Friday, August 12, 2011

Film Friday: August 12, 2011

As always, here is the order: 1. Good New Movie, 2. Good Older Movie, 3. Average or Below Average Movie. 

Let me know in the comments if there are any movies you’d like to see me write about for Film Friday over the coming weeks.  

Cedar Rapids (2010)

John C. Reilly owned me in this movie.
So far, this is my favorite comedy of the year, although most people would give that title to Bridesmaids.  Ed Helms, who does a pretty good impression of Andy Bernard in this movie, gives a great performance as the most naïve man alive, a guy from a one-horse town in Wisconsin who goes on his first out-of-state trip to a conference for his employer, an insurance company.  Along the way, he meets John C. Reilly’s character (who totally steals the show and is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors), and Anne Heche’s character (who was so pretty with long red hair that I didn’t even realize it was Anne Heche at first), and both characters indoctrinate him in all ways of debauchery.  The result is a comedy that is hilarious in the most uncomfortable way possible.  7/10.

Paper Moon (1973)

As with most of the “older” films I recommend in this column, I wonder how I only recently got around to watching this one.  Ryan and Tatum O’Neal star as a team of father-daughter cons who go around selling Bibles to the widows of recently deceased men in depression-era Kansas.  I found myself wondering if this film was the spiritual Godfather of the Coen Brothers’ movies—main characters in a specific middle-America setting who get in over their heads with something—although director Peter Bogdanovich is a little more light-hearted and screwball than the Coens.  Young Tatum O’Neal is the standout performance-wise, but Bogdanovich regulars Ryan O’Neal and Madeleine Kahn are also great.  Currently on Netflix Streaming.  8.5/10.

Kick-Ass (2010)

The only thing that made this film worth watching to me was Chloe Moretz’ performance as an 8 year-old lethal assassin.  The story set up to be fairly interesting, if a little cliché: a nerdy kid (in a very average performance from Aaron Johnson) starts to fight crime under the pseudonym “Kick-Ass” in order to raise his self-esteem, who meets several people along the way that may or may not also be interested in fighting crime along with him.  An intriguing concept to me was the various shades of gray represented between hero and villain in the story.  However, neither one of these aspects of the story were executed with any sort of emotional connection, and the result is a standard action film with a lot of thematic potential left on the table.   5/10.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer of Hits & Misses

My life is back.  After a summer spent toiling away at my legal studies—studies which, at points, seemed about as useful in a real-world setting as going to Wikipedia, clicking “random article” and memorizing the first 300 pages that they pop up—I can finally get back to doing a thing or two that I actually enjoy.  This morning, for example, I woke up at 6:30 (optimum film-watching time for me, for whatever reason), ate an embarrassing amount of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, drank coffee in my underwear, and watched Dog Day Afternoon, and it was one of the best mornings of my life.

And, of course, this also means that I hope to be updating here more often.  I plan to bring back my Film Friday column, talk a little bit more about upcoming movies that you may or may not be interested in, and hopefully give a little bit more depth on this year’s awards race, which is shaping up to be pretty great. 

This summer in film has given us some head-scratching hits and misses.  For example, why did Thor do so well but The Green Lantern didn’t?  Why is Smurfs destroying everything in its path while poor Winnie The Pooh was hung out to dry?  Who knows.  For now, I thought a good way to cover some ground that I’ve missed over the summer would be to identify some personal hits and misses.   I’ll also throw in some other general hits and misses from the summer, both in the movie realm and in otherwise.

Hit: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.  I touched on it briefly in my Tree of Life review, but this was a very fun and imaginative effort by Mr. Allen, who didn’t necessarily tread any new ground thematically but looked at it from an impressively refreshing angle. 

My Disappointment of the Summer.
Miss: J.J. Abrams’ Super 8.  I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this, and at first I thought I would, but the plot here went from “fun and adventurous” to “Double-U-Tee-Eff” in a matter of about 14 minutes, and it ruined the whole thing for me. 

Hit: My first summer where I’ve lived at an apartment with a pool/hot tub. 

Miss: Not being able to actually go to the pool due to studying.

Hit: My first watching of Gone With The Wind.  As I tweeted afterward, it’s completely worth the hype. I’ll have to knock off half a point for the romanticizing of the antebellum south, but other than that it sits nicely at a 9.5/10 for me.  The horrific final hour of the first act is among the most riveting sequences of cinema I’ve ever seen. 

Miss: AMC Theatres charging $15/ticket for a fake IMAX screen. Give me a break.  If I’m going to get raped by a price at the movie theater, at least let me get some popcorn and coke out of it.

Hit: Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love.  The movie itself was meh, but Gosling (and his love interest Emma Stone) were well-worth the price of admission.  Plus, when my wife oggles him, I can’t even be mad because even I realize what a sexy beast he is.  It’s unfair, really.

Miss: Everyone else in Crazy Stupid Love, especially the annoying 13-year old pervert son. 

Hit: The Taco Bell, Chipotle and Starbucks that were right across the street from CU, where I spent most of my summer studying.  It’s like they knew exactly what I needed.

Miss: My digestive system, due to Taco Bell & Chipotle.

Hit: For the snob in me, the Cannes Film Festival back in May produced some much-buzzed-about films to be released over the coming months.  The Artist, Melancholia, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Skin I Live In, and especially Drive (starring the aforementioned Mr. Gosling) are all on my radar, and they should be on yours, too.

Miss:  Anyone who went to see Zookeeper.

Hit: The NFL in ending the lockout.

Miss: United States Congress. You know why.

Hit: Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer.  Surprisingly good performance in a surprisingly good film.

Miss: Source Code.  Apparently I’m in the minority on this one, but this was a disappointment to me. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Hit: Me actually having time to watch and write about films again. 

Miss: The U.S. unemployment rate, which is why I will have time to watch and write about films again.