Monday, April 20, 2009

Homo Box Office

I'm a little behind on my movie reporting. So today I'm giving you two DVD reviews reactions, and two from the cinema (in order of when I saw them):

While there's seemingly nothing particularly groundbreaking about "Adventureland," Greg Mottola's tale of young love set in a Pittsburgh amusement park circa 1987, somehow it winds up being one of the most refreshing and enjoyable films I've seen in years. Great dialogue and a terrific and very likable cast must be the culprits. (Go figure -- good writing and good acting make for a good film!) Jesse Eisenberg -- whom I adored as the misguided Walt in "The Squid and the Whale" and Kristen Stewart are both such naturals and have terrific chemistry. And dare I say that Ryan Reynolds may have found his true calling as the next great character actor (move over, Kevin Bacon), nearly perfect in a downsized role that he was born to play. (Kudos for casting the much-underused Wendie Malick, too!)

Sure, Mark Christopher's "54" stole its plot nearly to a tee from the far-superior "Boogie Nights." Still, it was hard for me to dislike watching something as beautiful as his tale from the last days of disco. Ryan Phillippe is so beautiful he's almost hard to look at (and did it seem like he could almost act a bit in this one?), and anything that chronicles New York in the late '70s can't be all bad. (Can't wait for the director's cut, which is said to feature far more man-on-man lovin'.)

It only took me 16 years, but I finally saw Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" over the weekend. I really liked it, yet I realize that reaction won't be enough for die-hard fans of the cult classic. Without having quoted every line from the film for the last decade and a half, it doesn't really carry the full weight of, say, a "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" on me, so I'm not sure I'll ever view it with the reverential status so many others I know do. I actually watched it the day after I saw "Adventureland" and told me "Dazed"-obsessed coworker that it wasn't readily noticeable which one was the "classic" and which one was the new release as I liked them both equally. (Don't shoot me, Bill!) Kudos to Matthew McConaughey for not sucking, though.

And finally, we also saw Kevin Macdonald's "State of Play" over the weekend. I'm the first to admit that I don't really care for thrillers of any kind. But I am a sucker for newsroom films ("His Girl Friday" and "All the President's Men" are classics, and I even enjoyed "The Paper"), so when my friend Ken described it as "All the President's Men" meets the Chandra Levy case, we decided to give it a shot. It started out pretty good (I'm also a sucker for films shot in Washington, and this was the funnest big-screen look at my old hometown since "No Way Out"), but then it started to lay the print vs. digital stuff on a bit too heavy. (A touchy subject, perhaps?) Russell Crow, whom I don't particularly like, was in fine form, as were Rachel McAdams and Helen Mirren. And Ben Affleck, who generally can't act to save his life, wasn't bad as the beleaguered congressman. (Robin Wright even adds a little depth to a potentially throwaway role, and Jason Bateman steals the later part of the film.) Still, one (or was it NINE?) plot twists too many and I pretty much stopped caring about what was going on up there. (BTW: Everyone says the British TV series was far superior, although I doubt I'll check it out.) Didn't regret going, but if you are into watching movies at home, this one is definitely one you could hold out for.

Next up in the queue? John Cameron Mitchell's "Shortbus."


Fagaro said...

shortbus will make you fall in love with Jay Brannan
(get ready to hit pause)

Richard Wall said...

Have you seen "Chris and Don"?? It's very sweet and about Christopher Isherwood.