11 Jun 2015

At The Movies 598

From At The Movies, 7:30 pm on 11 June 2015

Simon Morris reviews two under-performing American comedy-dramas:Aloha, starring Bradley Cooper, and the movie spin-off of the TV series Entourage. He also discovers the Estonian Oscar nominee Tangerines is as good as everyone says it is.

The big picture with Simon Morris

I can’t tell you what a relief it is when a decent movie comes along. The recent drought has been pretty dire, and it’s only my generally sunny outlook that prevented me from assuming it would never end.

Certainly the word in the trade papers has been far from optimistic, blaring their warnings of more revivals of comic-book properties that had already worn out their welcome. Hello again Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Aquaman and the gloomy prospect of Batman fighting Superman. 

There are also got some desperate remakes of films that hardly needed making again, surely – Point Blank, Ghostbusters, Independence Day and Poltergeist.

It’s all a depressing indication that Hollywood has lost the plot – or more to the point, it’s forgotten how to make new ones. But maybe it’s a bit too soon to announce its death, even if the old formula – make it big, make it familiar and fill it up with stars – isn’t working right now. The usual defence is still true - there’s nothing wrong with Hollywood that can’t be fixed with a few good films. Even if they don’t come from America.

The good news this week comes from as far from Lala Land as it’s possible to get – a little gem from Southern Russia, starring nobody anyone’s ever heard of. Tangerines is everything you want from a movie – it’s touching, it’s exciting, it’s funny and it’s about something.

But this week also offered two smaller films from America that suggest what is going wrong in the former movie capital of the world.

Entourage is actually about the idle rich of Hollywood – out of work actors, scrabbling agents, stars who think they should be directors - all partying as if they meant something. 

And a similar sense of entitlement pervades the latest film by one-time wonder-boy Cameron Crowe. It’s called Aloha, and it’s about… Well frankly, I’m not sure what it’s about.