Opening in Las Vegas, November 10, 2017

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The Oscar bait films, as well as some Christmas trash, open this week.

I’m eager to see two films. One is The Florida Project (92), from Sean Baker, who made a good film with a smart phone (Tangerine) and now gets to use 35mm. It’s about poor people who live in motels near Disney World, and from all indications seems to be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination, as well as one for Willem Dafoe, the only professional actor in the cast.

I’m also dying to see Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck (72). Here’s the summary from Metacritic: Ben and Rose are children from two different eras who secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his home and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out on quests to find what they are missing that unfold with mesmerizing symmetry.

In the I’ll pass category, there’s Murder on the Orient Express (53), perhaps the most pointless film of the year. This is the fourth filming of one of Agatha Christie’s most popular books. Anyone who has seen the film with Albert Finney need not see this one, as I understand the solution to the murder is the same.

Tragedy Girls (58) is kind of a Heathers for the social media age, as two girls go on a killing spree to get more hits. This subject could be the making of a good black comedy, but apparently this isn’t it.

And then there’s Daddy’s Home 2 (29). We’ve noted here that Will Ferrell’s career is in the crapper, as he seems to be only interested in the paycheck now.

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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.

2 responses »

  1. I’d love to see Dafoe get some love for The Florida Project. Long overdue.

    I loved Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express, but I’m also really interested to see what Branagh does with it. For Pete sake I’ve seen eight adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles and I’d still be up for more, although I hope there isn’t as it’s my dream movie to make.

  2. I saw ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ today and was generally OK with it.

    It tries through lots of fancy visual directorial flourishes and the perspective of Poirot’s character (quite a bit different from Finney’s 1974 version) to be something more than just another version of the famous story but it doesn’t quite get there.

    Branagh’s Poirot dominates this film a fair bit more than the 1974 version did and while that’s probably in part down to egotism he’s charismatic enough to make him a compelling character on his own terms. Unfortunately his dominance means that much of the stellar cast get very little screen time; only Depp & Pfeiffer make much of an impact.

    The plot sticks pretty much to the 1974 version (as it must) but Branagh tries to add a few things to differentiate it, including a prologue where Poirot solves a case at Jersualem’s wailing wall which is entertaining but fairly unnecessary. There’s also a chase action scene outside the train which just adds time; the finale actually being held outside the train worked fine visually.

    In the end it’s a decent enough version of the famous mystery but nothing more than that despite Branagh’s ambitions.

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