Spring Break Movie Binge II: The Sequel
Spring break is known 'round these parts as "see as many movies as you can while the kids are in school week." This year, we got to the theater twice and saw four movies on DVD. Not bad. I will say, though, that this was not the most rollicking happy fun time group of movies ever. We didn't set out to make it this way, but it turned out to be a fairly earnest, self-serious group of films.
In the theater
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (B): The fear with translating a John Le Carre book to film is that you can't replicate the intricate details of Cold War spy tradecraft and Byzantine plot, and the story will become too difficult to follow, especially once you throw in the thick British accents, at times challenging to our American ears. Well, this movie manages to pull it off pretty well. It was a complex but fairly compelling plot, and I never felt lost. The sacrifice the filmmakers made, though, was that in order to keep the plot twists and turns navigatable, they had to cut out character development. As a result, you watch the mystery unfold, and you can follow along as it is solved, but you don't particularly care how it turns out. Makes for an enjoyable enough movie experience, but not one that's especially memorable.
Mission Impossible 3: Ghost Protocol (C+): Turn off your brain and enjoy the spectacle, right? The high tech gadgets, the explosions and stunts and special effects. This was reasonably fun and had some cool moments, if you didn't, you know, think too much. For me, the hardest part was pretending that Tom Cruise running isn't a thing. Like some weird version of the Wilhelm scream, one of those things they put in movies as an in-joke, only everyone seems to in on the joke except for Tom. Like, for real? No one has ever mentioned to him that NO ONE RUNS WITH THEIR HANDS OPEN LIKE A CRAZY FAKE ROBOT KARATE CHOP? He's never searched for himself on the internet? Can you imagine that day when he finally does and sees how many people have made fun of this? (Hi, Tom!) What a holy-shit moment that will be. He will have to fire all of his people. Katie is going to be in soooo much trouble. ("Honey? You knew about this running thing? You couldn't have pulled me aside and said something? Also, it says on these 'blogs' that many people think I'm a complete lunatic?")
The Debt (B): In the 1960s, a trio of Mossad agents went into East Berlin to capture a Nazi doctor and bring him to justice. Things got complicated. Now it's the 1990s and they're still dealing with the fallout of those complications. Not a bad premise. Well-acted (duh, I mean, Helen Mirren? Tom Wilkinson?), compelling enough. But somehow duller than it should be. I don't know.
Moneyball (A-): Baseball! Brad Pitt! Aaron Sorkin's patented extra-clever walk-and-talk patter! The concept of using data to make informed decisions about the world around you! Jonah Hill! Scrappy underdogs battling impossible odds and the New York Yankees! This movie has literally every ingredient you want from a movie. Oh, I kid because I love. Well, maybe not love. But like. Yeah, I liked this.
J. Edgar (C-): Clint Eastwood is veryvery good at making slick-looking, well-acted, carefully-rendered, slow-paced, gloomy-ass movies. Look, J. Edgar Hoover was undoubtedly one of the most interesting people of the 20th century. He was involved in so many fascinating and important events that trying to cover all of them in two hours is impossible. What you end up with is like the watered-down SparkNotes version of the story. Also, note to everyone in Hollywood: AGE MAKEUP DOES NOT WORK. IT LOOKS LIKE MAKEUP. I CAN STILL TELL LEO DICAPRIO IS NOT 60.
The Whistleblower (D): It's not a good sign when you spend much of a movie reading about the real-life events the movie is based on because the real events are 600 times more interesting than the movie. Just sayin'. (I did this during J. Edgar, too.)