Thursday, November 12, 2020

Bob's Cinema Diary: 11/12/20 -- 'Fireball: Visitors From a Darker World,' 'Echo Boomers,' and 'Where She Lies'

Fireball: Visitors FromDarker Worlds

Director Werner Herzog, this time along with scientist Clive Oppenheimer, delves into the subject of meteors and the dangers they can pose to Earth. If you know anything about Herzog, you'll immediately understand that Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds will be poetic, idiosyncratic, and full of captivating eccentricities.  In pursuit of all things meteor, Herzog visits a variety of far-off places: from Mecca in Saudi Arabia to Castel Gandolfo (summer home to popes) to Antarctica. He also introduces us to a variety of voluble scientists who eagerly reveal their obsessions with these deep-space visitors, so much so that Herzog sometimes ends their disquisitions, noting that any more would be boring. Herzog offers commentary and Oppenheimer, who collaborated with Herzog on Into the Inferno (2016), does much of the interviewing.  We learn a lot about how meteors have shaped everything from evolution to the Mexican Day of the Dead.  Herzog not only conveys the immensity of a cosmos which may harbor objects that don't bode well for mankind, he also highlights fascinating human idiosyncrasies. Oh, and by the way, Fireball also offers insight into the origins of life on Earth. 

Echo Boomers

Oh, the woe of millennials. They can't find the jobs they're sure they deserve and their path to the great American dream seems to have been blocked at every turn. Echo Boomers subscribes, at least partially, to this self-pitying view, becoming a thriller about disgruntled boomers who turn to crime and convince themselves that they're making bold political statements in the process. When these th
ieves invade the homes of the rich, they also destroy everything in sight, smearing the walls with half-baked slogans. The story begins with a journalist (Lesley Ann Warren) interviewing an imprisoned young man, Patrick Schwarzenegger's Lance. Warren's character wants to know how Lance became part of a larcenous ring that's connected to the older man (Michael Shannon) who serves as the group's fence. Lance, who's drawn into these criminal forays by his cousin Jack (Gilles Geary), quickly comes to enjoy the adrenaline rush of theft. Lance becomes valuable to the group because he's trained in art. Unable to find a job at a gallery, he can at least identify the best paintings to steal. 
Alex Pettyfer portrays the group's leader, a guy who seems to believe there's actually something politically relevant about ravaging the homes of the wealthy while walking away with their high-end art.  Director Seth Savoy tries to link a caper movie to some sort of fuzzy political statement. The result:  a movie that peddles a whole lot of hooey, so much so that it may make even hardened leftists feel sorry for the one-percenters whose homes are vandalized.

Where She Lies

Director Zach Marion's documentary, Where She Lies, tells the story of Peggy Phillips who, as a 19-year-old, gave birth to a child in Chattanooga, Tenn. The year: 1961. Phillips, we learn, slept with a man who misled her into thinking he was separated from his wife. 
Marion becomes personally involved in helping Phillips, who's in her 70s when the director meets her. He joins attempts to locate the daughter that was taken from her shortly after being delivered. The movie's mystery centers on the question of what actually happened to the child. Did she die, as Phillips was told? Did her highly judgmental father arrange to have the baby adopted? At one point,  a young woman claiming to be Phillips' daughter turns up. She has a  criminal record and her life has been marred by drug addiction. It struck me that Marion may have become too involved in Phillips' story but his movie sheds light on the sad and lingering impact of shame that once was heaped on women who became unwed mothers. 

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