Death of a loved one, friend or family, is a life-altering event; the grief and loss color everything for a while. Even when it seems that the worst of the grief has subsided, it still comes in waves for a while as we struggle to maintain our equilibrium and return to life as we knew it before loss. We live our day to day in a sort of agreeable coma, at least slightly convinced, temporarily comforted by the cozy lie that we are immortal, that those we love will never leave us. We know we are lying to ourselves, but while we may try to live consciously, to know the end will come, I think we mostly pretend otherwise. This is part of the reason that sudden and accidental deaths rattle us to the very core. […]
Some films arrive with a fanfare of critical acclaim and a flurry of publicity and positive buzz. Since studio PR machines work overtime, such spin hardly guarantees greatness. Pedigree helps considerably; Aaron Sorkin, in spite of all his personal demons and occasional misfires, remains a critical darling, the smartest and cleverest fellow in just about any room. Director David Fincher hasn’t failed big yet either; critics are disposed to like whatever he delivers them, and so The Social Network opens with a golden stamp of near-universal pre-approval. […]
Smart women are as rare on film as they are in life. Rarer even. Smart high school girls might be the rarest cinematic species of all. You can count them on your two hands. Cooler and wittier than any real girl in any real high school, they’re who we wish we could have been. The girls who say what we wish we had said. Smart girls who use their smart mouths to get into (and out of) considerable trouble. The adults in these films are unspeakably cool too; perhaps this whole smart high school girl genre is for us grown-up girls (and guys) who revisit our high school hallways every night in our dreams and nightmares, still trying to dot those old i’s and cross those uncrossed t’s, to redress grievances and beat down those bullies that haunt us still.
Money’s tight. Jobs are hard to find. Relationships disappoint. Such is the world as we know it. You say recession, I say depression. Let’s call the whole thing off. We go to the movies to forget our troubles, to drown our sorrows, to watch others make sense of this whole sorry mess. Romantic comedy provides a welcome refuge, a few hours in the welcoming darkness where we can rest pretty well assured that no one will die and nothing untoward will befall our hero and heroine, safe in the knowledge that they’ll wind up together at the end no matter how tangled the web of misunderstandings, regardless how high they stack the hurdles. We sit and wait for our happy ending and return again to our little lives at the end, sated and ready for the mundane and the stress life hands us. […]
It had to happen. Sperm Donor Dads: The Film Genre. Only slightly ahead of the zeitgeist culture curve, two relatively charming comedies duke it out for the hotly contested Smackdown title.
Mark Ruffalo’s shaggy roue blissfully ignorant seed guy of two (that we know of) takes on Jason Bateman’s neurotic and knowing father of one.
Lesbian moms Annette Bening and Julianne Moore up the ante just a bit on the A-List class-project The Kids Are All Right, and rom-com too-regular Jennifer Aniston depreciates indie-spirited The Switch a tad.
Jason Bateman plays Wally. Jennifer Aniston plays Kassie. With a K. That’s just about the most interesting thing about her. Wally loves her. He always has. But he’s her best friend. And her clock is ticking. And it would be too awkward to have a baby with her best friend. So — here comes the movie logic — hold onto your hats. She finds a married, too-good-to-be-true stranger and coaxes him into donating a cup of his best stuff. Not awkward at all. Are you with me so far? Because I know this sounds awful. But it’s not. Stuff happens to the stuff and paternity hijinks ensue. Here’s the thing though. You care. […]
It’s summer time. Moviemakers bring out the big scary guns, intent on keeping us onshore and nervous, haunted and thrilled by the wonders of the deep. Monsters keep us coming back to the movies, real and imagined. Aliens from outer space, vampires from Transylvania, toxically enhanced city stompers from Japan. But ah, every summer we turn to the wicked wonders of the briny deep. Jaws started the trend and revisited the franchise until it ran out of teeth. This summer, in a slight, vulgar, and goofy variation on the go-to deep-sea exploitation template, French scaremeister Alexandre High Tension Aja brings us hordes of CGI Piranha. In 3D no less. Thousands of them. Time to break out the big bucks for the funny glasses or catch the 35-year old classic on DVD again? Secure that teeny bikini top. Suck it in for that Speedo. We’re going to the Beach.
In the first few minutes, thousands of prehistoric piranhas are loosed from their prehistoric underworld by a seismic event. Scientists and lawmakers are dispatched. Chaos ensues. In their relentless search for blood and food, these hideous predators terrorize scores of silicone-enhanced Spring Breakers and the pinheads and lunks who writhe with them. Academy Award nominee Elisabeth Shue plays single mom Sheriff of Lake Victoria. (Lake Victoria’s Secret? A prehistoric lake underneath and not much clothing above water.) Ving Rhames plays her giant deputy. Jerry O’Connell has way more fun than we do playing a super-creepy, tweaking version of Girls Gone Wild’s perpetrator/creator Joe Francis. It’s a whole lot of fun seeing Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss up on the big screen; one wishes they had some better material to sink their teeth into.
I am not a thirteen year old boy. I do not read comics. Sorry. Graphic novels. I do not play video games. I am a dinosaur. Still, faced on Friday with a couple of hours to kill and choice of watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Eat Pray Love, I reflexively embraced my inner middle-schooler and turned my back on Oprah’s minions, setting the estrogen fest aside for a Saturday matinee.
Summer strikes me as the perfect time for stylish twaddle, and I enjoy defying expectations. (Not enough that I’d entertain the thought of seeing the meathead offering The Expendables.) I know that I’m the target for a movie about a middle-aged woman on a quest. Hell, I’m the effing bullseye on the target. Plus Julia Roberts is a bona fide movie star, and I love looking at that divine face on the big screen every chance I get.
On the other hand, Michael Cera is a guy who gets to star in movies, lots and lots of them, for reasons that don’t quite resonate for me. A little of Cera goes a mighty long way, and a lot of him wears super duper thin. One-trick ponies amuse and even delight the first few times they go through their paces, but eventually, the audience clamors for more. […]
Summertime and the movie theaters fill with audiences seeking relief from all that heat and sun. Who needs 3D, tired franchises, vampires and werewolves, chases, aliens, explosions, and CGI? Not me. Gimme an indie film with a half-decent script, a well-chosen cast, a fresh point of view, recognizable human behavior and I’m there. I’ll always opt to bypass the long lines and head for the arthouse to spend a couple of hours watching a dysfunctional family as long as it’s not my own.
Joan Rivers has lived a long life full of public peaks and valleys characterized by a seemingly indomitable spirit that is more than matched with an undimmed, keen intelligence and canny rebound. This documentary follows this remarkable septuagenarian through a year of huge risks. It doesn’t even touch on her breakthrough QVC savvy or her single-handed revolutionizing of the celebrity fashion world; we see her stand-up, still remarkably raw and fearless and funny. We travel onstage with her; her non-stop schedule takes her to the most unfortunate dives in the remotest of towns and to huge venues more suitable to her stature. Through it all, she tells us everything and nothing; we learn much about her, but ultimately, the mystery of another person remains there just within and just beyond our grasp. We get hints as to what exactly makes this particular human dynamo tick so long and so loud, but like her very familiar and forever-morphing face, the secrets of her undeniable pain and struggle, while glaringly right there in front of us, remain hers. We want to reach out to her and thank her, to hug her, to provide her a moment’s peace, but alas…this life force goes it (unstoppably and perhaps unreachably) alone.
An intensely visual director, Jeunet’s imagery remains consistently fresh and breathtakingly original, his fabulous fabulist’s palette uniquely his. Jeunet films have the urgency and half-remembered quality of dreams as they unfold. These tales exist in a rarefied and occasionally twee universe, timeless and with a winsome sense of fun and tricked-out grown-up child’s play even when the underlying subject matter gets serious. The subject at hand is war, and let’s just state the obvious up front – Jeunet’s against it.