Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer catch-up

Just reserving this space to comment on a few spring/summer flicks I never got around to writing up proper. It's not like I have anything better to do until the awards movies start creeping out of their fall festival hidey holes.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
I usually have conflicted reactions to B movies that are trying so hard to legitimize themselves with a degree of dramatic heft that they just aren't capable of really pulling off, but I mostly enjoyed this X-Men outing. While the script often steamrolls its potential grace notes with expository bluntness, the story material itself is pretty good stuff
**1/2 out of ****

Edge of Tomorrow
It's clever premise and high-concept structure delight, though the familiarity of the action movie conventions it follows sorta make me feel like I've already rewatched this film over and over again every single day... wait a minute... Still, strong star charisma and playfulness with its repetitive chronology help carry it.
*** out of ****

Maleficent
Jolie's decent performance notwithstanding, this is such a mess of a film. Narratively nonsensical, clumsily paced, visually overproduced (as though we'd expect anything less from Robert Stromberg), and it put me into a sleep-like death from which I will never waken.
*1/2 out of ****

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Whole new level of awful. I cried. Just as incoherent and face-palmingly dumb as the others, but takes itself way more seriously. Most (rather, only) enjoyable aspect was the embarrassing flagrancy of the product placement!
* out of ****

Begin Again
Do some of this Once-cousin's gimmicks seem a bit to hokey? Sure, but miraculously, that doesn't stop them from enchanting us all the same. Major credit is owed to Keira Knightley's effortless performance and songwriter Gregg Alexander's musical touch. A charming film, generous with beautiful moments.
*** out of ****


Neighbours (That's right: I spell it with a 'u'. Come and get me, America!)
Nicholas Stoller and his terrific cast are like factory workers producing pure, crass comedy that manages to sustain perpetual laughter for a surprisingly long time (thanks in part to Zene Baker's energetic editing). However, they can't keep that up indefinitely, and eventually one is laughed out before the film's finale. The more biting satire about our resistance to growth and maturation is ultimately drowned out by the outrageous crudities of this farce, but I can tell you I laughed often, and I laughed loud.
**1/2 out of ****

Obvious Child
I can't tell whether this unabashed indie dramedy is so funny it hurts or if it hurts so much its funny. Either way, it proves a winning combination of wit and heartbreak as we watch the life of stand-up comic Donna Stern (the marvelous Jenny Slate) falling apart. In Donna, writer-director Gillian Robespierre and Slate have created a touching character who communicates best through dirty jokes, but is always coming from a place of real human emotion.
*** out of ****

The Immigrant
As beautifully designed and shot it is, I mostly found it a dry slog. Cotillard is great, but she can't save it from the weight of its own miserabalism.
** out of ****

2 comments:

  1. I was wondering what was taking you so long to post reviews on these. Yeah, Transformers 4 really sucked...

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  2. By the way, if you haven't already, I highly recommend you watch The LEGO Movie. I will guarantee that you will not regret it. It is really damn good.

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