The Amazing Spider-Man

(Marc Webb, 2012)

with Dad, Darcy, Devin, and Pete Jacobs, Winsted Cinerom, July 2012

7

At last, the movie Spider-Man always deserved – a movie that lets him have the dignity, charisma, wit, and tortured humanity that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko endowed him with back in 1962.  Here is Peter Parker not as a half-asleep nebbishy cipher, but as a stubborn, angry, kindhearted, lonely, brilliant teenager with a lot to offer and a lot to learn.  Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are enormously appealing as the two young lovebirds, whose touchingly awkward romance forms the film’s centerpiece.  It’s a shame the villain is more or less a placeholder – but that’s a quibble.  The Amazing Spider-Man lives up to every word of its title.

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Published in: on September 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brave

(Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, 2012)

with Darcy, Mom, Dad, Brian Mann, and Oliver Mann, GB Triplex, 6/30/12

6

Visually stunning, narratively stunted.  Brave sets up a vivid world that deserves an epic, then delivers a moralistic sitcom instead.  Pixar’s first female protagonist makes so many bad decisions in a row that it’s hard to sympathize with her, even though she has more personality in her hair alone than your average live-action character has in toto.  If this charmingly brash girl had a more sweeping and resonant quest to go on, Brave would be a tremendous achievement.  Instead, it leaves you with the disappointing impression that Pixar has started making movies for kids.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Dictator

(Larry Charles, 2012)

with Tim Hahn, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 5/28/12

3

There’s something much too calculated about The Dictator.  The verbal jokes are written within an inch of their lives.  The “gross-out” moments are far too deliberate to have any anarchic charge.  The whole thing feels like a graduate thesis in comedy writing – dry, brainy, soulless.  It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Kontroll

(Nimród Antal, 2003)

with Juli Magnifico, Lake House screening room, 5/20/12

7

Part slacker comedy, part thriller, part underground fairytale, Kontroll celebrates the Budapest subway system as a dirty, violent, all-bets-are-off world where anything can happen – a place where lost souls find a restless kind of home.  The movie is genial, low-key, and episodic, with just enough story and suspense to string us along, and with a schlubby, sardonic lead character so appealing that we’ll follow him anywhere.  The visual redemption at the end is simple and lovely.  Kontroll excels at finding poetry in the degraded and the mundane.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Constantine

(Francis Lawrence, 2005)

with Juli Magnifico, Lake House screening room, 5/20/12

4

This movie almost works.  It’s stylishly shot, and borderline clever, and likable in a scuzzy, punk sort of way.  But it never quite gets below the surface – never musters up any genuine conviction or fire.  It should be an exhilarating nihilistic thrill ride, but it ends up feeling by-the-numbers and somehow false.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 8:41 am  Leave a Comment