I Think ‘Dune’ Gave Me a Message From the Deep

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Dune (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot)

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Babs Olusanmokun, Benjamin Clementine

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Running Time: 156 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: October 22, 2021 (Theaters and HBO Max)

I was fully asleep for about the last third of Dune. I thought I was just nodding off, but next thing I know, Timothée Chalamet was heading off into the desert with Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson as the credits started to roll, and it sure didn’t feel like two and a half hours had passed.

If this sort of thing happened back when I used to work at a movie theater, I would just peek in the next day while working to catch what I missed. Luckily, HBO Max can now serve that purpose for WB flicks, so that’s what I did in this case. Also of note in terms of what happened the day after: I attended an event at my church during which a priest talked about how he’s fine with people nodding off during mass because that means they’re just quietly meditating. Ergo, I was just quietly meditating during the journey on Arrakis.

I don’t think Dune put me to sleep because it was boring. It wasn’t. Rather, it was just so dark and overwhelming. Those spaceships were HUGE! That all contrasts heavily with the protagonist, who’s awfully skinny and named simply Paul. I have an uncle named Paul, and he’s not traversing planets in a quest for the most valuable item in the universe. This is all to say, what we have here is a mix of accessible and gigantic.

Grade: Sure, I’ll Take Another Go-Round in the Desert

I Saw ‘Spiral’ and ‘Wrath of Man’ on the Same Weekend, and I’m Happy with That Decision

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(CREDIT: Brooke Palmer; Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Spiral:

Starring: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: May 14, 2021 (Theaters)

Wrath of Man:

Starring: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Chris Reilly, Laz Alonso, Raúl Castillo, DeObia Oparei, Eddie Marsan, Scott Eastwood, Niamh Algar, Babs Olusanmokun, Josh Cowdery, Andy García, Rob Delaney, Lyne Renée

Director: Guy Ritchie

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: May 7, 2021 (Theaters)

I’m tempted to say that Spiral is my favorite Saw movie, but that wouldn’t mean all that much, as it’s only the second one I’ve ever seen. And it might not even be true anyway, since I enjoyed the philosophical conundrums that Saw 2 made me ponder. But Spiral has a whole “surprisingly favorite” vibe to it in opposition to the rest of the series. It may not be entirely different from its predecessors, but it diverges enough for me to go, “I’m pleased with the new direction.” I may not have seen Saw, Saw‘s IIIIV, Saw 3D, or Jigsaw, but I’m familiar enough with them to feel like I’m emerging upon a new horizon. The torture is still too mentally and visually taxing, but the game’s rules and players have been updated.

As for Wrath of Man, I can confidently say that it is indeed my favorite Guy Ritchie movie. Although I should note that I haven’t seen his early stuff, so this might sound like faint praise. (My previous favorite by default was probably Aladdin. Or the parts of The Gentleman with Hugh Grant.) But Wrath of Man nevertheless stands tall on its own, and in opposition to the rest of its director’s filmography. Instead of being about a bunch of gangsters having a bloody good time, this is about a bunch of criminals and working stiffs being deathly, DEATHLY serious about everything. This movie is so bleak. It’s as bleak as a butt. It’s an elemental examination of Violence, Retribution, and Pure Evil. I don’t want to spend all my moviegoing hours in Wrath of Man Land, but visiting there every once in a while provides a healthy catharsis.

GRADES:
Spiral: 3 out of 5 Minghella Rocks
Wrath of Man: 4 out of 5 Statham Hartnetts