Loads of stuff to whine abo-- review and discuss. Onwards. (Updated slightly later on 5/23/09)
The Amateurs: Jeff Bridges and a remarkable all-star B-list cast consisting of guys like Ted Danson, Joey Pants, and Bill Fichtner fill this cute little movie about some old small town nobodies trying to make a porno and instead discovering themselves. No, I don't know how that's suddenly become its own genre, either, but this movie tells a fun story. Jeff Bridges can sell anything.
Bottle Shock: Based-on-a-true-etc. of that time in the 70s when a bunch of snobs decided California wine tasted better than the French stuff. I watched it because it had Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman. Also: the new Captain Kirk plays the central character, a hippie loser who manages to pull together and etc. etc. Cliche, sure. The romantic relationship angle of the story completely failed to work, but everything else was okay enough.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Yes, it's just like Forrest Gump, and yes, it's three hours long. I still liked it. Some would call it slowly paced, and there are huge bits which could probably have been skipped with no harm to the narrative, but I enjoyed moseying about in its world. The CGI was fantastic and mostly invisible. It's that kind of movie that just slowly wraps you into a bear hug; not a "feel good" tearjerker or anything, but a comfortable drama, of sorts. Brad Pitt and David Fincher make good movies together.
The Darwin Awards: Here's an odd one. Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder are insurance investigators winding their way through odd episodes of Darwin Award candidates-- idiots who got themselves killed. Except sometimes no one dies, which therefore defeats the definition of the Darwin Awards themselves. It's not quite funny or cute, but it strings together mishaps and a sort of murder plotline, but the entire thing never quite gels.
Doubt: I expected to be bored to death by this, but was surprisingly fascinated. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and The Seymour Hoff are all fantastic in their roles, which captivated me enough to get me into the plot-- of the hardass nun who's on the case to expose the priest as a kiddie fiddler. But is he or isn't he? It's got actors' actors acting their hearts out and is written so well (after all, it's a stage adaptation) that you'll forgive the slow build and get sucked into the story. Also, it might, just maybe, make you think, rather than melt your brain into fine Hulu goo.
The Good German: The incongruities in this caused it to fail for me. Soderbergh shot the whole thing like it was made in 1945, and rips off Casablanca enough that it's got that whole feel of an old-timey film-- except for all the cursing and the gratuitous boobies and the violence. Why capture the mechanics of an old movie if you don't go for the feel, as well? Lame. And Tobey Maguire is at his most annoying. I'll watch Clooney in anything, but c'mon.
Hanky Panky: I went on a bit of a Gene Wilder bender. Here's one that features him and his later (and now late) wife Gilda Radner, rather than Richard Pryor as it was originally written. It's yet another Gene-Wilder-is-wrongfully-accused-and-gets-into-an-adventure-to-clear-his-name movie, but I love those, and this one's got enough of a Hitchcockian feel to keep one interested. Ends too abruptly, though. And those computer tapes! How quaint is that?
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People: Like I said, Bridges can sell anything, but the rest of this movie falls apart despite the Simon Pegg. All of the jokes fall flat, everyone's an asshole, and it succumbs to Hollywood cliche by movie's end. No wonder this was a massive flop.
Last Chance Harvey: And here's your movie for the old people. It's a romance between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson that seems too easy-- I never quite believe it. And it's all about the old guy finding himself and becoming a man to his daughter again and bleh. I hate nonstop awkwardness, be it for humor or drama's sake, and the first third or so of this movie is nothing but that crap. Blerg, as Liz Lemon would say.
Naked Fear: Alright, I admit sometimes I seek out crap just to amuse myself. This movie was bloody awful-- the Most Dangerous Game, but with a lot of female nudity in act two. You can probably extrapolate the rest from that, except maybe not the pointless B-plot of the determined deputy who contributes nothing to the story, nor the chick going crazy at the end, etc. Why was Joe Mantegna in this? To whom did he owe money?
Outland: The little description called this "High Noon in space," and I didn't believe them until the last act. Unfortunately, I fell asleep during the climax. Otherwise, it's probably your standard "Sean Connery is a space cop whom no one wishes to help but he gets the job done anyway, by gum" story, with added Peter Boyle.
Ratatouille: I am not the biggest Brad Bird fan-- right, I'm the guy who didn't like the Incredibles-- but this wasn't bad. Needed more Patton Oswalt, but it's sort of a sweet story as only Pixar can bring you, I guess.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil: Another one of those Gene Wilder flicks. This time, he's deaf and Pryor's blind and they're on the run and have to save the day, and it's actually a fairly amusing and enjoyable romp with some fun adventure bits. I love this genre of movie-- the comedy adventure road trip sort of thing they don't make anymore. We need more of these.
Stir Crazy: Okay, and in this one Wilder and Pryor are wrongfully imprisoned and there's a rodeo and Craig T. Nelson and-- look, just watch the damn thing. If you like those kinds of movies--you know the ones--then you'll like this.
Superfly: You know, I think I like parodies and homages to blaxploitation more than the blaxploitation itself. This one bored me. Not enough awesome.
Sweet and Lowdown: Woody Allen directs Sean Penn as a self-destructive and apparently crazy genius guitar player who goes through a series of episodic misadventures until finally he breaks down as an unhappy loner. A kooky mix of Woodyesque styles, but pretty good.
The Ten: The guys from the State bring you a series of interconnected episodes sort of related to the Ten Commandments. The best one is probably the bit with Liev Schrieber (who is surprisingly hilarious) and all the CAT Scan machines. If you like casual absurdism and comedy sketches, as well as movies stuffed with famous people and "that guy!"s, then you will probably like this.
Vanishing Point: I was digging this a lot right up until the ending, when it stopped making much sense to me. But it's cross-country car chases and weirdos in the desert and naked girls on motorcycles and you've all run to go watch this by now, haven't you? The inspiration for Tarantino's Death Proof, but far more exciting! That's what this is. No excuses-- just drive.
Where the Buffalo Roam: Bill Murray plays Hunter S. Thompson in a brilliant and dangerously mad performance, while Peter Boyle plays Dr. Wylie-- I mean Dr. Robotnik-- I mean Carl Lazlo. I didn't quite see much of a throughline here-- it's a few episodes that feature both Thompson and Lazlo being crazy, and that's it-- so I didn't quite get it, but it was wildly entertaining the whole time, so I think that's enough.
Who's Harry Crumb?: This here's a John Candy detective adventure comedy from the late 80s or somesuch. It tries to be Fletch, but it fails miserably, and is one painfully awkward joke after another. Pass.