Burn After Reading

Let me say right up front that I’ve never been able to properly digest a Coen Brothers movie after just one viewing. So anything I say about this one is probably just half of what I’ll think about it once I know it a little better. And I definitely look forward to knowing it better, so that says something right there.

Following their biggest commercial and critical success, the multiple Oscar-winning, violently bleak No Country For Old Men, the Coens have returned to another of their strengths, screwball comedy. But what struck me most about Burn After Reading is that it is as pessimistic about humanity — if not more so — than No Country.

(Minor spoilers follow, so read at your own risk)

Continue reading

Tropic Thunder

Date: August 23, 2008
Location: AMC Sunset Place

Is there any actor out there on a better roll than Robert Downey Jr.? In the past three years he’s turned in extraordinary comedic (and dramatic) performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac and Iron Man — four completely different films all made even more special through his presence. He brings an electricity to his roles that I don’t see matched by many actors working today.

Now, add Tropic Thunder to the list of Downey’s triumphs. As Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who has his skin darkened to play a Black soldier in a Vietnam war film, Downey delivers gut-busting laughs while impressing with his chameleonic ability. If he’s passed up for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, it’ll be a crime.

Continue reading

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Date: August 4, 2008
Location: Regal Sawgrass

Now this was a pleasant surprise!

Took the day off to spend some time with the kids before school starts back up and after some pool time and Ikea time (ok, that was more for Alex and me than for the kids) Sophia and I went to see Kit Kittredge.

I don’t know anything about these American Girl dolls or books. We saw a store once in Chicago and it sort of creeped me out to see all these girls dressed just like the dolls they were carrying. I figured it was some sort of Stepford situation.

But if they’re all like this movie, sign me up. It’s delightful, sweet, poignant and clever with a mystery plotline that kept me guessing throughout. It has a cornball appeal and girl-power message that totally won me over.

Continue reading

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Date: July 25
Location: Muvico Boynton Beach

I have no idea why any studio greenlit or released this movie, and I say that as a die-hard X-Files fan. We’re talking about a show that went off the air six years ago and probably should have gone off the air a couple years before that. Who on earth did they think was the audience for this movie? My wife and me and about 25 other people, based on box office returns.

But setting aside the mystery of its very existence, how is the movie itself?

Continue reading

The Dark Knight

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Those words are spoken by Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), one of the few people in Gotham who know that the billionaire playboy is actually the vigilante hero Batman. He is explaining, by saying there essentially is no explanation, why the villainous Joker continues to defy their expectations. The Joker has plenty of dastardly schemes, but no grand plan. He is a master of chaos, but nothing holds mastery over him.

The Dark Knight, director/co-writer Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to Batman Begins is, without question, the best superhero film I’ve ever seen. But I feel like that is faint praise. This is the first “summer blockbuster” since Jaws, maybe, that is truly a film first and foremost. Yes, it is breaking box office records, and it will sell tons of popcorn and action figures, but as an artistic achievement it belongs on the same playing field as the best films this year has to offer.

Continue reading