Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Here's a half-hearted review of ten films I saw so long ago, I'm worried I will forget them if I don't submit my report soon:

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (2007) - This is one of the best films I've seen in years. I really enjoyed everything about it - the cast was perfect, the story was perfect, it was over when it needed to be and it made me feel good.

EASTERN PROMISES (2007) - I liked it a lot when I watched it though it has already mostly faded from my memory. I liked A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE better but this is a worthy follow-up from Cronenberg.

BREACH (2007) - This is a nifty little outing that kept my attention throughout with a good performance from Chris Cooper making up for perennial blank-slate, Ryan Phillippe. The blank routine actually works fairly well in this story so kudos to the casting department.

CLOVERFIELD (2008) - It is not terrifying but it is watchable. I like that it is more of a love story on the run than a routine monster thriller. I didn't really care for any of the characters enough to love the film but it's a fun little treat.

HORTON HEARS A WHO (2008) - Four hundred years ago, Gallileo built a telescope that enabled him to see things that could not possibly exist. Horton relives the social pressure that accompanies such a find. I enjoyed the film mostly but for the routine third act.

ENCHANTED (2007) - It started out great but by the end I was not sold. Amy Adams is incredibly winning in the lead role while Patrick Dempsey does just enough to coast as the romantic lead. I didn't love the bomabastic climax even though it probably makes sense that it ends that way, given what it was going for. I always prefer realism even in the fantasy realm.

CHARLOTTE'S WEB (2006) - This is harmless and forgettable. I nodded off a bit in the middle but still got the gist of it. It was more magical as a cartoon. This version just reminded me what a great film is BABE 2: PIG IN THE CITY.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD (2006) - It sounds interesting but fails to deliver. It is way way too long as it mostly is a drawn out character drama about a character whom we pretty much get after the first half hour. De Niro proved a much sharper director all those years ago with the great A BRONX TALE.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2007) - Another film that is too long by an hour. Have mercy on the audience already, even the title should have been trimmed by fifty percent. It did inspire me to research Jesse James as I hadn't been familiar with his backstory and circumstances surrounding his death. The backstory is absent here and the story suffers.

U.S. VS JOHN LENNON (2006) - Documentaries are always at least as interesting as the source material. This one works no magic as a film but enlightened me on 70's-era Lennon, who was really quite an intriguing character.


Tom said...

I've seen Lars most recently on your recommendation. Gosling really pulls it off. I couldn't figure out where I had seen the brother and then I remembered that he is the lead in those David Gordon Green films.

I think I like EASTERN PROMISES more than HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, but my favorite scene in both is from HISTORY where Viggo shows how to thwart a robbery.

Whatever Ryan Phillipe's wife was an example of any foreign sounding accent will work as long as we get this shot. Cooper continues his string of rightward leaning characters struggling with their contradictions.

I reviewed SHEPHERD already, but I should say again how could a movie go to the trouble of looking so good and still have the entire plot hinge on something frivolous.

I like the JESSE JAMES film more than you and it's probably because of what you said. I knew the Jesse James backstory pretty well going in having seen the classic 1939 film and having read the history pretty thoroughly when I was younger. Still, I didn't love it. either. Sam Shepherd was funny casting as Frank, way too old to be Brad Pitt's brother. But I did like the characterization.

Cloverfield is something on the cue. I saw some of Lennon on VH1.

Dude said...

Watching LARS, I couldn't place the brother either til I recalled that he was Doug Liddl in JESSE JAMES and I had liked him in that film. I liked him quite a bit also in LARS and now consider him a guy to look for. I also liked Emily Mortimer as the sister-in-law and was impressed by the writing that made those two real people rather than foils to the insanity.

Tom said...

That's right, Jesse James too. Mortimer is the daughter of John Mortimer who wrote the Rumpole books. She plays the wife in Match Point. She can't act.

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