Movie Diary

1. Hotel Chevalier
I love how much the story behind this sounds like Wes Anderson scamming Natalie Portman into doing a nude scene for his own private enjoyment. I mean, he self-finances a short film, and keeps it on his laptop and barely shows it to anyone else for a year or two before connecting it to a feature film and releasing it. At least, it's funny to think about that stuff, because this in and of itself is really nothing at all (including the nudity, fwiw), usual Wes Anderson aesthetic, but a little more sadsack than usual, and with no larger context to make it the slightest bit interesting. I kinda wanna see The Darjeeling Limited, but that's not on iTunes for free like this is, so I'll probably wait until it's on DVD. This really doesn't stand on its own, though, so hopefully it makes some sense as a companion piece.

2. I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With
I'm not much of a fan of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but I've always liked Jeff Garlin, I think I can recite his "Dr. Katz" segments word for word. So my interest was piqued when I saw that this movie was available On Demand from my cable provider, although by the time I realized it wasn't free I'd clicked to exit and accidentally ordered it for a few bucks anyway, so I went ahead and watched it. It was nice and enjoyable, if suffocatingly cutesy in a way that cried out "love me!" Garlin plays a thinly veiled version of himself (albeit a more loserly out-of-work actor version of himself) and constantly makes his classy old-fashioned taste in movies and his classy old-fashioned taste in music a plot point, in almost a more shameless and cloying way than any college student-type indie movie. It also annoyed me that the score sounded like a straight hour of the "Curb" theme music. Still, again, Garlin is really likeable, and I'd totally watch a series with him in the lead if it were like this but less indulgent and more focused on the actual comedy part. This movie really gave me a craving for rice pudding, though.

3. Step Up
This was the silly dance movie from last year that was set in Baltimore (and featured homeboy Mario in a supporting role!), and was largely filmed on location at the arts school around the corner from where I work. So I kinda watched this for the scenery, and for the geographic LOLs of scenes like the one where the girl says she's gonna take the guy to a spot near Hampden, and then they're out by the fucking bay. But generally it's just really stiff and boring, even by the standards of "contemporary urban dance" movies about girls dating boys from the wrong side of the tracks or whatever.

4. Fifty Pills
I remember right after I watched Thumbsucker, which ends with Lou Taylor Pucci's character graduating high school and escaping the problems of his home life at college in New York, I turned off the DVD, and channel surfed around the movie channels, and ended up watching this directly after, which begins with a character played by Lou Taylor Pucci starting college in New York. It was just one of those really weird coincidences that I kinda went along with. That's pretty much where the common ground between these movies, ends, though. This is more of a broad, bawdy comedy, albeit a really low budget, crappy-looking one. Kristen Bell is both underused and too good for it.

5. My Super Ex-Girlfriend
My situation with this movie was pretty similiar to what happened with Stranger Than Fiction: the cast and premise looked good enough for me, but the lousy reviews and low box office lowered my expectations, so that I ended up being pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be as good as I'd originally thought it would be. I was going to praise Eddie Izzard playing a super-villain as inspired casting, until I realized that Mystery Men did the same thing 7 years earlier. He's better in this, though. I never really thought Uma Thurman was hot stuff in the 90's, but suddenly I've been really attracted to her in all the mediocre movies she's been in lately like this, The Producers and Prime. Lord help me, I actually kind of want to see Be Cool now.

6. Cars
It was kind of weird watching this right after Owen Wilson's (alleged) suicide attempt. This was enjoyable, as all Pixar movies are, but still probably represents their nadir, if for no other reason than they really didn't find a satisfactory way to make a world of talking cars that wasn't both creepy and deeply illogical.

7. John Tucker Must Die
The funniest thing about this movie is watching Ashanti play a) a high schooler and b) someone coordinated enough to be a cheerleader. But I'll watch Sophia Bush in any old crap, and this is certainly any old crap.

8. Accepted
Justin Long has always grated on me, ever since "Ed," right through Dodgeball and those Mac ads. And I'm getting pretty tired of watching him play college students and recent high school grads now that he's pushing 30. This had its moments, though, and reminded me of a cheesy 80's college movie from the concept on down, which beats more contemporary approaches to the genre.

9. Farce Of The Penguins
A bunch of nature special footage of penguins with B-list comedians doing voiceovers had the potential to be funny, especially since a lot of them are working blue, but the execution is really poor here, especially when it focuses on the main characters voiced by Bob Saget and Lewis Black. I'll forgive Lewis Black for taking a check on generic crap like Accepted where he at least gets to play himself, but the character he tries to play is really cringe-inducing, mostly because he says "bro" and other ill-fitting colloquialisms in every line.

10. Waiting
An ensemble comedy half-full of people I like (David Koechner, Luis Guzman, Chi McBride) and half-full of really annoying people (Andy Milonakis, Justin Long again, Anna Faris), but mostly pretty good. This is pretty much the only movie Dane Cook has been in so far where he's actually funny and does something with the same appeal as his stand-up, instead of playing the straight man in shitty romantic comedies. Vanessa Lengies is extraordinarily well cast as jail bait.

11. Stick It
Slightly more enjoyable than any old crap, but still kind of shoddy. But hey, Vanessa Lengies in tights.

12. Friends With Money
Featuring several actresses I generally like and would watch in almost anything, and also Jennifer Aniston. One of those really dull, calculated movies where each of the 4 principal characters represents a different type of woman/relationship in a really transparent way, and it all just kind of goes on and on and nothing happens at the end.

13. The Baxter
This is very much in keeping of the theme of this post, along with the Jeff Garlin movie and Fifty Pills, in that it's less an indie comedy (with the 'quirky' aesthetic that usually goes along with it) than a mainstream comedy with a lower budget and production values. I mean, they could shot the exact same script as a $50 million Ben Stiller or Luke Wilson vehicle and not changed anything, including the supporting cast (even the quirky indie girl is just Michelle Williams with her hair dyed brown!). But instead the lead role is played by the writer/director, one of the many annoying guys from "The State," a show I always regarded as thoroughly average 90's sketch comedy that amassed a huge fanboy following from impressionable MTV viewers who didn't know better to fixate on "The Kids In The Hall" instead. I liked the titular concept of this movie, though, and most of the best jokes were the ones tied to it, but the execution was just so predictable and not very funny. And they jack the bears/menstruation joke from Anchorman for no apparent reason.

14. Happy Endings
I remember one day channel surfing and there were like 3 different movies on cable with near-identical capsule descriptions about ensemble dramas about interlocking lives of people in L.A. or whatever. Granted, these were fairly disparate movies when you get down to it (one of them was Go and Crash might've been another), but goddamn am I sick of that whole approach to moviemaking as a whole, all the slowly revealing how one character is connected to another or having them stumble into each other in some stupid coincidence.

15. Thank You For Smoking
This reminded me very much of American Psycho, in that its whole satirical take on a morbid sobject is so flat and devoid of surprises that it doesn't even register as dark comedy, there's no weight to it. The ending is really lame, too. No wonder they're developing this into a TV series. It'd probably work better there.

16. Moog
Pretty interesting look at Robert Moog's huge contribution to modern music filmed not long before he passed away, although it's a little more straightforward doc than the cool animated intro had me prepared for. The scene of Moog standing between Rick Wakeman and Bernie Worrell while they wax about his invention alone is worth watching this for. And the scene where this Austrian woman, Pamelia Kurstin, plays the theremin in the most incredibly graceful, sensual, musical way that I could've never imagined, I'd love to see her at the High Zero Festival someday.

17. See This Movie
Seth Meyers has grown on me during his tenure at SNL, so I gave this movie a shot on the strength of him and Harold (of and Kumar fame), but wow, what a piece of crap. It's a big meta exercise about a filmmaker trying to shoot a movie on the fly during a film festival in time to premiere it at the film festival, so the whole thing's making funny of underwritten, shakey-cam indie movies that seem to be making it up as they go along, which would be OK if it didn't actually play exactly like that itself. Man oh man is Jessica Paré hot, though.

18. Shot In The Dark
Saw that this was on TV right after Anthony called it the best Inspector Clouseau movie, and while it was kind of OK, it more or less cemented for me that I don't really care for these movies.

19. Rebecca
J.G. was watching this a while back, early Hitchcock that I'd never seen, really good stuff. Hitchcock is one of those directors that one of these days I need to make a list of all the movies I haven't seen and just put 'em all on the Netflix queue.
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dude you watch a lot of movies. rebecca is great. great movie. also, it's pretty darn great.
Well, it's been like 2 months since the last time I did one of these posts, it's not like I watched all these movies last weekend.
I like how a good part of your movie reviewing M.O. is discussing how hot the actresses are...why doesn't Roger Ebert do that? :)
haha Shot In The Dark is kinda the best by default - not a big fan of Closeau series. The State was pretty hit-or-miss, but have you seen Wet Hot American Summer or The Ten? Totally, totally, totally different vibe than The Baxter, which blows.
Yeah, I haven't seen WHAS, other than in small doses that made it feel like the schtick didn't go much beyond that of the Hellogoodbye video. I should really just rent it and give it a fair shot, though.

Also, I am totally no more of a horndog film critic than Ebert is.
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