Monday, June 25, 2012

Good Second Tier: 'Brave' and 'To Rome With Love'

It was a better couple of days for movies this past weekend than the previous week - that's for sure.

Although I wouldn't classify "Brave" as one of Pixar's best films, it is better than last year's "Cars 2" and while I wouldn't say "To Rome with Love" is as good as, say, "Midnight in Paris," it's still a fun little picture and quite funny.

On the other hand, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is a bust. It's not badly acted or poorly shot, but, at times, woefully misguided. You'll see what I mean in my reviews for Patch of all three aforementioned films.

I saw a few other films that I won't be including in my weekly Patch roundups, so I'll say a little about each of them here.

For starters, I thought "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" was a lot better than I thought it would be due to the tepid response from most critics. It's a charming, often funny and occasionally touching romantic comedy set amid - that's right - an impending apocalypse.

Keira Knightley is quite good in her role and Steve Carrell brings an unexpected poignance to his as well. All in all, an enjoyable movie.

I'm a little more torn on Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz," which is not as strong as the actresses' directorial debut, "Away from Her."

Her latest revolves around a love triangle, of sorts, in which Michelle Williams must chose between her husband (a restrained Seth Rogan) and the hunky rickshaw worker across the street.

On the one hand, there are some nice moments here, including an amusement park ride sequence that is used to great effect during its first appearance and slightly more somber effect the second time around.

But my problem with the film is that its characters appear to often inhabit that hipster universe of behavior that I'm not sure I've ever experienced with any real people. I'm obviously hanging out in all the wrong places. And I'm not sure ultimately what Polley's trying to convey here.

It's not a bad movie, but - in my humble opinion - a mixed bag.

This coming weekend, I'll catch "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Magic Mike" and "Ted."

Also, upon returning from my honeymoon, I've been catching up with the episodes of "Mad Men" that I missed. Gottta say, "The Other Woman" (Episode 11) is a doozy. One of the best I've seen in a while or, possibly, ever. Only two more to go.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cinematic Summer of Discontent

It's been a great year - wedding, honeymoon, new apartment, etc. - but not such a hot one for movies.

While I truly enjoyed "Prometheus" last week, I caught up with a handful of pictures this weekend and none of them particularly impressed me. There is some potential light at the end of the tunnel. Upcoming releases include "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Soderbergh's "Magic Mike" and Lanthimos' "Alps."

And I saw that Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" is getting an August release. So there's that.

Meanwhile, I reviewed "Rock of Ages" and "That's My Boy," the first of which was middling and the second a complete disaster, for Patch. Here are my reviews.

My weekend of catching up also included "Men in Black III," "Dark Horse" and "Snow White and the Huntsman." And while I can't say that any of these three films were bad, I won't go as far as recommending any of them either.

"MIB III" is an improvement on the second film in that series and "Snow White" has a fetching Gothic style to it, but both movies are just OK at best. "Dark Horse" features some fine performances and a softer side to Todd Solondz. But I feel the same way about this movie as I did about "Life During Wartime." It's as if Solondz has been making the same movie over and over for the past decade.

I loved "Happiness" and "Welcome to the Dollhouse" - and, at least, the first half of "Storytelling" - but I'd love to see him branch out and try something a little different.

This coming weekend, I'll review "Brave," "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," "To Rome With Love" and, possibly, "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." And I still need to catch up with "Your Sister's Sister."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

File Under Department of 'Shut the #@!* Up'

Who was it that said 'Opinions are like assholes - everyone has one'?

So, I'm walking down the street of my quaint Queens neighborhood this evening when one of my neighbors from a few doors down passes me on the street and upon noticing a shirt I'm wearing that features a logo, says to me: "[Logo's Brand] is bullshit."

"Excuse me?" I say, a bit taken aback at being accosted on the street with passive aggressive remarks by a person I've not only never spoken to but, I believe, never even seen before.

"[Logo] sucks," she says. I explain my affiliation with said logo, which I won't give name because it's really besides the point. "Well, just sayin'," she says and then proceeds to point downwards with her thumbs and make that farting noise with her mouth that insinuates displeasure. "No bueno." I feel compelled to point out that this woman was not, in fact, a Latina.

Now, I just returned from Greece from my honeymoon. And I must say, I was surprised by how generous, good humored, kind and helpful Greeks were, considering recent portrayals of their country being in financial turmoil. During my entire visit, I think I witnessed a total three protesters with a few homemade signs. And even they were carrying on in a polite manner.

I'm getting off topic.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is how did people in these United States start becoming so entitled that it's become commonplace to randomly berate complete strangers on the street and force their nasty opinions down the throats of others?

You may think I'm reaching here. And you could make that argument had this been the first incident I'd experienced during which someone who I'd never met suddenly feels they have the right to ensnare me in their bitterness.

Alas, this is not the case. In years past, I've had neighbors get coked out of their heads and try to beat down my door because they thought I was playing my music too loud when, in fact, I had been asleep with no music playing at all.

Then, there was the neighbor standing outside my door first thing in the morning who screamed and cursed at me because he thought I'd forgotten to lock one of the locks on our building.

Most recently, I had a neighbor leave a manifesto on my doorstep, accusing me of walking too much in my apartment and asking me to wear slippers more often.

No, seriously. What the hell is going on? Where do people get off? And why am I writing about this? There's a new Woody Allen movie coming out and, the week after that, "Beasts of the Southern Wild," which is one of the most acclaimed films of the year so far. I have better ways of spending my time.

So, I'll leave it at this. As my mother once said, "If you don't have something nice to say, then file your complaint under the Department of 'Shut the #&*! Up.'

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Just got back from my honeymoon in Greece and I'm pretty exhausted. So, needless to say, I'm keeping it short this week and in the process of catching up on some movies.

I saw Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" and enjoyed it quite a bit. Here's my review for Patch. The film is a sort-of prequel to "Alien" as well as many other things, including a thoughtful sci-fi drama on the origins of mankind. Good stuff.

This coming weekend, there's a lot of movie watching going on, including "Men in Black III," "Snow White and the Huntsman," "Dark Horse," "That's My Boy" and "Rock of Ages." Some of these will obviously be reviewed in next week's post. And I plan on writing up some longer pieces for this blog in the near future - once I've recouped from jet lag.