Friday, October 26, 2007

Movies opening this week

Dan in Real Life (Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, dir. Peter Hedges)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Even the negative reviews of this have been largely of the "it's stupid but harmless" variety, but I found it pretty much intolerable. I was one of the few to hate Hedges' directorial debut, Pieces of April, but at least the absence of pseudo-indie cred seems to have made people aware of just how pedestrian and sappy his writing is, and how devoid of real feeling. If this were a dumb and/or vulgar comedy, you could forgive a lot of the contrivances because you'd be focused on the jokes, but it's so convinced of its own meaningfulness and emotional weight that all you can do is be annoyed. It's smug and fake and stupidly predictable, and by the end all I wanted was for every single character to die a horrible, painful death. Wide release

The Darjeeling Limited (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, dir. Wes Anderson)
I am not at all a fan of Wes Anderson, so I went into this movie with low expectations and found parts of it enjoyable. The two people I went with, Anderson fans both, had completely opposite reactions: One hated it, while the other thought it was good, and an improvement over Anderson's last film. I agree with that last point - it does feel more human than The Life Aquatic, and is sort of amusing in its first half, before the three brothers get kicked off the titular train in the middle of India. The jarring shift to heavy drama that proceeds doesn't work at all, and all of Anderson's increasingly irritating quirks are on full display. He seems to pay more attention to the color and placement of furniture than to the emotional arc of his characters, and the Indian setting merely affords him the chance to art-direct the background characters like they were sofas. The composition is meticulous and airless, with plenty of long tracking shots across overly posed tableaux. It's like an entire movie in air quotes, but having given up on expecting anything else from Anderson, I actually didn't hate it. Opened limited Sept. 29; wide release this week

Lars and the Real Girl (Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Patricia Clarkson, Kelli Garner, dir. Craig Gillespie)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I am getting really sick of Ryan Gosling and his Method twitchiness. He was good in Half Nelson, if perhaps overpraised, and since then he's gotten more and more mannered. He was really distracting in Fracture, a slick movie that just needed a straightforward performance, and here he's all weirdness and tics for a character who is, yes, mentally disturbed, but also meant to be sweet and caring. Although this movie isn't terrible, the premise was so flawed and executed with such seriousness that I couldn't buy into it. At least it probably won't get Gosling another Oscar nomination. Opened limited Oct. 12; in Las Vegas this week


Anonymous said...

You really showed your lack of taste in acting and film with your comment about Gosling, frankly. You're the type of person that enjoys watching cardboard cutouts, aren't you? Bite me.

Josh said...

Well, "bite me" is certainly a convincing rebuttal of my point. I don't like cardboard cut-out actors, but I do think that Gosling is a bit of an overactor, frankly, although as I said, I appreciated his performance in Half Nelson. I just don't think every role calls for the same intensity as the crackhead teacher, which seems to be what he's bringing to them.