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  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    One of the best animated films of the decade deserves a follow-up every bit its equal, and that is exactly what How to Train Your Dragon 2 is. There's a comforting quality about the first film. It's a story of friendship and growing up and learning who your real family is. The sequel's drama is a little rougher, with higher stakes; be prepared for some interesting conversations with your kids.

    If you take them, that is. Just like the first,…

  • What About Bob? 1991

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    Bill Murray's my favorite actor, and for the longest time, What About Bob? was one of the few beloved Murray movies I just did not enjoy. It's new to Netflix Instant, though, so I thought I'd give it another go...and I'm glad I did. It's completely ridiculous, and if you expect any sort of plausibility, you'll be disappointed. But as a live-action Looney Tunes, with Richard Dreyfuss as Elmer Fudd and Murray as Bugs Bunny, it's pretty damn successful.

  • Wise Blood 1979

    ★★½ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    John Huston gets weird with Wise Blood, in which an atheist returning from the war decides to start his own anti-Jesus church; he is played by Brad Dourif, whose one expression throughout the film can only be described as "pissy insanity." The church is hindered by his inability to play well with others, including a man who tries and fails to be his friend, then steals a gorilla suit and starts running around trying to get people to shake his…

  • Edge of Tomorrow 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    One of the more pleasant surprises so far this year, Edge of Tomorrow is the best fit for Tom Cruise's (now apparently old-fashioned) movie star image since the underrated Knight and Day. What's great about Cruise is that he's improbably handsome and often witty yet with a dash of real nervousness. No matter the role, you always get the feeling he could go off the rails at any moment. That suits Major William Cage perfectly; a renowned PR officer with…

  • 22 Jump Street 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 13 Jun, 2014

    Not quite the prescription for comedy sequelitis, though directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller clearly know the expectations they're dealing with and do their best to circumvent clichés. As Schmidt and Jenko enroll in another school (college this time) to bust another hot new drug, they and the movie realize they're going through the motions. That lip service isn't a cure-all, though, as there's certainly a measure of repetition. When it's on, though, it's on, even if I can only…

  • What A Way to Go! 1964

    ★★★½ Watched 13 Jun, 2014

    Had never heard of this until a friend recommended it. Shirley MacLaine plays a woman in therapy after the deaths of all four of her husbands. Each of them--played by all-stars Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, and Gene Kelly--started out poor, inadvertently pushed to success by MacLaine. It leads them all to their doom. What a Way to Go! is light on its feet, buoyed by the stacked cast (including Dean Martin as a wealthy bachelor whose advances…

  • Wanderlust 2012

    ★★★½ Rewatched 12 Jun, 2014

    Wanderlust is funnier than most movies released this decade. It also has about 20 minutes of plot, tops, and feels like a rough cut assembled from every take they shot. I love Judd Apatow and much of what he has wrought, but so many comedies these days seem as if they were written during filming, if they were written at all; nearly ever scene here feels as if it was continuously improv-ed, then someone forgot to edit it. David Wain…

  • Godzilla 1954

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 08 Jun, 2014

    It's cheap as hell, it's crudely made, Godzilla's face looks even more deformed than a Godzilla face should look. But goddamn it if my eyes aren't watery by the time the Japanese people come together as one at the end. Ishirô Honda's 1954 original is a classic not just because it gave birth to kaiju, but because it was one of the first mainstream Japanese reactions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Godzilla is all of Japan's post-WWII fears and anxieties about…

  • The Monuments Men 2014

    ★★★ Watched 08 Jun, 2014

    George Clooney's turned into a much less interesting director than he first seemed. The Monuments Men is a little better than Leatherheads or The Ides of March, but it's still much more of a trifle than its pedigree would suggest. Clooney and his pals Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, and Bill Murray--even the ones he hasn't worked with before, you can just tell they're pals--play a group of unlikely WWII soldiers recruited to rescue art from the…

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2010

    ★★★★½ Watched 07 Jun, 2014

    My best viewing of How to Train Your Dragon yet, this one to record a podcast commentary (which can be found here: I've written before about how this movie is intertwined in my mind with co-host/close friend Paul, but man, seriously. Without him, I think I might have written this movie off as a cute trifle and little more. Every time I watch it, though, I see new things, more subtlety, more nuance. Enough to believe it's one of…

  • Enemy 2013

    ★★½ Watched 04 Jun, 2014

    I'm not convinced I pegged Denis Villeneuve wrong after Prisoners. This film has all the strengths of that one, which aren't inconsiderable: strong dual performances (both by Jake Gyllenhaal this time, playing a man who discovers his doppelganger), incredible photography, and a tense atmosphere. Sadly, its weaknesses are more evident than Prisoners', which at least had a story, however tangled it became. Enemy is chiefly in service of metaphor, its subtext more fascinating than its text, which is sub-something. I have my thoughts on the ending, but I can't say I'm interested enough to unpack them.

  • The Way, Way Back 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 03 Jun, 2014

    I have no idea why I've seen this movie three times now, except that it really is perfect background viewing. There's nothing demanding or arresting about it, but every time you look up at the screen, you've got a smile on your face. And that's a compliment.