Harry Dean Stanton’s final role must be in consideration for one of his best. In actor-turned-first-time-director John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky, Stanton’s wiry, weathered presence dominates a film that is, fittingly, about endings and death. Stanton’s titular character is a version of himself that never acted or became tangentially famous. Many of the details are the same. Neither Stanton nor Lucky ever married or had children, they both served in the Navy during WWII, both lived much longer than their actuarial tables would suggest, and they’re both friends with David Lynch, who plays a barfly who’s lost his tortoise. From that shared backstory, the film puts Lucky in a dusty California town and simply observes his daily routine and the philosophy that has guided his life. The film knows that Stanton is a charismatic presence in spite of himself, and it’s a pleasure to watch him do anything, even if it’s as acinematic as working on a crossword puzzle in a diner.
Huck Finn gets transplanted to the Outer Banks in the endearing Peanut Butter Falcon. Shia LaBeouf, popping up for his semi-annual reminder that he’s far more than an annoying public presence, and newcomer Zach Gottsagen play this version’s raft dwellers, lighting out for the colonies i.e. the Florida swamps. A debut feature from Tyler Nilsen and Michael Schwartz, the Peanut Butter Falcon is notable for multiple reasons, perhaps none moreso than the presence of Downs Syndrome-afflicted Gottsagen in the lead role. He’s no generic, semi-offensive source of uplift, he’s giving a real performance that relies on considered body language and comic timing. Nilsen and Schwartz leave some necessary facets out of their charming film, but the inclusion of Gottsagen is an unimpeachable choice.
Based on its recurrence in my recommendations, Youtube’s been dying to show me a video essay entitled ‘The Last Jedi is a complete cinematic failure’ for years. While I’ve never clicked on the link because I like Rian Johnson’s eighth episode of the Star Wars saga well enough, someone at Disney must have seen it based on JJ Abrams’ conclusion, The Rise of Skywalker. The Last Jedi had its issues, namely an intense conversation with fandom that continuously broke the film’s spell, but it also was a daring attempt to subvert the franchise’s storytelling tropes and push them in a more egalitarian direction, in addition to being a rejection of Abrams’ mystery-box plotting in favor of more considered characterization. For Abrams and his Disney paymasters, turnabout is fair-play and every major reveal in The Last Jedi is undone in The Rise of Skywalker, resulting in possibly the most bland and unimaginative entry of the entire franchise, including George Lucas’ misbegotten prequels.
Random projects from the MMC Universe.