Friday, April 03, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies with my most frequent guest, the man always willing to let me subject him to bad movies, Las Vegas Weekly Managing Editor Ken Miller, on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast. No video this week, as videographer Scott is out of town. Should return next week.

Adventureland (Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, dir. Greg Mottola)
I think some of my recent descriptions of this movie have made it sound not as good as it really is, but I honestly do recommend it, and I think it's a kind of sleeper that will appeal to a pretty broad audience. It is indeed familiar and largely predictable, but I don't think that's a huge problem. Part of the appeal is that this is a warm, heartfelt story that's easy to relate to, and that comes because of the familiarity, not in spite of it. Even though it's not hard to guess what the characters will do, they still feel like real people with real emotions, and you can easily get invested in what happens to them. Stewart does a much better job of portraying genuine romance than she did in Twilight, and Eisenberg is appealing as always. Like Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, this is a sweet, nostalgic movie about young love that recalls the John Hughes oeuvre (this one is even set in 1987). Call me a softie, but I wholeheartedly recommend it. Wide release

Fast & Furious (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, dir. Justin Lin)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I stand by my assessment of the opening sequence as a bravura standalone set piece. It's no wonder they used a truncated version of it as the only footage in the trailer; the rest of the movie is repetitive and superfluous, a rehash of the other movies in the series (or at least the first two; I haven't seen the third). I don't think there's really anything more to say, although Karina Longworth does a pretty impressive job of bringing some rigorous analysis to this entirely disposable film (just ignore the boneheaded comments). Wide release

The Great Buck Howard (Colin Hanks, John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, dir. Sean McGinly)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I saw this movie at CineVegas nearly a year ago (a shortened version of my festival review is in this week's LVW), and I don't remember all that much about it except how utterly unremarkable it was. All of these famous faces, and yet no life to the movie. Malkovich, as always, hams things up admirably, but otherwise I can barely recall anything else worth mentioning. Opened limited March 20; in Las Vegas this week

Sunshine Cleaning (Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, dir. Christine Jeffs)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
A big week for Emily Blunt movies in Vegas, and she's good in both of them even if neither of them is a very good movie. This is one that I liked less and less the more I thought about it; despite the strong performances from Blunt and Amy Adams, this movie is dour, self-serious, manipulative and full of heavy-handed symbolism. It's as phony as any special-effects extravaganza, but in a way more annoying because people will think it's meaningful. The actors deserve better. Opened limited March 13; in Las Vegas this week

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