WEINER

Had to watch this. I’m sure he couldn’t resist the offer: “Film my mayoral campaign? Sure!” He thought he’d win, of course. The doc reveals a narcissistic extrovert totally lacking in impulse control (some examples right there on camera). The epitome of NY chutzpah: After his original sexting scandal, how could he think his “Carlos Danger” sexcapades wouldn’t come to light? Yet he ran anyway. It’s interesting to watch Huma in the background gradually distancing herself from him as things go from bad to worse to cringingly awful.

FF=0

THE FINEST HOURS

You really must see this. It’s 1952 and a little Coast Guard lifeboat is battling ginormous waves (the CGI really works here) to rescue the surviving crew of a tanker that has broken in two during one of the North Atlantic’s “perfect storms.” Because it’s based on a true story, you’re never sure if this lifeboat will end up like the Andrea Gail, so the tension is unrelenting. (Okay, it’s a Disney Production, so you can guess how it will turn out, but in medias res you are there.) Understated acting, excellent editing, direction, and pacing.

FF=0

ALL THINGS MUST PASS

I watched this documentary with a nostalgic rush. Back in the day, the East Village Tower Records was a regular stop whenever I was in NYC. It carried EVERYTHING. Domestic, foreign, indie, spoken word, sound effects – you name it, they had a section for it. They started with one store in California and grew to be a worldwide chain; started with vinyl, added tapes, added CDs, and then…the mp3 arrived and the record/CD market collapsed. It’s the story of one man’s vision, providing an unhurried atmosphere for music lovers, a cool staff that promoted from within, and good prices. A fascinating taleĀ about how changes in technology can buoy you and destroy you, how they giveth and how they taketh away.

FF=0

HITMAN – AGENT 47

I never played this videogame so I can’t make comparisons. I like mindless action at times and this had plenty of action with minimal mind. Lots of borrowings from (homages to?) other action films. If you want to feed your eyes while your brain idles in neutral, you could do worse.

FF=1

GOOSEBUMPS

Jack Black plays R.L. Stine in this horror comedy geared for kids. The plot releases a horde of Stine’s monsters on the town [the lawn gnomes, the Blob that ate Everyone, the Mummy, Slappy (of course), and many more] and the kids and Stine have to return them to the printed page. After a slow opening it starts rolling and is a lot of fun. Watch for R.L. himself in a cameo near the end.

FF=2

SELF/LESS

I’m going to have to post a *spoiler* alert here, but really, when that first hallucination hits, you’ll see the whole film laid out like a Chinese buffet. Before you reach that point, however, you have to make so many leaps (let’s make them pole vaults) of faith and suspensions of your disbelief by the cajones, that you might not get that far. The first hurdle is transferring the consciousness of one person into the body of another; a hoary SF concept that I accept because of its seniority. But for the Kingsley character to accept that the handsome, fully-developed, well-muscled body destined to be his new home was somehow grown just for him exceeds the tensile strength of my credibility. After that, it becomes a decent action thriller. Not many films present their characters with a moral dilemma of this magnitude, but there’s never any real doubt that we’ll have a Hollywood ending. And I won’t even mention the deus-ex availability of a flamethrower for the climactic scene (oh, wait…I just did)
FF=0 (It had one nice twist and I kept waiting for more)