The BFI London Film Festival draws ever closer and the …
There’s a hilarious moment in the classic ‘80s comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles when Steve Martin has finally had enough of John Candy’s inane anecdotes. “When you’re telling these little stories,” he instructs Candy, “here’s a good idea… have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!” If only the makers of the new spy actioner Kingsman: The Secret Service had taken that advice. Despite all of its self-satisfied smugness, Kingsman neglects to give us a coherent story, consistent tone, or anything worth caring about. It’s ironic that a film trying so hard to be inventive and outrageous ends up being such a derivative bore.
Interstellar begins at an indeterminate point in Earth’s future, when blight and drought are pushing humanity to the breaking point. “This world is a treasure, but it’s been telling us to leave for a long time now,” laments engineer-turned-farmer, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). He’s a practical man who set aside dreams of space travel in order to provide for his family, and yet his powerful intellect keeps him sneaking glances skyward. When he and his precocious daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy), decipher mysterious signals directing them to random GPS coordinates, Cooper is only too eager to indulge his curiosity.
I really jibe with what Interstellar is trying to accomplish. I want big budget films to aim intellectually and emotionally high. I agree with most of its messages and themes. I am the choir it is preaching to. Which makes it all the more disappointing that the movie is, in the most charitable view, only haphazardly successful. There are aspects to love about the movie — it’s the best-looking blockbuster in years, and there are some truly enrapturing moments. but that’s scattered among strings of misaimed beats across a punishing, nearly three-hour runtime.
“Some things are better left unexplained,” a character intones at one point in Now You See Me, a wise lesson that the film’s trio of screenwriters should’ve taken to heart. This heist film, in which a quartet of magicians are highly intelligent thieves (or are they?), becomes more nonsensical and inexplicable the more we learn about how these tricksters have robbed banks (or have they?) and sent federal agents on various wild-goose chases (or were…well, you get the idea).