Daniel Barnes @ the SNR (5/15 issue)

index#barnesyardharrumphs:

*Almost every “costume drama” deals with the inequities of privilege, with the focus usually falling on class and gender divides. Amma Asante’s Belle (pictured below) adds racial inequality into the mix, and the wrinkle is almost compelling enough to forgive the superficial treatment it receives.

#barnesyarddumps:index

*Jon Hamm plays struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein, and although this emotionally withdrawn huckster is right in his Don Draper wheelhouse, the film’s dewy-eyed sentiment is a bad look on Hamm. J.B. launches the “Million Dollar Arm” talent competition throughout India, hoping to convert hard-throwing cricket players into pitchers. At one point, J.B. calls India “a study in extremes,” but Million Dollar Arm is a study in soft, squishy middles.

*Although strapped with an exponentially larger budget, director Gareth Edwards gives his Godzilla recharge (pictured above) the same lo-fi Spielberg-ian treatment as his debut feature film Monsters. It’s an admirable strategy, and a potentially profound one, but it only works if the characters are well-rounded and the story is worth a damn. Unfortunately, Edwards lacks Spielberg’s storytelling zest and deep reservoirs of humanity, and the execution in both films is humorless and dull.