Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Girl in the Spider's Web

 
Film Review by Kam Williams


Claire Foy Shows Her Versatility as Feminist Superhero in Reboot of Swedish Suspense Franchise

The late Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) is best remembered as the author of the Millennium trilogy of posthumously-published best sellers, all of which were eventually made into feature films (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest). His Swedish-language psychological thrillers revolved around a crime-fighting duo composed of veteran journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. 
 
In 2015, David Lagercrantz wrote the fourth installment in the series, “That Which Does Not Kill Us,” which was lauded as a faithful extension of the famed franchise. That book has now been adapted to the big screen as The Girl in the Spider's Web.

Directed by Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe), the film co-stars Claire Foy as Lisbeth and Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael. Foy, who won an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth on The Crown. And she's recently been getting a lot of Oscar buzz for her critically-acclaimed portrayal of astronaut Neil Armstrong's stoic wife, Janet, in First Man.

Here, the versatile thespian exhibits an impressive acting range in a demanding role where she plays a traumatized, incest survivor-turned-righteous vigilante. This incarnation of Lisbeth is not only a brainy, IT expert but a seemingly invincible heroine with an extraordinary set of fighting, driving and survival skills.

As the film unfolds, we find Lisbeth and her sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks) being molested by their father as youngsters. The former makes a daring escape from their snow-capped, mountaintop home, saving herself, but leaving her little sis behind to be violated by the monster for years.

Fast-forward to present-day Stockholm where vengeful Lisbeth is in the midst of unleashing a string of sadistic vigilante attacks against some of the city's worst misogynists. However, the plot makes a sharp turn into world politics when she and sidekick Mikael are recruited to disable a dangerous computer program developed by America's National Security Agency capable of sabotaging other countries' nuclear defense systems.

What ensues is a grisly game of cat-and-mouse played by spies equipped with state-of-the-art gadgetry. As the body count escalates, the relentless bloodletting is presented in such a stylized fashion that it's never really upsetting until the humdinger of a reveal during the dramatic denouement. 
 
Kudos to Claire Foy for oh so convincingly reimagining Lisbeth Salander as a cartoonish, feminist superhero on the order of Wonder Woman!


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence, profanity, sexuality and nudity
Running time: 117 minutes
Production Studio: MGM / Columbia Pictures / Pascal Pictures / Yellow Bird / Scott Rudin Productions / The Cantillon Company / Regency Enterprises
Studio: Columbia Pictures

To see a trailer for The Girl in the Spider's Web, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKMSP9OKspQ


Monday, November 5, 2018

Nobody's Fool

Film Review by Kam Williams


Classy and Trashy Sisters Square Off in Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy

Danica (Tika Sumpter) and Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) may have been raised by the same mother (Whoopi Goldberg), but they're still as different as night and day. The former is a successful businesswoman who was recently promoted to Vice President of a leading, Madison Avenue advertising firm. By contrast, the latter has spent the last five years behind bars while her sis was climbing the corporate ladder. 

Against her better judgment, Danica decides to take Tanya under her wing when she's paroled. So, she not only lets the hot ghetto mess move into her upscale crib but helps her land a gig as a barista at a trendy coffee shop. 
 
Trouble is, the prison-hardened Tanya is so rough around the edges that she has no idea how to behave in polite society. Consequently, she can often be found cursing, flirting, menacing and hurling racial slurs behind the counter indiscriminately.

Tanya should thank her lucky stars that her gentlemanly boss, Frank (Omari Hardwick), has a crush on her sister. Otherwise, her job might be in jeopardy. Too bad Danica's already in a relationship with a shady character (Mehcad Brooks) she's never met and has only interacted with over the internet, or she might give Mr. Right a chance.

Thus unfolds Nobody's Fool, a fish-out-of-water comedy written and directed by Tyler Perry. Tyler's films invariably feature a sassy, trash-talking sister, whether played by him in drag as Madea or, as in this case, by an actual actress, the irrepressible Tiffany Haddish.

Haddish has been hotter than a pistol since stealing every scene in Girls Trip a year ago. Since then, she's hosted Saturday Night Live and co-starred in Uncle Drew, The Oath and Night School.

The problem with Nobody's Fool is that it feels like Tiffany briefly parachuted in to do her crude shtick and split without worrying about developing any chemistry with the rest of the cast. Yes, she is the comedienne of the moment and, if all you're looking for is her coarse act, there's plenty of that lowbrow fare to enjoy.

But when Haddish is not lighting up the screen with her over-the-top antics, what's left is just a predictable, poorly-plotted, Tyler Perry morality play.


Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, drug use, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity
Running time: 110 minutes
Production Studio: Tyler Perry Studios / BET Films / Paramount Players
Studio: Paramount Pictures

To see a trailer for Nobody's Fool, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTxSbKLVnvQ