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

Friday, July 27

Summer Movies: Part 5

A quick look at what I've seen of late...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix could be my favorite of the series so far: it's funny and tense, tender and thrilling, the cast just seems to get better and better, and the last 15 minutes or so had me totally in tears (yes, I'm a sucker for all that "love will win out" stuff). All the regulars are back, obviously, and in fine form, but it's the newcomers that contribute some of the movie's best moments, especially amateur Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood (her scenes with Harry are among the most satisfyingly romantic of the year... especially when she holds his hand at the end), and Imelda Staunton as the maddeningly unfair new Hogwarts headmistress, Dolores Umbridge. Note: Bo and Co saw this with their mom and liked it less than I did (I think they miss the wonder/innocence of the earlier films), but what do they know?

I figured Bo and Co would love Hairspray, and I was right. But I was frankly a little surprised by just how much I enjoyed this movie-based-on-a-musical-based-on-a-movie (I found the Broadway show pretty mediocre)... and I was shocked at how much my dad liked it! Clearly: fun for the whole family. Why? In addition to the infectious energy, enthusiasm, and attractiveness of the entire cast, the non-stop showstoppers, the excellent clothes, and the terrific dancing, what really made this work for me was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnball, the overweight teenager who not only lands a coveted spot on the local TV dance show, hooks up with the hottest boy in town, and solves the problem of race relations in the city of Baltimore, but she also manages to be ridiculously excited and optimistic all the time without ever being annoying. No mean feat, that.

There is nothing surprising about Talk to Me, the biopic of Petey Greene, con-turned-media star (radio DJ/comedian/Emmy Award-winning TV talk-show host) who took Washington DC by storm in the late 1960s through the 1970s: not the way Greene wins over wary white people with his charisma and charm; not the ups and downs of his relationship with his ambitious employer/manager/best friend Dewey Hughes; not the way fame (and alcohol) eventually burn him out. But though the movie follows an entirely predictable trajectory, it definitely made me laugh, it moved me when it was supposed to (most notably on the night of Dr. King's assassination), and Don Cheadle, here as Greene, certainly makes for a fine companion for a couple of hours.

Everyone's talking about Sienna Miller's performance in Steve Buscemi's Interview, and they should: Miller nails the part of no-last-name-necessary Katya, the vapid, spoiled, yet wily celebrity who's famous more for whom she's sleeping with than for any cultural contribution. Steve Buscemi is also good (albeit in a typical Steve Buscemi role) as the smart, world-weary, boozy journalist who's been assigned to interview the megastar, and is horrified that he has to write a piece of such a fluffy proportions. But the movie as a whole was too mean-spirited for my tastes, the verbal sparring tiresome and repetitive, and the characters eventually so dislikable that I found myself just wanting them out of my life.



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