Smart People

As I am now apparently making a habit of lateness, you will probably have to wait until this comes out on video to see it. If you like quirky dramedies, though, it might be worth checking out when it does become available. Smart People is the story of Lawrence Wetherhold (played by Dennis Quaid), who is an intelligent but extremely arrogant and self-absorbed literature professor. His relatively dysfunctional family consists of a daughter (played by Ellen Page), a son (Ashton Holmes), and a "loser" brother (Thomas Haden Church). After Lawrence throws his back out, his brother moves in, ostensibly to serve as Lawrence's chauffeur (since he has lost his license), but more obviously to mooch. There's also a romantic element as Lawrence, a widower, tries to start dating again. It's not particularly new ground as indie films go but it's pretty well done. Dennis Quaid is usually good and this is no exception, and Thomas Haden Church managed to come off as a little pathetic while still endearing and down-to-earth. Church was also the main comic relief and he was effective in that capacity--I laughed out loud quite a few times. As for Ellen Page, well, it was interesting to see her after her Juno fame (though it bears pointing out that Smart People was filmed before Juno) but I think that her acting is a little one-note. She didn't come off as exactly the same character as Juno, but given that the character as written was completely different, it's telling that there were any similarities at all. Still, even though this one probably won't win her any awards, her performance was decent and fit the movie fairly well. All in all, I quite enjoyed this movie, so if your taste is anything like mine, keep your eye out for it at the video store.

Viewed: 4/10/2008 | Released: 4/10/2008 | Score: B+

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Married Life

Entertainment Weekly put Rachel McAdams' performance in this film in their "Must List," so I had high hopes that Married Life would be the movie that made me change my mind about her. Unfortunately, it wasn't--I still think she's just mediocre. It's a real shame, too, because the rest of the cast was pretty good. It's not the best I've seen out of any of them, but then, that bar is pretty high--Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, and Chris Cooper have all done really great work in the past. Still, with such a strong cast (McAdams excepted) and from the trailers, I was really hoping for a great movie. And throughout the film I kept feeling like it was right on the verge of brilliance, but it never quite got there. I ended up feeling a little disappointed. Still, it's not bad, and there was something vaguely comforting about the fuzzy colors and grainy feel to the film--I'd definitely recommend it as a rental.

Viewed: 3/22/2008 | Released: 3/6/2008 | Score: B-

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It's been almost two months since I saw this one, so my memory of it is a little spotty. I think that it was a pretty good movie with some good performances, but nothing about it really blew me away. Keira Knightley was still pretty lackluster, unfortunately, although I guess I disliked her less in this role than I usually do. On the other hand, James McAvoy has become someone I'm keeping my eye on, and although I'm not sure that Saoirse Ronan deserved an Oscar nomination I did think she was just right for her role. The direction was kind of hit or miss for me--I liked the way the soundtrack incorporated typewriter sounds and generally liked the way the film came together, but I found the long tracking shot in the middle to be pretty distracting. I think what I liked best was the writing, but even at that there was something vaguely dissatisfying about the story. That may just be due to what the story is about, though, because I can't really identify anything I would have liked to see happen differently.

Viewed: 2/15/2008 | Released: 12/6/2007 | Score: B+

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