Movies of the Week #34 (2021)

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021): Even I’ve read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, a thoroughly enjoyable read about his life as a chef in the 80s and 90s. Although I never followed any of his TV ventures, he was a sympathetic figure and his death a couple of years ago was a sobering moment. So at a time when our collective mental health is a serious topic, Roadrunner has a lot to offer, even if it is on a profoundly personal and existential level. While not as astounding as Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor, this documentary still brings a lot to the table and finds nuance in an overly complicated life and character. 8

The Suicide Squad (2021): Released to high acclaim, James Gunn’s TSS produces TSS that most people were hoping for when the first movie came out – an adaptation filled with irreverent characters, crazy action and memorable scenes. Alas, it’s no Thor: Ragnarok, lacking the humour and finesse of Taika Waititi’s foray in the Marvel universe. Ironically, this still allows it to be one of the better comic book adaptation of the last decade, a great popcorn movie, filled to the brim with violence and constructive absurdity, as well as an interesting commentary on power, followers and the greater good. 7

The Green Knight (2021): Coming from David Lowery, who had impressed me with A Ghost Story (2017), I had high hopes for TGK, despite being unfamiliar with the source material. Coming in with a blank slate seemed like the right way to go, given the mixed feedback from those who had read the Arthurian poem. Unfortunately, although the movie is beautiful to look at and even poses some intriguing questions, it proved hard for me to give a damn about it. And it’s not because of the ambiguity in its narrative, but rather because I felt kept at arm’s length from what our lead character lives for – a sort of emotional abstraction. 6

The Forever Purge (2021): It’s ironic how prescient The Purge franchise has been to the unfolding of societal pressures. Thankfully we’re not out on the streets killing each other yet (or at least not all around te world), but we’re living through some scary times. There are moments when the purge feels like a procession, more of the same kind of thing, and I’d be hard pressed to tell the four movies apart – beyond saying that I hated the first one and reasonably enjoyed the next three for what they are. Avoiding pretentions, this latest entry pushes the envelope by proposing a horrifying scenario, in which purgers won’t quit purging after the allowed time frame elapses. The tables turn as Americans are trying desperately to flee to Mexico, but ‘the good guys’ will have to stick together and overcome their prejudices to survive. Cheap stuff, but well executed and packing reasonable star power, which all makes for an OK Purge movie. 6

Jungle Cruise (2021): If you really have to scratch the old scar that used to be your Pirates of the Caribbean itch, I guess you can enjoy Jungle Cruise – because it’s disturbingly close to the actual thing. There are few things that make JC stand out, in spite of the usual charisma of its leads Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, because so much of it feels like a rehash. But you know why it does stand out? By finding itself in the unusual cinematic space which finds a use case for the word “tributary”. 5