by Adam Riske
As always, these are listed in order of my least favorite to favorite.
Rating: 2/4 Riskes
Rating: 2.5/4 Riskes
The Bye Bye Man. I know Gotti is not a good biopic, but I really had a good time and it’s not without some quality. The lead performance by John Travolta is strong. He commits big time and it’s the type of scenery chewing, movie-star performance that fits the subject. Between this, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and In a Valley of Violence, Travolta is turning in some good work lately and I think a lot of the criticism of him in Gotti is biased. Honestly, some of the bias toward the film itself is warranted though. The movie isn’t good and the marketing campaign has been asinine (e.g. flaunting their 0% Rotten Tomatoes score, calling critics trolls behind keyboards, etc.), so this movie is asking for trouble in that regard. I liked it in a simpler way. It’s fun junk that interested me because director Kevin Connolly’s nutty point of view is that he loves the Gottis and refuses to criticize anything they do. It’s hagiography at full volume to the point where it becomes bizarrely charming. Gotti is pretty much Black Mass if it were made with the cast & crew of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and that’s why I dig it. If that sounds horrible to you, I completely get it.
Rating: G-D help me, 2.5/4 Riskes
Rating: 3/4 Riskes
Rating: 3/4 Riskes
Rating: 3.5/4 Riskes
Life Itself from a few years ago. This isn’t just an easy documentary resting on its laurels because it knows its audience is already won over by its subject. My favorite part of the documentary is how it explores Fred Rogers’ positive philosophy and the work it took behind the camera to maintain that kindness and optimism. The film also bravely addresses certain areas where Rogers was ahead of the curve but arguably not enough to befit his image, and how his message is lost in many ways in today’s world of pervasive intolerance. You keep waiting for the film to give you an uplifting answer (just like Fred Rogers would have) but it’s wise enough to give its summation in a muted tone. I’m a big fan of Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It made me think and cry and reconnect with my better nature.
Rating: 4/4 Riskes
Your turn! What did you think of these films? Is there anything else you’ve seen lately in theaters that you want to recommend?