Well, it’s that time of year when I look at the list of the films that I’ve seen over the past 12 months and I realize that there’s quite a few that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet. Here are my thoughts on six of them.
The Call (dir by Brad Anderson)
Abigail Breslin is kidnapped by a serial killer. While trapped in the trunk of the killer’s car, Breslin manages to call 911. Breslin’s call is answered by Halle Berry, a veteran operator who is recovering from a trauma that — by an amazing and totally implausible coincidence — was caused by the same guy who has just kidnapped Breslin.
Before it became a feature film, The Call was originally developed as a weekly TV series and, as I watched, it was easy to imagine weekly episodes that would all feature a different guest star calling 911 and needing help. For the first hour or so, The Call is well-made and acted but undistinguished. However, during the final 30 minutes, the entire film suddenly goes crazy with Breslin running around in her bra, Berry turning into a blood thirsty vigilante, and the killer suddenly getting very verbose. However, those 30 minutes of pure insanity were just what The Call needed to be memorable. There are some films that definitely benefit from going over-the-top and The Call is one of them.
Copperhead (dir by Ronald Maxwell)
Copperhead is a historical drama that takes place during the Civil War. In upstate New York, farmer Abner Breech (Billy Campbell) is ardently opposed to both the Civil War and the union cause. In most movies, this would make Abner the villain but, in Copperhead, he’s portrayed as being a man of principle who, by refusing to compromise on his views, is ostracized and ultimately persecuted by the rest of his village. Abner’s views also bring him into conflict with his own son, who is pro-Union.
Copperhead is a slow-moving film that features some rather good performances along with some fairly bad ones. However, I’m a history nerd so I enjoyed it. It certainly tells a different story from what we’ve come to expect from American films about the Civil War.
It’s A Disaster (dir by Todd Berger)
Of the six films reviewed in this post, It’s A Disaster is the one to see. In this darker than dark comedy, Julia Stiles brings her new boyfriend (David Cross) to Sunday brunch with 6 of her closest friends. During the brunch, terrorists explode a dirty bomb in the city. With everyone trapped inside the house and waiting for the world to either end or somehow revert back to normal, long-simmering resentments come to the forefront.
To say anything else about It’s a Disaster would be unfair so I’ll just say that it’s a very funny film, featuring excellent work from both Stiles and Cross. If Jean-Paul Sartre was alive and writing today, he would probably end up writing something very similar to It’s a Disaster.
See Girl Run (dir by Nate Meyer)
Bleh! That’s probably the best description I can give you of this film. It’s just a whole lot of bleh.
Emmie (Robin Tunney) is unhappy with her boring marriage so she runs back to her Maine hometown, stops wearing makeup and washing her hair, and pines for her high school boyfriend, Jason (Adam Scott), who works at a sea food restaurant. Jason also happens to be friends with Emmie’s depressed brother, Brandon (Jeremy Strong). It’s the same basic plot as Young Adult, just with no humor and a lot more talking. In Young Adult, it was hard not to admire Charlize Theron’s wonderfully misguided character. In See Girl Run, you just want to tell Robin Tunny to take a shower, put on some clothes that don’t look like they were stolen from a hospital storage closet, and stop whining all the time.
It’s difficult to put into words just how much I hated this movie. This is one of those films that critics tend to describe as being “a film for adults.” I have to agree — this is a movie for really boring, depressing adults who like to talk and talk about how their lives haven’t worked out. If See Girl Run is what being an adult is like, I’ll just continue to be an immature brat, thank you very much.
UnHung Hero (dir by Brian Spitz)
So, this is not only the worst documentary of 2013 but it’s also quite probably one of the worst documentaries ever made. The film opens with footage of Patrick Moote (who claims to be a comedian) asking his girlfriend to marry him. As Moote goes on (and on) to tell us, she turns down his proposal and then dumps him because, according to her, his penis is too small. Moote spends the rest of the film talking to various people and asking them whether size really matters.
Well, he could have just asked me and saved a lot of time. I’m sorry if this endangers any fragile male egos but yes, size does matter. If Moote’s penis really is as tiny as he claims it is, I probably would have turned down his proposal as well. Then again, Moote could be hung like Jamie Foxx and I’d probably still refuse to marry him because, quite frankly, he’s the whiniest and most annoying person that I’ve ever seen. He’s like an even less charming version of Morgan Spurlock. What Patrick Moote never seems to understand is that size matters but personality matters even more.
Would You Rather (dir by David Guy Levy)
Would you rather have a root canal or sit through this piece of crap? Having seen Would You Rather, I can tell you that it’s not an easy question to answer.
Jeffrey Combs plays a sadistic millionaire who invited a bunch of strangers (including Brittany Snow, John Heard, June Squibb, and Sasha Grey) to his mansion and forces them to play an elaborate and deadly game of Would You Rather. Unfortunately, none of the characters are interesting, the film’s sadism is more boring than shocking, and talented actor Combs is totally wasted as the one-note villain.