This week, cineast offers previews of the new films The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mistress America and 10,000 Saints.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Most people would probably agree that the modern action/adventure film originated in the swingin’ ’60s, with the introduction of James Bond. That’s when all of the ingredients of these films coalesced into a glorious whole. Of course, the genre evolved (at least in terms of speed, visual effects, violence of the fight scenes, etc.), and now those ’60s films can look pretty dated—and date themselves with their reflexive sexism. But we still like to watch them because of the ’60s aesthetic—the cars, the clothes, the décor—all of those details that we now are programmed to think of as “Mad Men-style.” Even the sexism can be quaint in small doses. But then what if you could have all of the thrills of a modern action/adventure film but still keep the old-fashioned look of an early James Bond, and maybe without so much unquestioned misogyny? Now, thanks to the new The Man from U.N.C.L.E., you can have this very thing. With scenes set in East Berlin in the early ’60s (all sooty grunge and ruins, with our spies driving around in those tiny, crappy Trabants) but with the speed and visual thrill of the current action style, this reboot of a ’60s TV show promises to let all James Bond junkies to get our retro-action fix without shame. With Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant.
Before you make the mistake of thinking that Mistress America is just another Trump-sponsored beauty pageant, think again. Mistress America is actually the new film from Noah Baumbach, and is a kind of follow-up to Frances Ha, Baumbach’s 2012 film about a young woman (Greta Gerwig) living in New York who pursues her dreams in complete obliviousness to their fundamental impracticality. In Mistress America, Gerwig returns (she co-wrote the film with Baumbach) as Brooke, an irrepressible young woman—again living in New York—who takes under her wing her soon-to-be stepsister Tracy (Lola Kirke), a college freshman new to the city. It’s a “seize the day” storyline, as Tracy follows Brooke into every kind of adventure and misadventure and learns how to live and dream big.
Ethan Hawke plays a dubious father figure in 10,000 Saints, a drama about young people navigating sex, drugs and punk rock in New York City in the mid ’80s. CBGB is still open, New York is a grittier, run-down place, and young Jude leaves Vermont to go live with his father in the East Village. There, he enters a world with very few rules but with a really good soundtrack. A possible hit for those with a soft spot for the vanished urban jungle.