29 September 2017

Tommy C Tries Again...Other People DIE!

Let's keep this September rolling, which has already become one of the most-posted Septembers in like six years around here. We'll go quick this weekend, since there's three major releases that no one should really care about, but the one important thing is that they do exist, so that's worth talking about. One is a cheesy-looking star vehicle, another is a more fun-looking version of a droll 90s film, and the other is a black thriller that no one in White America has heard of. Let's start with that and work our way up to Nina Dobrev.

I have never heard of 'Til Death Do Us Part (2017) until this weekend. It's another in a bizarrely long and under-observed line of Black Domestic Thrillers that has so many more entries in its strangely specific genre than you'd think. This seemed really familiar until I remembered When the Bough Breaks (2016) came out last year as the exact same movie. I was trying to think of others and all I came up with was that Beyonce flick Obsessed (2009), but beyond that, yes this is an entire genre.

These kinds of flicks are cheap, quick, and can make a buck. They're totally non-distinctive and easily consumable with no real original plot or story. In a year of great black films this isn't really adding anything to our culture, unless it features someone kneeling instead of cheating on their spouse. It ought to make enough money to justify its existence, but then no one will ever mention it again. Isn't that kind of weird? Think about how much time, effort, and money went into this. Literally, on September 30th, 2017 no one will bother to recollect any of it. Moving on.

I picture this as whatever eventually became of Top Gun.
Tom Cruise is trying really really hard to stay relevant. He already led one of the biggest conceptual misfires of the year in The Mummy (2017), but now he's relying on pure charisma in American Made (2017), a super-vague title that could refer to anything, but in this case, a CIA drug runner or something. It's basically that one episode of Archer: Vice.

There's nothing really notable here other than a tried and true test of a waning star's ability to fill seats based on name alone and not high concept or franchise. That's a tough test. Hell, the most notable thing is probably the fact that this film more than any other in his filmography highlights Tom Cruise's terrible age gap between him and romantic leads, coming in 22 years older than his supposed wife here. It's kind of insane that 55-year old Cruise keeps trying to pretend he's still 30, and hell, most of the stunts he does pulls off that illusion, but it's also an insanely delusional middle finger towards aging gracefully and taking respected acting roles.

But who cares because Tom often offers a pretty engaging and rewarding cinematic experience. That's why he's a megastar. He seems perfectly content to ignore the actual acting work he did in the 90s in favor of a non-stop barrage of action. Like a young Liam Neeson. Critically this movie seems to be doing alright, mostly praising Cruise's fun performance, but that's really all it offers and we can all move on.

Last we have Flatliners (2017). Maybe this is supposed to be kind of spooky, bringing people back from the dead and all, but it seems more Hollow Man (2000)-ish. The irony there of course, is that Kevin Bacon appeared in the original Flatliners (1990), which is a terrible fucking movie. Really it's the perfect kind of flick to remake. The high concept is cool and unique, the original isn't really loved or too precious to fuck with, and there's plenty of room to spin it and update it.

We're looking at the next Julia Roberts, people!
To be clear, the only thing the original has going for it is its somehow legendary cast of pre-fame actors. It's like the Wet Hot American Summer (2001) of shitty thrillers. Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, one of the Baldwin brothers, and the aforementioned Kevin Bacon star as med students who experiment with the afterlife by killing themselves and then bringing themselves back to life. For some reason that's never the thrilling point, instead it's all about weird ghost and kids they killed by throwing rocks at them while in trees. It's so damn stupid.

The 2017 version brings Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, and a bunch of somehow less-famous people into the fore for what looks like a rad flick. It's at least got a little spirit, by indication of the marketing. I'm quite certain it will be junk, but also Nina Dobrev, who just played a terrible role as both the smartest and hottest girl in the world in xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017), but is more solid when she only plays the hottest girl in the world in something like The Final Girls (2015). Ellen Page has done surprisingly little of significance since great turns in Inception (2010) and Super (2010), which is getting to be like seven years ago. Kind of rough to be headlining Flatliners as a comeback vehicle of sorts, but that's where we are.

We're truly in an age where every possible 90s property is being mined for its potential. Flatliners doesn't deserve to be a fucking franchise, people. I'm curious to see what happens when we run out and in five years have to start mining 2000s films. I guarantee a Minority Report (2002) sequel. Maybe we can revisit Memento (2000)? See, all the 2000s films were already franchised, most pretty finite or hell, still going. Hollywood's trending towards super bankrupt of ideas. I mean, they already are, but at least they're making films out of bad ideas now, not no ideas. That age is coming. Or we'll just get like, more Robocop or something, who cares.

So that's your preview. September is rough! Who's into Blade Runner 2049 (2017), which I just feel is going to suck despite all the hype!

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