Reminiscence


Life is no carnival in the near future.

(2021) Science Fiction (Warner Brothers) Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, Javier Molina, Sam Medina, Nono Nishimura, Roxton Garcia, Giovannie Cruz, Woon Young Park, Han Soto, Rey Hernandez, Gabrielle Echols, Andrew Hyatt Masset III, Nico Parker. Directed by Lisa Joy

 

I guess that it makes sense that when you have nothing to look forward to, one’s attention will turn to what came before. In a world where climate change has wreaked havoc, the citizens of a half-drowned Miami find solace in reliving their own memories.

This is the world that Nick Bannister (Jackman) finds himself. A former military man in the border wars that erupted when the oceans rose, he makes a living with a machine that was used to extract information from the memories of military prisoners but he now uses it on civilians who want to relive their favorite memories – a wedding day, playing with a beloved dog, a romantic evening and so on. He also has a side business using his machine to interrogate prisoners of the Miami DA (Martinez).

He has a pretty good life, all things considered – his partner Watts (Newton), although a high-functioning alcoholic, keeps him fairly honest. Until Mae (Ferguson) walks in. She’s lost her keys and needs help locating them. The Reminiscence machine might just be the trick she needs. While in her mind, Bannister discovers that she is a chanteuse, singing a song (“Where and When”) he has fond childhood memories of. He initiates a relationship with her, and for awhile it is summer in Miami.

But then she disappears, and he just can’t believe she up and ran out on him. Using his detective skills, he discovers a dark conspiracy with which Mae may or may not have been involved. At the heart of it is a wealthy developer (Cullen), his mentally ill wife (de Tavira), a corrupt cop (Curtis) and a New Orleans-based drug lord (Wu). Despite Watts’ skepticism, Bannister is convinced that Mae is an innocent caught in events beyond her control, and he will stop at nothing to find her – and the truth.

This is the motion picture debut of Lisa Joy, best known for being co-creator of HBO’s Westworld series with her husband Jonathan Nolan (yes, that makes her Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law and there is no little of his influence felt here). The world that Joy has created here is melancholic and believable. The overall feel is very much like an old noir movie with a healthy dose of romance injected in, as well as some innovative production design and strong visuals. She definitely has a very cinematic eye, from the images of a partially submerged Miami, to a grand piano sinking into the waters during the climactic fight scene.

The noir elements become overbearing, particularly in the overly florid narration which is overused. Joy seems so taken with it that she utilizes the opening monologue twice which I suppose is meant to lend emphasis but instead lends repetition. I get that the elements of the story lend themselves to a noir retelling, but in a lot of ways it feels kind of gimmicky here.

That doesn’t extend to the script which has some pretty interesting ideas throughout, and the production design brings many of them to life. The overwhelming feeling is resignation; people are growing restive at being pushed into soggier and soggier environs while the ultra-wealthy stay largely dry, but the feeling is that we’re on a downward spiral and we might as well just accept that and live in the past because it’s so much better than what we have in store. Not the most heart-warming of messages.

But Joy does coax some strong performances, particularly out of the ever-expressive Jackman who generally does better when his characters are drowning in their own dark sides; while his chemistry with Ferguson (a strong actress in her own right) is oddly flat, it might be due to the somewhat incomprehensible accent she takes on from time to time. It’s jarring and sounds absolutely phony.

Critics have absolutely savaged this movie, and there is some reason for it – the film is definitely flawed, but the visuals are compelling and as I said there are some interesting ideas developed here. Sadly, the insistence on turning this into a Raymond Chandler adaptation instead of letting the story stand on its own really hurts the movie overall, although I will say if you hang in there, the final 30-45 minutes do pick up.

REASONS TO SEE: Lots of interesting ideas and visuals here.
REASONS TO AVOID: The noir element is heavy-handed, particularly the florid narration.
FAMILY VALUES: There’s violence and profanity, some sexual content and drug content throughout.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Jackman and Ferguson previously starred together in The Greatest Showman.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: HBO Max (through 9/20)
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/1/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 38% positive reviews; Metacritic: 46/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Inception
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT:
Good


					

New Releases for the Week of August 20, 2021


REMINISCENCE

(Warner Brothers) Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandie Newton, Cliff Curtis, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Natalie Martinez. Directed by Lisa Joy

In a future where the world’s coastal cities are being flooded by rising oceans, a private investigator of the mind becomes obsessed with a client when she abruptly disappears.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Wide (also on HBO Max)
Rating: PG-13 (for strong violence, drug material throughout, sexual content and some strong language)

Bellbottom

(Emmay) Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta. A spy movie set in India during the decadent 1980s.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Spy Comedy
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

CODA

(Apple) Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Eugenio Derbez. A young girl works as interpreter for her deaf parents, crewing their struggling fishing boat in the morning before school. An impulsive decision to join the school choir leads the tough choirmaster to discover that she has a unique talent, and urges her to apply to a prestigious music school; now she must choose between her dreams and helping her family when they need her most.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian (also on Apple Plus)
Rating: PG-13 (for strong sexual content and language, and drug use)

Collusions

(Vertical) Tom Everett Scott, Steven Culp, Jamison Jones, Tembi Locke. A police officer goes missing and five high-profile individuals become suspects.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Crime Drama
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

The Night House

(Searchlight) Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Evan Jonigkeit. After her husband’s unexpected death, a young widow is left alone in the dream house he built for her. But as she begins to experience unsettling incidents, she begins to investigate her late husband’s things and discovers that he may have been into something terrifying and dangerous.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for some violence/disturbing images, and language including some sexual references)

Paw Patrol: The Movie

(Paramount) Starring the voices of Tyler Perry, Ron Pardo, Will Brisbin, Kingsley Marshall. Based on the popular Nickelodeon series, the pups of the Paw Patrol must spring into action when their greatest rival becomes mayor of Adventure City.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide (also on Paramount Plus)
Rating: G

The Protégé

(Lionsgate) Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert Patrick. Taken in as an orphan by an assassin, Anna grows to become the world’s most lethal contract killer, but when her mentor and father figure is brutally murdered, she takes it on herself to get revenge, no matter how large the body count may get.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for strong and bloody violence, language, some sexual references and brief nudity)

Rare Beasts

(Brainstorm) Billie Piper, Leo Bill, Kerry Fox, David Thewlis. A fiercely independent young single mother navigating a dysfunctional family and a misogynistic workplace unexpectedly falls for a young man with traditional marital values.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Risen

(Vertical) Terri Purchase, Natalie Rose, Buffy Anne Littaua, Kenneth Trujillo. After a small town is wiped out by a meteor strike, an exobiologist is called in to investigate strange happenings at the impact site and discovers a horrifying truth that may mean the end of mankind.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Annette
Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power
Blood Conscious
Collusions
Cryptozoo
Demonic
Final Frequency
(Tuesday)
The Forever Room
(Tuesday)
Habit
Jurassic Hunt
(Tuesday)
Last Man Standing
The Last Matinee
(Tuesday)
Lily Topples the World
(Wednesday)
The Loud House Movie
Moments Like This Never Last
Mosquito State
(Wednesday)
The Outsider
Summer Days, Summer Nights
(Tuesday)
Sweet Girl
Wildland

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Annette
CODA
Cryptozoo
Final Frequency
Last Man Standing
Lily Topples the World
The Night House
The Outsider
The Protégé
Reminiscence