Some Movies

What’s a good way to get over a stupid theft that puts you out >$1000? Watch some movies, obviously.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

I was pretty bored by the first film in this series, and the horrible second one I only saw in snatches on HBO. (Several friends had the same joke on the way in: “Can I follow it if I haven’t seen the second film?” Yes, asshole, you can.) This, however, is a solid Michael Bay joint. It’s clear now that Martin Lawrence’s ad-libbing in Bad Boys II has convinced Bay that ALL of his characters, human or robot, should be socially maladjusted idiots. (Unless they’re women, in which case they’re either moony hot girls or frigid scolds.) Shia LeBouef’s Sam Witwicky may be the goofiest lead of a major franchise, ever — a jealous, bitchy, arrogant, whiny jackass, who is only useful when he’s blowing up robots. Why, for example, does he drive to the secret Transformers depot at DHS and yell at guards instead of preemptively calling Bumblebee to help him out?

But ANYWAY: Robots are in this, and they blow shit up. The other films in the series give us robot fights in barren locations or small cities. This one gives us a full-on alien invasion. And alien invasions are cool, what with the humans running away from danger in slow motion.

Gattaca (1997)

Finally caught this one at the stage when its futuristic design has become anachronistic. It’s very amusing to watch the newborn Vincent be tested for genetic traits, and for doctors to announce these traits with… a ticker-tape print-out! The twist at the end is silly but powerful [SPOILER: the cop investigating the murder is Vincent’s genetically perfect brother, and the reason Vincent eventually outraced him is that he didn’t save any energy for the trip back, which we can read directly into his Titan mission]. The dialogue and love story? Wonderful, actually sort of meaningful. I think it was this film and Wilde that made a star out of Jude Law, and deservedly so — he’s sleek, mean, and impossible to read.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (2009)

Just horrible. John Krasinski, the tall and handsome star of The Office, directs a bunch of David Foster Wallace short stories by incoherently stringing them together. I don’t think there’s 30 seconds of film without dialogue, and the IMPORTANT dialogue is announced as such with BIG BOOMING MUSIC. A bunch of actors you might remember from better movies and TV shows appear, read DFW lines, and disappear. Krasinski appears in order to provide a dictionary definition of smugness.

Nowhere Boy (2010)

It’s about time someone realized that the life of the young John Lennon was amazing drama. (Listen to Plastic Ono Band.) Aaron Johnson, the star of Kick-Ass, is amazing as Lennon — looks, accent, energy, everything. Ann-Marie Duff, who I can’t remember seeing before, is a wonderfully complicated Julia Lennon, whose interactions with John are as Oedipal as you can get without plagiarism. (I suppose the story is public domain by now.)

Rango (2011)

What a delightful kid’s movie — the best kind, with a Hunter S. Thompson joke! (Several, actually. HST appears in an opening sequence, and Rango’s hawaiian shirt is an obvious nod to the writer, whom Johnny Depp idolized and played him in the 1998 adaptation of Fear and Loathing.) The movie is cast for vocal talent, not starpower, so we get Ned Beatty and Isla Fisher in key roles. The action is as good as anything I’ve seen in animation.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

What Yglesias said.