Ford V. Ferrari…Plastic Bumpers & Loose Screws

Ok, I need a mechanic..ya see, I’ve got this car and it looks great (Christian Bale, Tracy Letts) and has a tremendous history (the life story of Ken Miles is truly compelling), HOWEVER, the freakin’ thing seems to sputter.

Jez and John-Henry Butterworth co-wrote the script and have done super work on Black Mass and Edge of Tomorrow, so maybe perhaps they tried. Jason Keller’s history isn’t as strong (could he be the plastic bumper?), don’t know what his input was. The irony is that the Ford Motor’s problem was too many cooks running the show, perhaps the movie suffers from the same problem. The first ten minutes of the film could have easily been excised.

I don’t think its the director James Mangold’s fault either as his legacy (3:10 to Yuma, for one)…aw wait! Here’s a screw loose…The Greatest Showman…ok the crux of the problem in this film has The Greatest Showman’s corn factor, for one. Bale is such a heavy weight actor, let him get in the dirt more. More anger, more obsession. Yet the movie played it too safe, sanitizing him (as they did Mr. Barnum in Greatest Show) to be a wholesome dude who threw a wrench once in awhile. Not enough.

The Bale marriage was contrived and the couple (sorry Caitriona Balfe) had no chemistry. Give me some sex for goodness sakes.

What’s good: the race scenes were very well done and better than some of the dialogue. Scenes with Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington (Academy Award winner for a short film in 2002!) were genuine. Noah Jupe does his best as the son, but compared to what he did in Honey Boy, he probably felt like saying, ‘can I phone this in (yawn)?’

I was moved by the end when finally Matt Damon was allowed to act rather than just chew gum and look angry. Ken Miles’ life story deserves better writing and a more avant-garde stylistic rendering.

This model, unfortunately, needs a re-call.

My New Number One Movie of the Year: Honey Boy

Results may change after some thought, but after seeing Honey Boy over the weekend in NYC, it’s my number one film of the year. In fact, when you think about it, the film has a great horse name, hence my top three finishers in this year’s ‘race’ are:

1. Honey Boy
2. The Lighthouse
3. Peanut Butter Falcon

If you’re a true buff, you see a two out of three ain’t bad theme running here: Shia LeBouf. And once you see Honey Boy, you’ll have what I now refer to as “Brian Wilson” moment, empathy for those who were traumatized by well meaning, but abusive parents.

Shia wrote the film about his father and chose Israel born music video and film director Alma Har’el to execute direction. Shia happened upon a Ha’rel video a few years back and decided her artistic eye would be perfect for his tweener to mid 20’s slice of life story. This summer smitten by Peanut Butter Falcon, I watched Alma’s Love + True, after seeing it pop up on my X-finity Demand list as a Lebouf project…he merely produced it, which while disappointed not to see his ruggedly handsome face, was a poignant and moving film mixing real and dramatized versions of from memory, a surfer in Hawaii and a stripper from Alaska. I watch at least two movies a week and for me to even be able to conjure up specific scenes as I can easily with this one, speaks highly of Ha’rel’s impact.

The acting in Honey Boy is phenomenal. Every single human in the film is genuine. Shia playing his own father (talk about a mind trip!), Noah Jupe is terrific as the tweener Shia, Lucas Hedges fantastic as the 22 year old Shia. Byron Bowers has one of the funnier (ironic) lines in the film and two tv veterans Laura San Giacomo and Martin Starr are great in their therapists’ roles. Last, but certainly not least, FKA Twigs is super as the equally damaged tweener seductress.

Go see this!! I can’t go again, it’s too traumatizing emotionally, but Shia is a triumph playing a man trying to break the cycle of abuse. I truly believe his film could reach some people locked in a self-abusive cycle.

ASIDE: Angelika Theater (NYC) is definitely worth going to: excellent atmosphere, roomy leg room, excellent popcorn and a staff that treats you like Jim Carey did his constituents in The Majestic. Really.