Hello there! Yes, it’s been awhile. Most of my recent film criticism can be found over at the website Films Fatale as I’ve been writing all of my new release film reviews there. While my most current film reviews will continue to be published there for the foreseeable future, the oddities and random bouts of obsession with films of any age will continue to arrive here in new and exciting forms! I’ve listed links below to each new film review that I’ve written for them, give them a look if you’re curious as to what I’ve been up to. On to the business at hand however, I could not think of two movies more disparate and tonally opposite of each other than the (relatively) recent films “Cocaine Bear” and “Tár”. So, if you’re a madman and planning on hosting a Double Feature movie night with a few friends- this pairing may work for you. Though while I watched “Cocaine Bear” first and “Tár” second, I would recommend switching the order of films. I’ll detail those reasons below.
Written by Jimmy Warden, and directed by Elizabeth Banks, “Cocaine Bear” feels more like a scheme to make a quick buck than it does an actual movie. This is, apparently, a movie now. Based on a weak “True Story” hook, way out in the rural mountains of Tennessee in the summer of 1985 a drug smuggler lost a delivery of Cocaine after tossing his payload out of a plane. As you probably guessed, a black bear finds the powder bricks and eats a few of them. Unfortunately for the local patrons of the forest the bear goes on a killing rampage, but the film also occasionally depicts the bear favorably after dispatching a number of people, some bad, some just stupid. Besides the occasional laugh at the sheer stupidity of everything onscreen, “Cocaine Bear” is just a cheap story structure crafted to hopefully make a few dollars at the box office. I can’t really see any other reason to attach a few recognizable actors (Keri Russell as “MOM”, Alden Ehrenreich as the depressed son of a mobster, the late Ray Liotta as said Mobster etc.) to the film and market the hell out of this cinematic lark on social media other than a cynical attempt to make some box office noise and cash. The main issue I have with the storytelling at hand, if you can call it that, is the lack of focus. Is the bear a slasher villain of sorts? Is the bear just a victim of circumstance and therefore an innocent animal just high on drugs? Is any of this even funny? If you want to make a horror-comedy you need to blend the genres with better consistency for maximum immersion. This could have been a thriller, or just a straight up comedy, but once you say it’s a horror-comedy, you have to actually commit to balancing that depiction. This one can be a good time, but only with a few good friends and a cocktail or two.
Final Score: 1 Black Bear High on Cocaine
Written and directed by Todd Field, “Tár” works like a biopic for the fictional character of Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), a world renowned composer-conductor widely considered to be one of the greatest living figures in the field. When we meet Lydia Tár she’s at the height of her fame and power. She’s about to launch a book and she’s preparing for the much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at the Berlin Philharmonic. The remainder of the film focuses on Tár’s fall from grace. Admittedly, this one didn’t connect with me for most of the runtime, there were some scenes that were more interesting, like when Tár is teaching a class at Juilliard and one of the students dismisses the work of a classical composer due to the problematic nature of being a cis white male that supported the patriarchy? I’m not entirely sure of the strength of the student’s argument of disregarding the past because of moral differences from today’s perspective, but since this is a film about the abuses of power in modern society, the scene is more about how Tár carries herself as a person in a position of power. In fact the whole film is about that subject matter in a variety of scenes and scenarios. I can see that the film is incredibly well made, down to the editing, the color palette consistency, the way that powerful people abusing others isn’t depicted as *big* or front and center as other films or filmmakers would make it out to be. Of course, there is the moment when everything boils over and Tár assaults her replacement at the performance of her recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony- everything else within the film is, however, glacial when concerned with it’s pacing. If it weren’t for the extremely committed and skilled Cate Blanchett in the lead role, the film would have been a disaster. She really does make it worth a watch. I can respect this film, but my experience watching it was just plain boring to me. That might be sacrilegious to some, but if it doesn’t connect with me, it just doesn’t. Maybe I will give this one another watch at some point. I’m already dreading that possibility though to be perfectly honest with you. Given the whole double feature nature of this article, I’d highly suggest watching this film first and using “Cocaine Bear” to rouse you from the nap Todd Field has put you in. (This is definitely a better film than “Cocaine Bear”, but I’d rather re-watch that stupid nonsense over something that lulls you to sleep).
Final Score: 1 Apartment for Sale
Check out the film reviews I’ve been writing over at Films Fatale this year! Show them some love people!
Knock at The Cabin:
Ant-Man and The Wasp Quantumania:
John Wick Chapter 4:
Dungeons & Dragons – Honor Among Thieves: