Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catching up on catching up - small screen viewing

And now, movies I've seen on the small screen, since I last blogged about such things:

Gasland A-
Kind of an EPA companion piece to Charles Ferguson's Inside Job - and more evidence that Big Money wins out over the little guy - even when the damage is quite clear and convincing. Its amateurish "who me" approach could have been a liability, but it actually works to the movie's benefit. 

The Next Three Days C+
Well-made decently acted thriller with an intriguing premise, but the execution simply strains credibility past the point of no return. Good performances by Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks deserve a better vehicle.

Soul Surfer B-
If I were grading this movie by its sincerity, it would definitely be in the A-range. And there can be no doubt that the story of a teen surfer who rebounded after losing her arm to a tiger shark is inspiring. Unfortunately, the movie pushes too many manipulative buttons to ring completely true. A strong performance by AnnaSophia Robb helps keep it afloat.

Ride the High Country B+
An early Sam Peckinpah western gets most of its juice from seeing two old-timers like Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott face off. The story occasionally lags and the ending is a bit abrupt, but it's fascinating to see the seeds of The Wild Bunch being planted here. 

Shock Corridor B+
Fascinating Sam Fuller pulp that I watched not long after revisiting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The premise (reporter fakes being mentally ill to crack a murder case) requires more suspension of disbelief than I was willing to give. Still, the acting and the visuals are powerful, particularly when stock color sequences break up the black and white. 

Godspell B+
This was on the same night as Norman Jewison's Jesus Christ Superstar, and comparing the two pictures is very telling. Godspell is just as dated as Superstar, perhaps even more so with all those afros. But Godspell is a much livelier picture because A) The song score is considerably superior, and B) Godspell wasn't so ponderous, slackly paced and convinced of its own self-importance. Godspell is especially valuable as an NYC time capsule.

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