Boredom Movie Binge

I had written back before this site was even on Squarespace about binging movies while I was sick since I don’t normally have the attention span to feel like I’m doing a movie justice; I’m too busy being a millenial who needs to check his phone at least once every 45 seconds. On a somewhat related note, I just got a new phone (look for a post on that in the near future), and I’m not so sure about this whole Digital Wellbeing thing. That being said, I took a break from staring at the smaller screen in my hand a couple of weekends ago to instead stare at the much larger screen in front of my couch. I just randomly felt like hitting up some movies so I ended up powering through 5 of them in a single weekend. These are all fairly new movies having been released in 2019, and all with the exception of one are currently available on Netflix, with the outlier film being available on HBO. I’ve also not looked at any critical response to any of these films so we’ll see how well my taste holds up.

The Perfection

I had heard about this movie over the noise it generated from scenes in it being so visceral that they literally made viewers sick. Brandi had actually watched it on her own a few days after I saw those articles, though, and mentioned it to me one day. She said that it didn’t have the effect on her, but that there was one scene near the end that did make her cringe. When I ended up doing this marathon I braced for the worst… and it actually wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected from that perspective. There are some scenes where a character vomits, but it wasn’t really as nausea-inducing as some of the news articles would make you expect.

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The plot was at least interesting, and the ending goes in a very different direction from what you’d expect at the half-way mark. If you’re a fan of twists then you’ll find The Perfection fun if nothing else. The acting was fairly well done, though some of the dialog will make you cringe worse than the vomit scene. Also, Brandi was correct; there’s one scene right before the end of the film that is made my hair stand out, and it was physically difficult to watch. I won’t spoil it, but don’t let that stop you from watching if you think it sounds interesting otherwise.

The Highwaymen

Because the universe needed another film about Bonnie and Clyde, right? As someone who has read Bryan Burrough’s Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, though, I was at least interested in seeing a film possibly take a more realistic approach to the couple than the films which glamorized them. Burrough described them as:

“Murderous children who longed for the big time, Bonnie and Clyde have garnered an artistic and cultural relevance in death they never found or deserved in life.”

If you read the book, you won’t disagree.

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I also figured it was worth a watch since I’m generally a fan of Woody Harrelson… though much less a fan of Kevin Costner. Refreshingly, the film focus mostly on the unorthodox investigation of the two protagonists and the limitations of state-run investigations at the time that made the birth of the FBI at the time fairly important. It also emphasized the undeserved attention that Bonnie and Clyde received from the public as they evaded law enforcement while making a point of not focusing on them as individuals; you don’t even see the faces of either until the final scene where they are killed. I don’t think that’s a spoiler by this point, kind of like the ending to Titanic.

Triple Frontier

I admittedly hadn’t even heard of this movie; it just happened to show up as a recommendation from Netflix. Looking into it a little, it seemed to have a lot going for it. A cast that included Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, and Pedro Pascal? Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, as an executive producer? That was enough for me to spend 125 minutes of my life watching it.

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At the film’s conclusion, though, I feel like the ensemble was literally the only thing that kept it palatable. The entire plot just felt wonky to me. A bunch of former special forces soldiers, most of whom seem to have a lackluster life after leaving the service, get back together to rob a Colombian drug kingpin while the greed of one of them absolutely ruins everything and ultimately costs him his life. I choose to think that maybe the film was trying to make a statement about how poorly the country takes care of the soldiers who have served it. Otherwise, Ben Affleck’s character makes me want to scream at the TV. The guy has just spent years failing in real-estate, but at the flip of a switch he’s screaming at everyone else to blow their entire plan for cleanly robbing this drug kingpin because the millions of dollars they’ve already stolen aren’t enough and he wants more? And then he crashes a helicopter because the money is more important than safety? And then he shoots villagers because the money is more important than someone’s life?

Don’t get me wrong… I’m sure if I had the opportunity for a bunch of money I’d want to take advantage of it, too. But I also think that for most people you’re going to hit a threshold where it’s so much money that the numbers no longer even make sense. For someone making less than $100,000 a year, if you’re suddenly faced with getting $50 million or $100 million, I’m sure you want $100 million… but $50 million would also make you set. Do you risk getting no money for a chance at an extra $50 million that you won’t have any clue what to do with?

At least the acting was good outside of one character being complete nonsense.

Deadwood: The Movie

As a fan of the Deadwood television series, I had been looking forward to this since it was announced. I had briefly considered re-watching the series, but coming off of doing that exact same thing for Game of Thrones (and look how well that turned out…) I didn’t want to do it again. I hadn’t done much research into the film, so while I knew that they were going to get the majority of the original cast back, I was curious how they would account for the time that had gone by; after all the series ended in 2006. Thankfully, the answer was that it simply took place about a decade after the series ended… which is good since I think the content of the show is a little too serious for them to a pull a Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

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To be completely honest, my inner fanboy was happy with the film the literal second that I got to see Ian McShane reprising the role of Al Swearengen. Keeping things relevant with the series, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it featured the return of George Hearst, now a United States Senator but still a full-time scumbag, in the Black Hills. I was happy that fans got to get as much closure as they would with the Hearst story without completely ignoring history. Hearst was never going to be killed in Deadwood (despite everyone pining for exactly that) since that isn’t what happened in real life, but it’s at least more cathartic than the series ending of “I guess he just got away with everything?”

The ending, however, was extremely sad. I won’t spoil it, but brace yourself. The only good part is that the entire movie builds up to it, so at least you won’t be caught off guard.

The Silence

The final film of my marathon, this one basically struck me as being spiritually related to my much-hated Bird Box. Instead of being unable to see, as was the case in Bird Box, the protagonists in this film can’t make noise due to some sort of prehistoric terror being unleashed on the world which preys on noise. I was hoping that it could use the same basic idea of Bird Box but not, you know, suck. Also, I said “use” rather than “take” because, much like Bird Box, The Silence is based on a novel. While the novel for Bird Box was released in 2014, the novel for The Silence was released in 2015. There’s no way the author for The Silence read Bird Box, stole the idea, and hammered out a novel in a single year, so let’s shut down that idea right now. Also, it starred Kiernan Shipka, aka Sally Draper from Mad Men, so I figured I would check it out.

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After watching the film, I can’t help but feel the same way I did after watching Bird Box. I’d really like to read the book, as I feel like the idea was interesting but the execution was poor. Even for a story that’s literally about flying monsters that have lived below the surface of the Earth in utter darkness who prey on sound being unwittingly unleashed upon the planet by some hapless cave explorers, so many things in the movie just felt like too much.

The hook to the story is that Shipka’s character became deaf after an accident. As a result, she and her family have overcome that by learning sign language. The entire movie is based on the idea that because of this, they can live in silence. Maybe there’s first-hand insight that I’m lacking, but this makes no sense to me at all. They know sign language and thus don’t need to speak. I’ll give the plot that; there are many instances where signing instead of speaking is hugely valuable to the characters. Other than that, though… I don’t think you just cease to make sound because a member of your family is deaf. At one point in the film the family posts up in a house they’ve stumbled across, and it seems like they stay there for a day or two in order to recover while Shipka and Stanley Tucci go out in search of medicine. How do you prepare food without making sound? How do you shit without making sound? What would’ve happened if grandma started to snore in her sleep? Thank fuck no one in this family has allergies.

On top of that, the film covers a matter of days after the creatures are first set loose; we’re not going into months of years. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it means that the core of the planet is actually filled with these creatures rather than iron because from a tiny hole in a cave there are enough of them to quite literally engulf entire cities. Seems legit. I wonder what they’ve been eating down there. Second, there are some pretty intense lunatics in the world, as the film’s main antagonist ends up not being the creatures but a weird cult which is obsessed with Kiernan because she’s deaf. This cult is pretty dedicated to silence as they’ve cut out their tongues. Because that makes sense on day #2 of the sound apocalypse, right? Jump straight to cutting out your own tongue… which still isn’t going to save you when you have to sneeze or you’ve got the shits. They’ve also done this before learning sign language themselves. They aren’t the smartest bunch anyway, because they’re obsessed with Shipka’s character due to the fact that, and this is a literal quote, “she’s fertile.” She’s also deaf from an accident rather than genetics. This is quite obviously the worst cult in film history.

Just like with Bird Box, I think the idea is interesting, but the execution of the film was just awful. I'll be curious if the book does a better job. It’s also worth mentioning that, despite the holes in the plot, I felt that the acting from Shipka and Tucci was especially good. Similar to Triple Frontier, I feel like the acting saved it from being a film I just stopped watching before the end.

If you’re looking to watch one of these films and wondering which would be best, I would say Deadwood: The Movie if you’re already a fan of the series. If you’ve never watched the series, though, then most of the film won’t make sense. Barring that, I’d give the nod to The Perfection for having the most interesting plot. Just pretend like some of the more cringe-worthy dialog didn’t happen. On that note, I’ll now return to my film-moratorium until the next time I feel like killing a few days since that’s apparently the only way I can watch movies. Stay pink!