Friday, July 29, 2011

george michael - cowboys and angels

Are my wife and I the only ones who have sometimes accidentally called the Cowboys & Aliens movie Cowboys & Angels because of the George Michael song? It's a great tune off Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 -- you know, the album that supposedly ruined his career because he wanted to be taken seriously. Twenty-one years later that still drives me nuts: It's really a great record. Anyway, that's for another time. Enjoy "Cowboys and Angels."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

'the smurfs' review

I really liked the Smurfs as a kid. My hometown barber had little plastic Smurfs all over his shop. (I'm not sure why he collected them. Maybe to give little kids something to play with?) So I was dreading the feature-length Smurfs movie, especially when the trailers looked horrible. Now that I've seen the movie ... well, it's not a good film, but it's better than I was expecting. That's not the same thing as a recommendation, though, which hopefully my Screen International review makes clear.

'the interrupters' review

If you asked me to name the best movie of the last 20 years, I'd probably go with Hoop Dreams, the documentary by director Steve James about Chicago high school basketball. His latest film, The Interrupters, isn't a landmark, but it's quite affecting. It looks at an organization that tries to curb violence on Chicago's most dangerous streets. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

'cowboys & aliens' review

Cowboys & Aliens has such a fun hook -- it's right there in the title -- that it's a shame the movie isn't more fun than it is. I sigh and deliver the bad news in my Yahoo review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

'the guard' review

The Guard is the feature debut of writer-director John Michael McDonagh, who has concocted a minor charmer that's a comedy, a thriller, and a bit of a Western as well. Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are both a lot of fun, and while the movie may not add up to much, it's an enjoyable little treat. My full review is up at Yahoo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

'the future' review

Miranda July's new film, The Future, is a nice improvement on her debut, the overly cutesy Me and You and Everyone We Know, which everyone else loved. This one has real weight to it, touching on the fear of romantic commitment in a way few recent films have. I reviewed it for Yahoo.

'life in a day' review

Life in a Day has a clever, gimmicky concept: Director Kevin Macdonald asked people around the world to film their lives on July 24, 2010. The resulting film, however, is nicely affecting, with its individual moments not as great as the whole. I review the documentary for Yahoo.

Friday, July 22, 2011

talking heads - this must be the place (naive melody)

A couple incidents conspired to make this my Friday Video this week. First, I caught (for the first time) Stop Making Sense on the big screen over the Fourth of July weekend. Mind-blowing ... and just as much of a masterpiece as I had heard. Then, "This Must Be the Place" was featured in a film I saw recently that will be coming out next week. So, really, I've just had Talking Heads on the brain of late.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

'captain america: the first avenger' review

Captain America is a defiantly square, old-fashioned action movie. Others have compared it to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I see it as another variation of The Rocketeer, which was also directed by Joe Johnston. Too bad that earnest spirit isn't enough. My review is up at Screen International.

'crazy, stupid, love' review

Steve Carell is the star and one of the producers of Crazy, Stupid, Love., a disappointingly sitcom-y adult romantic drama. The other trades were pretty kind to it, but I take the film to task over at Screen International.

'friends with benefits' review

I enjoyed Easy A, so I had hopes for director Will Gluck's next film, Friends With Benefits, with Mila Kunis and hey-didn't-you-used-to-be-a-musician? Justin Timberlake. Now that I've seen it, I can say authoritatively it's the best sex-without-attachments movie of the year. But, then again, I hated No Strings Attached. And, to be honest, I was let down by Friends With Benefits as well. I talk about all that over at Yahoo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

'another earth' review

The Sundance hit Another Earth opens on Friday. It's a mess of a movie ... and yet it still works. Barely. I explain why over at Yahoo.

'the myth of the american sleepover' review

The Myth of the American Sleepover, the debut of writer-director David Robert Mitchell, is a special, understated coming-of-age film. It's familiar and, yet, it's very candid and well-observed. I dig in to the movie over at Yahoo.

Friday, July 15, 2011

the verve - sonnet

Because I find it pretty and comforting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

'tabloid' review

Errol Morris returns with his latest documentary, Tabloid. I think it's one of his best in recent years. I explain why over at Yahoo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'harry potter and the deathly hallows - part 2' review

Well, that's it. No more Harry Potter movies ever. I'm not entirely sad about that since I've only really loved two installments of the series, Prisoner of Azkaban and Deathly Hallows - Part 1. How does the new one stack up? I give it some consideration over at Yahoo.

'the undefeated' review

Last month, I wrote about my genuine interest in The Undefeated, the pro-Sarah Palin documentary that comes out this weekend in select theaters. There's a great film to be made about the divisive political figure, but this is not that film. I explain why over at Yahoo.

Friday, July 08, 2011

faith no more - midnight cowboy

I was thinking about "Easy," the Commodores' song that's featured in Zookeeper. And I was thinking, "Hey, Faith No More did a cover of that." And then I thought, "But it wasn't quite as great as their cover of the theme to Midnight Cowboy."

And, presto, a Friday Video was born.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

'project nim' review

Folks, I thought Project Nim was quite impressive. Director James Marsh has topped his estimable Man on Wire with this new documentary, which traces the history of a 1970s experiment to teach sign language to a baby chimp. My review is up at Yahoo.

'zookeeper' review

I like Kevin James. Really, I do. I thought he was really fun in Hitch, which made me hopeful he could transition from TV to film smoothly. Instead, we get Paul Blart: Mall Cop and, now, Zookeeper, which, honestly, may be even worse. I detail the movie's many, many problems over at Screen International.

(Update: Should you doubt my sincerity about liking James, check out what I said about Paul Blart at the time. See? I really do like the guy.)

'a little help' review

Jenna Fischer of The Office stretches her acting muscles a bit with A Little Help, a comedy-drama indie about a young wife and mother whose life gets upended when her husband dies unexpectedly. The movie has a lot of genuine feeling but pretty wobbly dramatic instincts. I reviewed the film for Screen International here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

'Rapt' Review

I first saw Rapt last spring as part of COLCOA. I thought it was pretty great then, and I still think it's pretty great now. My review is up at Yahoo.

Friday, July 01, 2011

cee lo green - bright lights bigger city

Have a great Fourth everyone. I picked this song specifically because of how nicely it's used in a movie that comes out this weekend. (Hint: It's not Larry Crowne or Transformers: Dark of the Moon.) Be safe out there, folks.