The Great Buck Howard
This was the first of two films I was able to watch on the plane trip to Alaska. It was actually a movie I wanted to see, which is more than I can say for most of the movies I watched on this trip. This film is worth seeing for John Malkovich's eccentric performance as the title character, a some what washed up magician, I mean mentalist, still making the rounds to small town America. He's proud of the ridiculous amount of Johnny Carson appearances he made and still seems to think he has something worthwhile to offer as he attempts to make a comeback and hopefully get a regular spot at a casino in Las Vegas. The story is told from the point of view of an assistant, played by Collin Hanks, Tom's son, and Tom also plays his father in the film. Collin is adequate in his role, but lacks the charisma that his father had at his age. This is an average movie, but worthy of your time if you find yourself trapped inside a speeding metal cylinder in the sky for seven hours.
He's Just Not That Into You
This was the second film I watch, so you can probably guess that there wasn't that great of a selection. I was just not that into this movie, or the title for that matter. If you found that last statement obnoxious, trust me, the movie was ten times more obnoxious. Sure, there was decent performances from Ben and Jen (sad that I don't need to use last names, huh?), but mostly there were annoying whiny twenty-somethings complaining about how hard it is to find someone worth having a meaningful relationship with. First, try looking somewhere besides a bar. If you happen to find someone great outside of the bar, but their married, leave them alone! I can't support any movie that condones taking the easy way out of a difficult marriage, but that was just the sour icing on this tasteless, unfulfilling cake.
Away We Go
Grace and I watched this together in our motel room in Anchorage the night before we got on the boat. It's the newest film from Sam Mendes, whose first two films, American Beauty and Road to Perditin, I absolutely love. His third, Jarhead, was pretty good, but I wasn't able to catch last year's Revolutionary Road. However, it seems to me that the quality of his films have been taking a steady decline. Away We Go focuses on a couple who discover they're pregnant, but they have no idea what they are doing, where they're going to live, or about anything else in their lives. There are several humorous moments throughout the films, but mostly it seemed to be haphazardly trying to uncover this strange mystery of parenthood, only to have these hopeless characters end up even further from the truth than when they started. If anyone else has seen this and got something meaningful out of this movie, I'd love to know what that was.
Crank: High Voltage
I really don't have much to say about this one... We watched it one night on the boat and dosed off toward the end. It was pretty much an exercise in shocking imagery (pun intended), but had literally no substance behind it. Sure, you could read it as a real life video game, but there was no intelligent commentary on the matter, and as a work of pure mindless entertainment, there are countless better movies out there that would fit the bill.
We also watched this one on the boat. It features Chazz Palminteri, of Usual Suspects and A Bronx Tale fame, as a professional con-man who is rudely confronted with his fatherly duties when his mentally challenged son is required to leave the special school he's been boarded at for his entire childhood. In order to send his son away again to a better more expensive school he must first complete one more big score to cover the financing. Besides the obvious questionable morality of the main character for which we are supposed to identify with, the movie kind of meanders to its conclusion, at which point our buddy Chazz finally achieves some sort of humanity. Mildly entertaining, but overall a forgettable movie.