first season finales: the killing and game of thrones
falling skies series premiere

what i watched last week

Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010). Atmospheric, but overlong and perhaps not as profound as was intended. There are things to like, including a look at the Barcelona that doesn’t appear in the tourist guides. But the film is simultaneously sprawling and monochromatic. Javier Bardem, though, deserves all the acclaim he received; he is the reason to see the movie.

The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972). Once again, I find myself in the minority when it comes to comedy. This film has been praised by everyone from Kael to Ebert to Phil Dellio, who had it as #50 on his Facebook list. The best I can say for The Heartbreak Kid is that I get what its champions are saying. May’s direction gives us satire that isn’t too mean, and the acting of the leads is fine and then some. But I am not surprised this film was compared to The Graduate, another popular comedy where I get why it’s popular more than I actually like it. Charles Grodin does his thing, and I like his thing … more so in Midnight Run than here, but he’s fine. But he is never likable, and if that was the point, OK, but I think we are supposed to identify with him, at least at first, when his honeymoon goes bad just because his new wife likes egg salad and Milky Ways. Jeannie Berlin deserves a better fate; I was always on her side, but as often as not, she’s treated with barely-concealed disdain, overcome only by Berlin’s wonderful performance. The same goes for Cybill Shepherd, who gives hints of the comedic talents she would eventually display, but is used mostly for her beauty. Ultimately, I find The Heartbreak Kid to be a movie filled with characters I didn’t like, and characters I did like who were presented in unlikable ways.

Super 8 (J.J. Abrams, 2011). This is an example of how to make a summer blockbuster that is actually worth watching. It takes its time getting to the CGI, and that’s a good thing, because the time is spent creating characters we care about, characters who are distinct from one another … if this was a non-sci-fi story about kids in 1979, it would still be good, it doesn’t need the FX to cover up for the general lameness because it’s not lame. The sci-fi stuff is good, too, though, so this one should please everyone. I also had some serious nostalgia in the scenes about making a Super 8 movie. From the packages of film to the copy of Super 8 Magazine, so much of those scenes took me back to my own time in the 70s as a budding film maker. (Oh, and Elle Fanning is really, really good.)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977). #25 on my Facebook Fave Fifty list. #128 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 movies of all time.

Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998). #24 on my Facebook list.



Super 8: I have to say the long scenes of 4 kids screaming at each other got to me on a few occasions making it hard to focus on anything other than being annoyed, but over all it was a good movie. I was not a big fan of the very end though. It felt rushed when the rest of the movie seemed to take it's time building the emotion of the characters and their connections.

Steven Rubio

Yeah, the ending seemed a bit overblown to me, as if they felt the need to spend some money to keep up with the Michael Bays of the world.

Phil Dellio

Better than I expected, unless you're holding back for my benefit.

Steven Rubio

Not at all. One of the good things about reading people you respect is that they give you a different angle than you might have seen otherwise. I've noted before that there's a bit of statistical skewing here, in that the Jeff/Phil Faves I'm watching are ones I haven't seen, so I haven't written anything about Fargo, or Jackie Brown, or Body Snatchers, movies that would get much higher than a 6. Anyway, I read your post on Heartbreak Kid, and it intrigues me, and when I watch the movie, you're there with me in an odd sort of way. It makes the movie-watching experience better, but it also hopefully makes me understand the movie better.

Jonathan Bernstein

I've never seen Heartbreak Kid, but I'm a strong believer that Ishtar is a fun movie -- very funny at times, and entertaining enough the rest of the time. Granted, I'm a sucker for Warren Beatty always, and I like Grodin, but I've never quite seen why everyone hates it (or, at least, I've never believed that the reason people hated it has anything to do with the actual movie).


Just saw Super 8 and liked it a lot. You're right about Elle Fanning, she's a lot of the glue that holds it all together, that early rehearsal scene was like a mini-showcase of what was to come (I liked her in Somewhere too, which is quite different). This has Close Encounters and E.T. scribbled all over it obviously, but more like homage than rip-off because they get so much of it right. Interesting how aliens have started looking like Swamp Thing lately (this, District 9, Cloverfield). Did you stick around for the zombie movie with the credits? I loved that too.

Steven Rubio

Yes, we saw the credits. Lucky, since we usually leave. Ah, Swamp Thing. One of the most poignant moments in screen history has to be the scene where Adrienne Barbeau is having a nude swim, and Swamp Thing watches her from afar, knowing that there's no chance of her ever becoming Mrs. Thing.

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