Opening July 6th: Acquired Tastes

None Of These Flavors Are For Everyone, But If You Like Them You Really Like Them

If You Are A Fan
(e.g. a girl between the ages of 13 and 25)
This Is The Weekend For You!

Generally, and particularly in the summer, hollywood tries to stack weekends with movies that will appeal to everyone. Sure movies may have a specific subset, be it geeks (The Avengers) or families (Brave) or teenage boys (Battleship) or teenage girls (anything starring one of the kids from the Disney Chanel) or couples (anything rated “R” that stars a current or former “America’s sweetheart”) or whatever other broad groupings you can come up with, but the hope is that along with the core demographic there will be broad appeal. It seems like this weekend hollywood believed any and all broad appeal was going to be eaten up by a movie that was released on Tuesday (The Amazing Spider-Man), so for this weekend the studio went really specific. They went with movies that will only appeal to specific groups. You think xyz Miley Cyrus flick is specific to teen girls, how about a Katy Perry concert documentary? You think Transformers or The Expendables is tailored to young men, how about an Oliver Stone flick about pot dealers who are living in a perpetual manage-a-tois who get into a violent war with a Mexican drug cartel? Those descriptions either get you excited or turn you off, there is no “yeah, maybe I’ll check that out” about them. They are like liver or escargot, if you love it you really love it but it is not meant for most people.

Savages
Interest Level: 8
Interest Level in Oliver Stone political stuff: 0

I just spent 20 min. brilliantly writing about Oliver Stone’s disintegration as a storyteller, and then I erased it because it was entirely beside the point when discussing Savages (it was brilliant though, you will just have to take my word for it). Savages is based on Don Wilson’s best seller and is a return for Stone to some of the kinds of things he did so masterfully earlier in his career. No one could as adroitly explore the ideas of morality in an immoral world as well as Oliver Stone and it is exciting to see him return to this, with just a hint of pulp. This is a cross between Natural Born Killers, U-Turn, Salvador with just a hint of Platoon. People are already saying that this performance may save Taylor Kitsch’s career after a year that saw John Carter and Battleship definitively prove he isn’t at all suited for big budget action movies and Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson and the rest of the cast are all getting solid reviews as well. No question this is a violent, morally ambiguous movie that will not be for everyone, but for some of us it is really nice to see Oliver Stone finally return to the kind of movies that made him a legend.

Katy Perry: Part of Me
Interest Level: 4
So, You Aren’t A Big Fan: She Never Intended For Me To Be A Big Fan

I keep seeing the same review for this movie over and over again by reviewers who, like me, are not part of Katy Perry’s aimed for demographic. They all say, and I am paraphrasing here, “it isn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it was going to be.” Damning praise? To some degree I suppose, but what seems to come though is that Katy Perry is much more capable of vulnerability and reality in her “documentary” than Justin Beiber or Hannah Montana (oh, sorry, Miley Cyrus) or the Jonas Brothers proved to be when they tried this same trick. And it is a trick. This is part of the new musical celebrity to do book. Release a couple of hits, flirt with sexuality while still going on kids shows and make a concert movie that will make some quick bucks from your diehard fans. If you are a diehard Katy Perry fan I have no doubt this movie will make you smile, I’m not one so I will feel perfectly content skipping it until I watch 15 min. of it on Fuse TV in a year.

China Heavyweight
Interest Level: 5
Do You Have Olympic Fever: Not Yet, But I Can Feel It Coming On

A documentary about a boxing coach who is recruiting rural teens in southwest China to train to become Olympic fighters China Heavyweight is a documentary that sounds unique and yet somehow feels done before. Part sports documentary, part behind the bamboo curtain, part overt capitalization on the almost here London Games. I’m sure this is good and has parts that are interesting just as I am sure that ultimately their will be nothing in here I haven’t seen before, if only in a different language.

Collaborator
Interest Level: 6
Do You Know How Martin Donovan Is: Not By Name

Collaborator is a movie about a down on his luck playwright who has an “explosive” run-in with his right-wing ex-con neighbor. The plot description isn’t going to sell you. This is the writing and directing debut of Martin Donovan. Who is Martin Donovan? well he is one of those actors who you have seen, a lot, but just about no one knows his name. He has been in big budget movies (Malcolm X, Insomnia, The Sentinel, Agent Cody Banks), he has been on a lot of TV shows (Ghost Whisperer, Weeds, The Boss, The Firm every Law & Order and CSI) and he has done commercials and theater and a whole mess of independent movies (semi-famously in The Opposite of Sex). He is an actor’s actor. And now all of that work has resulted in his getting what he probably wanted all along, a chance to tell a story himself. Good for you Martin Donovan, I hope you get to do this again.

The Do-Deca-Pentathalon
Interest Level: 5, maybe 4
Interest Level If You Weren’t Burnt Out On The Duplass Brothers: 6 or 8

Jeff Who Lives At Home came out about 8 weeks ago, since then I have now had to write about the “actor” half of the Duplass brothers, 4 other times and now we have another Duplass Brothers movie! Come on guys, this is ridiculous! In two months tow directing efforts and 4 OTHER acting credits. I can’t take it. Slow down. Give me some space to remember how amusing I find your stuff to be. Now it all is just a blur of mildly sarcastic, quirky comedy with a rumpled charm. And this movie was in the can for 4 years. Why release it now?

The Magic of Belle Isle
Interest Level: 4
Do You Remember When Rob Reiner Was A Big Deal: Yes, Yes I Do

When I wrote up a thing on what I called Nora Ephron’s Mount Rushmore last week after the tragic news of her passing became public my brother responded saying that we were overrating Nora Ephron because she had just died. To his mind Nora Ephron’s singular notable achievement was When Harry Met Sally and the bulk of the credit for that should go to Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal. Leaving aside that my brother may be a sexist it is interesting that the latest Rob Reiner movie is being released right after Nora Ephron’s passing. It is interesting because, while some may argue, as my brother did, that Reiner made When Harry Met Sally sing it was Ephron who continued on to have success, to redefine romantic comedies and to have her name become synonymous with a kind of movie. Meanwhile Rob Reiner, ever since the train wreck that was North, has become largely insignificant as a filmmaker (I suppose technically The American President came out after North, but the only movie he has made since 1995 that isn’t considered a failure was The Bucket List in 2007). This may sound like I am being harsh with regards to Rob Reiner, and I don’t mean it to be, but the evidence seems to suggest when he is directing something written by a great screenwriter like Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President), Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally), William Goldman (The Princess Bride), Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap) or Stephen King (Misery and Stand By Me) he is great, but if anyone other than a legendary screenwriter pens one of his movies, well, not so good. Rob Reiner co-wrote this screenplay with Guy Thomas.

Crazy Eyes
Interest Level: 4
Is This The Indie Dramedy That By Law Must Be Released Weekly: I Believe So

Lukas Haas plays a party guy who falls for a girl named Crazy Eyes and must therefore reevaluate his entire existence. Indie drama, indie comedy, indie hipster, indie dark, indie, indie, indie.

The Pact
Interest Level: 4
Is This The Indie Horror Flick That By Law Must Be Released Weekly: Apparently

Do you know what the “she has a great personality” is of movie reviews? “The cinematography is great.” That is the silver lining people are using about this well worn haunted house horror tale.

Conclusion

I am on my way to a mountain resort with my wife and son for a couple of days and I would feel bad about not spending more time on this weeks films if nearly any of them warranted more time. Look, if you are in the mood for any of these very specific subsets of movies they will be at the theaters or on VOD for you this weekend, if not go see The Amazing Spider-Man (I am pretty sure that is what we will be doing as a family and then I will see Savages on my own).

But hey, what do I know, I’m fat.