I occasionally have gigs where I have a long break between the rehearsal and event and I go catch a movie. When that happened on Sunday, I considered a few supposedly good movies I wasn't all that interested in, and instead decided to see just how bad Aloha is. I've been kind of morbidly fascinated with this movie ever since the hilarious leaked Sony e-mails about it, so it was partly just fun to find out what "The satellite makes no sense, the gate makes no sense" means. And that stuff really does not make sense, although it was pretty odd to realize that someone has made a comedy about people unwittingly working to weaponize a satellite that is not at all as good as Real Genius (the prominent placement of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" almost felt like a direct acknowledgment of that). There are so many likable actors who usually pick good projects just flailing in this movie (and also Bradley Cooper, whose only mistake is thinking he could get away with something as stupid as Silver Linings Playbook twice). Emma Stone is as charming as ever, and does as much as she can with the source material. But her playing someone half-Asian plays oddly, and in general her character suggests that Cameron Crowe learned absolutely nothing from Elizabethtown inspiring the coinage of the term "manic pixie dream girl." I actually have a soft spot for Cameron Crowe, Say Anything and Jerry Maguire are pretty charming movies that are packed with odd tangents that give them a weird livewire energy. Aloha attempts that balancing act and just fails. There are several scenes where some pretty decent banter is thrown around but weird pacing or camera angles just won't let it land. And the subplot with Rachel McAdams's daughter just kind of pissed me off and also made me wonder if Bradley Cooper's character was supposed to be a total idiot.
b) Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
I love Pulp, and I'm still beating myself up about not seeing their reunion tour (I saw them live once, when they did 3 songs at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1998, which was great but obviously not enough). So I'm glad they made a movie about it. But I feel like there could've been a great full-on concert movie about this tour, or a great full-on documentary about the band's history. And by combining a bit of both, I dunno, neither element totally satisfied it. Not bad, just could've been better.
From Peter Jackson's early movies to the very underrated Black Sheep, I've come to expect great weird horror comedy from New Zealand. This movie isn't quite up to that high standard, but it is creepy and funny and has some nice twists and gore towards the end.
I think Sleeping Beauty was the old school Disney movie I saw the least or had the least interest in growing up, so I wasn't really drawn to this movie at all. But my wife was watching it one day and I got sucked in more than I thought I would, I enjoy how they took the aesthetic of the cartoon into the live action film, and it was really one of the best Angelina Jolie performances I've seen.
e) Walk Of Shame
For all the talk of movies like Bridesmaids making the world safe for R rated comedies starring women, this movie did terribly at the box office and even worse with critics. I thought it was pretty funny, though. It was written and directed by a Sandler, and in places leans on some puerile stereotype-driven humor, but for the most part it's a showcase for Elizabeth Banks throwing herself into a lot of physical comedy really impressively. She's been funny in a lot of supporting roles, and has mostly starred in dramas, so it was nice to see her headline a comedy, even if she's better than the movie.
f) About Last Night
The original About Last Night from 1986 is a decent movie, but it kind of doesn't seem popular or enough, or unique enough in terms of plot to be worth remaking. But I have to say, I was surprised by how much they maintained the comedic sensibility of the original -- they even retained the original names of the characters while changing their race, so you end up with Kevin Hart playing 'Bernie' and Joy Bryant playing 'Debbie.' In the original movie, Jim Belushi's storyline is very much secondary to the Rob Lowe storyline, but since Kevin Hart is in the Belushi role and he's way more famous than Michael Ealy, they kind of throw off the balance of the two couples in the movie. But it's a really solid rom com, probably Kevin Hart's best film role to date, and it's just kind of interesting to see him play a character created by David Mamet with some dialogue that still retains a little of Mamet's sensibility. The screenwriter, Leslye Headland, also wrote Bachelorette, which is a really smart, underrated rom com.
I stumbled across this movie starring Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, and was amazed I'd never heard of it. Turns out it was directed by Roman Polanski, which I guess kind of explains both the impressive cast and the low commercial profile. Pretty much the entire movie is these 4 actors in an apartment, talking and arguing and vomiting words and vomiting actual vomit -- I could tell it was based on a play before I looked it up. It's not bad but it falls kind of flat, which is disappointing given the cast. It's very easy to imagine it being great onstage, especially with this cast, but the movie has a very disjointed rhythm considering that it's supposed to be one long scene unfolding in real time.
h) I'll Do Anything
I remember when this movie was released, and came and went without much notices. But years later I was fascinated to learn that it was originally filmed as a musical, with original songs written by Prince and Carole King, and then after some bad test screenings they cut all the songs out and made it a quasi-normal James L. Brooks dramedy. They at least reshot and edited it to the point where the seams aren't showing, it's not like any scene abruptly cuts off as somebody's breaking into song, but there's still this weird vibe to the whole thing. In parts it's a funny satire of show business, but it also would kinda feel like it doesn't know what movie it wants to be even if you don't know the tortured backstory. I would love to see a cut of the musical version, though, just for comparison.