Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vitus: Flight of the Prodigy

"’s the heart-warming story of a boy and his grandfather that helps keep this slight symphony off the ground. "

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Evan Almighty: God Says Go Green

"....Evan Almighty is a fast-paced family comedy with some very funny laughs and a warm-hearted message."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June Recap

Bug - ***

Two lonely southerners get holed up in a dingy motel room where their individual neuroses become entwined over a possible infestation. Part psychological thriller, part horror film and part Tennessee Williams play, it’s not so much scary as it is uncomfortably unsettling. An odd choice for legendary American director Friedkin who brings pizzazz but doesn’t shed the story’s theatrical roots as much as he should. Boldly devoted and uncensored performances by Judd and Shannon make this bizarre little film worth experiencing.

Chalk - **1/2

Frederick Wiseman’s High School meets NBC’s The Office in this insightful yet uneven “mockumentary” about teacher experiences in a fictional high school. First time filmmaker Mike Akel has an acute attention for classroom minutia but this attempt at social realism is offset by broad comedic sequences including an out of place (albeit very funny) climax in which the teachers participate in a slang spelling bee.

Knocked Up - ****

An aimless schlub (Rogen) and a statuesque beauty (Heigl) share a drunken one night stand that results in an unplanned pregnancy. Move over Garden State, Generation Y has found their true heir to the Graduate’s throne. Knocked Up brings us back to a time when comedies could be both riotously funny and intensely meaningful. Writer/director Appatow may lack the visual flair of Mike Nichols but he makes up for it in the clear adoration of his actors. The talented ensemble – who possess the ability to launch comedic zingers and heartfelt admissions in the same breath – helps Appatow find a way to unearth and examine the state of the modern day relationship without the nastiness of Neil Labute (The Shape of Things), the sugar coating of Richard Curtis (Love Actually) or the inexperience of Adam Herz (American Pie). AO Scott of the NYTimes calls the film “an instant classic” and I dare say he is right. Knocked Up is one of the most important comedies of the decade.

Ocean’s Thirteen - **

An admirably good natured improvement upon the unwatchable Twelve but the lackadaisical atmosphere surrounding the cash cow production is oppressive. Soderbergh deserves credit for experimenting formalistically in some way with every single shot, even if only one in every ten works. One section of the film featuring forced social commentary on Mexican working conditions through a factory uprising feels more like prep work for his planned Che Guevara biopic than the makings of a witty heist film. With the incomprehensible plot, infuriatingly coded dialogue and the smug performances, it kind of feels like being at a party for two hours and not feeling like you’re cool enough to be there; perhaps more distractingly, not being able to understand exactly what about these people and places is so cool.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End - **

A bland third entry in the enormously successful and otherwise consistently entertaining Pirates franchise. The plot is virtually incomprehensible and completely unnecessary anyway. The first two hours serves no bearing on the final forty-five minutes and while the same can be said of the far superior Dead Man’s Chest, at least that sequel remembered to provide humor and excitement and not just empty pirate chatter. The final five minutes – in which Jack Sparrow (Depp) gets to showboat without plot constraints – are by far the most exhilarating moments in the film.

Waitress - *1/2

Adrien Shelley’s light, homegrown script is ruined by her own frustratingly amateurish direction as displayed in the film’s ugly aesthetics, blatantly artificial lightning, haphazardly incorporated music and limp attempts to comment on generic conventions. Virtually unbearable if not for Nathan Fillian’s oafish charm and Andy Griffith’s sly old coot.