Pin It

Quiet Movies, Big Feelings 

Hit Man and Inside Out 2

click to enlarge The energy I'm giving couples from across the bar.

Hit Man

The energy I'm giving couples from across the bar.

HIT MAN. In my inscrutable-to-some fervor to defend Bad Boys: Ride or Die and the deliciously trashy legacy of that franchise, I failed to reserve enough column-inches and enthusiasm for another, quieter but no-less satisfying contribution to the amorphous agglomeration of late-stage American mainstream movies. In the same weekend that saw Will Smith as Mike Lowery on the receiving end of a series of (maybe) meta-textual face-slaps, director Richard Linklaer's latest premiered on Netflix. We may never know if anybody saw it; what a world.

Obviously, I am as guilty as anyone of marginalizing work by one of our great soldiers of cinema (to borrow a phrase from Harmony Korine) and that speaks to any number of defects in my character and in my critical sensibility. As much as I relished the quietude and ease of the brief, plague-incited rise of streaming, as much as I have complained about the theatrical experience as wasted on an audience of inattentive, discourteous others, and as much as I have railed against the doom-saying brought about by the year's lukewarm box office and the Marvelizing of movies in recent decades, I remain a product of my environment and my experience. I suppose I am a bit of a hypocrite; aren't we all? But, with grateful apologies to Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday, my hypocrisy only goes so far.

In the 1990s, myriad circumstances cohered into an exhilarating moment wherein quiet explorations of the human condition could coexist (at the multiplex) with pure entertainment on a previously unimaginable scale. I won't bore anyone with a list, but Bad Boys and Richard Linklater were and are both major contributors to and legacies of that heady time. And while I might, depending on the day, tend to gravitate toward the noisier camp, it is not (or shouldn't be) at the cost of the more pensive one; hence this corrective.

Hit Man, which Linklater co-wrote with Skip Hollandsworth and star Glen Powell, is ostensibly based on the experiences of a real guy named Gary Johnson. As played by Powell, Gary is a floppy-haired, unlucky-in-love professor of philosophy whose aptitude for electronics leads him to a side-hustle working the surveillance side of police undercover efforts. When the unit's lead dirtbag/pretend contract killer Jasper (Austin Amelio) is benched for misadventure, Gary is thrust unexpectedly into a role for which he seems ideally suited. With his native intelligence and studied curiosity about psychology and human motivation, Gary is able to tailor his manufactured identities to the needs of his would-be clientele. He creates a different murderous persona for each, a shark to their remora that engenders trust and intimacy.

When, in character, Gary encounters the delightful and embattled Madison Figueroa Masters (Adria Arjona), though the artifice threatens the integrity of the enterprise. The two of them fall for each other, or at least so it would seem, and Gary's delicate balance turns vertiginous.

I've been more ignorant than skeptical about Powell, but Hit Man makes me get it. The screenplay allows him to stretch out and let his undeniable charm peek out from behind his many dramatis personae. Especially in the scenes with Arjona, we see two actors really exploring scenes and characters, getting at something as artful and articulate as it is sexy and occasionally silly.

Linklater, one of the most vital and consistently curious filmmakers to have survived the '90s renaissance, works with his trademark deceptive light touch, moving the camera just enough to let us know he is most definitely paying attention but not so much that he distracts us (we see you, Adil and Billal). R. 115M. NETFLIX.

INSIDE OUT 2. I probably wouldn't have watched Inside Out (2015) had my wife's (who endorses this message) therapist not recommended it to her. Much as I admire animation in general and Pixar creations specifically, I've been advised it's creepy to attend kiddie matinees and, at home, usually have too many grimy '70s movies to catch up on.

But watch it I did, and I found it to be remarkably insightful, filled with attention to the details of our hidden inner lives and the often-insidious influence thereof. And, of course, it's gorgeous and candy-colored and all of that.

So when I say the sequel is more of the same, I intend that as high praise. No other major movie in recent memory has squared off with the emotions of looming adulthood so honestly while remaining authentic and accessible, which may be why Inside Out 2 is one of the biggest releases of the year. The screening we attended was packed with teens — a suggestion that a plate-shift of self-knowledge and emotional intelligence may very well be under way. PG. 96M. BROADWAY (3D), MILL CREEK (3D), MINOR.

John J. Bennett (he/him) is a movie nerd who loves a good car chase.


BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Regress to the 1990s (cops were funny and Florida seemed fancy) with the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence action-comedy sequel. R. 115M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

THE BIKERIDERS. Tom Hardy, Austin Butler and Jodie Comer star in a drama about a motorcycle gang in the 1960s. R. 116M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

COMMON GROUND. Documentary about regenerative farming. PG. 105M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

THE EXORCISM. Russell Crowe stars as an actor on a horror movie set that gets real. R. 93M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA. Gritty action prequel to Fury Road starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth in villain mode. R. 148M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

THE GARFIELD MOVIE. The languid housecat meets his shady bio-dad. Voiced by Chris Pratt, Ving Rhames and Hannah Waddingham. PG. 101M. BROADWAY.

I SAW THE TV GLOW. Late-night couch potato-ing takes a supernatural turn for a teen. PG13. 100M. MINOR.

IF. Cailey Fleming and Ryan Reynolds star in a comedy about a girl who can see imaginary friends. PG. 104M. BROADWAY.

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. A sequel to the primate power struggle skipping ahead generations. PG13. 145M. BROADWAY.

THELMA. A 93-year-old woman teams up with a pal on a scooter-powered vigilante quest against the scammers who bilked her out of $10,000. PG13. 97M. MINOR.

THE WATCHERS. Dakota Fanning plays a woman trapped with strangers, seemingly entertaining alien creatures. Twist! The director is Ishana Shyamalan. PG13. 102M. BROADWAY.

For showtimes call: Broadway Cinema (707) 443-3456; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre (707) 822-3456.

Pin It

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

About The Author

John J. Bennett

more from the author

Latest in Screens


Facebook | Twitter

© 2024 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation