White House Down
: This weekend's other action-buddy picture—seriously, how was one of these not shuffled off to July or August, where both meat-and-potatoes action and broad comedy seem to thrive?—is more straight-down-the-middle, and while destruction raining down upon the White House lawn seems perfectly Roland Emmerich, it also counts as a change of pace from his cornball Irwin Allen-level disaster ensembles. I guess 2012
went about as far as he could go until he figures out how to blow up the solar system, which has sent him back to knocking off a franchise whose considerable escalation remains, nonetheless, a little less monumental: Die Hard
(though maybe part six will finally send John McClane to space, or Mars or something). I'm not sure how the supposed jocular tone will mesh with Emmerich's dopey-uncle sense of humor, which I always attributed to his past cowriter/coproducer Dean Devlin, just for fun. But 80s-action throwbacks are hot right now, and a lot of those movies, even the "comic" ones, aren't actually very funny, either. For 2013, the atrocious Olympus Has Fallen
can claim firsties, but come on: Emmerich practically invented White House carnage.
: As I mention in my longer piece about this movie
, The Heat
is basically the only lady-starring big movie of the summer, so it's a good thing it's good, because if there's one thing that would suck more than only one lady-starring movie of the summer, it would be that movie being some kind of Bride Wars
situation. The female law-enforcers of The Heat
aren't interested in fighting over wedding venues; in true retro-80s semi-lazy style, they track down drug dealers. The movie is a lot of fun, though the standard-issueness of the get-the-dealers plot did make me long for the subtle subversion of The Other Guys
, where massive property damage is done to bring down some pot dealers while financial crooks nearly get away. But that's not the deal with this movie; basically, it runs through buddy-action-comedy clichés and refreshes them via Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, both very funny here.
: I enjoyed
Neil Jordan's return to vampire movies at this year's Tribeca Film Festival; it also played the Northside Film Festival before it swoops into the IFC Center this weekend. This is the kind of accessible, well-wrought pulp that really ought to be getting a wider release; I'm not sure if I can blame Twilight
for so watering down and dummying up the idea of vampires, but that's the only thing that would make Byzantium
look art-house challenging. It does move at a slower pace, but nothing happens in those goddamn Twilight
movies, either, and at least this one has some scope and genuine feeling beneath its, okay, slightly too pronounced brooding. Gemma Arterton has probably her best role to date as an old bloodsucker slash hooker who looks a lot more like Gemma Arterton than you'd expect from a centuries-old being (or, for that matter, a hooker hanging out on fairgrounds). This lush-looking but low-key movie is better, to my recollection, than Jordan's Anne Rice adaptation from almost 20 years ago.
I'm So Excited
: To be honest, I've never been the biggest Almodovar fan, so maybe this return to his roots
won't strike me as quite the comedown from his most-loved work, much as Broken Embraces
didn't strike me as all that much weaker than All About My Mother