Collateral Beauty: Time for Love & Death to Take a Holiday

 Mirren Kills'em.jpg Mirren Kills’em

DATELINE:  Bereavement Hallucinations

Every once in a while a movie comes along that invites insult and derision. This time it is  Will Smith’s dramedy called Collateral Beauty.

It has echoes of so many other, better stories, that we aren’t sure where to begin the diagnosis.

From the trailer you might believe this is a fantasy film on the lines of Love, Death, and Time, Meet in New York. You’d have been deceived, sort of.

A depressed man, dealing with the death of his child of six, has business associates that want to have evidence to commit him to a looney bin.

So, they arrange for actors to play Love, Death, and Time, to pay him a visit. It’s Gaslight—but as Helen Mirren, playing Death, discovers in the course of the movie, no one remembers that classic film, known for its good acting. No one will remember this one for that same reason.

When you start out with some of the most unlikable characters all woven into one plot, you are already behind the Oscar voting. Will Smith knows about being overlooked for a good performance—and lets his natural gray hairs show his love for acting this time as the movie lay dying.

We presume this is a cautionary tale—but we aren’t quite sure if we are being warned about sneaky business partners, cruel fate, or bloated self-pity. There is plenty of that stuff to go around in this movie. Just call it a sentimental journey.

Here’s the rub: you probably will watch it and hate yourself in the morning, which may be the opposite emotion the film wants you to have. It preaches at the audience enough to cause a backlash.

You may actually begin to think those “actors” playing at Death, Love, and Time, may be the real thing, like a coven of witches hanging out in the Big Apple for laughs.

At one point, Helen Mirren says, “This is not Noel Coward. It’s more like Chekhov.”  Yes, the movie never falls short on lofty pretensions. You could do worse.

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Concussed and Cussed Out by the NFL

DATELINE: Inside the NFL

 

Concussion is our kind of movie. If you want to see the NFL receive its comeuppance—or if you want to understand why they are persecuting Tom Brady, see this movie.

This muckraker movie is about Dr. Bennet Omalu—an earnest and dedicated doctor who never played football and his one-man quest to tip the windmill of the NFL.

If you hate the NFL, this film will be your cup of tea laced with hemlock.

Actually, the doctor who discovered the Steelers’ players were suffering from a syndrome of lifetime concussions was a pathologist working for the great Dr. Cyril Wecht, the man who tried to blow the lid off the Kennedy Assassination coverup. There is no reference to his past—though Albert Brooks plays him with fervor and his office is filled with Kennedy pictures.

Only those who know will know.

We also took from this film that Will Smith wuz robbed of an Oscar, or at least of an Oscar nomination. His performance as a Nigerian doctor with an arm’s length of degrees is a delight.

Dr. Omalu is the sort of immigrant you want to invite into the country. He actually believes in the American Dream, even if it takes down Roger Goodell and the NFL.

If you want to see some of the twisted logic behind the Brady persecution, you can see it here. This is a sports league that is utterly paranoid and completely deluded.

An all-star cast brings this movie to life. We expected to see NFL bag men, hit men, underbosses, and other mobsters—but you can only go so far –without the guys who own one day of the week starting to play rough and fit you for cement overshoes.

Come to think of it: wasn’t Jimmy Hoffa allegedly buried under a goal post?

Those Black Suited Men Again

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DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

To jump feet first into the third movie in a series is being a daredevil behind the eightball. So, with some trepidation, we took in Men in Black 3 without ever having seen the earlier two movies. It did not tax our film watching abilities.

These popular films have been around long enough that we have some sense of the general plot and characters. Two secret government agents in black suits go around the world covering up all the alien life forms that inject themselves into society.

The public sees outlandish events and is given amnesia by the government to keep the secret.

The movie filled my expectations as being frenetic, noisy, and overwhelmed with special effects. Indeed, we speculate that the computer-generated scenes occur within every thirty seconds.

This is the slime school of movie making, holding over from puerile kid shows on TV. Disgusting vomit and gizzards fly everywhere. Let’s face it: we are not exactly fans of the style, but we can on occasion watch something akin to the Austin Powers movies without losing our dinner.

This sequel entails Will Smith forced to time travel into 1969 to find the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones, his laconic partner. The role of young Tommy Lee is perfectly limned by Josh Brolin in a masterful impersonation down to the tiniest details of Jones’s experessions.

For that reason alone, the film is worth appreciating. There were a few hints of wit and whimsy about the sixties, but a steady diet of movies like this will send us to the Moon faster than Ralph Kramden.

Everyone seems to be an alien in an ultimate conspiracy, and those of us who are not must be fairly dumb to not see it. There’s nothing like fans smitten with a movie series that seriously discounts their intelligence.

This is a P.T. Barnum kind of movie—and no one associated with the franchise has gone broke—excepting those who paid to see this space junk.

Read some of the best movie insights in MOVIE MASHUP or MOVIES TO SEE–OR NOT TO SEE, two books now available on Amazon.com in softcover or e-book formats.