by Miguel E. Rodriguez

DIRECTOR: Martin McDonagh
CAST: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan
ROTTEN TOMATOMETER: 96% Certified Fresh

PLOT: Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, bringing unexpected consequences for them both.

Is The Banshees of Inisherin slow?  Yes.

Is The Banshees of Inisherin sad?  Yes.

Does the movie have a sad ending or a happy one?  Yes.

These are not normally the trademarks of a movie I rush out to see.  In fact, I didn’t see The Banshees of Inisherin at a movie theater for those very reasons.  I had heard that, yes, it is well-written and extraordinarily well-acted, but that it was a bit of a slog.  I had hoped Banshees would be another film like In Bruges, one of the finest dark comedies ever made, but that did not seem to be the case.  So, I stayed away.

Well, I have just finished watching it at home, and I can confirm the film’s slowness and unavoidable moments of sadness, but they are contrasted with unexpected comic beats.  (I was going to say “unintended,” but they were surely intentional, further confirming the ingenuity of the screenplay by director Martin McDonagh.)  I can also confirm that this is one of the most unpredictable stories I’ve ever seen, and I mean literally, like ever.  At first, I was comparing it to Melville’s short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener”, but that turned out to be woefully inadequate.  The Banshees of Inisherin does have the structure of a fine short story, but there its similarities to Melville ends.  I’m not sure if Banshees has a chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture, but it’s certainly one of the strongest contenders for Best Original Screenplay.

Pádraic (Farrell) lives on the fictional island of Inisherin, off the Irish coast, in the early spring of 1923.  He is stunned one day to learn that his best friend, Colm (Gleeson), has abruptly decided to end their lifelong friendship, cold turkey.  Colm doesn’t want to talk to Pádraic for any reason whatsoever, nor does he give a reason, at least not initially.  When Pádraic persists in speaking to Colm, Colm gives him a warning: Every time he talks to or bothers Colm in any way from here on, Colm will cut off one of his own fingers and give it to Pádraic, until he stops or until Colm has no fingers left.

It was at this point that I sat up and started really paying attention.  I’ve lived long enough to know the specific kind of grief and consternation that occurs when a long-term friend abruptly cuts off all contact for reasons that are not at all clear.  So I felt Pádraic’s pain, I saw it in his face, when he realized how serious Colm was with his threat.  At that moment, I drew mental lines: Pádraic was the protagonist, and Colm was the antagonist.

Of course, Pádraic is the good guy.  He’s nice!  His adult sister, Siobhan (Kerry Condon), confirms it!  I mean, sure, he’s a little dull, and maybe not all that smart, and maybe he has a pet miniature donkey that he lets in the house when his sister isn’t looking, and he’s never heard of Mozart, but is that a crime?  Is that reason enough to end a friendship?  Pádraic doesn’t think so.  I didn’t think so!  Pádraic is so full of righteous anger that he confronts Colm.  Colm is dumbstruck.  Their conversation ends in a bit of an impasse.  And then, the next morning, as Siobhan prepares breakfast, they hear a thunk on the front door…aaand you’ll have to watch the movie for further plot developments.

(While I watched The Banshees of Inisherin, my girlfriend wondered if I was watching some kind of slapstick comedy with the volume of laughter coming from our movie room.  My explanation of why I was laughing, and what I was laughing at, didn’t quite translate.)

What is Banshees trying to say?  In my opinion, perhaps it’s this: you can’t go through life worrying about what other people think of you.  When Colm lays down the law, Pádraic should have just sucked it up and moved on with his life, right?  I was originally comparing their situation to something that might happen on social media, when someone expresses a very negative view of your post or opinion or whatever.  What do you do?  Latch onto it and let it gnaw away at you?  Post rebuttal after rebuttal until you change their mind?  (Spoiler alert: you won’t.)

As I said, that kind of thinking made Pádraic the good guy and Colm the bad guy.  But then Pádraic starts making some very bad, very DUMB decisions.  He starts listening to the advice of the closest thing they have to a village idiot, Dominic (Barry Keoghan), who suggests that Pádraic just needs a new approach: tough love.  At that point, if he’s dumb enough to take advice from a moron, whatever happens next is on him, right?  So now the balance changes.  Now Pádraic is the bad guy/dumbass and Colm is the good guy.  Just leave him alone, dude.

(For the record, Colm does explain his decision, which may shed some light on his own state of mind.  Depression?  Despair?  The screenplay offers clues, but nothing truly definitive.)

All through the film is Pádraic’s sister, Siobhan, who functions as the audience surrogate.  “You’re all f*****g boring!  With your piddling grievances over nothin’!”  She is as dumbfounded as we are at Colm’s stubbornness.  Not to mention at her brother’s foolish attempts to reconnect with someone who clearly doesn’t want to be bothered.  There are a couple of moments when it seems as if all is forgiven, but alas, it is not to be.  Siobhan’s solution to rid herself of their bickering is as simple as it is final.

When the credits rolled, I found myself wondering what kind of review this was going to be.  I liked the movie.  But it is slow and sad.  But its massive unpredictability sucked me in as inevitably as if I were watching Kill Bill or Interstellar.  That’s the key factor to The Banshees of Inisherin.  You may think you know what’s about to happen, but just try to guess exactly how the movie ends, and see how wrong you are.


By Marc S. Sanders

You ever hear of the modern term “ghosting?”  Normally, it applies to social media, like with Facebook, Instagram and every other brain cell sucker app we occupy ourselves with on our electronic devices.  It’s where suddenly, for no reason at all, a friend or acquaintance will stop speaking to you.  They will ignore your attempts to talk.  If they do talk to you, they simply will say stop talking to me and do not call me again. They will never share a reason for this new perspective they have for you.  They just want to continue with their lives without you being a part of it.  I have been ghosted on two separate occasions.  It hurts.  It really hurts, and I constantly must remind myself not to dwell on these people.  They don’t care.  They lack any further regard.  It’s just unbelievably puzzling when it happens.

With The Banshees Of Inisherin, director Martin McDonagh reunites Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who shared the screen together in the well received In Bruges, to portray these two former friends.  Farrell plays Padraic.  Gleeson is Colm.  The film takes place in 1923 on the fictional Irish coastal island of Inisherin.  Padraic strolls over to Colm’s house to walk with him to the pub for their daily 2pm pint together while they chat.  Upon arrival, Colm is seen sitting in his home, ignoring Padraic’s knocks on the door and window.  It’s odd and unexpected. 

When Padraic shows up at the pub alone and later Colm arrives, the other regulars ask Padraic if the two lifelong friends are “rowing.”  Not to Padraic’s knowledge.  Maybe this is an April’s Fools joke?!?!

Colm holds true to his new position.  He explains to Padraic, with no uncertain terms, that he no longer wants to speak with him.  Padraic makes attempts to open up to Colm hoping they can hash this out, but there is nothing penetrating Colm’s stance.

What lends to the sustenance of the near two-hour film is the setting that Padraic resides within.  An island in the middle of nowhere where he has no interests or hobbies or specialties for anything.  He really has only happily lived with his friendship with Colm, which is now suddenly yanked away from him.  He lives well with his sister, Siobhan (Kerry Condon), and his adoring miniature donkey, Jenny.  Siobhan truly loves her brother, but not Jenny or the other animals who reside on their property.  As the Irish Civil War is coming to a close, an educated Siobhan is ready to move on from the nothingness of Inisherin.  Padraic is not.  He’s lived so comfortably on the Irish coastal island his whole life.

Colin Farrell is an actor you want to embrace in this film.  As I’ve experienced something similar to what Padraic endures, I can relate to what stuns him at his sudden loss of friendship.  Padraic is a good man.  Colm knows this which is seemingly why extremes needs to be undertaken to stress exactly how Colm feels about Padraic going forward.  Colm cannot simply plead for Padraic to move on.  He first makes the request.  Later, he has to do something else to deliver his point.  When I say extremes are taken, you can not even imagine what occurs.  It’s shocking, but believable. 

Brendan Gleeson normally offers an intimidating presence on screen.  He falls into roles of men you’d likely only cautiously approach.  The same goes for his character of Colm here.  McDonagh wrote the character with no compromise. Only when a significant turn occurs, does Colm violate his feelings with how he regards his former friend.

Kerry Condon should get an Oscar nomination along with Gleeson and Farrell. Siobhan is both a loving sister but while she’s the younger sibling, she is also the more sensible.  As Siobhan, Condon’s timing for losing patience in the part is well paced.  Condon is awarded with some of the best dialogue in the script.  McDonagh could have written this film from the perspective of her role, rather than Padraic’s, and I bet it would still work thanks to what she lends to the piece.

Barry Keoghan plays a young regular around Inisherin named Dominic.  Kind of like a local idiot who is undeservedly abused by his policeman father.  Keoghan’s role is a side story, but he plays it so well.  Despite Siobhan’s protests, Padraic takes Dominic in.  He’s not meant to replace the void that Colm left in Padraic’s life but it further reminds you of the kindness of Farrell’s character.  It begs the question why someone would ultimately stop speaking with a good person like Padraic, at a given instant.

My wife was not interested in watching this film and asked me to give her a rundown of what happens from beginning to end.  When you describe The Banshees Of Inisherin out loud, you sound ridiculous even though you’ve appreciated some of the surprising moments you just watched.  I told my wife; you have to see it to understand.  I understand Padraic’s yearning for the friendship he once had.  I understand the measures he takes in response to the one thing he valued beyond his sister and his pet donkey.  When you live in a low populated island town with little stimulation beyond the people who have been a part of your entire life, to suddenly lose that is devastating.

Martin McDonagh has crafted an unusual script.  Often, break ups in films go the traditional route of the loving relationship going through a split.  If it’s a friendship, I’d argue I’ve seen it occur more often between two women.  McDonagh’s film acknowledges the impasse among two grown men.  His script could have been occupied only with dialogue constructed of standard duet scenes between two very strong actors.  Fortunately, he doesn’t just rely on that.  McDonagh stretches his imagination further to drive home the point of how these two men respond to this unfortunate outcome.  The actions they take are startling, but as I reflect on the script for the film, I cannot deny how alert McDonagh is with crafting the motives of his characters. At the very least, I’m empathetic for poor Padraic who struggles with the loss of a friend. 

To lose a friend is to lose a part of your soul. What can I say? I’m an overly sensitive guy.  It’s always been my Achille’s heel.  How do I survive, though? I think back to what my father once told me.  He said “Marc, if you have one friend in life, then you’re the luckiest guy in the world.”  Thankfully, I’m rich in many friendships.

Forgive my digression though.  It’s important to know The Banshees Of Inisherin is a very good and a very sound film.


By Marc S. Sanders

Mark Steven Johnson is probably a director you never heard of. He made two very bad movies based on Marvel’s character Ghost Rider featuring Nicholas Cage. Still Johnson has one redeeming quality and that is the very underappreciated Daredevil featuring Ben Affleck in the title role.

It’s not so much that Affleck is good in the role as blind lawyer/vigilante Matt Murdock aka the title character. More so, is that Johnson writes and directs a solid film very faithful to the source material. So, reader, what if you tell me you never read the comic books? My reply, so what! There’s still a lot of fun and colorful characters to get caught up in and you should have no trouble getting the hang of it.

Michael Clarke Duncan’s hulking physique was always his best attribute and serves him well as the crime warlord Kingpin aka Wilson Fisk, the puppet master of Hell’s Kitchen and the man responsible for the death of Murdock’s washed up boxer father. Colin Farrell chews the scenery (maybe little too much on my repeat viewing many years later) as Bullseye, a mercenary villain who can use any object as a precise throwing weapon, whether it be a card, a pencil, or shards of glass. It’s a ridiculous and unlikely talent but Farrell makes the most of it and the character serves as a perfect foil to the blind vigilante hero who uses his remaining four senses to skillfully fight and dodge and acrobat his way through rooftops over the city at night.

Jon Faverau (before directing Iron Man) is welcome relief as Murdock’s legal partner with some good humor material. Jennifer Garner is filler in the role of Elektra, a skilled fighter with trident weapons in each hand and the film’s standard love interest looking for revenge. Garner is nothing special. I’ll say it. She’s here based on her looks and her body and at the time she was the action go to gal (thanks to her TV show Alias) when Angelina Jolie was not available.

Affleck is fine in the part. He’s got the looks and physique. You can easily believe he’s a lawyer. If anything, I could have done without his voiceover narration. I think the film narrates itself fine without additional instructions. I’d argue that Affleck and Johnson could have taken this franchise further. At the time, it actually got good reviews. What did not help were the published exploitations of Affleck with his girlfriend at the time (now new bride), Jennifer Lopez (and later Garner), as well as his other poor choices of roles like Gigli and the insultingly embarrassing Pearl Harbor. (Main character Raif McCauley I have not yet forgotten!!!!)

Years later, some of the fight scenes look clunky. Some of the mid 2000’s alt rock is a little much (but Evanescence is always welcome, especially during a nicely dramatic rainy funeral scene). However, Johnson still has some tricks up his sleeve that work really well. He uses a great filming technique where Daredevil can see by means of sonic waves of sound thus making him more attuned to the trajectory of a bullet or where to find his adversaries. So, to pit a blind guy against the greatest marksman…yeah that’s a dual worth seeing. This gimmick was invented in the comics by Stan Lee and John Romita, yet very well captured in the medium of film. Another great bit is to translate how Daredevil can tell if a person is lying, a great skill for any lawyer to have. He can hear their heartbeat. Duh! Especially well done is how Murdock can see the facial features of Elekra during a brief escapade in the rain. Johnson CGIs it in midnight blue to leave an impression. Yes, Garner’s best moment comes when she’s animated in CGI blue.

The film offers a great theme of superimposing the devil image of the vigilante against the backdrop of the catholic church and other opportunities for a cross to intrude a scene. It hints that Matt Murdock is a religious catholic, but not enough. It seemingly questions the actions of its hero. Affleck even asks himself at one point “Am I the bad guy?” It’s a good additional dimension to the character; one I wish Johnson capitalized on a little more. When is a vigilante truly crossing over into the realm of sin?

Daredevil is worth watching and not worth comparing to the Netflix series. The product is served in two different mediums, one of which has the luxury of telling its story over a span of 10 hours each year. The original film, though, is condensed quite well in origin and character. Live with that and feel forsaken.


By Marc S. Sanders

Why can’t Disney adapt a good book anymore? They massacred A Wrinkle In Time. Now they’ve taken a hatchet to Artemis Fowl, a Disney + byproduct that was shamelessly shelled out during the height of the pandemic.

There had to have been a more fleshed out, extended film here. Scenes are taped together with no bridge. All I can imagine is some suit insisted on cutting the guts out of director Kenneth Branagh’s film to ensure that its target kid audience would sit still, at least for 95 minutes. The same line of thinking had to have been applied to Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle In Time. Both films introduce characters that serve no purpose or make no sense. One character here shows up just to shout “Artemis!”

Speaking of the title character, what is he really? We are told by the narrator known as Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) that Artemis Jr (an uninteresting kid actor named Ferdia Shaw who must’ve gotten the part cuz he looks good with sunglasses) is one of the greatest twelve-year-old geniuses of all time. He literally has an answer for any question that comes his way. So we’re told! Fact is, all this kid does is shoot a laser gun and wear a black Tarantino suit and tie. Never once in this film did I see Artemis Fowl demonstrate any of his genius, mind bending abilities. He surfs in the ocean outside his Ireland mansion. Does that merit the aptitude of a genius?

Artemis Sr (Colin Farrell) is apparently believed to be a thief of rare, priceless collectibles. After telling his son about some tale involving fairies that live in an underworld, he is soon kidnapped. It is now up to Junior with his trusty butler (Nonso Anosi) to rescue him. This butler doesn’t measure up to Batman’s Alfred. All this butler does is introduce young Artemis to a basement he was never aware of. Mulch also explains that if you call him Butler, he’ll snap you in two. Too bad we never got to see that. (Why tell us, dammit????) Then….AND I AM GOING TO SPOIL THIS SURPRISE….he dies. Tears must flow of course, but all I ever thought of was that gee, I hardly knew this guy.

Artemis Jr must recover a MacGuffin called the “Auculus.” How many times must I hear the word Auculus in a span of an hour and a half? The Auculus. The Auculus. THE AUCULUS!!!!!! Enough already. The filmmakers must believe that the more you say it, well then the more important the Auculus must be. My question: WHAT IN THE HELL DOES THIS AUCULUS EVEN DO?????

Judi Dench is here but only for the purpose of wearing a green leather trench coat that appears to weigh her down and doing what I think is likely a terrible enunciation of an elderly Irish lady’s accent. She plays the General of the fairy army. Dench is awful in this role and appears as lost in the effects as I was. Half the time I didn’t know what was going on. All of the time Judi Dench didn’t know what was going on.

The one main fairy is Holly Short (Lara McDonald) sent on a mission to go to Artemis’ mansion. Once she gets there, I truly lost track of why she was there to begin with. However, she seemed to have more activities to do than the title character is ever given. Once again, the super genius Artemis just shoots a gun. Holly at least gets to fly around with her motorized wings; yes, this is a fairy with an engine to activate her wings.

Artemis Fowl is a gorgeous looking picture. The special CGI effects are truly dazzling to look at with incredible color, but only if I’m watching a fireworks display at Magic Kingdom. Within a story, I have no clue what purpose any of the visuals serve or what possible results could come of anything. Nothing is explained here; much like this Auculus I talked about earlier.

The culture of the film is a failure as well. We are shown that this story is rooted out of Ireland. Where’s the Irish inspiration though? There’s no sense of inspiring traditions to learn from or appreciate. The soundtrack is hardly Celtic. Truly criminal is casting a Jewish Josh Gad and an English Judi Dench. For authencity’s sake, couldn’t actual Irish talent have been used instead of terrible dialects from marquee names?

There had to be a better film here. I’m talking a 2 1/2 hour film with solid, interesting exposition with mystery and questions like the first Harry Potter film. Nothing is of any consequence or comprehension here. How could I be so lost with this film?

This is a pattern for Disney of late. They acquire the rights to some wonderful children’s stories and then just mix some kind of slop in a slow cooker. A Wrinkle In Time, John Carter, and now this dreck. I don’t understand though. If the studio is so committed to packing so much into Avengers and Star Wars movies then why can’t they do the same with its other properties? I promise that kids will sit engaged with a longer film if it’s constructed with care. I know it.

Artemis Fowl is a squandered opportunity. They had the beloved novel by Eoin Colfer to springboard off of, and I know, without even reading the book, that they disregarded almost everything that made this story so special. It couldn’t be more apparent.

Artemis Fowl is a textbook example of when Hollywood does a complete disservice to its author as well as its target audience. It’s a criminal adaptation. It’s a betrayal of the intelligence that kids really come equipped with. It’s a terrible violation of culture and it’s an awful, awful, awful film.


By Marc. S. Sanders

I really do like the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling.   The attention to detail is marvelous.  The landscapes she has painted over eight best-selling books that follow the adventures of a boy wizard, are limitless.  A new kind of fun vocabulary was invented thanks to her colorful imagination.  Still, she needs an editor!  Even if it is not a novel, her recent screenplays that follow the escapades of another magical protagonist, Newt Scamander, and his small, distressed suitcase drift off into so many side stories, it is difficult to focus on a central plot at play.  While some might appreciate the assortment of distractions, for me it grows a little frustrating.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (great title) is the first of what will become five new films that focus on an earlier time before the famous boy who lived was ever born.  Rowling takes the magic to New York City for the odd, but adorably likable Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to accompany his suitcase that carries the most unusual creatures that any other fantasy has likely ever introduced.  There’s a platypus duck thing that has a penchant for stealing jewelry and coin; perfect for stuffed animal merchandising at Universal Studios.  There’s a purplish-blue mosquito that twittles around.  There’s a dragon and an elephant/rhino combo thing.  There are bright green grasshoppers that hide in Newt’s jacket pocket.  It’s an encyclopedia of Rowling wildlife.

Newt arrives in Depression era New York and some of the creatures flip the buckles on the suitcase open, and before you know it, he’s chasing them through the streets.  Soon after, he gets his bag mixed up with another one belonging to a lovable baker “No Maj” (American term for “Muggle” or non-magic person) named Stanley Kowalski (Dan Fogler).  From there, a partnership is forged, and the men are pursuing the missing animals through the city bank, the zoo, tenement buildings and jewelry shops.  Romantic angles serve the men by way of magical sisters, Tina and Queenie (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol).

Parallel to all of this are concerns of a magic criminal known as Grindlewald who is making headlines for his various worldwide offenses.  The North American magic congress is disturbed by these events and rely on a man named Graves (Colin Farrell) to investigate.  As well, there is a No Maj woman (Samantha Morton) leading a chorus of city folk and politicians (including Jon Voight) in the hunt for what are believed to be witches and those that are committing crimes of witchcraft.  This woman serves also as a foster mother to numerous children, two of which are known as Credence and Modesty (Ezra Miller and Faith Wood-Blagrove).  These two in particular are curiously quiet with a dark way about them. 

So, yeah!  There’s a lot going on here.  There are a lot of stories to explore and a lot of characters to meet. As well, there are a lot of animals to learn about.

David Yates has become the go to director for the Harry Potter franchise and he takes up the mantle here as well.  This first film in the new series is gorgeous to look at with its period piece art design and the CGI special effects blend nicely with the human actors. 

However, the film loses itself over and over again with the different avenues it takes.  One moment we are supposed to feel the tension of Grindlewald on the loose. Then we are getting into madcap mischief with two other characters chasing down silly creatures seemingly inspired by a Jumanji theme.  We are also treated to an opportunity to literally step down into the suitcase for a whole other world of different settings where these animals are meant to be housed.  It’s wonderous for sure and Yates simply allows time for observation and nothing else.  Intermittently within the film, we also end up following these two dark children who are altogether disturbing, and we wonder why.  How and when do they come into play?  Rowling’s script is more concerned with painting broad strokes of new environments, rather than staying focused on one trajectory.  At times, I’m asking myself, where did we leave off with this storyline or that storyline.

Eddie Redmayne is adorably quirky, but maybe a little too much.  He has the “Willy Wonka” palette to his wrangler occupation. Though, his dialogue gets swallowed in his modified English accent and it is difficult to comprehend what he is saying.  He’s deliberately mumbling his words to build upon the oddities that come with Rowling’s character.  Newt has a name for each creature in the film, but there’s no way I could understand what he calls them.  I don’t even think his acting partner, Dan Fogler, understands everything being said to him.  On this latest viewing with my wife, we opted to turn the subtitles on our 4K player.

The characters are suitably atmospheric for the dark and unusual that stems from Rowling’s imagination.  Colin Farrell always plays well as the handsome, yet brooding man of mystery.  Ezra Miller seems to come from the cloth of a Tim Burton iteration.  Fogler’s character is the best though.  His expressions of stare at the amazements he’s witnessing for the first time represent the audience.  He’s not the bumbling fool that other storytellers might depict him to be.  He truly can’t believe his eyes at first, but eventually builds an affinity for the fantasy in front of him.

The ending somehow brings all of these characters together. It is engaging for sure with an action-packed encounter with a black cloud blob within the underground subway tracks. Then it is concluded with a celebrity cameo that teases of what’s to come. 

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is not unwatchable, but it requires extra attention so that you can recall where one story leaves off and then later resumes itself.  Often, I found myself asking how did I get here, and then my mind would wander and I’d get distracted from the continuing narrative. 

There’s no doubt of the kind of power and influence J.K. Rowling has.  If only someone would be brave enough to offer her a little constructive criticism, though.  The Fantastic Beasts series was originally meant to be a trilogy of films.  Then her contract with Warner Bros expanded to five films.  You know what?  With all that Rowling has to share with us, I think she might need ten or twelve films.


By Marc S. Sanders

Another year at the movies, means another trip to see Batman on the big screen.  I think we are close to a dozen iterations, no?  Fortunately, the latest reinvention for March 2022, The Batman, is a refreshing interpretation that focuses on the detective skills of the masked vigilante hero who prowls from the rooftops of Gotham City.  Matt Reeves has written and directed a gripping and engaging film that doesn’t rely on simple paint by numbers.  He’s capitalized on using the mysterious Riddler (Paul Dano) as the main villain here, and Batman’s (Robert Pattinson) brains get more exercise than his brawn.   

It is the second year since Batman has introduced himself to the crime ridden city.  The man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne, keeps a journal of his exploits and observations, and through voiceover he questions if his actions have benefitted since it appears that crime has only increased since his first appearance.  A serial killer is taking responsibility for the grisly deaths of important people within the city and he’s leaving greeting cards for “The Batman” with a common scribble of “No More Lies,” along with a “?,” and a riddle for The Batman to solve.  Thanks to a strong partnership with Police Lt. Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), Batman is given easy access to the crime scenes so he can attempt to reveal the mysterious villain and determine exactly what his endgame is. The Riddler doesn’t make it easy, though.

Mobsters like the Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) have a grip on the city, as well.  There’s also a possible lead from a woman (Zoe Kravitz) who’s managed to infiltrate the gangsters’ underground headquarters.  She also has the fighting skills and agility that’s comparable to the caped crusader, and maybe she’s a cat burglar as well.  Still, is she pertinent to Batman’s investigation or not?

It’s better not to spoil anything that occurs in Reeves’ film.  The mysteries that are uncovered are part of the fun, and it does take some time and exposition to get there, but I found it worth it.  Barring a few ingredients within the film that I recognized from the Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton films, the picture is worth seeing for a new formula on a character, that although is a favorite of mine, I feel has also been done to death on the big and small screens.  This is a Batman film where I appreciate the thinking approach of its craft, over the action.  When Batman is playing detective with Jim Gordon, it is much more enticing than just another Batmobile chase or another ham-handed fist fight.  This film is a test of Batman’s mental capacity and ability for analysis.

Reeves direction is also appreciated, though I’m expecting the naysayers.  The Batman is a very dark motion picture.  When it’s not dark, the photography is dim and blurred.  There’s lots of rain and dimly lit streets and garages.  There are strobe lit nightclubs.  Windows are blurred, so sometimes you can’t make out the image in front of you.  He makes the viewer work for the focus and that kept me alert.  I believe Matt Reeves was attempting to give the viewer the literal point of view of the characters.  It will not be a surprise, however, to find some movie watchers lose patience with the technique. 

The Riddler especially is most mysterious with a twisted and inspired Zodiac killer approach.  Often, Matt Reeves’ film feels especially reminiscent of David Fincher’s Seven.  I would not be surprised if Reeves wrote his script as a cop/detective story, and then added the Batman flavor to make his final draft.  This is not a picture of grand special effects or superpowers and gadgets. 

It’s definitely not the Batman film that everyone wants.  I foresee the response being very divisive.  Nonetheless, if you’re a Batman devotee like me who grew up on the character in the macabre storied comics (as well as the hammy tongue in cheek material), you’re going to be thankful for this “at last” interpretation.  I’ll definitely be seeing it again.

NOTE: The Batman is not a film for children under age 13. I truly believe that. There are disturbing images and threats within the story, and the violence depicted or left to the imagination is not for celebratory effect and amusement. This is definitely a film for mature audiences. Do not presume it’s meant for all ages based on its misleading marketing approach with companies like Legos and Little Caesars pizza.


by Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman
My Rating: 4/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 87% Certified Fresh

PLOT: In a dystopian near-future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or be transformed into an animal.

[So, yeah, this is about 1,800 words of how much I disliked the majority of this movie, so this review is FULL OF SPOILERS, because it pissed me off so much…if you have ANY interest in seeing this movie, I’d seriously advise against reading this review.  I’d advise you MORE against SEEING the movie, but whatever, dealer’s choice.]

“The course of your relationship will be monitored closely by our staff and by me personally. If you encounter any problems, any tensions, any arguing, that you cannot resolve yourselves, you will be assigned children. That usually helps, a lot.” – Hotel Manager (Olivia Colman)

(That’s the best line in the movie, just thought you should get the highlight now.)


I first became interested in The Lobster after discovering The Favourite, one of the very best films of 2018.  I thought director Yorgos Lanthimos’s vision and directorial style were stunningly original, and the story was exquisitely well-acted by all three of the female leads.  So, by extension, I figured The Lobster would be more of the same.  It came highly recommended by other friends, and I remember seeing it in stores with that now-familiar “Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes” sticker.

Well, I just finished watching The Lobster on Netflix.  It was, putting it mildly, a major letdown.

It had a promising start.  The opening scene features a woman driving wordlessly through some countryside.  She stops on the side of the road, and as she exits the car, you can see she’s carrying a revolver.  She calmly walks into a field and approaches a nearby donkey and…well, let me just say that my attention was immediately grabbed.

Eventually, the audience is fed enough information to deduce that, for reasons left unexplained, single people from The City (it’s never referred to by its proper name) are being trucked to a resort hotel in the country.  Their personal possessions are confiscated, and they are assigned small rooms with single beds.  They are calmly informed that, if they manage to pair up with another hotel guest, they will both be relocated to a room with a queen bed, and from there to a yacht.  (They are mum about what’s supposed to happen after that.)

If, however, you are unable to pair up with someone after 45 days, you will be literally transformed into an animal.  You are permitted to decide which animal.  Well, naturally. (David, our “hero” (Colin Farrell), wants to be a lobster if his time comes, although not for any reasons that Phoebe Bouffay might celebrate…)

So…yeah.  You’ve basically got Logan’s Run meets Black Mirror.


For the first section of the film, taking place mostly in and around the resort, I was mesmerized.  It felt like the best films of Spike Jonze, or even Monty Python.  For example, The Hotel strictly prohibits masturbation.  When John C. Reilly’s character breaks this rule, his punishment is bizarre but, I would imagine, 100% effective.  (And let me just say, it’s probably not what you’re thinking.)

Another bizarre moment: sexual intercourse with any other guest while still single is also strictly prohibited, but as part of the “treatment” for a single person, once a day, a maid comes to your room to replace any tranquilizer darts you may have used the previous night (long story) and then performs, for lack of a better word, a lap dance.  This dance, while technically “erotic”, is drained of any sexual chemistry.  It defies description.  It is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen on film in recent years.

Now, I LIKE bizarre.  This whole opening third of the film is right up my alley.  I had literally NO idea where any of this was headed, and that thrills me. But then…disaster strikes, at least from my point of view.

David, Colin Farrell’s character, can take it no longer and engineers an escape from the Hotel.  In the surrounding forests, he discovers a band of Loners, single people who survive off the land, as they are unwelcome in The City.  They pride themselves on being able to do what they want where they want (as long as it’s not in The City), but they ALSO have strict rules about not pairing up.  Masturbation: A-OK.  Hooking up: VERBOTEN.

From an allegorical point of view, I believe The Hotel represents the cult of Couplehood, or Marriage, if you like, that tends to assault single folks, in one way or another, their entire single life.  (Argue with me all you want, but if you want concrete examples, look no further than television commercials, game, set, match.)  On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the cult of Singularity [my own name, not from the film], the folks who love being single so much that, when their friends couple up, the single friend backs off from invitations and begs off of parties and fades away, because who needs that pressure, am I right?

So the rules of the Loners make sense from that perspective.  But…from a STORY perspective, the movie comes to a stop once David finds himself in that forest.  He meets a beautiful woman (Rachel Weisz, credited only as “Short Sighted Woman”), they flirt surreptitiously, they develop a forbidden relationship, they go undercover into the city with another faux couple (just to prove they can, I guess), and then they are discovered by the leader of the Loners.  The Loner leader tricks Short Sighted Woman into seeing an eye doctor on the pretense of getting her vision corrected, but instead, the doctor [SPOILER ALERT] blinds her as punishment for her transgression.

BLINDS her.  Don’t you think a severe tongue-lashing and two nights without food or water would have sufficed here?  I mean, what the actual f***?

At this point, I was getting tired of this story.  I felt bogged down by melodrama after a seriously promising start.  (For example, the way in which the forbidden relationship between David and Short Sighted Woman was discovered was absurdly preventable; it felt like something that happened only because the screenplay required it, not because it was something the characters would actually do.)


So, now we’re at the REAL reason I disliked this movie so much.  If you’ve stuck with me this long, we’re at the home stretch.  MAJOR spoiler follows, so last chance to bail.

David and the newly-blinded S.S.W. engineer a second escape and wind up on foot on a country road, presumably heading into The City.  At this point, I made a startling realization.  From an allegorical point of view, David and S.S.W., at least to a small degree, represented my relationship with my own girlfriend.  They were in a relationship, but not an officially “sanctioned” one (Marriage), so they don’t belong in The City.  And they’re a couple, but not truly “single”, so they don’t belong at The Hotel.  They’re in relationship limbo, at least as far as cultural designations go.

I was like, “Hey!  Finally, a movie that acknowledges a relationship like mine!  …although I certainly don’t feel like I’m navigating a no-man’s land, but at least we’re being represented in some small way.”

So.  They wind up at a diner, where David makes a decision: he will blind himself with a steak knife.

What.  The f**k.  What is this plot point supposed to represent in this allegory?  The need (requirement?) for one partner in a relationship to make drastic changes to themselves, physically or otherwise, in order to belong with the other person?  I understand the need for change and compromise in ANY relationship, but here’s my two cents: if you decide your relationship depends on you BLINDING YOURSELF for your partner, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

So, picture the scene: David leaves blind S.S.W. at the table and heads to the bathroom.  We see him preparing to do the deed.  The knife is in his hand.  He stuffs paper towels in his mouth to stifle the screams that are sure to come.  He holds the steak knife with the point JUST about to penetrate the eyeball.  Suddenly, CUT back to S.S.W. at the table.  Waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting some more.  A waiter refreshes her water glass.  She continues waiting.  Through the diner window, construction is in progress across the street.  She waits.  And waits.  And waits.


Reader, I am being 100% truthful when I say, at that point, I literally flipped the double-bird at my TV screen and yelled out, “WHAT THE F**K!!!”

I mean, seriously…what is the POINT of that dangling participle of an ending?  There are only three possible outcomes: he blinds himself and returns to S.S.W., OR he chickens out and returns to S.S.W., OR he chickens out and bails on S.S.W.  Since we get the Schrodinger’s Cat ending, it is simultaneously ALL of those endings and NONE of those endings, which is extraordinarily FRUSTRATING BEYOND BELIEF.  I got NO resolution to the story OR the characters.  Do they try to find safe harbor in The City, perhaps on forged documents?  Do they travel the country, taking only the back roads and taking shelter in backyard sheds or hastily dug shelters?  ARE THEY BOTH BLIND during all this?

Don’t tell me, “Well, it’s up to you what happens.  What do YOU think he does?”  I don’t know, I DIDN’T WRITE THE SCREENPLAY.  Farrell plays the character with an almost childlike simplicity, so it’s impossible to predict what he’ll do.  This serves the story extremely well in the first part of the movie, but it does the viewing audience no favors when it comes to this absurd anti-climax.

I felt short-changed and cheated at the end of this movie.  And I really liked the characters, and I liked the first third of the story, and I stuck with it hoping it would arrive at a grand conclusion, some epic, symbolic imagery that would bring things full circle or SOMETHING.  And I got bupkis.  That’s not how you treat a viewer, folks.  I felt insulted.

So.  Despite my hatred for the ending, I still give it a 4 (rounding up 1/3 of 10) because of how original and oddball the first third of the film was, and how much promise it displayed.  If they had stuck with that tone all the way through, I could see this REALLY being a gem.  As it is, I would like to quote Admiral Ackbar: