Opening in Las Vegas, September 30, 2016


I start with the latest Tim Burton film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (59), with another spate of mixed reviews. This one seems more Burton-ish than ever, but I’m wondering if this guy has lost the knack of stepping outside of himself. I once read of him, “great art director, not so great director.” Ed Wood still remains his best film, I think. Feel free to suggest yours. Todd McCarthy: “For a time, an appealing gentleness prevails that’s rooted in this unique inter-generational romance, a feeling augmented in particular by Purnell’s slow-blooming flower of a performance, and if the film had remained focused more on the improbabilities of this love story, it might have emerged as something rather special.”

Movies like Deepwater Horizon (67) trouble me. Peter Berg specializes now in making films about catastrophes that focus on small, individual events that make us admire courage and humanity and all that good stuff. If he made a movie about the plague it would be about a plucky doctor who managed to save two or three people. Making a movie about the BP oil spill, one of the most dastardly corporate incidents ever, by focusing on the decent people who worked the oil rig, seems to me to turn a blind eye to what really mattered. But that’s just me. Peter Debruge: “For a movie in which you can’t follow what’s going on for 75% of the time, Deepwater Horizon proves remarkably thrilling.”

Masterminds (49) is a comic heist movie with Zack Galifinakis (in a Bruce Vilanch wig) and a host of SNL actors. It practically screams home video. If you want to see a good movie about an inside job at an armored car robbery, rent Criss Cross of 1949. Sara Stewart: “I cracked up here and there watching this broad heist comedy, but it wasn’t laughter I felt great about. Director Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”) has always gone for geeks and oddballs, but this film mostly punches down at characters for being poor, unfashionable and stupid.”

Putting my James hat on, I’m kind of surprised Queen of Katwe (73) is opening wide here, after a limited release last weekend. No matter how good, it doesn’t seem likely that a film about a Ugandan girl chess prodigy will pack them in. But it does seem worthwhile. Katie Rife: “In some ways, the more novel element is the film’s depiction of chess, which in Katwe is a popular sport on the level of football. And while that might seem unlikely, it’s accurate, at least in the wake of Mutesi’s success.”

In limited release this week, there’s Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker (47), also starring Judy Davis, set in the Australian outback. A. O. Scott: “Unfortunately, and despite its promising start, The Dressmaker doesn’t move much beyond the level of well-costumed playacting.”


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

7 responses »

  1. Really, the most interesting things released today are on the small screen: Woody Allen’s A Crisis in Six Scenes on Amazon and Amanda Knox on Netflix.

  2. Re: Burton, haven’t seen many of his 2000s films, but my favourite would probably be Ed Wood. From an overall perspective his career and rep seems to have never recovered from the POTA remake. I’d think an overwhelming majority of people if asked would nominate a pre-POTA as their fav film.

  3. True, Marco, but he’s a moneymaker. Alice in Wonderland, for example, was dreadful, but made a boatload of money.

    James, we’re expecting a detailed review of the Amanda Knox documentary.

  4. Re: The Dressmaker, I didn’t see it when it was released here in Oz last year but it was a big hit and did pretty well critically – interesting that it’s likely to neither in the US.

    And with Masterminds, probably having three of the four leads from the Ghostbusters remake after the financial disappointment it was (not to mention the social media storm it dealt with) is orob the kiss of death.

  5. And Luke Cage was released on Netflix today. I’m hyped for that one. He was often the best thing about Jessica Jones (imo)

    I’ve read all the Peregrine books so I think I’ll see it on Sunday. They (the books) are full of potential and grand ideas but they never seem to payoff. I’ll need to check Burton’s IMDB but I remember liking Sleepy Hollow more than most. Also, Edward Scissorhands is a gem that came alive for me once I saw it again on DVD in the late 90s.
    I loved his Batmans & Beetlejuice when I was younger but I haven’t seen them in years. Post-POTA I really enjoyed Frankenweenie and was surprised with Big Eyes (it was fairly straightforward and therefore seemed very ordinary by Burton standards).

  6. Batman Returns is Burton’s best.

    Word is Deepwater Horizon features a lot of what went wrong and BP’s dirty deeds, so your reservations would seem to be unfounded. Still a Peter Berg movie, so count me out.

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