A Man-Eating Plant, Marilyn As A Femme Fatale, And A Male Buddy Film
Old and new films top this weekend's list of what to see
This weekend, there is something old, something new and something carnivorous to check out at the movies.
'Little Shop of Horrors'
Start the weekend off with the final film in the San Diego Natural History Museum's Sci-Fi Fridays, Roger Corman's "Little Shop of Horrors."
The 1960 film inspired a musical film and play, but Corman's original is a campy classic that features a young Jack Nicholson. Plus, it is an interactive experience as theNAT's Michael Wall hosts the screening.
"We like to have a little bit of fun," Wall said. "It's like Pop-Up Videos from VH1 or Mystery Science Theater, and this week we’ll have the carnivorous plant society showing off their cool carnivorous plants. We try to make it a fun-filled thematic evening centered around a sci-fi film."
It's an experience that cannot be replicated at home watching the movie streaming or on DVD.
"Little Shop of Horrors" screens at 6 p.m., Friday (Aug. 18) at theNAT. It's also part of the Park After Dark program so you can find food trucks outside the museum in case carnivorous plants make you hungry.
'The Hitman's Bodyguard'
The initial ads for "The Hitman’s Bodyguard" spoofed to perfection the Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston 1990s action movie "The Bodyguard." They also raised the question: Would this be a one-joke gag stretched too far? Ryan Reynolds plays a down-on-his-luck bodyguard forced to protect Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman turned Hague witness.
The playful chemistry between the two stars more than carries the film and delivers a satisfying buddy film.
The action is fast paced but not terribly clever. It is all over cut and rapid fire, and the bodies pile up quickly. But no one's taking anything too seriously even though the story involves trying to hold a dictator accountable for his crimes against humanity.
Salma Hayek gets a fun supporting role as Jackson's sexy and lethal wife, while Gary Oldman essentially phones in his arrogant dictator.
"The Hitman’s Bodyguard" is big, dumb fun and it does not pretend to be anything else. So turn off your brain and fasten your seat belts for a fun ride.
"Logan Lucky," from one time indie darling Steven Soderbergh, should have been better. It returns Soderbergh to the heist genre of his popular "Ocean’s 11" films but instead of slick con artists in swanky Las Vegas, we get hillbillies (headed by Channing Tatum) with a family curse in the heart of Trump’s America.
All the actors seem to be putting on their worst Southern accents and the whole affair feels like Soderbergh is slumming.
The heist is a complicated job that relies less on smarts and more on chance. And perhaps that is the point. Maybe this heist is supposed to prove that for once the cursed Logans can have luck break their way.
But if that is supposed to be an element in the narrative, it is weakly played out. Soderbergh lets the heist play out with few details provided in advance but once it goes down he backtracks to let us see how they pulled it off. The only problem is that almost every step of the plan requires that something improbable goes their way.
There are a few gem scenes (especially one involving a prison riot over "Game of Thrones") but not enough to leave you satisfied at the end. I am not sure if the problem is that the film is trying too hard or not hard enough. And I have to say that the side story about the daughter of Channing Tatum's character entering a talent show was a little creepy as the young girl's grown-up, sexy makeup reminds you of JonBenet Ramsey.
Soderbergh is a talented filmmaker, but this one just didn't click for me.
But satisfaction is guaranteed with "Niagara," screening Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 and 20, at Cinema Under the Stars. The 1953 film came before Marilyn Monroe had established herself as a delightful comedienne in "How to Marry a Millionaire," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Some Like It Hot."
Monroe is sex incarnate as the femme fatale in this rare Technicolor film noir. The natural beauty of Niagara Falls pales in comparison to the young Monroe. Plus she gets to reveal a darker, more manipulative side of her onscreen persona as Rose Loomis. Joseph Cotten plays her hapless husband. The film looks gorgeous, has some snappy dialogue, and lays out a tense thriller. And there no no better way to experience this sultry tale of deceit and betrayal than outdoors on a hot summer night.
Also opening Friday is the indie film "Menashe." It looks to Brookyn's ultra-orthodox Jewish community as a recent widower battles for custody of his son. Joshua Z. Weinstein's film gives us a rare look into this sequestered community with its strict rules. Menashe (Menashe Lustig) wants to keep custody of his son but that is not allowed for a single man, according to tradition, he must remarry or let his son live with his brother-in-law.
The film provides occasional insights into Menashe's world, but too often it seems to fall victim to tropes about single dads not being able to handle the responsibility of raising a young child. (I mean, did he really have to burn the food in the oven after being given a "bachelor-proof" recipe?)
Weinstein displays compassion for his characters and gets good performances from his cast. But in the end, he tells a predictable tale that is set against a less familiar backdrop.