The promising UP IN THE AIR (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m-Da8Tz4_Ehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m-Da8Tz4_E), with classy Vera Farmiga and a beautifully chilling beginning, is a grandchild of Frank Capra (not a bad lineage), and like the Whitmanesque Capra sings the body American and its weathers and wet snow and visible breath. But like all Capracorn it turns into a Christmas movie.
Not one of the reviews of AVATAR I've read (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/avatar/) remarks that it's an indictment of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—though that's the whole thrust. There's nothing else going on in it but a nod at astral-body metaphysics.
In SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK Ionesco for some reason isn't credited among the writers, but then it lacks his grace. I approve of theft (bad poets borrow, good poets steal, etc.), but why hijack something as hard to sell as miserablism?
MULHOLLAND DRIVE (is that still recent?) is a poisonous Presbyterian vision of sinners in the hands of an angry God.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS treats us to the sight of women being shot in the back by a sniper as they try to escape a burning cinema because they sleep with the wrong soldiers. No more Tarantino movies for me—he insults the intelligence of a nine-year-old.
And no more Oliver Stone. He gets nothing right.
AMERICAN BEAUTY (is that still recent?) is a hypocritical mass of clichés. The Marine disciplinarian who's secretly gay—we haven't met him for the past ten minutes. A man lusts after his teenage daughter—this simply cannot be faced, so they substitute her nude rose-petal-covered girlfriend and then we have a nice safe little film.
NINE: Fellini didn't smoke. And Sophia was in none of his films.
DATE NIGHT: two characters in search of an author.
IT'S COMPLICATED: does a movie have to be ghettoized for the wrinklies to be watchable?
Not as long as the Coen brothers are around. Their A SERIOUS MAN, a retelling of the Book of Job, is not a happy affair but they're our best American filmmakers.
Nevertheless, after sitting through IRON MAN 2 my Precious One says she doesn't want me to take her to any more American movies.