June movie review
I’ve seen three movies in the theater this month. My thoughts on each —
“Win Win”: an entertaining film starring Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a somewhat lovable character with a few questionable business practices. He’s a down-on-his-luck attorney who takes in Kyle, the runaway grandson of his incapacitated client. Mike’s afternoons are spent coaching a miserable high school wrestling team; his fellow attorney (Jeffrey Tambor) and close friend and bachelor (Bobby Cannavale) bicker as the assistant coaches. Kyle turns out to be a wrestling pro and joins the team — he’s played by Alex Shaffer, a real-life state wrestling champ. Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, who also wrote/directed “The Visitor” and “The Station Agent”, the latter an excellent film that also features Cannavale.
“Super 8”: Micah and I saw this on a Saturday night. Good movie, horrible presentation. The sound only came out of the front speaker for much of the film. I left after ten minutes to complain at the ticket counter but they didn’t fix it. One reel late in the film was both nearly inaudible and strangely tinted. Either the film stock or the projection was faulty… I lean towards the latter. The surround sound finally kicked in during the last 10-15 minutes.
But don’t like my lousy theater experience deter you from seeing this film. Anyone who loves “The Goonies”, “E.T.” and/or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” will like this one. J.J. Abrams got the look and feel of a midwestern 70s town just right, and Larry Fong’s camerawork was very reminiscent of Vilmos Zsigmond’s work on Spielberg’s early films, which surely can’t be a coincidence with Spielberg serving as executive producer. There’s genuine romance between Joe (Joel Courtney) and Alice (Elle Fanning). The father/son melodrama felt a bit forced and the end of the main feature blatantly ripped off “E.T.”, but the spectacular (if unbelievable) train crash and the amateur film played during the end credits make up for any shortcomings. An excellent film to see in a drive-in theater… if you can find one still in operation.
“Midnight in Paris”: it dawned on me a couple weeks ago that I had never seen a Woody Allen film in the theater. True, most of his films released in the past decade, aside from “Match Point”, have been crap. But “MiP” had gotten some good reviews, so I gave it a shot. Owen Wilson is Gil Pender, a screenwriter in Paris with his fiancé and her parents. He longs to go back in time to live in Jazz Age Paris while his fiancé (Rachel McAdams) prefers to hang on the every word of an insufferable prick (played wonderfully by Michael Sheen). One evening Gil stumbles out of a wine-tasting, wanders down some cobblestone alleyways and hops into an old vehicle that takes him to a flappers party where he meets Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It dawns on him that he has mysteriously traveled back to the 1902s. Later he meets Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, T.S. Eliot, Luis Buñuel and other notable artists from that era. He falls in love with Picasso’s mistress, herself longing to live in Belle Époque.
The film opens with a lovely montage of a day in Paris — sunrise to sunset, avenues and sidewalks, cafes and parks, tourists and locals, landmarks and modern storefronts, with a beautiful rainfall before nightfall. My favorite scene, besides the opening montage, is where Gil pitches the story for “The Exterminating Angel” to Buñuel, the film he made in 1962. Woody Allen’s 41st film in 45 years — it’s doesn’t rank amongst his best, but it’s pretty damn good, and a comedic excursion from the usual exasperating CGI-bloated blockbusters.
Next month: “The Tree of Life”, “Harry Potter Part 7 (Part 2)” and “Transformers: The Dark of the Moon” (just kidding!)