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Tag: January movies (1-3 of 3)

Michael Cera, old soul

Just because I think Youth in Revolt is less than daisy fresh as a coming-of-age story doesn’t mean I don’t dig the unique comedic talents of the movie’s star, Michael Cera. And in thinking about what makes Cera so arresting a screen presence, I keep coming back to the notion of contradiction: He looks so young (he is so young) and vulnerably, virginally mid-chrysalis, with that pale skinny bod and cute chickpea head. Yet Cera possesses the expert comic timing and physical stillness of a man of experience. And certainly of a seasoned character actor. Very few young performers know how to convey hormonal frenzy and accompanying romantic confusion as well as he does, just by standing still and speaking in a soft, clear voice; even fewer know how to demonstrate what’s simultaneously funny and tender about such male emotional disarray.

Cera’s got that going on. The challenge, should he care to rise to it as he enters his 20s, is how to play guys who are no longer stuck pining for young women – they’ve Done It – but now face the (inevitably hilarious) challenges of sustaining relationships with chicks.

Your turn: Do you like the species known as Michael Cera Dude?

Image credits: Doane Gregory (l); Bruce Birmelin

Movie critics: Our advice to friends when we're not on duty

In January, a time warp separates me from my friends and family. I’ve seen everything big now playing at the multiplex; sometimes I’ve seen a movie months ago, and sometimes twice. But everyone else who’s not in the same business as I am is just beginning to have access to those movies, many of which are just going wide now. So, my movie-loving friends and family ask me, “How’s It’s Complicated? What about The Hurt Locker? Have you seen Avatar?” A parent asks, “Can I take my daughter to Fantastic Mr. Fox?” My dentist asks, “What’s worth seeing?”

Thing is, at this time of the year, my own critical assessment has little to do with how I respond. Instead, I become a little bit of a matchmaker, a little bit of a shrink, and a little bit of a listings guide. I mean, I know the value of when to let go of my brilliant argument that Invictus is square and lazy filmmaking, and instead let the cousin who’s a big Matt Damon fan know that she’ll like him as a rugby player. I can talk until I swoon about how much I love The Hurt Locker, but I would never urge it on the friend who hates war pictures and flinches at all scenes of violence; for her, instead, I suggest It’s Complicated — a movie I know she’ll enjoy, much as I harrumphed at it in my review.

So as a service to moviegoing friends everywhere in these first days of the new year — and to my dentist, too — I offer Lisa’s Mild Guide to the Megaplex. And yes, by all means, take your daughter to Fantastic Mr. Fox — it’s great.

Avatar: Big! Blue! Looks great! Forget the script and story!

Crazy Heart: It’s all about Jeff Bridges. Nice music.

Invictus: Morgan Freeman and guys in sports shorts save South Africa!

The Lovely Bones: Have you read the book? Then definitely skip the movie. If not, well, it’s still meh.

Nine: A crazy dull mess. Oh, but you say you liked Chicago? Well, it’s still a crazy dull mess.

The Princess and the Frog: Love it.

A Single Man: Love it. It’s a about a gay man whose lover dies, by the way, whatever the posters suggest.

Up in the Air: Love it. Yes, George Clooney is good.

The Young Victoria: Nice.

The Last Station: Nice, especially for Mom.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?: Awful, especially for humans.

Want to add to my Mild Guide? Here’s your chance.

Image credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

The fun of January movies: Lowered expectations, less hype

In just a couple of hours, I’m off to a screening of Leap Year, the first major-studio movie to be released this year — which, if history is any guide, means that I should be in for a lousy time. The first post-holiday weekend in January has traditionally been a dumping ground for inferior product: the low-grade genre films that fill up (if not flush out) the pipes of the system before something better comes along. If a movie were really any good, goes the logic, then it wouldn’t be coming out in what is still the thick of the holiday/awards-season juggernaut. Yet one of the many things I love about being a movie critic is that history is never a very good guide. The rules, if that’s what you can call them, keep getting broken. Besides, it’s not every lowly January romantic comedy that gives you the chance to spend 90 minutes in the company of the lovely and charming Amy Adams. I’d say that my expectations for Leap Year now look something like this:

January romcom (-2) + Amy Adams (+2) x impossible-to-gauge generic ad campaign (1 + 1 – 1) = total blank slate

In other words: Who the f— knows?

Which is a rather liberating feeling. Leap Year is really a classic example of why I get a kick out of going to the movies in January. The expectations are so low that they’re all but nonexistent. And that’s kind of a nice, casual, and freeing attitude to take into a movie theater with you after a month’s worth of heavy, prestige, Oscar-bait masterpieces, each released with a bit more fanfare than the last. January movies, by contrast, kind of take you back to an earlier, quieter era (like, say, the late 1980s), before everything was hyped to within an inch of its life. READ FULL STORY

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