May 21, 2010, - 7:02 pm
The only new movies worth seeing–and that’s only kinda/sorta–this weekend, are foreign films, albeit foreign films from English-speaking countries (so does that count?). I did not see the latest and last installment of “Shrek” because I’ve never seen any of the other Shrek movies, so why start now? Plus the screening was on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, so I couldn’t see it even if I wanted to. Here’s what I did see:
* “MacGruber“: MacStupid. The good news: it wasn’t as bad as I expected it would be. The bad news: it was still awful. Vile, disgusting, dumb, and mostly not funny. Since it’s written by idiots with no sense of humor, the movie repeatedly relies on stupid sex jokes that rely on the name of a villain that sounds just like the c-word and disgusting anal sex references. Come on, Hollywood. You can do better. Or can you? More proof that really bad, very stupid “Saturday Night Live” skits make even worse feature-length films.
The “story”: MacGruber (Will Forte) is a highly decorated military veteran who left to become a monk in Mexico, after his enemy, the villain with the c-word name (Val Kilmer), blows MacGruber’s wife up with a bomb at their wedding. Now, the c-word villain has a nuclear warhead and is planning to blow up something in America with it. MacGruber is pressed into service by the Pentagon and ends up teaming with a female friend from the ’80s and a young soldier played by Ryan Phillippe (who must be short on cash for those child support payments to Reese Witherspoon–shameless name-drop: boy, has he fallen since he sat across from me at my cousin, David’s, wedding). I was sad to see the great actor Powers Boothe co-star in this. His class doesn’t belong here.
Yes, there were a scant few funny moments, like MacGruber’s stuck-in-the-’80s car, soundtrack and detachable car radio. But mostly, it’s just dumb. And a low-class, vulgar waste of time. Not that you were expecting anything different. The moronic college-aged and 20-something boys in the audience just loved it. And you wonder why I’m not optimistic about America’s future. You don’t have to be a prude to hate this.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Harry Brown“: If you like “Death Wish” (as I do–read my 35th anniversary tribute), you might like this. But this isn’t nearly as good, even if it stars the great Michael Caine, one of my fave actors. He adds class and depth to what is basically a cold, slow, half-assed version of “Death Wish” and is set in an English working-class apartment complex in London. Whereas the Charles Bronson version had charm, rhythm, and knew when and where to end, this one isn’t tight and when it isn’t boring, it’s dark, disturbing, and very graphic. Still, it’s better than a good deal of the flicks I’ve seen this year, and you can’t beat a Michael Caine performance. His co-star, Emily Mortimer, as an English detective who is eventually on to him, is pretty good, too.
Caine plays a retired British Marine who fought in the war. His wife has Alzheimers and isn’t conscious. She is living in a hospital, and she doesn’t know who he is anymore. Caine plays chess with his fellow lonely senior citizen, Leonard, at the local pub. Their neighborhood is infested with young criminal hoodlums and gangs who terrorize the residents and have been taunting Leonard. But soon Leonard is dead. They’ve killed him, and Caine avenges his friend’s death. While at some points, it’s satisfying, at most points it isn’t because it doesn’t have the punch that “Death Wish” had or the speed. And it’s much, much darker. I found it interesting, too, that most–if not all–of the young criminal thugs in this movie are White. Given that it’s working class London, where are the Black and Muslim criminals. The movie seemed to skip that fact, though one hood looks vaguely bi-racial.
But like I said, I love me some Michael Caine flicks, and for him alone, it’s worth seeing. Plus, you can’t beat a tough senior citizen kicking some young thug ass.
Watch the trailer . . .
Bonus trailer . . .
* “The Square“: This dark thriller and lovers’ triangle wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. But it was entertaining enough, even if I didn’t like the ending. One of the twists is barely hinted at if at all during the movie, and it seemed unfair to the viewer. But that’s a minor point against it. The movie is Australian and has been compared to the Ethan and Joel Coen film noir style.
A woman who is married to a working-class mob-style thug is having an affair with an upper middle-class builder. She finds a bag filled with cash in her attic and knows it’s her husband’s. The woman proposes that she and her lover steal the cash and run away. But the builder says they’d need to burn the house down in order to take the cash, undetected. Soon he is hiring an arsonist. But something goes wrong. The woman’s mother-in-law dies in the house fire and more things start to go wrong.
It was definitely entertaining and different, and you don’t know what’s gonna happen next. Plus the film weaves in a lot of characters together with deft, tight stitches. Even scenes with a water dog are woven in, which adds some charm.
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: Emily Mortimer, Harry Brown, MacGruber, Michael Caine, Movie Reviews, Powers Boothe, Ryan Phillippe, The Square, Val Kilmer, Will Forte