My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.
This week focuses on all new movies from this year.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
John Lee Hancock is my favorite Hollywood director working right now. He’s a craftsman in the old tradition of the business, presenting solid stories one after the other in a variety of genres. Starting with The Founder onwards, I’ve been watching to see what he does next and Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is yet another creative success.
Following his undervalued The Little Things with another thriller, Hancock leans on a Stephen King story that is more in the Stand by Me/Dolores Claiborne mode, a gloomy but realistic character piece. I can see many modern audience members getting bored with Hancock’s long build up and development of the relationships, but I applaud him for it. It’s the film’s slow but careful good laugh that makes its supernatural turns more effective.
All of the performers are good, especially Donald Sutherland in what could be one of his best late career roles. Hancock isn’t making masterpieces. I don’t even think he’s trying to. But neither did most of the great Hollywood craftsmen of the golden age that we admire today. They put their nose to the grind and made consistently good pictures. That’s what he’s up to.
Watched on Netflix
See How They Run (2022)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
The more I think about this movie the more disappointed I become in its execution. A fun concept of a murder mystery behind the scenes of an Agatha Christie play is carried out in the most uninspired way. And really, everyone’s to blame except for a spry Saoirse Ronan.
Yes, that includes Sam Rockwell, one of my favorite modern actors, who practically sleepwalks through this picture. It’s hard to believe Rockwell took this as a payday; he seems far too smart and passionate of a performer to cash in. Therefore, I must believe that his boring delivery of this detective character was an actor’s choice and an unwise one that wasn’t corrected by director Tom George. Rockwell, who usually steals every picture he’s in, just doesn’t seem engaged. If he was trying to play the alcoholic despair of his character, it didn’t come across. Instead, he seems bored and that’s how I felt watching him.
The only redeeming light is Ronan, annoying at first but ultimately the best part of this routine, tired mystery romp. She brings such life, enthusiasm, and sincerity to her cop role that it’s almost worth watching the movie just to see her.
Watched at Icon Cinema in Colorado Springs
The Outfit (2022)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
This film seemed to come and go with little fanfare. It certainly deserves more attention, more credit for its ensemble of performances, its sharp dialog, and excellent use of one setting. I was against it from the start because of its title, the same as one of my favorite crime pictures ever (and the best Richard Stark adaptation). I still think they should have used a different name but for lovers of the gangster genre and films with plenty of twists and turns, this is must see. Mark Rylance is interesting as the cutter who seems to be much more but it’s a shame the filmmakers felt the need to completely reveal his history. They could have hinted at something and left the rest a mystery. Alas, the last ten minutes of this movie are too explanatory and contrived. They spoil an otherwise intelligent thriller. I would have given this film a higher rating if the ending wasn’t a miss.
Watched on Amazon Prime