Opening in the U.S., June 6, 2014


Two big openings that shows a great example of counterprogramming. How many couples will go to the theater this weekend and have he go to one movie and she go to another?

She’ll probably want to see The Fault in Our Stars (69), the teenage weepie based on the immensely popular book of the same name. I’ll probably end up seeing this because A) I read the book; and B) of my fascination with Shailene Woodley, who is again getting great reviews. Bill Goodykoontz: “The Fault in Our Stars is manipulative as can be, pulling out all the stops — kids with cancer — in its attempt to bring the tears. And you know what? It works.”

He may want to go see The Edge of Tomorrow (71), which stars Tom Cruise in a kind of Groundhog Day as action film. But is Tom Cruise a big star anymore, in the terms of getting fannies in the seats? I haven’t seen a Tom Cruise movie in a theater since Valkyrie, which wasn’t exactly a Cruise vehicle. If you limit it to him starring in a blockbuster, I have to go back to War of the Worlds nine years ago. This is getting decent reviews, though, and may put off my instinct to shun his films. Manohla Dargis: “In Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. Liman brings Mr. Cruise’s smile out of semiretirement and also gives him the kind of physical challenges at which he so brilliantly excels.”

In the art-houses, we have Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (61), a doc co-directed by Mike Myers about a Hollywood insider. Claudia Puig: “Myers’ sense of humor is interspersed throughout the engaging film, which consists of a host of wild stories, as well as vivid archival footage, talking heads and cleverly made re-enactments.”

Obvious Child (73) stars Jenny Slate in what is being called an “abortion rom-com.” It may be more historically important–the heroine of a comedy actually going through with an abortion, than a good movie. Dana Stevens: “There’s something old-Hollywood about Slate’s dizzy-dame charm, and at the same time, something very modern about her unapologetic ownership of her own sexuality.”

The best reviewed limited release is The Case Against 8 (80), a doc about the overturning of Proposition 8 in California. David Rooney: “Exhaustively tracking the five-year battle to overthrow California’s ban on same-sex marriage, they distill the dense legal process into a lucid narrative while illuminating the human drama of the plaintiffs, and by extension, the countless gay men and lesbians they represent.”

Also this week: Citizen Koch (49) a doc about the moneymen behind the Tea Party; Trust Me (53), a comedy about a Hollywood agent, directed and starring Avengers’ actor Clark Gregg; and Willow Creek (61), directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite, about Bigfoot enthusiasts.




About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

3 responses »

  1. Despite generally very good reviews Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t seem to be generating much interest from the general public.

    I reckon this would’ve been huge a decade ago, but Cruise’s appeal has been diluted since the mid-2000s partly because of some of his wild behaviour back then (e.g. appearance on Oprah) although I think that’s not a big deal now. It’s mainly because his film choices and work haven’t been particularly inspired. He hasn’t been starring in dreck, but too many of his films have been a bit ho-hum and the anticipation has dulled now. Also, I reckon he’s made too many action films in the past 10 years; it’s easy to forget that in a dramatic non-action role he could be very good. He should try to do more of that over the upcoming period.

  2. Saw ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ during the week.

    In quality terms, the film can be divided into three sections. The opening 25 minutes or so when Cruise is a cowardly PR military man who is forced into combat because of his avoiding military duties I didn’t buy at all. I found it absurd that the military would send into battle someone who not only wasn’t properly trained but didn’t have any knowledge of the hardware he was using that he would be a hindrance to his colleagues. Even on sci-fi popcorn terms, it just seemed nonsense.

    But once it got into its central gimmick of Cruise’s character repeatedly dying it really clicked into full gear. Liman had great fun and ingenuity with the gimmick (it reminded me a bit of how he used the central gimmick in ‘Jumper’) and in the middle section the film was gripping, breezy and clever.

    However, once a key plot event happened late in the film, the last 25 minutes were slightly disappointing. Entertaining but rather routine in action sort of way.

    Despite its qualities I can see why this film has failed to appeal to the public. Despite its entertaining passages, it’s a rather wearisome film to go through with the constant action, killing and militarised hardware (plus some very nasty aliens) making it rather unappealing to many.

    As for Cruise, he’s good in the central role (if in a familiar performance) but it still feels like he should’ve stepped out of doing these types of films 10 years or so ago. As an aside, has any major film star ever run as much in his films as Cruise has? It feels like he hasn’t stopped running since ‘The Firm’.

    Rating: B-

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