There is no delight in being contrary for its own sake. It's as dishonest a critical move as quote-whore cheerleading. It cries out, "Hey, look at me!" when, of course, a critic's job is to say, "Hey, look at this other thing!" — in this case, movies. But there is something admittedly delicious in finding yourself genuinely happy with a film most folks didn't like — in this case, A Cure for Wellness.
It starts with the sumptuous visuals, moves on to the pervasive mood and half-convincing condemnation of modernity, and finally bursts into gruesome, crazy (but not especially gory) violence. What's not to love? Plenty, apparently, but even the film's acknowledged flaws didn't cool my ardor.
As for the revisitation of Three O'Clock High that was Fist Fight, it's probably helped that I had a fun chat with director Richie Keen, and that I find star Charlie Day's particular way of freaking out amusing (if not laugh-out-loud funny). But most others disagreed.
And outrage magnet The Great Wall? I don't really get the outrage. Matt Damon plays a selfish Westerner who finds he has much to learn from the Chinese people he seeks to plunder, and while he helps to save the day, he's hardly a White Savior.
It's a better celebration of Chinese culture than it is a movie. They're the future of the industry, though, so I'm sure they'll improve as time goes by. (Yes, that's a joke; I'm well aware that there are already great films coming out of China. Just two examples: The same director's Coming Home was quietly heartbreaking, and his The Flowers of War did more interesting work with the helpful Westerner motif.)
Scott Marks had a pretty good week, starting (alphabetically and otherwise) with Antarctica: Ice and Sky. ("No, really, kids — the whole continent used to be covered with ice and snow!") And while it's hard to imagine how any Banksy-themed film could improve on Exit Through the Gift Shop, it seems Saving Banksy managed to find an interesting new approach to the slippery street artist. So that's good.
He also mostly liked (or liked most of) The Salesman, a wraparound remake of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. But he hauled out the dreaded black spot for the anime inaction of Ocean Waves. And after seeing this year's Oscar-nominated short animated films, I'm sort of inclined to agree with his take.