Sunday, October 18, 2009

Middle-Aged Movie Maven


I go to the movies. A lot. It’s one of the forms of creativity (and therapy!) I most enjoy.

And I’m convinced no one sets out to make a bad movie. They just happen.

They’re there at the multiplex, and I’ve sat through more than my fair share of them. So you might as well benefit from my inability to resist the cinema.

Here, hits and (mostly) misses on the fall schedule:
1. Capitalism: A Love Story. Not Michael Moore’s best. I’m a liberal and I found this movie tiresome. As always, he makes some good points, but we’ve been so inundated with the financial mess that it’s old news. He’s uncovered some great footage of FDR speaking to the nation and some shocking standard practices—like major companies that take out life insurance policies on their employees and cash in when people die. But for the first time, I questioned some of Moore’s facts and his stunts. It was a little dull, to tell you the truth.

2. Couples Resort. HORRIBLE. I thought this was a comedy, but it’s just NOT FUNNY. Never see a Vince Vaughn movie again. He has as bad taste in movies as Jennifer Aniston. Yes, he was funny in Wedding Crashers and Swingers, but he seems to have lost his mojo. This movie isn’t a comedy; it’s more like a Lifetime movie with a couple of laughs. (And yet it’s number 1 at the box office. Go figure.)

3. The Invention of Lying. Sorry, I just don’t find Ricky Gervais’s deadpan humor funny. This movie is interesting and Jennifer Garner is adorable. I even like Gervais’s character. I just didn’t like the movie.

4. The Informant. Matt Damon is awesome as a chunky corporate spy, but the movie slogs along at a snail’s pace. Another wasted opportunity. It looks like a comedy from the previews, and yet…

5. All About Steve. The cast almost makes this movie: Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, and Thomas Haden-Church are good actors and play well together. The plot is just too preposterous, though, and the characters too broadly drawn (Bullock plays an intellectual misfit with a penchant for loud outfits). And what starts out as a wacky comedy turns serious halfway through. But see The Proposal with Bullock and Ryan Reynolds instead (a real romantic comedy, just out on DVD) and The Hangover with Bradley Cooper (very raunchy but TRULY hilarious, especially the picture show at the end!).

6. Extract. Ugh, why are they giving Jason Bateman such terrible parts? He can be so adorable, so funny. But not here. He just whines a lot (he plays a similar role in Couples Resort). This one-note comedy even wastes Saturday Night Live’s Kristin Wig as Bateman’s wife.

But all is not lost. I actually have liked a few movies lately…
1. 500 Days of Summer. Quirky, clever and unexpectedly charming.
2. Julie and Julia. As you may have heard, the Julie portions of the movie are throwaways we could have done without, but Meryl Streep’s Julia is priceless. Not to be missed, along with Stanley Tucci as her husband and Jane Lynch as her gangly sister.
3. District 9. A sci-fi movie (about aliens living on earth) with a message.

As always, too, I’m hopeful the holidays will bring some better movies! I'll keep you posted.
Photo copyright of Melinda Nagy/Dreamstime.com

13 comments:

Alexandra Grabbe said...

Thanks for this rundown of flics to avoid. We do not get to the movies as often as I'd like. Last month, when we were in the city, we saw an unusual Japanese film, Hirokazu Koreeda's Still Walking, about a dysfunctional family's reunion. I do not know why American directors cannot get the same sensitivity into their movies ... Oh, yes I do. They pitch them to teenagers. What a shame!

marthaandme said...

We saw the Informant and Julie and Julia and agree with you. This is why we don't go to the movies very often. I'd rather get it on Netflix and not be mad I spent so much money on something so stupid.

ruth pennebaker said...

Alexandra's right about Still Walking, which was lovely. Loved Julie and Julia, too. I also liked Bright Star and September Issue. Just can't bring myself to watch Michael Moore on the big screen any longer; his self-righteousness is tiring.

Sheryl Kraft said...

Thanks for this rundown, Nancy. You'll save me a lot of time and bother. Actually, I haven't been to the movies in ages since nothing appeals much to me. I AM looking forward to the Amelia Earhart movie starring Hillary Swank, which I think opens this week. I also recently read a review of a movie called An Education, which sounds very good. (Hey, anyone wanna go?)

Frugal Kiwi said...

Wow, that is a lot of flicks. We loved District 9 and recently saw In The Loop. In The Loop was hilarious, especially for a film about politics, but not for people who are offended by extremely colourful swearing.

I'm currently looking forward to The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame from the best selling novel by Alice Sebold, also Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Deppp and Under the Mountain a movie version of the classic New Zealand children's book starring Sam Neill.

debbie koenig said...

Wow, you do get to the movies a lot! We go so infrequently that making a selection becomes kinda stressful--if we pick something that we ultimately don't like, we're doubly disappointed since it'll be so long before we go again. (I know, you and all your readers are dying to hear about my life.) Anyway, my point is: Thanks! You'll help me make a good choice, should we get a chance anytime soon.

Susan Johnston said...

I LOVED 500 Days of Summer and Julie & Julia! Also saw Invention of Lying and while I didn't love it, I enjoyed it. Thanks for the warnings about the others.

Jennifer Margulis said...

I'll avoid these. We're pretty much not seeing many movies anyway these days ... too expensive. But it's good to know especially what we shouldn't bother seeing...

ReadyMom said...

Good to know I'm not missing anything. I haven't seen any previews lately that tempt me at all to shell out $10 for a showing. I would like to see Bright Star about John Keats, but for that I can wait until the video comes out.

Alisa Bowman said...

Thanks for this run down. I don't get out to the movies often, so it's nice to know which ones I shouldn't waste my time with.

Nancy Monson said...

You posters are awesome! Glad I could help by giving my two cents.

I'm looking forward to The Lovely Bones, too. The book was amazing. I want to see Bright Star, and An Education has gotten top marks--which often means nothing. I often disagree with the critics. In fact, I don't read reviews anymore until after I've seen a movie because critics tend to reveal too much and spoil the plot for me.

Since this post was a hit, I'll do again in a couple of months!

Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

I so appreciate the tips! Where are all the good character-driven flicks? We need more of those!

jenhaupt said...

Thanks for the round-up, Nancy! Also, I can't figure out how to email you but wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog.