Movie Diary

a) Blue Jasmine
I've seen almost every Woody Allen movie in the last 10 years (except for To Rome With Love and the one in theaters now), and will probably never boycott them or stop seeing his new ones until he finally drops dead. That's not because I'm really that big a fan or because I believe strongly in his innocence or whatever -- I just kinda feel like nobody should be able to tell me to watch his movies as long as they're available to watch, even if they suck. And that's kinda the thing, pretty much everything he's made in the past decade is terrible. This one resembles quality filmmaking more than the others, mostly by virtue of Cate Blanchett's very committed, skilled performance of Allen's very facile, wrongheaded creation. And everyone else is doing those flat, rushed line readings of all later Woody Allen movies, Alec Baldwin almost undoubtedly forced into the most lifeless performance of his career while Louis C.K. and Bobby Canavale and Andrew Dice Clay stumble through Allen's weird tonedeaf idea of working class mooks.

b) Austenland
My wife was watching this recently so I saw most of it. Cute little movie, funny performances by Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King.

c) Red 2
It feels like the baseline for movies to get sequels now is so low, like people used to have to really love a movie to justify it, now the first one just needs to turn a profit. This was one of a whole slew of recent sequels I was surprised existed and went into major theatrical release. But I liked the first Red well enough and this one was good, built on the comedic chemistry between the characters. It amuses me that between this and The Expendables, Bruce Willis has now been involved in two franchises that are basically meta action movies about people who are ostensibly too old to be action stars.

d) After Earth
This movie was always going to be a hilarious mess but I'm glad I didn't see it until after Jaden Smith became the king of Fake Deep Twitter, which makes it even funnier. His accent in this movie, I don't even know what the fuck that was. I have defended some of M. Night Shyamalan's more divisive mid-period movies, there's something I like about this style sometimes. But watching him just try to push Will Smith's weird vision for this movie through his aesthetic is torturous.

e) Django Unchained
I feel like Tarantino has always had a lot of questionable choices and uncomfortable undertones in his work, but it's mostly been transcended by the overall quality of the movies. But this movie just kinda feels like the final confluence of a lot of those elements -- the wishful thinking rewrite of history of Inglorious Basterds, the revenge movie tropes of Kill Bill, the "dead n***** storage" scene in Pulp Fiction -- into something that is a lot harder to defend or enjoy on any level.

f) Freeloaders
I saw that this was a Broken Lizard movie and checked it out thinking it would be all the Super Troopers guys, but it turns out they just produced it, and all make a cameo together in one entertaining scene. It's basically a movie about a bunch of friends of a rock star (Adam Duritz as himself) (that's right) living it up in his mansion until they can't anymore, which is not a bad premise for a silly comedy, but the execution was just so-so.

g) Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel
As a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide and the general genre of droll British sci-fi comedy, I felt obligated to give this a chance, and it wasn't bad, even if it often felt like an offbrand Edgar Wright movie with weaker visual effects. But the fun of this movie is how much they prolong really showing any of the high concept stuff going on in the time travel plot and just imply it while these guys hang out in a pub. A lot of movies like this seem to fall apart by the end but this one tied together pretty nicely and left me feeling like they got more right than not, even if it wasn't wall to wall laughs.

h) The Quiet
Weird 2005 thriller with a lot of cheap twists and a conspicuous amount of '90s indie in the soundtrack.

i) Love For Rent
Ken Marino has really become probably my favorite "The State" alumnus over the years, and after shows like "Party Down" and "Burning Love" it seemed like him starring in something was a good sign of quality. But it turns out this movie is just a totally generic unfunny romcom that he happened to be the male lead in.

j) The Godfather / The Godfather Part II / The Godfather Part III
Now that I'm well into my 30s, it's getting to the point where if I haven't seen certain famous movies it's a little weird or embarrassing, and these have probably been one of the most prominent examples. Just never got around to it, and they're all pretty long, so it also becomes an issue of blocking out enough time for them. But recently HBO had them all on demand so I managed to pack all three movies into my schedule in one week, which felt like a good way to process them all. The first one is pretty amazing just in terms of the visual language of how a lot of the scenes play out. I'm a big fan of Dog Day Afternoon so it's great to see more of Pacino and Cazale playing off of each other. I probably have to see the first two a couple more times to fully appreciate them, a lot of the time I was just constantly recognizing the various scenes and lines that have been parodied and quotes a million times in other things. The third movie didn't seem so bad initially, but there's something so awkward about all of the dialogue, there's zero subtext or subtlety, everything is spelled out to directly, that it feels like the actors can't overcome it with their performance. It really kinda helps you see all the things the other movies got right.
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Agree wholeheartedly re: Blue Jasmine. Someone needed to wrestle that script away and chop it in half, but sadly no one involved in a Woody Allen production is ever allowed to breach the ivory tower that is his writer's room. I swore Bobby Canavale said the phrase "cuz she thinks she's BETTA than us, that's why!" like 80 times.
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