Running late: a collection of movie reviews

12-welcome-to-me.w529.h352.2xWhat’d you do this summer? I did a lot of relaxing when I wasn’t working. I saw some movies, some which I reviewed (see: TrainwreckPitch Perfect 2), some of which I didn’t. That’s what this is for. Below is a collection of movies I never got around to writing about.

I rented American Sniper on my Kindle for a plane ride to San Francisco. It’s a patiently waiting film about Chris Kyle, the legendary sniper. For one, it does an excellent job portraying how soldiers may return home from duty — not completely all there. Kyle suffers, but is able to get it under control by the time he finally returns home for good.

That’s one of the reasons his story is so tragic. After killing his sniping counterpart, a task that distracted him at home, his troop is caught in a fierce dust storm and firefight. Compared to the rest of the film, this scene has no match. It’s an excellent piece.

When he finally returns home, he gradually gets back to normal — and by normal, he’s the guy Taya met and fell in love with. He’s playful and loving with his family. So his last day is truly heartbreaking. It’s not exactly everything before the end that makes you really feel something. Rather, it’s the footage of his funeral at Cowboys Stadium and the procession riding slowly on the highway, lined by thousands of people holding signs and American Flags. It’s the enormity of the moment that makes you feel the sadness.

“American Sniper”: ★★★

About Alex was also one of those pre-plane rentals. It’s a film starring Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Max Minghella with a cast of terrific young actors. The characters have gathered at the home of college friend Alex (Jason Ritter), who recently attempted suicide. It’s a modern day Big Chill, but disappointingly boring.

What we’re waiting around for is something to happen, and yet nothing really does. Greenfield’s character carries the action. He’s a no-holds-barred kind of guy, up front and joking about Alex’s attempted suicide. He’s the only one actually saying and doing anything during this reunion, while everyone else is crippled by awkwardness.

“About Alex”: ★1/2

I caught Welcome to Me, Kristin Wiig’s dramatic turn, some other time this summer. It was agonizingly painful to watch, about as painful as the fictional characters producing her fictional television show are feeling. It’s another story about a nobody who wins the lottery and imagines that it makes them suddenly important.

“I have prepared a statement.”

This is one annoying thing Wiig’s character, Alice Klieg, says often. She’s just not an entertaining person. Her talk show is grotesque, pushing the limits of what should be on television. I assume that’s supposed to be funny, but it fails. Halfway through this film, you’re wishing Wiig would turn this into one of her popular comedies. That’s unfounded.

“Welcome to Me”: Zero stars

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