Payne’s Picks

Bad Santa 2 – November 23

I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t seen the original Bad Santa until it aired again on TV this past Christmas. I thought it was hilarious. Of course there are more obvious Christmas classics—like A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, or It’s a Wonderful Life. But Bad Santa is a whole different kind of profanity-laced fun (that’s definitely not family-friendly!). Billy Bob Thornton is back for the sequel—13 years after the original was released. He recently spoke to The Wall Street Journal, who asked him if his character is worse than before. He said: “He’s certainly more world-weary than he was, if that’s possible. It’s tough with critics – they’re usually hard on sequels. It’s judged just because it’s a sequel…All we were trying to do was get close to the first one. I think I liked it as much as I liked the first one.”


Sully – Is it possible that we love Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks so much that we are unable to objectively judge their work? I sat through a painful hour of Eastwood’s Sully, (which, amazingly, got an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes) before walking out. Yes, it was that bad—the acting, the writing, the editing—everything. But let’s start with the writing. It’s based on a book by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed a damaged plane in the Hudson river, saving everyone on board. Of course it’s wonderful that no one died. But there’s a painful lack of tension in the movie. When the plane crashes, passengers complain about the cold water (could they be any whinier?). There are also random, unnecessary scenes that should have ended up on the cutting room floor—like showing passengers at the airport gift shop before boarding, or rushing to the gate to make the flight. Giving a character one minute of screen time doesn’t make you care about them surviving the crash (which we already knew they would survive). And I love Tom Hanks, but his Sully is incredibly boring. There are several scenes of him jogging through New York City, stressed after the accident. But that’s all they are—filler scenes. It’s as if Eastwood forgot how to make a movie. Do yourself a favor and skip Sully. If you want to learn more about him, read the news stories. They’re a lot more interesting.

The Magnificent Seven – Who would have guessed that Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke would make such good cowboys? The Magnificent Seven is a fun Western remake that makes you root for the band of misfits, hired to fight Bartholomew Bogue, a murderous miner played by Peter Sarsgaard. Haley Bennett, who plays the widow of a man killed by Bogue, is a beautiful breakout star in the film. She’s in four movies in 2016 alone (including The Girl on the Train), and many people are calling her the new Jennifer Lawrence.


“In a Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware – Halloween may have passed, but it’s not too late to get wrapped up into a totally twisted thriller about a bachelorette party (or a hen party, if you’re in the U.K.) gone wrong. A salesperson at the Chicago O’Hare airport recommended it to me after I told him I liked “Gone Girl“ and “The Girl on the Train”. I proceeded to read the book in just two sittings. It’s a very addicting and quick read, and Ware does an excellent job of setting the mood at the onset. I was a bit disappointed by the ending, though, which feels rushed and completely far-fetched. Stay tuned for a film adaptation, which is set to be produced by Reese Witherspoon.

52 November 2016

Payne’s Picks

By Sarah Payne