I’ve watched so many movies in the last few weeks of my summer break that I’m having problems keeping track of them all and I’m also having trouble keeping up with my mandate to review what I’ve been watching. So I decided that I’d do a post with quickie movie reviews. If I own the movie in a physical copy, I’ll go with my keep to trash rating; if it’s streaming, I’m going with buy to skip.
Some Girls: A 1988 comedy/drama starring Patrick Dempsey as a college student who goes to visit the family of his girlfriend (Jennifer Connolly) in Quebec during Christmas break. The family is incredibly weird and are doing their best to deal with the fact that the grandmother is in the late stages of dementia and thinks that Dempsey is her dead husband. It has its moments and I will say that the scenery is great (I was in Quebec City last year and it’s gorgeous), but there are times when I don’t know what it wants to be. It’s best when it veers away from the quirkiness and lets the actors breathe a little, and that made it worth the viewing. Well, that and Jennifer Connolly in her underwear. It’s streaming for free on Amazon Prime right now, so there’s no risk. Otherwise, it’s a Skip.
happythankyoumoreplease: Josh Radnor (Ted from How I Met Your Mother) makes his directorial debut as Sam, a New York-based writer who is dealing with recent rejection and winds up meeting this foster kid on the subway and then takes him home to live with him for about a week while he also romantically pursues a waitress named Mississippi (Kate Mara). That’s not the only story, though, because there are three intersecting storylines that involve relationships between people in Sam’s life. Think Singles but set in New York and starring Millennials. It’s a solid writing/directing debut (and certainly less pretentious than Garden State), but there are moments where Radnor puts too fine a point on things. Great soundtrack. Rent.
The Crazies: I rented George Romero’s original low-budget film and not the recent remake, which I’ve heard is also very good. This isn’t as good as his Dead movies, but I enjoyed the story about a dangerous bioweapon contaminating an entire town and causing them to kill one another. My favorite parts were the pursuits through the woods because they were so low budget that they actually seemed real. Rent.
Justice League: The New Frontier: One of my favorite DC miniseries/graphic novels and a really good adaptation, even if it wound up being a little bloodier than I would have liked. But the film really does a great job at capturing the 1950s/1960s “mid-Century Modern Superhero” aesthetic that Darwyn Cooke brought to his series. Buy.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: I watched this right after the New Frontier and while I enjoyed it, it was a bit of a letdown. A fun parallel earth storyline with some great hero moments. Billy Baldwin does not have the voice for Batman, though. Rent.
Jaws: I’m keeping my Blu-ray copy of Jaws. I just put it here because I had bought the blu-ray and never watched it, so I sat down and watched it while listening to Rob Kelly’s commentary on a recent “Film and Water” podcast episode. So, go listen to that. It was great. Keep.
Singles: Another that I was going to keep and one I did for an episode of Pop Culture Affidavit years ago. But this was the Blu-ray release that came with extras that I’d wanted since I bought my VHS copy back in the Nineties. This movie has aged so incredibly well and it’s one of my favorite Nineties/twentysomething/Gen-X movies. The Blu-ray picture quality is really great. All of the missing scenes and the gag reel as well as the extended version of the live music performances by Alice in Chains and Soundgarden featured in the movie are worth the price. I wish they had gotten the cast back for a commentary, though. Keep.
District 9: Another science fiction movie that had been a “meant to see” for a long time. I really enjoyed this. It’s a little heavy-handed in its apartheid allegory at times, but the main character is written in a way that he goes from a complete tool to someone you’re really rooting for. Rent.
32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide: A rather depressing HBO documentary where a filmmaker seeks to understand her sister’s mental illness and becomes so obsessed with it that she falls into her own despair. It is interesting if not a little too self-indulgent at times. Skip.
A Dangerous Son: A 2018 documentary about young boys with what, at times, has been diagnosed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). There are three boys profiled and the filmmakers do an outstanding job at letting the film roll and capturing them for what they are as well as get to one of the biggest problems for all of them–the lack of accessible mental health resources. Years ago, in high school psych class, I had to watch a documentary called Child of Rage. While not related to that documentary, this serves as a good companion. It’s very hard to watch, but I recommend it (now streaming on HBO Go). Rent.
The Shot Heard ‘Round the World: A 2001 HBO Sports special about the 1951 National League pennant race between the Giants and the Dodgers which climaxed in Bobby Thompson’s titular home run (“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”). It’s one of those nice comfort food sports docs that reminds just about anyone who loves the game why they love it. Plus, there were moments where I swore I was looking at my grandfather and great uncles (who were from Brooklyn, so there you go). This is streaming on HBO Go. Rent.
V for Vendetta: It’s been a good 15 years since I read the graphic novel, so I was coming into this mostly without context. I know that it diverges from its source material quite a bit, but taken on its own merits, I thought it was a tight movie. I really enjoyed it. Buy.