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Salty Ramona’s Countdown To Life

This summer’s movies have been an all-you-can-stand buffet of bland offerings, half-baked sequels, and undercooked concepts.  In this movie/food analogy, we need to add the cinematic equivalent of a little Salt (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).

“It’s like a John le Carré double-agent yarn compacted into comic-book pulp as if by the makers of Con Air.” Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly

Any film comprised of a Cold War spy novel, a mainstream comic, and a Nick Cage action movie probably isn’t too concerned with realism.

“Realism isn’t the point, only thrills, which might leave more unprepared moviegoers cross-eyed as Salt rockets through Washington with the type of danger-avoidance skills typically assigned to Bugs Bunny.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

Acme brand products inspire both ‘wows’ and ‘WTFs’

“Salt knows how to stay one step ahead of you in devious, if jaw-droppingly contrived, ways. The movie is fun, dammit. So who cares, really, if it’s trash?” Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

The people who like it call it trash.  What do the people who hate it say?

“Salt is about as believable as a secret training program for military pilots consisting entirely of kangaroos in flight helmets. But it must be said that the star carries her load admirably.” Rex Reed New York Observer

At first, kangaroo soldiers seem cute.

Until you see how the previous photo was taken.

“A Jolie Good Time“ Scott A. Mantz Access Hollywood

That’s weak dude, why don’t you Mantz up?

“In a crackerjack and very lean 100 minutes, the lithe and physically dynamic Jolie burns up the screen and shows the boys how it’s done.” Boxoffice Magazine Pete Hammond

Boys, Jolie is still hot.  Girls, if admiring Jolie makes Spy/Double Agent a desired profession, please consider other role models such as Beverly Cleary’s spirited protagonist from  Ramona and Beezus (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).

“She’s been brave and she’s been a pest, but until this adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s beloved children’s books, pint-size protagonist Ramona Quimby has never been so blatantly market-driven.” Eric Hynes Time Out New York

Options for clearly Cleary market-driven projects: The Mouse and the Ducati motorcycle, Ramona the Braves Fan, and Janet’s iThingamajigs.

“This is a featherweight G-rated comedy of no consequence, except undoubtedly to kids about Ramona’s age.” Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

Is it bad for a kid's book to be ‘featherweight?’

“At over 100 minutes, Ramona and Beezus is a hefty cinematic effort to get through, especially considering how audience-surveyed and clichéd the film proves.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

But clichés communicate valuable wisdom, such as a fool and his money are soon parted, and since money doesn’t grow on trees, don’t try to buy happiness just because it’s burning a hole in your pocket.

“Feels like being bound in a thick, homemade quilt, rolled up to a campfire, and smothered in toasted marshmallow goo.” Michelle Orange Movieline

That review was so full of descriptive imagery, I hope it becomes a cliché.

“Straining for a timeless, family-friendly tone, Allen winds up with something closer to an unironically — i.e. absurdly — wholesome rehash of “Leave it to Beaver.”” Movieline Michelle Orange

If you want wholesome this weekend, stay with Ramona because the pendulum swings from wholesome to wholly inappropriate with Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Todd Solondz is back. Life During Wartime shows the misanthropic moralizer as confounding and trigger-happy as ever, his big clown thumb poised over a garish assortment of hot buttons–race, suicide, autism, sexual misery, self-hatred, Israel, and, his old favorite, pedophilia.” Village Voice J. Hoberman

Amazingly, the cast is as diverse as the topics, including TV favorites Allison Janney (West Wing) and Michael K Williams (The Wire) as well as media lightening-rods Paris Hilton (One Night In Paris) and Paul Reubens (PeeWee).

“In a staring contest with his audience, Solondz never blinks. He picks and picks at the themes that consume him, and he doesn’t care who stays and who leaves. Me, I’m rapt.” Entertainment Weekly  Lisa Schwarzbaum

Things might get more physical after the staring contest.

“It is odd, unsettling and told with humour so dark you are not sure whether to howl with laughter or take grave offence. It is also a mournful reflection on the search for hope in a world conspiring to make such a quest a fools errand.” Allan Hunter Daily Express

The humor must be as black as BP oil to make me laugh at a quest for hope.

“There’s no arc here, no real pathos, and the direction is like watching snow melt on the side of a road.” Rex Reed New York Observer

Given the quality of this summer’s movies and the heat, there may be some novelty to watching winter die in ditches.  I wonder if this film (a peusdo-sequel to Happiness but with different actors) was counted among this summer’s 11 sequels.

“Its abbreviated running time makes it feel more like an addendum than a second volume, but it’s still galvanizingly perverse enough to stand out in what may be, so far, the blandest movie year in recent memory.” Rob Gonsalves eFilmCritic.com

If not for Inception, Kick-Ass, and a handful of others, some might argue that we should just nuke Hollywood and start over.  Those who don’t think incineration is a fair response to meh-movies will find comfort in the anti-nuke documentary Countdown To Zero (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).

“Countdown to Zero comes close to being nuclear-anxiety porn, yet it’s the rare film that could trigger and unite the reflexes 
 of the left and the right. It makes 
 getting rid of nukes seem less like a ”cause” than an imperative.” Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly

Question: Why should we get rid of nukes?
Answer: Just cause.

“If “An Inconvenient Truth” is the go-to for global warming and “Food, Inc.” factory farming, “Countdown to Zero” is the documentary primer on nuclear arms.” Laura Clifford Reeling Reviews

Those labels could be the beginning of a canon of go-to documentaries.  However, often the oddity and first time attention given to a topic is the best thing about the documentary, for example there are go-to documentaries for Beer Pong, the word Fuck, and simulated sex with trash receptacles.

“This is another well-intentioned but preaching-to-the-choir doc, and boring as well.” Village Voice Vadim Rizov

Fair point, but not every choir shares the Greenwich Village opinion of nuclear weapons.

There might be a choir somewhere preaching this message

“Convincingly argued and extremely polished, it has theatrical potential for auds whose reservoir of worry about humanity’s future hasn’t already run dry.” The Hollywood Reporter  John DeFore

In case laughing at hope didn’t destroy your opinion of humanity, you can laugh at nuclear weapons that could actually destroy humanity.  And with that fatalist message, let’s have a last word on this nuke-doc.

“Walker integrates stranger-on-the-street testimony to further her general vibe of ignorance, thus pinpointing the true target of an agitated doc–our own blithe apathy.” Time Out New York Joshua Rothkopf

King Sheep would destroy apathy if it wasn’t so much work.

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5 Responses

  1. Nice work, Pat. Love the changes you made!

    Happy Friday!

  2. Happiness was enough of a trip. I’m not sure I could handle the sequel.

  3. “Manz up.” 🙂

    And how long have you been waiting to squeeze in another trash humpers reference?

  4. Since I heard there was a movie called Trash Humpers.

  5. Lotsa lulz in this one –

    “The Mouse and the Ducati motorcycle, Ramona the Braves Fan, and Janet’s iThingamajigs.”

    And the film you listed for Paris Hilton. Nice work.

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