21st Century Treasure Quest #2
Our new contributor, Renard N. Bansale has completed another small batch of more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)
1 chest: Definitely worth missing
2 chests: Okay to kill some time
3 chests: Not a complete success, but rewarding
4 chests: Well-crafted, creative and memorable
5 chests: A real treasure, deep, profound and original
Concussion (2015—Director: Peter Landesman)
After conducting an autopsy on a former NFL football player, Dr. Bennet Omalu identifies a neurological disorder related to head trauma and tries to quell the alarming number of players facing a similar diagnosis. Unfortunately, the filmmakers don’t focus on the medical findings nor present the NFL’s response in a credible fashion. Instead they make the doctors overly heroic, demonise the NFL, and turn what could have been an intelligent investigative expose into a typical black and white narrative. Furthermore, a needless romantic sub-plot detracts from the immediate drama at hand and under-utilises Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s acting talents. On the plus side, Will Smith gives a dedicated performance as Dr. Omalu, and the supporting characters authentically played by Albert Brooks and Alec Baldwin provide some fascinating insight into the dilemma faced by professional sports doctors and athletes alike, especially the honest ones.
Daddy’s Home (2015—Director: Sean Anders)
This second Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, (Dad versus Step-Dad respectively) collaboration revels in needless, sophomoric comedic gags at the expense of delivering a smart satire on modern fatherhood. Ferrell portrays his noble desire of being a quality parent as sad and untrendy. At least Wahlberg’s restraint from rubbing his character’s “bad boy” charisma in Ferrell’s face can be somewhat appreciated.
Joy (2015—Director: David O. Russell)
Jennifer Lawrence confidently anchors David O. Russell’s quirky pseudo-biopic of “Miracle Mop” inventor Joy Magnano. Joy is further supported by Édgar Ramirez’s turn as Joy’s loyal ex-husband and its well-synced flow of cinematography and editing. Compared to Russell’s previous works, Joy doesn't quite equal but successfully approximates the grit of The Fighter, the grounded emotion of Silver Linings Playbook, the pure cinematic fun of American Hustle, and the infectious supporting characters of all three.
Sisters (2015—Director: Jason Moore)
In an era where most comedies seek to shock and disgust rather than construct comedic elements with creativity, timing and timelessness, Sisters "dumbs down" below even that, making every adult character in the film as tasteless, clueless, and unrealistically irresponsible as possible. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are the unfortunate casualties of this ground zero product. The comedic duo’s bare semblance of chemistry does little to redeem this horrendous excuse of a comedy.
For more of Renard's contemporary film reviews please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #3.