Popcorn Perspectives – Week of June 4, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 4, 2018

Rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93% (at time of writing)
In theaters
The buzz on this newest horror flick from A24 is humongous. People are touting it as the scariest film they’ve ever seen – or at least the scariest film in recent memory. I was quite impressed at the very arrogance of the marketing when they solicited audience members to commit to post heart rate results from their Apple Watches after the movie. They want you to know that this film will literally scare you to death. The story revolves around a young girl and her mother (or at least the trailers want you to think so and I don’t want to give too much away). The mother (Toni Collette) has just lost her mother and the family is coping with her death in their own ways. But when an incredible tragedy occurs, the mother gets advice from a new friend (Ann Dowd) which somehow brings about a new and unforeseen evil into their lives. Unfortunately for me, my heart rate never really elevated, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it – it only means that I didn’t find it overly scary. Don’t get me wrong – there are some great surprises and some decent jumps – but I really found the story to be more dramatically powerful and intellectually stimulating than biting-my-nails off frightening. It reminded me of 1968’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. The script was really well-written and the direction, production and acting were all absolutely first-rate. I think that on future viewings the film might grow on me, but I wish I wasn’t expecting a horror phenomenon as it really did have an effect my overall enjoyment. B

A Wrinkle in Time
Rated PG for thematic elements and some peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
Available on disc and streaming
Yet another pic with a ton of buzz is this Disney version of the 1962 fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle which follows a young girl who goes on an existential search for her missing father with the help of three goddesses who want to set things right. With a stellar cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis and Chris Pine, as well as a red-hot director Ava DuVernay, the project felt at first like a potentially gigantic hit. But unfortunately the movie never makes it off the ground as the screenplay confuses more than it excites and the dreamlike nature of the story excels at putting the audience to sleep. It wants to be ‘What Dreams May Come’ but just can’t get there. C

Rated R for language throughout, violence and sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
Available on disc and steaming
And speaking of tons of smoke but no fire, Gringo throws David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton and Sharlto Copley at the screen with a story that is hard to connect with and characters you can’t care about. The plot surrounds a low-profile businessman who gets a whiff of the despicable plans his boss has in store for their company and subsequently pretends to be kidnapped by a Mexican cartel in order to help salvage his own pathetic life. While there are some good performances and even some nice surprises, at the end the story leaves you so empty that you have to admit to yourself that the film wasn’t worth the time or interest invested in it. C

South Park: Season 21
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
Available on disc and streaming
Coming off the brilliant season 20, South Park here continues to try to remain relevant as President Garrison (a fun mockery of Trump) commits to many off-color shenanigans while Cartman attempts to shame and belittle his newfound love in order to come off as more powerful to his friends. Unable to put together a season that feels conjoined in a perverse but wonderful way, this season plays out better on an individual basis but misses out the bigger-picture feel that I was actually craving after the last several seasons. I laughed a lot, but the I didn’t find it nearly as enjoyable as I had hoped given the dozens of episodes leading up to this series. B-