Thursday, August 25, 2011


The summer movie season has ended. Honestly though, I think it had its last gasp at the end of July with the release of the ho-hum COWBOYS & ALIENS. That movie, like the entire summer season, was simply uninspired. One of the least beguiling seasons in some time. Best to move on to autumn with its promise of better movies. But as we depart August, here’s my assessment of the summer highs & lows:
Owen Wilson takes Marion Cotillard to a party just after MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

HIGH: Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was the summer’s best film - a charming, thoughtful examination of one man’s search for art and truth in a crass and phony world.
LOW: THE GREEN LANTERN was the worst. It was that crass and phony world. 

HIGH: Justin Bateman showed he could play straight man in HORRIBLE BOSSES and Ryan Reynolds in THE CHANGE-UP.
LOW: Ryan Reynolds didn't do Ryan Reynolds nearly as well as Bateman did.
The cast of BRIDESMAIDS, the summer's funniest film.

HIGH: FAST FIVE opened early to good reviews and made money.
LOW: FRIGHT NIGHT opened late to good reviews and bombed. (Summer fatigue?)

HIGH: BEGINNERS proved less is more.
LOW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 proved more is less.

HIGH: The all-American hero CAPTAIN AMERICA.
LOW: The all-American Joe LARRY CROWNE.
Elle Fanning is mesmerized (and mesmerizing) in SUPER 8.

HIGH: Steven Spielberg produced the sublime SUPER 8.
LOW: Unfortunately, he also produced the 3rd TRANSFORMERS.

HIGH: Women made hits out of BRIDESMAIDS and THE HELP.
LOW: Hollywood still is making too much for 12-year-olds.

HIGH: Ryan Gosling, the bad boy in CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.
LOW: Cameron Diaz, too tame in BAD TEACHER.
Rachel Weisz deserves Oscar consideration for THE WHISTLEBLOWER.

HIGH: Rachel Weisz's heartfelt work in THE WHISTLEBLOWER.
LOW: Her husband's phoned-in role in COWBOYS & ALIENS.

HIGH: 2-D.
LOW: 3-D. (But not the price! Still about 5 bucks more a ticket.)


HIGH: A star is born, Michael Fassbender. (He played Magneto.)
LOW: Not so fast, Jason Momoa. (He played Conan.)
Brad Pitt marvels at his newborn son in THE TREE OF LIFE.

HIGH: Terrence Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE was a beautifully observed movie about life's events, both big and small.
LOW: Sean Penn starred in THE TREE OF LIFE yet dissed it for being confusing. Talk about being small.

HIGH: We'll miss seeing everyone at Hogwarts on the big screen.
LOW: Not the same with those William McKinley High kids. (Those Gleeks are fine on TV, but their concert film was a yawn.)
Rob Brydon cracks himself up in THE TRIP. Steve Coogan, not so much.
HIGH: The intentionally funny documentary THE TRIP.
LOW: The unintentionally funny documentary THE UNDEFEATED. (Sarah Palin takes herself way too seriously.)

Those are my thoughts. What are yours? And please get here soon TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY and WAR HORSE and THE DESCENDANTS and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and THE ARTIST and THE IDES OF MARCH. We need you!


  1. Some additional 2011 summer film Highs and Lows for me, in what has been too often a summer of discontent:


    THE DEVILS DOUBLE: the flashy, violent and emotional pictorial of a man forced to live the life of a psychotic egomaniac; and a tyrant who has everything and is satisfied by nothing. A visually intense “car wreck” I couldn’t stop watching. Dominic Cooper’s double performance was seamless. It was hard to notice anyone else onscreen.

    ANOTHER EARTH: much smaller-budget film than most out these days, that weaves together science fiction, horrific tragedy and a tender, ironic love story. Terrific food for thought as you consider what it would be like to meet yourself, face-to-face. What would you say? While a little uneven, the many small, human moments that worked prove that a film doesn’t have to be perfect to be memorable.


    30 MINUTES OR LESS: a complete waste of Jesse Eisenberg’s talents after a mega-hit like SOCIAL NETWORK. Was this his “summer break” from quality a la Natalie Portman in NO STRINGS ATTACHED? Insipid plot, clichéd and moronic bad guys, clichéd and pathetic dialogue and humor of the lowest brow. It’s not even worth sneaking into for free.

    ONE DAY: major disappointment that can only be explained this way. If there is no chemistry between, or audience empathy for, your two main characters in a love story, then it is doomed from the start. Sitting through 20 years of “reunions” that glossed over who these people really were proves the point that this should have remained only a book. I just didn’t care who ended up dying. That was the real tragedy.

  2. Thanks Fan, for your comments. I too thought THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE was quite special and Dominic Cooper deserved Oscar consideration for his work. It was not a great summer for movies, but we managed to find some gems. Let's hope the fall has more to offer!