I've watched a handful of flicks recently, and instead of staggering out a bunch of longer reviews, I figure it's better to just buckshot out some quick, in-a-nutshell blurbs. Why dick around, you know?
First up: "You're Next" (2011)
This seemingly by-the-numbers horror flick has been lauded as one of the most subversive examples of the genre not called "Cabin in the Woods" to come out in the last decade. I was excited to see it, given that high reputation. Imagine my grim surprise when all I found was a needlessly misogynistic, exhausting cavalcade of stupid decisions and terribly annoying one-note characters. There's about ten minutes in the third act that I think redeems the rest of it in everyone else's eyes, but, to me, there's just no excuse for making me sit through seventy minutes of boring, insulting garbage just to get to the good parts. Pass.
Upstream Color (2013)
Shane Carruth's spellbinding time-travel debut, 2004's "Primer," is one of my favorite movies, but it has its faults, namely the borderline incomprehensible plot hidden in the thick, hard-to-digest dialogue and exposition. His sophomore effort is even more difficult to follow, abandoning exposition almost altogether. I've never seen a film less interested in whether or not I knew what was going on. That being said, the little plot you can understand is fascinating, the performances weird and compelling, and the photography is GORGEOUS. There's more than a little Terrence Malick influence here, with long, slow images of nature taking the place of developmental dialogue. In a world of cookie-cutter sci-fi, this is a worthy, if esoteric endeavor. Worth watching if you've got the brain-space.
Cheap Thrills (2013)
This is a hard movie to review. There are ways in which this story, about two friends (kinda) spending a drunken night with an ultra-wealthy couple paying them ever increasing amounts of cash to fulfill increasingly unsavory dares, could have been truly interesting. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the movie to be anything more than a brutal, bloody, on-the-nose morality tale about "haves" and "have-nots" and what people will do for money, and the freedom it brings. But, alas, that's really all there is. Occasionally funny in the darkest way possible, the film does feature a damn good, occasionally unsettling performance from funny-man David Koechner, but it's probably just a tad bit too pointless and predictable for any but the more bloodthirsty of viewers.
R.E.D. 2 (2013)
Bruce Willis continues to sleepwalk through the new millennium. The action is silly, the jokes aren't, and in the end you forget you even watched it. Helen Mirren shoots a rifle. Catch it on cable.