The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her

Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis, William Hurt, and Isabelle Huppert all in the same flick. What’s not to love? Unfortunately, Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her suffers from a weak and hackneyed plot.

I really wanted to like Eleanor Rigby: Her because it’s one of three films that tell the same story. Its companions are The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Cool concept, right?

There were some great scenes featuring Chastain/Davis and Chastain/Hurt, but otherwise, I was bored. I found myself paying more attention to Chastain’s swell wardrobe and fantastic hair cut. [She was making me miss my red hair!]

Maybe I’ll enjoy The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him more? Maybe I would have liked Her if McAvoy had his Scottish accent? Or at least an English one? Alas, alack.

SPOILER ALERT!

I recently re-watched The Accidental Tourist, starting Hurt and Geena Davis. I saw it at least a couple of times when I was a kid and became emotionally attached to the score by John Williams. I even learned some of it by ear and would play it on the piano. Anyhow, I digress. Back on track now!

While watching Eleanor Rigby: Her, I thought it was interesting to see Hurt playing the grieving grandfather rather than the grieving father. And then I thought, “I wish I was watching The Accidental Tourist instead!”

END SPOILER

Verdict: Watch the first season of The Affair and The Accidental Tourist instead. Though I might soldier through Eleanor Rigby: Him because I quite like that McAvoy chap.

Batman: The Killing Joke

In July 2016, I was at San Diego Comic-Con when Batman: The Killing Joke premiered. I wasn’t in attendance for the screening because Ehlers-Danlos syndrome has limited my ability to stand in long lines. But after B:TKJ was shown, I spotted its screenwriter, Brian Azzarello, doing a signing at the Image Comics booth.

Well, it would have been a signing if Azzarello was signing anything.

No one was in line for Azzarello. I was waiting for a signing by Paper Girls artist Cliff Chiang. I kinda smiled at Azzarello. He gave me a funny look and said, “I like your dress.” I was wearing a Batwoman DC Bombshells dress. I said thanks.

I didn’t understand the funny look at the time. Later that day, a friend told me about the uproar over B:TKJ. The SDCC audience did not like the film and voiced their opinions loudly.

But hey! I like Azzarello. He’s funny when he’s on panels. Check out this photo of him plotting his next entertaining quip at Boston Comic-Con 2013.

Aaron Lopresti, Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, and Brian Azzarello at Boston Comic-Con 2013. Photo by Amy Galante

As a librarian who has spent time in a wheelchair, I feel a kinship with Barbara Gordon. I felt obligated to checkout this adaptation. I also felt guilty because in 2016, I interviewed Alan Moore and he was such a sweetheart.

My verdict: Barbara Gordon’s head-over-heels crush on Batman wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Her interactions with her library co-worker were cute. Still, this Barbara Gordon was more appropriate for DC Super Hero Girls.

I thought that the B:TKJ animation was shoddy. I watch a fair amount of animation. I guess I’m spoiled by Pixar, Studio Ghibli, and Laika.

Moving beyond the animation, I tried to be open-minded. I was looking forward to hearing The Joker voiced by Mark Hamill. He nailed it. I kept thinking of when Hamill read, in his evil villain voice, a tweet posted by Donald Trump.

The creepiest part of all was Ray Wise, as a naked Jim Gordon, yelling, “Where is my daughter?!?” I’m sure that some folks could hear that and not think of Wise’s role as Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, but I’m not one of those folks. I expected to hear Grace Zabriskie at any point.

But … yeah. For a not-for-kids animated feature, it lacked a more mature plot, dialogue, and animation. When it did try to push the envelope, it was just gross; it looked like a Saturday morning cartoon with nudity.

Review: Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon is what an action-drama should be. Disclosure: I’m a Peter Berg flunky (“Clear Eyes! Full Hearts!”). I even own Battleship, but who doesn’t like a movie that stars Tim Riggins, Eric Northman, and actual Navy veterans?

What impressed me the most about Deepwater Horizon were the sets. After the movie,  I watched all of the bonus features and learned about how much were actual “live” affects. Flames, explosions, geysers of mud … they even built their own mini rig on the water! Say what you will about Berg, but the man is extremely passionate and doesn’t half-ass things (I met him once, and he was a wee bit intimidating).

Deepwater Horizon director Peter Berg (R) promoting Battleship with Alexander Skarsgard (L) and Brooklyn Decker (center) at WonderCon 2012

John Malkovich oozes creepiness. His character personifies corporate greed and his accent is kinda amazing. Thankfully, my hometown boy, Mark Wahlberg, made no attempt to sound southern. Maybe just slightly less Dorchester.

If you’re keeping track, this film rounds out Kurt Russell’s Trio of Movies with Facial Hair (Hateful Eight and Bone Tomahawk being the first two). I can never unsee what I saw in Bone Tomahawk. Never. You should watch it.

Deepwater Horizon felt like a good tribute/depiction of the actual events. Berg wanted people to remember that there wasn’t just an oil spill (the worst in our nation’s history) but that lives were lost. Sure, they take liberties, but I’m not so close to the subject material to take umbrage. I don’t know if I will be able to say the same about Patriot’s Day.

Deepwater Horizon was the eighth movie that I’ve watched this year. Check out my film diary on Letterboxd

Review: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 

I kicked off 2017 by watching a VHS copy Henry: Portait of a Serial Killer on a CRT television. I’m thoroughly modern. For younger readers, CRT is an acronym for Cathode Ray Tube. Until LCD and plasma displays came along, CRT was the standard for televisions. Translation: the TV is old and the picture gets cut off on the sides when I watch TV.

Henry is a movie that I had always meant to watch, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing. My first job was at a video store, and I remember handling Henry. Viewing it on my VCR seemed appropriate because it made Henry seem even more gritty.

Michael Rooker, of The Walking Dead fame, churns out a disturbing performance as our titular character. Going toe-to-toe on the creep factor with Rooker is Tom Towles as Henry’s roommate, Otis. Actually, I found Otis to be waaaaay creepier than Henry.

No one has a merry life in Henry. Probably a given when “serial killer” is in the title. Tracy Arnold’s Becky is possibly the most disheartening of the three. She is down on her luck, experienced a horrible childhood, and has horrific taste in men.

Henry manages to portray a serial killer without being overly-graphic. There’s no torture porn. It’s left to the viewer to imagine the events leading up to most of the deaths.

It may not have the high production values of American Psycho or Natural Born Killers, but Henry works on a different level. Plus: it’s a fantastic time capsule from 1986. Millennials can learn all about portable videotape recorders!

Keep an eye out for that Rooker guy. I think he’s super! He may have already slithered into your galaxy. (Bad puns, I know. Sorry.)