Friday This ‘n’ That – Violence in the Cinema Edition

I went to see Sicario the other day and enjoyed myself but there was an incident at the theater.

I actually missed about ten minutes in the middle of the movie as a fist fight broke out. One patron decided the theater was his personal living room and starting using his cellphone, another patron objected verbally, and shortly after, sound effects behind me are echoing what was onscreen.  I got up but several closer people had already separated them so I got management.

The incident was resolved quickly. After the movie finished and people started leaving, management was on hand to give out return passes. My wife was concerned when I told her but for all the talk of cinema violence, I have gone to the movies constantly for over four decades and have seen just this one fight and one drunk and disorderly a few years back.

I am refraining from naming the theater(s) involved as I would not want them to get a reputation over an incident. Violence is obviously unacceptable (on either part of the equation) but also

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE at the movies – everyone else paid for a ticket too. Act like an adult – don’t kick the chair in front of you because you want to put your feet up. Don’t talk during the feature. This is not your living room. If you are incapable of simple human decency, for goodness sakes, stay home.

 

Sicario – Prisoners Part Deux

I spent a wonderful day at the movies last week. Sicario is currently playing in theaters.

Sicario

Sicario (2015) – Rated R

An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.”

I had heard a lot about director Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners before seeing it. I had heard that it was complex, nuanced, and uncompromising among other good things. It was a pretty decent film and he did get several very good performances from his cast but I didn’t really find it hype-worthy. Basically, Villeneuve stepped a little outside of the Hollywood mold but definitely not far enough.

Later, I saw the Israeli film, Big Bad Wolves. It was everything that Prisoners should have been – uncompromising, thrilling, and thought-provoking. It is currently available on instant Netflix so go watch it now, but for goodness sakes turn off your devices and pay attention.

Emily Blunt plays FBI Agent Kate Macer. I loved her as the subversive lead in the generically titled Edge of Tomorrow (a full year before Charlize Theron pulled the same trick in Mad Max Fury Road). To digress for a moment, Edge of Tomorrow is such a generic title that not only did it do poorly at the box office but when it received a home release, they rebranded it as “Live. Die. Repeat.”. To this day, many people think that is the name of the film. After all, it is actually in larger print than the title.

Emily Blunt is just as good here. She has a wonderful ability to project toughness without having it hinder her acting. Josh Brolin plays, well, a Josh Brolin-esque government agent named Matt Graver. He is a good solid actor but lately his parts can pretty much be defined as “Texan…”. He is a Texan mountain climber in Everest. Here he is a mysterious Texan agent. Unfortunately, there is no stretching of his acting abilities.

Benicio del Toro is suitably enigmatic, charming, and menacing as Alejandro. He is another actor who can act quite well but is often cast in roles he can walk through. In Sicario, his character is given a complex backstory BUT since the story isn’t really about him, it is glossed over and mostly delivered, disappointingly, as exposition.

Herein lies the crux of Denis Villeneuve’s issues. He is a director with a lot of good ideas and able to get good performances out of actors BUT he lacks subtlety and nuance. He wants to make sure audiences get it so many things are delivered by expository dump. That said the opening sequence is a stunner. The rest of the film is quite good but definitely by-the-numbers as Agent Macer gradually realizes how in-over-her-head she is and what lengths both sides are willing to take.