Here are the movies I saw this month.
THE DISCOVERY (2017)—This Netflix science-fiction movie sounded a lot more interesting than it turned out to be. Robert Redford is a scientist in the not-too-distant future who somehow discovers evidence of a human afterlife, or at least proof that “something” happens after you die. This leads to a huge spike in suicides. Jason Segel plays Redford’s son, who tries to stop a young woman (Rooney Mara) from killing herself. It takes way too long for anything interesting to happen in this movie, and by the time more revelations arise from Redford’s mysterious “discovery,” it’s too confusing to really comprehend. (4)
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017)—The follow-up to Marvel’s 2014 summer smash comic-book movie is very nearly as funny and exciting as the original. A couple of new faces join the crowd, including Kurt Russell as Chris “Peter Quill” Pratt’s daddy. The entire cast is fantastic in this nonstop thrill ride. (9)
THE LOVERS (2017)—Debra Winger and Tracy Letts are a middle-aged married couple who are both cheating with their respective lovers. Unfortunately, good performances can’t save this slower-than-molasses movie. Sexy Jessica Sula did prevent me from falling asleep more than halfway through the movie. (5)
PARIS CAN WAIT (2017)—Eager to wash the previous Sunday’s boring movie experience from our minds, Joan and I were looking forward to a more “normal” movie. This turned out to be more of a travelogue and cooking show than a real movie, but the presence of Diane Lane more than made up for a lack of a plot as she is chauffeured through the south of France by the charming Arnaud Viard. It’s always nice to experience Europe with the eternally youthful Lane, who only gets more beautiful as she gets older. Actually, this film would make a great companion piece to the first Diane Lane movie I ever saw: 1979’s A Little Romance, which also saw her romping through France with a charming local lad. Memo to self: watch more movies starring this enchanting lady! (8)
BLACK BUTTERFLY (2017)—A variation on the “home invasion” genre pits Antonio Banderas as a washed-up writer inviting a mysterious younger guy (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to stay a few days in his remote cabin near some woods. They play a tense game of cat and mouse that culminates in one of the most outrageously unbelievable plot twists I’ve ever seen. At times gripping, at others totally nonsensical, but Meyers is perfectly cast as the menacing houseguest. Banderas, meanwhile, is laughably miscast. (7)
ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)—Second Alien prequel (a follow-up to 2012’s Prometheus) is so much like a movie I saw a couple of months ago (Life) that it gave me a weird feeling of déjà vu. Although large portions of it are acceptably escapist popcorn monster-movie fare, the twists in this sci-fi slasher film are all too predictable—there’s really nothing new here. This is, after all, as a prequel to the Alien series, it’s not like there’s any chance whatsoever that the monsters are going to be eradicated. Thus, the ending is a foregone conclusion. (7)