Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

(David Yates, 2010)

with Darcy, Graham, and Maddie Lodge, 42nd St. Loews, 11/18/10


London is pretty scary.

How do you rate half a movie?  Actually, for all its two-and-half hour running time, HPatDH:P1 feels like somewhat less than half.  It’s got some strong scenes, but no real forward thrust; the gist of the movie is that the characters aren’t sure where to go and what to do, and that doesn’t make for a very compelling adventure.  The movie’s attempts at humor tend to undermine its alleged high stakes, and its episodic structure makes it feel sort of arbitrary.  It’s not boring, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.  Maybe Part 2 will be an actual movie!


The Social Network

(David Fincher, 2010)

alone, 86th St. Loews, 11/13/10


A lot of fun.  The Social Network tells a sad story, but in a zippy, quippy, thoroughly enjoyable way.  We get to feel superior to bitter, lonely Mark Zuckerberg while at the same time vicariously enjoying his brash, brainy defiance.  Jesse Eisenberg is excellent in the lead role — sullen, snide, charismatic, and lost.  The movie ends pretty abruptly, but somehow that doesn’t seem like a flaw in this case.  The final image has just enough resonance and poignancy to make us feel we’ve been on a journey, even though we end up in essentially the same place — watching a too-smart, too-proud young man strive for love and acceptance in only the most clueless and self-defeating ways.

Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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(Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, 2010)

alone, Union Square Regal, 10/25/10


Builds suspense remarkably well using mundane digital-media tools, but ultimately — perhaps inevitably — disappoints.  The ending of Catfish is thoughtful and thought-provoking, not to mention compassionate, but after all the thriller-ish buildup, it can’t help but feel a little wan.

Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The American

(Anton Corbijn, 2010)

with Darcy Fowler, 42nd St. Loews, 9/21/10


As we left The American, Darcy Fowler turned to me and asked, “Was there any humor in that movie?”  I thought it over, and came to the startling conclusion that the answer was no.  That in itself seems like some kind of perverse achievement — how many films can claim that they never even attempt to be funny?  The American is lovely to look at, and must surely be the toast of the Italian Tourism Bureau.  It’s got a killer first five minutes, which evoke the enticing feeling that anything is possible in the world of this film.  And then it settles into a plodding, ponderous, meditative mood that it never quite escapes from, despite a few good foot chases.  It thus has the distinction of being the most European movie George Clooney has starred in, with the possible exception of Solaris. For what that’s worth.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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(Christopher Nolan, 2010)

with Mike Lavoie, Derek Van Gorder, and Gabi Madsen, Gateway Megaplex (SLC), 7/28/10


Not as perfect as The Dark Knight, nor as darkly fascinating as The Prestige, but still a bracing and brilliant cinematic experience, featuring a truly scary villain in the person of Marion Cotillard.  The action sequences are sometimes generic and redundant, and it’s hard to get a handle on the film’s “rules” (in their applied form, anyhow), but these are minor blemishes on a rich and unique film.