20170119: Comedy Review--Jersey Girl

Name: Jersey Girl (2016)
IMDb: link to Jersey Girl page

Genres: Comedy.   Country of origin: USA.

Ben Affleck as Oliver Trinke, Raquel Castro as Gertie Trinke, Liv Tyler as Maya, George Carlin as Bart Trinke, Mike Starr as Block, Stephen Root as Greenie, Matt Damon as PR Exec #2, Jason Biggs as Arthur Brickman, Jennifer Lopez as Gertie Steiney.

Directed and written by: Kevin Smith.
Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler

The Three Acts:

The initial tableaux:
1. Oliver is a publicist working in NYC with a good success rate and a demanding schedule.  He meets Gertie Steiney and his life is changed.  The second huge change in his life comes when Gertie gets pregnant and dies giving birth to their daughter.

2. Oliver's father Bart helps him out with daughter Gertie up to a point.  Then Bart demands that Oliver start acting like Gertie's father.  The third huge change in Oliver's life comes when he makes the mistake of taking his daughter to work, resulting in his catastrophic firing.

3. Most of the film is about the period seven years after the firing, when Oliver meets Maya, and Gertie's big personality starts to show itself.

Delineation of conflicts:
Oliver wants his old life back (NYC, lots of money, fast life) and to leave New Jersey and his life as a municipal worker with Bart.  Gertie wants a father.  Bart wants his son to do the honorable thing and take care of Bart's granddaughter.  Maya wants to be closer to Oliver, who still cannot let go of his dead wife.

Resolution: Oliver, after years of horrible failed interviews, finally gets a shot at a likely hire as a publicist.  However, the interview comes the same day as young Gertie's big event at school.  What will Oliver do?

One line summary: Sad and sweet.
Raquel Castro, Ben Affleck


Cinematography: 9/10 Nothing majestic, but good camera work throughout.

Sound: 8/10 I could hear the dialog, and the musical accompaniment was fine.

Acting: 8/10 Raquel Castro gave a marvelous performance.  George Carlin was delightful.  In general I do not care for Ben Affleck, but I liked his acting throughout the film, especially with Castro and Carlin.  Liv Tyler, Mike Starr, and Stephen Root were good as the rest of Oliver's extended family in Jersey.

On the downside, Jason Biggs and Jennifer Lopez reminded me of why they are deal breakers for me. If I had known Will Smith was in the film (my mistake in not doing research), I would not have watched it at all.  Fortunately Smith's role was short and did serve a purpose in plot exposition.

Screenplay: 7/10 I got quite a few laughs from the film, which lets me excuse all sorts of problem areas.  The plot knot at the end was such a cliche that I nearly skipped reviewing the piece, but most of the film was fine.

Final rating: 8/10


20170115: Action Review--Jason Bourne

Name: Jason Bourne (2016)
IMDb: link to Jason Bourne (2016) page

Genres: Action.   Country of origin: USA.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, Tommy Lee Jones as CIA Director Robert Dewey, Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee, Vincent Cassel as Asset, Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons, Riz Ahmed as Kalloor.

Directed by: Paul Greengrass.  Written by: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse.

The Three Acts:

The initial tableaux:
1. Ho-hum.  Another Bourne film, unfortunately with Matt Damon, again.  I liked Jeremy Renner's film, which was alive, and thoughtful, and had something to say.  Jason Bourne, though, was just another damned rehash.

2. Jason is clearly lost.  He makes money by bare knuckles fist-fighting.  The CIA is not aware of him.  Of course, the film defeats that 'happy' steady state.  It's just as well: Jason is subject to frequent hallucinations and fits of depression.  He's clearly getting older, slower, and more subject to his own death wishes.

3. The CIA's dumb shit moves early on in the film galvanize Jason, and end up damaging the CIA more than could be expected.  All of this is unnecessary.  Jason should have been left alone, in which case he would have left the CIA alone.

Delineation of conflicts:
The CIA wants Jason dead.  Jason wishes they would leave him alone.  There is nothing new in this third horrible retread of the rather fine first film.  Nicky hopes to get Jason to oppose horrible processes undertaken by the CIA, but Jason is not all that interested, at first.

Resolution: There is none.  In terms of business logic, Damon and co seem to think that more blood can be drawn from this long-dead corpse in yet another sequel to come.  Bringing back Aaron Cross as played by Jeremy Renner would be a breath of fresh air.  More of Damon would just be more swamp gas.

One line summary: Worthless sequel wanted by nobody.


Cinematography: 0/10 Horrible.  Take your fracking shaky vomit cam and shove it back up where it came from.  Bad focusing, bad framing, bad lighting, indifferent ability to focus on subjects.

Sound: 6/10 I can hear the dialog, which is good.  The incidental music is moderately effective in heightening suspense and the sense of threat.

Acting: 0/10 Matt Damon seems to have dropped into 'phone in the performance' mode, like Bruce Willis and Robert De Niro.  After The Martian I expected something better or at least competent.  I don't like Alicia Vikander, I have never liked Alicia Vikander, and never will like Alicia Vikander in any role.

In general I like the performances of Julia Stiles and Tommy Lee Jones, but this boring repeat would defeat the good efforts of any actor.

Screenplay: 0/10 I hate motorcycle chases.  I hate the endless rebirth of Treadstone under different names.  I hate seeing Nicky in jeopardy for no good reason.  I hate this avalanche of cliches and retread ideas.

Final rating: 0/10