Friday, June 29, 2012

To Rome With Love (2012)

Better than I expected, though not great.  2 1/2 stars. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Hidden (1987)

Re-watch.  One of the benefits of moving to a new town is making new friends, though it's been a slow process.  One of the rewards though is being able to share your favorite things with new people.  This went over well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

This was fun and fairly well-made.  Reminded me a little of "Happy Accidents," in a good way.  Also, admitted I have a crush on Aubrey Plaza.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (2012)

One of my all time favorite movies is Don McKellar's 1998(9) Canadian Apocalyptic Comic-Drama, "Last Night."  When I first saw the trailer for Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World," I couldn't help but note the strange similarities between scenes in the trailer and McKellar's film.  The opening scene of the trailer features a Radio DJ uttering the line "We'll be bringing you our countdown to the end of days along with all your Classic Rock favorites," which instantly made me think of the DJ in "Last Night" opening the movie with "Coming up on the last night on the planet and you're listening to CKRT, the Top 500 Songs of All Time, with you right until the end."

The next scene in the trailer is of Steve Carell walking into a semi-abandoned office building, pointlessly going to work, which made me think of David Cronenberg's fate in McKellar's film.  Cut to the scene in the trailer with the celebratory friendly gathering, in which the charming, but depressed leading man is being pressured by his friends to "hook-up" and avoid "dying alone."  Then there's a distraught girl directly outside our lead's apartment, she needs help.  Together, the two set of on a journey trying to help one another (in Mckellar's film, the lead only wants to help her).  This stuff was all in the trailer.  To be fair to the movie though, there are plenty of differences between the films, foremost among them being the fact this movie is much more of a "road movie" than "Last Night" is.   

So going into the movie, you have to believe me when I say that I tried very very hard to remain objective while viewing "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World."  And to it's credit, for much of the movie, I was enjoying myself, for the most part.   Keira Knightly was pretty bad in the movie, especially when she cried.  Usually when people cry in real life, they're either in pain or trying to manipulate someone.  When she cried in the movie I didn't believe she was in pain, nor did I find her convincing enough to be manipulated by her.

I was really hoping to like this movie more, if for no other reason than that I like Steve Carell and want him to make good movies.  That being said, I liked him in it, but overall I thought the movie was a 2 1/2 star effort.

As far as remaining objective went, I felt like I was doing a pretty good job until the last 15 minutes or so.  The ending of the movie, while not the exact same, bore enough of a similarity to send me fuming from the theater as the credits rolled.

On a side note, how much do I love "Last Night?"  When I was programming for the Austin film series, Cinema41, the first movie I chose was "Last Night," and we even finagled Don Mckellar himself and Cinematographer Doug Koch for a Skype Q&A.  Here is the Q&A in it's entirety.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Richard Lynch (1936-2012)

The life of character actor Richard Lynch has always interested me.  Classical trained at The Actors Studio, young Richard Lynch allegedly tripping on Acid, set his head on fire, resulting in numerous facial scars.  Where some might think this would have ended his career, it actually resulted in a new career as a reptilian villain in numerous films such as "Invasion USA," "The Sword & The Sorcerer," "Bad Dreams," "God Told Me To," and many more, including the underrated "The Baron."  He always brought a sense of class to the movies he was in, even if they didn't always warrant it.

RIP Richard Lynch

The Usual Suspects (1996)

Re-watched this in the hotel room in Vegas, while waiting for Heather to wake-up.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Susan Tyrrell (1945-2012)

Goodbye Susu, thank you for all the great performances.  The two Q&A's of yours that I was fortunate enough to witness were unbelievably endearing and entertaining.  The screening of "Nightwarning" at The Last Night at The Alamo is among my favorite all-time screenings.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hard Eight (1996)

Re-watch:  Just as great as ever.

Lookin' to Get Out (1982)

Directed by Hal Ashby and written by/starring Jon Voight, "Lookin' to Get Out" has all the makings of a forgotten gem, but in this case, there's a reason it's forgotten.  In some cases, when a movie has a deeply flawed character with few, if any, redeeming qualities, it is still possible to overcome the problem of having an unlikely lead.  In this movie though, it's just too hard.  Possibly due to the pacing which starts of cracklin' but quickly loses steam.  It's a catch-22, making a movie about a flawed character, but still investing the audience in that character. 

Positives:  cool opening credits, Burt Young, and the nice Vegas scenery.

Honeymoon In Vegas (1992)

We're getting ready to go to Vegas this weekend for our 4 year anniversary, so this week we've been watching movies set in Vegas.  I haven't watched this in about a decade.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Silent Partner (1978)

Re-watch:  Showed this to some new friends, it's easily in my Top 10 Favorite movies.  I could watch it once a week and never tire of it. 

The Color of Money (1986)

Watching this the other day for the first time on a double feature with "The Hustler" boded well for this one considering how ready I was for something a little more fast-paced at that point.  I'm as much of a Scorsese fan as anyone else.  This film, like "The Hustler," had it's moments and it fun seeing familiar faces pop-up like Forrest Whitaker and Iggy Pop.  Newman is very good in it, particularly in the 3rd act.  Cruise on the other hand just doesn't gel with Scorsese in my opinion, maybe it's the hair which is out of control.

Overall, I kind of felt the same about "The Color of Money" as I did the "The Hustler," solid, but nothing I'd watch again anytime soon.  In the realm of Scorsese, it felt particularly disappointing. 

The Hustler (1961)

Obviously this is a classic, but to be honest, watching it the other day was really difficult.  It just felt unnecessarily long, especially in the middle. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

White Dog (1982)

Re-watch:  I love this movie.  Co-written by Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") who got the job based on his script for one of my absolute favorite films, "The Silent Partner," "White Dog" famously fell victim to a timid studio and a fear-induced frenzy of unfounded racial outrage over the subject matter. As a result, the allegorical tale of an attack dog taught to hate black people, and the fight that ensues to save it's life by reteaching it, did not get a theatrical release until 1992 (not sure what exactly changed in that 10 years). "White Dog" is film filled with blood-fueled passion and gladiatorial intensity, crafted by an American master of matter-of-fact film-making.

Overnight (2003)

Not a fan of "Boondock Saints" at all, so this documentary didn't tarnish my opinion of that movie, but it didn't help my opinion of industry-folk.  Obviously Troy Duffy is, at least presenting as, a huge douche in this movie, but I'm willing to believe that although it's probably a biased portrayal of him, it's probably still a fairly accurate one.  I guess I'm willing to believe in his douchey-ness due to his incredibly douchey debut feature.  Either way, what bothered me the most about this movie was the terrible judgement of the industry-folk in this movie. 

Regardless of whether or not Miramax was ever serious about making "Boondock Saints," they certainly indulged Duffy and his cronies.  So too did the record label who was trying to cash-in on the possible success of an unmade film with media buzz.  I guess my question is, what does this sort of lack-of-judgement and wiliness to pay-out for a cliched half-baked vigilante fantasy, say about the state of the movie industry? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

In Roger Ebert's 2001 review of the Ryan Phillippe movie "Antitrust" he begins by discussing the concept of "The Goofy Meter," a hypothetical needle that regulates the level of goofiness in a given movie.  Throughout the years since, my friend Daniel & I have semi-regularly referenced the Goofy Meter, whenever a movie somehow registers a "Too Goofy" in our minds. 

For me, "Moonrise Kingdom" is the first Wes Anderson movie to sway the Goofy Meter.  It happens in the third act, pretty much from the point that lightning becomes involved.  From that point on, the movie just seems to derail a bit.  On paper, the narrative wraps up nicely, but as a viewer, it all just seemed too goofy.  Fortunately the first 2/3rds of the movie is strange and interesting enough to merit a mild recommendation.  The first-love courtship of two quirky 12 year-olds in the 1960's is the centerpiece of Anderson's strange world.  The film does a great job of articulating the ultra-seriousness and over-romanticizing of youth and contrasts it well with Bill Murray and Francis McDormand's crumbling marriage. 

In typical Anderson fashion, the film is very detail oriented and in some cases too eccentric.  The two young leads are interesting to watch; their wooden disenchanted performances would seem out of place in any other movie other than Anderson's.  Also, Edward Norton is really good in it.