Monday, August 01, 2011

Seen in July

The Housemaid, image via

This month, movies were all about escape. Escape from moving boxes, escape from the heat and most importantly, escape from reality. Isn't that what summer movies all about?

Extras - Season 2
From Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office, comes a series about a nobody actor trying to make it as an actor. Despite some terrible experiences as an extra he pushes on until he gets his own series. Sometimes though, you should watch what you wish for.

The Housemaid
A Korean thriller remake of a 1960 film. A young woman begins working as a nanny for a very wealthy family and draws the eye of the husband. Sexual goings-ons ensue as does an unwanted pregnancy — let the thrills begin. Not a typical thriller. It's a slow burn to a very sudden immolation.

Green Lantern
Ryan Reynolds seems like a white Wil Smith to me in that, sometimes his charm alone can save a picture. This one takes awhile to start up and delivers enormous special effects but the script didn't give Reynolds the opportunity to shine the way Robert Downey Jr. does in Iron Man. Still a bit of fun and nowhere as bad as critics have said.

Horrible Bosses
Surprisingly funny. This movie delivers the laughs where expected but still entertains. I know people say you only need to see highly cinematic films in the theatre but the same is true of comedies. Funny movies are just that much funnier with a group of people. The broader comedic bits by the cameos (Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston) are tempered by the easy humor of Jason Sedakis and the dryness of Jason Bateman (dryness that would make a soda cracker seem juicy).

The Last Station
Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren show the kids how it's done by portraying Leo Tolstoy and his wife. In the last years Tolstoy apparently encouraged a new philosophy and approach to spirituality. His writings beget an organized movement of Tolstoyians. One of the main goals of the movement was to convince Tolstoy to deed his writings to the public domain. His wife fears such a thing, thus the main conflict that drives the action. Actually more interesting than it sounds.

Breaking Bad Season 4
What shenanigans are Jesse and Walt up to now? Cooking, killin' and conniving, that's what.

Nurse Jackie season 03
Oh Jackie. You break hearts and you're the world's greatest liar… even to yourself.

X-Men: First Class
This was a better addition to the franchise than Wolverine and somehow manages to have its cake and eat it too. The movie is at times kitsch and other times reverent and introspective. Much of the success is due to the well assembled cast of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 2
HP7, as it was written on the marquee. HP7? HP? Like the sauce or the computer company? Plus, wasn't it really 7.2? Whatever. It concludes the series of books and films that a generation have grown up consuming. All's well that ends well, I suppose. And it does end satisfyingly (I hope George Lucas took notes). I had re-watched the previous two films just to be up on the twisting logic of the plot but that wasn't the real effect, which was more to emotionally re-connect with the hero-trio of Hermione, Ron and of course, Harry. If you're engaged in the story, like any good yarn, you care about their fates. Otherwise, it's all just a bit of movie magic rather than the Hogwarts variety. By the way, I only just now realized the joke of Hermione carrying a bottomless purse.

Captain America
Another summer fantasy blockbuster. I promise I'll see a "serious" film soon. Some critics have complained that this origin-story movie is just a set-up for a bigger movie, The Avengers but I always thought Captain America's back story WAS his only story of interest. Others have noted the film's wash of old time movie matinee sepia can't hide its unsavory racial-superiority-through-mad-scientist-genetics. Yet, the villainy of racist Nazis pales next to the jingoism of the stars and stripes forever. Despite mocking the over-the-top patriotism of liberty Bonds, the movie cuts much more insidiously by mixing those ingredients with sentimentality and nostalgia. In general though this movie wears its heart on its sleeve and has as much fun as a, no doubt huge, budget will allow. Hugo Weaving gives another standout performance as the baddie, delivering a great Werner Herzog impression. Tommy Lee Jones has many of the best lines in a role that he's done many times and owns solely. Chris Evans does well as "Cap" using his impressive pecs for maximum hunkiness but also making Steve Rogers' grating earnestness believable & honest. That's what I always hated about Captain America; that earnest righteousness. The story is supposed to be the triumph of the good man given the right tools but he just seems to prove that nice guys finish last unless they have a square jaw a rockin' hairless bod!

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