The Film Fix

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Streaming Selects:

SyFy

Krypton (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)

Handsomely made, but overly morose, “Krypton” is a familiar otherworldly affair.  It’s set on the title planet some 200 years before it explodes and sends us the tiny tike who becomes Superman.  I caught the pilot episode on the SyFy app via my Apple TV. The story concerns the grandfather of Supes named Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), whose family has been stripped of their elite guild status.  One day, he’s visited by Earthling Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos), who tells him that someone is going to destroy his planet.

The mix of political intrigue, high-tech gadgetry, and broad physical violence (highlighted by hand-to-hand combat) is both cheesy (all I need to say is “Brainiac”) and too self-important where it ought to be self-aware.  The narrative introduced in the pilot is busy, yet, still fairly bland. Once again, DC can’t get the tone right to compete with its other comic book cinematic competitors. Although more of a challenge, watch the trippy Marvel series “Legion” instead.

AMC

The Terror (Mondays at 9 p.m.)

If the grueling story of two Royal Navy ships in the 1840s attempting to navigate the Northern Passage doesn’t seem like your kind of thing, think again.  “The Terror,” based on the novel by sci-fi and horror writer Dan Simmons, is part history and all horror, the authentic variety.

Netflix

What to Binge: Toast of London – This Brit import about the misadventures of actor Steven Toast (Matt Berry) is positively addictive.  Co-written and starring the hilarious Berry (from the “IT Crowd”), “Toast of London” starts really strangely and gets better and funnier with each episode.  It’s a quote-worthy experience!

Movie to Movie Check Out: Come Sunday (April 13) – Gifted actor Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Evangelist Carlton Pearson, who has a crisis of faith which alienates him from his large church congregation. This played at Sundance this year.

What to Avoid: Batman & Robin – Netflix has the Burton era of “Batman” films streaming this month, and “Batman & Robin,” directed by Joel Schumacher, has to be the worst of them.  This is the one with George Clooney in the cowl, and Arnold Schwarzenegger cold and hammy.

Hulu

What to Binge: The Handmaid’s Tale (April 25) – If you missed the first season, you have time to catch up before second season drops.  This is the show that helped make Hulu an important purveyor of original content. Hopefully, season two builds on early success.

What Movie to Check Out: 50/50 – What’s funny about cancer? Nothing, you’d think, but Joseph Gordon Levitt and his best pal Seth Rogen play two dudes who manage to laugh in face of death.  And guess what? So will you.

What to Avoid: Ladybugs – The podcast “How Did This Get Made” recently featured this 1992 Rodney Dangerfield movie and pointed out how awfully tone deaf it is.  Watching the story of a boy who dresses like a girl to help a girl’s soccer team win is torture in light of the current climate.

Amazon:

What to Binge: American Gods – If you missed this show when it came out on Starz, you’re in luck, it’s now available on Amazon through their Starz subscription and on an episode by episode purchase basis.  This adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel about old and modern gods (like the god of media, for example) is dark and twisted and oh, so, entertaining.

What Movie to Check Out: 52 Pick-Up – Starring the late Roy Scheider and Ann-Margaret, this John Frankenheimer (“The Manchurian candidate”) film from 1986 still works.  And, hey, it’s an Elmore Leonard adaptation. It might make a nice double bill with “Miami Blues.”

What to Avoid: Fred: The Movie – Lucas Cruikshank (who stars and co-writes here) had his moment by creating squeaky voiced Fred Figglehom, one of the most annoying characters ever to grace the screen.  What may have charmed your really little ones back in 2010 does not work today, trust me. This one registers a zero percent on RottenTomatoes.

Arthouse Corner:

Final Portrait

This one is not for the impatient.  And that’s the point. “Final Portrait” is about a young man named James Lord (Armie Hammer), who sits for a portrait by older artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush).  What Lord thought might take a day, turns into two weeks or more. It’s an endurance test, as Giacometti just can’t decide when the portrait is finished.

Directed well by actor and director Stanley Tucci (see his wonderful “Big Night”), “Final Portrait” can try viewer patience.  But Rush and Hammer are excellent, and Tucci collaborator the charming Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) appears in a significant role.

Theatrical Teasers:

A Quiet Place

Scary and provocative, John Krasinski’s lean sci-fi/horror film “A Quiet Place” is remarkably effective. It’s easily one of the scariest films of 2018.

Clocking in at barely 90 minutes, Krasinski directs and stars along with wife Emily Blunt in this sparse but potent chiller.  And in a case of art imitating real life, in “Place,” they fill out the husband and wife components of the Abbott family, who collectively attempt to remain alive after Earth has been invaded (possibly) by monsters that hunt by sound.  And to keep the family of five breathing, they’ve had to teach their children to play the quiet game—forever.

“A Quiet Place” is a story told on a knife’s edge.  This largely silent film punctuates the stillness with exciting moments of shattering noise.  When you hear something in this movie it is usually a bad thing. However, the script smartly uses both silence and sound to maximum effect, which are, at times, as moving and poignant as they are scary and thrilling.

While the thrills and chills will no doubt satisfy a viewer looking for surface entertainment, the underlying story teases something deeper.  In our chaotic and busy society, we’re inundated by the endless clamor of sounds and often fill any moment of silence with the babel of our own voices that offer little of importance.  Maybe after leaving “A Quiet Place” folks will talk less and communicate more.

 

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