Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Quick Bites: Now Playing

So many movies, so little time. The summer movie season is in its prime and there are some great things out now, you should not miss (or at least not forget to add to your Queue). Be sure to tune in Wednesday, July 15 for a spoiler free review of this summer's most anticipated flick yet...Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. We all know what goes down in this one and it is going to be devastating. But, in the meantime, here's some very light reading to keep your mind off Mr. Potter's antics.

David and Evan Rachel Wood. You know, maybe they both have daddy issues?

Whatever Works
Recycling/adapting a script from the early 70's, Woody Allen casts Larry David as the main kvetcher in his latest comedy. Boris Yellnikoff, who once, almost won the Nobel Prize, truly believes he is the only person who sees life for what it is - really shitty. Boris simply feels that it is not his fault he has such a huge perspective on things; it's a curse. While most will be put off by David's unrelenting pessimism and miserable nature, others will be oddly drawn to the character's ability to insult children and adults alike with a most impressive vocabulary of disparaging remarks. Sure, this Allen film might feature a really old man paired with a really young girl and yes, it is creepy. But, Boris also breaks the 4th wall a few times, seems to be aware of the creepiness and David delivers every line with his trademark smirk that seems to say, "I'm only half serious about anything and everything that comes out of my mouth." Whatever Works is a sweet, funny, mildly predictable little New York film and worth a look just for Patricia Clarkson alone as the really young girl's mother.

Oh, and here is something I have never once said about any of the 50 or so Woody Allen movies I have seen, "Man, but that dude in that new Woody Allen movie, where did he find that guy? He was dreamy."

Wood and Henry Cavill as Dreamy McHottington in a not so accidental meeting at the flea market.



First time director, Duncan Jones (A.K.A. David Bowie's son), brings us this smart nod to classic psychological sci-fi. Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, an immensely engaging blue collar worker in the last two weeks of a 3 year stint operating a lunar energy mining operation...alone. Or is he? Shot entirely with models and composites, Moon is incredibly beautiful with a texture and style not seen since the pre-CGI glory days (think 2001). Kevin Spacey voices Gerty, his computer companion who helps maintain Sam and the station in every aspect. But Gerty's not just a voice and machine - he has emoticons too because there is nothing more comforting in the isolation of space than an appropriately assigned "I'm crying too" face. Dark humor is peppered throughout, but that does not take away from the escalating tension. Sci-fi nerds will certainly figure out the twist early on, but that does not make the resolution any less interesting. Clocking in at only 97min, Moon feels much longer as the repetitive score and tight quarters increase the sense of claustrophobia. This is Rockwell's movie and he handles that weight with a nuanced performance in his unique style. It is no wonder that this little $5 million dollar picture earned top prize at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last week.

Rockwell is the only man on the moon.


Lynn Shelton's 3rd feature film is an exploration of societal expectations and two straight men hell bent on breaking stereotypes by "boning" each other on the name of art. Starring Mark "Mumblecore" Duplass as Ben, a nice married homeowner with an ovulating wife and Joshua "Blair Witch" Leonard as his artist vagabond best bud from college, Andrew, Humpday is what happens when two old friends try to prove to each other that they are more than they appear. As Ben says to Andrew after a drunken night where they basically dare each other to make an art porn where the aforementioned "boning" will occur, "You're not as Jack Kerouac as you think you are, even though you've got the headband going, and I'm not as white picket fence as you think I am." Humpday, which was heavily outlined by Shelton, but not scripted, is a quirky and hilarious character study of male masculinity and the reconciliation of the dichotomy between private self and public perception. Duplass and Leonard improvise their way through their 30 something crises and manage to maintain the realism while coming up with some really funny lines. Amusing and filthy at times, Humpday is most certainly queue-worthy, but if you happen to live in one of the few cities it's playing in, check it out and support independent film. This indie is actually really good.

Duplass and Leonard. "..two straight's beyond gay."