Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Hook - 2.5/5
You know how Disney rides feel like the fake, plastic version of the movie? This feels like a Disney ride. Nothing feels real. The whole movie is a collection of props and a previously-used wardrobe. I’m not surprised that Spielberg was behind it, because it has a sweetness to the very idea of it, but I’m surprised that he directed it, because it almost totally lacks imagination. And there’s this weird love triangle with a fairy and a daughter who sort of doesn’t matter, but those Dustin Hoffmans and Bob Hoskinses, they can sure sell it. There is a good idea here, though. There is that sweetness.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The Battered Bastards of Baseball - 4/5
It makes a great case that, for a couple of years there, there was an incredible amount of fun to be had with a Portland, Oregon independent baseball club. The fun we could have with baseball if baseball allowed itself to be fun. And then they get to the part where the Business of Baseball hates ‘em for what they’re doing and I’d have liked for them to say just a little bit more. It was about a beautiful little moment in time for one town, one club, but I think it could’ve become more about baseball, and what baseball has become, and how that mirrored what was happening in this one town, this one club. What we got was a ‘we had it and now it is gone.’ I’d have liked a ‘we had it, and we’d like to have it back, please.’
Guardians of the Galaxy - 4/5
It doesn’t invert cliches, like Whedon might – it just has fun with them. That ‘Cheers’ thing where Sam or Diane would say what they feel, allowing for levity, and then somebody makes a joke, making you not feel weird about sitcom characters feeling things. That’s the Marvel motto: you don’t have to be great; you just have to be fun. And they are, they are.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes - 2.5/5
There’s a surprising slowness in how the movie develops. It takes its time building a relationship between the occasionally beautiful Caesar and Occasional Good Actor James Franco. The owner of a pet becoming the unintentional owner of a very intelligent creature – and you could understand the anger that could come from that, of the pet who realizes he will always only ever be caged. And that anger gets larger in scope, but dissipates in intensity. And it jumps farther than a father/son, owner/pet movie and James Franco doesn’t really matter anymore. It becomes more of a general ‘freedom’ thing than a ‘rage at the oppressor’ thing that could be seen as frightening, but just. When James Franco chases him down to ‘let him go,’ it would have been nice if Caesar ripped his face off or something. It would have been a mission statement, at least.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Pain and Gain - 2.5/5
It’s got a good tone, but it’s not very funny? More than the explosions and the whiz-bang editing, I think Michael Bay’s great at capturing this tone, whatever it is. And he doesn’t know how to change it. Things don’t get sad or happy or angry, even when that’s the emotion on-screen. It’s this filmical anesthesia – it feels nice; it feels like nothing. A blankness. If you sit there and let it wash over you, you can match its steady heartbeat. Not raise it, not lower it, just match it, the whole way through.
Short Term 12 - 3.5/5
I am all up in Brie Larson’s shit. She’s wonderfully normal and broken and afraid to pass her broken-ness to those around her or those who come after her. The whole thing’s got this anger-at-being-yourself, or that fear of who you are, and all it takes is that one dude or dudette who accepts that very self-ness.
Boyhood - 4/5
It’s fascinating to watch. It is an artifact. Its problems are the statements of intent that it seems to want to stuff into the last fifteen minutes. “What was this about?” “I expected something more.” “Sometimes the moment seizes you.” As pieces of a life, pieced together, it is a museum-quality Thing To Behold. A much more bearable version of the “7 Up” series. It didn’t really need a reason why. We would have found our own meaning in it.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 - 3.5/5
I can only assume they’ve got a new art designer, because this is straight up one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen. It’s shackled to the designs of the predecessor which while not terrible, are a bit genericore – faceless enough to have come from any of the handful of failed CGI comedies from the past 10 years. Solution? Badass motherfucking masks. And clouds, and small subtleties of human emotion, and the two most beautiful dragons having a fight in slow-motion that only feels slow-motion because of how goddamned massive they are. And then there’s that sort of useless plot where everyone does things that authority figures tell them they shouldn’t do and those actions kind of lead to a lot of death. Oh, well! It tries to have a lesson learned, but it’s a shitty lesson, I think, and that lesson comes out of the back end of poor decisions. I think Hiccup learns he was right at the end, and that is wrong. Not that he is wrong in the whole, but wrong in the time it takes for his point to be true. People can change their minds… it’s just not always a matter of talking to them. “Hey, you shouldn’t do that.” “Okay.” He should’ve learned how to be a leader – not by violence or isolation but by attrition. Instead, he learns to follows his gut and everyone else is a drive-by victim of his beliefs. He is selfish, and being selfish for a good cause is still being selfish. ANYWAY, THO, IT IS FUNNY AT PARTS AND EXCITING AT OTHERS AND THEN IT IS SAD ALSO.