Andy Bockelman: A summer at the movies
With the summer movie season winding down, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the movies released in recent months that I did not get a chance to review. Listed in the order they were released, some of these are still in theaters, some already on DVD.
1. “300” – A small army of 300 warriors defending the city-state of Sparta are led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) against the invading forces of Persia in 480 B.C. This ultra-violent epic is riveting in places, but with faults such as its pointless camera techniques, it is more conceptual than it needs to be.
2. “Blades of Glory” – After being banned from solo figure skating for fighting during an awards ceremony, bad boy Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and goody two-skates Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder), the odd couple of the ice rink, team up to take advantage of a loophole in their sentence. Ferrell and Heder play exactly the same kind of characters that they always do, but are so hilarious that it is difficult to disapprove.
3. “Grindhouse” – Two full-length movies in one; the first, “Planet Terror” shows the horrific exploits of mutant zombies assailing Austin, Texas. In “Death Proof,” the psychotic Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) terrorizes a group of women (ZoÃ» Bell, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms). A gritty neo-exploitation double feature featuring fake previews and everything else imaginable, “Grindhouse” is best viewed in its entirety, the way directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino intended.
4. “Hot Fuzz” – A London policeman (Simon Pegg) whose colleagues are tired of him making them look bad, gets transferred to a tiny town where nothing ever happens. However, upon his arrival, a number of suspicious “accidents” begin to occur. This feature from the creators of “Shaun of the Dead” is one of the best spoofs made in recent memory.
5. “Lucky You” – A professional gambler (Eric Bana) preparing for the 2003 World Series of Poker has his life further complicated with a new romantic interest (Drew Barrymore). Bana and Barrymore make a decent pair, but Robert Duvall is all aces as Bana’s father, a poker legend.
6. “Disturbia” – With nothing else to do, a teenager (Shia LaBeouf) under house arrest begins observing his neighbors obsessively, and suspects one of them (David Morse) is a serial killer. This remake of “Rear Window” is hardly in the realm of Hitchcock, but unlike other attempts to recreate the work of the Master of Suspense (such as 1998’s “Psycho”), at least this version puts a productively modern spin on it.
7. “Delta Farce” – Three losers (Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, DJ Qualls) in the Army Reserves are inexplicably forced into real combat in Iraq, but somehow wind up in a small village in Mexico instead. The usual lowbrow humor of the Blue Collar Comedy team reaches a new low, making a mockery of the organization that it claims to revere.
8. “Sicko” – Michael Moore examines people’s opinions regarding America’s health care system at home and abroad. While very strategically constructed like most of Moore’s documentaries, it is impossible to deny there is a lot of truth in this film, whether or not you agree with the director’s agenda.
9. “A Mighty Heart” – While in Pakistan months after the Sept. 11 attacks, journalist Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) is kidnapped, and his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) is desperate to find out what happened to him. Based on true events, the human element of this story is overshadowed by Jolie’s controversial casting because of the makeup the actress wears, which is dangerously close to blackface.
10. “Evening” – Elderly Ann Grant Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) recounts a life-changing experience of her youth as she lies on her deathbed. Flashing between the ’50s and the present, this melodrama is involving for the most part. The stellar cast includes Claire Danes, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson, Glenn Close and Meryl Streep.
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