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Old 06-26-2022, 11:14 AM
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TrueFaith77 TrueFaith77 is offline
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38.Jerry & Marge Go Large (David Frankel); grade: C
39.Spiderhead (Joseph Kosinski); grade: F
40.Hustle (Jeremiah Zagar); grade: B


Three new semi-streaming movies deal with characters seeking redemption. Each of them hinges on the persona of its lead actors as movie stars. Jerry & Marge Go Large superficially subverts Bryan Cranston's Walter White from Breaking Bad. He's still the smartest person in the room, but this time rather than justifying a fascist amorality based on intellectual superiority, Cranston redeems a retiree's intelligence by extending the gains he makes cracking the lottery code to aid his community (at the suggestion of his wife played by Annette Bening--a liberal paragon). Just when you think Cranston is going to enact super-smart vengeance on a rival, Harvard gang of professional lottery players, he gives a speech about the value of community. Unfortunately, the film lacks the sense of economic reality, personal idiosyncrasy, and moral rigor that Nia Vardalos brought to Larry Crowne and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Vardalos is the only auteur of modern American economic crisis--I'll apply the word "genius"--while Jerry & Marge director never really challenges his actors' significance because the characters never get confronted with the inherent exploitation of the lottery system upon which their gains depend. In Oblivion and Top Gun: Maverick, Kosinski uses sci-fi gambits to explore the moral facets of Tom Cruise's persona. However, the sci-fi muddle of Spiderhead features non-stars Miles Teller and Chris Hemsworth, who both lack the charisma, gravitas, and mystery of true movie stars. Instead, they signify overgrown petulance and over-muscled blandness--thus appealing to franchise-movie audiences. Their characters' values get challenged first by experimental drugs that manipulate or stifle individual impulses for the purposes of total control and, then, by their ability to forgive a mother jailed for fatally neglecting her child; she's played by Jurnee Smollett whose only significance here is borrowed from her brother's public shame. The claustrophobic, neo-fascist setting betrays the worst of Netflix high-concept filmmaking and reveals Kosinki's unremarkable craftsmanship and limited imagination. Finally, Adam Sandler continues his prolific Netflix contract with Hustle by going into semi-serious mode. Instead of his superb team of comedy filmmakers, here Sandler collaborates with faux artsy Jeremiah Zagar who specializes in lower-class miserabalism. Sandler--the actor-as-auteur--transcends Zagar's verite aesthetic. His need to redeem the mistakes of his own past manifests itself in the care and guidance--the love--he imparts to a gifted unknown basketball player (played by Juancho Hernangomez). It's as if playing a basketball scout expresses Sandler's artistic quest to discover human value in unlikely, vulgar scenarios. In the film, Sandler's fatherly care for Hernangomez conveys the beauty of redemption.
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Last edited by TrueFaith77; 06-26-2022 at 11:28 AM..
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