Out this week on DVD three films.
One good, another good, and one maybe the worst film I’ve seen in years.
Click here to hear my audio review of these films.
Steven Soderbergh is a very popular director whose track record is a bit spotty. At times he’s a brilliant storyteller as Erin Brockovich, Out of Sight, Haywire, Traffic and even Che: Part One and Che: Part Two attest. Other films like Magic Mike, Contagion and the Ocean’s 11 series aren’t so brilliant.
Logan Lucky lands in the former category. It’s a fun heist film with interesting twists and a laugh-out-loud ending. At least I laughed out loud. It’s your option.
Channing Tatum heads an all-star cast that includes Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keogh, Katie Holmes, Dwight Yoakam, Hilary Swank and others and some high profile NASCAR drivers.
Tatum’s Jimmy Logan is divorced and dotes on his precocious daughter. He gets laid off and mad at his company and the world, engineers the robbery of NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600. The excavation company that laid him off just happens to be doing work underneath the race track. All concession money is sucked into a vault via a vacuum tube system that can easily be hacked.
How the heist is pulled off is done in a monotone, comic, almost Jack Webb (check with your grandparents or parents if you don’t recognize the name) “just the facts, m’am,” delivery. It’s delightful as are the perfectly serious, tongue-in-cheek performances. These actors have a blast with Rebecca Blunt’s — who may or may not be a real person — script and story and so will you.
I Do … Until I Don’t
Writer/director/actress Lake Bell is Alice. She’s married to Ed Helms Noah. They own a blind company — blind as in window blinds — and it’s not doing all that well. He inherited the company and he’s running it just like his dad did and it’s not working. She’s a fairly innovative person but all her ideas are shot down so she withdraws.
Another marriage that isn’t doing so well is that of Mary Steenburgin and Paul Riser’s Cybil and Harvey. They have zero communication and are in major disconnect.
Then there’s Alice’s sister’s open marriage and the freedom of that relationship and the reason Vivian is so angry about marriage. And Vivian — it turns out — is the film’s fulcrum and all the characters come together through her desperate need to prove that marriage is awful.
Alice — who thinks Noah is having a thing with her sister — attends a seminar held by Vivian, the afore mentioned documentarian who hates marriage. Thinking Vivian is right on, Alice finds a way to connect with Vivian. She is doing a documentary discussed in the Bell interview and is paying people to be a part of the film. It’s going to be a TV thing that trashes marriage and proves her theory that marriage is antiquated.
Bell’s film is a lot of fun. Though not a household name, you might remember her from the flick she did with Owen Wilson, No Escape. It’s about a couple and their kids in a foreign country when a coup happens and their in extreme danger.
I Do … Until I Don’t takes a number of different views of marriage and explores them. Alice and Noah have the “traditional” marriage. He dominates. She gives in. Neither are really all that happy but they pretend and avoid the discussions they need to have to grow.
The interviews they do with Vivian brings that out.
Steenburgen and Reiser’s couple are at war. You can see the split happening and so can they. Their power struggle also ends up in the clutches of the negative Vivian whose goal is for her to break up with him on live TV and deny that marriage is a good thing.
Bell started writing I Do … Until I Don’t nine years ago when she was single and wondering about whether marriage was a good idea at all. Between starting the writing and completing the movie, she met the love of her life and began to find marriage a bit different than she originally imagined.
The film moves about the same direction and starts with marriage being negative and works its way toward a fun and happy ending. That was deliberate and like most love story comedies — expected. Movies like I Do … Until I Don’t move in a deliberate direction. They go from A down to Z. It’s how they get from A to Z that makes one different from another and that makes one film very good and another not so good.
I Do … Until I Don’t is the former. It’s a pretty complete and comprehensive view of just about every possible marriage scenario and is wrapped into a comedy that features wonderfully fun performances from an excellent cast. Bell’s film asks great questions about marriage and relationships from a number of different angles.
Best of all, her script has a lot of fun with marriage and the plot is well served by the charismatic cast. They all know exactly when to play it tongue-in-cheek and when to ratchet up the drama.
I like it, I Do … Until I Don’t. Or to put it how Dr. Seuss might, I do not not like I Do … Until I Don’t and you won’t.
How much wood could a wood shock shock if a wood shock could shock wood? I know that statement makes no sense. However, in context of the movie Woodshock — which stars Kirsten Dunst — it makes all the sense in the world. Why? Because Woodshock is completely incoherent.
I was so underwhelmed after seeing the film, I told the studio representative at the critic’s screening that it was the worst movie ever done. And that’s ever with a capital E. No let’s make that EVER in complete caps.
That was two weeks ago. Since then I have mellowed somewhat and now no longer consider Woodshock to be the worst movie ever done. That isn’t exoneration. Not even close. The film is still — at best — an incoherent mess and a complete waste of a talented actress but it is not the worst movie ever done.
Did you see Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the Thai movie that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010? That is the worst movie ever done and I’m still flabbergasted that the judges could even stay awake through it much less give it the Palme d’Or.
But they did.
Anyway, I digress. And sadly, I’m not going to be very nice to this movie. It’s one I wanted to like and before I totally tear this one down, I’d like to encourage sisters and writer/directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy to continue to make movies and to try again. I did love — which I will note later — their cinematography, editing and music.
Dunst plays Theresa. At the film’s beginning her mom dies. Theresa is depressed but has a nice boyfriend. Or at least he seems nice. We’re not sure why she doesn’t connect with him better but she doesn’t. Depressed, Theresa doesn’t want to go back to work at the pot shop. Her boss there isn’t so nice. Oh, and that’s pot as in marijuana. And pot as in I suspect the Mulleavys smoked way too much of it while doing the movie.
Okay, that’s not nice. If this was a court I’d apologize to the sisters and tell the judge I withdraw my comment. The movie has a drug-haze incoherence about it. Perhaps that’s on purpose to emphasize Theresa’s confusion. At the same time, it also adds an emphasis to ours. You’ll have a hell of a time trying to figure out what’s going on and why.
Or maybe that’s because after 30-minutes of watching Dunst stare into space and wander aimlessly through the story, you not only won’t be able to figure out what’s going on and why, but you also won’t
Directors like David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, Twin Peaks) and Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, To the Wonder) can do this style and get raves and A-list actors flock to be in them. I am not a big fan of their style either and on many occasions I’ve accused Lynch of dropping acid (LSD) when he starts and movie and coming down about mid-movie and totally changing not only the plot direction but the sexual identity of his characters.
They get away with it but the Mulleavy’s — at least at this point — cannot. The movie making experience of the two sisters is limited. And that’s limited with a capital L. They are best known for doing the ballet costumes for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. The Mulleavy’s also own the high-end clothing label Rodarte. To me it’s a huge leap from designing clothes to designing a good movie.
Dunst’s Theresa is depressed and decides to end her own life by smoking herself to death with a lethal marijuana concoction. A what? A lethal — oh, never mind. It’s time to stop and it is not worth beating the movie any more than I’ve already done.
I know this is a rant but I do have two positives. The music and the cinematography. Peter Flinckenberg’s camera work and Julia Bloch and Dino Jonsater’s editing are stylish and mind-boggling in places. Good work. The music is hypnotic and is a brilliant fit for this young woman’s confusion.
Raeburn, Flinckenberg, Bloch and Jonsater’s exceptional work deserves a better movie and a more coherent plot.
To the sisters I’d say, movie making is not designing costumes. It’s designing something that needs substance. Oh, like a real plot and some interesting dialogue and somewhere to go with both. This is your first try and do try again. The film’s style is riveting.
But all this — again — leads me to my comment to the studio representative and to my original thoughts that this is the worst movie of all time. The music, cinematography and editing saved the film. Period. Oh, it didn’t save it enough to recommend. But it did save Woodshock from being the worst movie ever.
In a way, that’s a positive.
Logan Lucky is rated PG-13 for mature themes.
It gets a 5 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
I Do … Until I Don’t is rated R for mature themes and language.
It gets a 4 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
Woodshock is rated R for mature themes, drug use, language.
It rates a 1/2 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
Got a movie suggestion or comment? Click here to email him.