I might have overdone it at the theater last weekend. It was one of those weeks where life became a perfect storm of exhaustion, seasonal affective disorder and heartsickness, so I figured I would apply comforting cinematic ointment to my poor, addled brain. So, across three days, I went to six movies in the theater, basking in the flickering lights of different lives and far away worlds. It might have been too many movies, but it also helped me re-center and reconnect with myself. Although...some of the movies were definitely better than others. Here's what I saw.
"RRR:" This was my third viewing of the Tollywood modern classic and I'm not sure I could possibly love it more. It's easily the greatest epic martial arts/musical/romance/period drama/buddy comedy ever made and feels like the cinematic equivalent of a warm hug. It's the most fun you can possibly have watching a movie with a central theme that says the only thing better than friendship is the blood of the colonizer. Truly awe inspiring in every possible way.
"Air:" This is one of those movies that exists in that really specific genre of "Intelligent People that are Good at Their Jobs Talking and Doing Stuff" and I'm here for it. While it's a ton of fun watching a movie about the creation of the Air Jordan at Nike in Beaverton set in the mid-'80s, it also hit me that ultimately, even though the film isn't really cynical, it's also basically focused on a million-dollar corporation becoming a billion-dollar one. As a lifelong fan of Michael Jordan, I was captivated, but I did have to actively ignore the constant self-aggrandizing romanticization of consumerism.
"Enys Men:" Set on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast in 1973, the film follows a woman who observes the changes of a rare flower each day. Shot on 16mm and featuring no more than a dozen or so lines of dialogue, "Enys Men" creates a tone of such metaphysical eeriness and retro psychological intensity that, even though the movie isn't really scary, it hangs out in your mind like a miasmatic daymare. Fans of the late, unsung genius Nicolas Roeg will be elated to discover this weird-ass mood piece.
"Paint:" In a way, it feels like Owen Wilson was born to play Bob Ross, but in "Paint" he's playing Carl Nargle, a painter on PBS in Vermont that looks, sounds and...paints like Bob Ross. Nargle is a little swarthier than Ross, though. He likes to seduce fans in his van and is only capable of painting the same mountain range over and over, so he's definitely not Bob Ross. Then why make him look just like Ross, then? The movie won't help you understand that, but it does have some solid moments of dry wit and an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye in a Wes Anderson sort of way. Just don't expect to remember much about it next week.
"The Super Mario Bros. Movie:" While there are quite a few Easter eggs throughout this animated adventure for people who grew up playing Mario on Nintendo, going back to the early '80s, this is very much aimed at kids now, not middle-aged nerds who were small 35-40 years ago. Chris Pratt and Charlie Day are lively as Mario and Luigi, but this wasn't for me. When the film slows down to give Mario daddy issues, I was bored out of my skull, but when Donkey Kong starts destroying Koopas at Mario Kart, I was waterboarded with nostalgia. I don't really know if that's good or not.
"Renfield:" Nicolas Cage was born to play Dracula and I'm grateful I exist at the one time in all of history where I could witness his gloriousness. This is fast-paced, funny and stunningly violent, while also being extremely dumb, corny and ridiculous. The first half an hour is so very great, though, with Cage adding depth to a feral and disturbing Dracula. My biggest issue is that Nicholas Hoult's Renfield is nowhere near as interesting as the thousand-year-old undead serial killer vampire. Whenever Cage isn't on screen, the film suffers. Although, the always-great Ben Schwartz (Jean Ralphio from "Parks and Rec") snorts an entire centipede at one point, so even when Cage is elsewhere, it's still pretty fun. Eventually filmmakers will learn that the more Cage, the better.