Short Takes 7.1.16
This is one of those weeks where over a half dozen films open in area theaters. Don’t worry there won’t be a test.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the best bets are films with little to no advance publicity. So while The BFG, The Legend of Tarzan and The Purge: Election Year will attract the big friendly crowds, that means some lesser titles will have plenty of leeway and legroom.
Swiss Army Man takes the award for love it or hate it film of the year. The film is an exercise in absurdity. This particular state of preposterousness works better on the stage than the hyperrealism of cinema. Kudos at least to the two filmmakers (writers and directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) for stretching a thin concept to feature length.
A man (Paul Dano) on a deserted island has come to his wits end and decides to end it all by hanging himself. At the last possible moment, a body (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore. The rest of the film details the relation between the live guy and the dead guy. Nothing weird, yet nothing normal.
Dano begins to imagine his dead compadré is alive and talking and farting. Radcliffe must have sensed the incredible challenge to act like a stiff. There’s a lot of head movement in the manner of Radcliffe’s head rolling to the side. They hum the melody to Jurassic Park.
I kept expecting the Dano character to realize that he also is dead like the classic “An Occurrence at Owl Creek,” a short story by Ambrose Bierce subtitled “A Dead Man’s Dream.” But the filmmakers, who affectionately refer to themselves as The Daniels, don’t travel down that road. You won’t second-guess this movie and those who embrace Swiss Army Man will find themselves members of a small and united cult.
John le Carré has been to go to author for espionage fiction for decades. Films made from his novels have the panache of James Bond thrillers without the overt diversions of explosions and sex. Our Kind of Traitor makes a nice fit for those who like their spy stories told with restraint.
An English couple on holiday (Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris) are befriended by a mysterious stranger (Stellan Skarsgård) who has, shall we say, special skills. Subterfuge, international cartels and hidden bank accounts are intertwined in this above average drama.
Christopher Meloni (best known for his role on the long running television series Law & Order: SVU) headlines the tense crime drama Marauders. Meloni plays a no nonsense FBI agent tasked with investigating a series of violent bank robberies. Dave Bautista, Bruce Willis, Adrian Grenier and Johnathon Schaech co-star.
Marauders keeps the suspense and momentum constantly churning. The best parts revolve around the procedural aspect of the crimes being committed. Marauders plays exclusively at the AMC Gulf Pointe and also is simultaneously available On Demand from various streaming services.