Movies of the Week #21-24 (2022)

Top Gun: Maverick (2022): For all the rave reviews it’s getting, TG2 starts out as a fairly unimaginative follow-up to the original – it works perfectly fine, but does not stray far away from formula. And then they start flying some planes and all that’s generic is forgotten and you’re left with a phenomenally choreographed piece of filmmaking that feels as visceral as anything else I’ve ever seen. This happens in spite of many tropes, but the movie feeds on them as it does on nostalgia, with Tom Cruise leading a very old-school movie – the kind they don’t do much any more. A cinema must-see, but presumably an underwhelming watch-at-home experience. 7

Something Wild (1986): There’s something inherently romantic about the set-up of Something Wild – a soft spoken, distinctly “safe” man is more or less kidnapped by this exotic, rapturous, lawless woman. But the movie does well to fill in the void of these stereotypes with character and soul, as the two share a…wild experience together. In spite of some questionable pacing in the middle part of SW, Ray Liotta sure spices things up once he appears to end proceedings with a bang. 7

Nobody’s Fool (1994): Paul Newman was a magnetic presence on screen, to such a degree that, as someone else put it better than I could, characters never come off as unlikable as they appear on paper when he portrayed them. It is very much the case here is well, as he plays an aging man who’s stubborn and difficult. Robert Benton’s movie feels quirky and atypical, without compromising the story or the characters, making for an enjoyable old-school tale of rural Americana. 7

R.M.N. (2022): Mungiu’s latest explores a real event which left its mark on Romanian society a few years ago, an event littered with prejudice and xenophobia. The movie has a strong build-up, creating a tense atmosphere while setting all its pieces in place. And when things turn, they turn quickly and viscously – feeding on a sense of unexpressed resentfulness, a feeling primed by our lead’s (lack of) emotional literacy. R.M.N. Is a bit messy and concludes in an unsatisfying fashion, but rewards the viewer with a layered experience. 7

The Valet (2022): This is a formulaic romcom of the rich meets poor variation that ultimately works because of honest performances from Eugenio Derbez and Samara Weaving. The whole “we are all the same” gist does feel hollow at times, but stays within the good natured spirit that the movie manages to establish early on. I even found Max Greenfield’s ridiculously unpalatable character enjoyable, so that all makes for a watchable, little flick – but, pray, do tell, how even the slightest of movies sprawl over two hours these days? 6