Thursday, July 30, 2015

[Review] Unexpected

Unexpected is a sweet indie dramedy that contains a couple of great performances from Cobie Smulders and Gail Bean.

Samantha or Ms. Abbott (Smulders) is a passionate public high school teacher with no interest in having kids of her own. But early on, as the title suggests--she unexpectedly discovers that she's pregnant. In a humorous moment where she tries ruling out the possibility by searching the internet for information about false positive tests, she frantically cries out to her boyfriend, "I just don't know what is going on with the bananas at Trader Joe's right now..."

What makes Unexpected a bit different from other modern pregnancy romps is that around the same time Samantha finds out she's pregnant, one of her brightest (and obviously much younger) students Jasmine (Bean) finds out that she's expecting, too. The two share a dynamic and conflicted bond, especially considering that they're both at completely different stages in their lives and are both from different backgrounds. The script tackles their contrasts in a very thoughtful and careful manner, which is what really makes this film a delight.

Director Kris Swanberg--you might recognize the last name because her husband is buzzing mumblecore director Joe Swanberg. I don't mean to pit wife & husband against each other, but I found Kris Swanberg's film to possess some of the aspects that Joe Swanberg's films lack. Their films both focus on insightful subtleties and interpersonal relationships, but I found Unexpected to have more heart, soul, & emotion, as well as characters that are more endearing. There's more of a narrative drive rather than a slice of life. The film also touches on the problems with gender roles and the complications that pregnant women face during school, as well as in the workforce.

While the film feels a bit light, and it won't make the impact of, say, one of its contemporaries like Short Term 12--it's still a nice little gem to seek out.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

[Review] Pixels

The moment the trailer for Pixels hit the net, it was apparent that this was going to be a winner. And by "winner" I mean a wretched misfire. The film kept getting pushed back just out of our reach--pulled away like a $100 bill dangling on a string. And by "$100 bill dangling on a string" I mean Donald Trump's sweaty hairpiece. It was probably gearing up for an Oscar run. And by "Oscar run" I mean the studio was struggling to find the least damaging way to release it because they knew it was going to tank miserably. Adam Sandler has been dropping gems into theaters for a while now. And by "gems" I mean steaming hot piles of dookie. Pixels is absolutely no different.

It begins in the '80s with a group of kids that become arcade game champions -- PAC-MAN, Centipede, Donkey Kong... This aspect initially might bring some nice nostalgia for people, but it's only a matter of time before this thing gets rotten. Flash forward to the present and we have Brenner (Sandler), a Nerd Squad worker, Kevin James is the President, and Ludlow (Josh Gad) is a fanboy living in his grandma's basement. Meanwhile, extraterrestrials in the form of classic arcade game characters are invading the planet. The three former gamers are called upon to save the world, in a poor excuse for Ghost(Game)busters fashion. Along the way, they're forced to join with Eddie, the rival from their childhood (a mullet adorning prisoner played Peter Dinklage).

For the record, the movie is halfway over before they start fighting against the video game characters. So it feels like there's a lot of tripe to endure before any action takes place. And when the action does arrive, it isn't even cool for a few seconds. It's like a cheesy SyFy Channel movie (ex. Sharknado) but without the deliberately over-the-top, self-aware ridiculousness. I got the impression that it would actually be more amusing to just watch the footage of these guys reacting to green screens instead of watching the movie itself. It also doesn't help that Wreck-it Ralph essentially carried out this concept with superior results.

The turrible dialogue in the script is not even on the 'so bad it's good' level. It's just 'so bad it's really bad'. Some scenes are so unbearable (particularly one toward the beginning when Sandler's character attempts to seduce a recently divorced woman, and then he Robin Thickes his way out of the situation) that you feel like teleporting out of your theater seat into another dimension. Sandler's character is so despicable that you wish PAC-MAN would swallow him and crap him out within the first 15 minutes. It all leads to a dumb dud of a climax that looks subpar visually and is backed by a stunningly original choice of music in "We Will Rock You". The scene doesn't actually feel climactic other than the fact that you're happy the film is coming to an end soon.

Considering the cast, we're met with Adam Sandler who manages to be obnoxious and dreadfully lethargic at the same time. Then there's the wickedly banal Josh Gad. His screechy yelp is the type of sound that could cause natural disasters, or provoke real aliens to attack Earth. We're seriously lucky that the fall-master Kevin James took a break from the esteemed Paul Blart series in order to join in on the shenanigans. I can't really call him the saving grace, because there's nothing that can save this film, but he's far from insufferable and basically the only reason I'm not giving this a 0/10.

Pixels is a lot of bad pieces that add up to a really, really bad whole.


Monday, July 27, 2015

[Review] Southpaw

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a dedicated performance in this otherwise typical entry into the world of boxing films.

The heavy-handedly named Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) is a Light Heavyweight champ with a temper. His wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) is clearly worried by his bloody, head-rocking profession and his capability of being there for their daughter. Quite the melodramatic event occurs when Billy gets into an out-of-the-ring scuffle with another boxer that wants to challenge him. And in turn, a posse member pulls out a gun and Maureen gets shot and killed. From here on, Billy battles with grief, finances, custody of his daughter, and competitors in the ring.

Scene after scene of melodrama, and Billy beating himself up in multiple ways--gets a bit tiring. In fact, my face got sore just from watching this thing. The stumbling narrative structure renders the pacing clunky and winded throughout. So, the story lacks a lot of the spirited momentum that you'd want from a boxing film, and the low points lull too much to be fully engaging. It all seems to be confused about what it wants to be. There are a lot of different threads, subplots, and ideas crammed into the script, but the film never fully develops any of them.

On the bright side, the look of the boxing sequences are pretty legitimate (actual HBO Boxing camera operators were used to capture them), so that's a nice touch. They're also aided by Gyllenhaal's relentless training for the role. As you know, he's been on a streak of some stellar performances, and he keeps it up in Southpaw. Unfortunately, the rest of the film can't keep up with him.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

[Review] Mr. Holmes

There have been many incarnations of Sherlock Homes on big screens and small screens, and I'm not going to waste time going through them all. Instead, let's jump right into the change of pace that is Mr. Holmes--the retired version, played masterfully by Sir Ian McKellen.

After a journey in Japan, a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes (McKellen) returns to his seaside farmhouse, which is occupied by the housekeeper Ms. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker, who is really good here). Holmes has been out of the detective game for a while. He's hunched, weakened, and a bit bumbling when he speaks. But a few of his clever observations lets us know that he's still got it, for the most part at least. His memory isn't serving him so well at certain times. But he keeps busy with his beekeeping, and he's also writing a story based on a solved, yet unsettled case, which is conveyed through flashbacks.

Now, there isn't a gripping, edge-of-your-seat mystery here, but that isn't really the point. It's more relaxed and reflective in tone, pinpointing exactly why Holmes is so haunted by this case. The film is beautifully shot, and the period detail is on-point. It probably comes as no surprise that Ian McKellen's performance is what carries it all, even during the slower stretches and dragging ending. It's an Oscar nomination worthy turn, but it will probably be forgotten by the time the Fall/Winter seasons blow in. Plus, people simply expect excellence from Ian McKellen, so it probably isn't going to stun anyone.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

[Review] Trainwreck

Director Judd Apatow has been on a "meh" streak lately. Between Funny People and This is 40, his film's tendencies of getting overlong, disjointed, and tonally inconsistent became most apparent. The Amy Schumer-starring Trainwreck is better than those, but it still falters.

After some childhood flashbacks ("Monogamy isn't realistic!"), we meet Amy (Schumer). She describes herself as a "very sexual girl" and likes to smang around during no-attachment one-night-stands, and nothing really impresses her. During the day, she works for a magazine publication and is given an assignment to do a profile on an athletic doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader). In romantic comedy fashion, a relationship develops between the two. The narrative doesn't necessarily subvert the tropes, but it at least plays around slightly with themes of gender roles and double standards to a certain point.

There are a handful of scenes that don't really build to much or push the story ahead, whether it's just plain character introductions, or awkward episodes of raunch with a few funny lines (notably one of the good ones in which Amy's current man toy (played by John Cena) gets in an argument with someone in a movie theater). While mildly entertaining, these still reflect Apatow's problems with length and pacing. The film reaches two hours, and about 30 minutes pass before it seems like the story is actually going anywhere. A couple questionable moments toward the end would've been fine getting axed. The way the film is overstuffed and how it meanders around gives off the impression that this should've been trimmed down to be a more concise feature, or maybe it might've worked better in a Netflix series format a la "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt".

We have a solid, long and diverse cast list here. Aside from the aforementioned, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Method Man, Tilda Swinton, and LeBron James make appearances. John Cena gives an amusing turn, although his performance isn't all that surprising coming from a bold WWE star. The real standout and least expected of the bunch is definitely LeBron James (In case you didn't know, he's kind of a big deal in the NBA, and hasn't really been in movies). He demonstrates some nice comic timing and he doesn't come off flat (you've all seen how bad some athletes can be in commercials and whatnot). There's a scene that contains LeBron casually reciting lyrics from Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and it's a standout. A number of other athletes also show up, and it's quite humorous how Amare Stoudemire's oft injured and surgically repaired knee practically becomes a metaphor for Amy and Aaron's relationship.

Trainwreck is a mess, but it's enjoyable enough to not completely fall under the pun-provoking weight of its title.


Monday, July 20, 2015

[Review] Ant-Man

In a few ways, Ant-Man is like this year's Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a later summer release, it introduces a new, lesser-known character of the Marvel universe, and it has a spunky tone that diverts from the bombastic 'the world is crumbling' scenario. Now, it isn't as phenomenal as Guardians, but it's certainly still more than just minor Marvel.

Scott (Paul Rudd) is just finishing up a 3-year prison sentence at San Quentin for burglary. His homie Luis (played goofily by Michael Pena) swoops him up in attempt to get him back on his feet. But despite Scott's initial insistence on living a legitimate lifestyle, he enters the theft game again. There's a nifty scene where he sneaks into a mansion, pulls some MacGyver moves, and cracks a safe only to find it void of cash. Instead, he sees a strange but unassuming suit, leaving him perplexed.

Meanwhile, Pym, a hi-tech establishment founded by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) is cooking up some advanced combat weapons. It turns out that Dr. Hank was ousted from his own company, and it's now headed by the conniving Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). He's inventing a Yellowjacket vessel that is based on the Ant-Man suit, which means it can shrink in size but still pack power. When Dr. Hank catches wind of this, he recruits Scott and teaches him to become Ant-Man in order to break into Pym and steal the Yellowjacket suit before Cross uses it for destructive means. With some help from Dr. Hank's daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly, who you might know as a standout addition as Tauriel in the recent Hobbit trilogy), Luis and his goons (David Dastmalchian & T.I.), along with actual ants of various species--this warps into a superhero heist movie.

From the get-go, it's clear that plenty of humor is in-store, whether it's Scott and Luis' easygoing conversations, the comical reversals/misdirections in the script, or the jocular scene transitions: Just after Scott proclaims he wants to get a cool job--it cuts to him working at Baskin Robbins... And just as his manager fires him and says (paraphrasing) "I feel bad, so if you want to take a free Mango Smoothie on your way out, I'll pretend I don't know..." Then it cuts to Scott moping down the street, smoothie in hand. The humor is a constant throughout and we get some great one-liners.

It seems as though Ant-Man might've been a 3rd-tier superhero in a long line of other insect counterparts, but that doesn't end up being the case. Given his ability to shrink--As Ant-Man gets tinier, the settings get larger--which creates some intriguing visuals. Whether he's on the surface of a dirty bathtub, running through blades of grass, or across the nose of a gun, the film is texturally stimulating and full of cool microscopic views and amusing sight gags.

Paul Rudd is perfectly cast here with his charisma, vulnerability, and solid comic timing. There's a bit of warmth within his character, demonstrated by how much he loves his estranged daughter, even though the family is in the process of moving on from him. He's also a non-violent ex-con trying to gain his redemption and purpose in doing something good. The rest of the cast brings much to the table as well, especially Michael Douglass and Evangeline Lilly. But at this point, considering the machine that is Marvel, you'd have to think they're not going to pull any major missteps with casting.

While this is an origins story, it doesn't waste much time and it's consistently entertaining. And as opposed to this year's Avengers: Age of Ultron, it isn't as bloated and it never feels like it's there just to set up sequels. Speaking of the Avengers, Ant-Man is very candid about functioning in the same universe, and it even takes a couple of playful jabs that can be perceived as quips within the film or as commentary on Marvel's cinematic universe in general. "Can't we just call the Avengers?" Ant-Man asks. "I don't want Stark involved," Dr. Hank stresses. "Anyway, they're probably too busy dropping cities out of the sky." And luckily, this film is well-executed enough to talk some subtextual shit.

It isn't necessarily reinventing the genre, but Ant-Man is a slight superhero twist that proves that sometimes bigger isn't always better.

* 8.5/10 *

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

[Review] Minions

Despicable Me is one of the more surprisingly heartwarming animated flicks of the past five years, and its sequel Despicable Me 2 isn't great but it's serviceable. Within those films, the little yellow things called Minions became fan favorites. So of course they got a spin-off prequel. The Minions are kind of cute and all, but they never seemed like enough to carry their own film, and that happens to be the case.

Opening with nature documentary-esque narration, we learn that the broken gibberish/Spanish/French-speaking Minions have been around for millions of years and they come from the ocean (I would've assumed space). They have one main goal: Serve the most despicable master possible. Three main Minions (Kevin, Bob, and Stuart) emerge as the main focus when they journey to New York City to attend 'Villain-Con' with hopes to serve Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), the ruler of all villains.

The story feels stretched even over its brief 85 minutes, and it probably would've worked better as a short piece before one of the Despicable Me films. The problem is that there's nothing really to differentiate the three main characters from each other, and they're already one-dimensional the way it is. I know that sort of comes with the territory here, but it's still a flaw. And the film just doesn't possess the warmth, depth, and full-bodied narrative of Despicable Me.

The good news is that it's still very watchable, and people (especially kids) seem to love these things. The Minions are very squeezable and their voices do sound funny, even though their connotations are a bit questionable and awkward. Their feature-length is an energy shot of rambunctious slapstick and light entertainment, but not much more than that.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

[Review] Magic Mike XXL

The first Magic Mike wasn't just novel eye candy (for those into that stuff). Aside from being very well-shot, it had a great sense of humor and some surprising depth within its narrative--regarding recession effects and drug abuse. Magic Mike XXL doesn't really bother with much of a compelling plot. It's more of a superficial victory lap(dance).

If you saw the last one, you'd know that Mike (Channing Tatum) has since left the dancing world behind (he was real serious about it). And now he's working a regular 9-to-5. BUT(T) THEN... he receives a phone call from the old dancing crew inviting him back, which completely screams: "We need a sequel."

Mike joins the party without any hesitation whatsoever, and in turn, the whole film appears to be pretty forced and empty, and it's unable to capture the... (don't say magic, don't say magic) lightning in the bottle of its predecessor. The script isn't as slick and it's crowded with scenes that don't go anywhere, which makes the film feel half baked and lengthier than it actually is. Oh yeah, and there's no Matthew McConnaughey here. Sure, the dance sequences are a tad more elaborate and more frequent, but that'll only to the trick if that's all you came for.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

[Review] Terminator Genisys

The Terminator franchise has been fairly on the downward slope following James Cameron's classic first two films of the series, The Terminator & Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Judging by the Terminator Genisys trailer, there was a glimmer of potential, especially considering how another recent big franchise sequel (Jurassic World) was able to deliver some roaring fun. However, Genisys turns out as a thorough disappointment, reaching to be what it can't.

In the future, most of humankind has been obliterated by robots and machines. John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends his bud Kyle (Jai Courtney) back in time to save his mother Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke of "Game of Thrones" Queen of Dragons fame) from being assassinated. But a rift in time screws things up, and the roles of everyone (including the returning Arnold Schwarzenegger) have been twisted. All the time-hopping makes this a very convoluted plot. Instead of being ambitious or complex, it's just a drag to keep tabs on. And aside from a couple of Arnold's lines, and a strangely timed cue of the Ramones' "I Wanna be Sedated", it doesn't help that this is a mostly humorless load of clunk and an onslaught of exposition.

Despite the upgraded technology and special effects, Genisys doesn't even come close to packing the metal haymakers of the beloved first two installments. It lacks the same sci-fi intrigue, the charm, and yes, the beating heart. And even when we toss the comparison factor to its lofty predecessors out the window, this is still a run-of-the-mill action flick. The action sequences don't even match some of the things we've already seen on the big screen this year. The only real surprise is how early in the film the Golden Gate Bridge (Hollywood's punching bag) gets destroyed. It also indulges in another Hollywood action trend--the lighting of each scene is unnecessarily dark, so the images sort of fade into each other and don't really pop. Most of the first two Terminators take place in broad daylight (if not under better light sources) and are still notably more menacing and brooding without having to drench itself in shadows.

Terminator Genisys never really feels like a true Terminator movie. And all its callbacks don't come off as thoughtful crowd-pleasing odes, but more-so desperate retreads. Worst of all--in somewhat infuriating fashion, it messes around with the plots of T1 & T2. It's the epitome of a throwaway. It's aggressively inessential, and it might as well be lowered into the flames.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

[Review] The Overnight

Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godreche star is this squirmy yet entertaining sex comedy.

Emily (Schilling) and Alex (Scott) are a married couple with a kid, and they've just moved into a new neighborhood. During the hilarious opening scene, they try to squeeze in a quickie before their son wakes up and rushes in. This gives us a hint what we're in for. That same day at a park, they meet a strange fedora-wearing fellow named Kurt (Schwartzman), who invites them over to dinner for a neighborhood-warming party, as well as a play-date for their sons. But after the kids go to sleep, some crazy antics of swinger raunch and 'You Only Live Once' go down.

Emily and Alex are fairly traditional and square, while Kurt and Charlotte (Godreche) are more freewheeling and unfettered. Things gradually escalate as Emily and Alex learn more about the experimental couple, and eventually they reluctantly engage and let loose. The film capitalizes off of awkward moments, whether it's BIG ones, or even just small exchanges of dialogue. There's always an element of surprise when meeting new friends, but most likely not as shocking as what happens here. The film moves at a brisk pace, and it's 74-minute runtime leads to a pretty great ending.

Aside from the story's disruption of monogamy, and its subtle look at class differences, there isn't much else to say about this purely amusing farce. Oh, the things people will do to keep a marriage from going stale... even if it goes against all things that are marriage.


Monday, July 6, 2015

[Review] Infinitely Polar Bear

Infinitely Polar Bear is a bittersweet and well-intended indie dramedy starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana. It deals with the prickly subject of mental illness. Inspired by her own life, Director Maya Forbes presents her lens of growing up in an interracial family and dealing with a bipolar father.

Set in the '70s, the film revolves around a family including married couple Cam (Ruffalo) and Maggie (Saldana) and their two daughters. We learn that the marriage has been rocky, because Cam is diagnosed as manic depressive. Even though there is lots of love between the family, Cam's nervous breakdowns and outbursts have kept him living in a halfway house. Struggling financially, Maggie wants to pursue her MBA in order to make a better life for the children, but the problem is--this all depends on whether Cam is fit enough to take care of the kids the majority of the time.

From here on, Cam attempts to rebuild his relationship with his daughters, taking care of them day-to-day while Maggie is at college. The narrative is very observational as it mines the complex situation--one that has the potential to be really bad or really good, or more accurately - both at the same time. It's a confusing adjustment for the kids, because there are many highs and lows along the way. There are moments when Cam slips up, as well as moments when he makes a fun and positive impact and they begin to bond. We're all rooting for this to work.

Mark Ruffalo is stellar here, and he's way more interesting to watch in films like this (also see: You Can Count On Me, The Kids Are Alright, and Begin Again) instead of Avengers. Despite its subject matter, the film is a pretty light slice-of-life, and it essentially boils down to Cam's growth as a parent. It is indeed heartwarming, but it ends up being a bit forgettable aside from Ruffalo's performance. This is still a recommended viewing though, especially if you want a break from the blockbusters.


Friday, July 3, 2015

[Review] Big Game

Big Game is a limited release with a title and poster that reeks of a C-movie, screaming 'straight-to-DVD'. But it's actually a lot of fun, and probably deserves to be a minor word-of-mouth hit.

Oskari (Onni Tommila), a not-so-crafty 13-year-old boy is stranded in Finland's wilderness, with just a bow & arrow. He witnesses a plane crash in the forest, and one of the survivors is, yes--President Samuel L. Jackson (Samuel L. Jackson). Turns out there are a group of assassins on the President's trail, and the unlikely duo team together in order to escape safely.

It's a pretty straightforward premise, but it's also just oddball enough to feel fresh. The brisk pacing and interesting dynamic between the two main characters keep it engaging no matter how ridiculous things ring, even though half the time you might be thinking, "How does Samuel L. Jackson have time to do all this?" The survival aspect makes the film sort of feel like a more lighthearted, smaller cousin of The Hunger Games, but with 80s action vibes.

It never reaches levels of greatness, but it certainly isn't bad either. In the end, Big Game is a film that envelops the spirit of a young child's dream of being a hero, and that's a sentiment that is easy to agree with.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Review] Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is a British period piece set in the early 1900s. It stars Alicia Vikander (known for being the breakout actress playing the role of Eva in this year's excellent sci-fi thinker Ex Machina), and Kit Harington (known most as the fan-favorite Jon Snow in HBO's "Game of Thrones").

The independent, strong-willed pacifist Vera (Vikander) lives with her family in the peaceful countryside. One weekend, her brother's friend Roland (Harington) comes to visit and fills the place with his poetic charm. Vera initially strays away from him, but it isn't very long before their impending love begins to flourish. On the other side, something more treacherous is brewing, and that is the onset of the First World War. What takes place is a sprawling tale about the beauty of love, as well as the atrocities of war, all seen through the eyes of Vera.

The prominent aspects include the gorgeous scenery, chilling score, and lush period detail. This is all a quiet and tranquil contrast to some of the uglier and tragic settings and events later on. Despite its careful aesthetics, there are a handful of portions (particularly at the beginning) that might underwhelm slightly, as it settles into by-the-numbers period drama (train station goodbyes and all). But the full result is a harrowing and emotionally rewarding endeavor.

The cleaned-up Jon Snow Kit Harington is solid here, but of course the real standout is Alicia Vikander as she carries the story with an endearing and nuanced performance. It's becoming quite clear that she's on the verge of becoming a very prestigious name in the acting game.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

[Review] Aloft

In the film criticism world, the word "Boring" is often frowned upon due to it's potential laziness and vagueness. But if we're being real, it can also be one of the most honest, efficient, and effective descriptors. And Claudia Llosa's Aloft is a great candidate for its usage.

This is one of those films where it's difficult to explain the plot, because the filmmakers seem content with purveying an anti-plot. It jumps between two different time periods with not much to distinguish from each other. In the past, Jennifer Connelly plays a distressed mother and her son (Cillian Murphy) is an aspiring falconer. In the present, Connelly's character has abandoned her son, and a journalist (Melanie Laurent) attempts to reunite them. This actually sounds way more comprehensible than what takes place on screen.

Aloft feels a bit like the elusive Upstream Color. The fractured and mystic storytelling doesn't ring as special or inventive. Instead, it's a puzzling revert of narrative, and a prime example of how "challenging" doesn't always equal good. It refuses to explain anything, and in some cases a lack of exposition or plot key-ins is a good thing, but here it comes off as incoherent pieces of something and people doing things without a point. This keeps us from even getting to know the characters (which is kind of important), and in turn the cast feels wasted.

It's filled with pretty images of powdery snow drifts, landscapes of frozen tundra, soaring falcons under blinding light, and the active handheld camera maneuvers to capture it all nicely. But that isn't enough. This film is the equivalent of when someone explains an idea in their head to you and they're the only one that it makes any sense to. A vision that doesn't resonate. Lyricism that doesn't translate. The whole thing is more like an insult to the medium than a halfway compelling film. And for something with Aloft as a title, it drives itself into the ground long before its lugubrious duration comes to a close.