Friday, June 25, 2010

Today's New in Theaters- 6/25/10

Grown Ups: It's basically the male counterpart to Sex and the City 2: a bunch of people I stopped caring about a long, long time ago, slapping together some lazy shit for an easy buck. As we've discussed before, Adam Sandler's only good movies are the ones he makes for other people; this one is branded with his Happy Madison imprint, and all which that implies (serial cinema killer Dennis Dugan in the director's chair, Dickie Roberts/Joe Dirt scribe Fred Wolf "writing" the "screenplay", and even larger-than-usual appearances by David Spade and Rob Schneider). "This film is like Jason Miller's That Championship Season," writes Marshall Fine, "except with douchebags who think they're funny." Even self-proclaimed Sandler apologist Brian Orndorf isn't buying: "Until his box office fortunes truly take a dive, I fear Adam Sandler is done making any noticeable effort."

Knight and Day: My interest is piqued here not by Cruise (who I've always defended, but hasn't exactly been on a hot streak as of late) or Diaz (whose schtick grew tiresome some time ago), but director James Mangold, whose filmography boasts no duds and several aces (CopLand, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma). Ebert says it's a decent popcorn flick that relies to heavily on the CG; Joe Morgenstern says the CG overshadows and wrecks the picture.

Restrepo: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's debut film is an uncommonly well-made ground view of the war in Afghanistan; embedding for several months with a platoon in the Korangal Valley, aka "the valley of death." It's a loose but riveting tale, expertly and artfully shot in a verite style that captures the naked emotions and fears of the men on the job.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Theaters: "Restrepo"

PFC Juan “Doc” Restrepo is featured in the opening moments of the documentary that bears his name, in home movies that he shot himself; he turns the camera around as he mugs and jokes with his buddies, all about to be deployed to Afghanistan. “We’re goin’ to war, we’re goin’ to war, we’re goin’ to war,” he chants, giddily. He would not make it out alive. His fellow soldiers would eventually build an outpost where they were fighting, and name it after him. It stood in the Korangal Valley, which CNN dubbed “the deadliest place on earth.” American forces had another name for it: “The valley of death.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kael of the Week: On Movie Ratings

"The problem for younger potential moviegoers is that the rating system has meant that kids haven't been free to go to the best pictures, unless their parents take them. How can they develop an appreciation for movies if all they're allowed to see are those dreadful, boring movies that are aimed at them? The best pictures are mostly those with the R ratings, and there have been pictures that got the R because of one forbidden word -- when all you have to do is listen to kids talking today and you realize no four letter word is going to come as news to them. In terms of the intelligence and invention that goes into them, the Saturday night shows on TV are a lot better than most G or PG movies."

- Quoted by Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times,  April 27, 1975

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On DVD: "The Last Station"

In theory, The Last Station is a completely unobjectionable, and in fact admirable film—it deals with an important figure in an intelligent way, it’s well-shot and competently assembled, it features several fine actors in showcase roles. But in spite of the fact that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, I can’t get all that worked up about it either. It’s all so high-minded and austere that you feel like something of a heathen for complaining that it’s all rather dull and lifeless, but that’s how it is, so there you have it.

On DVD: "The Good Guy"

The Good Guy tries to do the damndest thing, and almost pulls it off: it starts off clumsily, and the first act has all kinds of problems, but it takes a turn that made me think that most of the things I didn’t like about its opening section were done on purpose. That’s a risky gamble; I was so thoroughly unimpressed by the junk I was watching in that first half hour that I contemplated sneaking out and trying to catch something else.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On DVD: "The Crazies (2010):

The first five minutes of Breck Eisner's The Crazies paint an almost comically detailed and earnest, Norman Rockwell-inspired vision of small-town America. The setting is Ogden Marsh, Iowa; the sun is shining, the grass is green, and folks are heading out to a baseball game. It's such a literal illustration of our traditional Americana iconography that you half expect a shot of someone's mom pulling an apple pie out of the oven.