Monday, February 29, 2016

Eddie the Eagle, Triple 9, King Georges, The Last Man on the Moon

Eddie the Eagle
Triple 9

King Georges

The Last Man on the Moon

Capsules on a mixed week at the movies:

"Eddie the Eagle" plays on an endless loop while you're being prepped for your lobotomy. Or so I can only surmise from the idiots around me who laughed at every inanity in this cloying and paint-by-numbers saga of undertalented but plucky British ski jumper Eddie Edwards (no relation to the former governor of Louisiana). Director Dexter Fletcher (a delight 27 years ago in the lead role in "The Rachel Papers") and writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton have the temerity to introduce a fictional trainer, a drunk former U.S. jumper (Hugh Jackman), probably because telling the true story of Edwards' crowd-pleasing participation in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics without one might have required some original thought. At least Jackman - an entertainer, not an actor - provides eye candy (lead Taron Egerton would look good too without the ski gear and the Mr. Magoo glasses), and the great Jim Broadbent brings high spirit to his small part as a BBC commentator. Christopher Walken (?!) cashes a paycheck as Jackman's long-ago coach… Blackmailed by the Russian mob into intercepting top-secret files on a 24-hour hold at a meticulously guarded Department of Homeland Security building, a gang comprised of criminals and Atlanta police officers hit on the idea of killing a fellow cop to divert the entire force's attention for several precious minutes in John Hillcoat's atmospheric new film "Triple 9." Strong performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson and Anthony Mackie lift the flick a level above most in its genre, as do a number of surprising turns in Matt Cook's streetwise script. In its best moments, "Triple 9" recalls scenes from "To Live and Die in L.A.," and the soundtrack maintains the depths-of-darkness mood. As the Russian mob matriarch, Kate Winslet is almost as unrecognizable as in "Steve Jobs" - and as bad here as she was good there. And Casey Affleck - normally a favorite - chews his gum a bit too purposefully. Still, I recommend "Triple 9." It's the kind of movie I might like to see a second time to catch anything I missed… A low 2 stars for Erika Frankel's biodoc "King Georges," about Georges Perrier, chef-owner of the iconic but now defunct Philly resto Le Bec-Fin. I ate there only once, late in its run, and must assume that Inquirer critic Craig Laban's two-bell downgrade meant it had been much better years earlier. My sister and her husband were regulars at LBF, and are now at Laurel, the tiny, tasting-menu-only spot where Perrier's former protégé Nicholas Elmi now plies his trade. Elmi's frustration-filled tutelage (Perrier makes and breaks several promises to hand over the reins) is the best part of "King Georges"; too often, Perrier appears to be embellishing for the camera as on a reality TV show…The pick of the week, also available On Demand, is Mark Craig's biodoc "The Last Man on the Moon," about astronaut Gene Cernan, who served on several Apollo missions, including Apollo 17, which left lunar soil 44 years ago. Cernan makes an eloquent and self-aware raconteur; his stories and some truly amazing video footage left a lump in my throat and a look of awe across my face. Cernan admits to "selfishly" prioritizing the space program over home and family (his then-wife tellingly remarks, "If you think going to the moon is hard, try staying at home"), but we all owe him and his colleagues a debt of gratitude for the gift of wonder they gave us at enormous risk to themselves.

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