Monday, August 22, 2011

'Fright' is Alright

Colin Farrell nails it in the remake of the 1985 cult classic "Fright Night." Overall, the film is a mixed bag. It has some genuine scares and clever political subtext, but it feels more like an action movie than a horror picture.

Lone Scherfig's "One Day" succeeds mainly due to the charms of its leads, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. It's an old fashioned Hollywood weepie that does not reach the heights of the director's previous effort, "An Education." That being said, the film is a likable, if somewhat formulaic, dramedy.

On the other hand, Alex de la Iglesia throws formula out the window in "The Last Circus," which is one of the most flat-out bat shit crazy movies I've seen in many a moon.

The film takes the plot of "Water for Elephants," sets its story amid Spain's Franco era and throws in a number of surrealistic set pieces that could have been directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Believe me when I say you've likely seen nothing like it - that is, unless, you've been privy to another movie that ends with two psychotic, machine gun toting clowns going head to head in the Valley of the Fallen.

Check out my reviews here.

This coming week, I'll most likely catch up with "Colombiana" and "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

And, keep an eye out for my preview of this fall's film roster. It promises to be one of the more exciting seasons of recent years.

Which of these films are you looking forward to most? Here's a list of some of the top picks: "Drive," "Contagion," "Restless," "Moneyball," "J. Edgar," "The Ides of March," "Take Shelter," "The Skin I Live In," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Melancholia," "Carnage," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "Young Adult," "Hugo," "The Artist," "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "A Dangerous Method," "The Descendants" and "War Horse."

Add your comments below.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Viola Davis Lends a Helping Hand, but 'Less' is Not More

It's going to be light posting this week as I just returned from Cape Cod and am, as they say, in the thick of it. A busy week, that is.

But I managed to catch up with "The Help," which is based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name. The picture boasts some wonderful performances, especially by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain. I was a fan of the book, so I was pleased to find that the movie was pretty solid.

That's not to say it is problem-free. Movies made by white filmmakers that aim to capture the black experience, especially when it comes to stories involving racism, often fumble from good intentions that turn into heavy-handed filmmaking. "The Help" manages to steer clear of many, but not all, of those problems.

I also caught up with Ruben Fleischer's "30 Minutes or Less," which was not as entertaining, funny or clever as 2009's "Zombieland." It's got a few chuckles and, of course, the presence of Jesse Eisenberg. But otherwise, it's pretty weak tea.

Check out my reviews for Patch.

It's been a noteworthy week for DVD watching. I caught up with David Schwimmer's (yes, you read correctly) "Trust," Sylvain Chomet's "The Illusionist," Nicolas Roeg's "Insignificance" and - you ready for this?- "Breakin'" I will - yes, I will - be watching "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" in the near future. Count on it.

This coming week, I'll most likely catch John Sayles's "Amigo," Lone Scherfig's "One Day" and the remake of "Fright Night."

Monday, August 8, 2011

'Bellflower' Scorches and 'Rise' No Monkey Business

I'm about to walk out the door for a vacation, so this week's post is going to be short. At a future date, I'd like to write further about "Bellflower," one of the year's most thought provoking and visually stunning pictures. It's a solid debut from director-actor Evan Glodell.

This week I reviewed that picture as well as "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which I was surprised to find was the best of the series since the 1968 original. I also caught up with "The Change Up," which is among the summer's worst. Critics who are leveling misogyny charges against "Bellflower" have obviously not seen "The Change Up."

Here are the reviews.

Next weekend, I'm going to check out "The Help" and "30 Minutes or Less." I'll possibly also try to catch up with "The Guard" and "Gun Hill Road."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to See 'Cowboys'

Needless to say, I found Jon Favreau's "Cowboys & Aliens" to be pretty weak tea. Daniel Craig, I'm pleased to say, provides the necessary presence as a silent, but deadly, gunslinger. I wouldn't be surprised if he is cast in future westerns.

Otherwise, the picture is a silly hybrid of the shoot 'em up and the alien invasion genres. It's not the worst Hollywood has to offer this summer, but it's pretty routine.

More enjoyable, even though flawed, is "Crazy, Stupid, Love," which survives on the talents and charms of its cast. Ryan Gosling especially shines in a rare comedic turn as a lothario who schools Steve Carell on the dating scene. The plot twists do not always add up, but it's an enjoyable picture.

I wish I could say the same for Miranda July's sophomore effort, "The Future." I fully enjoyed "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and was, therefore, disappointed to see the filmmaker succumb to aimless quirkiness in her latest film. The movie has some decent stand-alone moments, but its major ideas do not flow together smoothly.

Check out my reviews for Patch.

This week's a very busy one for movies and, alas, I will not likely make it to see everything. But I'll be reviewing some of these: "The Mysteries of Lisbon," "Bellflower," "Gun Hill Road," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "The Change Up."