Monday, July 29, 2013

'The Wolverine' and Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine'

It was a pretty decent weekend at the movies.

Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" was clearly the better of the two pictures I saw. It's one of the director's better films since the beginning of the new century. I'd rank it just behind "Match Point" and "Midnight in Paris."

And Cate Blanchett gives a solid performance as a Blanche Dubois-esque figure whose life falls apart after her Bernie Madoff-esque husband (Alec Baldwin) gets thrown in prison. The film is also Woody's most dour - and I mean that in a good way - comedy since "Deconstructing Harry."

"The Wolverine" was a better than average comic book movie. It's a little better than "Iron Man 3" and about on par with "Man of Steel." Still, there are probably enough "X-Men" movies out there to not necessitate anymore.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll catch the well received "The Spectacular Now," "2 Guns" and the gotta-see-it-no-matter-what "The Canyons."

Monday, July 22, 2013

'Conjuring' is Creepy, but Refn's Latest Disappoints

It's gonna be a quick one this week.

Nicolas Winding Refn is one of my favorites among the current crop of younger filmmakers, but his latest - "Only God Forgives" - is a disappointment.

It's not a bad film, but one that is lacking in many of the departments that made "Drive" such a great movie. It's often nice to look at - that is, when it's not being outrageously and grotesquely violent. I'm certainly anxious to see what Refn does next, but I count this one as a misfire.

"The Conjuring," on the other hand, was a pleasantly frightening haunted house movie. I wasn't a huge fan of James Wan's early work - namely, "Saw," but both this film and "Insidious" place him among the finest of current horror directors. And "R.I.P.D." was pretty mediocre.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll see Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" and "The Wolverine" as well as Bob Dylan, Beck and Wilco in concert. Yay!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Wrapup: 'Fruitvale' Above the 'Rim'

It was a decent weekend for movies with at least one really solid picture, one pretty good one and one - well, umm - not so great one.

Ryan Coogler's debut, "Fruitvale Station," was a powerful and - sadly - timely tale of a young black man unjustly gunned down by a police officer. The film, which is based on a true 2008 incident in Oakland, features a knockout lead performance by Michael B. Jordan, who will always be Wallace to me.

In other news, Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" is, on the one hand, not much different from your average summer blockbuster and bears some strong similarities to the work of Michael Bay - at least in terms of plot and action sequence style. On the other hand, it's a smarter film with better talent behind the camera, some decent special effects and some solid supporting performances. Still, I'd rather see del Toro doing something along the lines of "Pan's Labyrinth" or "The Devil's Backbone," rather than this.

And you may not be shocked to hear that "Grown Ups 2" is pretty bad. It's not as bad as "That's My Boy," but that doesn't take much.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll catch Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives," James Wan's "The Conjuring" and either "RIP'd" or "Red 2," most likely the former.

Monday, July 8, 2013

'Lone Ranger' No Es Tonto

Gore Verbinski's "The Lone Ranger" is not as bad as you may have been led to believe by the angry reviews that poured in last week. I mean, the film is far from perfect and a little long to boot.

But, God forbid, Verbinski does a little something different than you'd expect than your average run-of-the-mill western - all the while paying homage to everyone from John Ford to Sergio Leone.

It's an ambitious, and not wholly successful, but overall enjoyably strange western.

I also dug "The Way, Way Back," a coming of age tale that breaks no new ground, but handles its material well and features some solid performances.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll definitely catch up with the acclaimed "Fruitvale Station" as well as Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" and, yes, "Grown Ups 2."

Monday, July 1, 2013

If You Can't Take the 'Heat,' Stay Out of the 'White House'

It makes no sense, I know. The headline, that is.

Gotta keep it short and sweet this week. Busy, busy. This weekend's new releases were all pretty decent. None of them were great - but hey, you take what you can get, right?

"The Heat" was not nearly as funny or clever as "Bridesmaids," but Paul Feig's latest was just good enough. And Roland Emmerich's "White House Down" was as ridiculous as it looks, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Pedro Almodovar's "I'm So Excited" is definitely a minor film for the director, much as "Cosmopolis" was for David Cronenberg last summer. Still, it's funny and charming when it needs to be. And a bit ambitious in terms of its satirical approach to portraying Spain's current financial woes.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll catch up with "The Lone Ranger" and, most likely, "The Way, Way Back." Sadly, I was not able to catch Neil Jordan's "Byzantium" last weekend due to a throat infection. Hope to see it soon.