As you may gather, I'm not pleased that I'm spending a beautiful Pacific Northwest Spring Weekend in bed with a cold. I'd hoped to play golf twice, attend Dude M's 50th Birthday party, see "Iron Man 2" with snottygrrl, and get a bunch done on the comic/Newsletter/merchandise. I did venture out on Saturday afternoon for the party. Not sure if that caused the setback that evening, but felt pretty bad. And now I've started coughing, which is being Not Fun.
When I wasn't sleeping, I did work my way through the stack of movies I had from the library and Netflix. Here are my thoughts (keep in mind that my impressions of these films was probably affected by my general malaise). There's no "Crying Game" level of secrets in any of these movies, and I'll try to keep things general enough so I'm not giving away any spoilers if you, for some reason, want to watch any of these movies.
The Informant! The trailer makes this look a lot funnier than it was. If I felt like spending more time on this movie, I'd probably find that they put all the humorous moments in the trailer, but I don't care enough to go look. Due to some annoying story choices, I lost all interest in Matt Damon's character in the third act. Were we supposed to feel sorry for him? Seriously? The most fun I had was spotting cameo appearances by known actors.
The Men Who Stare At Goats. I believe the sole purpose of this movie was to make Young Obi Wan a character in a movie that talks about Jedi Warriors. If you can ride that for 90 minutes, perhaps you'll love this film. Or if you get a kick out of a military unit based on New Age principles. While the US Army did investigate remote viewing in the 70's, I don't think they ever adopted the New Age enough to form the First Earth Battalion described in this film. I did really like George Clooney's performance, as he again demonstrates that he's not afraid to look stupid or crazy. Or both. Ultimately, though, I didn't like this movie enough to recommend it.
Astro Boy. Oh, god. Okay, I know that this is based on a manga series, and is therefore not bound by logic, but WTF? A scientist demos his robot to the lunatic president, who insists it be loaded with evil "red core" energy, causing the robot to go berserk and start shooting at people. So, they're testing a robot in public with live ammunition? Within fifteen minutes I'd asked "Why would anyone do things that way?" at least five times, and I pretty much gave up. I'm good with Suspension of Disbelief, but this requires full detachment from Expectation of Reason. If you can do that, you might enjoy this film. About the most coherent message I saw was "If you disobey your parents, you'll be vaporized by an evil robot."
Have You Heard About The Morgans? Another film that lost me within the first ten minutes, and I merely fast-forwarded through, sampling scenes when they looked like they might be amusing. They weren't. An example of what passes for "humor" is when a character attempts to spray the antagonist with "bear spray", but wackily has the spray can pointed back at his own face! Haha! Of course, you may not be the sort who knows that containers of pepper spray aren't constructed like paint spray cans, with just a plastic cylinder nozzle on top. They're built so you can't easily activate the spray any direction but forward (and seriously, how often does it happen that someone sprays paint back into their face?). I actually do like Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker, so it's a bit disappointing to find this film so dismal.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I saw this because Netflix kept suggesting it (those of you who have Netflix know what I mean. Every time you go to the suggestion list, there are certain movies that always show up until you break down and put them on your list. Netflix also really wants me to see "Outlaw Josie Wales"). Apparently this is a sequel to a live-action movie, which I would have seen first, had I known. Because there are references to things which don't make much sense (although there's probably no guarantee that they will make sense after seeing the first movie). This is an amime film about time travel, which the main character exploits to manipulate the most critical thing in the world: Who's going out with whom. Okay, to be fair, the characters are high-school students, and all that seems mighty important when one is in high school. Anyway, I guessed the twist about a third of the way through, although kudos to the movie for not heavy-handedly explaining the twist by the end (perhaps that's in the first movie?). Those friends who are Time Travel devotees may want to see this just to be thorough, but I can't otherwise suggest it.
Moon. Out of this lot, this movie is the one I'd actually recommend seeing. Part of me really wants to compare it to "Silent Running," but there isn't the environmental message here. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a lunar miner nearing the end of a three-year stint at a remote mining outpost with only a robot for company. Sam thinks he sees a woman sitting in his living quarters. Then things get weird. There are no gunfights, explosions or car chases. One could describe this film as cerebral, atmospheric, slow and thought-provoking, but in the good way. I don't want to say too much more, but if you like thoughtful science fiction where the gadgets and special effects are underplayed to serve a story about one man's humanity, you should check this out.