Swingers has maybe not aged terribly well but I think remains a pretty charming movie, and I've always kind of admired Jon Favreau, an unremarkable actor by any standard, for writing the best possible starring vehicle he could or would ever have and putting himself on track to eventually directing big budget movies like Iron Man and Elf. But after he decided to scale down and make a relatively small, personal movie with a lot of his super famous friends in it, I dunno, somehow he ended up with something nice and watchable but actually bland compared to his blockbusters. I mean, it's a comedy that takes 2 hours to tell a story that could be summarized in one sentence and doesn't really get any real laughs along the way.
b) Trust Me
Another actor getting behind the camera, Clark Gregg, who I've always liked in various movies and shows. This movie started out as an amiable show business satire, like a slightly more earnest and less mookish look at the same world depicted in "Entourage." But at some point it gets in some decent plot twists and starts too seem a little deeper, and then blows it with an incredibly saccharine, overdone ending.
c) Are You Here
I started watching this goofy, unambitious Owen Wilson/Zach Galifianakis buddy comedy before I realized that it was the debut feature from "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, which surprised me. By the time the movie ended I kinda saw it, but it's still a pretty minor thing that gets laughs out of letting Owen Wilson do his best Dignan-style smooth talking oddball and then kinda goes off the rails whenever it tries to say anything serious about family or relationships or mental illness.
d) I Am Divine
There are at least like 3 documentaries about Divine and/or John Waters and this is just the most recent and the only one I've seen. It's pretty great, though, those guys are basically folk heroes in Baltimore and I enjoy hearing stories about their early days about as much as the movies themselves. I didn't realize just how soon after Hairspray was released that Divine died, really such a sad story.
e) Inside Llewyn Davis
I like to think about how many O Brother soundtrack dollar signs people had their eyes when the Coens told people they wanted to make another movie about folk music, and then delivered this. These guys are unimpeachable geniuses to me, so I give anything they do the benefit of the doubt, but this felt a bit like A Serious Man in that there was probably some level it was operating on that I just didn't understand. I liked the parts that were just kind of a bumbling comedy about a failed musician, though.
Man I just hated this. Doing a near-future sci-fi movie about smartphone apps and artificial intelligence and the changing nature romantic relationships is definitely difficult territory, and I respect that Spike Jonze didn't take the easy cynical dystopia way out. But after a while it just kinda felt like an Apple commercial and I felt depressed by the way the movie even when it wasn't nudging you towards identifying with Joaquin Phoenix's moronic ridiculous character's point of view. It seemed like they tried hard to make it all plausible and not that far removed from the present day but so many things ran false about the way people talked and felt and reacted to things.
g) Side Effects
I somewhat expected this to be Steven Soderbergh's companion piece to Contagion, playing out a real life public health issue to its logical extreme. It turned out to be something else entirely, just taking a basic ripped-from-the-headlines premise and then building a whole intricate plot on top of it, although it still ended up somehow making everything about Jude Law just like Contagion did. There were a few really brilliant scenes and twists that I didn't see coming, and Rooney Mara's performance really walks an interesting tightrope, but I dunno somehow it didn't dazzle me like I wanted it to.