"Honey, could you hustle us up a couple of daiquiris and a cocktail weenie? On second thought, just bring the booze, I brought my own weenie. Oh, she's offended. And she should be. I'm a pig. And I hate me. That's what we have in common, nurse Ratched. We both hate me. " — John Goodman as Harling Mays in Flight
|Flight (2012, USA)
I generally turn away from movies about alcoholics, but I stuck around to see what happened with this one. I was hoping for a bit more on the NTSB aircraft accident investigation process, but what there was was interesting, focused on the interaction between the different parties to an aircraft accident (the pilots’ union, the manufacturers, the airlines, the NTSB), and I think anyone with a bit of knowledge about the industry would agree the movie gets most of it right. I think what they got wrong was the lawyer’s freakishly easy ability to quash a damning blood alcohol test. As for the alcoholism: Denzel Washington played it well. I hated his character, but he played it well. Overall a very good movie, just difficult to watch, and people who live with alcoholics will probably have the same reaction I had.
|Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012, USA)
A sweet romance with Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley. Carrell plays it straight; Knightley is down-to-earth. I don't know that an end-of-the-world scenario is really necessary to bring out the romance between these two: surely some lesser calamity resulting in an unlikely man/woman pairing could have been devised. The sic-fi touch will probably draw more men, though, and maybe that's why they did it ... there have been a lot of end-times movies lately, so maybe they were just cashing in on a fad. But as a romance, this really is a sweet one, and we enjoyed watching it.
|Premium Rush (2012, USA)
I wasn't sure about this one but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Pretty much a pure chase movie, and if you've ridden a bicycle in city traffic and have an appreciation for the dangers, a damned scary movie as well. The story is simple, the chase scenes are great, and the villain is villainous enough to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Bicyclists be warned: while the riding scenes are realistic, there's a certain amount of smug and annoying hipster no-brakes fixie bullshit to wade through. Viewers with brains be warned: the flash mob scene is bullshit and hokey beyond belief. Still, these are two very minor objections. You'll get your money's worth out of this movie.
|Little Birds (2011, USA)
I came close to giving up on this one during the depressing and glum opening sequence, with the unhappy girls and all the unhappy adults going nowhere in their Salton Sea trailer park slum. But once the girls run away to LA things get very interesting indeed. Little Birds is a gritty coming of age story for young girls, and the last 20 minutes are riveting. By the way, I'm becoming quite the Juno Temple fan.
|Compliance (2012, USA)
What I knew going in: Compliance is based on a true story and it's supposed to be uncomfortable to watch (it started an audience riot at Sundance). You'd think, knowing this beforehand, I’d have been able to watch dispassionately. Not so. I became so upset I started shouting and rioting all by myself. When I was still a teenager a co-worker stole a lot of merchandise. During the investigation, cops tried to browbeat false confessions out of the rest of us. I managed to hold my head up under the pressure but was scared to death the whole time. What I learned from that incident was to distrust authority. The employees of the McDonalds in Kentucky where the actual incident took place had never learned that lesson. One by one they fell for the outrageous demands of a prank caller posing as a cop, until a handyman finally waved the bullshit flag. What I did not know was how far the perpetrator and his victims went. I knew the young girl had been talked into disrobing; I didn't know what happened after and that's what upset me so, that anyone could be so trusting. In a more rational world, every high school junior or senior would be forced to watch this movie in class, followed by an open discussion about when – and when not – to question authority.
|The Samaritan (2012, USA)
Aware of poor critical and viewer reactions beforehand, I ordered this movie anyway ... I mean, c'mon, Samuel Jackson ... and of course it turned out I shouldn't have. The Samaritan is dreary and derivative. Ex-con tries to go straight but his past catches up with him: I've seen it a dozen times before, and that's probably an underestimate. Everything is grim and dark, characters aren't consistent, it doesn't have anything new to say, and the emphasis on physical violence and its bloody effects is the next thing to porn. I felt ripped off. Note: this movie has been retitled Fury and may be being marketed again to a new DVD rental audience -- don't bite!
|Robot & Frank (2012, USA)
A bit thin but nonetheless enjoyable. In the near future, an elderly and now retired cat burgler with mild dementia is given a helper robot by his son. The old guy recruits his helper into a life of crime. His memory, full of gaps when it comes to his own family, is excellent otherwise: he retains his criminal skills and cunning, so manages to pull of a nearly perfect crime: the imperfection is that the robot, who helped him with the theft, has a downloadable memory and thus can be used as a witness against him. In the end he has to kill the robot who has become his friend by reformatting its memory. Sorry for the spoiler, but there it is. The small-town New England setting, and Frank Langella in particular, carry this small movie along and make it charmingly watchable.
|The Avengers (2012, USA)
A special effects orgy that drags on for two hours and change, with little internal plot or character consistency. I rate it as high as I do purely on the strength of the CGI. Adults who read comic books will probably like this splashy, colorful, violent movie. Personally, I think adults who still read Marvel comics are retards … and so am I for thinking I might have gotten some pleasure out of watching this.
|Skyfall (2012, UK)
You can’t go wrong with a Bond film so long as it stars Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, who is Connery’s equal in every way. This one centers on a supervillain played by Javier Bardem, a computer-age Blofeld with unexpected depth of character. We also learn a bit of Commander Bond’s backstory. I totally enjoyed this one ... it took my mind off all my troubles and gave me my money’s worth in entertainment. Some of the best things about the Danial Craig Bond movies are the frequent in-jokes and references back to the Sean Connery classics, and Skyfall contains many such zingers. Finally, I must say as a motorcyclist the bike chase through Istanbul was marvelous.
Knew It Was Crap But Watched It Anyway
|Sinister (2012, USA)
Another gory, boring, predictable ghost story. By the halfway point I was spending as much time on Twitter as I was on the movie; by the end I was asleep. Where is it chiseled in stone that movies like this all have to be the same?