Last Flag Flying (2017) Movie Review that has Steve Carell at his most vulnerable.

by Banned Library in

Steve Carell sitting in a metal folding chair, holding a folded American flag will haunt me for a good long while. The scene around it has Bryan Cranston yelling and Laurence Fishburne giving us his cool stare, but Carell in that chair…

    Carell plays a man who has just learned his son has died in service so he goes and gets his two old army buddies to bring his boy home. Essentially a road picture, Last Flag Flying is an examination on the nature of brotherhood in service and war in general. Where it lands is often on the side of the people, a good side if there is one where most sides end up with dead children.

    I had no idea what I was going to see. I saw the actors and the flag on the poster and thought, "well, I've got two hours even if this does end up being some commercial for the military." Two hours later… Well, Steve Carell in that chair.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006): Vacation Without Chevy Chase

by Banned Library in

What more can be said about road movies featuring families? Get a bunch of wacky characters together in a confined space with a vast land to give a variety of adventures and let them go. Too bad this was done to perfection thirty-four years ago and repeated to death so much that my heart is a cold, stony ground from which no love of the family travel movie will grow.

Little Miss Sunshine is the story of a family driving to a beauty pageant two states away. Dad (Kinnear) is having money troubles. Brother (Dano) is a silent wreck. Uncle (Carrel) just got out of the hospital for suicide. Grandpa (Arkin) is a foul mouth mess. Mom (Collette) is dealing with all these assholes. While on the way, they learn to be a family again.

On the surface, a great film with a lot of heart. The ending dance number is inspired, the path every character takes is earned, and damn that kid is cute as a button. But my heart is closed to the love and admiration they give each other. For they are not Griswolds.

My family took road trips every summer. My dad, mom, sister, and I would pile into the car and drive. We went to amusement parks, national forests, and one time a castle. My memories of my experiences tie with deep recognition the John Hughes classic tale of a family traveling. At the end of our journeys, surely, no lessons were learned other than the world continues. The family abides. Death is near.

The black specter follows us all. As one passes on, more follow. Each of us has a time and that time is unknown, be it on the road or within our hearts. Cold silence follows and the future will crumble like rain in the darkness.

A nice little movie about a family, Little Miss Sunshine passes the time in a delightful hour and a half. The enjoyable plot will not remind you that chaos is inevitable and each of us is falling toward the depth of horror. Hold each other close and muffle the screams with hugs.

Battle of the Sexes (2017) Review: Not Even a Hint of Blood

by Banned Library in

The library went down to the theater and saw the Battle of the Sexes. This was not the movie we expected. Not one person lost their life. Not even so much as a drop of blood.

    Battle of the Sexes, despite the name, is about a 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Carell). At no time do King and Riggs do battle in any type of arena attempting to kill or maim each other. Mostly, they hit small green fuzzy balls at each other.

    That's not to say the movie is worthless. The acting is amazing as everyone involved steps up to deliver tour de force performances and… You know what? I'm still bummed about the violence thing.

    Sure, there's sex, but it's the "oh I'm finding my true self and making important social change" type of sex. King's fight for equality is well represented on screen as she excelled at tennis with her fellow women tennis players despite overwhelming odds. She also finds love outside of the devotion she had in her first marriage. Good for her.

    But when I watch a movie with the word "battle" in the title, I wanna see some guts. Blood and shit and people screaming each other's names in ecstasy because tomorrow they might just die violent and horrific deaths. And I didn't get that. I just got a well acted, well written, socially minded film filled to the brim with talent and hope.

    Fucking hope.