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A Late Summer Picnic

We’re currently experiencing the slaps of August heat, and while the season of summer punches through September, I still live on the schedule of a student/teacher.  My school year begins at the end of the month, which means I see Summer’s window of opportunity closing. Luckily for those of you who told yourselves “I should see more movies this summer,” this is a weekend that services many tastes.  Also, for those of you who’ve said to yourselves “Self, you’ve been seeing movies all summer and you’re tired of being disappointed or ‘meh’ed (pronounced like you’re imitating a sheep)” this weekend features five generally favorable movies.  Each release caters to a different crowd and you’ll be impressed by the spread.  Tomorrow brings that big summer picnic that lasts from lunch through dinner, where family and friends eat and talk under trees while kids play in the fading light of day.  Of course, movies aren’t really like picnics.  They can’t be as inclusive, loving, or cheap.  However, movies can offer an escape from both tedium and heat.

GI Joe movie poster

And, if you’re looking for summer escapism, you’re probably looking for G.I. Joe (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).  The film has had yo-yo hype, bouncing from speculations of disaster to sequel planning and it was capped off by the studio’s decision to not show the film to critics.  Since the numbers may lie, we’ll let the words do the talking.

“Coming on the heels of such DOA fare as X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Terminator Salvation, this gung ho popcorn flick feels positively visceral.” Tom Huddleston Time Out New York

Since ‘visceral’ is defined as pertaining to or affecting the viscera (ie. abdominal organs/bowels), that positive review could be saying “GI Joe is like a punch to the kidneys” or “Instead of ‘Yo Joe!’ you’ll be screaming “Yo, where’s the john?”

“Not what anyone would call playful, this film’s passion for weaponry and covert ops springs from a disturbingly sadistic and joyless place — all it lacks is waterboarding.” Tim Robey Daily Telegraph

Again, the words sound negative, but to Michael Bay fans, military fetishism without the guilt-inducing torture = awesome.

This shirt = awesome

This shirt = awesome

“Bond without the style and Team America without the bellylaughs. The moronic script and nonsensical plot are good for a snicker, though.” Empire Dan Jolin

Could he be saying that GI Joe offers the style of Team America with the bellylaughs of Bond?

“If I was 10 years old, GI Joe would be one of the best movies I had ever seen. As a grown up it’s one of the better summer movies; a delightfully light, fun and action-packed kick in the ass.” Devin Faraci CHUD

But if you’re not in the mood to have your ass kicked by 4 inch tall toys, you may be in the mood for a movie that strives to be visceral.

Fingerlicking New Julie  Julia Poster

In the cooking dramedy Julie & Julia (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic), Julie Child’s (Meryl Streep) Joy Of Cooking inspires a housewife (Amy Adams) to cook and then blog about it.

“You know the feeling you get when you make a meal of two mildly savory appetizers that don’t quite go together, and you leave you wishing you’d eaten one hefty entrée? That’s Julie & Julia. Half an hour later, I wanted to watch another movie.” Charlotte Observer Lawrence Toppman

It’s the cinema equivalent of Tapas?

“It was the best of movies. It was the worst of movies. Which is to say: There’s half of a great movie in Julie & Julia.” Village Voice Robert Wilonsky

It’s the cinema equivalent of A Tale Of Two Cities?

“The single best reason to see the film is Streep and Tucci together, turning their Devil Wears Prada rivalry into a funny, deeply romantic marriage, full of quips and sex and lots of amazing food.” Katey Rich CinemaBlend.com

It’s the cinema equivalent of another piece of cinema?  Rather than try to sort this out, let’s move on to the two indie movies that come out this week Cold Souls (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) and Paper Heart (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).


The premise of Cold Souls sounds like a spiritual successor to Being John Malkovich.  It features technology that can transplant souls and Paul Giamatti playing himself.  If the movie is more bizzare than the poster, it might blow your mind right out of your head.

“Darkly funny, twisty-cool existential tragicomedy, loaded with smart notions and filmed like a surrealist dream.” Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

“This is a comedy, not a philosophy lesson, and thus richer in bafflement than in understanding.” Anthony Lane New Yorker

paper_heartPaper Heart is half documentary – half not, starring Michael Sera and Charlyne Yi (the odd duck Asian girlfriend from Knocked Up).  The movie marks Sera’s movement into an Indie phase.  He took his first step with Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist and stumbled away from mainstream with the embarrassing Year One.  He’s on the verge of the criticism that comes from always playing a variation of the same character (ie. George Michael); does he dodge that concern here?

“Cera once again does his “Michael Cera thing.” Personally, I love his “thing” but know it’s not for everyone, and I agree that it doesn’t always work contextually. But trust me, here it really works.” Film Threat Jessica Baxter

For his sake, I hope his ‘thing’ keeping working.

“This isn’t a movie. It’s a MySpace page.” The Onion (A.V. Club) Keith Phipps

I fear I need to see the movie to truly understand that criticism.

“Miraculously effective if kooky cross-country dissertations on the anatomy of love, including Vegas matrimony; biker bar romance deconstructed as ‘thirty minutes in the back seat,’ and unrequited animal attraction at a local zoo.” Prairie Miller NewsBlaze

Speaking of travel movies, the final offering of this weekend’s buffet is the tropical thriller A Perfect Getaway (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).


“The plot will require some discussion after the film is over. Is it misleading? Yes. Does it cheat? I think not. It only seems to cheat. That’s part of the effect. All’s fair in love and war, and the plots of thrillers.” Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

Wait, there is debate on whether the movie cheats?  How does that work?

“Prides itself on a clever twist and a few great red herrings. You know how I know? Because it actually tells us. Literally. As in, in the dialogue.” Brian Juergens CampBlood.org

The movie actually says: “This is a red herring?”  So, after I know that “This is the killer,” does the movie switch to standard hack/slash horror?

“After a promising premise, it soon disintegrates into a preposterous predator/prey tale filled with brutality, bloodshed and butchery.” Susan Granger SSG Syndicate

And other B-words that mean scary things like: barbarity, bloodthirstiness, and bat shit crazy?  Well, this is the end of this roundup, so whats the final word on this little homicidal ditty?

“Even if you know what’s coming, it’s a neat bit of meta-thriller filmmaking, as much about the mechanics of storytelling as a reasonably satisfying example of it.” Scott Tobias AV Club

PDJ is a meta-thrill seeker

PDJ is a meta-thrill seeker


3 Responses

  1. good choices..

  2. […] that Hollywood put into servicing every audience taste. Similar to the buffet of options from last weekend, this weekend hits on nearly every genre.  There is a romance story told through a lens of science […]

  3. […] that Hollywood put into servicing every audience taste. Similar to the buffet of options from last weekend, this weekend hits on nearly every genre.  There is a romance story told through a lens of science […]

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