Disturbia: A new age retelling of 'Rear Window' only with the kid from 'Transformers', no suspense, no sense of humor and some uncomfortable gawking/stalking of the girl next door who may or may not be of legal age. Sadly, I could have forgiven all of that if the movie made one bit of sense or at least hinted at the possibility that the protagonist might be going insane. Instead there is a bizarre decision by the neighbor that goes against everything he was fighting to prove. And he had no reason to do it other than providing the movie a cliche monster ending.
King of California: Another movie that I haven't heard much about that turns out to be a charmer. Following 'Waitress', 'Breach', and 'Eastern Promises' there are quite a few very good to great movies floating around out there that not many people are seeing. This one stars Michael Douglas as a recently released mental patient who is convinced there is hidden treasure buried in California. He even gets his daughter wrapped up in the scheme which includes drilling a hole through a Costco cement floor. Douglas does a great job here; displaying dementia, desperation, tenderness and giddiness at various times. I also like how the film maker satirically criticizes the 'generification' (my term) of America. Where apple orchards used to be there is an Applebee's, where the river flowed there is a Staples. Strip malls and stores we are all familiar with litter and confuse a potential 18th century treasure map.
Half Nelson: This is a tough movie to review. Artistically, it's terrific with great acting all around. However, it gets extremely slow in spots and the behavior of the main characters isn't exactly uplifting. The teacher is a crack addict and the one student he could make a difference on winds up delivering drugs to make some extra cash. Ryan Gosling gets everything right as a functional drug addict - the sluggish, almost painful movements; the disconnect from every adult in his life; the complete lack of friends. It says a lot about a movie that a drug dealer is the most likable, grounded character shown.
Gone Baby Gone: Another tough movie to take, but it a different way. The subject matter will be disturbing to many (especially the drug house scene), but the topics are raised in order to examine the difference between right and wrong. Is cold blooded murder ever acceptable? If you are a bad parent, does that mean you deserve having your child taken from you? For an action/mystery movie, this takes on some weighty issues. What I loved about it, though, is it never provided easy answers and let the protagonist live with his choices. Even wifey, Queen of the happy ending, said 'Thank god they didn't tack a happy ending on. It would have ruined everything.'
I'm curious to see what other people in the country make of this movie because this nails the Dorchester attitude and atmosphere perfectly. Casey Affleck reminds me of every Dorchester kid I've ever met. Slightly undersized, tough as nails, always trying to prove himself, and mumbling his way through conversations. Even the neighborhood is given the proper treatment with bars packed in the afternoon, teenagers lounging on the decks of houses packed too closely together. The only negative thing I can say about this movie is I can't make fun of Ben Affleck any more. Pity.
Night at the Museum: Lightweight Ben Stiller movie that was surprisingly enjoyable. The boys and I watched this over vacation and they loved it. Stiller plays his usual likable loser, but the theme of using the lessons of history to better yourself isn't one you normally see in a family movie. Not many movies can provoke discussions between kids and parents about the Roman Empire, Attila the Hun and Easter Island. Some very funny moments (including a great role for Mickey Rooney of all people) and generally entertaining enough to make rewatching this bearable. See, when my boys like a movie, they'll watch it about 100 times.
Smokin' Aces: Finally caught this one on HBO during a bout of insomnia and was distracted enough to stay awake. Not great, but diverting enough. Thought the plot was overly complicated for a shoot 'em up, but the director did a good job of helping us keep everything in order. One thing that bothered me was a lot of good actors showing up in this with strange facial hair. Matthew Fox is head of security with fake wig and 'stache, Ben Affleck wears a fu manchu, Jeremy Pivens looks horrible (he's supposed to). There are also strange events that really have nothing to do with the plot and make things even more confusing then they need to be. Also, the ending made absolutely no sense to me. Ryan Reynolds character supposedly does something noble to get back at his boss, but I still can't figure out what that proved. Not a great movie, but entertaining enough if you suspend disbelief and rational thought.
SuperBad: I'm fully on record about being disappointed in 'Knocked Up', but this one more than makes up for it. The funniest teen movie since 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'. Loved the characters, loved the lack of plot, and laughed out loud on many, many occasions. The two cops and McLovin' are the more memorable characters in movie history. There will undoubtedly be some sensitive types who are offended by the dialogue, but I am here to say that teen boys do talk like that. Part of the appeal of this movie are the scenes and conversations I've experienced: The party at the strange dude's house (where Seth gets his pants stained and Evan is forced to sing), waiting in the strip mall parking lot to see if a friend succeeded in buying booze, the random conversations about female anatomy. But don't be fooled into thinking this is just a horny teenage boy movie; there is tremendous heart beneath both Seth and Evan's friendship and the rules on how to treat women (like actual people, go figure!). You have to wade through some hilariously raunchy stuff to find it, but it's there.
Today's distraction: Make your very own fake McLovin id. The internet was born to provide us shit like this.