Thursday, August 28, 2008

Movies: Tropic Thunder, Clone Wars and Elegy

Lots of movie-going the past two weeks:

Tropic Thunder

I broke my rule of never going near anything involving Ben Stiller. I still think it is a pretty good rule but this movie is the exception to the rule. I had quite low expectations for the movie but in fact it was quite funny. Unlike a lot of Hollywood comedies, which are aimed at the humor level of a 12 year old not-very-smart boy, this movie is aimed square at 40 year old guys who are engaged enough to get a lot of cultural references from the past three decades along with pointed satire of the business side of Hollywood. One way to think about this movie is as a movie about movies, with special reference to the genre of jungle rescue movies. But there is a lot more than that, including a brief appearance by William Shatner in the original Star Trek that is both perfectly timed and perfectly chosen to work on several different levels. Finally, Tom Cruise steals the show as perfectly nasty Hollywood producer Les Grossman. This is well worth seeing, but should be avoided by the easily offended.

Clone Wars

This would be above average fare on Saturday morning but I am not sure I am happy to have paid $20 for Lisa and I to see it at the (remarkably dowdy) AMC multiplex in Downtown Disney in Florida. Recommended only for hard core Star Wars types.


This is a quite serious movie about fear, age, commitment and much more staring Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz. Kingsley is amazing, as always, and Cruz is a much better actress than I have seen her be in the past. The cinematography is gorgeous, the writing rich and the soundtrack luxurious. I'll be thinking about the issues raised in the movie for days. Plus Kingsley's character is a professor. What more can one ask for? Highly recommended.