A hippie shares a meal with her rich opposites.
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Starring Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, and Connie Britton
Initial Review by Jon Kissel
Alternative medicine practice is a killer for me in movies, much like it is in real life. I am being told something about the user/practitioner, and it’s not flattering. There’s not a huge sample size (a term alt-med practitioners are allergic to) of films that engage with this topic, but one that comes to mind is druggy road-trip movie Crystal Fairy. Its woo-woo moron is treated as deeply unstable, loony, and damaged, and is made tolerable by the sheer intolerability of the protagonist. Beatriz at Dinner takes a similar tack. It resists canonizing its titular bullshit artist and humanizes her by putting her in sharp relief to someone with an antithetical belief system. Watching two unlikable people parry and thrust is de riguer for a domestic potboiler, and Miguel Arteta’s film is a strong version of that subgenre.
We’ve been doing this long enough that anyone who’s paid attention to my reviews should know that I’m in on pretty much any movie about a cult. The Master is an all-timer, but my fascination with cults extends to smaller units than faux Scientology. Dogtooth is also in the top 50, and that’s a film where the cult is one family. Wherever there’s people telling bald-faced lies to fawning followers who unquestionably believe them, I’ll be there. Brigsby Bear immediately gets interest points by fitting in this box, but I can’t slap an A on every film whose premise pushes my buttons. The Master or something like Martha Marcy May Marlene are deeply curious about charismatic leaders, mindless ritual, and the creation of dogmatic rule systems, but Brigsby Bear is barely related to that kind of film. It uses a premise I often love to tell a story about making dreams into reality of the let’s-put-on-a-show variety, a premise I am much less fascinated by.
After 14 long years and sequels to “Toy Story (fine),” “Finding Nemo (sure),” “Monsters Inc. (ehh…)”, and a double-dose of “Cars (WHAT?!),” Pixar finally gives us the one movie that actually went out of its way to set up a sequel in “Incredibles 2.” The original, “The Incredibles,” holds up today as one of Pixar’s less-weighty and joyful movies in their catalog. Did the sequel do the same? Indeed it did, and maybe a little too closely.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.