July is coming in hot, hot and hotter where Hollywood is concerned. For this second to last weekend in July, let's take a look to the skies and see how gray Gosling can really get. Here is what to screen and what to stream this weekend with a look at The Gray Man and Nope.
Gosling Goes Gray
First up we turn to Netflix for The Gray Man. Starring Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas and Chris Pine the movie is packed with action, action and even more action. Seriously, The Gray Man is what the last Bond film should have been.
Gosling is “Six,” a former inmate turned skilled operative for the CIA. When his covert outfit inside the government begins losing its members for mysterious reasons, Six is forced on the run. Chris Pine (Lloyd Hansen) is the fella put in charge of a manhunt to end Six and an international manhunt is underway. Along for the ride are fellow CIA agents Ana de Armas (Dani Miranda) and Billy Bob Thorton (Fitzroy).
The Gray Man is helmed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War) who along with the cast previewed the movie for audiences last week ahead of its one week theatrical run and I was there.
“Here is a character that lives in the ‘gray’ with his eyes in the shadows and who knows how to disappear and knows how to not be seen,” said Anthony Russo to the audience. “We made [the movie] where most of it is the opposite of what he is used to and how the gray man wants to function and that is a big part of how we built the movie around his character.”
That point is perfectly made with one of the films biggest and most action packed scenes in a town square that has the films star chained to a bench and unable to move. While the action around Gosling was dialed up to 100, his motion was limited by 100. While his chances of getting injured were lower, that still proved challenging for Gosling's partner, Eva Mendes, who was in a nearby hotel and dialed into their daughters (ages 7 and 6) piano lessons.
“With my free hand I fished it out from behind the bench and it was Eva asking how long the explosions were going to go on because the girls had a zoom on a piano class.” Ryan Gosling on Eva calling him during a major action sequence in the film.
“I remember a funny moment where things were exploding around me and my cell phone started to ring,” Gosling tells the audience. “With my free hand I fished it out from behind the bench and it was Eva asking how long the explosions were going to go on because the girls had a zoom on a piano class.” Priorities eh?
While this is 110% an action movie there is an overabundance of funny moments on screen as well. “It’s a shame that this is an action movie and you can’t do outtakes of funny moments in the credits,” Chris Pine says with his costars nodding in agreement. “I want a reel of just some of the responses that Ryan had to me on any scene. Each one was different and it was a shame at the end of the day because I was like, ‘I don’t know how you’re gonna choose one. It is a crime that these won’t all make the movie because they are hilarious,” said Pine.
He’s not wrong.
The Gray Man is streaming on Netflix now and is rated PG-13.
The Gray Man
The Gray Man is the film that the last few 007 movies should have been. Packed with creative action and organic funny moments it's a gem of a movie that is ripe for a franchise.
Now over to the highly anticipated Nope. There is certainly a lot to chew on with Jordan Peele’s latest film that stars Daniel Kaluuya (OJ Haywood), Keke Palmer (Emerald Haywood) and Brandon Perea (Angel Torres).
On the surface Nope is about a set of siblings (OJ and Em) who are carrying on the family business of supplying Hollywood with stunt horses. The two are in what appears to be the last of undeveloped California country when strange occurrences begin happening and it’s discovered that there is a UFO over the farm.
But - and this is a huge ‘but’- this is a Jordan Peele movie which means there is so much more below the surface. Theories online and among fellow critics like me run from the film being just a summer popcorn movie to a critique on capitalism, the film industry itself, surveillance in society or even a movie documenting the rich history of black cinema.
Here’s the thing, it’s all of those things and more - there isn’t a wrong answer.
While Peele is arguably one of the most promising and intelligent filmmakers of this generation, Nope isn’t his best work. On the negative side the first act set an engaging and curious tone for the audience that wasn’t quite held into the second and third acts. There are numerous subplots and storylines and while the ending is concrete, overall the film doesn’t stick the landing on most of them.
That is not to say Nope is not worth your time or money. On the contrary, it’s Peele’s fault for setting the bar so high with his first two films: Get Out and Us. Having said that, Nope is a film that sparks debate, provokes conventional thought and for two hours and 10 minutes allows you to live inside the lives of people who don’t exist in our day to day. Oh yeah, there are also aliens too. Isn’t that what films are for?
Can you go in and just see Nope as an American UFO story? Yep
Can you go in and absorb the story and its deeper meanings? Oh yeah.
And folks, that is the talent that Jordan Peele brings to film.