Sunday, May 06, 2007

Recent Hollywood movies

I probably enjoyed Deja Vu more than it deserved to be loved. I have to confess that when it comes down to it, I'm a Tony Scott fan. He's had his ups and downs over the years, certainly Domino didn't work, but I mostly enjoy his stuff. This was on definitely on the better side of average, which has a lot to do with the very credible performances, especially Denzel Washington.

Smokin' Aces wanted really bad to be cool. It's not. It wasn't without characters I enjoyed. Jason Bateman is in maybe 5 minutes and frankly steals the movie. I've been singing his praises for decades, I'm glad people are using his talents these days. Ultimately, the movie just a mess... and worse than that a really trite one.

The remake of The Hitcher is as terrible as one might expect. Sean Bean is good, but frankly underutilized. It did inspire me with a low-budget script idea, however, that I may actually start writing after my current script.

Dreamgirls is not good. First of all, as musical aficionados already knew, the music is pretty lousy, and none of the songs are even remotely plausible as sixties hits. Oddly, considering that, the movie works best cinematically when it remembers it's a musical and not a biopic, which isn't nearly often enough. Eddie Murphy's performance turns out to be vastly overpraised. It's nothing that he didn't accomplish week in, week out on Saturday Night Live. It only seems amazing when compared to his output of the last 15 years. Jennifer Hudson, however, is easily as magnificent as the reputation suggests, and provides every single worthwhile moment - including some that are quite incredible - almost by herself.

Alpha Dog is almost good. In fact, if it wasn't for the horrible, embarrassing, overacted scene with Sharon Stone in a really crappy and poorly proportioned fat suit at a key dramatic moment, I'd have felt it was a good but flawed movie instead of an interesting failure. Anton Yelchin, Ben Foster and Justin Timberlake all give fantastic performances that come close to grounding the movie. Unfortunately, director Nick Cassavetes' instincts are depressingly Hollywood, which is a poor fit for this story. Not to mention, it's an "ensemble" movie that forgets key characters for long periods of time, and Emile Hirsch doesn't have anything close to the charisma necessary to convince me he's the cool leader of that group, the title character, and when the movie comes to focus on him, it stops dead.


Piper said...

I'm with you as a Tony Scott sympathizer. I will find something in any of his films to like.

Still love The Last Boyscout

Smokin Aces was a mess and too preachy for my liking. But as I've said before, I loves my Alicia Keys.

Becca said...

Poor you! This is like a laundry list of bad movies...thou I did enjoy Dreamgirls but will admit it is a deeply flawed movie. You are right in saying the only really great thing in the piece are the musical numbers.

Neil Sarver said...

Piper, I must confess, I still have The Last Boy Scout on the low end, but I do mean to give it another chance. I also agree on Alicia Keys a lot.

I'll should that, while the script is a mess and the look and editing are mannered and trite, the acting was all remarkably good, including that of a few people who are inconsistent at best.

Becca, luckily, I didn't actually watch them quite like that. And I think I kind of needed to get through a few of these, just to say I did.

I think Dreamgirls seriously needed to announce it was a musical, in the sense that people were going to stop and sing dialogue to one another earlier in the movie, as it's a bit jarring a third of the way in when they finally do. Especially since all of the memorable moments from the movie are staged or shot as sequences from a straight musical, but too often it gets lost in the business of being a fake biopic, and frankly that biopic was pretty bad.

Moviezzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil Sarver said...

I would be able to see Hudson being overrated, except that, it being a musical, the songs were literally a part of her performance and she was amazing when she was singing.

Murphy just seemed to be playing a generic Little Richard/James Brown/Otis Redding/Marvin Gaye character that he could very well have done on SNL and I got no sense that he invested any greater truth... or especially had the opportunity to... and considering that his voice is not up to most of the songs - aside from the '70s JB-rap, which was a hoot - it seemed weak overall to me.

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