Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 monthly movie list: July edition

  1. Enough Said (amazingly real rom-com about older people looking for love)
  2. Pain & Gain (a fascinating and fun true-crime story)
  3. Blue is the Warmest Color (very realistic in its fashion--that is, it's long and there are boring moments, but it really immerses you in the main character's life)
  4. Oblivion (at least it looked sort of interesting, with the post-apoc landscape and the shiny shiny toys)
  5. The Conjuring (some good old school scares, but almost a self-parody in parts)
  6. Now You See Me (some fun character interactions in this over-stuffed magician-heist film, but hard to take seriously on any level and not all that fun)
  7. The Ice Harvest (not a good Harold Ramis comedy-noir, but an interesting attempt)
  8. Solomon Kane (cheesy ending with monsters galore)
  9. The Raven (not a good movie, but saved by the over-the-top acting of John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe)
  10. R.I.P.D. (a lazy and poorly done re-tread of various cop + weird stories)
The film I saw most recently was Now You See Me, which takes its heist plans to a ridiculous level of planning. That is, heist films now often have a moment where the good heisters get caught or where something goes wrong in their plan--but, surprise!, that seeming setback was all part of their plan. The real difficulty with something like this is that the screenwriters want to fool the audience by having the characters act a certain way (disappointed, scared) when they're really feeling fine. OK, sure, maybe they're acting out their disappointment as part of the con. Now You See Me hits this idea so hard that characters are constantly acting for us without any real explanation of what they're actually feeling.

They are also pretty shallow characters.

But it did get me thinking about what little role entropy plays in this long-term heist films. There's usually some pretense towards chance--"oh no, the guard is coming back early from his break"--but heist films by-and-large take place in a very mechanistic universe.


  1. I watched RIPD with my students back before summer started, and it was definitely stupid, but it struck me as a charming kind of stupid. You can tell that Bridges and Reynolds are just doing a paycheck movie, and they're okay with that. As for Kevin Bacon... well, I guess every movie he's in is a paycheck movie.

    1. Ha! There's definitely some fun visual inventiveness to RIPD, but a lot of it just felt kinda lazy. I mean, that's why I rated the terrible The Raven over it: John Cusack may be chewing the scenery and going bonkers, but you know he's earning that paycheck with all that over-the-top acting.