So what’s new?

I know this is a movie blog and not a TV blog, but I have to get AMC’s The Killing off my chest. We’re 10 episodes in and I can’t recall a show going so quickly from very promising to very disappointing. At this point I’m just watching it to find out who did it and get on with my life, but I fear I’m just wasting even more of my time. In the wake of last week’s revelation that the supercops were barking up the wrong tree for 3 or 4 episodes, this week we were insulted by them going back and doing some fundamental police work that should’ve been done from the get go which launches them in a whole new direction. Silly. Annoying.

On the other hand, I re-watched Season 2 of Breaking Bad in the last week or so and I think I liked it even better than the first time around. Looking forward to another go at Season 3 in anticipation of the new season in July. For my money, the best show on TV right now.

That’s that, then. On the movie front, you may have already noticed I saw Hangover Part II despite the horrible reviews and despite the fact I didn’t like the first one. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… yeah I’m a fool. The less said about it the better.

Somewhat more successful was Kung Fu Panda 2. I saw it in glorious 2D and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The first one seemed fresh and original and it was funny and charming. This time the look and the characters and the laughs all felt a little stale. The best parts were the opening shadow puppet sequence, the fun action climax and the beefing up of the relationship between Po and his adopted father, the goose. Po searching for his real father was the back bone of the story and it built up to a surprisingly moving resolution. Yet DreamWorks was clearly content to offer more of the same rather than shaking the boat too much. That’s fine, but it precluded any chance that KFP2 could ever be considered great.

The best part of the weekend was rewatching Midnight in Paris. It’s just as great a second time around. Check out my original review of it here. This time Owen Wilson’s performance stood out even more strongly. A little scruffy and completely open-faced, he’s the perfect west coast twist on the usual Woody surrogate character. He does so much with his expressions and his line readings. They still sound like Woody, but Wilson makes them his own.

That’s all from me. It’s your turn. Anybody see anything good?

17 Responses to “Memorial Day Weekend”

  1. I spent all weekend by the pool, no movie theater. :-)

    However, I did watch Hard Boiled on DVD. It’s always nice to spend a weekend with Tony Leung, but this movie isn’t one of my faves of his. Infernal Affairs told this very similar story so much better.

    I also caught The Importance of Being Earnest with Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, and a whole cast of awesome British actors like Judi Dench. Good stuff.

  2. We’ve enjoyed a beautiful weekend in the NYC area, and Lucille and I (and the kids in part) have been busy on the movie front. The eight day span included two trips to the Film Forum for “Buster Keaton Mondays,” and two new openings and a staging of Tennessee Williams’s “One Arm” on Theatre Row.

    “One Arm” is an adaptation by Moisés Kaufman of an unproduced screenplay
    by Tennessee Williams, based on Williams’ provocative and personal 1948 short
    story. One Arm follows Ollie, a young boxing champ described as “lightning in
    leather,” who turns to hustling after an accident claims his arm. Bitter and
    detached, he cuts a path through a disenfranchised American underworld in the
    late 1960s, until at last he’s pushed to violence. One Arm traces Ollie’s
    encounters with strangers, many of them men, and his odyssey from emotional
    isolation toward a last chance at human connection. The staging was persuasive and the performances were energized, bringing a relatively obscure Williams work in a markedly serviceable production, that is at least intermittantly moving. A full review would best frame this experience.

    For the viewing of The Tree of Life on Saturday night, Lucille, Broadway Bob and I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Bob Clark. Bob is an utterly delightful person and a remarkable conversationalist, and the late night meal we enjoyed together at The Dish on 8th Avenue led to all kinds of film and television insights. It’s funny how you develop in your mind a certain kind of impression of someone based on PC communication, and then have those expectations completely met by the subsequent live meeting. Bob is really one heck of a fascinating guy, and I’m sure we’ll be meeting up in the future. I have offered up a complete, albeit modest revieew of The Tree of Life above the diary, but suffice to say here the experience is practically life-changing. Woodly Allen’s Midnight in Paris certainly has it’s charms, and the rain falling in Paris is poetry in motion, but I’m a bit less impressed than the general concensus, in large measure because I found the central character a bumbling soul who is unconvincing as a writer. Typical of his late work Allen offers up some trenchant cultural enrichment, and at least a modest bevy of one-liners.

    I will have a full rundown of the “Buster Keaton Mondays” Festival in August after the completion of the twelve-week itinerary that will include a dozen features and a dozen shorts. The two Mondays that fall within the scope of this week’s diary offered up two of the silent clown’s greatest masterpieces: The General and The Cameraman, which both shorts (The Playhouse and The Blacksmith) rank among the most formidable in that department. Seeing all the films with Steve Sterner and Ben Model providing piano accompaniment is a real joy, and the premium way to enjoy these silent classics.

    The Tree of Life ***** (Saturday night) Sunshine Landmark Cinemas

    Midnight in Paris *** 1/2 (Friday afternoon) Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas

    The Cameraman (1928) ***** (Monday evening 5/23) Keaton at Film Forum

    The Playhouse (1921) **** 1/2 (Monday evening 5/23) Keaton at Film Forum

    The General (1926) ***** (Monday evening 5/30) Keaton at Film Forum

    The Blacksmith (1922) (Monday evening 5/30) Keaton at Film Forum

  3. Enjoyed Breaking Bad seasons 1 and 2 and looking forward to season 3 which will be downloaded momentarily!

  4. I’ll be downloading Breaking Bad Season 1 to my iTunes within the next few weeks. I need new material to watch while I’m on the treadmill and I finally settled on this show. It looks damn good.

    I saw another “old” movie over the weekend, “Kick-Ass,” which I found to be extremely funny at parts, lost somewhere in the middle, and exhilarating in its final act. I totally get all the criticism it received because of the Hit-Girl character but, damn it, I didn’t hate it. Of course, I would never show it to anyone under a certain age. I felt very guilty reading Ebert’s review/evisceration, it made me feel like a terribly awful person, lol.

    May be checking a new release next weekend. At the top of my list is “The Tree of Life,” of course (that both Craig and Sam gave it their highest accolade make it a must-see; when those two fully agree, watch out!).

  5. Ha Dorothy!

    Well, to be honest 2011 has found Craig and I in agreement more than ever, or at least far more than in the past years. My absolute favorite films of the year are THE TREE OF LIFE, JANE EYRE, OF GODS AND MEN, POETRY, WIN WIN, BAL, UNCLE BOONME, CEDAR RAPIDS and WINTER IN WARTIME. While I know Craig has yet to see one or two of these, we are virtually in full agreement on the ones we’ve mutually seen.

    I can’t wait to hear your response on the Malick. Give a kiss to those beauties for me!

  6. What’s not to like about Tony Leung, Alison? Nothing! Also, I’m a fan of that particular version of The Importance of Being Earnest. Didn’t expect much, but you can’t go too far wrong with that cast.

    Sam, my relief that you tumbled for Tree of Life in a big way tempers the bummer (though not altogether unexpected) that you weren’t quite as adoring of Midnight in Paris as I was, but then our enthusiasm for late-career Woody Allen has frequently not jibed. At least you didn’t hate it.

    G9, be prepared for a bit of a gear shift with Season 3. It’s just as excellent, but it doesn’t have the same mystery arc as 2.0 (wtf is that bear!!??) It’s amazing though how the show manages to remain fresh each season.

    Dorothy, I hope you like the show. Give it some time to sink in and allow yourself to warm up to it. I was pretty much hooked on it from the get go, but I didn’t fall in love with it until somewhere in the middle of season two. Up to that point, it was very good, but somewhere in season two it became great.

    My think about Kick-Ass (as I’ve already said a bunch of times) is that I wish it had been about 45 minutes and just called Hit Girl and Big Daddy. In other words, every minute those to spend off screen was a boring minute for me. I wasn’t engaged with the main character in the slightest or the evil villain. But that other 45 minutes was something else and makes the movie actually worth seeing for me, even if it was a bit of a disappointment.

  7. Also, Dorothy. I got the documentary you recommended last week from Netflix but I haven’t given it a spin yet. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  8. I sort of refuse to watch any of AMC’s programming after they cancelled “Rubicon”. Then again, I found “Mad Men” a dreadfully boring, overrated bore, so it’s not like I was really part of their target demographic to begin with. “Breaking Bad” might be great, for all I know, but my boycott stands firm.

  9. Rubicon started out promisingly and wound up a crashing, ridiculous bore and no one was watching it. I was not sorry to see it go.

    I like Mad Men to a point, but I think Breaking Bad outclasses it in every way. It doesn’t have that sexy hook, or the large entertaining ensemble, or the great period milieu, but Vince Gilligan has spun gold out of what ought to be a depressing buzz-kill of a story that has gotten even better the 2nd time around.

  10. None of the films that opened this weekend were particularly interesting and I didn’t spend much time in front of the boob tube, but I did check out Brad Anderson’s Vanishing on 7th Street yesterday. I vaguely remember seeing the trailer for it online, but it seemed to get no publicity when it was released earlier this year.

    Vanishing is low budget, like all of Anderson’s films, but I really dug it. It’s not particularly scary, but I enjoyed getting immersed in the film’s atmosphere and loved the ’60s soul soundtrack (Abbey Lincoln and Mabel John and the Marvelettes). Seems a little odd for a film about the apocalypse, but it works (especially the Mabel John song, which is criminally under-rated in itself). It’s a neat little discovery and highly recommended, as long as you can forgive some iffy special effects and the lack of any concrete answers about what’s actually causing people to disappear.

  11. Breaking Bad had two complete seasons under its belt before Rubicon ever aired, so doesn’t it precede a boycott caused by Rubicon? Technicalities, technicalities.

    I saw Hesher last night and enjoyed it. I was able to get some wacky plot contrivances and appreciate the whole thing, mainly because it just simply won me over. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Devin Brochu were both very good and I even got to enjoy a couple great scenes with the always entertaining Piper Laurie.

    Otherwise, I spent most of the weekend in Tacoma dealing with family stuff, but I did spend the later half prepping for Tree of Life. I watched Days of Heaven, which was excellent once again, and enjoyed the commentary for Thin Red Line and the making of for The New World. I’m going to try and catch up on both of those before Tree of Life opens here on the 10th. I’ve seen them both numerous times but neither ever gets old.

  12. It’s not a technicality if I didn’t watch it, Joel. There’s a hell of a lot of good television I don’t watch while it’s on the air, for the sake of time (BSG, for instance, I viewed entirely on DVD). While I watched “Rubicon”, I thought for a while “Wow, if AMC is able to pull off a show this good, maybe I should check out their other series, and give them another chance”. After “Rubicon” was cancelled, those plans of mine were cancelled, as well.

  13. Joel, I love your mini-Malick marathon (I know, can a Malick film marathon be anything but “mini”?); I think I’ll attempt to indoctrinate the fam into Days of Heaven and Badlands. I haven’t seen “The New World” yet but, damn it, I’ve decided it’s time and *will* watch it this weekend. Exciting.

    ETA: Waiting anxiously to hear your take on Realm, Craig.

  14. Oh man, Dorothy. I wish I could see The New World again for the first time. One of my favorite movie going experiences ever.

    Not to build it up too much… :)

    WJ, I meant to check out Vanishing but it’s on of so many that slipped through the cracks. I’ll make a note to check it out.

  15. Wow Dorothy, that will be fun. I can’t honestly imagine seeing two of his films for the first time in a single month, and you’ll be able to see The New World and Tree of Life this month if you want. I hope you enjoy them both.

  16. I’m with Craig. Rubicon was terribly intriguing at first, but it became almost a caricature of a slow-paced show, testing even my patience. And I’m patient with slow-paced shows. Still, I get that sense of betrayal, especially when a show isn’t properly wrapped up. I’m still mad at HBO for Deadwood, even a little bit for Rome and even Carnivale, which was starting to show signs of life again just as it was cancelled (though much more understandably in its case). But it’s not stopping me from watching other HBO shows. I may fall in love with another show and they may break my heart by cancelling it too soon, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take for the chance to enjoy strong writing, acting and production.

    AMC’s got some strong programming now. I was deeply into The Killing though lately its ridiculous plot twists have been eroding my goodwill. I never got into The Walking Dead (zombies ain’t my thing), but I do loves me some Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I thought the third season of Breaking Bad was the best yet. Can’t wait for the fourth season to start.

    Oh, and I’ve seen no movies whatsoever of late, which is why I’m sticking to talking about TV shows on a movie blog. Ya work with what ya got.

  17. JB, sometimes TV is the best thing going. I don’t watch a lot of it, but what I do watch stands up to the best of what’s in theaters.

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