Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: July 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

by Tony Dayoub

Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) and wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) have just sat down to dinner at a nice restaurant. We know they've been married for awhile because while every other couple at the restaurant is engaged in a lively conversation, Cal and Emily scan their menu quietly, mumbling about its contents to themselves; there's that and their mismatched style of dress: Cal, disheveled and wearing sneakers while sharply dressed Emily fidgets in her heels. When Cal breaks the silence to ask his wife what she wants, Emily announces, "I want a divorce." And so begins Crazy, Stupid, Love., the pretentiously punctuated romantic comedy-drama that cleverly embraces some of its own snootiness in its attempt to impart a bit of wisdom about the current state of love.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

A shortlist of the best Marvel films on DVD and Blu-ray

by Tony Dayoub

Once unable to get many of its most iconic characters on the big screen, its superheroes tied up in litigation due to some bad business decisions, Marvel Entertainment now thrives thanks to much of the education it reluctantly received in courtrooms. Its rival, DC Comics (publishing home of Superman and Batman), is stuck in a sort of stasis, unable to capitalize on a stable of comic book characters that are arguably better known than Marvel’s. (Remember the Super Friends, aka the Justice League?) Perhaps DC is a victim of “synergy” with parent company Warner Brothers. The conglomerate’s natural tendency to play it safe resulted in this summer’s Green Lantern, a homogenous piece of hokum that stunk of test-marketing. Just this past weekend, as the annual geek convention known as the San Diego Comic-Con was raging, Warner announced that the release of Zack Snyder’s all-star Superman feature, The Man of Steel, would be delayed until 2013. Meanwhile, the canny Marvel Studios keeps drawing its licensed characters closer under the roof of its new parent company, the Walt Disney Company. Disney purchased the distribution rights for the remaining features in the Iron Man and Captain America franchises, as well as the upcoming Avengers film, an experiment in which multiple franchise stars like Thor and the Hulk will unite with the aforementioned heroes to form a powerful mega-team.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Criterion Buyer's Guide 2011

by Tony Dayoub

A couple of weeks ago, Barnes and Noble began their semi-annual 50% Off Criterion Collection sale. With their sale due to wrap up next Monday, this gives me an opportunity to post several capsule reviews of some recent titles the label has sent me which readers might be interested in perusing before stocking up. In addition to linking to the book store's page online, I've linked each of my recommendations to its corresponding entry on the store's site.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

by Tony Dayoub

The filmmakers behind any potential sequels to Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger would be crazy to abandon its wonderful World War II period setting. Sure, the Sentinel of Liberty's required appearance in the upcoming Avengers movie demands that the character be contemporized. But there's good reason not to do the same in his own episodic franchise.

Invoking the Spirit of the West

How DVD extras enhance the experience of viewing the animated Rango

By Tony Dayoub

It’s unusual to see my annual list of best movies and not find some animated piece by either Pixar or Disney or both in a prominent position. Stranger still is finding that slot occupied by a first-time offering from an upstart animation company. But 2011’s offerings from the House of Mouse are weaker than in years past. Cars 2 is a hackneyed attempt to capitalize on the franchise’s licensing longevity, repositioning an annoying secondary character — popular with kids — as the new star of the series while jettisoning any of the emotional content that made the first film palatable to adults. And though the new Winnie the Pooh redo is an earnest stab at satisfying adults’ appetite for nostalgia, it adheres a little too closely to tradition to have the broad appeal of most recent Disney/Pixar movies: You’re not going to see Junior shutting down the PlayStation to go check out the cool, new animated designs of Tigger, Eeyore, or Piglet at the multiplex with his friends. No, for that there’s Rango (Paramount Home Video), just out on Blu-ray and DVD...


Monday, July 18, 2011

Disney's Winnie the Pooh (2011) Marketing Failure

by Tony Dayoub

As the latest entry in the Harry Potter franchise began its run this past weekend (a series I'd given up on once the movies started to blend together in my recollection) I sat with my 2-year-old in a movie theater introducing him to the wonders of cinema with his first film, Winnie the Pooh. I couldn't have selected a better movie to hold my hyperactive child's attention. My older son, J, is a placid little fella, zen-like in his ability to quietly transport himself into the same imaginative universe populated by his Marvel superhero action figures. He loves sitting at the movies with me and falling into the same escapist's world of pleasure I do. The little one, K, is more of a show-me-what-you-got, rampaging ball of hellfire prone to daredevil-like stunts of frightening proportions. But he's always held a soft spot for stuffed animals in a way his older brother never has, cuddling them tightly as he sucks his thumb to lull himself to sleep. Pooh is his favorite. So while I was terrified of exposing him to the adrenaline rush of the vacuous Cars 2 earlier this summer, I had no such reluctance when it came to Winnie the Pooh.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It Takes a Village

The misguided colonialism in Of Gods and Men

by Tony Dayoub

Last week’s most notable DVD release was Of Gods and Men (Des hommes et des dieux), winner of the number two prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Prix. (Out this week is the comparatively better-known Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of last year’s Palme d’Or.) Curiously, though a sensation in its native secular France, this faith-based drama has received relatively little press in the more religious US. No doubt this is rooted in the fact that Of Gods and Men takes a complicated view of Christian-Muslim relations, a less black-and-white perspective that Americans, still smarting from September 11, may not be ready to accept just yet...


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Movie Review: Horrible Bosses (2011)

by Tony Dayoub

Wonder why there's such a press blackout on pre-release reviews for this Friday's Horrible Bosses? Not even the reliable trade papers like Variety of The Hollywood Reporter have posted their thoughts as of this writing. Predictably, it has to do with one very basic reason. This highly anticipated comedy is just not that funny.