Going in to Scott Eastwood’s new movie, “Overdrive,” I wasn’t expecting much. I had seen the trailer for the movie in front of “Atomic Blonde” while on vacation in France two months ago, and immediately dismissed it out of hand as a wannabe “Fast and Furious” type. I just tuned it out the way you tune out a commercial while watching last week’s episode of “The Good Place” on Hulu. If I had been paying attention, I might have noticed it was primarily in Marseilles, where I had been not two days earlier. So when I read about this tidbit two months later, I decided to check it out. And what I ended up getting was something that, while not a great movie, was quite a bit of fun, and better than any of the “Fast and Furious” movies they’ve been making for the past decade.
Why do we watch movies? For newer works, we go to see the newest effort from a favorite actor, writer, director or cinematographer, or we feel the story is something we can relate to, or because it comes recommended from friends or critics or has received a lot of awards buzz. Maybe we’ve not heard of the filmmaker, but a distributor who has acquired a reputation for giving chances to edgy and interesting work is releasing it. So while Screen Media isn’t quite at the level of a 1990’s Miramax, a 2000’s THINKfilm or a 2010’s A24 in terms of prestige, they have slowly been moving away from their former bread and butter of Z-level dreck like “Croczilla” and “Paranormal Whacktivity” and giving theatrical life to curious works from directors like Tobe Hooper and Paul Bettany. And while I have never heard of writer/director Ryan Eggold, he was able to nab an embarrassment of riches when it came to casting his feature debut, including Cobie Smulders, John Cho, Peter Gallagher, Ryan Hansen, Charlyne Yi, Briga Heelan, Luis Guzman, Dana Delany and Lea Thompson. Which is why I was interested in checking out “Literally, Right Before Aaron.” That’s one hell of an eclectic cast.
One of the strongest truths in telling any story is that if you can’t make your lead characters likeable, at least make them interesting. Michael Corleone? Not likeable, but highly intriguing. Walter White? Really unlikeable, but dear God, so complex and endlessly fascinating. Darth Vader? One of my favorite movie characters of all time, but I certainly don’t like him in the least. In Gillian Robespierre’s “Landline,” the follow-up to her 2014 debut “Obvious Child,” there is nary an amiable character amongst the leads of the films, which makes for a difficult movie to watch or to recommend.
“Score: A Film Music Documentary” celebrates the important but almost invisible art of scoring a motion picture. You may think, from various special features on DVDs and Blu-Rays over the years, that you might understand how the process works, but you’ve never really gotten this in depth before, and before this, you probably never knew you wanted to go this in depth before.
Way out west, there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Sam Elliott. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but many people, especially women – and not just older women but women of all ages with discerning tastes – would call him “The Sexiest Man Alive.” See, this Elliot, he’d never call himself “The Sexiest Man Alive.” Because boiling down one of the most interesting actors to grace the silver screen down to a worthless tabloid moniker doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Watching Sam Elliott work over the past forty years, on the silver screen and on television, in a wide variety of genres, has been one of the great joys of entertainment, and never has he had a role quite like Lee Hayden, leading a movie quite like “The Hero.”
Walter Hill’s “The Assignment” is a study in contrasts. On one hand, it’s a career high for one of its lead stars, while on the other it’s amongst the career lows for the other. On one hand, it makes a great argument for why we need more female-centered action movies, while on the other it makes a great argument for why we need better female-centered action movies. At times, it shows why we shouldn’t give up on certain stars and filmmakers just because they are “past their prime,” while at other times it shows why those who might not get as many offers for great roles or directing vehicles as they used to might want to not jump at anything that comes their way.