Fast and Furious : Why do I want to see this movie? 2 Fast 2 Furious was terrible. I caught Tokyo Drift on cable a few months ago and it was nearly as bad. I don't even have that much love for the original Fast and the Furious, although it's a serviceable B-movie. But the damn trailers for 4 Fast 4 Furious keep kicking my ass, especially that first one, following a gang of car thieves apparently stealing a tanker full of oil from a moving truck. This gives me hope, perhaps foolish, that the action will extend beyond the realm of car enthusiasts racing for the title of King Douchebag, and into, you know, actual chases and shootouts and stuff. Also, I can't explain it, but I find Vin Diesel's non-acting in all of the trailers to be weirdly delightful. I love that insincere, half-menacing "heh (small pause) heh" he lets out when another dude jokes about Paul Walker getting it on with his sister. So I'm willing to ignore the fact that Justin Lin has never made a good movie, no not even Better Luck Tomorrow, and hope this will be the best fourquel ever.
Adventureland: Greg Mottola was the secret weapon behind Superbadâ¦ actually, just about everyone was the secret weapon behind Superbad, because it's a movie that happens to be superbly written, directed, and acted while seeming more or less like an enjoyable goof. But Mottola was a key ingredient, so his self-written, semi-autobiographical follow-up about a late-eighties summer spent working at an amusement park counts as must-see for me. Early word that this isn't the rowdy comedy you might expect "from the director of Superbad" suits me fine; as much as I tend to enjoy Apatow productions, they do tend to emphasize the hard-R freedom from TV restraints in a way that fails to acknowledge that said restraints didn't hurt the final products of Freaks and Geeks or Undeclared one bit. Mottola was a director-for-hired on the latter show, so I'm holding out for that sort of low-key hilarity.
Sugar : Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's follow-up to Half Nelson played Sundance in 2008 but hasn't received nearly the same level of buzz, maybe because it lacks an anchor as immediately compelling (and secretly showy) as Ryan Gosling's breakthrough performance. The film follows Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), nicknamed Sugar, as he advances from a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic to the minor leagues of the United States. Sugar is a pitcher, and though there's some talk and illustration of athletic technique, Boden and Fleck place greater emphasis on the experience of players struggling to break in: the language barriers, the uncomfortably rah-rah host families, the phone calls home. This is a sports movie about the world of a sport, and that world extends beyond the big game, covering the rises and falls that happen before even reaching the major leagues. Boden and Fleck give us many lean-cut scenes of culture clash, but the differences are played more for gentle observation than cheap laughs. It's not all perfectly realized: Sugar's foray into performance-enhancing drugs temporarily nudges the movie back toward sweaty, issue-y Half Nelson territory; most of the film's women exist primarily to catch Sugar's eye or not; and the last half-hour flirts with Tom McCarthy-style easy-out likeability. But the film rights itself and sails toward a reflective, oddly satisfying conclusion.
And More: Sugar isn't the only indie opening this weekend — it's like a Slamdance firesale out there. I saw the trailer for coming-of-age comedy Bart Got a Room so long ago that I'm starting to feel bittersweet pangs of nostalgia tempered with humorous anecdotes for it. â¦ Everything about Gigantic — especially the title and the fact that it's a romance with Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel — makes it sound so far up my alley that it's bound to get lost and maybe mugged. â¦ Alien Trespass is a goof on 50s alien-invasion movies; I feel like we need a new decade made available for these indie genre tributes. Let's see a lovingly campy homage to the films of the extremely early 20s! â¦ Actually, Paris 36 sounds like it comes a little closer in that it is apparently a 30s-style musical. â¦ Finally, on a single screen, The Escapist is not a cinematic treatment of Michael Chabon's superhero, but a prison-break thriller with Brian Cox, Damian Lewis, and Joseph Fiennes — a formidable B-team.