“Going in Style” is a blistering social commentary disguised as an old coot caper comedy. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin play factory workers who did all the right things only to have the system give them the middle finger in old age.
A remake from the 1979 George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg adventure “Going in Style,” the movie begins with Joe (Caine) confronting his condescending bank manager (John Pais). The older man’s mortgage has tripled and he will soon be evicted from his home. As they argue, outside the manager’s office armed masked men invade the bank, scooping handfuls of cash from the tellers. Joe is unharmed in the heist—one of the thieves tells him, “It is a culture’s duty to take care of the elderly.”—and later excitedly tells his family and friends Willie (Freeman) and Al (Arkin) about the robbery.
The afternoon’s excitement aside, Joe’s financial situation is still dire. His old company, now in the midst of a takeover, has frozen all pension cheques. He needs to come up with a way to get his hands on some cash. Ditto for Willie, who needs a new kidney and Al who can barely afford to feed himself.
When their favourite waitress gives them a free piece of pie with the truism, “Everybody deserves pie,” it dawns on Joe that she’s right. “We should be having our pie and eating it too,” he says, hatching a plan to steal back their pensions. “These banks practically destroyed this country and nothing ever happened to them,” he says. “If we get caught we get a bed, three meals a day and free healthcare.”
“Going in Style” then drops the social commentary and becomes a heist flick. Think “The Italian Job” with electric wheelchairs and you’ll get the idea.
Much of the charm of “Going in Style” comes from watching Caine, Freeman and Arkin glide—OK, it’s more like shuffle—through this material. There’s nothing particularly new here, we’ve seen loads of elderly men take back their lives on film in recent years, but subtext and actor goodwill elevate this slight story.
Caine, Freeman and Arkin are formidable actors but expertly portray the invisibility that can come with old age. As eighty-somethings they are unseen—banks take advantage of them, the police ignore them—until they take their future into their own hands. The story is implausible but by the time the heist happens you want the best for these grandpas, no matter how silly the story gets.
“Going in Style” is part knockabout comedy, part rage against the machine. Director Zach Braff adds in just enough sentimentality and slapstick to frame the film’s message of “having a pie of pie whenever the hell I want to!”
I think it’s time Terrence Malick and I called it quits.
I used to look forward to his infrequent visits. Sure, sometimes he was a little obtuse and over stayed his welcome, but more often than not he was alluringly enigmatic. Then he started coming around more often and, well, maybe the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt is true.
For most of his career he was a tease, a mythic J.D. Salinger type who burst on the scene in a blinding flash of brilliance, made two of the best films of the 1970s, then left us hanging. Like spurned lovers we waited for him to return for two decades and at first were happy to see him again. He told wondrous stories about personal connections and the nature of relationships.
Then he started repeating himself. In the beginning I didn’t mind but soon his whispered philosophical asides became tiresome and I began to look for reasons to avoid him.
Now I have one.
It’s been said that the essence of cinema is beautiful people saying interesting things. In his new film Malick gets it half right, parading good-looking heart throbs like Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman around in a pointless exercise called “Song to Song.”
Fassbender plays a Machiavellian a record producer who uses his wealth and power to seduce those around him, including aspiring musician Mara, rising star Gosling and waitress-turned-wife Portman. The willowy women and mumbling men run barefoot through the loose story—which often feels cobbled together from scraps of film found on the editing room floor—pondering philosophical questions in hushed tones. “How do you know when you were lying to yourself?” they whisper. “Is any experience is better than no experience?” All the while Malick’s camera, light as a feather, floats above it all capturing his puzzling whims. For the entire running time nobody looks like they’re having any fun even when they’re dancing, being goofy or laughing. They’re not having any fun and neither will you.
Airy and disjointed, it’s a collage of feelings and shards of life strung together on a fractured timeline. Malick indulges himself to the point that the film is less a movie and more like an experience, like going to “Laser Floyd.”
There are highlights. Val Kilmer singing to a festival crowd, “I got some uranium! I bought it off my mom!” before hacking off his hair with a giant Bowie knife is a memorable moment and cameos from Patti Smith and John Lydon are welcome, but at its heart “Song to Song” is a movie about people trying to connect that keeps its audience at arms length.
There’s a quick shot of a tattoo in the movie that sums up my feelings toward my relationship with Malick. Written in flowery script, the words “Empty Promises” fill the screen, reminding us of the promise of the director’s early work and amplifying the disappointment we feel today. “Song to Song” is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Terrence Malick movie that put me off Terrence Malick movies.
I’ll be nice though and say, it’s not him, it’s me.
From 1977 to 1983 California Highway Patrol officers Jon Baker and “Ponch” Poncherello kept the highways and byways of Los Angeles safe with a mix of motorcycles, Brut cologne and wholesome machismo. “CHiPS” was a big TV hit and is now a big screen movie starring Michael Peña and Dax Shepard as unorthodox motorcycles cops. The Brut and the wholesomeness are gone in this raunchy update but the motorcycles and machismo survived.
Shepard, who also wrote and directed, stars as Jon Baker, a free spirited ex-motorcycle daredevil. His marriage is on the rocks, but he hopes if he becomes a police officer his wife will fall back in love with him.
Baker is teamed up with a seasoned FBI agent working undercover as Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Peña). Seems the feds needed two outsiders to infiltrate the California Highway Patrol and bust some dirty cops who robbed 12 million dollars in a daring daylight robbery.
The unlikely duo don’t hit it off right away, but Baker’s skills on the hog and Ponch’s experience make them an effective, if untraditional team. Cue the chase scenes and sex jokes.
In Shepard’s hands “CHIPS” is a mix of motorcycles and masturbation, homophobic jokes and gratuitous nudity. It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize “CHIPS.” It is a remake of a TV show although Erik Estrada, star of the original series and who also appears in the film, took to twitter to blast the remake as “demeaning” to long time “CHiPS” fans.
It could also be filed under the comedy category although I’d suggest the action sequences are more successful than the attempts at humour.
To recap: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.
It’s a comedy—there is a paparazzi joke that made me laugh hard—but it’s a lowest common denominator comedy. I like a poop joke as much as anyone, but there have to be peaks and valleys. Shepard aims low, then goes lower. If you like a certain amount of shame with your cheap laughs then “CHIPS” is for you.
When the movie isn’t commenting on Ponch’s bathroom habits it is laying rubber. The crime story isn’t terribly complicated or interesting but the guys tear up the pavement with a handful of pretty good chase scenes. They are frenetic and it’s not always possible to tell exactly who is who, but the scenes add some zip to the story.
“CHIPS” is not your father’s “CHiPS.” It’s a kinda-sorta action comedy that revels in its rudeness at the expense of paying tribute to the source material.
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Three audience members get ambushed by Alexis Honce with a purse intervention; Five steps to glowing skin; Actress Malin Akerman on season two of “Billions”; Malin cooks sweet potato burgers with Chef Rodney Bowers; Must-see films before the Oscars.
Paterson, the new movie from director Jim Jarmusch is a week in the life of Paterson, the man and the place.
Adam Driver plays Paterson, a poetry writing New Jersey bus driver from Paterson, New Jersey. He lives with Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), a dreamer who wants to open a cupcake shop and make them rich and their dog Marvin.
Paterson is a wonderfully leisurely movie. There are small conflicts sprinkled throughout, a bus breaks down and lovers quarrel, but Paterson isn’t about that. It’s about gentle, loving performances from Driver and Farahani and the beauty of overheard conversations and the day-to-day of regular life.
After the success of Star Wars and everything else you’ve been in recently, you must get offered every script out there. Why choose this one?
Jim [Jarmusch]. It’s a director’s medium so if I get lucky enough to work with great directors, that’s the only thing as far as a game plan I have. I have gotten to do that with really great people and it feels good. I’m lucky in that I get to choose things now, but choose things from what I’m offered. The scale doesn’t matter.
So it doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting for twenty days or you’re gone for six months? Is it just the love of acting?
Yes. It’s a very strange job. It seems you get to do your job twenty percent of the time and then you talk about it forever. For me the doing of it is the best. The things surrounding it don’t matter. Trailers, money, they don’t matter if you get to work with really great people. Then hopefully what you’re making is bigger than any one person and it feels relevant, as much as you can attach meaning to your job. The love of collaborating with people who are on the same page and want to make the best version of it is really exciting.
I think you can attach meaning. Movies like this are worth talking about…
I don’t like to say what meaning I attach to my work. Half of the experience of watching a play or something in a movie theatre is that everyone is coming from somewhere else. No one lives inside the movie theatre. They’re bring all their baggage and if they’re coming there not ready to be affected then they probably won’t be affected. But whatever meaning they pick out of the movie, that means something to them or doesn’t mean anything to them, is completely subjective.
A movie like Paterson is a beautiful slice of life but it is probably going to speak to the audience that will be very different from say, Suicide Squad, but Paterson isn’t going to make $165 million in its opening weekend.
But for me that makes it valid and interesting.
Really great movies have a longer shelf life. You come back to them later and find new things in them. So many times, and this is so obvious, you watch a movie and you’re not ready for it and you come back to it later because you’re a different person and suddenly it speaks to you in a different way. When they are well crafted they have that shelf life whereas a lot of things are made for one weekend.