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Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Quickie Reviews: Atomic Blonde and Landline

Atomic Blonde is set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989. As the Cold War appears to be nearing its end, the spy game is hot as ever. British MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin to retrieve a stolen list that threatens to expose the identity of all Western spies. It’s a familiar plot line in espionage thrillers, and in this case, the convoluted plot is a mere vehicle for launching a tangled web of deceit among Broughton’s contacts (including James McAvoy as embedded station chief David Percival) and triggering a whole lot of extended fight scenes. Lorraine’s weapons of choice include anything she can get her hands on – from guns and knives, to keys and high heels – all swung with lethal force. The film is like a hyper-violent Jason Bourne or Bond movie with a lead that happens to be a badass chick.

If that’s not your thing, you won’t particularly like this movie. If you’re okay with the violence, are familiar with the graphic novel the film is based on (“The Coldest City”), or just in the mood for a stylish espionage movie with a killer 1980s soundtrack, then Atomic Blonde is a fine choice. If it does well enough at the box office, there’s a strong chance we’ll be seeing a lot more of agent Broughton in the years ahead. Personally, I’d like to see her in a cross-over with Bourne or Bond. That would be atomically hot.

 

Landline offers up a healthy dose of 1990s nostalgia, but is otherwise just a so-so indie dramedy about family dysfunction from Obvious Child director Gillian Robespierre. The film follows two sisters, the recently-engaged Dana (Jenny Slate, Obvious Child) and the rebellious teenager Ali (Abby Quinn) who come to suspect their father (John Turturro) is cheating on their mom (Edie Falco). The sisters bond over their efforts to expose the affair, while also dealing with their own myriad “issues.” The film offers the occasional fun reminder of what life was like before cellphones: there’s references to mix tapes, Lorena Bobbitt, floppy disks, dot matrix printers and the like, in addition to those corded phones tied to one line that everyone had to share. But ultimately, it’s not funny or poignant enough to be memorable. This is one “landline” that doesn’t need to be picked up on the first ring.

 

 

For lively discussion about Atomic Blonde and Landline, as well as a recommendation on the movie you should be seeing instead, tune in to the Cinema Clash podcast (also available on iTunes).

 

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