peteg's blog

Bad Times at the El Royale

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A predictably soggy day with unpredictable breaks in the sogginess. Walked down to Coogee, ate my sandwiches, read my book a bit, had a coffee the Pavilion, now overstuffed with bottle blonded MacBook wielders. It's a bit cold. Headed up to The Ritz for the 3:40pm screening of this, in cinema 2, $10, and had another coffee at a little place opposite that shut promptly just after three. Still a zombie, and that might be the best way to face it. Maybe twenty other people on this opening day.

There's not much more to this than its influences, which might be summarised as a selection of Tarantino; a check that very few, including this, can cash. The main draw was Jeff Bridges, who does fine as an aged and doddering priest, secondarily John Hamm (never quite enough; resting on his Mad Men laurels?), and being idly curious about Chris Hemsworth's acting chops (mostly irresistible Hutchence swagger; less successful with the pathological). Dakota Johnson does her thing. It's the fading fifties and sixties, blue-collar crime still pays, Cynthia Erivo dreams of being a Supreme, the family is nascent. Things take their time getting moving, and for a while it seems that things could go full horror; instead we only get the pro forma death-by-numbers schema with an unsatisfying Hollow Man ending. Less is made of the motor lodge straddling the California/Nevada border than is said. A good setup, slightly wrecked by deus ex machina, suffering from a lack of convergence over too long a running time.

I'd suggest not watching the trailer before seeing the feature. Manohla Dargis.