Friday, May 29, 2009

Link round-up 5/29

  • Up review
  • The Girlfriend Experience review
  • Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast with filmmaker and comedian Jason Harris

Friday, May 22, 2009

Link round-up 5/22



Sunday, May 17, 2009


As I once again missed the window to post about this week's movies, it's become clear to me that I no longer have the time to keep up with this blog in any useful fashion. Even the (mostly) weekly posts I've been managing have been sort of hurried and less informative than they should be. And I'd rather take a break than try to throw up some half-hearted content just to maintain a presence. I hope at some point to have the time to devote to writing some substantive posts here, since there are certainly things I'd like to comment on outside of the scope of my work for Las Vegas Weekly and But for now I'll just be posting weekly link round-ups to notable reviews and other pieces, so you can see what I've been up to. Check back for those, and then maybe in a few months for some sort of manageable restructuring.

Here's some stuff to check out this week:



Friday, May 08, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies (well, mostly just about Star Trek) with Las Vegas Weekly Associate Editor T.R. Witcher in this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast, and watch another wacky video segment, also about Star Trek.

Next Day Air (Wood Harris, Mike Epps, Donald Faison, dir. Benny Boom)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
As if this weren't sufficiently doomed to obscurity, it's going up against Star Trek, sure to obliterate it at the box office and in most people's minds. And for good reason, too: This is an entirely forgettable, pointless film, putting an "urban" twist on the self-consciously cool gangster template of old Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie movies (from which Tarantino has moved on, and Ritchie has not). It's also been mismarketed as a sort of stoner comedy, which it isn't; that's a very small part of the story, which at first seems like it could be sort of amusing, but quickly devolves into the lame crime plot, and the humor pretty much dries up. Totally the sort of thing that would go straight to video if not for a studio seeing an opportunity to siphon off a little money from people who are desperate for an alternative to Star Trek. Wide release

Paris 36 (Gerard Jugnot, Clovis Cornillac, Nora Arnezeder, dir. Christophe Barratier)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This is another of those bland, well-intentioned foreign films that I just can't get excited about. It's sweetly nostalgic (probably overly so) and has one really entertaining musical number, but overall it's just dull and so devoid of any tension that it ends up arguing for its own lack of consequence. Opened limited April 3; in Las Vegas this week

Star Trek (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Eric Bana, dir. J.J. Abrams)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I would classify my level of Star Trek fandom as moderate; I started watching Next Generation when I was in middle school, and was a fairly avid fan of it from around the third or fourth season. I loved Deep Space Nine, but I was never such a die-hard that I wasn't willing to give up on Voyager and Enterprise when they ceased to interest me (I watched about one season of each). I've only seen maybe a dozen original-series episodes, and about half the movies with the original cast, but I have a pretty good familiarity with the tone of the series, and the major continuity touchpoints. So I think I have a good perspective on this movie, as someone poised between ultra-geekdom and unfamiliarity. Really, though, I think it's largely pleasing both camps, although of course certain reactionary geeks won't accept any sort of alteration in their beloved franchise, and some non-fans will never go for Star Trek no matter how action-movie-ish it is. For everyone else, though, this is about as good as we could possibly hope for.

As I detailed in this post when Enterprise ended, I would have preferred a different take to bring the franchise into a new era; I still think that going back to retell the early days of the original crew was not the ideal approach. This is certainly a stellar execution, though, and if this is the concept Paramount is pushing, then they've done it justice. But I do hope that the inevitable massive success of this movie will lead to a bit of diversity in official Star Trek product; I still have a fondness for the original continuity, and as I say in this week's podcast, one of things I've always liked about Star Trek is its constant forward momentum. New Trek usually means new characters, new races, new worlds, a new piece of a constantly growing future history, and that's something we don't really get here. I can't imagine that Paramount isn't considering a new Trek TV series right now, and I'd love to see that follow up on the old continuity while striking out in a new direction, and still allowing the movie series to rewrite the tales of Kirk & Co. I do think they can have their cake (make money) and eat it too (appeal to fans), and I'm optimistic that something like that will happen. In the meantime, this movie is more than enough. Wide release

Friday, May 01, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies with Roger Erik Tinch of CineVegas on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast, and check out a very wacky video segment this week on X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Sugar (Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Andre Holland, dir. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck)
By the time I saw Boden and Fleck's narrative debut, Half Nelson, the hype had gotten so intense that I was a little underwhelmed. This one has flown much more under the radar, so I came in with fewer expectations, and I was really impressed. It's a quiet character study with a new take on both the sports movie and the immigrant narrative, and manages to subvert cliches almost the entire way. The supporting characters are a little underdeveloped, and the pacing in the final segment is a little off, but overall this is a lovely, affecting film that explores a completely under-represented aspect of sports in America, and does so in a respectful, honest and hopeful manner. Opened limited April 3; in Las Vegas this week

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, dir. Gavin Hood)
I had a bad feeling on this one from the announcement of Hood, a total hack, as director, through the trailer, the bad buzz from the online leak and the early reviews. And going in expecting such a train wreck, I suppose I was relieved that it wasn't the worst cynical cash-in blockbuster ever, but it certainly was one of the most pointless. Any comics reader knows that there is a mountain of awesome Wolverine material to draw from, but here we get the most pedestrian, connect-the-dots account of his early days that adds nothing to the flashbacks already seen in X2. The new characters are either unrecognizable from their comics incarnations, or severely underused, and the connections to already established back story are often tenuous. Even the action, which could excuse the bad writing and uninspired direction, is dull. There's so much more potential in the X-Men franchise and Wolverine in particular that I hope this movie doesn't kill it off; they just need to find a clear vision for one of these movies other than the chance to make more money. Wide release