Bad Times at The El Royale: 6/10
Drew Goddard is an impressive writer and his directorial debut Cabin In The Woods was a surprising instant cult classic for me. He’s great at misdirection and making complicated plots a thrilling ride. However, El Royale sees him flex his directorial muscles a little too much, leaving it over stylised to the point that it feels like a Tarantino fan movie. The over reliance on shocking violence and the threat there of compounds that issue.
The leads performances are all committed and a joy to watch, with the exception of Hemsworth being a little too hammy (though it’s Goddard obsession with the guys physique that tips the character into pastiche the 70s cult leader stereotype).
Because Goddard is a great writer it keeps you thoroughly hooked. There’s a ‘for crying out loud’ moment at the end when Goddard relies upon a horribly hackneyed cliche to frame his ending, which tbh sowers one’s enjoyment of the whole movie. It seems Goddard got bored of his own screenplay at the end and just wanted it over with.
A shame, because one standout feature was that the characters were all given time to establish their motivations (hence such a long runtime for a contained story). All the more frustrating when the ending cuts corners.
White Boy Rick: 6.5/10
I was eager to see this bond directing candidate’s latest. I’m a fan of ‘71, but think much of that movie’s success is down to Jack O’Connell’s enormous screen presence and excellent acting chops; imo he’s the next Tom Hardy and would make a great successor to Craig’s Bond, despite being slightly short).
White Boy Rick has great performances. McConaughey‘s is outstanding, showing all the cracks, his vices and virtues. In one particular climactic moment his decision whether or not to act illustrates both weakness and strength all at once; a triumph in the hardest aspect of storytelling - the greytone complexities of real life.
That of course comes down to the script and that itself relies upon true events (though how accurate such moments are we can never really know).
Where many movies sensationalise, this film seems to play down - I’m guessing that that’s in faith with true events. This leaves much of it a little flatter than it could’ve (perhaps should’ve) been. I, Tonya didn’t seem to sacrifice the truth of what happenned (though again, how do I really know?), but it was a far more cinematic experience. When all’s said and done White Boy Rick feels more biography than cinema.
But you have to take your hat off to an ending that stays biographic and is all the stronger for it. There must’ve been pressure from the studio to sex up the ending a little, but it resists and it’s a real kick in the gut (in an artistically good way). I won’t give it away, suffice to say that it doesn’t sell out and that leaves an impression.
N.B. As a bond director… nothing here to suggests he’s an obvious choice. I still find McKenzie a more attractive option, with Starred Up and Hell or High Water both being outstanding movies (and Outlaw King is far more enjoyable than its reception suggested). And anyhow, I’d wager that Nolan or Villinueve will debut Bond 7.
The Ch4 drama Top Boy is a better calling card for Demange as a talent to watch.