Independence weekend film festival

Jenn and I don’t get the chance to scratch our movie itch very often anymore because of Raelyn, but we’ve been steadily building up quite a library of films TiVo’d off of HBO and Showtime over the first 6 months of this year. Once TiVo rolled out the new “Recently Deleted” feature and fully 80% of these recordings made their way out of the “Now Playing” directory, we thought we should watch a few.

Jenn set the TiVo to transferring (from Living Room to Bedroom – we only have the premium channels on the “main” TV) and I started popping popcorn. I didn’t, actually, but stay with me here.

Saturday night: I, Robot:

Yes, I know this Summer Blockbuster Will Smith vehicle wasn’t quite the box office boon some had thought, but Jenn and I found it to be a rather serviceable wagon story.

Sure, much of Asimov’s plot and ruminations on the meaning of consciousness and free will were gone, but as a pseudo action thriller it almost worked.

Two quibbles:

  1. Bridget Moynahan’s wooden delivery and undeniable non-chemistry with Will Smith were a major disaster. At least the movie didn’t graft a love story onto that mess, it would have been hideous.
  2. Shia LeBouf: Not funny. Not interesting. Not necessary in this film.

Sunday night: Closer:

This was a film that, when it came out, engendered either abiding love or blind hate. I gotta say, I really felt neither.

That said, I think this was a superbly acted, wonderfully filmed, incredible adaptation of a stageplay and that’s one of it’s drawbacks. Most of the scenes felt like two-dimensional set pieces and not something fit for film.

All four main characters are just archetypes of personality traits and not fully-formed people. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, because the movie is all about the deconstruction of certain forms of relationships – it’s a case study in fucked-up bargains of lying and truthfulness, played out by pawns and not enduring, three-dimensional characters we should care about.

Still, Jude Law plays himself, Julia Roberts is the ignored member of the foursome and Clive Owen and Natalie Portman are sensational.

Best revelation (spoiler): that Jude Law’s character has been so entranced by the lies of Natalie Portman that his ultimate quest for truth drives her away – and he never knew her real name.

Heartbreaking, but only in the abstract. Good, but not great.

See it with someone you love to reaffirm the success of your own relationship.

Monday night: Match Point:

Save for one slightly neurotic scene in the first 15 minutes, this is definitely not your father’s Woody Allen movie.

The film starts out as kind of an upstairs/downstairs romance where the motives of the lowly paramour are somewhat in question, and then devolves into a sordid love triangle with sais lech cheating on his wife with his former future sister-in-law. Confused? Sorry.

The whole thing is one long study in serial narcissism as Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the most self-centered egotist I can remember in recent movie history. Of course his subtle Irish brogue and off-putting natural charisma balance his darker, insatiable desires.

The whole thing turns into a thriller in the second half, a kind of Fatal Attraction in London.

All well done and very tense. My one complaint is the use of voice over. If you start a movie with an internal monologue set to the opening credits/scenes, don’t just lose it until the appropriate ending, intersperse it throughout the film. Would’ve definitely helped with the slower pace of some of the scenes.

Bonus points for a very sultry Scarlett Johansson and a wonderfully understated Brian Cox.

That’s all for my Fourth of July/Independence weekend film festival reviews. Join us in the balcony next week when we review Shaun of the Dead.

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