You know the annoying guy who sits next to you on the airplane/bus/subway and won’t shut up, and then gets all weird when you try to end the one-way conversation? Woody Harrelson made an entire movie about him. “Wilson” (2017) is fascinatingly entertaining, in that I was fascinated that I found it entertaining. I have always held that it’s impossible to cure America of mass murderers because there are so many weird, middle-aged-loner white guys that don’t become mass murderers. They just stay weird. And lonely. And (mostly) harmless. And possibly misunderstood. And now they have movies made about them.


When I first saw “Hot Fuzz” (2007) on DVD, it was around the same time the unwanted “Vacation” reboot was in theaters (and incessantly subjecting me to an unfunny commercial where the family is swimming in poop). What a difference. Comedy is not dead. “Hot Fuzz” is cleverly funny and has a plot. It has peepee jokes and has a plot. It has cartoon violence and has a plot. It name checks other movies and has a plot. The plot? It’s a simple cross between a buddy cop movie and an episode of “Scooby Doo.” But. It. Has. A. Plot.

There’s a very witty and well-acted scene at the family dining room table early in “Snatched” (2017). I remember it well because it rang so true – and also because it’s one of the few truly funny moments in this disposable Amy Schumer vehicle that got lost somewhere in the Amazon jungle. Bickering mom and daughter go on vacation. Boring formula comedy hijinks ensue. Nonsensical plot twists. Wasted supporting players (Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack) and forced shock humor. Stunt casting – Goldie Hawn as the mom (I’m going to Hell for saying this, but Hawn’s awful, face-related preservative technology was a distraction).

There are plenty of movies about two guys trying to outdo one another, but none quite like “The Prestige” (2006). Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play a pair of magicians who duel to the bitter end. And I do mean bitter. And I do mean end. The first half is tedious and non-sequential, which is, as usual, more work than art (something filmmakers refuse to understand). Once the time sequence gets a little straighter, the pace picks up. False climaxes are layered with macabre worthy of Poe. And then you get blindsided with the oldest trick in the storyteller’s book.

I’ve never had a whole lot of love for films where nobody’s able to get their shit together. So, “A Woman, A Part” (2017). Batshit crazy actress at the end of her rope walks off the set and out of her L.A. TV series world, back to Brooklyn and all her hip, batshit crazy friends. It’s like she’s trying to bathe herself in her friends’ old neuroses as a way of cleansing herself of her own. But you know, they’re all show people, so we can’t judge. A great movie for voyeuristic theaterphiles. If you’re not, you can do without.

Jerusalem’s a messed-up place, what with everybody who lives there wanting to kill each other and everything. That’s my 17-word synopsis of current geopolitics, as well as the 2005 film “Kingdom of Heaven,” which takes place 900 years earlier, when Jerusalem was just as messed up as now. Except back then, dreamy Orlando Bloom served as a knight who represented all that is good in men. Because of that, all the non-dreamy men want to kill him. So, basically, people haven’t learned a damn thing in the past 900 years, which this film goes to great lengths to remind us.

When you bring home a war movie that stars a professional wrestler, you’re prepared to watch a meathead special. Not so with “The Wall” (2017). About two minutes in, I got the sense this was going to be some kind of throwback drama, like a teleplay from 50 years ago or a short story from even longer ago. (The fact the wrestler doesn’t have a lot of dialogue helps.) An Army Ranger and an Iraqi jihadist square off physically, technologically and psychologically, but the story could have just as easily been set in World War II or the Civil War.