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Friday, March 27, 2009

Some reviews from my vacation....

I've had a string of visitors and have then been out of town, so I haven't been able to blog for awhile! On my vacation, I did manage to see two movies on DVD and one in the theater. Here are my reviews.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

I had seen this movie a bit after it came out, and I found that it lived up to my memories of its quality. Ian Holm (many roles, including Bilbo Baggins in TLOTR) plays a lawyer who comes to a small Canadian town to try to start a lawsuit with the families of children who died in a bus crash. Holm is excellent at portraying a man with complicated motives, including his guilt over his own drug-addicted daughter. While dramatically wrenching events occur (including the bus crash), the movie is structured and told in an understated way. The movie is pitched somewhere between the head and the heart, and it ends up affecting both. The most exciting thing about the movie's writing and direction (which both earned Oscar noms in '97) is its structure. The story flips back between three main times, before the crash, the weeks following the crash, and a couple of years later. It also includes one more flashback to many years earlier that I think is the emotional center of the film. Definitely a standout of the later 1990s.

Grade: A-

I Love You, Man (2009)

The most Judd Apatow movie not made by Judd Apatow. Pretty close in tone to Knocked Up and The-40-Year-Old Virgin, it doesn't quite measure up to those films, but still an enjoyable time if you go in for the usual mix of profane material mixed in with honest sentiment. Paul Rudd does a terrific job as Peter, a "nice guy" who is getting married and needs to find a best man. After a series of bad man-dates, he meets Sydney, played very funnily by Jason Segel. Their relationship follows many traditional routes of romantic comedy, with the catch that it's really friendship romantic comedy (despite Rudd's upcoming wedding his relationship with his fiancee is really background). Has some truly funny moments, but does peter out a bit at the end. Nevertheless, Rudd and Segel's interplay is worth the price of admission.

Grade: B

Twilight (2008)

I watched this one not entirely by choice, and I wouldn't choose to watch it again. While I had heard the hype, this was really my first full exposure to the Twilight franchise and I can't say it excited me. Brooding teen romance, crappy special effects, and a plot that seemed simultaneously rushed and a little bit boring. Some of the early scenes, where Bella and Edward meet, do have a kitschy appeal, but by the end I was mostly just bored. I'll take Harry Potter and his pals any day of the week.

Grade: C-

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