The Book of Henry is certainly not a good film, but calling it a bad one doesn’t seem to fit; it falls short of the mark, but not in the way a truly bad film does. Rather, it fails to answer two vital questions—who is it for, and what is it about?—and it’s hard to imagine anyone being satisfied with the end result.
I decided to break the final batch of capsule reviews into two: this contains all the remaining films which I ranked *** or less; the final batch, which you’ll get in the next day or two, will contain all the ***½ and **** films. This list, however, does contain two Best Picture nominees and three films nominated in other categories.
Please also note that these reviews may contain spoilers for the films in question.
Sometimes, you see a film at the exact right moment and it hits the exact right buttons so as to send you out on a cloud, convinced you’ve seen a great film, certain you’ve got a new favorite to add to your repertoire, and eager to evangelize about its virtues to the world.
Don’t Think Twice is such a film. I needed so warm and funny a film the day I saw it (more precisely, the specific time of that day), and based on my experiences of doing improv comedy in college, and my knowledge of what is to be a performing artist, it rang entirely true. It may not be a perfect film, and no future viewing is likely to benefit from the circumstances which made this one so uniquely rewarding, but it is an excellent film and one I can heartily recommend.
There’s not much to say about The BFG, as it is quite frankly Spielberg’s slightest film in a long while, and a decided come-down after the excellent Bridge of Spies. That is still a decent film, and at least free of the stodgy tastefulness which marred some of his other recent output, is at best a mild comfort, but it will have to do.
Deadpool may ultimately be more a triumph of context than of merit. I personally appreciate the huge bird it’s flipped the MPAA (and the fact that the film-going public, for once to their credit, seconded that salute), and the dedication on the part of its producers, and especially its star, to get such a gleefully graphic and subversive film made as part of a blockbuster franchise, more than I do its own dramatic strengths.
Don’t get me wrong: when Deadpool works, it does work, thanks in large part to Reynolds, who throws himself wholly into the role, never missing a step as he spouts off quip after quip. Even if you find Deadpool’s humor a mite tiresome at times, especially since the film around him provides only fleeting relief, it’s hard to deny that Reynolds is the primary factor in its success.
It’s not always clear whether Lamb really is a tale of a Love Too Pure For This World, or whether its protagonists merely think they’re acting one out, but that’s all part of its troubling fascination. It’s a film where the context and given circumstances are everything; scenes which would otherwise be charming and tender are instead incredibly tense, knowing what we know.
It’s the first film I’ve seen which I’m counting towards 2016, and it starts the year off fairly well. It’s definitely not for all tastes; my screening had three total attendees, including me–and the other two walked out before the film was finished. It’s no wonder that Lamb has made less than $15,000 to date. But, for all its faults, I found it to be very moving indeed.
But it didn’t. It’ll be shaking up the dollar theaters when the summer blockbusters are rolling out. It might add some awards to its obscene tally. It will probably keep J.J. Abrams in clover until Doomsday if he retires tomorrow.
But all that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is the film itself. And not being a Star Wars buff (not in a contrarian sense, I just didn’t grow up with them), I was able to enjoy the film on its own merits. And you know something? I did.