Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ten Years Later... Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Director: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin

Ten years ago today, the world began to fall in love with an independent comedy about a little girl obsessed with beauty pageants and the family around her. And when I say "in love," I really mean that. The film has a 91% Tomato rating and a Metascore of 80, which made it particularly difficult to find an example of a negative review to go along with an example of a positive review. At the time of its release, Little Miss Sunshine was the very definition of "beloved." I can't really remember how I felt about it back in 2006 - though it can't have had too much of an impact on me since I've now only seen it a grand total of twice - but seeing it in 2016 confirmed something that I've long suspected: it's one of those flashy, fleeting films that starts to seem more and more out of place in a Best Picture lineup the further away from its nomination you get. It's not a bad movie, but it's not a great movie, either, and ten years removed from the hype have only served to expose its flaws.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Not-Busters: Jersey Boys (2014)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda
Domestic Box Office: $47,047,013

If Hollywood can be said to have any one motto, it's got to be "If it worked once, it will work again." That's why we're awash in sequels and reboots and remakes and copycats, the thinking being that there's safety in the familiar, whereas putting out something totally new means entering uncharted territory and taking a risk. Never mind that audiences often reject those more-of-the-same things, the idea that lightning can strike twice is enough to get studios to put millions of dollars into a project before stopping to consider if the audience is going to be big enough to justify it. The "jukebox musical" subgenre should be more popular than it's proven to be, given that the songs are already popular and given that some of the most prominent recent examples are based on celebrated stage plays. Yet, the last really successful one was Mamma Mia!, while films like Rock of Ages, Across the Universe, and Moulin Rouge!, despite being built around popular songs, failed to have an impact at the box office. Add to that list Jersey Boys, the 2014 adaptation of the stage musical that came and went so fast, and made so little, that you'd be forgiven for having no idea that it existed in the first place.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: Womb (2012)

* *

Director: Benedek Fliegauf
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Smith

Girl meets Boy. Girl and Boy become inseparable. Girl's family moves away. Girl returns many years later and reunites with Boy. Boy dies in tragic accident. Girl convinces Boy's parents to give her permission to use his remains to have him cloned. Girl carries the cloned fetus, gives birth to cloned Boy, raises cloned Boy as her son. Classic story. Does it get weird? I mean, it pretty much starts weird, but does it get weirder still? Oh, yes, it certainly does, and in ways other than the obvious one. Does that make it interesting? Well... Womb is sometimes intriguing and raises some complex and interesting questions, but on the whole the film is far too listless for such a peculiar premise.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review: Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

* * *

Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin

Late in Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!!, the hero worries (as much as anyone in a film this laid back can be said to "worry") that he and his teammates might look like poseurs, having spent the weekend drifting in and out of various scenes around their college campus, going to a disco one night, a country and western bar the next, a punk show, and an interactive performance party put on by art students. His companion can only shrug. Isn't that what they're at college for? To try out different hats, free from the confines of their parents' homes and their adolescent identities and without being loaded down with all the responsibilities of adulthood, and see what fits. Though never as deep or poignant as Linklater's Boyhood or Before Midnight, nor quite as much fun as Dazed and Confused, to which this film acts as a spiritual sequel, Everybody Wants Some!! makes for a nice, gentle diversion, a film that is well-equipped to entertain even if it's not all that memorable.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

* * *

Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon

So here we are, finally. After over a year of internet-destroying discussion, the most controversial movie of 2016 (at least until The Birth of a Nation comes out in October, I presume) is here. I'll skip any kind of commentary on the war of words between those who believe that the original Ghostbusters is sacrosanct and those who think that the extreme reaction to the idea of a reboot and subsequent campaign against the finished film is fueled by the most impotent kind of misogyny. It's not that I take no position on the subject; it's just that I'm so bored with it at this point that I'd rather leave this particular hill to those who have decided they're willing to die on it. So, to the point: I liked it! I thought it was really funny and Kate McKinnon is an absolute treasure. It's not a masterpiece, but it's good summer fun.