Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

Monthly Archive: August 2019

Sunday

11

August 2019

0

COMMENTS

Mike Wallace Is Here Presents a Compelling Portrait of a Legendary Figure in Television News

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

Television transformed the role of the free press in countless ways. Newsmagazine programs blended the idea of information with entertainment, with forceful presenters such as Mike Wallace developing a keen sense of interview style that provided much enjoyment for an audience, if not the subject. Mike Wallace Is Here chronicles the life and legacy of one of America’s most consequential journalists.

The film covers a wide scope of Wallace’s long career, from his early days in showbusiness through the end of his time on 60 Minutes. Wallace wore many hats in his career, acting as a radio presenter and on-camera pitchman among others, providing some fascinating insight into how television developed in its infancy. Wallace’s Night Beat set the tempo for his adversarial interviewing style, asking tough questions that translated well to an audience watching at home.

Presented entirely through archival footage, without any narration or contemporary interviews, the film largely lets its subject, who died in 2012, speak for himself. The use of footage of Wallace being interviewed, particularly by fellow 60 Minutes pioneer Morley Safer, allows director Avi Belkin to dive into territory he would otherwise be unable to explore. Wallace feels alive and well throughout the documentary, aided by Belkin’s soft-handed approach.

The use of archival footage also allows the film to thoroughly assess Wallace’s legacy without any of the over the top platitudes that are often showered upon the deceased. Wallace was an immensely important figure in television journalism, whose impact is still being felt to this day. The film explores the ways he shaped his field without drawing unnecessary lines to the present. It’s easy to see Wallace’s approach alive and well in the way that President Trump paints the media as his enemy, but this film isn’t about the present.

Belkin doesn’t shy away from the critical lens. Wallace was a flawed man who often went too hard on his interviewees and was often an absentee father. Oftentimes, he struggled when asked the kinds of questions he favored in practically every interview. The film handles his struggles with depression with grace. Belkin presents his subject as thoroughly human, while never losing sight of the immense legacy he left behind.

Mike Wallace Is Here is a timely film, exploring the past to offer plenty of commentary on the present. Wallace changed the way people engage with the news. The film manages to be a touching tribute that honors both Wallace and his signature adversarial approach.

Share Button

Tuesday

6

August 2019

0

COMMENTS

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Is Entertaining Summer Fun

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

If you removed the “Fast & Furious Presents” label from Hobbs & Shaw before showing the film to a person who had only seen 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, there’s a good chance they would never suspect the two were connected. The original entry in the long-running franchise focused primarily on car racing, with actual crime serving as more of a vehicle to drive the plot than anything else. Nowadays it would seem odd if the narrative didn’t include saving the world.

As its title suggests, Hobbs & Shaw focuses on Luke Hobbs & Deckard Shaw, who originally entered the series as the villains for the fifth and seventh entries, respectively. After both enjoyed turns on the good side, the two find themselves working together to stop a super virus from wiping out humanity. Neither character particularly likes the other, creating an interesting buddy cop-esque dynamic throughout the film.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are two of the most well-known action stars currently performing. The two have a natural chemistry that works well for the humor-laced narrative. Vanessa Kirby balances out the dynamic as Deckard’s sister Hattie, an MI6 agent infected with the virus. The plot follows the three of them for most of the film, as they try to figure out how to get the virus out of Hattie before it falls into the hands of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a cyber-enhanced super soldier hell-bent on destroying the world.

The film continues the celebration of excess that has defined the Fast & Furious franchise since its fifth entry. There are countless explosions and reality-defying stunts. Elba essentially plays a riff on The Terminator, a notion not lost on the film. The plot calls for a heavy helping of suspension of disbelief, the kind of narrative where it’s best not to overthink anything, or everything.

Hobbs & Shaw never loses sight of the escapism it exists to provide. The characters have fun the whole time, keeping with the series’ emphasis on family. Deckard and Luke aren’t really there to be friends, but they manage to work together without anything feeling artificial.

The film’s biggest detriment is its runtime. Clocking in at a little over two hours, the narrative is stretched about as far as it could go. Part of this issue stems from the fact that the narrative blatantly goes out of its way to give The Rock and Statham equal time for just about every scene where they don’t appear together. Such a balance was probably not necessary for a franchise that usually needs to juggle several other leads, as a result feeling a bit more relaxed from the get-go.

Few films have felt more at home in the month of August, where the dog days of summer welcome the kind of excess Hobbs & Shaw offers in abundance. This franchise has come a long way from its street racing roots. One does naturally wonder how many more times this team can save the world. For a series that’s owned excess with such grace, that question sure doesn’t provide itself with an easy answer.

Share Button