Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Salty Spring Rain

I’ve done more viewing than writing and most certainly don’t deserve their own posts so let’s click off some recent Tim- takes on these (mostly) recent releases:

“Reign over Me”- Yuck, the immense tragedy of 9/11 deserves a better exploration of grief than Adam Sandler in a Dylan haircut glumly tooling through an empty city on a motorized scooter. Contrived characters including an embarrassingly obvious love interest don’t stop Don Cheadle from trying. – Three Shakers

Elegy” - Ben Kingsley is too dull and Penelope Cruz too old for the part in this boringly understated take on Phillip Roth’s tale of a man facing his mortality via a fling with a young student. – Three Shakers

Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains” – This oft told tale of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes forcing them into cannibalism is an amazing one. For the first time we hear their first person accounts. Unfortunately it goes on way too long and it’s hard to be inspired if you end up bored. I think this would have been a more moving film if the editors would have eaten a half an hour of this. – Three Shakers

Cadillac Records” (Three Shakers) and “Notorious” (Two Shakers) - Bio-pics like these belong on cable. It is obvious in both that scenes are just being fabricated and the actors playing real recognizable celebs are just playing dress-up. Having the Puff daddy character in “Notorious” lecture the Christopher Wallace character on the evils of drugs is particularly egregious since Diddy was behind this film. In “Cadillac Records” Adrien Brody just didn’t seem to nail his character and the whole subject of his exploitation of his clients was too easily glossed over.

“Alexandra” – I really wanted to hate this film. Plotless and contrived (a grandmother visits her grandson in a war camp) but it also seemed to speak in a universal language on the horror of war without even showing a battle. It expresses a simple humanity. Thanks for stopping by Grandma! – Four shakers

“Last Chance Harvey” Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman completely outshine the lame material. These characters deserve a better chance than this! - Three Shakers

Ricky Gervais: Out of England: The Stand-Up Special”- I love Ricky G and both the original “The Office” and “Extras’ were genius. But here he goes off on children with cancer, visualizes the start of the AIDs virus and attacks the obese all between swigs of Fosters. Without an obvious character to hide behind these riffs come off as cheap shots. He seems more like a jerk in a bar than a successful comedian. I lost a brother to AIDs so a bit with him laughing himself silly while reading an obvious gag AIDs prevention pamphlet for ten minutes was a little over the top for me. – Two Shakers

War, Inc.” – Poor John and Joan Cusack who mug their way through a film that tries to hard to satire everything and ends up just a noisy mess. As in ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ John again plays an assassin, this time dealing with a familiar looking Mideast war for profit and a Brittany Spears knock-off. It wants to be “Dr. Strangelove” but instead it’s another “Southland Tales”. Plus I saw the twist coming a mile away. – Two Shakers

Role Models” – I used to work with gamers so I really enjoyed the second half of this film set at a live action role playing game. Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd worked great together as well as with their younger costars. The man playing the King is also wonderfully obnoxious. Good times! – Four shakers

Of Time and the City” –. Pretentious and self-absorbed filmmaker Terence Davies rhapsodizes all bout his early gay feelings and his hatred of the church, the Queen and the Beatles against pretty evocative and eerie footage (mostly old stock footage). This “visual poem” dedicated to Liverpool would have been more effective with a little less bombastic poetry recitation and venom. I would not like to have tea with this chap. – Two shakers

So that’s five average flicks, four below average and two above average recommendations - and that’s how the corn gets salted for now! Happy viewing people!