Kong: Skull Island
Starting with the end, then: both Kong: Skull Island and Land of Mine take place in the aftermath of war. Kong is set just as America is pulling out of Vietnam, leaving Sergeant Sam Jackson without a sense of purpose or an enemy upon which to focus his frustrated fury. Cue the monster ape on an unexplored island!
Surprise, surprise, Jackson is the best thing about the film. (As for Kong himself, I preferred the Peter Jackson iteration, if only because he really moved and looked like an oversized gorilla, as opposed to long-armed, lumpen giant we have here). If only we could have stuck with his story instead of the battle with a finalist the dumbest-looking baddie in cinema history. (“Hey, remember how James Cameron added extra legs to the animals in Avatar and everyone thought that was cool? Well, we're gonna do the same thing, except we're gonna add...by subtracting!”)
Land of Mine (Under Sandet)
Moving on, or moving back in time at least, we come to Land of Mine, set just after the end of World War II. Again we have an angry, embittered soldier at the heart of things, but instead of going up against a monster, he must oversee a team of children as they clear a beach of land mines in artisan fashion. Which is to say, by hand, using only a steel locator rod and their own trembling fingers. After last week's Logan, I'm tempted to start looking at these men-learning-to-be-dads movies as a trend. Anyway, it was very good, if more than a little harrowing.
The Ottoman Lieutenant
Moving still further back, and also to the days before a war instead of the days after, we find Scott's review of The Ottoman Lieutenant. From the days when the Ottoman Empire was a thing. How does a “revisionist slice of Turkish propaganda” garner two stars? By hiding “beneath the cloak of old Hollywood melodrama.” Clever tactic, Lieutenant.
And then there are the more private wars, the kind in which two ladies fight, recover, and then fight again, and recover. You know, like Catfight. The cycle of violence and all that. And speaking of cats, Scott didn't much care for the “feature length alternative to a YouTube kitty video” that was Kedi.
Opening but as yet unreviewed due to technical difficulties with the space/time continuum: Lovesong and Wolves at the Digital Gym.