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David Poland

By David Poland

3 Weekend Reviews

I’m going to keep these brief, as that’s what the films deserve.

1. Need For Speed – Great idea. Fun to see live car stunts. Screenplay broods for too long. Villain is weak. Director doesn’t really know how to bring the character work that he is trying for to life on camera. Aaron Paul proves that he can be a leading man in films. Dominic Cooper, a really fine, underrated actor, is mostly wasted… doesn’t even get to do serious crazy. Imogen Poots is very likeable, but not unforgettable. And Dakota Johnson once again reminds us of how much sex appeal can be mustered in mere seconds… though makes her current magazine spread all the more shocking for how forgettable it is. But basically, a not-painful high-budget Corman film that isn’t nearly as fun as it should have been and seems like a massively wasted opportunity.

2. Bad Words – Jason Bateman is a funny guy. This is a funny movie. But it is clearly from a first-time director and the screenplay is missing a strong punch. Very comparable in quality to Don Jon, which was more profane on the face of it and lost track of the idea somewhere in the 2nd act. Like Need For Speed, the set-up is stronger than the punch. Also suggests promise for Bateman as a director. But this one is not a lost classic. It’s a movie you would be very happy to find in a weekend afternoon for a few laughs… on cable/satellite. (You won’t see it on Netflix because it’s a studio-distributed film and you wouldn’t be that thrilled to have paid for it on Amazon or iTunes.) Also has one the best “missing scenes over credits that failed to materialize” ever… Kathryn Hahn’s character’s performance in the church basement.

3. Le Week-end – I watched this movie on a plane… and watched it a second time. Really love the performances here. It’s a slow burn, but a smart burn. Can’t imagine anyone under 40 being able to watch more than 10 minutes of it. Jeff Goldblum, in a small role, is a perfect match with Hanif Kureishi’s dialogue… mesmerizing. I would pretty much watch Broadbent and Lindsey Duncan read phone books. This one, in terms of fit with other films, reminds me a lot of Muchael Tolkin’s The New Age… a movie I loved and have watched many, many times, but which virtually no one saw in theaters. It also connects, for me, to the Michael Lindsay-Hogg film, The Object of Beauty. This is the October-of-their-years entry, as compared the others’ late July. But all three are chatty, filled with great actors doing great work with smart dialogue and a sense of maturity in the films. I really can’t suggest that everyone reading this will like it, much less love it. Even I took a full act to warm to the film as it takes its time before showing itself. But I really look forward to seeing this again and again. Roger Michell is one of those directors whose work will be better remembered over time.

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3 Responses to “3 Weekend Reviews”

  1. KMS says:

    I’ll add that the Veronica Mars movie — which I helped fund and saw at a fan event in Dallas last night — is pretty much everything most fans of the show have been waiting/hoping for these past seven years. The direction is a bit pedestrian, and there are a few weak moments, but overall it’s a die-hard Marshmallow’s wet dream. It would probably be slightly entertaining for uninitiated viewers, but I can’t imagine it would play nearly as well without having seen most of the show and being familiar with the various characters and their personalities, mannerisms, etc. In other words, while almost everything Dick Casablancas (played by Ryan Hansen) says is funny, it’s much funnier if you know his character’s attitude and history.

    I’m not sure how this film will do at the box office, given how much new ground it seems to be breaking with both its funding and release strategy. All I know is that multiple screens were sold out last night ($18 a ticket, but we got shirts and lanyards). I really hope the film proves successful enough for WB and the cast to consider a sequel and/or spinoff series. I know that novels (which will be considered part of the VM canon) are already underway by show creator Rob Thomas himself.

    Rating: B+

  2. chris says:

    The other thing about “Need for Speed” is: 130 minutes? Ridiculous.

  3. LexG says:

    1) Why is BAD WORDS a super-exclusive SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT for a week? Isn’t that kinda like having DODGEBALL or THE INTERNSHIP as some LIMITED RELEASE? Is it really an Arclight/Landmark “hipsters breaking down the door” event like a Coens or Wes movie?

    2) Why isn’t ENEMY playing in L.A. at all? It allegedly came out today, but apparently L.A. isn’t important enough to get new movies.

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