Sunday, April 26, 2009

State of Play

It seems other reviewers either found this a great film or didn't like it at all. I fall into the latter category. First, the music was intrusive. The score was frantic when there was no need to be, and foreboding when it didn't need to be. And once you heard it, it wouldn't go away. Thr film is ridiculously dated- everyone acts like their cell phone is an inconvenience. Reporters hide evidence. And worse, it feels like the logic was edited out. Something feels missing. It is dark and in spots, the action feels inexplicable. Russell Crowe is the usual scruffy Russell Crowe. Rachel McAdam plays a really stupid cub reporter. Ben Affleck has no more than two facial expressions. It was a solid disappointment.

Friday, April 24, 2009

17 Again

Aside from the very adult themes and occasional sex references (the movie is a PG 13 stretch, but not quite an R), this is a warm and delightful movie. You'd think that Hollywood has "been there done that" so many other times that they couldn't do a decent movie with the 'adult goes back to teen ager' theme. But it is well done and it works. Zac Efron is charming. Talented and charming. In fact, if he doesn't screw it up, he could be a movie star for decades. He carries the film in every scene with a maturity and ability far beyond his age. He doesn't overact (Miley Cyrus, anyone?)- he just DOES it. In fact, I think that critics who dislike Efron are probably angry and jealous. He doesn't pretend to be deNiro (who isn't that great now). The movie is well cast and that projects the right amount of fairy tale dust to keep the suspension of reality going. I think it was funny and touching in parts, and always well written. Yah, you know what's coming. Yah , you know it isn't real. But don't let that stop you from enjoying it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Well, color me confused. This film got 88% on the tomatometer for rotten tomatoes. I'm stumped. We went thinking it was going to be a comedy. It's called Adventureland, isn't it? It is like a teen comedy- except it isn't. The people are either slackers, losers, or post-college graduates who still live at home and seemingly never got a real summer job and had to settle for working at a theme park while getting stoned and drunk. The lead characters are boring and unlikeable. They have no chemistry, have no purpose in life and in general, are annoying as hell. We didn't see them smile or really laugh. And neither did the audience. There is a reason why a film with high ratings gets no audience- and our showing had 5 people in it. That is because word of mouth spreads and people won't go despite the so called good reviews. I wish someone had told us- we could have saved 15.50. I hope to save you the time and money also.

Let the Right One In

This is a dreamlike take on the normally overdone vampire theme. It begins with a 12 year old boy- a child so alone that we seldom see his parents and never see his friends (if any)- and he is bullied by a group of boys who also never seem to be observed. The cruelty of the bullies stands in fair comparison to the cruelty of the vampire. The backdrop is the white snow and ice of Sweden- a great setting for the fair amount of blood seen. The boy befriends a weird 12 year old neighbor, and it is obvious to all who are viewing that she is a vampire. The mystery of the man who lives with her as caretaker does not resolve until the final scene, when the viewer realized that she has befriended a boy before, and for the same reasons. She needs a human. At first, the film is slow and spends a good deal of time setting the mood and style. But once it gets going, it is fascinating and one of the best vampire films ever made. It left us talking about it for hours, including the meaning of the translated title. And the motivations of the girl. She is not heroic- she is setting up the boy for life. But you'll have to see it for yourself. For its genre, it is unique and chilling. It is on netflix.