Friday movie roundup – June 29

Alt text


‘Tis a busy midsummer week, as far as the movies go. (And how funny it is that June 29 — one week after the actual beginning of summer — is considered “midsummer” in movie terms.) Several high-profile films opening this week, and more in just a few days. So no dawdling!

“Ratatouille” is the latest film from the Pixar geniuses, and it’s almost as lovely and warm and funny a story as they’ve ever done. I recommend it to you in the strongest of terms.

I note, however, that it is not necessarily a children’s film. There’s nothing wrong with it for kids, and kids may well love it, as it is animated, and it does feature talking animals. But more than ever, this Pixar entry feels like a movie for grown-ups, with complex relationships and multiple interwoven themes. Maybe it’s one that kids and adults will love equally. I don’t care, because I’m not a kid, and I thought it was awesome.

If you have a chance to see it digitally projected, by the way, DO SO. That’s how I saw it the first time (I’ve seen it twice), and it’s breathtakingly beautiful. Theaters usually say if it’s digital when they list their movie times, so be on the lookout for that.

“Live Free or Die Hard” already opened on Wednesday, and it’s fine.

Opening on a few hundred screens today is “Sicko,” the latest documentary from Michael Moore. He takes on the healthcare system this time, and it will be fun to see the more rabid Moore-haters bending over backward to disagree with his basic premise that the U.S. healthcare system is screwed up and needs to be fixed. “What is he talking about?!” they’ll say. “Our healthcare system is fine! Why does Michael Moore hate America so much?” I mean, right now I can’t really picture anyone other than the CEO of Kaiser Permanente saying that, but you never know. There are some people who would argue with Michael Moore if he made a movie about how cancer is bad and we should cure it.

Now, the specifics of HOW our healthcare system should be fixed, that’s certainly open for debate, and plenty of people won’t like Moore’s ideas. And as badly as he presents his views in this film, I can’t say I blame them. I’ve read interviews with him recently where he said some great things that I wish he’d put in the film, too.

For example, Entertainment Weekly had this exchange with him:

EW: What do you say to the Canadian and French people who claim you paint a far-too-positive picture of their healthcare systems?
MM: What I always say is, “Wanna switch systems?” And the answer is always no…. We always talk about the negatives: Canadians have to wait two hours or two days or two weeks for this, that, or whatever. Well, OK, let’s set up a system where we don’t have the Canadian wait. Let’s set up a system where we take what they do right and don’t do the things that they do wrong.

See that? Perfectly level-headed, rational, and considerate of both sides. In the movie, though, he dismisses the Canadian horror stories about lengthy waits for treatment with purely anecdotal evidence and basically pretends the problem doesn’t exist.

In an interview with eFilmCritic’s Peter Sobczynski, Moore is asked if maybe there are steps we can take to work toward universal healthcare, rather than trying to do it all at once. Moore says:

We have to start somewhere. How about this? We already have the largest socialized medicine systems in the world: Medicare/Medicaid. So we’ve already covered tens of millions of people as it is. Then we have veterans. How many millions of veterans do we have covered by the VA? That’s a socialized medicine system, so we have that. Why don’t we take the next step, and let’s cover the 9 million kids? What liberal or conservative wouldn’t support the fact that a kid should have the right to see a doctor and not have to worry about paying for it? There’s 9 million more. Maybe it will happen like that. I hope it doesn’t; I hope it happens faster than that, but I think it can expand and start taking care of more and more people. Maybe it’s easier to think of this as Medicare for all.

That’s smart, isn’t it? Thought-provoking, theoretically feasible, not outrageously un-American or unconstitutional. But there’s none of that in the movie. Why must he be so sloppy with his moviemaking when he can often be so rational and reasonable in real life?

Finally, a movie called “Evening” opens today. The ads say it’s “from the author of ‘The Hours,'” which is partly true but mostly a lie. Michael Cunningham did co-write the screenplay for “Evening” — but he co-wrote it with Susan Minot, who also wrote the novel it’s based on. So I suspect Cunningham’s contributions are negligible, unless the movie differs drastically from the book.

This film is also noteworthy for featuring both Glenn Close and Meryl Streep, whom many people have long believed are actually the same person. They don’t have any scenes together, though, so they still might be one and the same.

As if all that weren’t enough, two more wide releases open just four days from now, on Tuesday: “Transformers” and “License to Wed.” In fact, “Transformers” has screenings as early as 8 p.m. on Monday. It was supposed to open July 4, then they moved it to July 3, and now there are showings on July 2. Pay attention, because at the rate they’re going it might accidentally open tomorrow.

All of this and much more is in this week’s edition of “In the Dark,” which is free and fun and should be subscribed to by one and all. This week’s podcast version can be heard here.

Have a great weekend! I will do the same, I promise.