Dual functionality is fun, but for seasoned moviegoers, triple functionality is the icing on the cake.
This holiday season, “Don’t Look Up,” “The Hand Of God” and “The Power Of The Dog” offer 394 minutes of cinematic entertainment, which fans can watch at home on Netflix. None of the films are for children.
SATIRE OF SPACE. “Don’t Look Up” is a dark comedy about the possible end of the world. Probably not a cheerful way to celebrate the spirit of giving, but there are some really solid laughs among the clunkers, and there are clunkers. Fortunately, a stellar cast, with one exception, is fun to watch.
Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a minor astronomer from the heart of the United States, discovers that a planet-killer asteroid is heading towards Earth. Along with his partner in astronomy, Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), they are invited to the White House to meet with President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep).
Sensing the opportunity to appeal to her stubborn supporters and deflect attention from a probable scandal, President Orléans plays quickly and freely with facts, politics and common sense. Councilors and generals are dismayed or above everything.
A sense of chaos ensues and the national shenanigans, as delivered by writer-director Adam McKay, are at times formidable satire and at times blur the thematic traps to nowhere. Protective plots – scientific and personal – are hatched.
Streep is wonderful, and she is joined in her wonder by the hilarious Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry as program hosts on a sheer news channel. The world is going to end, but how can I look at the third camera? And, to Blanchett’s talking head, Dr. Mindy is intriguing and attractive.
DiCaprio, Lawrence, Rob Morgan as a partner, and a bizarre billionaire with a brain full of mechanical fashions and lucrative details played out by Mark Rylance are all enjoyable assets for events. Lawrence’s panic on national television is a glorious treasure. Only Jonah Hill as the president’s son falters. He doesn’t seem to know what his character is about, or even what to do with him.
Does the world stop? Watch the movie. “Don’t Look Up” is more successful than failed, and I really liked it. A word of advice: stick with the credits.
ITALIAN PRIDE AND BEAUTIFUL NAPLES. Here is a little history of international sport. A famous Argentine soccer player named Diego Maradona scored a goal in the 1986 FIFA World Cup which helped Argentina beat England. Did he use his hand or his head? This has come to be known as “the purpose of the hand of God”.
In the movie “The Hand of God”, all of Naples, especially a teenager named Fabietto Schisa, are spurred on by the idea that Maradona could sign with that city’s main team. The young Fabietto is fortunate to have three passions: cinema, music and football. He would most certainly be a typical 1980s teenager almost anywhere in the world.
The film, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, is rooted in his own life. During the first hour, we are introduced to the Schisa family. Along with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, extended relatives, and extremely close friends, they make a loving, yet confusing, group at times. A relative pushes the boundaries of nudity and good taste. There is a mystical figure who seems to have a strange hold on others.
Fabietto’s older brother Marchino wants to become an actor. Fabietto is delighted that filmmaker Federico Fellini himself is launching a new film in Naples. As in all of Italy, Fabietto is surrounded by delicious cuisine. He also enjoys a comfortable home thanks to his particularly interesting parents.
Sorrentino’s film reinforces its episodic story as it goes, and it carefully begins to focus on the essential details. Halfway through, tragedy hits the Schisas and it’s a dramatic secret that you must keep while talking about the film.
Fabietto, who is superbly played by Filippo Scotti, has an important decision to make. The emotional peak of the story lies in her choice. Scotti received the Emerging Actor Award at the recent Venice Film Festival. He deserved it.
For the next Oscars, “The Hand Of God” should be nominated for Best International Film. I’ve seen all of the main entrances, and the film is an exceptional expression of the power of memories.
The management of Sorrentino is perfect. Its cinematographer, Daria D’Antonio, captured Naples beautifully. The film focuses on a united family, but in its narrative it unfolds like an epic.
WESTERN MACHISMO. The title of the movie “The Power of God” comes from a verse from the Bible. This jarring western, set in Montana in 1925, follows the tangles of the wealthy Burbank brothers, who are ranchers. George (Jesse Plemons) and Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) are as different as night and day.
George will fall in love with Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), owner of an inn who plays the piano and will declare his love to her. Phil is one of the most miserable humans you can meet. He’s rude, loud, and mean, and doesn’t think about slamming his banjo when sweet Rose tries to play some soft music.
Why is Phil unhappy and why does he treat people so badly? This is the secret contained in the film, which is one of the most atmospheric you will ever see. Even Ari Wegner’s cinematography is at odds with humanity. Harsh yellow and muddy brown color tones predominate.
Rose has a teenage son named Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who has his own secrets, which play out in his head. He wants to study medicine one day. He spends his time making paper flowers and examining animal remains found on the beach. Phil’s behavior towards Peter is brutal. The boy has a lisp and elegant manner that belies masculinity. However, Peter is a fascinating character because he seems to come out of the mythological tales that the cowboys on the track remember.
Jane Campion, the writer-director of “The Power Of God”, obviously thinks her film is poetic. It is based on a 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage. In truth, what Campion offers does not reach the level necessary to be considered great cinematographic poetry. A figure creating symbolism from rawhide is not a very interesting allegory.
The director got good performances from Plemons, Dunst and Smith-McPhee, but her inability to subdue Cumberbatch, whose bellicosity becomes absurd, tilts the film to the side. We get it, he’s a horrible person, a bubbling cauldron of toxic masculinity. Cumberbatch’s performance should grab your attention, but it seems overly mannered and forced. You can see him act.
The film was shot in New Zealand, whose low, gentle mountains are a poor, mossy, Shire-like substitute for the majestic Montana vistas.
Like the herd of cattle that feed the Burbank coffers, “The Power Of God” is a surge that is not substantial. There are moments that grab your attention, but in the end, the movie seems unimportant.
Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette and the CNHI News Network. Contact him at [email protected]