Saturday, August 18, 2007

Movies opening this week

Death at a Funeral (Matthew MacFadyen, Rupert Graves, Daisy Donovan, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, dir. Frank Oz)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Most of the reviews of this movie have pegged it as completely innocuous, with some decent humor, but for some reason it really bugged me. It's not like it's offensively bad, just really, really hokey, and completely faux-edgy, which is always annoying. The jokes are quite old and not at all funny, and every hoary storytelling device in the world is trotted out. Basically, this is some horrible mainstream comedy dressed up with British accents and a disingenuously "dark" tone, and I found it really irritating. Limited release

Interview (Sienna Miller, Steve Buscemi, dir. Steve Buscemi)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This movie really had me at first, as I do love talky, semi-pretentious and stagy dramas (see: Before Sunset/Sunrise, Two Girls and a Guy, etc.), but it eventually lost me, as the characters talk themselves to a certain point by the middle of the film and then continue to basically just talk around it. And the "shocking" twists toward the end just feel false and unnecessary. Still, possibly worth seeing for Miller's excellent performance; I haven't seen Factory Girl, but in everything else I've seen her in she's been completely unnoticeable, so maybe this one bodes well for her future beyond the tabloids. Opened limited July 13; in Las Vegas this week

Superbad (Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, dir. Greg Mottola)
This movie is quite the critical sensation right now, and I really think the whole Judd Apatow-worship thing (which extends to movies like this, on which he is merely a producer) has gotten a bit out of hand. That's not to say I didn't like this movie, because I did: It's definitely this year's genuinely funny bawdy teen comedy, with interesting characterization (at least for the two leads) and a loose, charming sense of everyone just having a good time making it. And unlike, say, Knocked Up, it doesn't also go out of its way to hit you with a startlingly moralistic message; only the last scene hints at this, and even it sort of implies that hanging out with your best friend is probably actually cooler than growing up and getting a girlfriend.

But this is far from a brilliant film; it's slackly paced and relies too heavily on dick jokes, and the dimwit cop characters get too much screen time. Apatow is not the be-all and end-all of modern screen comedy, and I don't think a whole glut of movies either produced by him or mimicking his style is what the world needs right now. The more I think and read about Knocked Up, the more it bothers me, and the fact that it's praised as much for its dubious "heart" as its humor makes me think that we're in for more Apatow lectures about the joys of traditional relationships in the future. That's all speculation, of course, and for now this is a perfectly fun and enjoyable movie, but it makes me a little uneasy all the same. Wide release

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