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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Wolverine

Superman Batman Wolverine who would win
In 2015, Superman will battle Batman in Warner Brothers’ untitled Superman/Batman movie. But this summer, the Wolverine beat Superman in the battle of the summer superhero movies. (Iron Man 3 was the first week of May.) Unlike The Man of Steel, the fights are interesting and don’t go on forever.

That said, Wolverine is still not a great movie. Hugh Jackman shines star power in this iconic role and the Wolverine is one of the best comic book heroes, so I’m not sure why this isn’t a better script or convincing total production. But unlike 2009′s bland X-Men Origins: Wolverine, at least they are trying.

For starters, the creators find a good location and stay there (Hurray!). And they find a look, pace and story that hints on a good niche for this character; I’d call it superhero noir.

The film is just good enough and keeps clawing it’s way out of tedium, but the first-rate train scene makes you think about the great movie that it had potential to be. If only every action scene was as thrilling and inventive as that.

Simply put: Better than the first one, and showing some promise…but still not as super as any of the entries in the Iron Man or The Dark Knight series.

Award potential:  Potential for special effects.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks just for the first-rate train scene. You can leave after that.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Bobby Cannavale back nude frontal
Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's compelling  new film, is about a woman (Cate Blanchett) on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In his 48th film, Allen touches on hot button topics ranging from class disparity to mental disorder. And it’s a gem.

This film is good enough to end the discussion about whether Woody Allen’s work is on a downhill trajectory. It is definitely not. It’s more precisely a late career of wins and misses. And this is a solid win on par with his recent films Matchpoint and Midnight In Paris.

But enough about Allen, Blanchett’s tragic Jasmine is one of the most memorable characters on film in my lifetime. She’s in almost every captivating scene. And her film is a first-class treat.

Simply put: Woody Allen meets Tennessee Williams, featuring the Best Actress performance of 2013.

Award potential:  Such a standout that you can actually call this one in July. Golden Globe and Oscar winner for Best Actress, Cate Blanchett.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Way, Way Back

Allison Janey Supporting Actress Meatballs Best Summer Film 2013

"This is the place where dreams are made or destroyed, depends on how you feel about working at a water park."

Owen (Sam Rockwall) is the freewheeling, charismatic owner of Water Wizz, the amusement park where 14-year old Duncan (Liam James) finds a summer job, in the coming of age story of Duncan's summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a charming film about a summer vacation.

The setup is formulaic but luckily the film, written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants), is done with enough skill and delicacy that the familiarity is more comforting than limiting.

The only fault? This script, featuring a wood-paneled station wagon, a Pac Man game and references to songs by REO Speedwagon, Mr. Mister and Bonnie Tyler from the Footloose soundtrack, was obviously meant as a timepiece film — but it’s set in modern times. No one has a cell phone in the movie — and the kids get busted for not “leaving notes”. Distracting? Yes. More charming for it? You’re forgiven.

Simply put: A touching, funny and smart cross between Meatballs and Little Miss Sunshine. This is way, way the best movie of the summer.

Award potential:  Lots of Golden Globe potential for Best Movie (Comedy) and Supporting Actors noms could deservedly go to both Sam Rockwall and Allison Janney, who plays an alcoholic neighbor with just the right amount of zaniness. Wild card for Oscar Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.