Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Popcorn

Apprentice Writer has been having more of a retrospective than progressive reading summer this year.  Since she has been doing more rereading of old favourites than new reading of unknown novels, she hasn't much in the way of book reviews to offer.  Instead, here some minimalist summer popcorn reviews.

SUMMER LAUGHS (the good kind)

Wild Target 
One word:   Yes!
More:  Emily Blunt is one of Apprentice Writer's favourite actors, and she is in top form here as a petty criminal who gets in over her head.  Rupert Grint channeling Ron Weasly as a muggle petty criminal, Bill Nighy as a prissy master assassin, and Rupert Everett as an art-loving antagonist are all just icing on the cake.

(Off topic question:  How does Bill Nighy always get paired up with romantic interests so much younger than him?  It's like it's written into his contracts or something.  Look at "The Girl in the Cafe" and even the Pirates of the Caribbean films as cases in point.)

One word: Scenic.
More:  The latest in the so-called Princess movies has quite possibly the best-looking animation AW has ever seen, though she was only able to understand what was being said due to her children's frequent viewing of the Shrek movies.  There are many funny bits, a great re-do of a key scene from Tarzan, and the most feminist ending of any Disney princess movie.

SUMMER LAUGHS (the unintended kind)

Cowboys Vs. Aliens
One word: Please.
Granted, the title makes it clear from the start that strict scientific realism should not be expected.  AW can accept that.  What she can't accept is when a fantastical/futuristic type story's own internal logic is flagrantly abused.  There is a scene when characters summarize what they know of the aliens' potential weaknesses, which boil down to:  they see better at night than day.  This observation is made during the day (i.e. when the humans are at an advantage).  Do they use this and attack?  No, they wait till night, when they hold celebrations with huge bonfires - apparently, to make it easier for the aliens to find them.  Very funny.  But this wasn't supposed to be a funny movie.

One word:   Non-credibility.
More: Zoe Saldana, to put it charitably, is slender.  The kind of slender that non-charitable individuals might call borderline anorexic.  This figure makes the cat-burgler  parts of the movie seem believable, but the climactic mano-a-mano fight scene with someone much taller who outweighs her by fifty odd pounds ridonkulous.  Yes, AW realizes that slighter people can do amazing things against larger opponents if they are quick enough and have proper training - but not, she thinks, if the opponents are just as quick and have the same training.  It looked like a Ryan Lochte/Ye Shiwen situation all over again. But the non-intentional humour came in when the protagonist disregarded the wise advice of Kate Beckinsale's vampire character from the otherwise dreadful movie "Van Helsing", who observes: "If you're going to kill someone, kill them.  Don't' stand around taking about it."


London Boulevard  /  Drive

One word:  Argh!
More:  Colin Ferrel and Ryan Gosling's characters have more than a little in common with one another. They are both struggling to do what they consider the right and moral thing, against heavy odds. They can both be very frightening if they consider the situation justified.   They are both of such calibre and strong nerves that strangers can recognize their quality in very short order.  Why, then, does it ultimately take so little to bring them down?  AW was practically beside herself, yelling "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???" at her television screen at key moments in each film, unbelieving that Ferrel's character didn't take steps against something so basic, and that Gosling's character (who was fully aware of a particular character's modus operandi) put himself so actively in the way of risk.  The frustration was so intense it compromised AW's appreciation for two such strong performances, given that the choices were the depressing conclusion that the characters could have avoided certain situations, or the equally depressing conclusion that the message of both films ultimately was that evil will weigh you down no matter what.
AW figures both actors owe her a great comedic performance right about now.  Another "Crazy Stupid Love" and a bit less intense "In Bruges" will do nicely, thanks very much.

What about you, Gentle Reader?  Seen any of these films?