Quick Reviews: The Mermaid, The Wave, The Last Man on the Moon, Everybody Wants Some

By | October 10, 2016

Every once and a while, a movie slips through the cracks, and that’s when it’s time for “quick reviews”…

Everybody Wants Some…Richard Linklater (“Boyhood,” “Before” trilogy, “Dazed and Confused” of which this movie is a spiritual sequel to) has built a career out of the tricky feat of making naturalistic indies that are actually enjoyable movie experiences. At times, “Everybody Wants Some” feels like “Porky’s” remade by Nicole Holofcener, and manages a deceptively simple triumph: finding the soul in an 80’s sex comedy. The movie doesn’t linger as long as Linklater’s best work, but it’s more than enough in these lean movie times. Grade: B+

The Mermaid…A good example of how foreign films are graded more lenient than domestic. If this movie were made by the Farrelly Brothers instead of Stephen Chow, every reviewer would be dumping on it for being beyond-stupid and borderline incompetent. But what seems “braindead” and fairly formulaic (an R-rated “Little Mermaid” update would be seen as tired in America) in an American feature is often praised as “inspired” the second subtitles are added. Grade: D+

The Wave…A much better example than “The Mermaid” of things foreign films can do to feel fresh. Is this film (about a giant wave hitting a tiny Scandinavian town) really much better than the Tommy Lee Jones-starrer “Volcano” that came out twenty years ago? Not really, but it feels better by getting to see a culture more exotic than, say, Los Angeles handle a smaller-scale disaster. By now, we’re so used to seeing Roland Emmerich destroy the planet that it is interesting to go back to basics and say “What would you do if you only had 10 minutes to prepare for a disaster?” And it works much better than the last dozen or so aliens-attack movies. Grade: B+

The Last Man on the Moon…A reviewer can try all they want, but they can never fully separate their own personal tastes from the films they’re reviewing. And I have to admit that I love astronaut films and anything that can recreate that spirit of pioneering optimism. Since the heyday of the Apollo-moon missions has been over for decades, you don’t get many films like “The Right Stuff” anymore, so this documentary about—you guessed it—the last of the Apollo astronaut missions to land on the moon feels transporting and transcendent. If you’re a space-nut, see it, and even if you’re not, it’s one of the more uplifting documentaries you can see this year. Grade: A-

 

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