Barbuto column: Skip or stream? ‘7500,’ ‘Screened Out,’ ‘Tommaso,’ ‘Wrong Missy’
This week’s foursome features a tense thriller, a scary documentary, an artsy character study and a mindless comedy. Skip or stream? Read and find out.
“7500”: Ladies and gentlemen, this is “7500,” your by-the-numbers hijacking drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tobias, a pilot forced to fend off cockpit intruders. German director Patrick Vollrath’s feature debut takes its title from the FAA emergency code for a hijacking. It’s a claustrophobic action-thriller set mainly in a cramped cockpit under siege. Also onboard the Berlin-to-Paris leg is Tobias’ flight attendant girlfriend (Aylin Tezel), the mother of his son. With shades of 9/11, a group of Muslims (this film is definitely not PC) armed with homemade knives storm the cockpit. What starts out as a tense story encounters turbulence as the script whiddles down to a rote two-man standoff between Tobias and a baby-faced terrorist (Omar Memar). It’s a bumpy ride, but the in-flight terrors and Gordon-Levitt’s stoic performance bring it in for a smooth landing. (R for violence/terror and language. Available June 18 on Amazon Prime. Grade: B)
“Screened Out”: Documentarian Jon Hyatt’s dive into the world of tech addiction is among the scariest movies of the year. The takeaway? We’re too dependent on our electronic devices. Worse they are rotting our children’s brains while the people who design the gadgets send their kids to fancy schools that don’t allow cell phones. The film takes to task the creators of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and the rest for practicing Jedi mind tricks to get us hooked. Our dopamine (pleasure) response is dollars in their pockets. Hyatt interviews an array of experts from former Facebook president Sean Parker to Dr. Michael Rich, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Center on Media and Child Health. Hyatt never preaches in an informative 71 minutes. He even inserts himself, his wife and their two young sons into the fray, while confessing to being a tech addict himself. (“It pulls me away from my work, my children, and my relationships.”) The movie, arriving as it does amid a pandemic in which we live more virtual than ever, couldn’t be timelier. Blessing or curse? You decide. (Not rated. Available via VOD on all digital platforms. Grade: B)
“Tommaso”: Frequent collaborators Willem Dafoe and writer-director Abel Ferrara team up for an exploration of modern manhood. Dafoe plays the title character, a broken expat screenwriter living in Italy trying to maintain his sobriety. He’s also driven to be a good father to his 3-year-old daughter and a good husband to his much younger wife (Ferrara’s real-life child Anna Ferrara and his wife Cristina Chiriac). The opening scenes paint Tommaso as a man about town - taking Italian lessons, visiting the coffee shop, a local market. He smiles - a lot. It’s all a facade. Down deep, Tommaso possesses the emotional maturity of a toddler, unaware his macho needs do not always come first. He might want to be a decent man, but his actions - dalliances, angry outbursts because his wife makes her own lunch - suggest otherwise. Dafoe is pitch-perfect per usual, particularly strong in scenes depicting Al-Anon meetings where he has some riveting monologues. Later, he laments, “ever since that baby was born, everything changed.” Well, that’s life, Tommy. Suck it up. (Not rated. Virtual screening available through the Coolidge Corner Theatre. In English, Italian and Russian, with subtitles. Grade: B-)
“The Wrong MIssy”: If you’re in the mood for a dumb Adam Sandler comedy - and let’s face it, sometimes we all are - then you could do a lot worse than this mindless-but-heartfilled comedy. Sandler isn’t in it, but his Happy Madison stamp is all over it. Co-starring are his wife, Jackie Sandler, and a cadre of his regular crew in David Spade, Nick Swardson and Rob Schneider. Sandler’s nephew, Tyler Spindel (“Deported”), directs. Relative newcomer Lauren Lapkus is the highlight, infusing the movie with a crazy energy and a gift for pratfalls. As the titular Missy, she’s the clown to Spade’s sarcastic straight man. The plot is simple: A texting snafu leads to the wrong woman joining Spade’s Tim at a company retreat in Hawaii, where there’s a huge promotion on the line. Calamity ensues. The comedy is raunchy, the language foul and in our strange, new topsy-turvy world, “The Wrong Missy” feels sort-of right. (Not rated. Available on Netflix. Grade: B-)
Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.