Sunday, May 10, 2015

Catching Up With a Slew of HBO Movie Releases

Probably the reason my blog has been on a bit of a sabbatical lately is because I now have HBO for the first time in my life. I've been catching up on movies, including:

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: The former Nirvana leader's life is told for the first time with the blessing of his family. Having access to the notebooks and audio and video recordings contained within supply a portrait that further humanizes Kurt and makes us more fully understand the hurt within his chronically pained stomach and from the betrayals he felt from family members and Courtney Love throughout his life. The animated cuts from his notebooks and from Charlotte's Web-like cartoon vignettes are powerful. An essential rock doc.
***** out of ***** stars

We're the Millers and The Interview: Two totally dumb comedies that shouldn't work but somehow do, quite enjoyably.
Both *** out of ***** stars

Nightcrawler: I really liked this creepy L.A. noir starring a scrawny Jake Gyllenhaal as a nowhere man who gets the sudden idea to become a paparazzi. His jerky ways cause all kinds of unnecessary pain.
****1/2 out of ***** stars

Birdman: Not nearly as good as Boyhood (which should have won bets picture instead of this), but still a tale of an actor once known for playing a superhero (the always-great Michael Keaton) who is losing his mind in a bit of a pretentious take on the power and aura of celebrity. Good in a way that it will probably be worth revisiting as a potential classic a few years after its release, ala films like Fight Club or The Big Lebowski.
**** out of ***** stars

Neighbors: Not as good as the other Seth Rogen comedy on this list, but still pretty funny as a latter day Animal House knockoff.
*** out of ***** stars

A Million Ways to Die in the West: This modern-day take on Blazing Saddles tries a little too hard for laughs. While its silliness works a lot of the time, it's vulgarity actually makes it a little less endearing. Charlize Theron is likable but Seth MacFarlane is a very poor man's Billy Crystal, or perhaps Donnie Osmond. By the time the big gunfight scene arrives at the end, it's tough to have much invested, especially during Neil Patrick Harris' poop scene.
*1/2 out of ***** stars