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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans

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Streaming tip

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Perhaps you read my colleague Rick Koster's review of this movie last week. Here is my counterpoint opinion: What if you made a comedy and it wasn’t very, you know, comic? Witness “Eurovision.” It is quaint and sweet in parts, but it isn’t, alas, terribly funny or interesting. Considering the script is co-written by star Will Ferrell, the uninspired result is even more bewildering. Ferrell and a charming Rachel McAdams are Icelandic singers who dream of being in the Eurovision competition and, through nonsensical circumstances, get their chance. The screenplay hits the expected notes of a getting-famous tale but doesn’t bring any wit or inventiveness, beyond the Iceland and Eurovision elements. The one saving grace: “Downton Abbey” alum Dan Stevens. He portrays a Russian singer who wants to team up with McAdams, and Stevens plays him as if he were Siegfried and Roy’s missing, smarmy brother.

— Kristina Dorsey

 

 Video tip

1965 James Baldwin/William F. Buckley, Jr. debate

In 1965 at Cambridge University in England, conservative intellectual wunderkind William F. Buckley, Jr., debated the Black writer/activist James  Baldwin on the motion "The American Dream Comes at the Expense of the American Negro." To put it in context, one could say it was sort of the Super Bowl of debates in modern times — so much so that, now that I think about it, we should probably call the Super Bowl "The Baldwin/Buckley of Football Games." You can now watch this debate on YouTube and, particularly in the light of the recent and ongoing momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of John Lewis, if you haven't seen it — do so. Buckley was of course a superb debater, but is steamrolled. Using his own life as a conduit to the history and lives of Blacks in America, Baldwin is devastatingly eloquent. As he says at one point, "It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6,or 7, to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you." The humanity imbued in his comments and logic is heartbreaking. And check out Baldwin's surprise at the audience response to his speech.

— Rick Koster

 

The Old Guard

For a movie based on a comic book, "The Old Guard" feels awfully grim. It's about a group of people who are immortal and who, through the centuries, fight the injustices of the world. The good news: "Old Guard" star Charlize Theron was born to play an action-flick heroine, as she showed before in "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Atomic Blonde." She is tough and physical, and she can convey emotion beneath a very guarded exterior. In "Old Guard," she finds a kindred spirit in director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Unfortunately, they are saddled with a screenplay by Greg Rucka from his comic books that is nothing if not clunky, as it pivots between violent scenes and tortured dialogue about the nature of humanity, life and death.

— Kristina Dorsey

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