Saturday, August 23, 2008

Workin' and the movies...

I am stuck working this weekend. At home, in intermittent bursts, but still working. My time and schedule is not my own. At first, when I was asked to help with a project late yesterday, I felt the familiar annoyance and stress, but then let go. It's part of the job. I just got promoted, just found out what my new salary and bonus will be, and I have to accept that these rare occasions of giving up personal time are necessary.

So far, hasn't been too bad. An hour of computer time, and soon an hour conference call. In between I managed to get to the gym, do laundry, and eat lunch.

And I slipped in a movie yesterday - a summer Friday afternoon escape that is becoming habit. Yesterday it was "Hamlet 2," the comedy starring Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler, and Elizabeth Shue (as Elizabeth Shue.)

I love Steve Coogan ("A Cock and Bull Story" and all the Alan Partridge material especially) and at least this gives him more screen time than his abbreviated role in the other opening film ("Tropic Thunder.") The reviews seem to be mixed, and my reaction is as well: when it's funny, "Hamlet 2" can be hilarious, but the humor and the pacing is uneven, and the overall result is a mishmash. Is it meant to be slapstick? The repeated bonking on the head of a young high school girl and the "hilarious" sight of Coogan's character drunkenly attempting to enter a liquor store on roller blades seem to pint that way. But other times, it's smartly funny (hard not to be smart when your leading ladies are Keener and Poehler.) Elizabeth Shue as Elizabeth Shue - not quite as fun as Neil Patrick Harris as Neil Patrick Harris in the Harold and Kumar movies, but not terribly distracting either.

Last weekend I saw both "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Tropic Thunder." "Vicky" was pretty good, with a divine comedic performance by Penelope Cruz, and a strong role for the relatively unknown Rebecca Hall, whose role eclipsed Scarlett Johannsen's quite neatly. (I know that Johannsen is supposedly Woody Allen's current muse, but she still seems to channel him a bit too strongly. It's not as bad here as in "Snoop" but there are moments when she starts her whining that you just want to sigh.) Javier Bardem as a smooth Barcelona lover/artist? Brilliant.

"Tropic Thunder?" Okay, I liked it a lot. A bit gory gross for my taste, but it's about a war movie, so it's very cartoonish. My biggest criticism is that there were several scenes where I couldn't understand what Robert Downey Jr. was saying, and missed some of the laughs. (Either his "accent" was hard to decipher, or I am losing my hearing. Or getting lazy with my hearing - I often use subtitles these days with both DVD and cable, and maybe that makes me lazy in paying attention in the same way that relying on spell check makes me a lackadaisical speller?) All in all, though, good stuff.


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