Had a good week of movies ranging from an oddball foreign classic to a modern masterpiece by possibly the best filmmaker currently working. Unfortunately, did not see one film in theaters, but I plan on returning to form this week.
Punch-Drunk Love 79% on Rotten Tomatoes 10 (Netflix)
Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman
Plot Summary-An implosive and lonely bathroom supply salesman, Barry (Sandler), constantly bullied by his seven sisters, finds love when he meets one of those sister’s coworker, Lena (Watson).
My Take-It’s probably too strange for the mainstream, and some might find its peculiar soundtrack grating, but this is a great movie. The movement, that soundtrack, and the suspense of watching an always on-edge Sandler give the film a sense of energy and a tone sustained to the end. I think it’s the best depiction of the anxiety and desperation that can sometimes come with love.
-Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002
Opening Night No Rotten Tomatoes Score 6 (Netflix)
Starring Topher Grace, Rob Riggle, Taye Diggs, Anne Heche, Alona Tal, JC Chasez
Plot Summary-A production manager deals with an assortment of problems concerning his aging leading lady (Heche), womanizing star (Chazez), ex-girlfriend (Tal), and back-up dancers (Diggs and Margherita) competing for the new guy all on the opening night of their new show.
My Take- The cast is solid. The musical performances are all well-done. There’s a lot of creativity, but my basic problem beyond that the film seems so slight, is that the fake Broadway show in the background of the movie could have been better than the backstage drama which makes up most of Opening Night.
-Directed by Isaac Rentz, 2016
The Road to El Dorado 48% on Rotten Tomatoes 6 (Netflix)
Voices of Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Rosie Perez, Armand Assante, Jim Cummings
Plot Summary-Two con artists steal a map, and through a zany sequence of events end up in the fabled El Dorado, a city of gold. The two are mistaken by the locals for gods, and use the misunderstanding for their greatest con yet. Unfortunately, a woman comes between them and a fanatical priest gets in their way. Clearly inspired by Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King.
My Take-The two main characters, thanks to great work by Kline and Branagh, and the writing, are fantastic. As witty and compelling as the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby pair that inspired them. Their adventure, however, is caught between being too serious (human sacrifices, flogging) and light-hearted (Elton John songs, the happily ever after). Part of this is due to the intended audience being children, but I think the filmmakers (like Disney did with Hunchback of Notre Dame) could have went with something epic and meaty, closer to its source. Or, like the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movies, just go full comedy, joke every second. As it is, it’s a decent enough picture. Only a couple of the Elton John songs are good, none of them memorable.
-Directed by Don Paul, Eric Bergeron, 2000
Tampopo 100% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (Filmstruck)
Starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kōji Hashimoto, Ken Watanabe
Plot Summary-Two truck drivers help a widowed noodle shop owner achieve her dream of creating the perfect ramen dinner. Thrown into the mix are random group of vignettes, sometimes funny, sometimes erotic, sometimes just weird.
My Take-This is one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen. It throws a number of things onto the screen, and still manages to be charming, if not coherent.
-Directed by Juzo Itami, 1985
The Parent Trap 89% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (Netflix)
Starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith, Maureen O’Hara
Plot Summary-Long lost twin sisters meet at a summer camp and collude to get their parents back together. Their biggest problem, their dad’s new girlfriend, the young and attractive Vicky.
My Take-The acting, production values, and script all stand-out. One of the best Disney live-action films.
-Directed by David Swift, 1961
How to be a Latin Lover 38% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (Redbox)
Starring Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Rob Riggle, Rob Lowe, Raquel Welch, Michael Cera
Plot Summary-Determined never to work after seeing his father work his whole life and then die tragically, Maximo latches on to a wealthy heiress entering her golden years. Fast forward 25 years and Maximo is out on the street after his wife throws him over for a younger model. Looking to rebound with an even wealthier grandma (played by Raquel Welch), Maximo stays with his estranged sister and her 10 year old son.
My Take-Not well received by critics, I found Maximo’s exploits highly enjoyable and sporadically funny. Derbez is great fun as the pompous gold-digging male.
-Directed by Ken Marino, 2017