Heathers. Its high points are very high indeed, but ultimately, it lacks the courage of its convictions. The ending is a copout, although Winona looks great covered in soot, cigarette hanging from her lip. That’s part of the problem: Heathers doesn’t reject the concept of cool, it just redefines it. This would be a better movie if they used the ending from Rock and Roll High School. None of this is meant to reduce its status as a cult classic. 7/10.
The Ghost Writer. When Roman Polanski made his greatest film, Chinatown, he was 41 years old. It was not the only example of Polanski’s brilliance at the time … it was preceded by such classics or near-classics as Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, and Macbeth (well, I thought the latter was a classic, anyway). Directors don’t necessarily follow the career trajectories of rock stars … older directors have made some of the finest movies of all time. But I have a feeling that most director’s careers are like Martin Scorsese’s: his best films came in the 70s (yes, I know I’m setting myself up for ridicule from the Raging Bull and Goodfellas fans). Critics love Scorsese, so a movie like Gangs of New York is praised far beyond its moderate pleasures. Polanski’s later career is pretty erratic, to be sure, but a film like The Ghost Writer doesn’t just remind us of his past triumphs, it is very good on its own. Not bad for a guy in his late-70s. Plus, if Wikipedia is right, I am right, too, for at the end of the movie, I told Robin that I bet the novel on which the movie is based had a different ending, which it does. The movie’s ending is v.Polanski in that Let’s Use My Ending for Chinatown way. 8/10.
Salt. Quite a few critics I respect have announced their love for this movie, and I can’t really argue with their reasons. Angelina Jolie is great in the title role as an ass-kicker supreme, and the action scenes take up a good 90% of the film, always a good idea when they are inventive. But somewhere in the middle of the movie, I realized that I thought it was about the stupidest thing I’d seen in quite awhile. And even the folks who like the film recognize that the plot isn’t exactly the point here. So Your Mileage May Vary and all that, but I’m only giving it 5/10.