Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ride Along 2, The Benefactor, Theeb, The Treasure

Ride Along 2

The Benefactor


The Treasure

Yup, it’s January.

I actually liked “Ride Along 2” more than the original (not unusual for me). Kevin Hart and Ice Cube mine a respectable load of laughs out of their love-hate byplay. Ken Jeong and Sherri Shepherd (?!) also score. It’s a solid, though moderate, recommendation… “The Benefactor” is awful even by January standards, with a Richard Gere performance (as a philanthropist named “Franny”) hammy enough for five bad movies. He’s creepily generous to “Poodles” (Dakota Fanning), the daughter of his best friend, who was killed in a car crash he survived (and may have precipitated), and to her fiancĂ© Luke (stunning Theo James). The “mystery” of his motivation is obvious from the jump; Franny’s a prescription drug addict and wants Dr. Luke to keep his supply refreshed. There’s no reason for this movie to exist… I can’t imagine any of the other foreign film Oscar nominees is worse than the Jordanian “Theeb,” about a Bedouin boy of that name (it means “the wolf”) who comes of age quickly when his brother is assigned to guide a mysterious Brit through the desert to a train station and he tags along. They encounter murderous bandits who trap Theeb in a well by cutting off the rope and steal his camel. “Theeb” is full of trite situations and ugly, amoral people with flies crawling all over their faces. Time seemed to stop… Meanwhile, I checked out early from Corneliu Porumboiu’s allegorical would-be comedy “The Treasure,” about a Bucharest working stiff whose neighbor offers to share half of the treasure his grandfather claimed to have buried under their country estate if he’ll front the cost of the metal detector. I liked the Romanian director’s sociological study “Police, Adjective,” but this one had me checking my watch every couple minutes.

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