Big Red comes up short

The first I heard of a Secretariat movie was several years ago and the conversation went something like this:

Friend: Disney wants to do a movie about Secretariat.

Me: Really? That would be cool. It could be The Black Stallion for a new generation.

Friend: Yeah, but they can’t find a colt to portray Secretariat.

Me: Of course they can’t. Big red colts aren’t born every day.Continue reading “Big Red comes up short”

The Social Network

The hype on this movie got so intense just before its release last Friday that it amounted to a guy running into the room and shrieking, “The Social Network is the BEST MOVIE EVERRRRR,” as he wept and rent his clothes asunder. Well, the movie is good. Really good. Even in a year flooded with excellent dramas, The Social Network is a standout. But is it the BEST MOVIE EVERRRRR? No.

From the beginning I had one reservation about The Social Network: I feared writer Aaron Sorkin’s habit of oversimplifying characters to fit his narrative construct. With Sorkin you get superb dialogue and smart characters that usually do simple, borderline stupid things in service of Sorkin’s Idea (see also: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). I wondered if David Fincher’s direction, always so nuanced and attentive to environment, could overcome what I consider to be Sorkin’s inherent shortcoming. Answer: Um, kind of.Continue reading “The Social Network”

Wall Street 2: A tale of three movies

This review is a day late courtesy a bad batch of dim sum which did its best to kill me from the inside.

Let me start my review of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps by saying I’m not much of an Oliver Stone fan. There’s not any one thing I dislike about Stone, more it’s the sum total of the Oliver Stone Film Experience–filmmaking too clever for its own good–that bugs me. Stone is a good filmmaker who too often gets tripped up on his own Ideas and it annoys me when no one stops him from finalizing his messes. Wall Street 2 is a perfect example of this. It’s a perfectly fine movie that could have been above-average good but was wrecked by too much story clutter and messy editing.Continue reading “Wall Street 2: A tale of three movies”

Easy A: Funny, quality, confusing

It was funny. Like really funny, with genuine laughter, not those half-laugh, half-huff things that so many comedies settle for. In key moments, Easy A went for the gut-buster (such as Olive and Brandon’s fake sexcapades at a party) and the movie achieved big laughs each time it reached for them. Emma Stone (Zombieland) showed off her star stuff—and she has oodles of it—as she carried nearly every frame of the film. Her comedic timing is superb and she can slide from gorgeous to whacky and back so fast as her facial expressions change that I was strongly reminded of Lucille Ball.Continue reading “Easy A: Funny, quality, confusing”

Scott Pilgrim vs. Mass Appeal

It was going to be a problem. I knew as I left the theater that there was a fundamental flaw in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. A problem I overlooked because the any-and-everywhere ad campaign seemed to override the inherent issue. Scott Pilgrim has no mass appeal.

Kick-Ass hit the same wall earlier this year—pushing a fanboy fantasy on the masses and the masses met it with resounding indifference. To be fair, Kick-Ass has done very well on DVD, so word of mouth will eventually pay off for Scott Pilgrim, but the theatrical box office echoes the message Kick-Ass (perhaps even last year’s Watchmen) started. The public at large is not interested in real-life superheroes. Give them alternate universes like Gotham or fantasy futures like X-Men and the public will eat that shit up, but the “real life” superhero stuff ain’t selling.Continue reading “Scott Pilgrim vs. Mass Appeal”

The difference between a good movie and a good comedy

My life is in a constant state of upheaval right now. Working, writing, moving—there’s a lot going on. On top of that, a small gig I’ve had over the last few years editing the fiction section of an arts journal has grown exponentially this year after someone said something nice about the publication on the internets. So now add a couple hundred stories to read to the list of crap I have to do. Hopefully this will all settle down soon and I can get back to posting 2-3 times a week on here. Anyway, this past weekend found me desperately seeking an escape so of course I headed to the movies, and this time I wanted to see something funny. I just wanted to laugh, so I bought a ticket for The Other Guys.

Was it a good movie? No. Does that matter? No.Continue reading “The difference between a good movie and a good comedy”

Yes, Inception really is THAT good


Warning: SPOILERS. Don’t cry to me if you read on and get plot-spoiled.

I am an admirer of Christopher Nolan, so I was interested in Inception from the beginning. The natural follow-up to his first two films, Following and Memento, Inception was Nolan’s baby for a decade. As the marketing machine went into gear earlier this year, the question wasn’t whether or not Nolan made a good movie, but whether or not audiences would be able to comprehend it. Then came the salivating critics, heaping praise so high on it that I started thinking, It can’t be possible. It can’t be THAT good.

Well it is. It really is THAT good.Continue reading “Yes, Inception really is THAT good”