You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 29, 2012.

47.  The Perfect Host

David Hyde Pierce is so good in this movie.  I know.  But believe me, he is.  The first two-thirds of the film sees criminal on the run Clayne Crawford seemingly con his way into David Hyde Pierce.  The tables soon turn, though, as Pierce is revealed to be off his rocker and we get a sort of highbrow torture porn.  The last third of the film, which I didn’t love, shifts gears a lot and feels more like the resolution to a heist movie.

46.  Hesher

A showcase for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, basically.  He plays the titular character who is a disaffected malcontent, essentially the person you least want in your life.  He worms his way into the life (and house) of a kid dealing with the death of his mother and an inconsolable father (Rainn Wilson).  The films is kinda insane and kinda brilliant as we follow Gordon-Levitt just generally being a dick.  Natalie Portman is also in the film for a little, though we don’t get to spend enough time with her character.

45.  Bad Teacher

This film made $100 million at the box office, somehow.  I mean, if Brian, John, AND I all miss on forecasting a movie, you know it was a big surprise.  The story maybe isn’t the most inventive idea in the world: Cameron Diaz plays a lazy, boozehound gold digger of a teacher, and a plot point of the movie is that she’s saving up money to get a boob job.  She’s a crappy teacher, but will she be such a bad teacher by the end of the film, or will a lesson have been learned?  It’s anyone’s guess!  Diaz seems to have a lot of fun with a role that would have gone to Robert Downey, Jr. if it were written for a male.  The two love interests are a delightfully dweeby Justin Timerlake and an underused Jason Segel with the underrated Lucy Punch as the nemesis.  The film gets a lot of little things right.  There are several funny jokes and well-played moments.  The larger story is, well, I’m biased because I know the writers (Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky) are from The Office, but it feels like a tired sitcom plot.

44.  Arthur

Confession: I’ve never seen the original.  I think this one struggled a little bit with its cartoonish premise.  Whenever the film focused on its depiction of Brand’s drinking problem or his relationship with his mother, or whatever the heck was going on with Jennifer Garner’s character, it had all the flaws of an unfunny super broad comedy.  Which is shame, because Helen Mirren was having a lot of fun with her role and the relationship between Brand and Greta Gerwig was actually pretty sweet.  And the film did have a number of funny lines.

43.  Daydream Nation

There’s a lot of weird stuff going on in the periphery of this one, but Kat Dennings as a wisecracking precocious high schooler is always going to rate highly with me.  Reece Thompson seems to have carved out this weird niche as an indie awkward high school kid who ends up with a really attractive actress.  Well done, there.

42.  Transfer

Here’s what I wrote in my film festival writeup:

John nailed this one.  It deals with the kind of sci-fi I love, but fell into the trap of films I often describe as being like a TV pilot: it started creating the beginnings of an interesting world and brought up tons of questions.  The premise isn’t that unlike Dollhouse, for example, especially second season.  As John said, to be more successful, the movie really had to focus in on the questions it wanted to tackle.  And I know it sounds weird, but the dubbing really was distracting

41.  The Other Woman

Natalie Portman plays a young woman who has an affair with her boss (Scott Cohen) and gets pregnant, breaking up his marriage to Lisa Kudrow.  Portman and Cohen soon marry, but tragedy sets in as the infant child dies, plunging Portman into a deep depression she struggles to deal with while helping raise her stepson.  Portman naturally gives a winning performance in this drama.  The film itself is pretty dark.  And interesting to see how it didn’t make Portman as “the other woman” into a heroine or evil.

40.  Trust

This movie is about a fourteen year old (Liana Liberato) who gets into an online relationship with a predator who then takes advantage of her when he gets them to meet in person, and the ensuing chaos that results when her actions become known.  The movie, directed by David Schwimmer, was very difficult to watch, and frankly I can’t imagine how parents of an adolescent girl could get through it.  My main criticism was that it could have delved into the parents (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener).  I’m also not sure it nailed the ending, but I have no idea what a good ending for something like this could have been.  I think John and I have both commented elsewhere that we were struck by Liberato’s performance.

39.  Moneyball

I did a full write-up of the movie here.

38.  The Descendants

Back to back best picture nominees!  I shared my thoughts on The Descendants here.

July 2012