Here are some two sentence reviews of the movies I watched in July.
- Movies watched – 28
- Movies that were new to me – 22
- Anna Farris movies – 3
- Monthly Masterpieces – Foolish Wives, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
- Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004) – Pretty hilarious look at Metallica hiring a therapist so the band can talk about their feelings while recording their soulless new album. Highlight is Dave Mustaine crying about being #2 and telling Lars he misses his little Danish friend while James is in rehab and Kirk is off using bits and pieces of whatever Eastern philosophies that drift through his transom.
- Crazy, Stupid Love (2011) – The performances in this one are all quite good (even ANTM Cycle 11 alum Analeigh does an amazing job) which, when paired with the more clever and funny than not script makes for a nice little rom com. It is good enough that I can probably forgive a rather suspect message about soulmates and “not giving up”–to the point that no one seems concerned about the 13 year old stalker in the making with a complete lack of boundaries.
- Friends with Benefits (2011) – All the reviewers love to bitch about how “of course it’s Hollywood, so they can’t have sex without falling in love”–correction–it’s a rom com, so they can’t MEET without falling in love–that’s the whole point no matter what the title is. All in all, it is better than No Strings Attached, and careful readers will remember I even gave that one a positive review, so, there is that.
- Running Scared (2006) – Paul Walker strains his limited abilities to their breaking point in this wildly disjointed and nonsensical violence-fest. And yet, even though I’m usually off-put by hyper-stylish Tarantino fanboy stuff like this, I have to admit it is a rather exciting ride anyway.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Pretty fun bit of popcorn entertainment bolstered by some fine special effects (especially “skinny” Chris Evans), Nazi (no matter what they are called in the movie) bad guys and Hugo Weaving doing his best Werner Herzog impression. It occasionally goes over the top with the laser fights and red-face silliness (not to mention the somewhat out of place Avengers stuff), but overall it works pretty well really.
- It Should Happen to You (1954) – One problem with these dumb blond movies is the blond is usually so oblivious to her intended love interest that you could give a shit when they finally get together. Not that it is all Judy Holliday’s fault; Jack Lemmon isn’t exactly bad in his debut, he just makes it obvious why, after this film, he was usually cast as the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
- Smiley Face (2007) – A stoner comedy about the trials and tribulations of getting from point A to point B…on weed. It isn’t really all that funny (more frustratingly realistic), but it is worth it for Anna Faris alone.
- Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011) – Tough to know how candid a vanity project like this really is, though I must admit, Conan doesn’t seem to be holding back to maintain his “nice guy” image. It is fascinating really to attempt to find the real Conan behind the megalomaniacal guy who is well aware the camera is on him.
- Fools Rush In (1997) – Hayek and Perry are pretty good and the premise of this quite pleasant rom com has plenty of promise. It is just too bad that religion and serendipity have to keep creeping into the mix.
- The House Bunny (2008) – This movie is kind of shitty, but, also, it is kind of not shitty too. Anna Faris gets most of the credit here for getting her undeniable screen presence to shine through the, at times, staggeringly bad script and performances.
- Winter’s Bone (2010) – This takes the classic private eye structure and sets it in backwoods Missouri with a teenage girl protagonist. As these things go it actually works very well (better than Brick even imo), thanks in large part to the excellent performances and production design.
- Just Friends (2005) – Some of the humor is a bit broad, but I don’t think they are trying for a naturalistic tone anyway. Overall pretty decent for what it is, and it makes me want to check out some more Anna Faris.
- Super 8 (2011) – This is really kind of fun and even works as a Goonies-style throwback. Unfortunately, the screenwriter forgot to come up with a third act and ends up making the last 20 minutes about as effective as I heard the final episode of Lost was.
- Green Lantern (2011) – Not as bad as I’d heard (I mean, this was nowhere nearly as shitty as Daredevil) though not, by any means, good. Part of the problem is that making live action films about Asgard and Oa are going to look as silly as you’d expect, part of the problem is that the script is entirely unsuccessful at making me give a shit about Hal Jordan.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) – Yates and the production team keep up the high quality of the last few entries in the series, but this whole 7 movie, 2 part series thing is starting to feel like it would have been more suited to the longform television format than the film format. Of course the high budget leads to some really badass special effects (though the giants are a little computery) so I guess I should quit nitpicking and just plan an 8 movie marathon one of these days.
- Cedar Rapids (2011) – This is a nice low-key comedy with a smart script and a lot of great performances. Nothing ground shattering, but solid and refreshingly different from most of the other comedies out there.
- Midnight in Paris (2011) – Woody sure seems to be using the “Magic!” plot device a lot lately, but this one works pretty well really. Owen Wilson makes a surprisingly effective Allen surrogate in what I could call “one of Woody’s better ones of the last decade or so” (which, granted, is faint praise).
- Born Yesterday (1950) – This might lay the whole starry-eyed for the stars and stripes thing on a bit thick, but it hardly matters since Judy Holliday’s central dumb blond performance is so damn good. I haven’t seen an actress steal a movie like this since Louis Brooks–Judy is so good in this that she just might have actually deserved her Oscar win over Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson!
- Warning Shadows (1923) – A titleless silent film loosely plotted around the mayhem wreaked by a shadow puppet master during a Smiles of a Summer Night-style dinner party. A lot of great stuff, included another awesome Fritz Rasp role as the butler, and the best handshake scene in all of cinema.
- Foolish Wives (1922) – With a monumental (and monstrous) performance by Stroheim himself as the lead, this level of cinematic misanthropy has yet to be equaled even to this day. Also, with its huge budget, this has to be one of the best looking silent films of the early 1920s.
- Office Space (1999) – Revisited ten years after I last watched it, this reminded me why it is so quoteable: simply put, the script is full of great (and hilarious) quotes. I think this is made somewhat obsolete by the more sophisticated The Office, but I still wouldn’t have a problem calling it a modern comedy classic.
- Love and Other Drugs (2010) – Don’t get tricked into thinking this is a romantic comedy with a brain, it takes a severe lack of intelligence to try to cram three different films into one script this crudely. At every turn the tone jarringly shifts or a completely unnecessary character (the brother?) pops up–I will at least admit that Hathaway has a fine rack.
- Your Highness (2011) – The director and stars of Pineapple Express team up again for this medieval stoner comedy but forget to bring the funny. None of it is really all that “bad” per se, there is just a painfully obvious lack of real laughs.
- Bad Teacher (2011) – Sure, like Bad Santa (which, due to the title, this film will forever suffer in comparison to), the main character here is simply irredeemable as opposed to lovingly irredeemable, but there are some scattered amusing moments and performances throughout. The bigger problem is the script which is episodic in a lazy rather than laid back way.
- Bullets or Ballots (1936) – Typically fast-paced and tautly constructed gangster vehicle from Keighley. As it was made in 1936, the focus has shifted to the “good guy,” but fear not, things are just as bloody and gangsterrific as usual.
- Date Night (2010) – Holds up fairly well on the second viewing as a sort of popcorn/fluff version of After Hours. Still has a lot of good laughs, including the running shirtless Markie Mark gag.
- Torch Song (1953) – As I say with a lot of Crawford films: what strange, strange movie. The story is a bizarre melodrama about a megabitch and her blind redeemer, but what is most interesting is how much Crawford seemed to identify with such an irredeemable character.
- Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953) – Even though it doesn’t quite approach the brilliant heights of Playtime, this is still probably the funniest of Tati’s films. Still, as usual, the gags will more often leave you appreciatively nodding your head at how clever they are rather than actually laughing.