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More romance than comedy
This seems to have been sold as a straight comedy, rather than the genre it truly fits in, the romantic comedy. I suppose I should have seen it coming, but did not due to the television advertisements. Nothing wrong with rom-coms. But this one really wasn't very good. With all of the comedic talent assembled, it was much heavier on the romance side. It had a few chuckles, and some pathos toward the end, but it really did not resonate with me. Amy Schumer and Bill Hader were just okay. The celebrity cameos were okay, if gimmicky. By far the best performance was by Brie Larson. If I am not mistaken, I saw her in something recently, I think "21 Jump Street" playing a teenager, (very well) and just three years later, playing a part near her own age, (27 according to IMDb). Quite a transformation. Anyway kudos to her.
The Last Detail (1973)
Much more a tragedy than a comedy
Jack Nicholson in his early heyday. Four years after Easy Rider, and two years before One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He carries the film, as intended. Otis Young was good here, as well as a young Randy Quaid. Interesting casting as Quaid towers over Nicholson and film composition usually frowned on that. Nice turn put in by Carol Kane in a small part. Pretty good photography of the wintry Northeast, and unobtrusive direction. Apparently this movie was packaged as a comedy at one time, but I found nothing funny about it. Seems like every aspect of the tale was basically tragic. Pretty decent film, overall. A lot of profanity, which was sort of the style in the early Seventies.
The quintessential action film
Full disclosure: I have never seen any of the previous Mission Impossible films. Not sure how I have avoided it, but it's true. I do vaguely recall the original TV series.
This is the quintessential action film. It has chases, explosions, danger, tension, extreme stunts, an evil conspiratorial cabal led by an implacable foe, everything. It is unsullied by much in the way of romance, no shoehorned-in sex scenes with the obligatory female character, which was excellently portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson, a Swedish actress with whom I was unfamiliar. Cruise was Cruise, a successful, if unlikely action hero. Good work by also by Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
Jurassic World (2015)
Not terrible (at all) but not Spielberg
This is a fun enough movie, but as the fourth movie in the series, it has descended into following the formula much too closely. Chris Pratt is just okay as the lead here. I thought he was much better in "Zero Dark Thirty". The child characters were annoying and not really necessary, except as part of the formula. I did sort of like Bryce Dallas Howard, though. Also Katie McGrath. I realize that it is not intended to be super-realistic movie. But a couple of the numerous plot holes bugged me immensely. One is kids(!) being able to start and drive a jeep that had been abandoned for 22 years. Wow. Another was Ms. Howards "ridiculous" shoes. She runs full speed on pavement and through jungle (!) wearing high heeled pumps, and never breaks a heel or loses a shoe. Anyway it is not terrible (at all) but it isn't really Spielberg.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Well, a lot of very strong opinions in the comments section. I'm guessing that the Coens would consider that a success. I thought that the film had some very strong points. Excellent acting from Jones, Bardem, Harrelson, Brolin, and Kelly Macdonald. Nice photography and sets. (I'm pretty sure that I have stayed at one of the hotels in Las Vegas, New Mexico that served as one of them) Some memorable dialog, that may have been lifted from the McCarthy novel. Some of the extreme nihilism was a bit off-putting, but that was obviously the point. A big problem was the ending. I hate to criticize a film for being unconventional, because formulaic endings can be bad, too. There is definitely a place for films with ambiguous or undeveloped endings, although that place is usually in French art-house cinema. I did find it in need of more of a point. Perhaps I missed it.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Pretty decent as comedy sequels go
Pretty decent as comedy sequels go. Many commentators are lamenting that this film is not as good as the first one. Well, that is almost always the case. The audience does not get the experience of discovering the characters, which is usually a big part of the charm of a movie. While good at times, at other times Bill Murray seems to be mailing it in. But Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson do very well. Sigourney Weaver also puts it all out there. I really like Annie Potts, but her role (in both films) doesn't really suit her. Neither does Rick Moranis'. The plot is okay, and the gags and effects are fine. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one, too. Just don't expect it to be better than the original, as that is rarely possible.
The Gene Generation (2007)
I am guessing that I am not the target demographic for this film, but I'm not sure who would be. This movie was relentlessly bad. At first the photography/CGI of the future/alternate dystopia was notable. But then it descended into weird overkill, with huge, expensive statuary embedded in the wall of the city, with sailing ships (!) traveling overhead. It only came together for me at the end credits when it was noted that the movie had been made from a comic book. Oh. The plot, the direction, and most everything else was risible. With such bad material, it is difficult to critique acting. Bai Ling at least tried. The other actors either mailed it in, or were just overwhelmed by the putridity of the script. Make a point to miss this one.
The Mist (2007)
Basically an okay horror flick
Well, the last ten comments are all over the map. I come down in the middle. I did read the Stephen King novella, which is the source material for this film, many years ago. It was gripping, like all of his work, whether you are into the horror genre or not. The biggest difference, aside from the ending, is that in the King work, the characters never see whatever is in the mist, only the results. The mist is otherworldly thick and opaque, more than just thick fog. And they never get the slightest clue as to where it came from. As far as this film, there were some excellent acting performances by Andre Braugher and Laurie Holden. Also by Marcia Gay Harden in a role that Ebert called "unplayable". The film could have benefited a lot with a better actor than Thomas Jane playing the lead. It is basically an okay horror flick, but, as usual, not nearly as good as the King story it is based on, which I realize is not always a fair criticism comparing separate media. The ending is quite powerful.
The Messenger (2009)
Serious and thoughtful, if depressing
What an extremely depressing movie, start to finish. Just so you know. Now, having said that, there is nothing really wrong with that. There is definitely a place for sad movies. With all of the (well-deserved) criticism of Hollywood for putting out cookie-cutter films, this is not one of them. It is serious and thoughtful. I've never been much of a fan of Woody Harrelson, what with his weird roles in such things as "Cheers" and "Natural Born Killers", and his loopy politics and hit man father, but he really brought some acting chops into this role. Samantha Morton played her role as an awkward widowed mom very well. And Lisa Joyce was nice in a small part. But I don't know if I can recommend this one.
Hits mostly true notes
A sort of small movie that made it big. The film hit mostly true notes. Ellen Page showed much talent, carrying this movie on her shoulders. Her way of speaking, while a bit annoying to me (at my age) did bring back remembrances of teenage years, mine and others, where young people are trying out a lot of things, trying to establish their individual identity. I would have thought that cell phones would have been ubiquitous among teenagers in 2007, even in Minnesota. I didn't really notice if there were any (other) cues (car models, etc.) that the setting may have been some time prior to that. Anyway, I liked the film, but do not find it as big of a deal as some others have. Oh yeah, and interesting how the Hollywood Left crowd is militant on abortion, but I never heard any criticism of how the clinic was portrayed, and how it influences Juno' decision.