Hammerle On… ‘The Dinner,’ ‘The Lost City of Z,’ ‘Colossal’ and ‘The Circle’

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bob hammerle movie reviewsIf our government would force suspected terrorists to watch these films in isolation, we could abandon waterboarding. If necessary, add “King Arthur” and “Snatched” to the menu. These are my reviews on four current forgettable films.

“The Dinner”

rating-dinner.jpgWhen this film suddenly ended with a question central to the plot left unanswered, numerous members of the audience were left sarcastically sneering in disbelief. As I left my seat, I turned and faced all of them saying, “Good God, we just wasted two hours!” Let me say that most laughed while nodding their heads.

The film tells a convoluted story centering around a dinner at a very fancy French restaurant. Congressman Stan Lohman (Richard Gere in a role where he looks bored in every scene) invites his estranged younger brother and his wife to a meeting where they will try to decide the necessity of revealing to the public a hideous criminal act committed by their sons.

But things are continually going to hell in a handbasket at every moment of this forgettable movie. To begin with, each scene begins with the head chef publicly describing the next dinner course. On top of that, the dinner conversation is constantly interrupted with family members individually leaving the table for reasons that are far too ridiculous to describe.

What is most disappointing about this movie is the role forced upon Steve Coogan, playing Paul, the congressman’s emotionally distressed brother. A schoolteacher, it is clear from the beginning that he is mentally ill, and flashbacks concerning some of his absurd approaches with his class leave you looking at your watch and wondering how much longer this cinematic crap is going to last.

“The Lost City of Z”

rating-z.jpgThis was one of those movies that was all form and no substance. Charlie Hunnam plays Percy Fawcett, an Englishman who in pre-World War I England decided to go to South America to help settle a border dispute between several countries. He somehow survives only to be enticed by the thought that somewhere in the jungle there existed an ancient city waiting to be discovered. That is where the substance of the movie largely began and ended.

Ironically, the strength of the movie flows from the performance of Sienna Miller as Fawcett’s wife Nina, a strong-willed, independent woman who both supports her husband and her ability to survive at home. It is also worth noting the performance of Robert Pattinson as Fawcett’s assistant, Henry Costin. His bearded performance will make him all but unrecognizable for those of you who are fans of his starring role in the “Twilight” saga.

In addition, Tom Holland has a small role as Fawcett’s son who accompanies him on his last expedition after World War I. Holland is about to hit the big time in the soon-to-be-released “Spider-Man: Homecoming” film. Here, while he clearly loves his father, the reality is that this adoration will lead to their mutual destruction.

How could it be possible for a film wrapped around multiple excursions to the Amazon in the early 20th century with a deviation to a participation in trench warfare in World War I not to have emotional appeal?


rating-colossal.jpgAnne Hathaway’s Gloria is a complete mess. She continually arrives at her New York apartment hung over and with little memory of her actions the night before. After her boyfriend sends her packing, she retreats to the small town where she grew up in the hope of finding salvation.

Unfortunately, Gloria finds little relief from her love of alcohol as she quickly meets Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a former school friend from long ago. He owns a family bar and he makes the mistake of offering an alcoholic a job as a waitress.

The strength and weakness of the film flows from Gloria’s discovery of her mysterious relationship to a Godzilla-type monster on the loose in South Korea. While she tries to figure out what in the hell is going on, things take a nasty turn when a robotic monster also appears in Seoul that parallels the actions and attitude of Oscar.

For a brief period of time, the movie creates a mysterious force that is fun to watch. However, the film’s problems flow from the fact that Oscar and Gloria gradually discover that a profound sense of animosity lurks under the surface going back to their childhood. As they gradually begin to torment each other, the monsters in Korea start to do the same thing.

Unfortunately, by the end of this film, the only characters that you really like are the monsters.

“The Circle”

rating-circle.jpg“The Circle” regrettably follows the lead of “Steve Jobs” (2015), a film with similar flaws. Both would have you believe that employees of powerful tech companies in Silicon Valley enjoy nothing more than to repeatedly appear in an auditorium where they cheer their leaders as they are being lectured from a large stage.

Quite frankly, both films resemble the movies made by Leni Riefenstahl where Adolf Hitler is delivering speeches to enraptured crowds who cheer in response. The reaction from the Silicon Valley tech employees was the same as German Nazi sympathizers, and the only thing lacking was the Nazi salute.

With this film, Tom Hanks plays Emon Bailey, the founder of a tech company. Mr. Bailey urges his followers to create a technology where privacy will all but disappear. As an example, he seeks to have his company make millions by developing small cameras no bigger than cufflinks that can record the daily lives of everyone at every location.

What really made this film tough to take was the performance of the talented Emma Watson. Here, she plays a single girl seeking to advance her career by supporting everything and anything suggested by her boss and his henchmen. Though you come to admire her ability to eventually recognize the harm that her company’s products will cause to American citizens, she takes a long time reaching that conclusion.•


Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. Visit www.bigmouthbobs.com to read more of his reviews. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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