1. Big Nothing
I barely had time to get my hopes up before this disappointed me. I saw that there was a movie about to come on cable starring David Schwimmer and Simon Pegg and thought, hey, I like both of those guys, I should check it out. And it started off pretty strong, particularly with Pegg, who nailed an American accent and had an initially well written character. I was going to say he plays against type here, but then I realized I've only really seen him in Shaun Of The Dead
and Hot Fuzz
, and he plays completely different characters in both of those, so maybe he really just has exceptional good range for a comedic actor. Anyway, this turned out to be one of those modern "black comedies" where everything that can possibly go wrong does, and the body count just keeps piling up along the way. It reminded me way too much of Very Bad Things
, possibly my least favorite movie of the past decade. The first ten minutes before the crazy caper is introduced are good, and the next ten minutes before things start going awry are alright, too. After that, there's a couple genuine surprises and laughs but it's mostly dire, over the top "dark" comedy where the violence itself is supposed to garner laughs. I miss the days when comedies could incorporate things like murder and mortal danger while still being light, wacky comedies that aren't all about murder. I hope The Pineapple Express
brings that back a little bit.
2. Clerks II
Although I'm far from a View Askew fanboy, I have a healthy appreciation for the poorly made but sometimes pretty enjoyable films of Kevin Smith. On the right day I'll even defend Jersey Girl
or Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
, but I admit that I've always thought Clerks
was pretty overrated, and that it has perhaps the weakest leads in a career chock full of terrible performances. So it annoys me in the first place to bring back those two boring talking heads as beloved charactes that we're supposed to really want to see a decade older and imbued with more depth. Nah, fuck that. Being in movies like this makes me feel like Rosario Dawson is just a little too
eager to cater to nerds' wank fantasies.
3. Matchstick Men
Yet another domino knocked down in my theory
that Nic Cage still makes an honestly good movie now and then, although this is definitely good on a generous Cage curve. Really, this was so close to being a solid movie (the ending, however twisty and contrived, really struck an unexpected emotional chord), but Cage's over-the-top depiction of his character's neuroses, and Ridley Scott enhancing the obnoxiousness of the performance with obnoxious editing and camera work, really made it hard to fully enjoy. I kind of feel like OCD behavior is a really interesting topic that movies and television have never been able to handle well -- it's all either reduced to a quirky tic like on "Monk" or in As Good As It Gets
, or taken to some absurd, overly serious extreme like in this movie. I still haven't totally made my mind up about Sam Rockwell, but I think I really like him, and I was about to say that he seemed to have disappear the last couple years but now he has a new movie coming out I guess. It's a shame this movie's title is plural, or it'd fit in nicely with the whole Family
pattern to half of Cage's movies the past few years.
4. 25th Hour
This was alright. I kind of hated the ending even when it turned out to be a fakeout, though.
5. Cradle Will Rock
This is a movie that I was vaguely excited about just based on the trailer and all the people I liked in the cast, but never saw it at the time, and finally got around to it just now, 8 years later. And it was pretty good, overreaching and ambitious and never quite did half of what it was trying for, but still plenty entertaining. It also kind of cracked me up how among the huge cast are at least 3 or 4 actors I primarily recognized as bit players from "Seinfeld."
Felt like a weird retread of a dozen different movies starring Matt Damon and/or Edward Norton, even if most of them were made after this one. Not bad, though, not bad at all. That new movie 21
looks like a retarded version of this.
7. Everyone Says I Love You
Another movie that I vaguely thought was a good idea at the time (I've seen and enjoyed more later Woody Allen movies than I'd like to admit) but never got around to until recently. Kinda lame! And also very depressing to see Natasha Lyonne
The first movie by, and the first I've seen by, Whit Stillman, who I guess is one of the big names of talky 90's indie film, and it was pretty much what I expected. Couple of really good scenes but felt slack overall.
9. The Front Page
I've gotten to the point where I will watch pretty much anything involving Billy Wilder and/or Jack Lemmon and/or Walter Matthau, especially all three, so when this came on TV, I automatically hunkered down to watch it (I guess that leaves me still needing to see The Fortune Cookie
and Buddy Buddy
). Based on the same play as His Girl Friday
, this is very stagey and dialogue-driven even by Wilder's standards, and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun hamming it up (although Carrol Burnett chews the scenery in a way that becomes really overbearing and tiresome).