Archive for February, 2012

Wanderlust
Awkward Comedy

From the Judd Apatow school of comedy comes Wanderlust, a comedy about a city couple that finds themselves living in a rural “intentional community.” Like most of the films produced by Apatow, this one features a lot of what you might call “awkward comedy” and a whole lot of scenes that are obviously improvised. Unfortunately, the comedy tends more towards awkward than it does humorous, and you have got to wade through a lot of unfunny improvisation to get to the very few gems.


This Means War
Spy vs. Spy

Most people know that Chris Pine played Captain James T. Kirk in the latest Star Trek movie, but few will remember that Tom Hardy played a clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. Therefore, their new action/romance/comedy film This Means War is the closest thing we’ve had to a Kirk/Picard showdown since they appeared together in Star Trek: Generations. What does this mean for This Means War? Nothing, really, but unfortunately that’s about the only thing interesting about this movie that fails as both romantic comedy and as an action movie.


Few Options
Try This One

You know the drill. Frank Connor has just been released from prison, and has nowhere to go. In the absence of other ideas, he drifts back into the neighborhood and friendships that landed him in jail in the first place. Before long, he’s being pressured into doing “one last job” to clear the “debt” he owes to the goon he “let down” by getting caught. What’s Frank gonna do? There are so few options that only one is really plausible… and we can see the train wreck coming some sixty or seventy minutes away. Still, Pappy executes the story with style and grace. You probably won’t get emotionally involved in Frank’s tale, but you probably will enjoy the slow-burn ride.


Safe House
Denzel Goes Rogue

It was fitting that the recent promotional screening of Safe House was preceded by a trailer for The Bourne Legacy as the style of this movie is in much the same vein as that franchise. In fact, pretty much everything about Safe House will remind audiences of other, better movies. The lack of originality is balanced out, however, by the likeability of the movie’s star.


5 Star Day
Think You’ve Had a Bad Day?

When Jake arises to his shared-apartment corporate-drone world on his birthday, he’s expecting great things. Why? Because his horoscope has told him to. I won’t spoil things for you by going into detail, but let’s just say that Jake does a less than stellar job of interpreting the Delphic oracle that horoscopes tend to be. And when things go spectacularly awry, Jake jets out of town on a mission to debunk astrology. Pro-astro reviewers have noted that 5 Star Day really isn’t about the ways in which the stars influence our lives, or about defending or attacking a particular system of belief. And they’re right. So if you’re looking for a good savage critique of astrology (and I’m not really sure why anyone would be) this isn’t your film.


Nutcracker
Headshaker

What is the story of Nutcracker? Well, gosh. That’s kind of a hard question to answer for a ballet, unless you’ve “read the book.” Here, apparently, young Clara has some weird hangup about her eccentric inventor godfather, and the night before Christmas she lapses into a fevered dream. Her godfather, Herr Drosselmeier, crafts a magical toy-soldier nutcracker for her as a gift, and in the dream sequence it morphs into a handsome prince… with whom, it seems, Drosselmeier vies for Clara’s romantic intentions. Or maybe I’m reading that all wrong. I don’t know. But the voiceover narration is a sure sign that Ballard isn’t exactly comfortable that his presentation of the ballet is telling a coherent story, either.