MOVIES: Devastated ‘Rebel,’ ‘Tulip’ madness, life after Bond

| August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

Rebel in the Rye

Rebel in the Rye (9/10): Writer-director Danny Strong tries to explain why J.D. Salinger (a believable Nicholas Hoult) ended up a recluse after such a boffo start as author of the classic “Catcher in the Rye.” The film starts with the story of his falling head over heels in love with coruscating teenager Oona O’Neill (Zooey Deutch), when she was 17 and he 22, and how devastated he was when he discovered after he went to war in World War II that she ran off at age 18 to marry Charlie Chaplin, age 54. The production design in re-creating the New York City and the Stork Club and the fashions of those years is excellent. This is a convincing portrait of the elusive Salinger that had me mesmerized.

Wind River (9/10): Highlighted by exceptional cinematography, set on an Indian Reservation in frigid, snow-packed Wyoming (but filmed in Utah), the tension in this thriller never lets up as tracker Jeremy Renner and FBI agent Elizabeth Olsen must find out who raped and killed a woman found in the snow.

Detroit (8/10): Filmed cinéma vérité style using hand held cameras, this is engrossing. Maybe I took it too seriously, but I saw it at a 10 a.m. screening and felt wiped out the rest of the day. The person who really makes the film pop is Will Poulter, who plays lethiferous Philip Krauss (a fictitious name), a sociopathic Detroit policeman who engineers the torture of the innocent people who found themselves at the Algiers Motel two nights into the riot. There’s an epilogue to the film admitting that a lot of what is seen is conjecture, drawn from interviews with many of the participants, including black residents of the community, police, and military personnel who were involved. I don’t know what really happened there, but this is a gripping film, true or not.

Tulip Fever (7/10): Based in Holland in the 17th century when tulip mania was at a fever pitch (explained in the classic 1841 book “Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” a must read for any investor), the plot is more akin to the screwball comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s than a serious drama. The roles of Sophia (Alicia Vikander, who exposes more of herself than ever before) and her husband, Cornelius Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz), could just as easily have been played by Lucille Ball or Irene Dunne and Dennis O’Keefe or Cary Grant, respectively, had this exact same story been played for laughs and directed by Alan Dwan or Garson Kanin. But here it’s played seriously with an entirely different ambiance. The recreation of 17th century Holland is very well done, as are the costumes. The acting is superb throughout. It’s a little light on substance, but still entertaining.

The Only Living Boy in New York (2/10): While it’s difficult to separate the script from the horrific casting of Callum Turner in a titular role he couldn’t possibly handle, without an iota of chemistry between him and either of his romantic co-leads (one of whom is the steamy Kate Beckinsale), much of the dialogue and situations are extraordinarily contrived. On the bright side, the scenes of New York are atmospheric, and Pierce Brosnan gives another fine performance. The older Brosnan gets, the better actor he becomes, and the better looking, too. He might have been a washout James Bond, which he was, but he’s come into his own now playing older men.

Unlocked (2/10): A tremendous disappointment, this too-full-of-twists thriller is nothing more than modern day agitprop. Instead of the bad guys being America’s enemies, as during World War II, when movies always showed Nazis and Japanese as the bad guys, today’s Hollywood cowers before today’s actual enemies, Islamic terrorists, and makes the evil terrorists non-denominational American(s). That’s bad enough, but this movie has the most idiotic motive for why the villain does what s/he does in the history of intelligent thought.

By Tony Medley


Category: Entertainment

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