From the desk of The Movie Snob.
Columbus (C). Here’s an artsy little film for you. It’s about a couple of lost souls whose paths cross in the little town of Columbus, Indiana. (I assumed it was Columbus, Ohio the whole movie, but what do I know?) One is a middle-aged Korean guy named Jin (John Cho, Star Trek Beyond), who is there only because his famous-professor father happened to be in Columbus when he had some kind of severe health crisis. Now he’s lingering in a coma in the local hospital, and Jin is kind of stuck. The other is a Columbus native, a recent high-school grad named Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, The Last Survivors), who is stuck there because her mom is a recovered meth addict and Casey’s afraid she’ll relapse if she goes off the college. Having met over a cigarette, and having a lot of free time, they hang out together and have intimate but awkward conversation about things—like Columbus’s renowned set of modernist buildings designed by famous architects I had never heard of. The set-up is kind of like Lost in Translation, now that I think about it—older guy, younger woman, thrown together for a while by fate. Anyhoo, the movie has gotten good reviews, but I’ll confess I was mainly interested in seeing if Richardson, a fresh new face I noticed in small roles in Edge of Seventeen and Split, has any acting chops. She and Cho were both good, but the movie is v-e-r-y slow and artsy, and it did start to feel a little long after a while. Parker Posey (Waiting for Guffman) pops up for a couple of scenes as a former student of Jin’s father (and Jin’s former crush).
The Movie Snob is creeped out—but not in a good way.
Split (F). I had not seen an M. Night Shyamalan movie since Lady in the Water, but it sounded like many critics were hailing this as a return to form, or at least the director’s best work in a long while. And I was curious to see good guy James “Professor Xavier” McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse) play the villain. So I decided to give it a try. I found that I agreed with the minority of critics who have criticized this movie as a nasty, icky, exploitative piece of work. McAvoy plays a fellow with multiple-personality disorder. At the beginning of the movie he kidnaps three teenaged girls and locks them up in some sort of industrial-looking subterranean labyrinth. He takes some of their clothes. He ominously warns them that they are going to become “sacred food” for “the beast.” In short, the threat of sexual violence is omnipresent. Making matters worse, child abuse and child sexual abuse are alluded to in some very unpleasant flashbacks. I hope the young co-stars (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch; Haley Lu Richardson, The Edge of Seventeen; Jessica Sula, TV’s Recovery Road) find better movies to star in. Much better.
P.S. I always like to make a note when I am the only person in the theater for a movie, and I think that was the case with this one. It was a few days ago, though, so don’t quote me on that.
From the desk of The Movie Snob.
The Edge of Seventeen (B-). This new tale of teen angst stars Hailee Steinfeld (Begin Again) as Nadine, a miserable and thoroughly unpleasant high-school student whose entire wardrobe seems to consist of barely-there skirts and shorts. Nadine doesn’t get along with either her mom or her older brother. To make matters worse, her only friend in the world (Haley Lu Richardson, Columbus) starts dating said older brother, which only makes Nadine more miserable and, amazingly, even more unpleasant. Really, Nadine is so obnoxious and filled with self-loathing that I found it very hard to empathize with her, She seemed borderline mentally ill. The movie’s bright spot is Nadine’s friendship with her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson, Management). Bruner’s dryly sarcastic responses to Nadine’s various crises had the whole theater laughing out loud. Basically, all the scenes involving Bruner are great, and the rest of the movie is so-so. And please note that the R rating for language and sexual content is well deserved.