If you have at least a slight interest in the blues and rock-and-roll, which I do, this movie is a delight. It skillfully avoids the usual trap of high spirits at the beginning leading to a sorrowful drug-filled ending. Along the way, the impersonations of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James and others are absolutely wonderful.
Captain America: The First Avenger
An old-fashioned comic-book style movie based on an old-fashioned comic book, this—in Jack's and my opinion—far outshines the others in its genre: Pirates, Transformers, Green Lantern, Thor (did I forget any of these forgettable flicks?).
Viggo Mortensen is great in this very quirky story about a widower raising his kids to be very well read survivors in the wilds. The father’s point of view was a little too much for me at times (of course, that’s the way the story was written) but this film is strong and very unusual. B+
Long, long, long, but powerful reimagining of Carlos the Jackal (assassin, playboy, sort-of-revolutionary).
On DVD: Amazon
An extremely well told love story. The cast, cinematography, storytelling—everything worked for me. But this is not for folks who will turn away from same-sex kissing and foreplay. A
This is a really terrific and funny movie. It's so much better than the so-called comedies the studios get behind. I'm not sure how it will go over in NY and LA, but if you live just about everywhere else you'll probably love this movie.
Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War is probably the only war movie that will make money this year, and it deserves to. I'm not usually a Mike Nichols fan but this was a very tight, funny flick. It's also the best role Tom Hanks has had in a couple years. Of course the absolute star is Philip Seymour Hoffman and he keeps getting better and better.
My favorite movie so far this year. It's also—I think—a metaphor for the very talented director Jon Favreau's experience working with the powers-that-be-way-too-powerful in Hollywood. Funny, warm delightful.
I don't know why I go to some of these movies, but here we are. This flick is partly an embarrassment and partly very funny. I wasn't a big fan of the TV show, which leads me once again to the big question in the sky: what was I doing at this movie? C+
The concept's been around for a while, but it's the best movie I've seen this year. Very funny at times, but also hugely emotional and rewarding. Subtitles—if that bothers you.
On DVD: Amazon
Confessions of a Shopaholic
My wife, Sue, and I really enjoy these books. Unfortunately, the comedy didn't carry over into this movie—at least not for us. Sue wanted to leave after a half an hour, and Sue never wants to leave a movie. One interesting thing is that "women's night out" at the movies is really catching on, which is both fun and energizing. But this movie ain't no Devil Wears Prada.
French film. Subtitles. Probably the best thriller I've seen so far this year. A-
My wife Sue didn't like it. My son's friend didn't like it. Jack liked it but thought it was a little too much like a documentary. I thought it was intelligent and well-made. And yet—does it serve any worthwhile purpose for us to feel further stressed out and hopeless about yet one more thing in our world we can't do a damn thing to prevent?
The critics in Hollywood always love to see a movie star revealed in a bad light and here Jeff Bridges is fat and slovenly and greasy and ultimately quite wonderful in what everybody seems to agree is his best role yet. The love story wasn't entirely convincing to me but this is a well-made film.
Crazy Rich Asians
Fun, diverting, not the usual fare. One quibble – I don’t think I learned anything about China watching this movie that takes place in China. That struck me as a little curious. A-
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
If you're reading this, let's assume you're somewhat of a romantic, and if you are, the movie delivers. Good dialogue, high emotion, surprises, lots of laughs. Probably my favorite movie so far this summer. (But of course I haven't yet—and won't—see Smurfs.)
This is well-shot, but for me the photography and director's skillset actually gets in the way of the story a bit. It's a cool idea for a thriller, which I think could have been stronger if it had been about the people rather than the movie and the camera. B
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This is a three hour story and for over two hours it was one of the best movies I've ever seen—a truly magical tale, a cinematic miracle, that reminded me more of the work of John Irving than F. Scott Fitzgerald. Then I felt the story went flat for 40 minutes or more. I wish that a strong editor—film and story—had been around to make the last hour as good as the first 2. Still, I admired this film tremendously.