Like most NFL fans I found myself with nothing to do for the football bye-week weekend, so Becca and I filled the time by seeing six movies, between Thursday and Sunday. Brief reviews of all:
– “Something New” was a very cute buppie romance, not quite as good as “The Best Man,” but still quite charming nonetheless. Really, “Jungle Fever,” minus the controversy, and with the races reversed. A highlight? Who shows up in the final five minutes but Cliff Clavin himself, John Ratzenberger!
– With “The Constant Gardener,” I renew my objection to “Syriana”- it’s a “political” movie made for no reason but to flatter liberal, anti-corporate prejudices, with its “conspiracy” exaggerated to make the corporate villains considerably more cartoonishly evil than they ever could be in real life. And not only that, but the plot is pretty much solved in the first 45 minutes and the film just treads water the rest of the way. Ross Douthat had the best take:
Unfortunately, the conspiracy at the heart of the story makes absolutely no sense at all… we’re supposed to believe (spoiler alert!) that a major drug company wants to win approval for a drug that kills one in ten people who take it – without doing anything to actually, you know, fix the drug so it doesn’t kill quite so many people. Perhaps I’m missing something, but even if the evil company managed to use their bogus Kenyan tests to get FDA approval, it wouldn’t take long for someone in the U.S. or Europe to notice that the drug was, well, killing one in ten people who took it. At which point there would be a massive, massive lawsuit, which would destroy the company forever, and probably land a large number of people in jail.
The incredibly gorgeous Rachel Weisz has been the saving grace of numerous mediocre movies, but not this time.
– For a more realistic look at corporate evil, check out the now Oscar-nominated documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” For those of us who had trouble understanding the extremely complex Enron scandal, the film stands as a definitive, easy-to-understand account of the events- without descending into political agitprop, as every other doc seems to do these days. Now I just want to see similar treatments for the Valerie Plame case and the Jack Abramoff scandal.
– “Junebug” was decent enough, buoyed by a great, Oscar-nominated performance from Amy Adams. Just don’t watch it with a big group on a Saturday night, like I did. They’ll all lose interest very, very quickly.
– About two years too late, we caught “Super Size Me” on TV on Sunday. A funny premise, sure, but kind of undercut by the fact that, yea, it’s kind of obvious that eating three meals a day at McDonalds isn’t exactly good for you. Morgan Spurlock is likable enough, but the taint of Michael Moore’s influence was so vile- especially in its ever-present ha-ha-look-at-the-fat-hicks sneer- that it all but overwhelmed the film.
– And finally, a rainy Sunday led us to the theater for a matinee of “Match Point.” A damn good thriller, and a hell of a lot better than the crap Woody Allen’s been turning out for the past decade or so. Not even any subtle Brandeis references, nor any other New York or Jewish stuff whatsoever. The only complaint- Allen already made the same film, when it was called “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and did it much better the first time.
More coming next week, when their Netflix replacements arrive.