Colletting Crowes

The accidental — but not coincidental — kinship of the movie calendar:

This past weekend, two new wide releases hit theaters that unexpectedly resonate with each other.

Both The Pope’s Exorcist and Mafia Mamma revolve around two Australian actors (of a certain age) traipsing through Italy. In addition to this logline similarlity, each movie speaks to how their respective stars are trying to relocate audiences within the industry’s contemporary landscape.

Yesterday covered how The Pope’s Exorcist seems to be yet another bid from Russell Crowe in search of his late-career franchise, after the Liam Neeson-esque Unhinged (Liam didn’t create the concept of a franchisable actor — obviously — but he’s the modern go-to; his influence can be seen in the likes of Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody, Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde, and even Keanu’s John Wick). And like The Pope’s Exorcist, Unhinged fused together different commercial genres: over-the-hill action meets horror thriller.

In recent years, fellow Aussie Toni Collette has been attempting to resuscitate a once-commercial genre: the crowd-pleasing, heartfelt and heartwarming, uplifting broad dramedy, which grounds light frivolity with relatable characters and emotions. AKA: [scare quotes] “middlebrow movies for casual adults.” Mafia Mamma, Dream Horse, The Estate, Hearts Beat Loud, Please Stand By, Birthmarked, even Knives Out — they serve audiences who might want an indier sensibility than the geriatric fluff (said with love) being trotted out for them by Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda (nothing but respect for my queens).

Toni refuses to let leggy, sleeper Sundance grossers go gentle into that bad night.

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