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June movie-watching roundup

I have watched a bunch of movies in the last few days, from PVR recordings made months and weeks ago. Where does he find the time? some may ask, what with tons of football games already on tap. Let’s just say that in the last few days of Natasha’s Mom’s visit to us, my presence was not much required for the family activities. I had some time to myself at the conclusion of each night’s game, as well as several hours over the weekend when I could no longer stand my PC and did not feel like going outside on my own. Not even to play golf!

Pathetic, ain’t it?

None of these films inspired me to write a full-size review, so here is a quick roundup.

Before getting to it, though, I have to mention that my viewing choices are fairly random. Basically, once in a while, I scan Sky movie channels and schedule recording of anything that I think I might enjoy or otherwise be interested in. At a later date, I arbitrarily pick one of such recordings and more often than not see it through, even when it becomes obvious to me right away that I should have not recorded it in the first place.

Obviously, all of the movies that I watch this way are at least a year old, so don’t expect any recommendations regarding new releases here.

The best of the bunch that I’ve seen was The Pursuit of Happyness, mostly on the strength of Will Smith’s performance. For my money, it’s his best to date. He plays a guy with above-average intellect and interpersonal skills, whose dead-end salesman job wrecks his marriage and leaves him a single father. He pursues an unpaid internship with an investment bank, with a puny chance to be hired as a broker, while literally having to live on the street with his son for a while. He perseveres and gets the job – with a clear indication of becoming rich later on in his life.

The movie is a pretty good testament to human spirit and determination, even though I find a lot of things requiring considerable suspension of disbelief. It is based on a true story, though, so what do I know?…

A Scanner Darkly is based on the sci-fi work of Philip K. Dick. It is set in the near future, with US population plagued by drug addictions, and deals with a narcotics cop forced to spy on his friends who becomes an addict himself in the process. The movie boasts remarkable animation of live actors. Robert Downey Jr is as impressive in his animated form as he is in flesh, but Keanu Reeves, who plays the main character, unfortunately, is no less stiff when he is drawn up. The subject and the plot are not my cup of tea, anyway; I recorded the movie because I heard about the animation, and had to suffer through it in vain hopes of finding some other redeeming quality in it…

I followed that up with another sci-fi, Déjà Vu. I might be a bit simple-minded about it, by the idea of going back in time to thwart a terrorist is one that I can get behind every time. Denzel Washington offers his usual excellent acting, with nice assists from Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg and Paula Patton. It is a gripping thriller, the good guys prevail in the end, and no amount of nerdgassing about incongruities and unanswered questions about the results of time travel could diminish my overall enjoyment.

Finally, last night I watched Hollywoodland, which is again based on a true story, this one being the mysterious death of the original Superman, George Reeves. A nice period piece of the 50’s, it follows in parallel the key points of Reeves’ career and personal life and the investigation of his death by a private detective, Louis Simo. Ben Affleck is not too bad as the unfulfilled Reeves, and Diane Lane – whom I always adore – is entirely radiant as his long-time married lover and benefactress. Unfortunately, the role of the gumshoe is miscast with Adrien Brody. As good of an actor as he is, Brody projects too much of a frat-boy persona, where he is supposed to be a tough war veteran and former member of the police force, as well as a jaded wise-ass and a mostly-absent father. Brody is only a couple of years younger than me, but he looks damn too young and generally bemused to pull off the role of Simo… I still thought it was a pretty good movie, on balance.

I have a number of movies waiting for my attention, and with soon-to-come several weeks of summer solitude, I am sure to catch up on a lot of cinema, both old and new. Natasha and I are hatching a plan to actually go to the multiplex one of these days, but there are tons of logistical problems with that…


  1. jason

    I really liked The Pursuit of Happyness, and for the same reason you mention: it’s Will Smith’s best work to date. The scene where he holds the restroom door shut with his foot and starts to cry ripped my heart out. I’ve long thought Smith was a likable personality, which is often all you need to be a movie star, but Happyness promises great things ahead of him if he chooses the right projects.

    I also liked Hollywoodland — I like period pieces in general and thought this one did a fabulous job of capturing the atmosphere of the era. Affleck surprised me with his performance, and, as you pointed out, Diane Lane is always good. I don’t recall having any issue with Brody, myself, but it’s been a while since I saw the film, so I don’t remember for sure.

    The other two are somewhere in my never-ending Netflix queue… πŸ™‚

  2. jason

    I share one with Anne, but to be honest, most of the selections are mine. I think we were up to 450 the last time I checked.. oy.

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