The Informant!: How much do I love the exclamation point that Soderbergh added sometime over the summer? More importantly, I love the movie-a-year-or-better level of productivity that the L's Henry Stewart perceives as lending Soderbergh's recent run a breeze of rough-draftiness. It's exactly that experimental efficiency that makes Soderbergh so exciting, and makes me less concerned or disappointed when he makes a movie that isn't as good as Out of Sight or The Limey. Which is often. Because those movies are amazing. But there's never any "I waited four years for that?!" with Steven Goddamn Soderbergh. I wouldn't call The Informant! tonally inconsistent, either—tonally strange, yes, the way it mixes jauntiness and deadpan farce and glimpses into the psychology of a go-getting liar (via some of the best-used voiceover in ages), but strangely focused and of a piece in a way that a less prolific director might not be willing to commit to. For such a cool-headed director, Soderbergh has become adept at wringing offbeat comedy from genres that seem too slick or serious for it. The Informant! may be a bit of a one-joke movie, but that joke is aimed with such precision, and delivered with such human pathos by a plumped out, mustachioed Matt Damon, that I didn't much mind.
Jennifer's Body: Let's talk about Diablo Cody, because no one else discussing this movie will be able to do anything else. I haven't seen it yet, but the critical consensus so far seems to be that Cody has revealed her true, disappointing colors by (a.) daring to write a horror movie that does not transcend and surpass the horror genre and (b.) not toning down her snarky, slangy, post-Buffy dialogue style while doing so. Odd, right, that well-paid, award-bestowed screenwriting phenom Diablo Cody didn't consult conventional critical wisdom when preparing her follow-up—and instead seems to have written something based on, yuck, how she actually likes to write and what interests her! I mean, sure, lots of people may have enjoyed Juno, but didn't she hear that it was too hipster-y and self-satisfied and mannered? It was so annoying, the way the characters would sometimes say funny things. I for one am appalled that she apparently harbors absolutely no interest in making Wendy and Lucy. The nerve of some people! Anyway: maybe I'm wrong and this movie is totally rote and, as such, disappointing; Sutton's review manages to critique it without resorting to saying it's bad for not being some kind of exercise in minimalist restraint (although: sorry, Ben, I have next to no idea what "egregious titillations" means). But I can't imagine it's not at least more enjoyable and funnier than most high school and/or horror movies. What I'm saying is, I want to read a review of Jennifer's Body written by someone who actually likes horror movies [Like... Ben Sutton? -Ed]. Or, alternately: I want to go see Jennifer's Body. Even if you're in a dismissive mood, you should be psyched about this movie, because if Megan Fox can't be of use playing a demon-possessed boy-devouring succubus, it'll be all the easier to declare her useless once and for all.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: My recollection of the book is a little foggy, but it's about as long as Where the Wild Things Are, right, and without any actual characters? The movie's solution appears to be a patented bumbling-misfit-genius-dreamer archetype, in this case a scientist (voice of Bill Hader) who causes the giant food calamities. The character designs are cute, but even as an animation fan, I'd rather just watch Bill Hader and co-voicer Anna Faris in a live-action movie.
Love Happens: I've been wildly anticipating this movie so that theaters can finally stop playing the trailer for it, which I have seen approximately six hundred times, which to me counts as seeing the movie six hundred times, in which case let me reiterate six hundred times, this movie is terrible and I hate it.
The Burning Plain: It's funny, I always assumed Alejandro González Iñárritu was the reason I didn't much care for 21 Grams or Babel, because screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga also wrote The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which is not so much a cross-cut, time-scrambled, miserablist ensemble piece about how we are all bound together via the constant, tragic stream of misunderstandings that mostly destroy everyone whatever whatever. But now Guillermo Arriaga has directed his first movie, and it's apparently at very least time-scrambled and miserablist and now I don't know who to trust! The L's Simon Abrams takes A.O. Scott to task for mocking Arriaga's time-scrambling, but I don't know that I'd call an acclaimed yet not particularly well-known screenwriter so much an "easy target." If Guillermo Arriaga is a fish in a barrel, what's Diablo Cody? And: scene.