Here are some two sentence reviews of the movies I watched in July.
- The Decoy Bride (2011) – Tennant’s character isn’t really all that likable, but his love interest Macdonald is so great that it hardly matters. All in all a nice little rom com that I was glad didn’t slip past my radar (as if a rom com could slip past my radar).
- A Knight’s Tale (2001) – “That jousting movie with the rock soundtrack” really has no right to be this enjoyable, but this really is a pretty fun movie. Ledger and the oddly hot Sossamon’s anime hair help, but the real credit goes to a script that knows exactly what it needs to be, no more, no less.
- Last Holiday (2006) – Latifah is her usual charming self in this bit of wish fulfillment fluff. Predictable, but competently made, which is about all I really demand out of a movie like this (along with a likable lead of course).
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Upon second viewing it is astounding how amateurish the script is–it will even make you wish for the soulless Hollywood polish of something like the Avengers. On the other hand, I remained more entertained through my second viewing of this mess than I did with Inception, so it has to have something going for it I guess.
- To Have and Have Not (1944) – It may seem like not much really happens in this Hawks classic, but that would ignore the electric interactions of the characters. Honestly, this is a more convincing case for selflessness than Casablanca.
- Fox and His Friends (1975) – One of Fassbinder’s best (and gayest) films, unassuming at first, but deceptively perfectly constructed under close examination. Fassbinder himself gives a real powerhouse of a performance (and totally hangs dong too).
- Lockout (2012) – Never quite manages to live up to its premise as there somehow aren’t really any memorable set pieces in a movie set on a fucking space station full of psychotic criminals. Still, Pearce’s wisecracking hero is enjoyable enough to make the whole thing rather watchable anyway.
- John Carter (2012) – A bunch of CGI aliens and stuff shoot fantasy guns at each other in fantasy airships to the tune of an endless chatter of exposition. It maybe isn’t quite as bad as that sounds, but it has little to distinguish it from the endless stream of gormless feature-length cartoons like Avatar and Phantom Menace.
- Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) – Interesting early Meyer film that finds his superhuman editing powers in top form even at such an early stage of his career (especially in the opening strip club credit sequence). The plot, though silly as hell, is thankfully a bit more coherent than some of Ebert’s more indulgent late-period scripts.
- Bernie (2012) – Great “true story” that actually quite ingeniously integrates interviews with some of the real people who lived in the town into the film. Jack Black does a great job, but Mcconaughey, though hilarious, is a little too self-parodic to really blend into the movie as seamlessly as the rest of the cast.
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – The poorly stitched together script creaks more than Batman’s “supposedly” cartilageless knees, ensuring that this supposedly “serious” movie isn’t going to be remembered any more than the Avengers will in ten years. Still, as a collection of random moments of varying levels of epicness, it isn’t half bad–and Bane’s voice is a hoot to.
- Hescher (2010) – Gordon-Levit is pretty good as the title metalhead psycho with a heart of gold. It is just too bad that the film wants the final feel good message as much as it wants you to find Hescher’s antics endearing–neither of which are easy to swallow.
- American Reunion (2012) – The American Pie series continues its track record of above-average teen comedy fodder with this fourth outing. You see some tits, Stiffler is back, someone gets his hand covered in shit, all in all, there’s not much more you can ask for.
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – Maybe it is the strength of the child leads (or maybe Anderson’s affected dialog and performances work better with young subjects) but ends up rather delightful as twee Anderson outings go. Beautiful locations, funny and genuinely moving moments, and a script that manages to only sort of go off the rails in the final act make this possibly one of my favorite Wes Anderson films (which, for me, isn’t really saying that much I suppose).
- Halloween (1978) – Brilliant bit of audience manipulation that actually made me reconsider my lifelong anti-slasher movie stance upon first viewing. Really flawless filmcraft is on display at all times–this is the kind of stuff that would have made Hitchcock proud.
- Friday the 13th (1980) – One of those slasher “classics” that reveals itself as unable to live up to its reputation. Not a bad film, it just feels awfully uninspired when compared to a “real” classic like Halloween.
- Love Me Tonight (1932) – One of the most perfect musicals ever made, thanks largely to Mamoulian’s scintillating direction and the very clever script (not to mention the uncommonly catchy songs). The two leads are quite adorable too (despite rumors that they hated each other in real life).
- Here Comes the Groom (1951) – This veers dangerously close to the worse kind of Capracorn territory with the cute orphan set-up–but once the romantic games start it thankfully settles into more of a screwball comedy mode. Not bad, if some kind of second rate Philadelphia Story is your kind of thing.
- The Avengers (2012) – The script doesn’t do anything other than connect the big setpiece scenes and shoehorn in the one liners, but it does it well at least. Glossy, empty, and at the end of the day, kind of a lot of fun too.
- Goon (2011) – Stiffler plays against type as a slow-witted, kind-hearted guy who likes to punch people. Pretty well done actually, with a lot of nice jokes and a healthy smattering of hockey brutality.
- Un Flic (1972) – Odd Melville film which splits its criminals and cops plot threads into almost two separate movies. It all works well enough as an abstract statement on the heist film, even if the heists themselves begin to approach the ludicrous.
- The Pajama Game (1957) – Sparkling musical that shows the 1950s Hollywood musical machine at the peak of its game. Unfortunately, the male lead just kind of seems like a tool and the pajama factory isn’t exactly the most exciting setting for a movie.
- Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) – More of a “hey look, the 80s!” jaunt than something legitimately interesting and creative, but I guess it is still sporadically funny enough to be vaguely entertain. Lazily directed and scripted, but I suppose some could consider that part of its laid back charm.
- Jackass 2.5 (2007) – This is made up of leftover jokes from Jackass 2, and it mostly shows. Still, if you are unsure if this kind of thing will be up your alley, I think the IMDB plot summary should clarify things for you: “The crew have now set off to finish what is left over from Jackass 2.0, and in this version they have Wee Man use a ‘pee’ gun on themselves, having a mini motor bike fracas in the grocery mall, a sperm test, a portly crew member disguised as King Kong, as well as include three episodes of their hilarious adventures in India, namely drinking beer off of Shridhar Chillai’s several feet long fingernails; having one of the crew lie on a bed of nails with two snakes – one on his chest and one between the legs, as well as a decorated elephant in the background; and finally having a half-naked Indian Sadhu drink one of the crew’s urine.”
- 21 Jump Street (2012) – Again, really only worth it for the two leads who manage to carry the film based on their fine comic performances. None of the jokes totally bomb (most are actually quite funny), but a great many of them, like Ice Cube’s performance, try a little too hard.
- Magic Mike (2012) – This was basically what Showgirls could have been with good acting and without the misanthropy. Sleazy and predictable, but well directed and enjoyable, not to mention Mcconaughey in the role that he was born to play.
- Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) – Though it is awfully quirky and indie, this rises above its ilk by having the heart to stand behind its characters. Really quite pleasantly enjoyable.