August 30, 2010 15 Comments
With so much crap in the theatres lately, I’ve been watching more film rentals at home. Since these films were out earlier in the year, I didn’t bother to write up any extensive reviews here on the site. But I thought I would do a quick run-down of what I have been watching and letting you know whether you should RENT IT! or SKIP IT! Please note that these are not film reviews – just very brief thoughts on some of the movies I’ve been playing on the ‘ol DVD.
Kick-Ass (dir. Matthew Vaughn)
What a pleasant surprise this was! In what has been a very lackluster year for film thus far, this one easily stands out for me as one of the year’s best. Highly entertaining, funny, unpredictable and clever — unlike any superhero film you have ever seen. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a nerdy high school student who no one seems to notice. He desperately yearns to do good for society and decides to buy a costume online and become a modern-day super hero. Johnson fits perfectly here and he is extremely likeable. A bright future for him, for sure. Nicolas Cage gives a strong and humorous performance in a supporting role and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (you know — McLovin) is great fun as the Red Mist. Who steals the show here is Chloe Moretz as Cage’s very young daughter. She comes out with some great lines and knows how to dish out her own can of Whoop-ass. What movies should be…great fun!
VERDICT: RENT IT!
A very sweet coming of age story and overall, a strong film based on the novel by Robert Kaplow. I don’t know anything about Zac Efron and haven’t really seen him in anything, but he is perfectly cast here as Richard Samuels, a high school student who yearns to make something of himself in the Big City as an artist. He impresses a young Orson Welles outside his Mercury Theatre and gets a small part in what would be an extraordinary revival of Julius Caesar by the famed director. Young Richard learns a lot about love, the theatre and the politics involved throughout while dismissing his duties at school and home. Christian McKay is phenomenal as Orson Welles, showing all of his ego, bravado, charm and brilliance with tremendous subtlety. Welles is portrayed as a real shit here, albeit ingenious. Zoe Kazan has a couple of great scenes with Efron and she is simply delightful to watch. Claire Danes is fine, but really…are we supposed to believe that she is the object of every man’s affection at the theatre? There is nothing physically appealing about Ms. Danes and for her to be cast as such is downright laughable. Nonetheless, a charming little film that should have received a bigger and better push from the studios.
VERDICT: RENT IT!
I was expecting big things here and had heard that Casey Affleck’s psychotic killer put Christian Bale’s (in American Psycho) to shame. First of all, that is in no way true. Second, this film, despite some very positive reviews, was a huge disappointment in my book. Winterbottom has yet to wow us, after the sub-par A Mighty Heart and the horrendously dreadful 9 Songs. And can I say this about Casey Affleck? Does this guy have anything in his reserve tank other than hit his one note? In the films I have seen him in, he hits that one note very well, but that is it — he does little else at all and shows absolutely no range. He is boring. Here, he plays a Texas deputy sheriff who is sent to drive a prostitute (Jessica Alba) away from town. Instead of doing so, he begins a torrid affair with her and we slowly see his psychotic inner being come to the forefront. The supporting cast is very effective here, especially Kate Hudson who plays his faithful and loving girlfriend, just waiting to be proposed to. Alba pulls in a gutsy and strong performance. Tom Bower and Elias Koteas are also quite good in this wanna-be film noir that seems to have so much potential, but in the end, misses the boat.
VERDICT: SKIP IT!
Another fun, entertaining, popcorn flick. I had heard some good things about this movie and was not led astray. The film centers around a CIA Black Ops team that is left for dead. The group begins to plot their revenge on those in power who targeted their assassinations. Their leader is Clay and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (impressive in Watchmen) fits the role very well. He is witty, strong, sexy and commands our attention. His crew is also filled with fine performances and it was nice to see some unknown faces do good work. Not a star vehicle at all, which is usually not such a bad thing. Jason Patric is the biggest name here and he is the villain of the film. Patric is so cartoonish and over-the-top and given such ridiculous “villain-lines” to say that you know the creative team is not taking itself too seriously here. Zoe Saldana makes for one bad-ass female, assisting the team in seeking out who they need to find, though it is never quite clear whose side she is really on. Her chemistry with Clay is a strong one. If you are looking to sit back, unwind and have some snacks to an action-packed and at times, very funny movie, take your chances on this.
VERDICT: RENT IT!
I don’t know why I keep watching Kevin Smith films, since he has only made one very good one (Dogma). And don’t give me Clerks because I’ll laugh at you. This one is a mess from start to finish and filled with all the cliches that make us roll our eyes repeatedly for about 90 minutes. Bruce Willis plays NYPD vet Jimmy Monroe whose daughter is about to get married. Jimmy refuses to let her arrogant stepfather (Jason Lee) pay for the expensive day so he decides to sell his very rare baseball card. Of course, the card gets stolen – and that’s when all of the zany lunacy begins. Paired up with Willis is Tracy Morgan, who is funny in short spurts – but not at all engaging enough to drive a movie. His back-and-forth with Willis is at times funny, but it wears off pretty quickly. Willis’ deadpan reactions to Morgan are also funny at times, I won’t deny that. But the film gives us nothing new. It is predictable, tedious, unoriginal, and, at times, weary. Some small laughs here and there, but not enough to waste your time on.
VERDICT: SKIP IT!
OTHER MOVIES OUT ON DVD/BLUE-RAY:
The Yellow Handkerchief (**) — SKIP IT!
The Girl on the Train (**) — SKIP IT!
The Joneses (** ½) — Can go either way here, but original & worth a shot
Mother (*** ½) — RENT IT!
Chloe (***) — RENT IT! despite it’s very poor final act