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Movie Round Up: Kingsman 2; The Duke Of Burgundy; Pootie Tang

October 2, 2017

In order to publish words here a little more frequently, and with a little less personal pressure, I’m going to start posting shorter reviews in random combinations. I watch all kinds of movies from a variety of sources so each batch should be an eclectic mix.

Kingsman: The Golden Cricle; The Duke of Burgundy; Pootie Tang

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

I’ve always been attracted to spy movies. Bombastic 007 entries, understated John La Carre adaptations, modern reinventions like the Jason Bourne movies, etc., it really doesn’t matter. I found Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) to be just as grand and action-packed as the best Bond movie, and every bit as fun as the best of the Austin Powers flicks. In short, it was a breath of fresh air. For better and worse, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is more of the same.

If you like the first Kingsman, it’s hard to imagine you’d fail to be entertained by the sequel. That said, there are some interesting digressions from the first movie. If you were interested in seeing how the newest members of the Kingsman organization were going to grow in their roles, you might be disappointed. The sequel makes decisions about which characters to carry over that may make you scratch your head. The sequel also decides to spend significant time kickin’ it with Kingsman’s American counterpart, Statesman. It’s a lot of fun, but doesn’t entirely follow through on the promise of the first one.

Nitpicks aside, The Golden Circle delivers the action and jokes at a similar clip to its predecessor. Julianne Moore is also a lot of fun as the megalomaniac du jour looking to reignite the U.S.’s war on drugs. She’s a solid conceptual follow-up to Samuel L. Jackson’s character from the first. It’s not an all-time-great sequel, but if, like me, you are at all interested in seeing this, then you are in for a good time.

The Duke Of Burgundy (2014)

This is a cheap comparison, but the Duke Of Burgundy feels like everything Fifty Shades Of Grey (the movies) wanted to be. Burgundy (2014) was released after E.L. James’ books, but before the movie adaptations. Superficially, Burgundy might be thought to play to the same crowd, but truthfully, it is in it’s own league as a touching love story with a little added novelty.

It’s the story of Cynthia and Evelyn, lovers engaging in a dominant/submissive relationship. The movie’s power is in how it establishes the couple’s relationship and then slowly pulls back, revealing that things are not quite as they appear. I won’t get into what sets this movie apart from others — even good ones like Secretary (2002) — but it suffices to say that Burgundy demonstrates how even the most unconventional relationships are subject to basic human complexity. It’s erotic and salacious, but just like the core relationship, there’s much more here. It’s a beautiful film on every level that transcends expectations.

Pootie Tang (2001)

Pootie Tang was written, directed, and disowned by Louis C.K. in 2001, back before he became the beloved comedy mogul he is today. The hero, Pootie Tang, has many sides (musician, martial artist, etc.) but what’s most important to him is keeping kids off drugs and cleaning up the streets. Oh, and Pootie’s also been “too cool for words” since he was a kid, meaning he speaks his own gibberish language. One of the running jokes is that everybody knows exactly what he’s saying even though it’s unintelligible to the audience. It’s genuinely hilarious, and after all, the same gag worked for Chewbacca and R2-D2 in Star Wars.

Despite the critical drubbing, Pootie Tang is a pretty serious cult hit nowadays. It’s too bad Louis C.K. is ashamed of it. I’m sure he would get a lot of love for it if only he were open to it. I actually think the premise is genius, but just not executed all that well. Unfortunately, you can feel his shame while watching. With something this off-the-wall, you’d expect a sharp comic mind like Louis C.K.’s to be fully invested in the madness. For every great bit, there are others that just don’t seem to have the full confidence of the filmmakers. I wanted to love Pootie Tang, but I only managed to like it. Try not to sine my pitty on the runny kine.

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