Monday, July 29, 2013

The Way, Way Back Movie Review

It’s probably bad enough to be a teenager dealing with the breakup of your parents’ marriage and then getting used to your mom’s new boyfriend, especially when he’s a raging ass. But on top of that, if you happen to be the most introverted and socially awkward teenage boy ever dreamed up by a screenwriter, then you might be the main character in The Way, Way Back, a new family-centered comedy drama from Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the team that collaborated with Alexander Payne on The Descendants, another recent film that finesses the line between family drama and human satire in many of the same ways. In their first outing as directors, they exhibit some signs of growing pains, but otherwise have put together a fairly harmless and sweet film that was close to the best fun I’ve had at the movies this year.

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Is the End Movie Review

In most cases, when young men gather together and hash out (most likely under the influence of varying types of drugs) what would go into their movie if they were given the chance by a Hollywood studio, the pitch never come to fruition. It becomes fodder for the ether, zany and lunatic ideas as easily forgotten as they were imagined. But for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the writing and directing team behind This Is the End, they actually got the chance and a modest studio budget to make a film that has everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Monsters University Movie Review

Someone suggested that a more fitting title for Monsters University, the prequel to Pixar’s hit Monsters, Inc., would have been When Mike Met Sulley. Not only do you get the Sully/Sally pun, but of course Mike is voiced by Billy Crystal, who played Harry, the man who met Sally. That’s neither here nor there, having little to do with the movie itself. It’s just an observation, but essentially Monsters University is the story of how Mike Wazowski, the irrepressible and energetic little walking eyeball became best buds with Sully, the big pastel-hewed fierce and furry “scarer” voiced by John Goodman. This is the story of how they came to be the powerful team that generates innumerable canisters of screams to power the Monster city.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing Movie Review

Sometimes as a great fan of Shakespeare, though certainly I am not a studied scholar of his work, I long for adaptations that get away from the stuffy theatrical tradition popularized by Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh. Though I have often found much to admire in Branagh’s work, it still fails to feel truly inspired or inspiring and instead comes across as an exercise in literary interpretation rather than a production of human emotion. But it is exactly that quality in Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing that I admire it so damn much and why I’m willing to call it the best Shakespeare adaptation committed to film.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Everything I've seen in the first half of 2013

In the first six months of 2013, I saw far fewer films than the same period last year. I managed just 87 feature films and 20 short films (15 of them the Oscar contenders in three categories). Of the features I saw from January through June, 3 of them (Django Unchained; Zero Dark Thirty; Holy Motors) were repeat viewings within the six months and 5 were DVD commentary tracks on 4 different films. So realistically speaking, that's only 80 different films I watched compared to more than 100 last year.

46 of the films I watched for the first time and 24 of those I saw in the cinema (including the silent classic Safety Last with live music accompaniment).

From the short films I saw 18 in the cinema and 17 were films I'd never seen before.

I've got 56 new reviews posted for films I saw during the first half of the year.

Out of the 80 different feature films I saw, I did not post reviews for 14 of them. Two are written and one will be written.

There were 2 in-flight movies, which I should hardly count because it's a tiny little screen, the sound is horrible, and they're edited for content. That's why I won't provide reviews on those.

Here's the full list after the break:

From My Collection: Out of Sight Movie Review

Out of Sight is quite simply one of the slickest and sexiest films of at least the last two decades. One scene in particular, involving a female Federal Marshal and the bank robber she’s chasing taking a “time out” from their respective responsibilities to fan the flames of passion between them is stylishly edited and beautifully realized. I loved this movie when I first saw it. I loved every minute of it as it played out on the big screen. I loved the smoldering Clooney and the incredibly sexy Lopez; loved the threatening Don Cheadle and the comic relief Steve Zahn; loved the fact that the Clooney and Lopez characters turn some common genre stereotypes on their heads; but mostly I loved the film’s sense of cool stemming from its jazz, funk, soul soundtrack, its sharp dialogue, and Tarantino-esque flair.

World War Z Movie Review

Is there a more apt metaphor right now for the way humanity is apparently destroying the planet and, in the process, itself than a worldwide zombie plague? The dead eyes, the mindless action based purely on need and instinct, and humanity eating itself alive without a care for the end result look a little like the way we plumb the planet for resources, always taking and never looking toward the future. World War Z is a bit more topical and on the nose than your average summer blockbuster – if you want to read it as something more than fodder for the masses, who flock to the tent pole action movies like the zombies glom to live flesh, but that’s maybe another reading altogether.

25 Years Ago This Month: July 1988

The two biggest movies of the month were total counter-programming to one another.

First there was John McTiernan's Die Hard, a fine action thriller that spawned a string of increasingly ludicrous sequels. It solidified Bruce Willis as an action hero, helping him break out of his "Moonlighting" and romantic comedy typecasting, and it introduced Alan Rickman to American audiences as the suave and cunning villain Hans Gruber.

For the ladies there was Tom Cruise in Cocktail later in the month. Believe it or not, I've never actually seen it. I had no interest in it during its cable run in 1989/1990.