2017 log (4)

(1 Apr) The Fifth Element (1997, Luc Besson) 91
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(1 Apr) Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016, Jake Szymanski) 36
[ I enjoy a dumb, vulgar comedy as much as the next guy – hey, I watched this because I surprisingly liked Aubrey Plaza and Zac Efron in “Dirty Grandpa”, of all things. But this is… not good. Oh, it’s got a few amusing moments here and there, especially early on, but it eventually gets just boring. ]

(8 Apr) Poltergeist (1982, Tobe Hooper) 93
[ Rumour has it that Steven Spielberg, who came up with the story, cowrote the screenplay and produced this film, was on set every day and basically directed it. And watching it, it often feels like it, from the ’80s suburban family characters to the way it can feel like a horror movie version of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. There’s that same sense of awe and wonder at times, plus touches of humor… but it also often gets scary AF! For some reason, I expected something more moody and minimalistic, but this is an epic, wildly inventive ghost story, with all kinds of freaky stuff happening throughout – even after you thing it’s over. Hooper and/or Spielberg direct the hell out of it all, with awesome practical effects and a kick-ass score by Jerry Goldsmith. Oh, and you gotta love the dwarf medium played by Zelda Rubinstein! I can’t believe it took me 35 years to finally see this! ]

(9 Apr) Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986, Brian Gibson) 35
[ Here’s a pretty pointless, kinda boring, rather cheezy sequel To Spielberg/Hooper’s masterpiece. It explains away some of the fascinating mysteries of the original with pseudo-Native American mysticism and death cult history, while delivering few actual thrills and wonders. The only decent parts are the ones with Julian Beck, who’s convincingly creepy as the evil preacher, plus the scene where Craig T. Nelson is possessed. ]

(13 Apr) The Fate of the Furious (2017, F. Gary Gray) 78
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(14 Apr) Sandy Wexler (2017, Steven Brill) 11
[ I like Adam Sandler. Especially his early films (“Billy Madison”, “Happy Gilmore”, “The Wedding Singer”, etc.), plus of course “Punch-Drunk Love”. But lately, his movies have been rather lazy and unfunny, like this here new Netflix release. Set in the mid-to-late ‘90s, it drops a bunch of throwaway references to that era while telling the story of the titular Sandy Wexler, an obnoxious talent manager (basically Broadway Danny Rose with a goofy voice) who somehow discovers a gifted singer, played by Jennifer Hudson. Because of course, when you watch a Happy Madison production, what you really want is a bunch of earnest R&B songs and a sentimental story about a singer and her manager. Who needs gags, right? Seriously, I didn’t laugh once. And even the non-stop celebrity cameos – mostly in the faux documentary bits where a bunch of famous people playing themselves talk about the fictional Wexler – get dull quickly. Well, the Alfred reveal is pretty clever, I’ll give it that much. But this is still probably the most boring Adam Sandler movie I’ve ever seen. And the damn thing lasts 131 minutes, for some reason. ]

(14 Apr) David Brent: Life on the Road (2017, Ricky Gervais) 71
[ [ “The Office” is one of my favourite TV shows of all time, so I was psyched to see this… And it’s all right? I mean, it’s still Ricky Gervais as David Brent, it’s still equally hilarious and sad AF, plus this film has kind of a “This Is Spinal Tap” thing going on, with out pathetic protagonist going on tour and whatnot. But the thing about “The Office” (and its equally great US counterpart) was that it wasn’t a one-man-show. David Brent is a wonderful character, but he should exist in a specific context, in contrast with the other characters of the show… Here, it’s all fun and awkward, as it should be, but it eventually loses momentum. Songs are pretty catchy/stupid, though. ]

(15 Apr) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011, David Fincher) [ review ] 94

(21 Apr) Colossal (2017, Nacho Vigalondo) 92
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(21 Apr) Footloose (1984, Herbert Ross) 81
[ Finally saw this for the first time, even though I had watched (and liked) Craig Brewer’s remake a couple of times. This is really an ‘80s classic, with almost as many montages set to awesome pop songs as “Rocky IV”! Star-making performance by Kevin Bacon, plus memorable supporting turns by John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, and the late great Chris Penn. Super fun, but also a bit edgy and dangerous at times (sort of). ]

(26 Apr) Footloose (2011, Craig Brewer) 63
[ After telling the story of a pimp who wants to be a rapper in “Hustle & Flow” and that of a bluesman trying to tame a nymphomaniac in “Black Snake Moan”, you wouldn’t expect Craig Brewer to be directing a remake of 1984’s Kevin Bacon vehicle “Footloose.” Then again, Brewer does bring to this new version a genial and convincing depiction of a Southern milieu populated by colorful characters, like in his previous movies. The small-town-banning-dancing premise remains silly, the leads are so-so, and the film could have used more dancing and less speechifying. Still, I enjoyed spending time in this Bomont, Georgia and really liked most of the supporting cast, especially Miles Teller in the part played by Chris Penn in the original. And good on Brewer for setting his version of the angry dance sequence to the White Stripes! ]

(28 Apr) The Karate Kid (1984, John G. Avildsen) 88
[ “Strike first! Strike hard! No mercy, sir!” Much of the “Rocky” crew – director John G. Avildsen, cinematographer James Crabe, composer Bill Conti – reunited for this film, which like the Sylvester Stallone classic, is a character piece first and foremost. It’s really all about this high school kid (Ralph Macchio) dealing with first love (with Elisabeth Shue) and bullies (led by William Zabka), while befriending an old Japanese man (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita), who shares his life philosophy with him and yes, teaches him karate, indirectly. Watching it again for the first time in 25+ years, I was filled with nostalgia, taking in all the ‘80s music and fashion, but mostly, I really cared about these characters. And then when we get to the tournament, it becomes more awesome than ever and we totally root for Daniel-san to triumph against all odds! ]

(29 Apr) The Godfather part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola) [ review ] 86 95