My Dinner with Andre (1981)
One Line Description: Two old friends discuss their lives over dinner.
This movie has something of a cult following it seems, and is loved a great deal by some people. The premise is that these two guys are basically playing themselves (Wallace Shawn is one of them and will be recognizable to most people over the age of 30) and having dinner for the first time in a while and telling each other stories about work, travel and life in general. The entire movie takes place in real-time at the dinner table and doesn’t really have a cast outside of these two. It’s difficult to see what other people see in this film. It’s very boring. Just as boring as sitting at dinner with strangers and hearing them tell stories for 2 hours. The whole point of a movie is to see the story, not have to imagine it. And at least with a book, there are different characters. This was a brutal experience that I could not even finish.
The Heat (2013)
One Line Description: An uptight FBI agent is forced to work with a crazy loose cannon of a cop as they try to solve a case.
Directed by Paul Feig, the man behind Freaks and Geeks and a common collaborator of Judd Apatow, this was a surprise hit of the summer. Sandra Bullock seems to have hit her stride as of late (this plus The Blind Side and Gravity) and Melissa McCarthy is definitely becoming the Chris Farley/Adam Sandler/Seth Rogen of female comedy in a hurry. This movie was funny mostly because McCarthy is so good at playing the crazy person and Bullock is so good at this kind of character. The story wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, but the chemistry and comedy was solid. This felt a lot like the kind of movies Bullock made for a solid decade, but because she only had to be the 2nd funniest person on screen it went a lot better. Meanwhile it is pretty clear the kind of movies McCarthy is going to make for the next decade. This was funny. Not spectacular, but good.
Draft Day (2014)
One Line Description: An NFL general manager wheels and deals on the day of the NFL Draft to try and rebuild his team.
This movie definitely got a good share of support from the NFL, which licensed all kinds of things, and actually filmed at the NFL Draft last year to make it feel authentic as possible. Kevin Costner plays the GM of the Cleveland Browns, who start the day with the 7th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Costner’s character just lost his father, who was the legendary coach of the team for decades. The entire story takes place in the span of about 15 hours. While at times it feels very “by the numbers” it is still enjoyable for NFL fans. Costner feels very “Costner” in this one, and this is definitely the kind of role he can play well at this point in his career. Jennifer Garner shows up again (after her role in Dallas Buyers Club) and it seems like we are seeing her return to the mainstream after what seems like 5+ years away. The rest of the supporting case is solid enough. If was going to give a grade this movie would be a solid “B”. Enjoyable, but far from great.
The Sting (1973)
Two con men team up to get revenge on a mobster in the 1930s.
One of my “list of shame” movies that totally lived up the hype. This was a spectacular movie. It’s easy to see why it won 7 Oscars. It is one of Paul Newman’s most well known roles, and the poker scene on the train is probably why. Robert Redford is very “Robert Redford” in this one, which is neither good nor bad. He has never leapt out to me as the great actor he is given credit for being despite the fact that I enjoy many of his movies. One of my favorite underrated movies of the 2000s Confidence parallels this movie to the extreme, and must have been based heavily on it. The aforementioned poker scene on the train is just great. Period pieces tend to hold up pretty well, and this is no exception. Although there is some ’70s feeling to the movie, it still doesn’t feel too dated. It is a great engaging story with plenty of twists and turns to keep you, not only guessing, but engaged. There is a fair amount of humor as well. Really great movie. Can’t remember the last Best Picture winner I saw for the first time that I enjoyed this much.