Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Leviathan Computer, and a New Passel of Movie Reviews


I finally got a new computer over the weekend, and this is what I picked up. That's right. I've finally come over to the other side.

So far so good. The screen is frickin' giant, for one which is good. But at 24" I kind of have to strain my neck to look up at it (and that's not really an exaggeration), but it's bright and crisp and lovely. All day at work, I wanted to be home with it.

But anyway, so I've got a blog-enabler again, and so here I am again.

I've seen three movies since my last entry, so I thought I'd give each a brief run down and call it a post.

1.) Year One. The thing that excited me most about this one was the fact that Harold Ramis directed it. As you know, he did Groundhog Day, a modern classic and one of those rare comedies that hasn't aged over the years. But I forgot that for every Groundhog Day, there are a few not-so-great movies, like, say, Multiplicity. No one's really thinking too much about Multiplicity these days, and I'm thinking in a couple weeks, no one's going to be thinking too much about Year One. Wasn't really bad. But it didn't try for very much. Mucho Libre, I thought, was a very bad comedy, but I think it only attained 'really bad' because it was really trying for something grander, which is darn admirable. Year One isn't aiming for anything higher than the comic stupidity of Caveman, that Ringo Starr starrer. I actually saw Caveman as a double feature at a Texas drive-in in 1981. They'd paired it with Clash of the Titans , so it was oddly fitting I'd see another goofball comedy about prehistoric hijinx at another drive-in theater 28 years later.

Year One stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as a hunter and gatherer respectively, who embark for some reason (not sure why because I was visiting the facilities when this was explained) onto a search for some dumb thing or another. Not worth recounting. But Oliver Platt is a genius in this movie. Who knew that guy was so damn funny? Not sure it's worth sitting through the rest to see how funny Platt is, but if you'd rather, you can take my word for it.

2.) Land of the Lost. This was the 2nd bill in our double feature. For me, much funnier than Year One. Will Farrell's got some hilarious moments in it (like when he mouths the words "F**k you" to their ape friend Chaka, for whom he has a weird, pathological hatred for), and Danny's given some room in this movie to be really funny, but if anything was holding this movie back, it was that it was based on a TV show that no one actually had a whole lot of nostalgia for in the first place. Probably because it wasn't a very good show. So, kudos to Brad Sieberling and the writers and Will and Danny and the British chick who seemed very nice for making a decent movie out of some sub-par source material. (Special note: Be sure to keep an eye out for a Ben Best cameo.)

3.) Away We Go. Was really not looking forward to this one, but wifey wanted to go and Lord knows I deserve to get dragged to some movies for all the movies I drag her to, so away we went to Away We Go! (And there you have my Gene Shalit moment. No more of those, I promise.) Actually, very good. Written by McSweeney's kingpin and (sigh) pretty good writer Dave Eggers and his wife, also-novelist Vendela Vida, and directed by Sam Mendes, Away We Go is either a.) a movie that is trying very hard to be a generation-defining movie, or b.) a movie that actually kind of defines a generation. Or at least part of it. Still not sure on that point, but I'm having some trouble kicking it out of my head.

John Krazinski and Maya Rudolph play Burt Farlander and Verona de Tessant, a young couple with a baby on the way. They live in a ramshackle house out near Burt's parents (in what looks like Wyoming or somesuch) and both work from home. He sells insurance over the phone, and she's a medical illustrator. When Burt's parents (a very funny Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels) decide to forego the whole grandparent thing and move to Antwerp for 2 years, Burt and Verona find themselves unmoored to any particular geographical location. They decide to shop around for a new city to put down roots and this search provides the basic structure of the film. They visit friends and relatives all over the country and so the film gets chopped into little vignettes about where other young- thirty-somethings find themselves 9 years into the 21st century. The film becomes a kind of examination of different types and intensities of unhappiness, and what feel like basic truths are uncovered but without seeming corny, self-righteous or preachy. Not an easy trick. The secondary roles are done uniformly well by actors like Allison Janney and Jim Gaffigan and Paul Schneider (who's just plain good in this), and the tone, which is so important a part of this movie, hits that quirky, real, bittersweet funny/sad sweet spot that a lot of movies are looking to hit but often don't.

So, in other words, pretty darn good. Mark that one a recommend.

Since I'm not so good with photos yet on this thing, I'll just stick with the one computer image at the top and call it a night.

9 comments:

Monolith said...

not yet one of us but on the right path

Peggy said...

oh peter - you can own a mac without becoming "one of you"; stay unculted Brian - save yourself!!

monolith said...

she has to sleep sometime...

Gretchen said...

Come on, they only take a little bit of blood for the cult rituals. It's not that bad, and you get to be blood brothers with cool people like us!

blankfist said...

Hipsters.

Speck said...

Year One was terrible. Some chuckles, but overall sloppy and unfunny.

Oliver Platt was indeed the show stealer and out right hilarious.

He has always been really funny, he has a couple low key, badly reviewed comedies...He did one where he played a down and out WWE type wrestler with Scott Kaan and David Arquette...its actually kinda of enjoyable.

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