Managed this week to catch up with two Oscar-nominated films and one highly praised streaming TV series … and I want to offer my take on them.
The Banshees of Inisherin is a wonderfully Irish film written and directed by Martin McDonagh … and by Irish, I mean it is unbelievably bleak, leavened with moments of humor and pathos.
The plot is fairly simple. It is 1923, and on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, two lifelong friends suddenly find themselves at odds as Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) informs Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) that he no longer wants to spend any time with him. Pádraic is mystified, and unwilling to accept this turn of events, and from there the plot gets darker and darker and darker still.
I'll tell you no more of the plot for fear of spoiling anything, except to day that Farrell and Gleeson are simply grand in their roles, and matched by Barry Keoghan as a troubled local lad and Kerry Condon as Pádraic's sister. The Banshees of Inisherin is a terrific movie, but you have to be prepared for a tough couple of hours of movie-going. (A tumbler of Jameson' might be helpful.)
I watched Everything Everywhere All at Once with the full knowledge that a) it was an absurdist comedy that had gotten a lot of critical raves, and b) it got more Oscar nominations this year than any other movie.
To be honest, I don't get it. I mean, I understand why people like it so much, and why its subject matter appeals to so many people. But it just didn't work for me, as much as I liked the performances by Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis.
To me, it seemed as if the writers/directors dropped acid, watched Sliding Doors, The Matrix, and Inception, then dropped acid again before sitting down to write a screenplay that essentially is about a mid-life crisis played out in the multiverse. I understand the intent, but the sensory overload was way too much for me - it is the very definition of videogame filmmaking. That said, the young people I know who have seen it really liked it, so maybe I'm just not the audience.
The thing I have liked the most this week is "Poker Face," the new Rian Johnson-produced TV series streaming on Peacock.
"Poker Face" stars Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale, a young woman who has the unique ability to tell when people are lying. For reasons I will not explain here, she finds herself on the run from a Las Vegas casino owner, going from town to town and solving mysteries with her unique talent along the way.
If that sounds like a 1970s-style TV mystery movie, that's because it is - "Poker Face" has elements of all the great NBC Mystery Movies of the time, especially "Columbo," right down to the style of the opening credits, which look just like the style that Universal used at the time for "McCloud," "McMillan & Wife," "Columbo," "The Bold Ones," and "The Name of the Game." At one point, I found myself watching Lyonne, who essentially has Peter Falk's voice and was wearing David Starsky's sweater.
I recognize that for the vast majority of the MNB audience, none of the references of the past several sentences make any sense at all … but "Poker Face" is escapist fun, well written and acted, and a perfect antidote to winter's gloom.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.