With theaters closed and no big-screen movies to review, here are mini-reviews of four titles available on the small screen, where both you and Paul Manafort can find them. Unfortunately, only one of them rates high enough to earn my recommendation.
“Blow The Man Down.” In a tiny fishing village on the coast of Maine, everyone knows everyone. When one of the women who runs the town while the men are at sea dies, her daughters Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) are left with a mortgage they can’t afford plus a pile of other unpaid bills. Priscilla tries to fill her mother’s shoes by taking over the family fish shop, but Mary Beth wants to move on with her life and start somewhere new. When one of the sisters kills a man, the other helps her cover it up, but they discover there are other secrets in the town — and their mother’s past — that could affect them even more. “Blow The Man Down,” an Amazon original, is a quiet movie with a stellar supporting cast, including Margo Martindale, Annette O’Toole, and June Squibb. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
“My Old Lady” is the story of a down-on-his-luck American (Kevin Kline) whose father dies and leaves him a fancy apartment in Paris. But when he goes to claim it, he discovers he doesn’t own it at all. His father had done a French version of a reverse mortgage with the previous owner, whose widow (Maggie Smith) and adult daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas) still live there and have no plans on moving out. Kline gives his usual solid performance, and of course develops a romantic relationship with Thomas, while Smith plays her prototypical cranky old lady. I don’t know what led me to this 2014 indie misstep, but the three leads almost made it worthwhile. I give “My Old Lady” a 5 out of 10.
“21 Bridges.” Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An NYPD detective, who was wrongfully accused of some bad things, is assigned a case involving a couple of cop killers who have to be found — fast — after a restaurant robbery goes horribly wrong. That’s the clichéd basis for “21 Bridges,” starring Chadwick Boseman as the detective and Sienna Miller as the partner from another agency he’s forced to work with on the case. The title comes from the decision to lock down the island of Manhattan, not allowing anyone to get in or out all night long while the search for the bad guys goes on. If you’ve ever seen a movie with a rogue cop uncovering a possible connection to corruption within the police department, you’ve seen “21 Bridges.” That’s unfortunate, because the two leads — and JK Simmons as a superior — are as good as they always are. Too bad the script and direction offer absolutely no surprises. I give “21 Bridges” a 4 out of 10.
“The Last Thing He Wanted.” Anne Hathaway is an extremely talented actress who has made some very bad career choices in the last few years, including “Colossal,” “The Hustle,” and now this movie, which is based on a Joan Didion novel. She plays Elena McMahon, a veteran field journalist who is guilted into going on an errand for her father (Willem Dafoe), who has been involved in some naughty things including illegally moving guns and drugs. Elena thinks it will make a good story, but before long she’s pulled into something way over her head. Ben Affleck shows up as a CIA operative who may or may not be willing to help her. The whole thing wants to be some sort of commentary on the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, but it turns into a mess. I give “The Last Thing He Wanted” a 3 out of 10.