Opening in Las Vegas, July 10, 2015

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Another miserable weekend at the megaplex. This may be the worst summer for movies I want to see in my memory.

I certainly don’t want to see Minions (56), the spin-off from Despicable Me. This just seems like a Happy Meal toy made into a movie. I fail to see the humor or charm of these characters, but I suppose little kids like them. Even my 6th-grade students like them. My childhood innocence is long gone. Liam Lacey: “With its episodic stream of slapstick gags, Minions has moment of piquant absurdity, but mostly it’s shrill-but-cutesy anarchy works as a visual sugar rush for the preschool set.”

The Gallows (30) looks like a generic horror movie that will gather teenagers on Friday or Saturday night and then sink into oblivion. And here;s the good part–teens don’t care if the movie is good or not. Apparenlty this one, about a haunted high school, is not. Starring Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Frank and Kathlie Lee. A.A. Dowd: “Making audiences care about the characters is always a more effective fear-generating strategy than just knocking off a bunch of dimwits in the dark.”

Ordinarily, a summer release with Ryan Reynolds would be at least somewhat notable, but Self/less (35) has gotten almost no play in the media. And it’s directed by Tarsem Singh, which used to mean something. Maybe the studio realizes they have a turd that can’t be polished. Nathan Rabin: “The narrative is schlocky and groaningly over-familiar, but the film is also uncharacteristically drab visually, with a washed-out colour palette and anemic pacing.”

As usual, you have to go to the arthouse to see something worthwhile, and this week that’s Amy (85), the doc about singer Amy Winehouse. I was not a fan of her while she was alive, thinking she was too much of a train wreck, but I ghoulishly bought her album Back in Black after her death and damn, was she good. So we’ve had two docs this year about the 27 club (musicians who died when they were 27–earlier we had one about Kurt Cobain that I’d still like to see). Kenneth Turan: “It is the achievement of Amy, Asif Kapadia’s accomplished, quietly devastating documentary, that it makes the story of this troubled and troubling individual surprisingly one of a kind by allowing us to, in a sense, live her life along with her.”

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.

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