The holiday break is pushing John’s funeral back to the end of next week, which means those of us who still can’t believe he’s gone have even more time to spend in our limbo of disbelief. But movies are still opening left and right, so I’m going to pretend to be a professional and just get to the reviewing:
“Charlie Wilson’s War“: Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman remind us of their considerable comedic gifts, while Julia Roberts struggles with an underwritten role and Mike Nichols tries very, very hard to provide the proper serious underpinnings to Aaron Sorkin’s subtext-free screenplay about the American congressman who (probably) brought down the Soviet Union … and accidentally created the Taliban.
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets“: Sure, the first one more or less wrapped up all the stories, and there was nowhere else to go. But, like, it made a lot of money, so Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Turteltaub and The Wibberleys — whatever the hell they are — made another one! Hooray for blind commerce!
“P.S. I Love You“: Richard LaGravenese wrote “The Fisher King” and directed “Living Out Loud”. They were good and interesting and strange. Then he made “Freedom Writers”, which was pretty conventional but still acceptable enough, and found some room in the corners for Hilary Swank to be interesting. And now, he’s dragged Swank into this maudlin, moronic dramedy about a young widow whose late husband gives her the gift of adventure. It burns like fire, this one does.
“The Savages“: Tamara Jenkins showed a great deal of promise with “Slums of Beverly Hills”, then vanished from the radar; nine years later, she returns with this devastating comedy about two adult siblings trying to figure out how to care for the elderly father they can barely stand. Yeah, yeah, Laura Linney + Philip Seymour Hoffman + dreary Buffalo location x low budget = indie gold, but it’s so much deeper and sharper than its marketing synopsis.
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street“: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s latest collaboration is a marvelous screen translation of the Stephen Sondheim experience, with an equally marvelous supporting turn by Helena Bonham Carter as the barber’s little helper. (I know her singing voice is weak, but it’s supposed to be.) Also, Burton’s finally found a third act he can’t botch! Hooray for the exacting Broadway structure!
“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story“: I was going to run down all the musical styles John C. Reilly’s (invented) rocker embraces over the course of Jake Kasdan’s delirious (fake) biopic. And then I was going to list all the celebrity encounters depicted in the film. But then I realized that’d just spoil the fun of seeing them for yourself. Rock on, Dewey Cox, you magnificent bastard. Rock on.
Stuff to do — catch you over the weekend …