Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Movie Watching

My favorite movie month of the year. I saw five movies theatrically this month, eschewing anything "small."

Caught the midnight showing of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I liked the trilogy a lot, and even if I consider this a "4" the "idea" of it didn't bother me that much. What seems to have bugged critics (as well as myself) was the SHAMELESS inclusion of all these other X-Men characters to test the waters for sequels-- even when they had little or nothing to do with the plot. However, despite the bad reviews, and a definite formula, I thought Wolverine did well as a popcorn flick. It was a pleasant, if unmemorable, open to the summer movies.

Star Trek is probably going to turn out to be one of the biggest hits of the summer-- clearly kids are seeing it again and again if you look at the numbers. And good for it. Although I wasn't ga-ga about it (the plot is outlandish), it was an exciting time at the movies. The casting of EVERYONE was right on the money (I particularly liked Zachary Quinto as young Spock). Plus it didn't feel like a film that was all about exposition, even when that's exactly what it was. The thing I was most distracted by was Leonard Nimoy's dentures! (Not, however, his performance-- it'll be a nice swansong, if he makes this his last.)

Terminator: Salvation was the film I was most anticipating. And, oddly, as with last year's film most anticipated (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), I have the IDENTICAL review. That is, it was total nonsense, but if you removed your brain and just sat back and enjoyed it was a solid little piece of entertainment. Did anything make sense, could I easily follow the "timeline" of the Terminators (even though I'm a fan), did Christian Bale deliver a performance that wasn't identical to Batman-- the answer to these questions, is no. But at least it wasn't a disasterous embarassment and derailment of the film series, so there's THAT. My friends and I agreed however, that Cameron didn't show much of the "future" in his films, because, essentially, there is no story there. This movie proved it. It will be hard not to come up with a "2" to this one that doesn't have the IDENTICAL plot. If they were smart they'd "break the rules" and just do ONE more Terminator movie and call it a day.

Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian was best summed up by the 8-year-old kid behind me. During the tag he blurted out: "This movie is so LONG!" Now I know people who liked this movie. Old people. I just thought it was SO talky. Constant chatter and "schemes." And it's very hard to get over the fact that all these historical figures would know so much about eachother's eras. But of course, that's criticizing a movie about wax figures coming alive for being unrealistic, right. SPOILER: A tip. When you're trapped in an hour glass, with sand falling down on you, don't try to get on top of the sand. Just stand in the middle and have it all bury you.

Up is yet another instant Pixar classic. Although I have to say, it REALLY disappointed in the end-- went for the obvious I thought. It's first act was amazing to me-- loved every second. Second act very good, third act just "good." However, it will easily be one of the best films of the summer.

On TCM I saw 1932's Best Picture nominee Smilin' Through (Now I know why it's so obscure: a stagy thing with over-the-top performances) and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (I took some time thinking about this movie, but decided that overall it didn't succeed, if a noble effort; by which I mean I think it was depressing for depressing's sake./Gig Young DID deserve his Oscar though-- a great performance and a REAL change of pace./Also: this was the LAST Best Supporting Actor performance that I hadn't seen-- I've now seen them all [!]).

I also went to the Egyptian Theater here in L.A. to see the original Dracula on the big screen, with special guests Bela Lugosi, Jr. AND 99-year-old Carla Laemmle [who had the first line in the movie]. I'm happy to report that Carla is doing VERY well and has a book coming out. Crazy she's still around-- she also had a bit in the 1925 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!

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