Thursday, July 20, 2006

Four-sentence movie reviews!

You, Me, & Dupree: It's amazing what you'll do when the temperature's in the mid-90s, the humidity is 100%, and your house doesn't have air conditioning. I watched Owen Wilson closely in this movie (which was way too long for a comedy of this sort), and it wasn't just his character that looked tired; it was his performance. I could see it in his eyes: Even he knew he was mailing it in for a paycheck. I should've spent my time more constructively, and looked closely at Kate Hudson, who's flat-out adorable.

Thank You For Smoking: If you like your comedy black - black as a smoker's lungs - you will love this. Aaron Eckhart's Nick Naylor is one of the all-time classic smooth-talking slimeballs (it's fun what an actor can do with a part he's fully engaged with), and he knows it. Does he experience the moral awakening that characters like this typically undergo? Well, maybe - but it's not what you'd expect, because the story's too concerned with skewering political correctness, public relations, "thinking about the children," and legislative bullshit.

An Inconvenient Truth: Wouldn't this be a great double feature with Thank You For Smoking? I like Al Gore, and voted for him, but I made sure to buy popcorn and candy for this, because I thought I was in store for the type of lecture and presentation I usually try to avoid. Yet the information (and Gore's story, which is interlaced throughout) was compelling (and sobering) enough to keep me riveted. Man, I thought about this movie a lot, wondering what I can do to help the environment, while keeping my car running in idle (for the air conditioning!) and tossing my candy and popcorn containers out of the window (because I hate junk in my car).

A Scanner Darkly: I'm not sure there's a more interesting American filmmaker working right now than Richard Linklater. His next film is a dramatization of Fast Food Nation, and before that, he remade The Bad News Bears (along with one of my favorite movies, Before Sunset). This time he's doing science fiction, albeit his way, with lots and lots of dialogue between people, and those characters trying to make sense of the world around them, along with facing the consequences of shirking responsibility and living for one's self. And with the help of a great cast (including an amazing Robert Downey, Jr.) and some hypnotically beautiful rotoscope animation (it just looks soooooo cool) that adds to the whole mind-trip feel of the story, he pulls it off wonderfully.

The Devil Wears Prada: I thought this would be another one I could attribute to seeking some air-conditioned shelter on a hot summer day. I'm not sure if it was due to Meryl Streep's fearsome performance, Stanley Tucci as a mentor we could all only hope to have at a job from hell, Emily Blunt's tartfully snotty supervisor/co-worker, or just that I like staring at Anne Hathaway (who, as much as she tries, just cannot pull off frumpy), but I had a great time with this. It was like watching another world I'll never visit, and I was grateful for the peek. There are a couple of lines in the script that imply Hathaway is supposed to be "fat," and since she's so clearly not, it would've been interesting to explore that ugly side of the fashion industry and its influence on the culture, but best not to get sidetracked sending a message, I suppose.

Superman Returns: Just kidding... sort of. Yet after seeing it twice, and mulling it over for the past two weeks, there's just something about this film that gives me an itch I can't scratch because it should've worked. Why wasn't this the instant classic I hoped for and (unfairly?) expected to love? I suppose it's not a good thing when you look back at a film and wonder how each of its flaws could've been fixed, but it's the type of scenario the writer in me loves to explore.