Rather bored with what is on Netflix, I decided to go to the local cinema and check out two films with interesting subject matter. The first film, “Beatriz at Dinner,” stars Salma Hayek and John Lithgow and is a dark satire about how two strangers from wildly different ethnic and economic backgrounds end up meeting and clashing at a fancy, uncomfortable dinner at a mansion. Hayek plays a hard-working Mexican lady having a very bad day, and Lithgow plays a Donald Trump-like real estate mogul. Both actors bring shadings to their characters so that they are more complex than you might expect. Hayek subtly suggests that her character may be TOO good for this world, and Lithgow’s character, though clueless and boorish, makes a real attempt to connect with and understand her. This is a strange film and at first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but after about half an hour of reflection I figured out that I really liked it. It’s short, unpredictable, and has real sting. I’ll not soon forget it.
“All Eyez on Me” is the new Tupac biopic, and it’s interesting though uneven. It covers, though it rarely reflects on, the tragic life of Tupac Kapur, mentioning his family connections to the Black Panthers, his success as Hamlet in school, his struggling but sincere mother, his trouble with the law, his friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith, his tumultuous tenure at Death Row Records, and his tragic and mysterious death. This is way too much for a 140-minute film to cover,, and as a result parts of it come off better than others. I did appreciate, however, the demystification of the gangster lifestyle. The last third of the movie is a trip through Hell, and the filmmakers deserve credit for depicting it frankly. Overall, however, this film is not good enough to recommend. Although a good attempt has been made, the film just doesn’t work. Very few characters are portrayed in-depth, and as a result the film becomes confusing. The actor playing Tupac is OK but not great. Still, if the subject matter interests you, you might want to check it out.
In conclusion, although I only liked one of these two indie films, they are both a nice break from summer Hollywood fluff. I hope interesting indie films continue to get wide releases because they can be worthwhile. “The Beguiled” is an another example that I will review soon.