Friday, December 19, 2008

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies (as well as a number of upcoming Christmas releases, since next week's show will be a year-end wrap-up) with Jeffrey K. Howard of Vegas Film Critic in this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast.

Seven Pounds (Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Michael Ealy, dir. Gabriele Muccino)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This is one of those movies that about 10 minutes in I knew I was going to absolutely hate. It's so insufferably self-important and phony, and makes use of the intolerable device of holding back information for no reason other than to fuck with the audience. If you laid all the events in this movie out end to end, it would be so laughable that no one could take it seriously. But shrouded in mystery and bathed with that low, ominous score, it takes on all sorts of false importance. I overheard someone at a screening recently say that a friend of theirs found this movie life-changing, but I feel sorry for anyone whose life is so empty that this movie could give it meaning (although obviously the movie has its passionate fans, several of whom have left nasty comments on my review). Wide release

Slumdog Millionaire (Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, dir. Danny Boyle)
I liked this movie, although not as much as a lot of people did (it's getting plenty of Best Picture awards from critics' groups), but certain things about it did nag me a little and strike me as false. Boyle keeps the movie visually inventive and fast-paced, and the depictions of poverty in Mumbai often feel quite authentic. But I don't know if they jibe with the grandiose movie-movie story, which is unrealistic and corny and even a little repetitive at times. Patel is kind of bland as the older Jamal, but the kid actors are great, and the flashbacks work well, especially if you block out some of the cheesier contrivances in the game-show stuff. It's a flawed movie, but overall I think it got to me, and while it won't be on my list of the best movies of the year, I wouldn't be upset to see it win big at the Oscars. Opened limited November 12; in Las Vegas this week

Yes Man (Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, dir. Peyton Reed)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I root for Jim Carrey, I really do. I think he can be an excellent dramatic actor - The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are two of my favorite movies. And I also think he can be quite funny at times. But like Mike Myers, he seems to be desperately holding on to the same old schtick, which is no longer nearly as funny as it once was (and seems sort of hollow the more he trots it out). There's only a minimum of mugging Carrey in this movie, though, and it's less grating than I would have expected. The laughs are only occasional, but if you have a soft spot for old Carrey comedies like Liar, Liar (which has a similar premise), then you might get some enjoyment out of this one. Wide release

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