our trip to joshua tree

vacation movies

Watched a couple of movies while on vacation last week, and they were perfect for the occasion, meaning they weren't very good but they passed the time pleasantly with friends.

Murder on the Orient Express (Kenneth Branagh, 2017). I'm not sure why this keeps getting remade. In all formats, it's the fourth version in my lifetime (a movie in 1974 that earned Ingrid Bergman an Oscar for Supporting Actress, a stripped-down made-for-TV version in 2001, and an even more stripped down TV episode in 2010 ... I didn't count it, but there was even a Japanese mini-series). Since it features a surprise ending, and since that ending is no surprise once you've seen one of the films or read the book, it would seem that the story would have increasingly limited returns. Shows what I know ... it earned more than $350 million at the box office, and a sequel has already been announced. Kenneth Branagh carries his affectations too far, both as Poirot and as the director, where he indulges in odd flashiness to no apparent purpose. Penélope Cruz wears a wig that does the impossible, making her look homely. Michelle Pfeiffer comes off best ... for more of her, try Dangerous Liaisons.

Colossal (Nacho Vigalando, 2016). This is a dirt-cheap ($15 million) homage to Kaiju films that falls apart in a plot that rarely makes any sense. Anne Hathaway does what she can as an alcoholic "writer" who goes back to her hometown after her boyfriend (Dan Stevens from Legion) breaks up with her. Jason Sudeikis is also interesting as her childhood friend. But the movie is too stupid to make anything of its ideas. Some critics liked it ... Matt Zoller Seitz gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 4, offering a good description of the film: "Imagine a relatively laid back, small-scaled indie comedy about a woman coming to terms with the mess she's made of her life, but with her demons represented by a kaiju that looks like something out of an older 'Godzilla' movie." I admit, though, that I didn't see much comedy. For more Anne Hathaway, check out her Oscar-nominated performance in Rachel Getting Married.


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