Thursday, July 31, 2008

DJG / Six Random Films

Regarding Henry * * * *

Directed by: Mike Nichols / 1991

This is a paint-by-numbers early ‘90s mainstream Oscar-pushing drama from Mike Nichols starring Harrison Ford as an arrogant money-grubbing lawyer who has a change of mind and heart after having to start life again and re-get-to-know his family and friends after a random gunshot wound. It’s solid and has a heart, but I wanted a lot more in the moviemaking department out of this one. Maybe it just feels a bit dated and manipulative in terms of moviemaking to me. Though, I could easily watch it again!? I’m stupid though. Regardless, I really enjoyed regarding Harrison Ford (Henry) in a childlike mind and his lack of care for real world hustle-bustle while deliberately knocking over glasses of orange juice, painting Ritz Crackers boxes in folk art style and spontaneously buying hotdogs and puppies. We should all regard and treat others and life like the new Henry. Henry for President 2008!


Harold & Kumar: Escape From Guantanamo Bay * * * 1/2
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz and Hay Schlossberg / 2008

It seems that in just the last six months the American movie ratings system has upped the “down of the anty-panty” on what is deemed tolerable within the frame of an R-Rated film. True, when Harold & Kumar went to White Castle, not a rock nor stone was over-turned without the most outrageous case of vulgarity and sordid twist in the tale of two guys on one unbelievably stupid-awesome quest to quench the munchies and tail. This new tale, taking place immediately after H & K crapped out 40 burgers and fries (among other things) seems to not only be a little less awesome and more stupid, but trying way too hard to scrape beneath the NC-17 mark. Crazy and likeable Harold & Kumar (oh, and Neil Patrick Harris, aka: NPH!) again seem to get into the most ridiculous situations, pre-DICK-aments and racial hoop-lah, though their escape from Guantanamo Bay and drive thru the deep American south and eventual fatty blaze in Amsterdam isn’t nearly as watchable nor as gut-bursting as their trip to White Castle. It’s certainly stupid-awesome fun, but at the expense of trying too hard to push it real good.


Clock Watchers * * * ½
Directed by: Jill Sprecher / 1997

“Clock Watchers” is a solid little '90s independent sleeper comedy starring Toni Colette, Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow who play out the everyday office environment antics and wrestling with doing “hard time” in-between cubicled clock punches. After working in an office for two years now, stories told like this really hit home with the absurdity and sometimes bizarre and pointless world that it can be. All three actresses, particularly Parker Posey, brilliantly play to the lunacy of cubicle land and the idea that this working life doesn’t have to be permanent. This film would fit nicely in a two-pack with “Office Space”.


The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion * * * *
Directed by: Woody Allen / 2001

Solid production design and directing on this cute, little, 1930/40s-throwback, romantic-comedy-caper flick from Woody Allen starring Allen, Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd and Elizabeth Berkley. The film again finds a talky, sweet and clueless Woody Allen performance entangled in a plot trying to get out of trouble and trying to steal the girl who gives him trouble.


Au Revoir Les Enfants * * * * 1/2
Directed by: Louis Malle / 1987

Heart-tugging 1987 film about survival and friendship from writer-director Louis Malle. The story is true to one of his years at French boarding school during WWII when he befriended a Jewish boy illegal immigrant who was secretly protected as a student there. Though very solid filmmaking and touching, the film isn’t necessarily a must-see on a moviemaking level (at least to me), rather watch it on a cultural and educational one. Stories of this era are truly fascinating to me and I really have nothing to complain about my upbringing when the obstacles of past generations or even now generations are told through a camera for me to watch. Two things are for certain...1: I would never want to go to a boarding school, and 2: I would never want to go to a boarding school especially during WWII.


The Savages * * * *
Directed by: Tamara Jenkins / 2007

Bitter-sweet and quite honest story that I feel many people can relate to, yet find uncomfortable at the same time (in the vein of an Alexander Payne movie). It is about an adult brother and sister (brilliantly acted with friendly-sibling-rivalry by Phillip Seymour-Hoffman and Laura Linney) who realize they need to grow up as they go through the ordeal of arranging a nursing home for their ailing father…a father who hasn’t had much to do with them before. The film is well put together and paced, though suffers to a few of the typical trappings of similar quirky family dramedies that tend to frustrate me in the independent film route. Still, this is one of the more solidly played films of 2007.


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