‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ could have been good, but it lives up to its title. Written and Directed by Drew Goodard, it is a lot of style with some substance with a whole lot more self-indulgence along the way.
It boasts of a strong cast – Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm – so it did not suffer from lack of execution. When it first starts, you wonder what the eff am I watching,’ and that’s not necessarily such a bad thing. However, when it all came together, and it kind of made sense, you say ‘that was it?’ The payoff just isn’t there to justify what you just went through. The film is painfully slow – does this film really need to be almost two and a half hours? – and I have to admit that there were more than enough moments when I felt utterly bored by it. Cynthia Errivo is the MVP from the cast, her acting (and singing) trying desperately to make sense in the midst of all the confusion. I was excited going into the film, and leaving the theater I just felt sad. And I already have enough sadness in my life.
I really don’t know why Brian Shoaf named his film ‘Aardvaark.’ It’s based on the animal, I guess, and I know in some cultures this animal is a symbol of strength. This film, though, is a meandering mess. It stars Zachary Quinto as Josh, a man who goes to therapy. We know he is somewhat mentally challenged, though for the most part he is a functioning human being. He has a famous brother who is an actor on a defunct cop show, and played by Jon Hamm. He sees Craig in other people – a homeless woman, a cop. His therapist (Jenny Slate) falls in love with Craig, and there is a lot of things going on here, and nothing seems to be sticking. What comes out is a big bore, and even though Hamm is good (he really is a great screen presence) it’s not enough for me to recommend this.
‘Beirut’ stars Jon Hamm in a starring role. I know he is such a television powerhouse presence and I have heard a lot of write-ups about this film saying that in here he is finally crossing over to be a bonafide movie star. I don’t knwo about that as I have and still see him as more character actor than star power – a dashing version of Al Pacino, if you will. Here he is up front and center, and very effective. But there’s also something about him that’s unconventional, that reads more ‘different’ than ‘movie star.’
Anyway, this is a film I normally would not have instantly gravitated to, but I did, and it is an interesting story set in Lebanon, a country whose history and current climate I’m not too familiar with. But the film, directed by Brad Anderson, gives us a bit of overview on that, and there are still parts of the Middle East wars that I don’t fully ‘get.’ But you don’t have to be an Middle Eastern Issues expert to enjoy this film. This one is a pretty straightforward dramatic thriller, with dashes of action and sex, with its share of sinister criminals on both sides of the conflict. It’s still not my true cup of tea, but I wasn’t bored. I don’t know if I would watch it, or recommend it (I don’t think any of my friends would be into this) but I don’t regrert seeing it. So – meh?