Sunday, August 24, 2008

good times

a trio of highly entertaining films, each from a different genre, each masterful in its own right. plus, my first 5 star rating of 2008:

vicky cristina barcelona--
not only one of my favorite woody allen films ever, my favorite fiction of the year so far. the script is a hoot, including the trademark allen-esque voiceover narration. the principals all turn in solid performances, with javier bardem and penelope cruz looking at likely nominations come award season. the subject matter certainly won't suit everyone, but it's a bold, fresh take for woody--very european. his work away from new york is suiting him well, and he frames barcelona beautifully.
favorite: 4 stars

tropic thunder
definitely some really funny shit. the whole concept is clever, and they hold nothing back in execution. highlights include the faux movie trailers preceding the pic, tom cruise's foul-mouthed studio mogul, and robert downey jr. again running things. damn, he's having quite a year. it might be the best comedy this year, and it definitely is the most original. kudos to newcomer brandon t. jackson for More than holding his own with some real heavyweights.
funny shit: 3 stars

man on wire
documentary filmmaking at its best. top doc of the year thus far, and one of the more engaging i've ever seen. utilizes interviews, home video footage, re-enactments, and heaps of character to tell a spectacular true story. it's more immediate and more fantastic than being in the room to hear it straight from the crew who lived through the experience. the story itself would seem wholly unbelievable if we didn't know the truth. and as wonderfully charming as the storytellers are, the director proves an even bigger star. this film is truly not to be missed.
character: 5 stars

Monday, August 18, 2008

get 'em high

pineapple express--
let the judd apatow backlash officially begin. i can appreciate the talents of those in his clan, yet four of his last five productions have been crap. including this one. on the plus side, james franco fully embodies his ever-baked drug dealer, and seth rogen has some clever enough moments (delivering dialogue that He wrote). i Do feel that a good stoner movie should go for broke, yet this one rarely elicits more than a chuckle. it is overflowing with adventurous cliche-silly action shtick--something you don't see too often in this sub-genre--and incessant shouting & fighting.
chuckle: 1 star

Sunday, August 10, 2008

yesterday's news

swing vote--
would have been socio-politically relevant eight years ago, perhaps interesting and clever four years ago. today, for a host of reasons, the whole exercise feels quaint at Best, most often schlocky and dated. reads like an extended sitcom from 2001. kelsey grammer and george lopez feed this notion most, sticking out like...well, like hammy television actors. they, like kevin costner himself--who, to be fair, manages to craft a likeable loser, earns a few laughs--are power players from another market in days gone by. coming to your home theater yesteryear, only on vhs.
schlocky: 1 star