Friday, October 17, 2008

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies (well, mainly about W.) with Las Vegas Weekly Managing Editor Ken Miller (plus special guest construction noise!) in this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast.

Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, dir. John Moore)
Not quite max pain; only moderate pain, really (ha!). So, yeah, I'm not a video-game guy and have never played this game and thus can't say how well it's been translated to the screen. But it's not a very good movie, so my guess is if you like playing the video game, you'd be better off doing that. Wahlberg can be a good actor, but here he's awkward and stiff, with the same confused scowl on his face for the entire movie (plus, the whole time I kept waiting for him to say "Say hi to your mother for me"). The story makes little sense, the acting is weak, and the aesthetic is murky and borrowed from a number of better movies. It's better than Hitman, at least, but that's not saying much. Wide release

Sex Drive (Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Clark Duke, dir. Sean Anders)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This movie has gotten a surprising number of good reviews; maybe I'm slightly biased against gross-out teen comedies, but I cringed through the entire thing, and found it easily one of the worst movies I've seen all year. I do like vulgar comedies when they're clever or have some heart to them (the Harold and Kumar movies, the first American Pie, Superbad, etc.), but this movie features neither. It's unfunny, relentlessly disgusting and consistently homophobic, and I found it pretty much worthless. Wide release

W. (Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, dir. Oliver Stone)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I'm about as apolitical as you can get these days, and I approached this movie with a bit of trepidation. But while it certainly has its flaws (many of which might have been ameliorated with a slightly longer production schedule), it's overall an interesting and effective take on a man who's been dismissed by a large proportion of Americans (and the vast majority of this movie's likely viewing audience). It's certainly far better than Stone's last movie, the treacly, impersonal World Trade Center, which probably plays better with conservatives but has nothing to say other than that rescue workers are great. Here Stone's idiosyncratic vision is on display, and even if this movie becomes dated I think it will always hold a unique place in his filmography (unlike World Trade Center, which is likely to just be forgotten). The movie might have been even better a few years from now, when Stone could have capped the story properly, but for the nature of the project, it's a more-than-modest success. Wide release

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