Recent viewings 05.02.2008
Summary: Miss'em all, save for maybe Gone Baby Gone.
Into the wild
Based on the heartbreaking chronicle by Jon Krakauer (haven't read a turkey from the man, yet) about an unfortunate boy who buys into the "return to the wild" bullshit that a lot of young college boys do. My persona - and not very generous - opinion (both when reading the book and watching the movie) is had the guy had some legitimate adversity in his life, he probably wouldn't have gone looking for it. (See post above for the "I am free" graffiti by someone who's clearly suffering with the same affliction of a lack of adversity.)
Gad I hate Sean Penn as a director. You can just smell his ego wafting from the screen, and it smells like Brut aftershave with a hint of musty penis, as in the Lynard Skynard song "That Smell." He labors under a particular form of maudlinism that he probably sees as realism.
And this movie didn't need to be over 2 hours. Meh.
Read the book.
Dan in Real Life
A surprisingly boring misfire that obviously was trying to be one of those charming ensemble movies, but really just ambles along until the obvious conclusion where he gets the girl (and if you think that's a spoiler, bless your heart and I'm sorry).
The mom character especially stuck out as a character of fiction. Every word that comes out of her mouth is either contrived, or mean, or both. See, Dan is a widower, and yet she sticks him in the laundry room by himself (instead of his kids) when the whole extended family gathers at the patriarchal/matriarchal homestead. No one, including the mother, says anything nice to him. They accuse him of being talentless, yet he's the only person in the family talent show who can do something. And all of their advice to him is bad.
If that's Dan's real life, I feel sorry for he poor bastard.
Gone Baby Gone
Now, Ben Affleck is going to be a good director if he keeps this up. Unlike Penn above, he keeps his dick away from the proceedings, tells the story, and tells it well. Kevin Smith has said that Affleck is one of the smartest guys in the business and that he could really do anything he wants to and succeed. I think I believe him.
The only misfire is hiring his brother as the lead. Casey just doesn't have the charisma to carry such a big role.
Any movie with a "child in peril plot" has to go a long way to win me back, btw, and this one barely did it. Folks like me who just don't enjoy that kind of a premise should just skip this one.
The Brave One
This is essentially Jodi Foster's crack at being Travis Bickel in Taxidriver. A very flat-footed and poorly thought out movie.
One especially cringe-inducing montage was in the beginning where Foster's fiance and she are attacked by thugs. They cut back and forth between the beating and the couple in bed making love. There is no clear reason ever given why this is done. It has no payoff later. And it just yanks you out the narrative to wonder, wtf?
Skip, skip, skip.