Lady Bird & 3 Billboards

December, 2017, Commentary


   Lady Bird


 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

 Judged artistically and commercially, 2017 is grinding to a close as a real dud in cinematic terms. Jakes Takes reviewed just one handful of movies this year - - and of those, (Manchester by the Sea) was an Oscar contender from last year. Hollywood’s penchant for comic book escapism, (Spiderman-Homecoming, Thor: Ragnrok, Wonder Woman) and sequels (7 of this year’s top 10 movies at the box office were re-treads) combined to dry up the supply of feature films designed for adult audiences. With the explosion in Cable T.V. channels offering high quality, limited-run dramatic series have essentially driven the over 40 audience out of movie-going. In this environment, it’s disappointing but not surprising that two of the year-end’s most widely praised films share a number of similarities.

 Both movies listed above are the fruit of writer/directors, Greta Gerwig and Mark McDonagh respectively. Each features a female in the lead (Saoirse Ronan and Frances McDormand) who portrays an exceptionally strong-willed character with a tone-deaf, manipulative interpersonal style that puts her at combustible odds with those in her orbit. It’s a tribute to both artists that their performances are likely to earn each of them a nomination as Best Actress in this year’s Oscar race.

 But these stellar performances can lost in scripts that fail their actors, burying them in storylines that wander from one incident to next with the ultimate effect of wearing out their welcome. Lady Bird takes nearly 2 hours to stagger to a conclusion telegraphed in the first 10 minutes of its running time while 3 Billboards lurches to an incoherent denouement at odds with nearly everything that’s gone before it. It’s easy to admire bits and pieces of these movies, but embracing them wholeheartedly just isn’t in the cards.

 The verdict? Wait until these arrive on whatever cable channel system you’re already paying for at home.


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