Another month has passed, with another handful of modern movies watched. Here are tiny reviews of the post-1970 films I watched in September!
Alex of Venice (2014) – This is a film I’ve been looking forward to watching for some time. I’m a big fan of Chris Messina as an actor, and this marks his first outing as director. Naturally, my interest was piqued by his involvement, and I jumped at the chance to watch Alex of Venice when I noticed it had been added to the Netflix roster. I think I set my expectations a bit too high for this one. For me, it was just okay — not due to Messina’s direction but due to a script that could have done a lot more with its scenario and characters. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a more-than-capable actress and does well in the title role despite the script’s weaknesses.
If I Stay (2014) – I read the book version of this story several years ago and didn’t have much interest in the movie adaptation when it was released. I wasn’t crazy about the book when I read it, and I wasn’t crazy about the casting when that news came out. I decided to watch the film one night when I saw that it had become available on Netflix and I needed a little break from coursework. Curiosity got the best of me, as I had read another of Gayle Forman’s books in August. Positives: the casting of Adam, the eccentric parents, a pretty nicely-adapted script, the incorporation of classical music. Negatives: the stiff narration, the casting of Mia, the choppy flashback insertion. The film is better than I expected it to be but doesn’t stand out amongst the flood of YA book adaptations. There are a few very effective moments of weepy emotion.
The Intern (2015) – Nancy Meyers’ films are somewhat hit-or-miss for me, though I love The Parent Trap and The Holiday and have re-watched each more times than I can count. (The Holiday is necessary Christmas viewing for me and as a bonus, it includes several references to classic film. LOVE.) The Intern isn’t Holiday-level good, but I enjoyed watching it a lot. It feels a bit over-long, but the story took a few turns I wasn’t expecting. The performances are great, too, making the dynamics between the characters interesting and fun to watch. There is drama, there are laughs… there’s even a little heist action thrown in. I’d watch it again!
The Perfect Guy (2015) – The Perfect Guy is not a great film but it’s a pretty great watch… which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but let me explain. The writing is plucked from a Lifetime Movie Network original — full of cliche statements like “I don’t even know who you are anymore!” A few unintentional laughs were had by the audience at my screening over these little bits of contrived dialogue and one should-be-horrifying scene involving a basement stairwell. Not quite as campy as the similar Jennifer Lopez vehicle The Boy Next Door (which I kind of loved), but still a fun one to see with a lively audience. That being said, the movie has some real tension built into it. Michael Ealy gives a convincingly disturbed performance and is somehow able, against all odds, to make himself unattractive and extremely punchable. The film also serves as an upsetting commentary on the way that crimes like stalking are handled by the US justice system. It’s sad and scary that the police can do virtually nothing to help Leah… and even more sad and scary that the film’s portrayal of their inability to help her is true-to-life.