182. The Descendants (B-)
As a big fan of Alexander Payne's Sideways
and an admirer of his About Schmidt
, I really wanted to like this movie. Unfortunately, it's just not as good as either of those films (I haven't seen Payne's earlier movies, although I should).
Part of the problem is the character of Matt King, played by George Clooney. Despite being in practically every scene of the movie, we never learn as much about him as we should. His past with his wife is particularly vague, which causes trouble because the film is hinged on King dealing with his baggage from that relationship when his wife slips into a permanent coma after a boating accident.
In the film's opening narration, Payne uses King to suggest that this won't be a typical film about Hawaii, simply portraying the islands as an exotic locale of endless vacation. Yet, in the final analysis, beyond this voice over, Payne does exactly that. For all the suggestions that King is a workaholic, we don't see him doing much work. It really does seem like an endless vacation.
183. The Fly  (A)
Cronenberg's remake remains a classic of sf and body horror, and I'm happy that I got to see it on the big screen (for the film's twenty-fifth anniversary). All three actors in the movie (there are others, but the action is surprisingly limited to Goldblum, Davis, and Getz) are terrific, the script is excellent, the direction good, and Howard Shore's operatic score perfect (it's no wonder he turned it into an actual opera recently). Even the effects (most of them practical) hold up very well.
184. Dead Ringers (C+)
Cronenberg's next film, unfortunately, doesn't hold up nearly as well. Jeremy Irons is good in a dual role as twin brothers, but the rest of the cast (especially Geneviève Bujold) is wasted. A times the movie feels completely aimless, and although Irons is excellent at differentiating between which twin he is playing, at times the film is downright confusing.