A note from Lindsey: I watched quite a few post-1970 films in July, so I’ll be splitting this month’s Modern Movies into two posts. Part II will be published tomorrow.
21 Jump Street (2012) – I saw 22 Jump Street in the theater in June and loved it. Before the credits even rolled I knew I needed to watch the first one. As luck would have it, I found a cheap DVD copy at my grocery store, so I was able to add it to my collection and give it a watch. I don’t usually buy many post-’70 movies blind, but I knew I’d want to buy 22, and my OCD won’t allow me to have one on the shelf without the other. Long-winded justification for my blind purchase out of the way, I loved this film. Every bit as funny as 22, with the added bonus of Jake Johnson playing a small role as the principal. Tons of fun.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) – This is a simple horror flick about a teen outcast (Amber Heard) named Mandy Lane who turns pretty one summer and as a result gains a more active social life. She heads off to a secluded ranch with some of her new friends… and they all start getting killed off. Anson Mount plays Garth, a handsome ranch hand who may be a psycho killer, since he’s the only other person at the ranch. Not gonna lie, I only decided to watch this because Anson Mount is in it. The characters in this film are your typical dumb, promiscuous, substance-happy teens, up to no good. The supporting cast isn’t stellar, the dialogue is at times cheesy (and not in a bad-good way). The film isn’t super gory, but was still too much for me at times, so I wouldn’t be very likely to re-watch or buy it. Still, the performances of Mount, Heard and Michael Welch as well as the film’s (not totally unexpected, but good) twist of who the killer is made it worthy of one watch for me. The final 20 minutes are great.
The Baxter (2005) – Quite slow-moving and the main character is not likable or interesting. The supporting performances are good, though, especially Michelle Williams.
Best Man Down (2012) – A surprisingly effective, touching indie dramedy about a rowdy man known as Lumpy who dies after spending the night partying and serving as best man at his old friend Scott’s wedding. The film focuses on the aftermath of his death, as the bride and groom, as well as his few other friends, cope with their loss. The film gets off to a bit of a rocky start and is somewhat disjointed as the characters and scenario are introduced, but it turns out to be a solid story. Addison Timlin gives a great performance as Lumpy’s friend Ramsey. Based on the title and premise I was expecting this to be a typical quirky/slightly morbid comedy, but it was a pleasant surprise.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – Amusing and entertaining. Not much more to say about it, really! I enjoyed the majestic orangutan.
Earth to Echo (2014) – This was not a film that I was highly anticipating. The trailer pushed the big semi truck scene and made me think the film would be Transformers Lite (or Transformers… with Kids!). It ended up far exceeding my expectations, and I enjoyed it a lot! I liked the way they incorporated technology into it — YouTube videos, maps, etc. I also thought the four kids worked really well together. While they were clearly 21st century kids, with their smart phones and video blogging, their friendship was no different than that which is portrayed in films like The Sandlot and Stand by Me. The film will evoke nostalgia for those adventurous childhood years from any adult viewer.