Sunday, September 15, 2013

Super-Quick Reviews of Movies I’ve Seen Recently (8/21 to 9/15)


LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER -- Between the looming presences of Oprah and the Weinstein Company, combined with the fact that the movie is very good, be prepared to hear lots of "YOU get an Oscar! And YOU get an Oscar!" jokes this winter. (Also, no spoilers, but the presidential stunt casting is amazing and occasionally mind-blowing.)

THE WORLD’S END -- An awesome & quotable third installment to the Cornetto Trilogy. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost are geniuses. Still prefer SHAUN OF THE DEAD overall, but this may be the most poignant for me. Getting old & remembering the past is rough.

YOU’RE NEXT -- Drips with blood and dark humor and turns the home invasion concept on its ear most spectacularly. Sharni Vinson is my new favorite. A must-see for horror junkies.

IN A WORLD... -- A bit scatterbrained but also very funny, heartfelt and hugely likeable story about the little-known world of movie trailer voiceover artists. I enjoy Lake Bell very much. Fred Melamed (aka Sy Abelman in A SERIOUS MAN) is one of the most brilliant slimeballs of our time. Ken Marino holds his own, too!

AFTERNOON DELIGHT -- If you've ever been jonesing for surprisingly explicit Josh Radnor/Kathryn Hahn sex scenes, this is the indie film for you. Funny at first but takes a dark & lecherous turn that rubbed me the wrong way. Still, great to see the vastly underrated Hahn in a well-deserved lead role.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY -- Awesome seeing this on the big screen for the first time. Still holds up as one of the all-time action classics and Linda Hamilton remains one of the all-time great action heroines.

THE HAPPY SAD -- An effective movie about equality because it shows that insufferable dating woes are not limited by race, gender or sexual orientation. A big hipster yawn.

SHORT TERM 12 -- Heart-wrenching, honest and beautiful drama about a group of twentysomethings who work with at-risk kids while dealing with their own complex lives. Brie Larson gives a powerhouse performances that comes out of nowhere -- if she isn't an Oscar contender then I don't know who is.

PASSION -- Noomi Rapace & Rachel McAdams star in Brian DePalma’s remake of the twisty-turny French film, LOVE CRIME, which stars Ludivine Sagnier & Kristen Scott Thomas. Unfortunately it is not a good remake. Watch the original instead.

CLOSED CIRCUIT -- Decent espionage thriller that should have embraced its innate pulp qualities rather than trying to be all Serious and Important. Love me some Rebecca Hall, though, and it’s always nice to see Ciaran Hinds -- it was a MUNICH reunion with him and Eric Bana!

HELL BABY -- Dopey/funny comedy-horror goodness written & directed by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. If you appreciate their The State/Reno 911 humor, it’s right up your alley. Also doesn’t hurt if you’re as obsessed with all things New Orleans as I am -- God, I miss Zapp’s potato chips.

ADORE -- If Naomi Watts & Robin Wright really wanted to display their bangin' bikini bods, they could've just done it -- bad movie not required. That said, it’s about two hot Australian moms who bang each other’s hunky sons and it’s filled with camp and raunch and silliness... and, as such, is strangely likeable despite being awful.

SALINGER -- A bit overly-sensational and cheesy at times, and most talking heads don’t offer much actual insight -- but the innate intrigue surrounding the man, along with some legitimately eye-opening revelations towards the end, make it worthwhile.

RUSH -- Not nearly entertaining enough to get past the fact that I don’t give two shits about car racing. Also couldn't get past the eye-rolling, wooden, overly-explanatory dialogue that sabotages some otherwise fine performances. On the plus side: Um, it has a great score and Oscar-caliber sound?

RIDDICK -- A better Riddick movie than THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, and it’s nice that it takes advantage of its R rating with gratuitous blood and boobs. But it's definitely no PITCH BLACK, a legitimately great slice of sci-fi that holds up to this day. Cut your losses and stick to driving fast, Vin.

THE FAMILY -- Some laughs sprinkled throughout this mob spoof, but overall, it’s a mess of over-plotting & tonal shifts and thinks it's smarter than it is. Would love to see De Niro actually add to his legacy again, rather than constantly spoofing it.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 -- Patrick Wilson is clearly enjoying his recent horror kick, but after this weak sequel, it may be time for him to quit while he’s ahead. This one isn’t quite as much of a POLTERGEIST rip-off as the first, but I still hope Zelda Rubenstein haunts the shit out of everyone involved.


  1. I'm really looking forward to seeing Short Term 12 after seeing all of these great reviews. I want to see Rush, but I worry about liking it because I too, don't give a shit about car racing.

    1. Granted, it is possible to enjoy films about sports I don't care about (for example, WARRIOR). But RUSH wasn't quite engaging enough to get me over that hump. That said, it is already 95% fresh on RottenTomatoes, so I may be in the minority on this one. Wouldn't be the first time!