Actors who are normally dependable speak with bad Russian accents for two hours.
Remember a John Huston film titled “The Kremlin Letter?” It would start with actors speaking Russian and the camera would slowly zoom into their mouth and then they were speaking English. John McTiernan used a similar technique in “The Hunt for Red October.”
It’s like director Cate Shortland told the actors: “Start at Boris and Natasha and we’ll take it from there.” In “Black Widow” the performers use the kind of Russian accent you hear in contempo movies, and it sounds passable but then the end of their speech is an expository sentence that they enunciate sans accent.
The storyline involves training Russian children as spies who serve obediently as they become adults. For being a spy movie there’s never any tension in the sense that a spy thriller works best when using dramatic double-crosses and shifting alliances. “Black Widow” is no “Red Sparrow.”
For a superhero genre movie “Black Widow” seems real talky. As must people who are interested in this kind of movie know Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) left this mortal coil in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” turning “Black Widow” into a sort of prequel hinging on the relation of Natasha to her surrogate sister Yelena (Florence Pugh). Marvel movies have the willpower to overcome current box office champ “F9” despite being set outside the bounds of physics simply because the films adhere to the same verisimilitude they established at the get-go. The Marvelverse has always entertained the concept of a city in the sky or covert organizations that are acronyms. “The Fast and the Furious” literally expanded from a road bound series (around installment #5) to cars that had more moves than trapeze artists. Both series have become self-referential to the point of mugging. For anything to achieve popularity in today’s culture it must go meta.
“Black Widow” goes meta this weekend in theaters. Also available on demand through Disney+.
Pigs with personality
“Pig” is not what you think and definitely a cult film in the making.
A hermit (Nic Cage) who forages for valuable truffles with the aid of his extra truffle sensory pig, the most photogenic movie pig since Babe and before that Arnold on “Green Acres,” lives as a recluse in a cabin in the woods and seems affable enough although not easily befriended.
The truffles Cage finds bring a rich bounty. Early on the pig is stolen.
Here the film take one of many mystifying turns. It turns out Cage was a top rated chef who dropped out of society to live his own secluded life.
“Pig” features Cage cooking a mushroom soufflé and pigeon with champagne.
There’s a “Fight Club” moment when Cage goes back to the big city (Portland) to find his pig and must navigate his way through the Oregon waiter mafia underground. The movie pig has a lot of charm yet we only see the critter in the first reel. There is no actual animal credit but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more than one pig used during filming.
The point of “Pig” seems to change by the reel. Eventually instead of revenge Cage wants to cook a meal that will make his adversary break down in tears. Not the first genre film to shift gears midway but one of the cleverest.
“Pig” opens in theaters on July 16.