With the summer heat continuing its oozing effect upon us, it’s hard not to be taken aback by all of the events that Barcelona bestows so willingly (and often cheaply) upon us. Alas, it’s the getting out there to do them that makes me feel rather lazy. For those who aren’t, the city offers a veritable smorgasbord of outdoor cinema like Sala Montjuïc, Cinema Lliure en la Platja and more family fare at L’Illa.
Speaking of family fare, let’s begin with that, so as to get it out of the way. Pixels. No, it is NOT a Pixar film. Quite frankly, I highly doubt anyone at Pixar Disney would have ever given the green light to this film in the first place. When we last saw Adam Sandler in Spanish cinemas, he was playing a cobbler in an otherwise sweet, if fluffy, film. Here, well…we have ye same old Adam Sandler playing himself and I’m sorry, but is anyone really feeling Adam Sandler in cinema like this, anymore? At least The Cobbler dared to venture into Woody Allen-esque territory. In Pixels, the plot is rather basic, beginning in ’82 with a ragtag team of video game nerds and then jumping into the future with the boys in various states of life triumphs…or not. Seriously though, Kevin James as Potus? Jeepers, that’s when you know things are not heading north to Happyville. Not meaning to burst anyone’s bubble here, because there are some genuine laughs and a few rather inane Eighties throwbacks…(I swear, Madonna is the ONLY thing that is still alive and kicking hard from that era, it’s weird and great at the same time). When an alien race misreads all of the data info coming from video games as an attack challenge, it’s up to this team of ‘buddies’ to save the day. Sandler, along with Kevin James, Josh Gad, GoT’s fave little person Peter Dinklage and the always refreshing Michelle Monaghan, do not even their best to redeem this silly picture and at some point, you might even feel sorry for yourself for having spent the money to see this trite shite or for the actors doing their best to do absolutely very little. Burfff. #-1/2
Now, for some fun stuff. Oh Lawd, I quite dug me some Ant-Man. While I was watching it, I found out two things, well no three. Firstly, you can craft a fun, non-Avengers specific, superhero film with a decent, understandable plot and not use ten different heroes..it IS possible! Secondly, Paul Rudd is funny and does NOT age. Lastly, Clueless (the film that broke him out into stardom) is twenty years old this month…sigh to ageing. The film quickly lets us in on the fact that Rudd is not the best kind of guy. Coming out of prison as the movie commences clues us into the fact that he has a past, but then when you introduce his (now) broken family complete with ex and cute little girl, you immediately feel a human connection element, maybe even empathy for this wannabe-good guy. It’s been a while since I saw Michael Douglas on celluloid and actually enjoyed the fact, as well. Here he plays ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. employee Hank Pym, who has created and been perfecting a mode of shrinking technology via a suit, though a former associate has also been perfecting one of his own. Hence, the race to break forth with this new type of human nano-technology. The plot is simple if silly but the nuances of the actor’s performances are just perfect. I must say that the whole superhero universe has pushed up the ante somewhat over these recent years with witty scripts and decent actors. Ant-Man is a great example of that and it would behove the viewer to sit throughout the credits for sneaky teases of a possible future film, as well as a shout out to another beloved Marvel character. Pure Summer Fun. ###-1/2
Lastly this week…Peter Bogdanovich. A name that every kiddie remembers, right? Mmmm…yes. He had one of those Hollywood stories that blew up during the Seventies due to a crazily successful first major film (The Last Picture Show) followed by two more lauded hits (What’s Up, Doc and Paper Moon) and then a strong of misses for decades. His career became a bit lacklustre, yet some gems like Texasville and The Cat’s Meow kept him in the game. After a long pause, he returns with this ensemble piece, She’s Funny That Way, a theatre comedy with Woody Allen’s wannabe muse flowing through its core. Bogdanovich is not Allen, which becomes apparent within the film’s first half hour. But when you’re watching Owen Wilson (doing a remake of his character from Moonlight in Paris), Kathryn Hahn, Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, Cybill Shepherd, Richard Lewis, even Joanna 'Patsy Stone' Lumley, it’s hard to divert your attention from the stellar cast. Without a doubt, it is the adorable Imogen Poots who saves this piece, though the movie itself has been widely panned by other critics. I found it to be a silly but enjoyable piece of cinema, even if it isn’t told in a stable manner. There are so many actors in the ensemble that sometimes it feels discombobulated and not fully fleshed out. This takes away from the insane amount of talent on screen, though any time Cybill Shepherd, Richard Lewis and Joanna Lumley popped onscreen, I felt like I was watching family. It’s enjoyable if you like theatre-based scripts, but perhaps best reserved for a ‘spectator discount day’ fare… ##-1/2
A slight respite seems in order from these hot as heck summer days, so get out there and enjoy some of the goodies the city and the cinema have to offer, my dears. See you in a few!