Periodically, I find myself falling behind and scrambling to catch up. I went out of town for work…caught a virus…had to make up things due to snow…had midterms to grade…you, know, the same things we all go through.

Here are a few short takes to catch us up (in the order I saw them):

Labor Day: I liked the last 20 minutes or so, which had none of the pacing problems of the rest of the film. Jason Reitman does interesting work. Juno has the biggest cult following, but Diablo Cody’s dialogue is too arch for me; I prefer Thank You For Smoking, Up In the Air, and the under-appreciated Young Adult, which is incredibly uncomfortable to watch but is also well-conceptualized with a slow reveal that is hard to accomplish. Labor Day? I won’t give it another thought after writing this paragraph, but it’s not the fault of Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, who perform their parts well.

The Lego Movie: Love it! I went without a child, and so can you! Actually, my friend Chad and I may have been the only two grown-ups there without one, but there’s plenty happening to engage adults. In fact, there is so much going on ideologically in this movie that I need to see it again to begin to process the film on a deeper level. Really! Remember, “Everything Is AWESOME!” Not! But, the movie sure is.

Endless Love: It wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. But, I won’t give it another thought after finishing this sentence.

About Last Night: I really liked the original in 1986 (when Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, and I were all considerably younger), and this remake with an African American cast (which includes a cameo clip of the original film) is true to the original but funnier. Still, both movies make me a little sad. Why is it so hard for people to connect? Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Joy Bryant are all well-cast as the leads.

The Monuments Men: You know how you turn on TCM and watch a movie from the 50s or 60s about WWII that plays on all the usual tropes and conventions, and the film is pretty good but utterly predictable? That’s this movie. Great story (I suppose) in actuality, interesting exercise to make a contemporary film in the classic style, and it results in a modestly entertaining movie that feels a little forced.

The thing is, my Media Theory and Criticism class watched two classic films this week by Alain Resnais, Night and Fog and Hiroshima, Mon Amour. These remarkable films, lyrical and elliptical, deal with memory and time in indelible ways. These films break my heart, engage my head, and remind me with every viewing that film is art and art is political. So, given the comparison, The Monuments Men seems even more clichéd than it would absent this context.

George Clooney has served me far better in the director role with Good Night, and Good Luck and, even, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, though it is quite possible that he made exactly the film he set out to make in The Monuments Men.

But, remember: “Everything is AWESOME!”

Everything is Awesome

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