I didn’t get a chance to see a pile of movies in the last few months – only 10 total. I think that had something to do with all of the television events, sports and season/series finales that were going on. It also may have had something to do with the fact that most of the movies I saw were either mediocre or outright lousy. Anyway… here are my first five movie reviews. I’ll follow up with five more tomorrow.
2012 (John Cusack, Amanda Peet – 2009) I hated this movie. Wait, let me rethink whether I’m being to harsh. Nope. I hated this movie. In all fairness, it isn’t the movie’s fault and as far as destruction movies go, it met its goal of blowing up a lot of crap. There were two main problems for me: (1) I get creeped out by natural disasters that are somewhat possible given the current state of the world. Watching a movie that centered around tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and other similar events hit a little close to home for me. (2) Even unrealistic movies need some sense of reality and this movie had none. There were far too many coincidences and near misses to make it even watchable. There was also a scene where three panels of a ship were filling with water from back to front. The woman in the middle panel drowned while the people in the back panel were able to swim through to the front and survive. Sorry, folks, even the impossible needs to be grounded in the possible.
Every Little Step (Documentary, 2008) This was probably the most surprisingly enjoyable movie of the month. I’m a big Broadway junkie to start with, so the idea of watching a movie that explained the genesis of the play A Chorus Line intrigued me. What I didn’t expect was how fascinating it was to listen to the actual tapes of real dancers and hearing their stories that were developed (sometimes almost verbatim) into the script. The other, smaller details (like the original ending and why it was changed; and the former title of the song “Dance Ten, Looks Three” was also interesting.) Watching this movie made me feel like a true theater insider. The only advice I’d give is to re watch A Chorus Line before seeing this movie, since they talked quite a bit about the specific characters by name. I remembered the characters by the stories they told about themselves, but couldn’t always remember which name went with which character.
PS- “What I Did For Love” is easily one of the most amazing songs ever written.
Ice Harvest (John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton 2005) I don’t mind a gory film, but overly gory doesn’t help when the plot is already whisper-thin and I don’t care about any of the characters. The movie opens as John and Billy Bob have stolen money from their mobster boss and need to get out-of-town before he finds out. As the evening wears on, they find themselves chased by the boss’ hired muscle and turning paranoid as they question the actions of their fellow townsfolk. Eventually, they even wonder if they should turn on each other. You know, as I write out the plot it sounds very exciting. Too bad the execution was so poor.
Kiss Me Guido (Nick Scotti, 1997) – This was a harmlessly fluffy movie for the first half – a macho Italian guy from Brooklyn answers an ad in a paper for a roommate and moves in not realizing his new friend is gay. It was cute enough considering it was pre-Will and Grace (which started in 1998) and therefore a little heavy on the stereotypes. The second half that focused on a play the main character performed was unwatchable. That was a major plot point – that the play was lousy – but the play was SO lousy and so much time was spent on it that the movie, itself was kind of lousy. The fun part of the movie for me, though, was seeing Molly Price (the criminally underrated Faith Youkas from Third Watch) in what was probably one of her early roles. Love her!
On a Clear Day (Peter Mullen, Brenda Blethyn 2005) This was a movie I’d seen advertised as a preview on a few other Netflix movies was really looking forward to it. As it turns out, I shouldn’t have been quite so excited because I saw the entire movie within the preview and just didn’t know it. The movie begins with the main character being let go from his factory job in England due to downsizing. (Cue The Full Monty…) He decides he doesn’t just want to sit around and be unemployed so he decides to train to swim the English Channel. He has a supportive wife, estranged son and supportive (if a bit clueless) friends. There is one hilarious scene involving a park bench and friends with a bit of an alternative lifestyle, but that was probably the only unexpected moment in the film. It was sweet, but trite.