Pillow Talk (1959)
This is an amusing romantic comedy with a romance that could only exist in Hollywood. There is no way a relationship between these people would ever last in real life.
Up in the Air (2009)
I’m not sure what it is about Jason Reitman’s films, but I find myself really enjoying them, even when the subject matter is not something that would normally interest me. I think what it is is that they are just askew enough from the mainstream Hollywood fare to be fresh and different without falling into the “quirky for the sake of being quirky” trap that plagues far too many independent films. Case in point is Up in the Air, which features George Clooney as a man whose job it is to fly all over the country and fire people. Not only does he consider his services an art form, but he has worked hard to turn traveling into an art form as well, honing his lifestyle and possessions to the point where he can get into and out of the airport with the greatest ease. While the premise of the film is certainly topical, it never swells up with Importance, letting its audience draw its own conclusions.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
The look of this movie is fantastic, beautifully translating Maurice Sendak’s artwork to the big screen. Too bad nothing worthwhile happens in this beautiful world. The first time we see our young hero Max, he is wrestling with a dog (while growling like an inarticulate idiot), and doing it so violently that I was waiting for the dog to bite him out of self defense. I am not a dog person, but at that point I was more emotionally involved with the dog than with Max. And Max never did win me over, acting like a punk kid through the whole movie. And when he runs off and enters the world of the monsters, I was expecting them to be older and wiser than Max and teach him valuable life lessons, but instead they were all just as emotionally immature as he was. This left me with no character to latch on to and twenty minutes into the movie I was ready for it to be over.
Where Eagles Dare (1968)
A crack team of Allied officers is sent on a mission to rescue a captured general from the Nazis in the days leading up to D-Day. The hitch: the general is being held captive inside a nearly impregnable castle deep inside German territory. While the number of plot twists in the third act gets a little ridiculous, this is a rip-roaring adventure yarn that features a thrilling cable-car sequence as its centerpiece.
San Francisco is rocked by a series of murders committed by the mysterious Zodiac killer. He taunts the authorities and creates a city-wide panic by sending cryptic messages to the major San Francisco newspapers. The scenes featuring Zodiac’s murders are full of tension and dread. But this is not so much about a serial killer and his reign of terror as it is a character study of three men who are faced with a mystery that is never solved. Their quest to discover the identity of the Zodiac goes from a desire to bring him to justice to just simply being obsessed with finding out who did it.
Coming up next: more overdue mini reviews.