Confess, Fletch and Pearl | Screens
CONFESS, FLETCH. For a vast, often problematic swath of the population (read: white Gen X guys, who I’m only generationally adjacent to, thank you very much), Chevy Chase is like a god. This is partly due, of course, to his SNL antics, Clark Griswold and his, in hindsight, surprisingly minor, world devouring Caddyshack (1980). But this is Chase’s rendition of Irwin M. Fletcher in Fletch (1985), from Gregory McDonald’s series of mystery-solving reportage novels, which spawned a million flimsy imitations and made him a successful, if unlikely, leading man for the next decade .
I saw and enjoyed Fletch – perhaps even Fletch lives (1989), I don’t really remember — but it wasn’t a particularly formative text. Funny? Sure, and kinda sexy in the slightly awkward style of the transitional born films of the previous decade. And, full disclosure: I certainly spent my time with my VHS copy of three amigos (1986). But the Fletch redesign poses no threat to the sanctity of my childhood that I remember. If it’s yours, well, write a song about it and introduce it to your other sad bags from dad’s band.
Jon Hamm, on the other hand, is an actor (star?) for whom I have long wished for a suitable star vehicle. He’ll always be the Don Draper of our dreamless drunken dreams, but we’ve known for a while now that this guy has jokes; Too bad Hollywood has pretty much given up on comedy. Before the genre was completely reduced to dust, however, Confess, Fletch managed to sneak in, but mostly via streaming.
The fact that a clever, modestly scaled comedy thriller with charisma and sexiness has to sneak in anywhere is disheartening and a testament to tragic developments both in the collective consciousness and in the movie industry. But Confess, Fletch is here now and I should be happy.
I haven’t read any McDonald’s source material yet, but, as I understand it, his Fletch is less goofy than Chase, more sardonic and capable. And that’s the character as Hamm plays him, prone to mumbled asides, likely to be beaten in a physical contest, but smarter and smarter than most.
After a brief Roman vacation leading to a romantic entanglement, Fletch travels to Boston, where he stumbles upon a dead body and falls into a murder investigation into an Intercontinental Art Heist. Doggedly pursued by Detective Monroe (Roy Wood, Jr.), a Celtic for his Laker, Fletch quickly becomes a person of interest for multiple crimes and must conduct his own investigation while dodging queues and infiltrating yacht-clubbing. Northeast blue-bloodery.
Admittedly, I’m a sucker for dark, crime stories reimagined in contemporary settings, so the briefest of plot sketches intrigued me. But, as is so rarely the case, Confess, Fletch met and exceeded my expectations. Hamm and the supporting cast (including Marcia Gay Harden positively munching a bad Italian accent and John Slattery cursing like a sailor) play it cool without really trying, making for a perfectly balanced blend of suspense and humor. Director Greg Mottola (super bad2007; Adventureland, 2009) orchestrates the affair with aplomb, lending a sort of effortless flair to each frame and maintaining a pace that is always compelling and never rushed. Notwithstanding the character’s name, I didn’t think of Chevy Chase in an Afro wig; not once. A. 93M. AMAZON PRIME.
PEARL. Earlier this year, writer/director Ti West broke a long dry spell with X, an anthem to the roots of indie horror filmed entirely in New Zealand during the pandemic. An end credits teaser promised more – a kind of color-saturated origin story. We then learned that West and star/co-writer Mia Goth had crafted this prequel, set 60 years before the events of x, quarantined in their respective hotel rooms, pending the start of production. And moreover, that they had undertaken the ambitious project to shoot the two films in sequence.
And so now we have pearla sort of throwback to the Technicolor Cinemascope extravaganzas of a bygone era, a tale of stifled dreams corrupted into murderous rage.
In the depths of the Spanish flu pandemic and the end of the Great War, Pearl (Goth) is largely housebound, caring for her weakened father and subjected to the military discipline of her German-born mother. . With her husband serving in Europe, Pearl starves for affection and dreams of becoming a star on the stage. The movie palace and its handsome projectionist (David Corenswet) offer a momentary respite from reality, and an upcoming audition for a touring dance company holds out the chance to escape. But we already know where this chapter is taking us.
In the first quarter, pearl perhaps feels too deliberate in its pacing, perhaps a little too enamored with its own aesthetic accomplishments. On reflection, however, the film lives up to its own ambitions admirably, creating something distinct from its apparent homage. And there is, once again, another chapter in perspective. A. 102M. BROADWAY, MINER.
John J. Bennett (he/him) is a movie nerd who loves a good car chase.
READING IN PROGRESS
AVATAR 3D (2009). It’s like the blue cats with boobs are right there with you. PG13. 301M. BROADWAY.
BARBARIC. AirBnB nightmare with Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård and Justin Long. R 102M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
BROS. Bawish romantic comedy starring Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller. R. 115M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
HIGH-SPEED TRAIN. Five killers cross Japan on the same tracks. With Brad Pitt, Joey King, Sandra Bullock and Hiroyuki Sanada. R. 126M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA.
DC LEAGUE OF SUPER FAMILIES. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Kate McKinnon are superhero best friends. PG. 106M. FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
DON’T WORRY DARLING. A utopian community of the 1950s goes wrong. With Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles. Choose your fighter. A. 123M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
THE BIGGEST BEER RACE EVER. Zac Efron stars as a naive brother who brought beer to his deployed GI buddies in the Vietnam War and I guess Hollywood thinks that’s the story we need. R. 126M. BROADWAY.
3D JAWS (1983). We’re going to need bigger glasses. PG. 130M. BROADWAY.
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU. Animated prequel featuring the chaotic little henchman. PG. 90M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
MOONAGE DAYDREAM. Dreamlike documentary about David Bowie. PG13. 134M. MINOR.
SEE HOW THEY WORK. Murder and mystery delay a film set in 1950s London in this comedy starring Sam Rockwell and Pearl Chanda. PG13. 98M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, MINER.
SMILE. A shrink with baggage starts seeing people with creepy smiles everywhere and suddenly my bitch face doesn’t look so bad, does it, people? With Sosie Bacon. R. 115M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK. Tom Cruise returns to the cockpit with a pitch-perfect work of pure energy that eschews the nitty-gritty politics for the sheer physics and mental plasticity required of a modern fighter pilot. PG13. 137M. MILL.
THE WOMAN KING. Viola Davis flexes on us all as a general in the 19th century all-female army of the West African kingdom of Dahomey. With Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch and John Boyega. PG13. 134M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.
For showtimes, call: Broadway Cinema (707) 443-3456; Fortuna Theater (707) 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theater (707) 822-3456.