Review: ‘Bodies’ surprises as a satirical who-done-it

Chase Sui Wonders, Amandla Stenberg, Rachel Sennott, and Maria Bakalova in Bodies Bodies Bodies (Columbia Pictures)

We’ve entered into somewhat of a dead zone for big movie releases as our nation collectively turns its attention to its annual rites of late summer — “back-to-school” season.

This sort of cinematic dry spell tends to happen every August, as studios burn off movies not big enough to battle for screen time with the summer blockbusters or prestigious enough to be held for the late fall/early winter parade of Oscar hopefuls.

Despite the fact that five new films open in theaters today, after having at least one “big movie” open each weekend dating back to the early March release of “The Batman,” the pickings seemed thin in theaters across Northwest Arkansas.

With only one of those new releases having a Thursday-night opening, there was no choice for this review. “Bodies Bodies Bodies” would be it.

Had there had been another new release on the menu, I probably would have gone for it. Slasher movies just aren’t my favorite genre.

Much to my surprise, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” actually turned out to be a biting, satirical who-done-it, rather than the bargain-basement serial-killer flick its promotional campaign suggests.

Lee Pace and Pete Davidson in Bodies Bodies Bodies (Columbia Pictures)

Oh, there’s some blood and gore, but “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is more about the “how and the why” than the hack and the slash, and that was refreshing in this surprisingly entertaining film directed by Halina Rejin.

Now all the characters are scumbags who are more interested in themselves and their own social-media imprint than their friends or partners when they attend a party at mansion where they intend to ride out a hurricane.

Things turn upside down rather quickly and the houseguests go at each other viciously when one of the partiers, David (Pete Davidson) is found dead with his throat slashed.

Most of the characters are equally vile on one level or the other as suspicion, envy, and hatefulness causes the collection of “friends” to turn on each other in the cringiest of ways.

The film is entertaining, but you might feel like you need to wash off after spending so much time with such a toxic group of characters in this darkly humorous and outlandish murder mystery.

(R) 1 hr. 54 min.
Grade: B-

New in Local Theaters

Bodies Bodies Bodies (R) 1 hr. 54 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Pinnacle Hills

Mack and Rita (PG-13) 1 hr. 35 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback

Laal Singh Chaddha (PG-13) 2 hr. 42 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Pinnacle Hills

Emily the Criminal (R) 1 hr. 33 min. (trailer)
Malco Razorback

Fall (PG-13) 1 hr 47 min. (trailer)
Malco Razorback, Malco Towne

‘E.T.’ celebrates 40th anniversary on IMAX

Henry Thomas and Pat Welsh in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Universal Pictures)

Get your Reese’s Pieces and your bicycle ready. “E.T.” The Extra-Terrestrial” is once again in theaters to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary at the Malco Razorback Cinema and IMAX daily this week at 4 and 7 p.m.

The big news is that the classic Steven Spielberg film about the special connection between a young boy and an abandoned space man is that this special engagement is playing on the gigantic IMAX screens, which boast fantastic picture quality and a sound system that wasn’t even imaginable when the touching film was originally released in the summer of 1982.

Whether “E.T.” is a longtime favorite or a movie you’ve never bothered to watch, its display in an IMAX theater will be a first. I’m looking forward to seeing the deftly crafted Spielberg film in all its glory with the John Williams score blaring on arguably the region’s best sound system.

Though the film is 40 years old, it more than holds up if you can place your cynicism to the side. Nominated for nine Oscars, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” took home four Academy Awards for Best Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Special Effects.

Despite its age, “E.T.” is the best movie currently playing in theaters, and an all-time classic that remains as impactful today as it did when it was released.

Meet Danny Wilson

Frank Sinatra, Shelley Winters, and Alex Nicol in Meet Danny Wilson (Universal Pictures)

As the month of August rolls on Turner Classic Movies continues its “Summer Under the Stars” promotion in which the films of a different movie star are spotlighted each day of the month.

TCM pulls out some big guns this weekend with the movies of Marlon Brando featured Saturday, and Elizabeth Taylor’s on Sunday. On Monday, Randolph Scott is the featured star, with Raquel Welch and Spencer Tracy taking the spotlight on Tuesday and Wednesday. The films of Shelley Winters are showcased Thursday.

Here is a link to TCM’s complete schedule:

Winters appeared in a number of great movies that spanned the course of her career from the 1950s to the 1980s. Perhaps her best three films play in a row Thursday with 1962’s “Lolita” at 4:15 p.m. followed by 1951’s “A Place in the Sun,” at 7 p.m., and 1955’s “The Night of the Hunter” at 9:15 p.m.

However, the Winters film I’m going to make sure and catch is her co-starring role in “Meet Danny Wilson” with Frank Sinatra at 11:15 p.m Thursday.

The dramatic musical directed by Joseph Pevney has a unique yet explosive energy. Based on reports, Winters and Sinatra absolutely hated each other though they were cast as lovers. Winters reportedly punched Sinatra in the kisser during shooting. Ol’ Blue Eyes kept his cool and did not retaliate.

Sinatra plays Danny Wilson, who is a hard-drinking and hard-luck nightclub singer who becomes indebted to mobster Nick Driscoll (Raymond Burr) when he bails the crooner out of jail at the behest of his singing partner and girlfriend Joy Carroll (Winters).

Driscoll, who covets Joy, wants 50 percent of the earnings off their performances with their easy-going pianist Mike Ryan (Alex Nicol) for his favor. The pressure is too much for Danny and Joy’s relationship as Danny crawls deeper into the bottle and Joy begins to fall in love with Mike.

The whole situation explodes when Danny catches Joy and Mike together, and Driscoll comes calling for his dough.

The film features eight songs by Sinatra plus a duet of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” with Winters. “All Of Me” is probably the best known of his numbers in the film, but my favorite is Sinatra’s rendition of “That Old Black Magic.”

The 1952 release was filmed during the period when Sinatra was transitioning from his phase as teen-idol in the 1940s to becoming a full-fledged movie star, which came a year later in the 1953 classic “From Here to Eternity.”

The movie has a nice edge to it, no doubt fed by the ill will between Winters and Sinatra. Despite the fact that his career was in flux, Sinatra voice is golden in every number he performs.

It’s not Winters’ best role, but it is interesting to watch Burr, who would go on to greater notoriety playing defense lawyer Perry Mason on TV, as the heavy instead of the crusader for justice he would become famous for.