And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Finch

If you make it to the one-hour mark of Finch, you’ll probably make it through to the end none the worse for wear. But getting through the first half of this post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama requires a lot of patience, and caffeine. Tom Hanks plays an ailing robotics engineer named Finch Weinberg who managed to survive a cataclysmic solar event that left most of the world a wasteland. For ten years, he’s lived in a bunker in St. Louis with his dog Goodyear. Finch knows that radiation poisoning is eventually going to kill him, so he builds a robot to protect and care for Goodyear when he’s gone. The robot, an entirely computer-generated character played effectively and affectively by Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; X-Men: First Class) names itself “Jeff.” When a deadly superstorm approaches the region, Finch, Goodyear and Jeff pile into an RV for a cross-country roadtrip into the unknown. Final destination: San Francisco, where the environs may be friendlier.

Review: The Outpost

The Outpost is a war movie. War movies are hard to watch. They’re especially hard to watch when you can’t tell the characters apart – even with on-screen “lower thirds” peppered throughout to try and alert you to who’s who, and where. But hey- this is war. It’s ugly. And loud. And bloody. And, as with most war movies, it pays tribute to soldiers lost, heroes made, and survivors burdened with the memory of what they’ve been through… in this case, a deadly attack by the Taliban on an “indefensible” Outpost in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. The Outpost is based on the 2012 New York Times best-seller “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor” by CNN’s Jake Tapper. Everything about this film screams low-budget labor of love. So while I found the acting and dialogue inconsistent at best, I can appreciate what it’s trying to do. And, it’s a story that gains extra resonance in light of recent intelligence reports that Russia has been offering Taliban-linked militants money to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan. If nothing else, this type of film reminds us there is still (for all intents and purposes) a war going on – and American troops are still dying over there – a full decade after the battle depicted in The Outpost.

Review: The Dead Don’t Die

Anyone who’s been a fan of Jim Jarmusch’s movies over the years – Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train – knows he has an off-center view of the world and it’s events. So going into his take on a zombie flick, you don’t expect the usual Night of the Living Dead scare-fest. And you don’t get one. What you get is a deadpan Sheriff (Bill Murray) and his pessimistic Deputy (Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) dealing with their small town being overrun by hordes of their friends and family from the nearby graveyard, all watched from afar by the town’s wise Hermit Bob (Tom Waites). It’s a fairly straight zombie apocalypse story, but it’s peopled by a slew of wacky Jarmusch characters and told with a wink and a nod. All in all it’s sometimes fun, but definitely not a film for lovers of the horror genre it’s making fun of the whole time.