Monday, January 18, 2010

Penny Thoughts: Week of Jan. 12-19

George Washington (2000) ****
Dir. David Gordon Green
Starring: Donald Holden, Candace Evanofski, Damien Jewan Lee, Curtis Cotton III, Rachael Hardy, Paul Schneider, Eddie Rouse

It had been several years since I had seen this film, although I placed it on my Best Films of the Decade list. I’d forgotten both how beautiful it is visually, and how many conscious layers it has to its depth. The characters are simple people, mostly children, but they strive for something much more complex than the world they inhabit. What a beautiful movie.

The Wraith (1986) **
Dir. Mike Marvin
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, Matthew Barry

“The Wraith” is a far cry from a good movie, and yet it’s actually a good deal of fun. Appearing on the scene smack dab in the middle of the 80s pop culture phenomenon, it sports a great soundtrack of 80s laden rock to go along with all the feathered hairdos, shirt-dresses, and colored cowboy boots with skirt combos. And the car chase scenes are really as good as anything you’ll find in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise without all the unnecessary flash and editing.

Extract (2009) **
Dir. Mike Judge
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr., Ben Affleck, Dustin Mulligan, David Koechner, Gene Simmons

The creator of “Beavis & Butthead” gives us another workplace comedy that follows the trials of an owner of a small manufacturing business. While the problems mount for the business’s owner (Jason Bateman), it seems as if Judge has lost his bite. The jokes aren’t sharp and he lets his hero off the hook in the final act. However, I don’t think a better ending would’ve saved this one.

Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak (2009) ***½
Dir. Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze
Starring: Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze, Lance Bangs

Spike Jonze brings us a documentary about the prolific children’s book author who wrote the book “Where the Wild Things Are”. Sendak is surprisingly candid, funny and morbid. Another fascinating portrait of an artist in a year that saw many.

Moon (2009) ****
Dir. Duncan Jones
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott

Classic style minimalistic sci-fi. Sam Rockwell is an astronaut stationed solo on the moon for a three year stint. His only companion is a computer voiced by Kevin Spacey. As his tour of duty comes to an end, Rockwell starts to see things and it appears his situation may not be what it seemed. It’s a simpler movie than “2001”, but made in the same eerie spirit. It clips along pretty well for a nearly single-character thriller.

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