Rocket Science, Jeffrey Blitz, 2007
I think I’ve moved on from the quirky Wes Anderson style of comedy, which this movie about a kid with a severe stuttering problem who tries out for the debate team really strives to emulate. Eh.
I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would. The cinematography was gorgeous, the suspense high, and the subject is innovatively handled (I love that the zodiac killer was portrayed by multiple actors to match the varied physical descriptions given by eyewitnesses and surviving victims). My one (very minor) qualm is that Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t appear to age a day throughout the course of the film. I mean, come on. Not a gray hair on him.
One of Hitchcock’s last films, and perhaps one of his most disturbing. This tale of a serial killer known as the “necktie murderer” (i.e. strangler) terrorizing London is chilling, suspenseful, and yet still retains a touch of the black humor Hitchcock employed in his later films.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Ridley Scott, 1982
With its atmospheric bleakness and eerie, post-apocalyptic ambiance, Blade Runner remains one of my longstanding favorite films, but I have no idea what is different about this version. I had been expecting some extra scenes, but didn’t notice anything that sets it apart from the 1992 director’s cut.
Not that I’m the most diehard Batman fan, but I’ll agree that this is the best one to date. I could take or leave Christian Bale as Batman but Heath Ledger’s Joker is far superior to Jack Nicholson’s. He’s fittingly darker, more disturbed, and more unkempt, with his smeared makeup and stringy, sickly green hair, deftly portraying his character’s madness.
The Wendell Baker Story, Andrew and Luke Wilson, 2005
What a piece of shit. Sorry, Luke Wilson.
What We Do Is Secret, Rodger Grossman, 2007
This biopic of the Germs’ Darby Crash is more or less an adaptation of Lexicon Devil (though not actually intended as such), which is a bit troubling since that book features various contradictory statements. This is very much the nature of oral histories, so they really must be taken with a grain of salt, not interpreted as gospel truth (and it also seems to indicate that the person writing this screenplay didn’t know very much about the subject if he had to copy it almost entirely from a book—and I don’t care if Michelle Baer shares a “writing credit”). Even if the film were factually correct (and it isn’t, as some key figures are glaringly absent), it fails to capture the feeling, the essence of punk, and certainly does nothing to develop Crash's character and delve into his psyche (other than the alleged "five-year plan" at the heart of the film, which I can't help but feel is total bullshit, or at least grossly exaggerated).
The Bad News Bears, Michael Ritchie, 1976
A “family film” like this could never be created today (the sorry excuse for a remake of this movie is proof). This scrappy gang of kids swears, the coach drinks too much, and it doesn’t close on some clichéd happy note—perfection.
Wait Until Dark, Terence Young, 1967
Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman whose husband unwittingly comes into possession of a doll containing a bag of heroin. In an attempt to get it back, three thugs stage a ridiculously elaborate plot in which they play a police officer, her husband’s old buddy, and so on, moving in and out of her senselessly unlocked apartment. Hepburn’s character is infuriatingly helpless, even though she’s meant to be a strong character who’s become increasingly independent despite her going blind, and she continues to make all the wrong moves—for the love of God, why doesn’t just lock her front door? Oh yeah, because then the movie would be over.
What’s New Pussycat, Clive Donner and Richard Talmadge, 1967
Woody Allen’s first cinematic writing credit is a perfect example of the type of comedy that seems to have been so popular in the 60s but feels very dated now—zany, madcap, silly, etc, are all words that come to mind. I much prefer Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther over this one, but it's not all bad.
The Simpsons Movie, David Silverman, 2007
As one might expect, this feels like an especially lengthy version of a not especially great episode of the show. Seems a bit pointless, other than to make some money.