The many flaws of Spider-Man 3 have been well-documented: The elevated cheese factor, the overabundance of baddies, that absurd 10-minute stretch of song, dance and unsightliness where it suddenly feels like we're watching some strange mash-up of Willard vs. The Mask... But it's not like this is a bad movie. Underwhelming compared to its pair of astonishing predecessors? Sure, but still entertaining enough for a Sunday afternoon slouchfest. Yes, a movie that costs $250 million (or more?) should make our eyes pop and our remaining senses tingle (and possibly even leave us a craving a cigarette and a shower afterward), and Spidey 3 has moments of such bliss. Its single biggest flaw is that when it needs to get really dark, it gets really hokey -- perhaps catering to a younger audience, but losing a whole lot of credibility in the process.
Talk to Me
About a month back we ran a feature speculating (guestimating, too) over early Oscar contenders, and a few of our readers astutely inquired, "Where the f*** is Don Cheadle?" Our bad. Cheadle does indeed deserve to be part of the discussion in the Best Actor race, as crowded a field as it looks this year. Shoot, even Cate Blanchett wants in. Cheadle begins chewing the scenery faster than you can say Chiwetel Ejiofor as Civil Rights-era radio talk show host Ralph "Petey" Greene in this honest and engaging portrayal. Also thoroughly impressive -- and who I wish would also get mentioned in awards chatter -- is Taraji P. Henson. The Hustle & Flow breakout has a vibrancy about her to match Cheadle at every turn, AND she's got a killer Afro to boot. Though unexpectedly conventional at times, the film is a rare treat for folks who appreciate thoughtful yet feel-good, socially relevant entertainment.
No End in Sight
A common form of praise heaped on Charles Ferguson's outstanding and most depressingly titled Iraq War documentary heralds it as "everything you wish a Michael Moore documentary were." Of course to Moore haters that means "nonexistent," but its intended to signify that this amazingly thorough detailing of the many missteps made planning and engaging in the current war is reliant on historical facts, is communicated through the people directly involved in decision-making, and is 100 percent completely stunt-free. We don't even get to see what Charles Ferguson looks like! Of course none of the Bush Administration's top brass grant interviews, but we meet plenty of other folks responsible for the war who appear to be having a Most Bumbling Incompetence Contest. Of course, like mentioned above, that's the sort of commentary you won't get here, but therein lies the "fun" -- make what you will of the Mesopotamia.