You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 10, 2012.

77.  Cowboys and Aliens

Saw this one in a theater in the Outer Banks with family last summer, and I distinctly remember the place had at least two pinball machines on which we might have killed a half hour (and who knows how much money) before the film.  Afterward, I think we all agreed that it was nice to be in the air conditioning for a couple of hours.  Increasingly (and perhaps not surprisingly) it seems that if a movie is so ridiculous that its insanity can be encapsulated in its title (e.g. Snakes on a Plane), the movie isn’t going to be able to live up to expectations.  My big problem with this one is that pretty much every supporting character could have been cut without the film needing to be edited for coherence.

76.  Drive

In my notes I describe this film as a B-movie with great actors.  I’m not sure that’s entirely fair, but I didn’t see in the movie what other people seemed to.  I think what I was getting at is that there’s a lot of down time between the action scenes, stuff that maybe some people see as “arty” and others see as “boring.”  Maybe “arthouse B-movie” would be a better description.  It felt a little bit like director Nicholas Winding Refn and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel spent a lot of effort making every shot precious.  Which is maybe a good idea in theory, though here I often find it tiring and distracting.

75.  Like Crazy

Something of an arthouse hit after winning the Grand Jury award at Sundance, it was considered to have been snubbed by the Spirit Awards.  As much as anything can be snubbed by the Spirit Awards.  On one hand, it is very easy to be angry at Anton Yelchin (perhaps best known as Chekov from Star Trek who got to hook up with Kat Dennings in Charlie Bartlett a few years back and now gets to hook up with both the lovely and talented Felicity Jones and the equally lovely and talented Jennifer Lawrence here.  On the other hand, screw that guy.  The movie is about Yelchin and Jones falling in love in college, but when Jones intentionally overstays her visa, the couple has to figure out how to make a trans-Atlantic relationship work.  I found the time jumps a little hard and it was also difficult to sympathize with the characters, which seems pretty important for a movie like this.

74.  Immortals

Tarsem movies are always visually stunning and. I’d argue, in a way that actually services the plot.  And it turns out his visual flourish translates pretty well to the fight scenes in an action movie.  In particular, the fights scenes with the gods were really really cool.  It would be nice, then, if he viewed plot as something more than a necessary evil.  Speaking of necessary evils, Mickey Rourke was an inspired casting choice as a bad guy.

73.  Rango

I found Rango to be pleasant, a little weird, and mostly forgettable.  Didn’t seem nearly as clever to me as some people made it out to be.  Of course, I didn’t really like Chinatown.  Still, you do have to give them a lot of credit for Timothy Olyphant voicing the Clint Eastwood role.

72.  The Adjustment Bureau

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story (and if you are playing along with the Jared recap drinking game, drink!), the movie sure needed Dick to have written more pages, because there is too much padding and general aimlessness here.  There also feels like a constant level of tension from the very start to end of the movie, which isn’t exactly how that’s supposed to work.  But hey, a Philip K. Dick movie with Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, and lots of cool hats can’t be all bad.

71.  Footnote

Saw this Israeli movie, which was nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar and Spirit Award for screenwriting, in theaters with my grandma.  It is a surprisingly watchable movie, given its Oscar status.  I mean, sure, there’s the requisite depression and ennui, but the film takes on a relatively light tone and tells a very micro-level story about the relationship between a father and son, and how that impacts their family life.  I found the story engaging, though it occasionally went in directions other than I would have liked.  Also, generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of open-ended, well, endings.  When, as we were filing out of the theater, multiple little old ladies in the audience asked me if they had missed something in the abrupt ending, I think writer-director Joseph Cedar made a creative mistake.

70.  The Debt

This is the American remake.  With Helen Mirren as a member of Mossad and let’s just say I’m not 100% convinced that part was made up.  Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds make up the rest of the team in the present day, and in the past the characters are played by Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, and Sam Worthington, respectively.  Director John Madden is experiencing a nice career bounce with this year’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and while this one may be a step above Killshot, it certainly didn’t suggest a return to the form of Shakespeare in Love.  Especially disappointing because the screenwriting pair behind Stardust (Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn) have a credit (then again so does one of the people who wrote Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  Anyway, this movie took awhile to get to the stakes, but there’s an interesting spy movie hiding somewhere in there.

69.  The Ledge

This is different from Man on a Ledge, which is currently sitting in a Netflix envelope on my shelves, waiting to be watched.  In this one, Charlie Hunnam is the titular guy on the ledge (and side note, it took me like an hour to place him as the guy from Undeclared), who had gotten involved with his neighbor (Liv Tyler) who has a devoutly Christian husband (Patrick Wilson) who doesn’t take kindly to being cuckolded, and Terence Howard is the police negotiator.  The movie got a little preachy at times, (if it took a side, it was equally preachy on all sides) and tried to frame the story as a battle between ideological viewpoints without actually doing so.  Instead, it just seemed like Charlie Hunnam was in a different movie than everyone else.  Wilson, naturally, was fantastic.  He’s one of those guys who I would cast in a movie without needing to know what type of movie or role it was.  Also, Liv Tyler’s boobies.

68.  The Beaver

I’m not sure the first movie directed by Jodie Foster in fifteen years, written by Kyle Killen (the guy behind the cancelled TV shows Lonestar and Awake) and starring the still-searching for redemption Mel Gibson as a guy who loses the ability to function without talking through the beaver puppet on his hand was ever going to match the hype brought about by that confluence of factors.  The thing is, the movie isn’t really as strange as it seems like it would be.  Gibson plays a deeply depressed husband and father who uses the beaver puppet as a way to cope.  There’s a subplot with Gibson’s son (Anton Yelchin) hooking up with a high school classmate (Jennifer Lawrence) that is distractingly underdeveloped.  Observant readers will note that’s the second time in this post those two play an on-screen couple.

July 2012