Seven Very Quick Movie Reviews
by George Watches Things
Attention fans of violent neo-noirs, high school drama, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. What if I told you there was a mystery thriller that packed some punches, classic boyfriend/girlfriend troubles with dangerous implications, and old-school Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And why shouldn’t you want to see Brick? You might not understand what’s happening for all of the movie, but you understand the characters’ motivations and can appreciate the beautiful look Rian Johnson brings to the great story. 3.5/4.
Chronicle is a very minor entry in a long line of annoying found footage films. I kept waiting for the movie to shed the format, but it never did. I understand why critics like that the film uses it, considering the main character’s desires to chronicle his life and struggles, but it goes nowhere for me. In fact, the first two thirds of the entire movie are totally aimless. You might say, “but George… don’t you think what you call aimlessness could be a reflection of how free this [reveal movie twist here] makes him?” No. I don’t. Oh, also, the found footage format makes me physically sick while I’m sitting in the theater. 2/4.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Robin Williams has acquired a somewhat unfair reputation for being over-the-top silly. Truth is, though, he can and has handled serious roles in the past. He was truly excellent in World’s Greatest Dad. Even as Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie in which he plays a man playing a freaking woman, he shows restraint and turns in a nuanced performance. But I must say, he isn’t given enough to do in Dead Poets Society. Peter Weir (director of brilliant Fearless and brilliant-but-in-a-different-way The Truman Show) must have thought it best to place the heavy load on the shoulders of the teenage actors, and… he was right in doing so. That’s right, my problem with Dead Poets Society isn’t about the acting at all, but instead a somewhat uneven script and what I can only call a ridiculous rash decision made by a character near the end. 3/4.
The Interrupters (2012)
The Interrupters is a brave film about brave people who try to stop gang violence in Chicago. The film, at times, doesn’t really feel like a documentary. And I don’t attribute that exclusively to the dramatic content. Of course, it’s clear from its style that The Interrupters is a doc, but it retains a cinematic element despite the fact that it isn’t stationary (like, say, 2008’s Man on Wire). The final shot, a prime example of this, is beautiful, brilliant, and for some reason heart-wrenching. It isn’t very often that a documentary has this effect on me. 4/4.
Le Havre (2012)
Le Havre is one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen. It’s filled with strange, retro sets and awkward pauses which I felt bad I wasn’t filling with chuckles. But even though the pitch-black deadpan comedy didn’t work for me, the movie did not fail. Like many of the movies and TV shows I have recently enjoyed (including the appropriately-named Community), it was about a community coming together to do some good. Le Havre warmed my heart, and if you should ever need heart warmth, I suggest you seek it out. 3/4.
Mary and Max (2009)
Mary and Max is an emotionally gorgeous claymation film about two people who are having some difficulty in life. One is a mud-tinted Australian girl with autism, and the other is a gray-colored Asperger’s syndrome-suffering New Yorker. The story of their friendship really got to me, and I’m proud to proclaim this one of the best animated feature films of all-time. Unfortunately, I must now steal a line from IFC’s Portlandia to tell you that I did not like the ending: “I did not like the ending.” 3.5/4.
The Myth of the American Sleepover (2011)
This made a perfect double-feature companion to Brick, if only to show me how good Brick was. The Myth of the American Sleepover tangles together about six stories of teenagers drinking and either falling asleep in boats or trying to sleep with someone. And it’s just as successful as any other tangled plot film with a true ensemble other than Pulp Fiction. The film struggled because of two things: 1) a clear lack of stakes and 2) a clear lack of a nice main character that anyone who didn’t drink in their teens could relate to.
Now, I’m not out of my teens yet, but I have a feeling that I won’t suddenly flip the switch and start drinking and doing the marijuanas. Not only that, but no one I know acts like the people in this movie do. Not even close. It comes off as unauthentic… a word you won’t see in many reviews of the film, since I think it’s blatantly trying for authentic, and even succeeds for some people. Not that it matters, because authenticity does not a compelling movie make. You need some sort of urgency in order for a movie like this (which takes place over less than twelve hours) to work. The characters in this movie were threatened with falling off of benches when they should have been risking something at least as high as a diving board (with a dry pool underneath, it goes without saying). 2/4.