We belong to the Netflix DVD service. Our entertainment center isn’t set up for streaming. We don’t want to stream. Period.
I don’t know what is wrong with Netflix these days, however. I have half a dozen films (most films very recent, one we missed two decades ago that we want to see) reserved in my queue and all marked by Netflix “Unavailable.”
Our lovely little local library has opened up from being locked down (we’re in the San Francisco Bay area) and the library has a decent selection of movie DVDs, which can checked out for (I think) three weeks for free. (I pay plenty of property taxes that go to support the libraries, so it’s not *really* free.) Sometimes, though, the disc is scratched or otherwise stops right in the middle of the movie. So there’s a downside to checking out library movies.
If Netflix doesn’t improve on acquiring and making available DVDs (and I intend to speak with their customer representative), I’ll have to look for another DVD rental service.
If you use one, can you recommend an alternative DVD service?
All right. So the July movies were not my first choices. Not even my second choices. The Hollywood Reporter had positive things about the films I chose but, in retrospect, the notices were paid for by the film’s producers. Therefore, somewhat suspect.
First up, “Jumanji: The Next Level.” We saw the first Jumanji years ago when it was released. This movie takes its time to set up the complicated plot with its multiple characters, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t really remember the first movie well, so appreciated the story setup. (A note to writers: I know the how-to-write rackets instruct you to start with a dynamic sentence, and that’s a good strategy, but don’t be in a hurry to rush your story out. Sometimes it’s good to take your time.)
Once we understand what Jumanji: The Next Level is and who the characters are, and they physically upload into the game (kind of like telespace, in my Arachne Trilogy), the action takes off. The film is endlessly inventive, funny, fun, and totally entertaining. There are references to “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Clash of the Titans,” and “Lord of the Rings.” There’s even a tear-jerker emotional denouement, followed by a humorous epilogue.
Recommended, especially for fans of fantasy and gamers.
I wish I could the same of the other two movies, but I can’t.
I generally like the previous work of Michelle Pfeiffer. The Hollywood Reporter article commented that her acting was commendable in this film. She plays the lead in “French Exit.” Unpleasantly too-skinny (she smokes throughout the movie and drinks hard booze so I guess that’s the point), she is the thoroughly unpleasant Frances Price, a semi-crazy socialite woman long widowed from her wealthy husband. When she goes to see her lawyer-financial advisor, he tells her she is broke. “What would have me do?” she asks. He tells her to sell everything, including her fancy three-story Manhattan townhouse. She bounces checks so much that her maid asks her to pay her in cash, please.
It was hard for me to sympathize with her plight after she announces, “I’ve never worked a day in my life.”
That completely lost me. I’ve been working since I was a teenager, have a deep respect for work and a deeper respect for money, especially money earned and saved through your own efforts.
When the character goes to dinner with one of her wealthy friends, the friend suggests she stay for free in the empty Paris apartment the friend owns.
She takes ship to Paris with her son, an even more unpleasant character. A full-grown, able-bodied young man, he sponges off his mother like she sponged off the inheritance her husband left her.
The movie includes touches of magical realism—she holds seances twice to “speak” with her dead husband—but instead of interesting, the scenes are ridiculous. Likewise with the plot twist that her dead husband has been incarnated into a cat.
I can’t fathom why the half dozen little producers wanted to make this movie. As a producer, I would never have invested in the project. The story has no “redeeming value” for me.
Not recommended except for enthusiastic fans of Michelle Pfeiffer.
Last up, Promising Young Woman. Cassie lives with her parents, works as a barista at a tiny coffee shop, has dropped out of medical school. That’s the backstory, which gets established later.
The film opens with three young men in a swinging nightclub observing Cassie alone, a pretty blond woman and clearly falling-down drunk. One young man offers to escort her home, instead takes her to his apartment and begins to undress her when she lies, seemingly drunk, on his bed. But she’s not really drunk.
Cassie has a “secret life” at night, according to the film’s coy synopsis.
I don’t usually do this but the plot twist is revealed in the film’s first ten or fifteen minutes. PLOT SPOILER ALERT: She kills him. She’s a serial killer of men. She tabulates his murder in her little black book, which records many other murders.
I suppose this is a radical feminist statement about male violence against women but had I known this was the movie’s plot, I would never have rented it. And I LIKE The Silence of the Lambs and The Little Things.
After the first revelation about Cassie, the plot goes downhill from there. At the café she DOES meet a nice man who went to medical school with her and is now a doctor. He is a promising romantic partner. But there’s no redemption for Cassie.
Not recommended except for fans of the weird, serial killers, and the violent.
So there you have it, my friends. You win some, you lose some.
In fairness to the latter two movies, Tom said he was entertained by them. So there’s that.
Enjoy your Movie Night!
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