About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wall-E Wanted Hancock...

... but he couldn't have him.

Wall-E, Seen Sunday June 29, 2008 at the AMC Loews Kips Bay 15, Auditorim #9, 3 Slithy Toads

I might have enjoyed Wall-E a lot more if it hadn't been surrounded by such showers of critical acclaim. It's a very good movie, but I didn't think it was a masterpiece. The animation is glory to behold, achieving more of a filmed quality than anything else I can imagine. Compare what's on the screen here to what I'm seeing in the coming attractions for Disney's upcoming Bolt, and there's just no comparison. They were trying to get the look of the sf masterpieces, and they succeeded. It's different, and it's somewhat daring. How many animated animals are we supposed to endure? The Hello Dolly thing is an example of this. A lot of films harken back to some other film with the poster in the bedroom or the movie showing on late-night TV, but it's never something like Hello Dolly that most of us have forgotten. There's a passionate defense of the choice of Hello Dolly in the Washington Post from Sunday which I kind of agree with, while at the same point agree with the AO Scott NY Times article that this Post piece decries. It's not a safe choice. Just like it's not a safe choice to have a virtually silent movie for such long stretches. I like that. At the same time, safe choices are that way for a reason, and the movie wasn't as involving as a movie with safer choices might have been, and at the same time becomes decidely worse in the second half when it starts to make safer choices becoming a madcap chase with the robots in white hats and the evil people in the background in black hats. One quick example: why does the captain of the ship decide to take the side of righteousness and get his ship going back to Earth? It's not a well-motivated decision, but it's foundational for the second half of the movie.

Wanted, Seen Sunday June 29, 2008 at the AMC Loews Kips Bay 15, Auditorim #7, 3.5 Slithy Toads

And now I'm doing the sacrilege thing and giving a higher rating to this piece of Hollywood action than to the Pixar masterpiece. Sometimes we go to the movies or read a book because we want to have fun, and this is delightful fun from beginning to end. It's toned down stylistically a bit from the director's Night Watch, but in a way that makes it Hollywood accessible instead of neutered. It's very well acted. Angelina Jolie is having a lot of fun, and it shows. Twinkle twinkle Angelina's eye... James McAvoy is as wonderful here as he is in Innocence, only without the pretension and the period costumes. Morgan Freeman is always good. The one thing I didn't really like was the need of having an entire train car or two full of people plummeting to their deaths. It's a little too unnecessarily horrific to fit in with the overall idea of having fun. I left with a smile on my face.

Hancock, Seen Tuesday July 15, 2008 at the Clearview Cinemas Ziegfeld. 3.5 Slithy Toads.

There are a lot of surprises in this one, and I don't want to spoil them because one of the best things about this movie is that you really totally can't predict ahead of time where it's going. Sometimes I'm a sucker for the cliches, sometimes I want to be surprised, and right now I think it's safe to say the summer's filled with so many same-old same-old (how many comic book movies have we had this year) that I am on board for that which retains a capacity to surprise. The movie's short, under 100 minutes, instead of one of those bloated two-hour plus sitathons. There's one weakness in the movie, which is that the bad guy seems to have been left on the cutting room floor or otherwise colossally underdeveloped. But that aside, I was a sucker for Will Smith, and I enjoyed the surprises.

For the sake of completeness, I've also seen in recent weeks: Zohan, which I did not like; and Get Smart, which has its moments and is pleasant enough but no more than that.

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