A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Thursday, September 7

Summer Movies III: The Final Chapter

This summer I saw 20 movies from Memorial to Labor Day. Here's a quick look at the mostly slim pickings from August (for the other 13, go here, and here)...

Half Nelson An inner-city teacher (who is also, not incidently, a crackhead), forms a powerful bond with one of his eighth-grade students. Everyone's raving about Ryan Gosling's performance, and rightly so: he nails the self-deception, the despair, the total bafflement of a junkie trying to hold his life together with charm and smarts—traits which he's obviously coasted on for years—only to realize that it just doesn't work anymore. Terrific stuff. But it's really young Shareeka Epps as the quiet, conflicted Drey that makes this movie special, giving a remarkably subtle yet deeply expressive performance as a girl desperate to find someone she can respect.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated A funny, canny documentary about the MPAA, that shadowy group of "ordinary parents" who decree, without written guidelines or often any explanation, what gets a PG-13, what gets an R, and—box office suicide—what gets an NC-17. Although I found the narrative gimmick of director Kirby Dick hiring a private investigator to "out" the anonymous MPAAers a little contrived, we all thoroughly enjoyed the movie's talking heads—especially South Park's Matt Stone; Kimberly Pierce, the director of Boys Don't Cry; and the hilarious John Waters—and were convinced by the film's inevitable conclusion, honestly earned, that violence is more acceptable than sex; straight sex more acceptable than gay sex; and a long shot of woman's face as she has an orgasm? Forget about it! NC-17 all the way.

The Illusionist A love triangle involving a beautiful, down-to-earth Princess; a ruthless heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire; and a sensitive, brilliant magician, set in 19th-century Vienna. Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti are competent and watchable, and the lovely cinematography and art direction distract you slightly from the film's slim storyline (it's based on a short story, and it feels it). But while many in the packed theater gasped at the movie's denoument, DGlass and I, unfortunately, did not, having seen where this thing was heading 90 minutes earlier.

Scoop Classic Woody Allen hijinks, set in upper-crust England. Allen is at his excrutiatingly uncomfortable, inappropriate, fish-out-of-water best as a Brooklyn magician who gets sucked into a murder mystery involving a handsome Lord (Hugh Jackman), several spectacular estates, the ghost of a journalist, a serial killer, and the beguilling Scarlett Johansson. Throw-away entertainment, to be sure, but good old Woody often had me giggling helplessly in my seat.Miami Vice A painfully self-serious update of the groundbreaking "MTV cops" 80's show. Does anyone really think big guns and go-fast boats are cool anymore, or entertaining in and of themselves? Even with our super low expectations, this was super boring.

Conversations With Other Women A man and a woman meet at a wedding, and slowly reveal their relationship through lots and lots of talking. Shown entirely in split screen. Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter both deliver strong performances, but the whole thing ultimately feels too mannered, with no one to root for, or even care about.

Trust the Man Four Manhattanites struggle with love, sex, mid-life career crises, fatigue, comittment, marriage, sex, love. The appealing cast is undone by the rambling, hackneyed script and overblown direction.

And so, the Top Five Movies of the Summer 2006 are....
1 Little Miss Sunshine
2 Half Nelson
3 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
4 United 93
5 An Inconvenient Truth
6 Wordplay

Ok, the Top Six.



Anonymous E-Love said...

I have seen one movie in 9 months and thanks to you it was Little Miss Sunshine

4:45 PM, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on half nelson? now i love these two actors and they do a increadable job but i dont know your life style and being addicted to crack is not the drug this guy is on. the pain of not smoking would alow him to grt through ten min. of each day without cooking. i know there are levels of addiction but this guy is supposed to be a pro. the worst it gets is not just sad and hopeless,but painful and so envoloping he would suffer more than just looking like hit hit a bong and took a vico.

10:55 PM, May 09, 2007


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