We found ourselves stuck in our hotel for a couple of days on a recent vacation and took advantage of the “down” time from hiking and otherwise being out and about by watching a half dozen DVDs of films we had missed when they were in theaters.
Each, to a greater or lesser extent, was worth our time. Here are our capsule reviews:
“Simone” – Andrew Niccol wrote and directed this 2002 sci-fi comedy in which Al Pacino plays an unappreciated director who “creates” a computer icon of a perfect (in every respect) actress to star in his films. The storyline takes on something of a humorous Frankenstein theme, as the starlet becomes bigger than life as Pacino’s character seeks ways to destroy her. It’s clever to a fault, but worth a look.
“Chevolution” – This 2008 documentary provides a study of Che Guevara, the South American revolutionary, and of the iconographic photo taken of him in 1960 by Alberto Korda. That photo, as the film explains, has become a symbol of counter-culture movements worldwide while at the same time it has been commercialized to such an extent that it is almost a mainstream establishment mark. The film works on many levels and is, in the end, mind-bending. Highly recommended.
“Game Six” – The title of this 2005 film (directed by Michael Hoffman) refers to the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. In something of a precursor to this year’s “Birdman,” Michael Keaton plays a Broadway director struggling to get his plays successfully staged as a way to salvage his career. The play is set to open on the same night of that pivotal World Series game that had his favorite team, the Red Sox, primed to win its first championship in almost 70 years. Spoiler alert: the Sox lost. The film is surprisingly upbeat, with Keaton and co-star Robert Downey, Jr. both in fine form.
“Blindness” – This 2008 film, directed by Fernando Meirelles from an allegorical novel by Jose Saramago, depicts a city overwhelmed with an epidemic of blindness. The film is a mess, despite the obvious best of intentions. It stars Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. Whatever message is intended to be imparted by them and their co-stars was lost on us. The film was similarly regarded in its theatrical release with most (but not all) reviews highly negative. Let’s call it one that might resonate with some but didn’t with us.
“Young Adult” – Charlize Theron stars in this 2011 dark comedy (directed by Jason Reitman) as a 37-year-old writer of young adult novels who is struggling to find a way out of her own “young adult” stage. To do so, she returns to her hometown to try to woo her high school boyfriend (whose wife has just given birth to their first child). Theron’s character is not an attractive person despite her self-inflated view of herself and her obvious physical beauty. The film portrays her “awakening” with less clarity than we would have preferred, but as a vehicle for Ms. Theron’s considerable talents, it works.
“Adult Children of Divorce (A.D.O.C.)” – The particular adult child in this 2013 comedy is played by Adam Scott, whose parents (played by the always wonderful Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) have been divorced for 20 years when they re-discover that long-ago passion that led to the Scott character’s conception. The comedy revolves around the fact that both are now well into subsequent marriages while Scott’s soon-to-be-30-year-old bachelor maintains a “modern” relationship with his girlfriend of the past four years. Complications ensue with uncertain resolutions. Recommended as lightweight enjoyment, perhaps as the antidote to “Young Adult,” if you’re up for a full night of modern cinema’s version of that kind of fare.