Mini-Reviews: Super, Cracks, Trust, and Scream 4

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my regular reviews.  I’ve been a little too busy, but that doesn’t mean I’m falling behind on my movie watching.  Here are some half-assed reviews/recommendations of some movies currently playing in theaters and/or On Demand.

Super, from writer-director James Gunn (Slither), is another one of those pedestrian superhero films (like Kick-Ass or Defendor) — just far more cynical and shamelessly violent.  It centers on an average guy (Rainn Wilson) who assumes the alter-ego of “The Crimson Bolt” when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a strip club owner and petty crime lord (Kevin Bacon), but Ellen Page, who scared the hell out of me as his disturbed and foul-mouthed sidekick “Boltie,” is the real star of the show.  Super‘s tone may be all over the place, but no matter which key it hits it’s always an exciting one.  I’m almost ashamed to admit how much I enjoyed this.  Maybe that’s kind of the point.

I saw the film at a screening with Michael Rooker (Mallrats, JFK, Cliffhanger), who has a small role in the film as one of Bacon’s henchmen, in attendance.  At the post-screening Q&A, he sounded as if he had as much fun watching us watch the film as we did watching the film itself, as we cringed, laughed and cheered at all the hellacious things that were happening on the screen.  I think you can enjoy Super regardless of how you see it, but it’s definitely one of those films that is aided by seeing it in the right venue with the right audience.

Super:  8/10

Cracks, the first feature from director/co-writer Jordan Scott (daughter of Ridley), examines the sheltered
youths and a scandalous teacher-student relationship at a British boarding school.  The all-female cast includes Eva Green (Casino Royale), Imogen Poots (Solitary Man) and Juno Temple, the excellent young actress who has been confirmed to play a “street-smart Gotham girl” in The Dark Knight Rises.

Also on board is cinematographer John Mathieson,  a frequent collaborator of Ridley’s ever since Gladiator, but his appropriately hazy work here varies vastly from his work in those films.  I got a distinct The Virgin Suicides vibe from the film as it takes a similar stance between sleaze and elegance, and I can’t help but wonder if we have another Sofia Coppola on our hands.  I’m anxious to see where Scott goes from here, but for now you can catch Cracks in select theaters and through IFC On Demand.

Cracks:  7/10

In the worst Macbook Pro advertisement imaginable, a Chicago teen named Annie (Liana Liberto) uses the new computer given to her for her 14th birthday to begin chatting with Charlie, a 16-year-old volleyball player offering her advice for her upcoming tryouts.  Wait, he’s actually a 20-year-old sophomore at UC Berkley.  Make that a 25-year-old grad student.  And when Annie finally meets up with the creep, he turns out to be in his upper 30s.

David Schwimmer (yes, Ross from “Friends”) directs with a surprising intensity and elicits some exceptional performances from the impressive cast, especially from Clive Owen as the father desperate to make it right but oblivious how to do so.  But if I had one complaint it would be that the film falls victim to the annoying practice of reading aloud the things you’re about to type.  People don’t seriously just sit in their room speaking to themselves while they’re chatting, do they?  I hope not.

Watching Trust, I found it hard to believe that any high school freshman could in this day and age could still be this naive.  For much of the film, I reacted in much the same way I do when watching a (good) horror film.  Squirming in discomfort, nervous for the well-being of the characters.  But Trust is even scarier because the evils are so legitimate.  It really is a shame that the film is rated R because Trust is the type of film that audiences of practically all ages SHOULD see and discuss.

Trust:  8/10

Speaking of good horror films, here’s my quick review for Scream 4 (or is it officially Scre4m?  I never figured that out):  It’s a hell of a lot of fun.  Most films exist within their own little bubble, but I love how self-aware this film (and the whole franchise really) is.  This is the best Scream since the original, and it features a star-making turn from Emma Roberts.  I loved her in It’s Kind of a Funny Story and she’s officially made me a fan with this one.  I can’t wait ’til the day when Julia Roberts becomes known as “Emma’s aunt,” rather than the other way around.

Scream 4 (or Scre4m, whatever):  8/10

What have you all seen lately?  I’ve been meaning to get the theater for Hanna and I’ve heard a lot of great things so far.  Hopefully I’ll find time this week.

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