Good Time

I’ll say it again: Robert Pattinson is a decent actor. That doesn’t save this film, but it helps make it watchable. A brothers/buddy story, where one of the two needs to be taken care of, in more ways than one, but the caregiver is not always making the best choices…

Bleak and frenetic at the same time, we don’t know what is going to happen, but assume the worst. How can this end well?

Bright

Magic is so unsatisfying. When anything is possible, the screenwriter can be so lazy. Just wave a wand at it. So while the premise of an alternate society that evolved with fairies and orcs alongside humans is sort of intriguing, and makes the race relations story somewhat fresh (?), I just can’t commit my full attention to this kind of movie. I spend too much time complaining out loud…

Magic Mike

Channing Tatum cancels out Matthew McConaughey. I always like the former, and I’m always annoyed by the latter. Not what I’d expect from Steven Soderbergh, but this is pretty fun – more for the energy than for the depth of the material.

Jane Got a Gun

Natalie Portman is probably too attractive for this role. But then, she nearly always is. Tough, good-looking woman with a gun, what’s not to like?

The Seven Five

In an era when dash cams and citizens with cell phones record the worst kind of police brutality and abuse of power, this story may seem like a quaint piece of history, but in his day… there was police corruption, and then there was Michael Dowd. Wow. This guy was epic, with his cash grabs and protection of dealers, etc.

However, in his testimony, as well as in the filmed interviews, he comes across as a pretty stand-up guy. And the fact that he refused to implicate any other of his fellow officers raises him in my estimation. I don’t think he ever shot anybody without justifiable cause…

The Impostors

A not-so-successful attempt at resurrecting Laurel and Hardy. I like these two actors, Oliver Platt and Stanley Tucci, just not here, in this vehicle… Great cast, and some pretty good scenes, but ultimately a bit too derivative and not funny enough.

The End of the Tour

I didn’t plan to watch another film about the loss of yet another huge talent at far too young an age, it just happened that I watched this immediately after seeing Amy. And in fact this film was not about the death of DFW, or the arc or his life, but rather one isolated stretch of that life, when he was promoting Infinite Jest.

Never mind the fact that I didn’t really like Jason Segal as DWF, and really, really didn’t like Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky – playing the same old hesitant, self-questioning and obsequious character that he always plays.

The overwhelming sense was again one of loss. Why does it seem that we lose the best and the brightest, the ones who could make a positive difference, at precisely the wrong time?

 

Tracks

Mia Wasikowska playing another weirdo.

There is no question that in real life, this was a helluva feat. Why then is the film so flat? The landscape is obviously stark, barren. But so too is Wasikowska, playing Robyn Davidson. I get it – a simple task, one foot in front of the other, with the goal of solitude. Certainly nothing glamorous to see here. But what about some glimpse into her psyche? The flashbacks to her father and childhood dog begin to take us there, but are not enough…

And the dog. What a companion… and so you just know that something will happen to her… this was the most emotionally charged part of the entire movie.

And of course the best quote:

“It seems to me that the good lord in his infinate wisdom gave us three things to make life bearable- hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these was dogs.”

Cop Out

Sometimes you just need a silly comedy to change the pace and refresh things. So, how about a cop buddy movie starring Bruce Willis? That should fit the bill.

Or not. This was an unimaginative, clichéd mess. Plus it suffered from that recent affliction of real violence partnered with humor. And I’m not talking about the witty, stylish version of that genre as exemplified by e.g. Snatch. Instead, this is the result of a director not knowing which way to take the film, hedging his bets, and creating as a result a godawful mess. Really Kevin Smith?

Pain & Gain

Is it my imagination, or is there a trend in movies these days towards a kind of vicious mixing of genres? I say vicious because it’s invariably comedy with gory violence. The intent seems to be to induce a shocked revulsion, which isn’t allowed to last because the next laugh is coming. It’s a little unsettling, especially when it’s well done, as here, and with a cast as likeable as this bunch.

The trio of Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne Johnson do a great job with the material – with Johnson as the standout for me, as I’m always surprised by his work. But the biggest surprise? The director is Michael Bay. It seemed too subdued to have been done by him – there was only one explosion! Although he did manage to work in the line of guys walking toward the camera, silhouetted by the orange ball of flame behind them…