Hail, Caesar! / The Jungle Book / Passengers (2016) / Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)

HAIL, CAESAR! [2016/B/B-] – Lush visuals. Terrific casting. Actors bring infectious joy to idiosyncratic story. So why do I feel indifferent? Either the film just failed to build up tension in narrative or it’s just too busy relishing in multiple narrative strands. Low-tier Coen.

PASSENGERS [2016, B/B-] – Did it want to be a survivalist drama, a romantic-comedy, or a space thriller? Taken individually, they work. As a whole, it’s an undecided, incongruous mesh of underexplored ideas. Visuals and music its peaks. There’s a better film in here somewhere.

THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016, B/B+] – I’m still tentative about the over-all look, but damn it’s a technical marvel to behold. Fascinating detours the plot takes are mere distractions from narrative’s thinness. Didn’t have a strong emotional connection, but it’s an exciting experience.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. [2017, B/B+] – Straddles a lot of issues, only to blunt them when narrative veers into personal drama. Mixed results on tonal shifts. Makes up for substantial focus on lead. Washington amazes in tricky character, so skillful in specificities and nuances.

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