Two movies I saw and more “I am not in the demographic” previews

I can sometimes pack in a film while Dad is with Flower, if other circumstances permit, and my local theater chain has deep discounts / big rewards in place for Labor Day weekend. I saw Operation Finale on Friday afternoon. And was again treated to a series of previews to films I can’t really imagine seeing. And Searching on Saturday afternoon. And another series of questionable previews. I know there are films out there I can get excited about. Theoretically.

Operation Finale

Historical drama about the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 and the days between his apprehension and the flight out of Buenos Aires. Seen because I’m a huge Hannah Arendt fan and because this film was half price plus double bonus points, but it was a big disappointment. It’s impossible to remove the lens that Arendt saw Eichmann through from subsequent portrayals of the man, and while that is controversial (and the film seems to play in the direction of mild questioning of her picture of the bureaucratical, boring genocider), Ben Kingsley doesn’t resolve this problem successfully. He does a good job of capturing Eichmann’s fussiness and his petit bourgeois rigidity, but not so much his utter banality. The script is okay, but Kingsley is so much more on top of his job than is Jason Isaacs Oscar Isaac (as Mossad operative Peter Malkin) that Isaacs is left in the dust and scenes that were clearly intended to be high tension are simply boring. Kingsley strikes sparks that never land on anything flammable in Isaacs. The film also brings in Simon Russell Beale as a curiously enervated Ben-Gurion (they must be counting on the likelihood that big pieces of their audience have no memory of him), although with accurate hairdo. There are a few pluses: the rarely-seen Peter Strauss as Lothar Herrmann; a couple of mid-twentieth-century Israeli politics insider jokes (“we’ll bring out Abba Eban, everyone seems to love him”). But the film misses the Jewishness where it counts and only manages it in the form of kitsch (Peter’s mother’s Sabbath chicken soup). All in all, a lost opportunity that won’t harm anyone’s careers, but will also be forgotten in a year. However, I was intrigued enough that I will read Malkin’s book about the episode.

The Nun

I couldn’t figure out the plot from this one — a young woman has visions so she travels to the basement of a Romanian abbey where things jump out at her. I can’t imagine why they showed this to the audience for Operation Finale.

Creed II

A film about boxing with Sylvester Stallone. Stallone is on the “not for any reason” list. Boxing is on the “only if there is some other tremendously compelling reason” list. Not for me, even if Graham McTavish shows up (he’s not currently on the cast list).

Schindler’s List 25th anniversary release

I will concede that this was at least an appropriate trailer to show in conjunction with Operation Finale. However, I hate the “suffering ends in redemption” Holocaust story line. And after twenty-five years of explaining to undergraduates that the Holocaust occurred in color and that the six million died without the poignant score playing in the background, and that the horrifying thing about genocides are not the heroes and villains, but the industrial, callous, business-like nature of the killing, I don’t need to see this one (with its revoltingly Zionist ending) ever again.

Hunter Killer

A submarine movie that involves Marines sailing into Russian territory in order to rescue a rogue Russian plus Gary Oldman looking typically bemused, as he often does when he’s not mimicking a historical character. I can definitely be sold on a “cat and mouse” scenario submarine film, but the most interesting thing about this trailer was the CGI.

Bad Times at the El Royale

Still a “no.” Do they think they can wear us down?

Welcome to Morwen

A man viciously beaten in a bar (the reason isn’t stated in the trailer, but research reveals the excuse given was his cross-dressing) creates an artistic world in order to recover his memories. Based on a true story. See above re: suffering as redemption. I haven’t liked a Zemeckis film since the 1990s, and I hate Forrest Gump. Nope.

A film whose name I missed (which is annoying)

The plot is that a Black woman who works at an all-male, all-white sports management agency is denied a promotion she thinks is guaranteed and a subsequent visit to a psychic gives her the curse, i.e., ability, to hear men’s thoughts. This is really the only trailer I saw that night that I found even somewhat appealing, although the humor may be a bit on the raunchy side for me.

Searching

A man looks for his daughter (who disappears after his wife’s death) using her online traces. I have a generally positive opinion of John Cho, and the theater chain offered me double rewards points + 25 bonus points for seeing it this weekend, so I thought, why not? I would definitely recommend this film — it has a clear but solid script with about five plot twists plus a red herring. The first two are obvious; the third follows from the second. But you’d have to have been paying very good attention to guess the fourth and fifth, although they are not hidden. I.e., if you want to feel superior, watch every screen with all of your attention. Bonus: all the violence is implied rather than seen. Cho is fine (as is the highly strung Debra Messing) but the point here is the social critique rather than the acting. How have the Internet in general and social media and cell phones in particular affected our relationships? This film will really make you think about those themes without pushing any particular conclusion in your face. It’s a quiet film without a lot of embellishment but it punches about its weight, and I really liked it. It’s hard to see how this could have been a Hollywood blockbuster (it was made for under $5M), but I’d like to see more films like this one.

Overlord

The horror film version of the D-Day invasions at Normandy. Why??? You’d think actual events hadn’t been bad enough or something.

Widows

When a group of criminals are kille during the commission of a crime, their widows are harassed by the competition and then step up to take their places. Mixed feelings — it looks violent and I’m tired of Liam Neeson as the hunted man. On the other hand, Viola Davis and Daniel Kaluuya, plus female empowerment (although some of it looks kitschy). Would consider seeing.

Mortal Engines

I guess this is the film Armitage was up for but couldn’t reconcile with the Berlin Station filming schedule? I didn’t really catch the plot from the trailer except that cities move on heavy-duty wheels and Hugo Weaving is chasing two young people. Oh, and Jackson, Walsh and Boyens were involved. Guessing Armitage was up for the role Weaving got? Anyway, I don’t usually see this kind of movie, and I doubt I’ll torture myself now — I don’t like to think about “what might have been.”

A Star is Born

This is another one that I feel is being rammed down my throat. Repeated viewings don’t make it any more appealing. Still no.

White Boy Rick

Another “based on a true story” film about a teenager who became an FBI informant. Matthew McConaughey is on the “not unless there is a really compelling reason” list. This is another one I might see in a pinch.

~ by Servetus on September 2, 2018.

48 Responses to “Two movies I saw and more “I am not in the demographic” previews”

  1. I was thinking about seeing Operation Finale, but maybe I’ll skip it…But just to clarify, do you mean Oscar Isaac instead of Jason Isaacs? I just checked imdb and Jason isn’t listed in this movie…

    I was thinking of seeing Searching though, so maybe I will make the effort to see that one!

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    • Oops, yeah. Thanks. Fixed. If you don’t know anything about this incident it might be of interest. Then again, if you don’t know anything about this incident, you might not recognize the participants — not sure.

      I would definitely recommend Searching. (Even apart from John Cho, who is as low key here as ever.)

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  2. No submarine move can compare to Das Boot. I must have seen that in the theatre when it came out ten times – with subtitles!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The movie w Taraji B Hensen is called What Men Want which is the gender flip on the 2000
    movie What Women Want w yep Mel Gibson
    before he went postal. I think I read her version
    has some issues and got pushed back. When I
    saw O8 in June it had a trailer for it coming out
    in Dec I think. You’I’ve got me intrigued about
    Searching.. thank you for the movie round up
    Glad you were able to get out and see a couple!!

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    • That one sounds like it could be cute

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah she has become a badass on film just
        pumping out one movie after another for several years now plus Empire on FOX U.S. tv
        for couple of seasons now. She rocks female
        empowerment but her roles are somewhat
        the same each movie but she’s just skyrocketed her career. I think it looks cute too
        I hope it does well.

        Liked by 1 person

    • oh, excellent. I thought I recognized the actor. I loved her in Hidden Figures. I didn’t see What Women Want. I dunno. When a film has a fart joke in the trailer, that’s usually a signal to me that I won’t enjoy it.

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      • Right I agree and isn’t Gibson on your no way list? He was ok in it I liked the premise of the movie more than the execution of it and I think it is a hit or miss movie w people. I wouldn’t revisit it myself now.

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        • Yeah, he’s on my really no way, no how list.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Haha that is brilliant no way no how ! I love it!! 👏👍🤣

            Liked by 1 person

            • I do occasionally show “Gallipoli” in a modern history course. I should concede that. But otherwise, ick. Not even on free TV on a rainy afternoon. I’d much rather read.

              Liked by 2 people

              • You’re so funny! Ick yeah I will agree he’s a real twerp and I liked Lethal Weapon 1 but that’s about it from him. He apparently has a way w women and some potent sperm along w Eddie Murphy geez.,,

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              • Gallipoli was such a beautiful movie, and Year of Living Dangerously. Two of his best, so long ago. Definitely an actor that is hard to separate from his work now.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Gallipoli is a really good illustration of two things important to know about WWI: the generalized sentiment of popular nationalism, and the truly international quality of the war. Also demonstrates the idiocy of that war quite nicely.

                  Liked by 2 people

                • oh: and — my students often have no idea of the sheer size of Australia.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • well, Australia is a continent after all. Regarding Schindler’s List – I could never bring myself to watch it even though it is supposed to be such a great and moving film (‘film’ rather than movie is for the ‘greats’ lol). Your assessment makes me feel ok about that. I don’t know why but in my mind I equate it with Sophie’s choice, which was a really good movie but for some reason, even years later, it left me with a strange feeling of wishing I had never seen it and a strange icky feeling for having watched it. It’s hard to explain, but something like a feeling that something was made for manipulative ‘entertainment’ that shouldn’t have been entertainment. But then I feel bad because it was a moving film and it must have been good that I still think about it after all this time. But then I still am left with that icky voyeuristic feeling again. And I know she’s a great actress and I normally have no problem with her but I am left with a feeling that I don’t know if doing the accent and mannerisms were more important to her than what the film was about. Regardless, I can’t explain the feeling but I find it had to watch a movie like Schindler’s List but then I feel I have no right to that feeling since I haven’t seen the movie so I shouldn’t judge. Not making much sense here.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ve only seen Schindler’s List once, it’s tough to handle. While it is definitely artistic, like how it’s all black and white except for one character, I remember it feeling almost documentary-like. I haven’t seen Sophie’s Choice so I can’t speak to that, but I never got the feeling that Schindler’s List was made for any level of entertainment. But I think it’s important to honor our instincts and feelings, even about what we choose to watch. There are movies I choose not to watch for various reasons. I’m sure all of us do. It’s been a very long time since I’ve watched Roots, the original miniseries, for example, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to watch it again. It’s just so heavy a subject.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • It was definitely not intended as entertainment.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Nor should it have been. Steven Spielberg has a knack for trying to make you feel the shock. Much like the opening of Saving Private Ryan.

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                    • I don’t object to that, but I’m bothered by the happy ending / “everything will be fine” trope that consistently pervades his films.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Not always appropriate, certainly not the case for most following the Holocaust.

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                    • There’s a huge debate that goes on among film critics and scholars about precisely this issue: can the Holocaust be represented (artistically or otherwise)? What kind of representations are appropriate? A lot of it will come down to the individual sentiments of the spectator. IMO Schindler’s List is an inappropriate representation, but in general I don’t care for Spielberg’s historical vision and I think he is out of his depth when he applies his worldview to historical events. (The novel from which the film was drawn, by Thomas Kenneally, is much better and way less melodramatic.)

                      People forget now that Sophie’s Choice was incredibly controversial in its time (and back then there were critics who argued that the novel was actually Southern Gothic as opposed to a Holocaust story). I haven’t seen it in years, but there are a lot of representations that I didn’t care for, most notably that the novel seemed to suggest that the Holocaust was not really or primarily a Jewish event.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Sophies Choice we watched as a family movie night in 1984 on VHS about 2 years after it came out. My mom having lived thru WW2 got up and walked out of the room during the pivotal scene in the movie and was crying
                      She didn’t watch the rest of the movie. I think
                      as a viewer I thought the performances by Streep and Kevin Kline were fantastic. My dad would probably agree w your assessment of
                      the historical interpretation of the film but from
                      a purely emotional view I can still remember that scene to this day and know why it hit my mom so very hard…

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That is about when we saw it, too, also on VHS, also as a family.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Unfortunately, I think the only way many people are exposed to history is through film. Yet, if they weren’t interested in school, I’m not sure how much they might take away from it. For instance, not knowing Australia is a continent. So many don’t have basic knowledge of their own country, let alone outside of it. The internet had the potential for showing people the world, and anything they wanted to learn. It’s become a tool for a split second attention span, looking down all day, and not speaking with actual people. Do I sound ancient? I’m just realizing how much time I spend looking at my own phone, and wishing I spent more living.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That’s something that kind of astounds me about the current atmosphere — I really use the Internet to find things I wasn’t anticipating, not to have my prejudices confirmed. I’ve read something like two dozen novels by African authors in the last year because of the Internet, for instance. I don’t get the whole “I only read things I already agree with” mood (or why FB would see that as an attractive business model).

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I do love the fact that I can find the answer to any question instantly, but I also miss the different sets of encyclopedias we had on the shelves in our home. One thing would lead to the next. Seeing something while looking for another, and stopping to read about that. I could spend hours looking at them. I think curiosity, and knowing how to learn is being lost, much like imagination, and being able to play or occupy themselves is to many childten. They did become awfully out of date with all the advancements of the last fifty+ years. So much just wasn’t in them. That isn’t an issue anymore.
                      I like to watch BBC World News for awhile each day not only because it gives a completely different viewpoint on American events, but because it actually covers the world. Our news is obsessed with our politics, and the one or two things that may be going on as far as a tragedy or crisis. We aren’t getting much of what goes on everywhere else.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I am a huge BBC News fan. When I travel I only watch BBC news (where available at the hotel.) I agree with you on the internet-I would never have been able to find all these resources on Richard otherwise. My dad owns a huge encyclopedia collection which is now stored in my sister’s old bedroom. I grew up in the age of using those as resources and learning tools whereas my nieces wouldn’t have a clue about them now, scribbling on their ipads. I too spent hours as a kid reading and perusing them and my dad had variations of them. He is a voracious reader and encouraged his kids to read which my brother does to an extent w/the twins. Thank you for sharing. It was a nice trip down memory lane for me.

                      Liked by 1 person

                • Year of Living Dangerously was very good! I liked Linda Hunt esp in it, I thought she stole a lot of the seasons.

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  4. Looking forward to Widows. As for Hunter Killers-yikes! Gerry Butler who are you listening to on movie choice!? 😳

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I should add — I also saw the trailer for “Boy Erased” last night and this looks good despite the participation of Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They’re both negatives for me.

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  7. “Searching” sounds really interesting. I hadn’t heard of it before.

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  8. It just goes to show still, how few movies are made that have any interest for a mature female. Although that seems like a particularly bad set of previews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My impression was that they had no idea which trailers to show at these two movies because they had no idea who was coming to see them. Apparently Labor Day weekend is a throwaway (just learned that this summer) when stuff opens that isn’t expected to do all that well. So the film offerings were atypical and they just threw whichever trailers at us. I guess.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Yeah, very few of these appeal to me. I am actually curious to see “A Star is Born”, even though I have already read mixed reviews and Operation Finale interests me too.I liked Forrest Gump and also like Steve Carrell, so I may try that Welcome to Marwen movie. 🙂

    And I did like Schindler’s List (but can’t watch it again).

    The one you don’t know the title of is “What Men Want” – I saw “What Women Want” way back when and while OK, not something I’d need to see again, so not sure a remake will really drag me to the cinema. I would go along if others wanted to see it.

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  10. […] the first time and no the second time and still […]

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  11. […] Widows had only been on my “maybe” list, but I heard some positive things about it and my cinema chain offered me triple reward points for seeing it today, and I’ve been solo since last night, so I decided to strike! Herewith my response to Widows and to the six trailers I saw before it. […]

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  12. […] When I saw this trailer before I thought, huh, maybe, which is where I still am. Plus: Taraji P. Henson. […]

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