Marvel is probably doing too many movies these days. Batman was a little under par. Fantastic Four was a mess (except for the opening scenes with the kids). And the trailer for a feature with Ryan Reynolds doesn't look too promising. C-
Fast & Furious
I liked the first in the series, and I liked this one too. It's James Bond for the set that couldn't care less about a martini shaken-not-stirred. The opening stunt is worth the price of admission. But be warned: this is a young person's (or older psycho's) diversion.
I liked The Rock, I liked Billy Bob Thornton. I didn't like this movie much. It felt like a graphic novel plot without any of the cool visuals. Dwayne Johnson deserves better, much better. He'd make a great Michael Bennett, don't you think?
The Fault in Our Stars
Shailene Woodley is a very talented actress. In my book she has the early lead as one of the best of her generation. But. The film creates a very strange experience. Little girls—most of whom have little or no experience with death—weep continually and tear out their hair. We're clearly in an age where everything is public, the more public the better.
One of the many reasons to see Fences is that Denzel Washington—not Robert De Niro, not Morgan Freeman, not Christian Bale—is one of the two best American actors working today. The other—for me—is Meryl Streep. A-
Terrific ensemble of actors, really terrific directing, and a great story (though Jack Kerouac should have been the favorite son of Lowell, Mass., not a prize fighter who happened to knock down Sugar Ray Leonard.)
I can't believe I see all the movies that I do. I'd take it up with my shrink if I had a shrink. It seems that this movie was probably put together at least partly because of the marketing opportunities. But I think the marketing is totally wrong-headed. A lot of the girls who like cheerleading movies aren't going to like that the point-of-view is from two horndogs. And guys interested in the horndog point-of-view are not going to want to see a cheerleading movie. Having said all that, the movie has its moments.
Sort of fun to watch but(!) man, can you feel the producers carefully, methodically, pushing every possible button—don't offend the Christians, reach out to the African Americans, let's get to everybody who remembers the original movie, and everybody who doesn't.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It's a tribute to Judd Apatow that he can produce movies with no stars that turn into hits. This one has a lot of funny scenes, but a little too much flabbiness. As well as some flaccidness (You'll understand if you see this one).
For me, half of this movie was hilarious; the other half was one of those Hollywood morality tales that are best left untold. At any rate, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn are terrific and most of you will get several chuckles out of this one.
The Fourth Kind
This is a pretty cool idea (combining documentary footage of something that really happened and footage of movie stars playing the parts of the real people) and the title kind of hooks you in, but I found the movie to be a big snooze. Everything about it from the dialogue to the cinematography is flat and uninteresting—at least to me.
Gregory Hoblit is a terrific director who did Primal Fear some years ago. Ryan Gosling is one of, if not the best, young actors around. Anthony Hopkins you know about. Put them together and you have the most satisfying thriller so far this year.
2008 was a year of very good movies, and this is probably my favorite. Frank Langella captures the complexity and tragedy of Nixon brilliantly. If he doesn't win an Oscar, I'll be disappointed. Ron Howard's film doesn't have a wasted scene. In fact, I don't think there's a bad cut.
When Sue and I were leaving the theater just about everybody was complaining that the movie was too long. Some thought 20 minutes, one person said an hour. I didn't have any real problem with the length, but some of you might. It's an interesting notion to try to combine comedy and drama in the same flick and I kind of got caught up in that. I guess I could have used a hair less drama.