Archive for July, 2011
Worth Fighting For?
This isn’t the first time that Steve Carell needed help navigating the cinematic singles scene. Remember the scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin when Romany Malco’s Jay was teaching Carell’s Andy how to use his peripherals? That scene came to mind while watching Crazy, Stupid, Love, the actor’s new romantic comedy. That’s pretty much were the parallels end, however, as the new movie ultimately focuses less on finding that one night stand, and more on finding—and fighting for—one’s soul mate.
E.T. Goes West
The title makes it sound like a direct-to-video feature, or maybe one of those intentionally cheesy original productions on SyFy. In fact, “It’s Cowboys and Aliens” was the tagline for a 1994 straight-to-video movie called Oblivion. Aside from the title, however, there is very little “direct-to-video” about 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens. The movie’s behind-the-camera team is outstanding: a director with a couple of blockbusters already under his belt, two producers whose mantles hold Oscars, and screenwriters that have worked on everything from TV’s Lost to 2009’s Star Trek reboot. The on-camera talent is not too shabby either, featuring two leads whom you might know as Indiana Jones and James Bond.
In reviewing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 last November, I wrote that I was “hoping that most of the exciting stuff was being saved for Part 2.” Boy, was it ever. Nearly a decade after the first Harry Potter movie debuted in November 2001, one of the most impressive franchises in movie history finally reaches its conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The movie picks up after the eight month intermission immediately following the events of Part 1, hits the ground running and doesn’t let up for a full 130 minutes.
But Not a Horrible Comedy
One only need to look at a movie like last year’s Grown Ups to know that sometimes filling a movie with too many funny people can have disastrous results. That was my fear going into Horrible Bosses, the new summer comedy starring no less than seven big names. I grew further concerned when the movie began by using voiceover from multiple characters, a technique that rarely works. Fortunately, that device disappears fairly quickly and although the actors definitely do some improvising, it is clear that they are still following some kind of a script. The result is a funny comedy with a couple of twists that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Not Overrated, but Oversold
You don’t need me to tell you how great this film is. It won two jury prizes at Cannes in 2010. It also won the National Board of Review’s Best Foreign-language Film award that year, and nabbed the same award at Palm Springs this year. On Rotten Tomatoes, it’s scoring 92% fresh from the critics with an average rank of 8.2 out of 10. But the film’s weaknesses, which are real and substantial, make this merely a good film—a really good one, in fact, and one worth celebrating for its vision and beauty and simplicity. Still, Of Gods and Men is not a great film, as one might think, and the praise heaped upon it weighs it down.
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts both rose to stardom at about the same time in the late 80s and early 90s, but they did not join forces until 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War. Although that was very entertaining movie, there wasn’t really any chemistry between the two stars who were both overshadowed by an Oscar-nominated Philip Seymour Hoffman. Fortunately, they are able to find their chemistry in Larry Crowne, a charming comedy which lets the stars return to the types of performances that made them movie stars in the first place.