I've been accused many times of being a soft critic. Yes, it's true, I can usually find something to like in most movies. However, the real reason is that I tend to see movies I think I will like (particularly if I have to pay for the ticket). And second, I often don't bother to review movies I didn't like. And even less often do I bother reviewing movies I find meh. But to round out my reviewing a bit, here are two that had things to like, but overall didn't rise to the level of review-worthy.
The Informant! was the Matt Damon vehicle last fall that got him quite a few nominations or at least attention. And he was worthy of attention. He spent the whole movie spinning his heels trying to drive the thing forward. It is "based on a true story" and not having heard of the scandal they discuss throughout the film, it was as much fiction as fact to me. Damon works for a chemical company that he knows has been fixing prices with the Japanese. He reaches out to the FBI (Scott Bakula and Joel McHale) who has him tape conversations about the illegal activity. However, after the whistle is blown, Damon thinks he'll get to run the company once the bad guys are taken away. Then they find out he's been taking kick-backs and bribes. Damon is an odd, odd character. He's delusional about how the FBI will work for his benefit, obviously smart enough to make lots of money and hide most of it. He forges signatures and gets caught, so the original FBI agents get in trouble for not properly checking into the guy they're basing their whole case upon. It's a movie that you hope will provide dividends once you figure out what's really going on, but you never do. Directed by Steven Soderburgh, you can feel the same clouded mystery and humor as the Ocean's movies, but as nothing actually develops and Damon's character isn't nearly as charming or compelling as Danny Ocean, this movie doesn't really go anywhere. It can't seem to decide if it's a drama or a comedy and doesn't really do a good job at either. I did like Melanie Lynsky as Damon's wife, always agreeing with his crazy ideas and helping him keep it together. 2 lambs/stars
The September Issue is a documentary about the biggest issue of Vogue ever produced, September 2007. It follows editor in chief Anna Wintour and creative director Grace Coddington as they put together a huge issue. Grace sets up photo shoots, designs the look of each, puts together the fashion within each, and then Anna cuts out tons of her hard work deciding what actually goes into the issue. There are a few fun scenes to watch as they go to fashion shows and help Sienna Miller do the cover shoot in Rome. But overall, it wasn't anything particularly innovative. It does show Anna Wintour as a real person who doesn't usually wear dark glasses, who has children who are proud of her, and she can smile and laugh, but that she's really good at her job for a reason, she's got skills. Grace Coddington was fun to watch prepping all of her things. She showed real pride in her work, and also worked from an incredibly creative point of view (though, for someone who used to be a model and works in fashion, her hair was a disaster). However, if you've seen The Devil Wears Prada, Ugly Betty or Project Runway, it didn't really tell you anything new about how they work, minus the drama of course. What do they do with designers, how they think up some of their ideas, what they use for inspiration, what it all costs, where they get to go for work, etc. A very cut and dry documentary following around people who work really hard. 2 stars
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