Movies: A couple of Indies that aren’t going to bowl you over: The Meddler and a Hologram for a King

A Hologram for a King

I have not read the Dave Egger’s book on which this movie is based, but apparently it is quite dark and somewhat confusing. People who have, are not convinced it should or could be made into a movie. However, with a pretty good script and the ever-great Tom Hanks in the lead role, it is a fairly decent movie. The actor is able to provide some levity, which keeps the movie a bit lighter than what I understand the book to be.

The story revolves around a man who has not been successful in business or marriage and due to a short interaction with the cousin of a Saudi King finds himself in Saudi Arabia pitching IT services to the King. He struggles with the culture and his identity as he attempts to put together a presentation (using holograms) that will bring a large contract to his company. He strikes up a friendship with a quirky driver (not the strongest relationship in the movie) due to the fact he sleeps through the shuttle departure every day.  This “friendship” never really worked for me.  He also gets to know a female doctor who treats a large growth on his back and becomes his love interest. By the end of the movie, Hank’s character has a much better grasp on himself and how he can find happiness.

I would give this movie a “B” based on a very good performance by Hanks and an interesting glimpse into the Muslim world of Saudi Arabia which remains a mysterious place for many Americans. This movie provides some insight into this secretive world which is different than the normal Mid-East fare.  Although it is fairly predictable, Hank’s performance along with the location are enough to keep most viewers interested.

The Meddler

The Meddler is about a recently widowed woman (Marnie) played by Susan Sarandon who moves from NJ to California to be closer to her daughter Lori. She spends a lot of time calling and texting Lori, a screenwriter who is depressed about her father’s death and recent break-up with her boyfriend. Marnie spends an inordinate amount of time in the Grove (an outdoor mall in LA) as she try’s to alleviate her grief by financially helping one of Lori’s friends and an Apple Genius Bar employee. Let’s just say both of those storylines are bizarre. Ultimately she finds a potential love interest in J.K. Simmons who unfortunately is named “Zipper”.  Their relationship is not particularly well developed and involves lots of Chickens and Dolly Parton.

The movie is totally predictable, pretty boring and there isn’t much to say for it except that Sarandon is very good. The depth of feeling she displays through her facial expressions is excellent and its too bad she isn’t given a better forum to express her abilities.  Her NY/NJ accent is a bit peculiar but that is a small quibble in her overall performance.   Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. It was disappointing.

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