married couple that’s having a hard time making life work. Naturally, all the interventionists have their own problems, deftly swept under the carpet, which come to bite them in the ass at one point or another. I enjoyed the conclusion, which refrains from neatly bow-wrapping the jig, even if it does take a fairly optimistic view of how quickly tears in the relationship wall can begin to heal. The movie never really takes on too much, which is why I don’t rate it higher, but for what it does and says, it does and says it well. 7/10

The controversy, the integrity, the been there, done that

  • The Post (2017): There’s something sadly anachronistic about Spielberg’s The Post. The movie looks at the moral imperative that news publishers had to write about the cover up leading to the Vietnam war. The problem with it is that this idea that a sole publisher might make the news is to some degree obsolete, in this heavily fragmented marketplace, where the truth has gone missing in between all the non-truth that’s floating around it. This relativization of news is what’s lacking and it makes The Post feel like an old-school movie, your usual by the numbers affair brought to you by Mr. S. Add to that the feminist angle brought by Post owner Kay Graham, lauded for her ability to gain a foothold in a world run by men, but also spared any serious critique for the aristocratic/elitist tradition she represents. Beyond that, the great cast works well and the movie did hold my attention for what it is. But it ain’t no Spotlight (2015)7/10

Talking about blind eyes

  • Paterno (2018): Pacino drew me to this nefarious affair of college football, which portrays the child abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and those guilty of knowing about it and not doing anything. Pacino plays Joe Paterno, head coach in this period, and his performance definitely kept me glued to the action for the most part. With no background knowledge on the matter, Paterno felt like an ambiguous guy, who fits in the institutional climate like the one that allowed for this kind of prolonged abuse to occur. Although there are many interesting things going on, director Levinson’s lack of focus ultimately hurts the movie, making it feel disjointed emotionally and undecided on the judgment of its ‘hero’.  Moreover, Sara Ganim, the reporter who broke the story and went on to win a Pulitzer prize for it, felt oddly like a secondary character, which is also a symptom of the unfocused approach. In spite of this, I’d  still recommend Paterno, for Pacino, as well as for its depiction of institutional crimes and the power of looking the other way. It just gripped me with its disoriented tragedy and I guess I’m a sucker for downfalls. 7/10