Armageddon Time

Armageddon Time ★★

Gray is one of our most skilled contemporary melodramatists, but this is as great an example as any as to how difficult of a high-wire act the genre is. as i noted in a 1-star review of We Bought a Zoo, Crowe’s film is closer than i’d like to admit to a personal 5-star melodrama like Spanglish. the greats of the genre push away from realism and toward expressionism right up until the point of maudlin without tipping the scale. Gray and James L. Brooks have accomplished this several times over in the last 40 years, but unfortunately this film has some fatal scale-tipping. perhaps it’s the underwritten side-characters, including the ostensible 2nd-billed character played by Jaylin Webb who, more than any other Gray character before, exists more as an idea than a person. or, maybe it’s the fact that (like his weakest film, Little Odessa) the drama is so directly taken from Gray’s family history that he doesn’t have enough distance to properly see the chess pieces he’s moving, resulting in a handful of cloying scenes. it’s an admirable film in the dramatic and historic parallels that it attempts, but i simply just couldn’t buy into it. 

two strays: Jeremy Strong has already proven to the world that he is a good actor, he really didn’t need to try so hard here // Licorice Pizza was a much more effective film on where Jewish Americans stood moving into the back half of the 20th century.

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