AFI DOCS 2014 (Days 3&4)

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly faithful to the stellar book, and that’s both good and bad. At times, the stars (the human, not celestial ones) feel like they’re doing a straight re-enactment of the best-selling novel by John Green. The book, and movie tell the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who share an acerbic wit, a healthy dose of sarcasm, and a battle against cancer. They meet in a support group that they both disdain, and quickly fall in love. They are soul mates on borrowed time.

Tammy

Tammy is just okay, which translates into disappointing. I generally like Melissa McCarthy, but her shtick is getting old. I felt like I was watching the same (disappointing) character she played in Identify Thief, only this time she shares a car ride with Susan Sarandon instead of Jason Bateman. Or the same character she played in the more solid comedy The Heat with Sandra Bullock.

Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey

The AFI Documentary Festival opened in Washington, DC on June 18th with a selection that proved both informative and entertaining: Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey.

I’ve been living under a rock, so I wasn’t all that aware that actor Hal Holbrook has been playing Mark Twain on stage for 60 years. SIXTY YEARS!!!! At 89, the guy is a scholar and a stud.

Jersey Boys

If you like the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, then treat yourself to Jersey Boys, the award-winning broadway musical-turned-movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie isn’t as good as the stage version, but it’s certainly cheaper and the music is the same, as are a few of the lead actors. Unfortunately, stage acting doesn’t always translate onto the big screen, and while these guys are all solid singers, the acting comes off a bit forced and inconsistent. Fortunately, the familiar musical numbers help keep the audience engaged, even when the story starts to falter. From ‘Sherry,’ ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ to ‘Rag Doll,’ ‘Oh What a Night,’ ‘My Eyes Adore You,’ etc. That’s a lotta hits.

22 Jump Street

There’s a running joke in 22 Jump Street that unabashedly acknowledges that the sequel is basically the exact same movie as 21 Jump Street, except with a bigger budget. No joke. It’s basically the exact same movie, except it takes place on a local college campus instead of a local high school and employs the kinds of special effects and car chases employed by bigger-budget films. The plot is basically the same. The jokes are basically the same. The entertainment value is basically the same. And if you recall (or choose to read) my original review of 21 Jump Street, then you’ll understand why 22 Jump Street works quite well – for what it is.

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow takes bits and pieces from a bunch of sci-fi fantasy, superhero, apocalyptic war movies and mashes them up into one solidly entertaining flick. In a nutshell, it’s Groundhog Day meets Independence Day. The plot is somewhat straightforward: An Army officer named Cage (Tom Cruise) who’s made a career as a PR flak (to avoid combat) gets thrown into battle. A close encounter with some alien thing results in Cage having to relive the same day over and over again until he can gather all the mental and physical ammunition he needs to save the world from an alien invasion. He enlists the help of a super soldier named Rita (Emily Blunt) who is the only other person who can sort of understand what he’s going through.

Blended

Adam Sandler movies tend to be hit or miss for me – with the misses far outweighing the hits in recent years. But he’s definitely found a winning formula with Drew Barrymore. Blended isn’t as good as their previous joint offerings (50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer) but it’s still an amusing flick that the whole family can watch together without being terribly mortified, embarrassed or disgusted.

Million Dollar Arm

Slumdog Millionaire meets Jerry Maguire? That’s a major-league oversimplification, but Million Dollar Arm works for a lot of the same reasons that those flicks did: good writing, good story, great casting, a lot of humor, and even more heart. Plus, it’s based on real events, which makes it even more endearing. This flick goes in the ‘win’ column for chicks and dudes alike.

Neighbors

Neighbors is, well, exactly what you might expect from an R-rated comedy about a feud between neighbors. Here’s the premise: Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) are a happily-married couple with a cute, scene-stealing baby who have grand illusions of being cool, hip suburbanites – even when a fraternity (led by the uber-buff Zac Efron) moves in next door. But the frat’s partying ways quickly spark a feud that escalates into an all-out war of debauchery and misunderstanding.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

First things first: Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spidey) and his on-and-off-screen love interest Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) are disgustingly cute together. And it totally works. In fact, their chemistry is key to this sequel to the 2012 reboot, especially for those who aren’t well-versed or deeply invested in the superhero/supervillain comic universe.