Director: Seth Gordon
Writer: Michael Markowitz
Cast: Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis
Summary: A group of friends are fed up with their bosses and decide it’s time to put an end to their misery by killing them.
Review: I feel like most comedies released these days are really just average, sometimes funny, slightly entertaining, high budget, star filled movies. This is one of those movies. There are some points where this film is hilarious, but there are also some moments that just dragged on and could not get a laugh. The story is simple, three people get sick of their bosses so they decide they should kill them. Clearly, seeing as it is a comedy, things do not go as planned and hilarity ensues. The writing is really generic, the jokes are sometimes forced, but there are some good moments and some solid jokes mixed in. The movie ends somewhat abruptly, but the conclusion for all the characters is pretty satisfying. In the end this is just like most comedies being released recently, so it is up to the individual to determine if this one is worth watching.
Director: Dan Eckman
Writers: D.C. Pierson, Donald Glover, Dominic Dierkes
Cast: D.C. Pierson, Donald Glover, Dominic Dierkes
Summary: Three friends who are seniors in high school, the boy genius (D.C. Pierson), the muscle (Dominic Dierkes), and the master of disguise (Donald Glover) take on their first legitimate mystery, a double homicide.
Review: Before you watch the movie you should sit down and think that this is the director’s first movie ever. This is the writers’ first movie ever. This is even all three primary actors first movie ever. The movie has made less than $100,000, because of a limited release but it is by no means because this is a bad movie. This movie seems to have had a really low-budget but it is still extremely funny, and at some points even heartwarming as we watch the transformation of three boys into three still-probably-boys-but-a-bit-closer-to-men. I had already seen this movie once, but I saw it was on Netflix Instant Watch so I figured it would be worth another watch. It certainly was. This movie makes me laugh, and not just on the inside, sometimes hearty chuckles. There are some lines that nearly made me cry. On the other hand, there are some misses and the story and some of the acting by the secondary characters is kind of weak. The jokes that hit make the movie worth the time, and all three writers have a great future ahead of them in comedy. And the movie was filmed in Manchester, NH and it is hard not to appreciate the fact that something cool finally happened in New Hampshire.
Director: Jonas Pate
Writer: Thomas Moffett
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Mark Webber, and Keke Palmer
Summary: LA’s psychiatrist for the stars, Henry Carter (Kevin Spacey) turns into a pothead and goes down a destructive path after his wife commits suicide.
Review: Kevin Spacey just plays a tremendous downtrodden man who seemingly has nothing left to live for. I’m not sure if he is just like that in real life, or he can just channel something, but he is perfectly suited for that role. The movie tries to depict how people respond differently to depression, the death of a loved one, career pressure, etc. It actually does a pretty good job of it, depressed people for some reason sometimes just make for better movies than happy people. Everyone loves to see a character transformation and a meteoric rise from grief to happiness. This movie has many, many character transformations including one for Henry (Kevin Spacey), his friend Jeremy (Mark Webber), and several of his famous clients (one of whom is Robin Williams in an uncharacteristically small role). Most of the acting ranges from average to pretty good, and the script isn’t fantastic or particularly unique, but it is entertaining and is a solid first effort by Thomas Moffett.
Writer/Director George Ratliff’s film, Salvation Boulevard, is set to come out later this week, and looks a bit like a funnier version of Pineapple Express with a better cast. Greg Kinnear stars as Carl, a born again Christian, who is on the run from members of a mega-church who are trying to protect their pastor (Pierce Brosnan).
Director/Writer: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning
Summary: One night while filming an amateur movie at the train tracks, a group of friends witness a horrific train crash and they start to look into mysterious events that start occurring around their town.
Review: E.T. + The Goonies + a little extra excitement + cool special effects = Super 8. Simple formula, but terrific film. Super 8 is a great summer blockbuster, filled with graphic explosions, great suspense, and some pretty decent acting by a cast dominated by children. Super 8 does not try very hard to be a complex story, it makes itself pretty clear what the story is about and it is usually pretty obvious what is going to happen. Child stars can sometimes be pretty annoying, but these kids show off their acting skills in this movie. Elle Fanning looks like a superstar in the making, and after this performance could already be on track to out do her older sister. Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard are really the only adults of any importance in the film, and both of them do a fine job as troubled, single fathers. Some of the scenes are a bit drawn out and ridiculous, particularly the train crash, but for the most part the movie is an enjoyable thrill ride and a great summer movie.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writers: Michael Winterbottom, Laurence Coriat
Cast: Colin Firth, Willa Holland, Catherine Keener, Perla Haney-Jardine
Summary: A professor (Colin Firth) moves with his two daughters to Italy after the death of their mother to get their life back on track. The youngest daughter starts to see the ghost of her mother, and the eldest explores her sexuality.
Review: There is nothing particularly good about this movie, but there is nothing bad either. It is an extremely average dramatic romance movie. One positive would have to be the performances by Colin Firth and Catherine Keener, both of whom are Hollywood veterans and extremely good actors. A negative would be Perla Haney-Jardine’s performance as the youngest daughter, Mary. It might be by fault of the writer, or Perla herself, but either way Mary was one of the most annoying child characters I have seen in a long time. Everything she does is annoying, and she gets herself into so much trouble it is actually ridiculous. Willa Holland plays the eldest daughter, Kelly, who is brimming with sass and teenage angst. She blames her sister for the death of her mother (probably rightfully so), but in general just goes through the movie with a generic bitchy, teenage girl attitude. She is quite attractive though, despite being extremely thin. Story wise it is mostly just a normal romance movie with the added benefit of the drama of the dead mother. Genoa is a beautiful city, and it is a gorgeous backdrop for the film.
Director/Writer: Miranda July
Cast: John Hawkes, Miranda July
Summary: Richard (John Hawkes) is a shoe salesman who has separated from his wife, and Christine (Miranda July) drives an ‘Elder Cab’ and is an aspiring artist. Together they find that love isn’t as easy as it seems.
Review: I watched this movie right after I saw Winter’s Bone, because I wanted to see more of John Hawkes. He is not as tremendous in this as he is in Winter’s Bone. Not even really close. In this he is Richard, a sad middle aged man with two young boys who need the guidance of their father. Instead, he seems to be just as ignorant and youthful as they are, at one point even lighting his hand on fire just to get their attention. Miranda July plays the awkward, lonely Christine who spends her time driving around the elderly and making art. Together they form one of the strangest movie relationships I have ever seen. There seem to be a couple of examples of pedophilia in this movie as well, which was extremely awkward and hard to sit through. Most of the characters make many questionable choices, and some of the plot is just entirely baffling. In the end the audience gets the expected result and it seems to be a happily ever after, but it’s the journey to happily ever after that left me confused and cringing.
Director: Joel Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Summary: Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), also known as “The Dude,” is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name and seeks compensation for his damaged rug with the help of his bowling team.
Review: Never have I had as much fun watching a movie with a nonsensical plot that doesn’t really go anywhere. The movie ends basically the same as it began, with the audience learning little of the characters in the movie or of the events that transpired. However, the movie is fun and extremely entertaining. I’m not sure how the Coen brothers made that happen. One part of their genius is the creation of “The Dude,” one of the most nonchalant protagonists I have ever seen. Jeff Bridges is fantastic as a guy who skates by in life without a care in the world, well except for the well-being of his rug. John Goodman provides even more laughs as Walter, a Vietnam veteran who can’t seem to get over his days in the jungle. The story is absurd and sometimes hard to follow, but the characters are all funny and well-defined. The Coen brothers once again show they can make a truly entertaining film without having a legitimate third act.
Director/Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Summary: A small business owner (Adam Sandler) with seven sisters who constantly harass him finds love when a harmonium and new woman enter his life.
Review: Paul Thomas Anderson is so good that he can make me like Adam Sandler. That in itself is extremely impressive. Adam Sandler’s character, Barry Egan, is sad, lonely, and angry and no matter what he does in the movie you can always sympathize with the poor guy. His life is sad and he spends it mostly alone except for his employees at his company and his seven sisters who make his life a living hell. There is one exchange between Barry and his sister’s husband that is just terrific, and just shows how great P.T. is at writing dialogue. Emily Watson was an interesting choice as a female lead but she does a good job as Barry’s love interest, Lena. My favorite secondary character is easily Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s small role as the Mattress King. The story flows nicely, and the movie keeps you interested the entire time. The only flaws I noticed were the color transitions and the musical interludes. I know some people were a big fan of those, but I did not see the purpose of those in the movie. Besides that the movie is incredible, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, J.R.R Tolkien (book)
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
Summary: A young hobbit named Frodo (Elijah Wood) is given an ancient, evil ring and he must travel far from his home to destroy it.
Review: I just want to start by saying I know this movie has a huge following and millions of dedicated fans, but I just did not see it. This movie is so unbearably long, which long can sometimes be fine, but this movie did not keep me entertained for three hours. I had to pause it multiple times to do something else to make sure I wouldn’t fall asleep. The movie could easily be condensed into a more manageable 90-120 minutes. That way there would seem to be far more action, it would erase all the unnecessary dialogue, and maybe it would keep some of the viewers entertained for the entire film. That being said the acting is very eh. The film is packed with fantastic actors and actresses who don’t have an opportunity to shine because of boring dialogue, a general lacking of any emotion throughout the film, and a director who apparently did not push them to be their best. The story is a unique, enthralling fantasy which creates world and languages never seen before, but it did not translate in the movie. Some parts were cool, some parts looked nice, but mostly it was just a long, boring mess of a movie.