Review: Seth Green’s directorial debut ‘Changeland’ is nothing more than an empty travel ad

[An edited version of this review was originally published on The Playlist, and can be viewed here.]

 

Thinking about visiting Thailand for your next big trip? Good news: Seth Green, of “Robot Chicken” and “Austin Powers” fame, has made an exquisite-looking 80-minute visual brochure with his feature film debut, “Changeland.” Just be aware you’ll have to wade through he scattered semblance of a movie that’s in there, too.

Undoubtedly, “Changeland” works better as a travel ad than a drama, which the movie painfully lacks. There’s intrigue in its concept, and in its humble beginnings; think back to the last boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-begins-to-realize-what-a-big-world-it-is-without-the-girl movie you watched. “Changeland” kicks off where the credits to those movies would start to roll, as Brandon – played by Seth Green – flies out for a trip he hopes brings some clarity.

The vacation isn’t of the spur-of-the-moment variety, however; Brandon had been planning to surprise his wife with the trip for their anniversary. But that was before he discovered she may or may not be cheating on him, and a romantic getaway devolves into an expensive sojourn of introspection; Brandon’s best friend, Dan (played by Breckin Meyer) joins along for the fun and, more pivotally, as a guiding force for a suddenly lost soul. Continue reading →

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Review: ‘Yardie’ is an underwhelming directorial debut from Idris Elba

The director’s chair being filled with established actors is becoming an increasingly popular card for Hollywood to pull these days, albeit with wildly varied results.

Up until this point, the reception to those efforts in a way mirror the novice auteurs behind the camera; Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” – perhaps you’ve heard of it? – garnered near-universal acclaim to the tune of multiple Academy Award nominations. It’s a beloved film, much like its director-actor was before its release.

On the flip side, another actor still working under the radar despite having collaborated with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, Denis Villeneuve and Steve McQueen quietly directed one of the most intoxicating films of 2018. But Paul Dano’s “Wildlife” was, to a similarly strange degree as its director, seemingly never meant to break into the cultural consciousness in a meaningful way, despite the praise heaped onto it by critics.

So it will be interesting to see how Netflix’s audience responds to “Yardie,” the enticing-but-jumbled directorial debut from Idris Elba, when it’s released on the streaming service in mid-March. Though if merit has any say, it may struggle to hold the attention of movie-watchers. There’s a restlessness at the heart of the film, but in the end that attitude does little more than throw crime, familial drama, music and a sprinkling of Jamaican lore into a pot to create something of underwhelming taste.

Continue reading →