Friday, December 30, 2011

The Mechanic - 2011

"The Mechanic" - 2011
Dir. by Simon West - 1 hr. 33 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Sometimes you need a reminder to trust your instincts.  When I first saw the trailer for "The Mechanic," I figured it was just another paint-by-numbers Jason Statham movie.  I'm sure that he's even gone so far as to refer to himself as a "mechanic" in one of his other movies (possibly one of the "Transporter" ones?), so this movie looked to lack even the most basic level of creativity.  But then at some point, I heard that this was actually a remake of an old Charles Bronson movie, and I became mildly curious.  I should have trusted my instincts.

In this context, a mechanic is an alias for a hit-man, albeit a creatively inclined, problem-solving version of one.  And just like in every other one of Jason Statham's movies, he's a highly-organized obsessive planner who is smarter than you and probably has better abs than you do, as well.  And he's super, super serious, all the time.  The plot is simple: Arthur Bishop (Statham) does a job, establishes that his only friend is Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), and then ends up having to take a job taking out McKenna.  McKenna's son, Steve (Ben Foster), comes along and ends up forcing his way into an apprenticeship under Bishop.  It turns out the job on Harry was a double-cross, which leads to Arthur and Steve taking on the firm that had previously employed Arthur.  Oh yeah, and stuff blows up a few times.

One of the chief problems here is that the story is pretty much a Scooby-Doo; there are so few moving parts  in this story that there's almost no possibility for misdirection, or even surprises of any kind.  Even the end isn't ever in question, seeing Statham's propensity for sequels.  There's no attempt at character development, either.  I don't know conclusively if Jason Statham is incapable of doing anything other than the one character he plays over and over, but there's no evidence to the contrary in "The Mechanic."  Those flaws could be overcome, however, if the action sequences were good enough.  I'm not so naive to think that people who want to see a movie like this are going because they want to see character arcs and high drama.

I will admit to anyone who cares to ask that I absolutely hate the current shaky-cam standard for fight scenes in action movies.  It distracts from the action (or the fact that the actors aren't actually very capable at stage fighting) and is disorienting.  But seeing as how I wasn't initially expecting anything that wasn't completely stock from this movie, I suppose it would be expecting way too much for this aspect of the film to be different.  For this reason, I didn't really care for any of the hand-to-hand combat scenes here.  And other than that, there's a couple of explosion-ridden scenes towards the end of the film involving large vehicles, but neither were spectacular enough to make up for much of anything.

However, there were moments of unintentional hilarity present.  My favorite was when Arthur and Steve had succeeded in pinning down Arthur's boss, Dean (Tony Goldwyn).  Arthur and Steve stand over Dean, who is trapped and bleeding in an upside-down car, and they unload their weapons into Dean.  That is, their high-capacity automatic weapons, wielded side-by-side, legs spread wide.  It's for all intents and purposes completely masturbatory, an orgasmic moment shared between master and student.  Which is cool, I guess. The other bit of unintentional hilarity is the portrayal of Arthur as being nearly invisible.  He escapes from everything without ever being noticed, even in large crowds.  He usually does this by furrowing his brow, staring a hole through someone, and walking directly at them.  If you saw someone doing that, you'd probably yell at the guy being chased that some crazy asshole was chasing him.  It's not just that Statham is super-serious about everything, it's that he seems to be nearly homicidally so.  Even basic actions like putting a record onto a turntable are solemn and nearly OCD-worthy.  For a character that's supposed to plan things out so well, you'd think that he might have figured out at some point that looking like you want to kill someone when you're trying to escape the scene of a murder is the sort of thing that other people might notice.  Or not.  Whatever works for a mechanic, I guess.

To sum up, "The Mechanic" is the sort of movie where the only women present in it are either hookers (presumably in the story to prove that Arthur is totally hetero, in contrast to the glances that he and Steve share) or the family of someone, threatened with violence in order to coerce that someone to give up information.  The plot is weak, the action is either weak and covered up by editing or really cool and handicapped by awful editing, and the acting possibly could have been culled from the cutting room floor of Statham's other films.  The whole thing bears the mark of the post-video game era: leveling up in lieu of actually telling a story.  If that sounds like your cup of tea, have at it.  Having been through this experience, I'm a little curious about the original movie.  It's not like it could be worse.

1 / 5 - TV

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 2011

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - 2011
Dir. by David Fincher - 2 hrs. 38 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

First things first, I haven't read the books, nor have I seen any of the three Swedish movies based on Steig Larsson's books.  This movie, directed by David Fincher, is my introduction to the material.  So there won't be any hand-wringing whatsoever about how this movie relates to the source material, although I've heard it's pretty faithful.   So, if you're like me and have had your head in a hole regarding this material (deliberately - I may eventually read the books, but I wasn't going to get that done prior to seeing this movie), let's have a quick introduction.

There are initially two storylines.  The first involves a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), who has just been found guilty of libel against a businessman.  The second surrounds the girl who investigates Mikael for a background check on behalf of another wealthy businessman, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).  The background check on Mikael is for what is publicly purported to be working on the memoir of Henrik Vanger, but is in actuality at attempt to figure out what happened to his niece, Harriet, who was murdered forty years prior.  Lisbeth and Mikael end up working together on the case.  Going into more detail of the plot seems unnecessary, and would ruin a lot of the movie.

There is a lot to praise about the movie.  The plot is somewhat complicated, but not confusing, and all the characters are distinct and have their own motivations.  And while it seems weird to call a movie that's more than two and a half hours long taut, it's an apt description.  There's a great tension to the story, and no real lulls to hamper that.  It's a tense movie punctuated by moments of real violence, and I found myself unprepared for those moments.  That's not a condemnation, either.  Rather than using violence as nothing more than fodder for entertainment, these events are consequential, and have emotional weight.  For instance (and in vague terms), the story between Lisbeth and her guardian Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen) leads to consequences that are horrific, well-earned, and shocking.  That combination of traits is consistent throughout the movie.

The acting is also uniformly excellent, particularly Rooney Mara's portrayal of Lisbeth.  She's distinct and believable playing a character that would be easy to overplay.  Instead of trying to convince everyone she's insane in a showy manner, she just does insane things in a way that makes you believe that she thinks what she's doing is normal.  That leads to a very explosive, dangerous character, in terms of the story.  I wouldn't want to slight the other actors, but much of the success of this material rests on Mara's shoulders, and she delivers.

For me, the entire movie just works.  Even though I was in a crowded theatre (there were 48 people in a room that had 51 seats), and even though this is a long film, I was never uncomfortable or bored.  My attention never wandered, and I was never distracted.  Those are barometers I use to judge how much I enjoy a film, especially when the run-time starts veering towards "Spartacus" levels.  Even more to the point, I'm completely looking forward to seeing another installment, and I wasn't even a fan going in.  This is one of the strongest mainstream films of the year.

4 / 5 - Theatre

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't Bother to Knock - 1952

"Don't Bother to Knock" - 1952
Dir. by Roy Ward Baker - 1 hr. 16 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

You may be pondering seeing "The Sitter," as you may enjoy Jonah Hill, and because holiday movie options are ridiculously slim this year.  I myself am looking forward to seeing "The Sitter" for those very reasons.  But if you like the premise of a horribly dangerous babysitter, and don't want to see it played for laughs, and don't mind watching Marilyn Monroe for seventy-five minutes, may I suggest instead that you watch "Don't Bother to Knock?"

The entire movie is set within the confines of a luxury hotel, McKinley Hotel in New York.  Lyn Lesley (Anne Bancroft) is a lounge singer, sullen because she's just broken it off with a pilot named Jed Towers (Richard Widmark).  She did this via letter, and thus isn't sure whether it was a clean break or if Jed will show up to figure things out (he shows up).  Lyn and Jed discuss the state of things during a set break, and it doesn't go well.  Jed is a cynic, and Lyn doesn't like the idea of living the rest of her life cold and indifferent to the people around her.  Elsewhere in the hotel, a couple are guests, and need a babysitter to watch their daughter while the parents attend a ball where the father is to be given an award.  The elevator operator (Elisha Cook, Jr.) offers his niece for the job.  And this is where things go insane.

With the little girl asleep, Nell (Marilyn Monroe) starts rummaging through the parents' stuff, and decides to try on some finery.  She gets busted by her uncle when he stops by to check on her, and assures him that she'll take off the clothes and jewelry, but never seems to get around to it.  Meanwhile, Jed is sulking in his room on the eighth floor after having his heart handed back to him, when he notices Nell across the courtyard and through the windows.  He consults a floor plan, and rings up the room.  He invites himself over, unaware of the child sleeping in the adjacent room, which Nell accepts.  When Jed gets to the room with a bottle of rye, he splays himself out on a chair and goes about flirting with Nell.

But it becomes quickly apparent that Nell is off her rocker (her boyfriend had died in the war, and she never fully recovered).  She's desperate for the attention of Jed, and does whatever she can think of to keep him in the room.  It would be spoiling the movie to say what all Nell does, but it starts with threatening the little girl when she won't stay asleep, and progresses from there.  Jed is suitably freaked out by the situation, and ends up regretting his situation with Lyn.

At this point in Marilyn Monroe's career, she hadn't hit her stride of classic films, but it wasn't far off.  It's unmistakably her; even though she's largely unglamorous, there's no mistaking that voice of hers.  And surprisingly, she's very effective in her role.  Her breathy, little-girl voice seems almost a perversion at times in "Don't Bother to Knock;" what seems playful and knowing in other roles comes off as damaged and very fragile here.  And more to the point, you believe that she's capable of doing harm from her delusional point of view.  So when the final blow-out occurs, not only do you worry about the little girl's safety, but each of the characters have been established as to why they have an interest in the situation.

I'll make no secret of it; part of what I enjoy about seeing old films is the anachronistic aspects of them.  The things that would seem out of place in a current film are enjoyable when you view them in their own context. It's a visual treat to see a world that's alien - different phones, people smoking wherever they please, the way people dressed in another era.  Ordinary things are just different enough that you still know what they are, but little things that don't necessarily have great importance are fun to watch just for the novelty factor.  But that wouldn't mean much if the story didn't work, which it does.  And the story doesn't really sugar-coat things: Jed tries to pick up a girl to get over Lyn (a cad move at best) and Nell is a lunatic who has tried to kill herself (and has the scars on her wrists to prove it).  Given the short running time, the plot plays out with brutal efficiency, and I found it very easy to get swept up by the story.

While "Don't Bother to Knock" isn't one of Monroe's classic best films, it holds up.  It's a quick, solid film, and if you've already explored her more well-known movies, this is a good choice from her second-tier.

3.5 / 5 - Streaming

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - 2011

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" - 2011
Dir. by Rupert Wyatt - 1 hr. 45 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Considering there have been a number of "Planet of the Apes" movies over the years, all the way back to the original with Charlton Heston to Tim Burton's remake, a big question is where this film ranks.  I've seen the Heston original but none of the sequels, and I've seen the Tim Burton version.  This one doesn't quite measure up to the original, but easily outstrips Burton's version.  Another important question: do they get the "damn, dirty ape" line in there?  You know they did.

There are two big successes in this film.  The first is giving a reasonable science-fiction explanation for what seems sure to come, given the title of this film.  And the second is grounding that explanation in a very human way.  There aren't a ton of human characters in this film; fittingly, much of it is set in a laboratory of one kind or another.  Will Rodman (James Franco) works at Gen-Sys, a company devoted to developing new medicines.  One of Rodman's projects ends up showing some promise, but after an incident at the lab, the drug is put on the shelf, and all of the test-subjects chimpanzees are to be put down.  Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) discovers the reason for the incident (a previously undiscovered pregnancy), and refuses to put down the newborn chimp.  Rodman sneaks the chimp out of the lab and home with him.  He names the chimp Caesar, and ends up raising him.  As you might guess, Caesar is no ordinary chimp.

In the first two acts of this movie, Caesar's development is paired with Rodman's father's (John Lithgow) descent into Alzheimer's Disesase.  Rodman decides to roll the dice on some home-brew science, which works spectacularly for a while.  The father/son story is pretty integral to this story - Will Rodman isn't a madman scientist acting without regard for morals or consequences, he's an outstanding scientist who has both his father and the cure for his father's condition slip through his grasp.  He pushes himself, hoping that he can beat the buzzer, so to speak.  What he comes up with inadvertently gives rise to intelligent apes.

Caesar has a tough existence, as well.  He's not just a smart ape, he can hold down entire conversations in sign-language.  But he also has the body of a chimpanzee, which means that his losing his temper has dire consequences.  He ends up in a primate sanctuary, which is run akin to a prison.  It's from this point where "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" really takes off.  I don't want to ruin any of it, but it's riveting action material, largely unspoiled by too-clever dialogue or ham-fisted witticisms.  The last half-hour of this movie delivers on all the promises made.  There will be primate revenge, and it's spectacular.

Perhaps remembering too strongly how little I enjoyed Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes," I wasn't that excited to see this new installment.  It's amazing how having characters that you can empathize with (Rodman and Caesar, both) makes such a difference.  James Franco does a good job juggling conflicting emotions, and Andy Serkis provides a great physical foundation for what the computer animators did with Caesar.  The result is not a great film, but a solidly good one.  And I'll definitely revise my expectations for the next installment in the franchise.

3 / 5 - Theatre

Monday, December 12, 2011

Real Steel - 2011

"Real Steel" - 2011
Dir. by Shawn Levy - 2 hrs. 7 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

There are a number of contradictory statements that I need to get out of the way in regards to "Real Steel."  First, this movie was a lot better than I figured it would be.  Secondly, just because something is better than you think it's going to be doesn't mean that it's a good movie, necessarily.  Thirdly, that also doesn't mean that because a movie is better than you expect and isn't exactly what you'd call good doesn't mean that it's bad, either.  Got all that?

"Real Steel" is a movie about the world of robot fighting, which has replaced actual people fighting in the future, mainly due to the blood-thirsty nature of people who want to watch combat sports.  So you can understand why I'd be a little skeptical - when the movie's quickie description boils down to CGI Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, it's easy to roll your eyes.  Add into that stock characters like the down-and-out fighter, the estranged son, and the put-upon woman who's at the end of her rope with the fighter, and it's getting easier and easier to think that the only thing you're going to get is a big, dumb, loud movie.  All the stock plot elements are there, as well (the hard-ass who gets won over by his kid while putting his life back together: redemption through offspring).  I will not stand before you and testify that there is anything important I'm leaving out here; if you've seen more than a handful of sports movies, there's nothing here that will catch you by surprise.

But, like a catchy pop song, when you hit the right notes in the right order and keep things fun, things can happen.  You may have heard the melody before, and the lyrics don't really bring anything new to the table, but that doesn't mean you can't shake your ass a little every now and then.  That's what "Real Steel" brings to the table.  The plot isn't special, but it does hit the right emotional points at the right time.  And also, you get to see ten feet tall robots punch the crap out of each other.  It's surprisingly satisfying; it's dehumanized carnage, and you don't have to worry about the health of the combatants.  One of the funniest moments of the film occurs during one of the fights.  Noisy Boy (yes, the robots all have names) loses one of his arms in the course of a fight, and a panicked Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) tries to throw a punch with the arm that isn't there.  What ends up happening is that Noisy Boy sprays his oil all over the other robot, and you know there's going to be Hell to pay at that point.

The action in the film consistently delivers, which is pretty key here.  The fights are logical, not just nonsense edited together into more nonsense.  It might have taken a lot more work to put together logical fights that made sense, but if your central point is that robot boxing is the pre-eminent combat sport, it matters.  The characters also do a fun job: Hugh Jackman has a sort of swagger to him that is consistent with the character that he's playing, and his conscience Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly) is a welcome source of beauty and soft curves in a film that's comprised largely of testosterone and small Transformers.

"Real Steel" is a fun movie, a big, dumb movie, and a guy version of a tear-jerker at times, too.  The whole package doesn't give any reason to expect much, but it does over-achieve.  As I put it earlier, that doesn't make it a good movie, but it's also not a terrible one.  That's a kind of a victory.  If you can check your mind at the door, it's not a bad way to blow a couple of hours.

2.5 / 5 - Theatre

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Ice Harvest - 2005

"The Ice Harvest" - 2005
Dir. by Harold Ramis - 1 hr. 32 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

I'm not much of a Christmas person, generally speaking.  And I especially dislike Christmas movies.  I've never seen "Miracle on 34th Street" or "It's a Wonderful Life," and Tim Allen's propensity for Christmas-themed movies means that I haven't seen anything he's done since "Galaxy Quest."  And usually, at this time of year, literally everything goes green, red, and garnished.  The last thing on Earth I want to do is further indulge the season by watching Christmas-related programming of any kind.

It's not entirely fair to peg "The Ice Harvest" as a Christmas movie.  What this movie actually is is a neo-noir film (and a pretty sharp one, at that) that happens to be set on Christmas Eve.  It's not inconsequential to the plot; pretty much all of the characters here are in a general state of irritation just to be existing in their lives, and the idea that they should all suddenly be jolly and thankful once a year for no good reason is another straw on the camel's back.  I can relate to that.  But what this is not is a movie filled with all the trite tropes of Christmas movies, or really even a feel-good movie.  It's a crime movie that takes place on Christmas, which effectively juxtaposes the general unhappiness of criminal enterprise with the ideal of a happy Christmas.

Mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack), with the help of local pornographer Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), decide to actually go through with ripping off local mob boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid), to the tune of a little over two million dollars.  They do this on Christmas Eve, presumably to delay Guerrard's discovery of the theft, giving them time to get away.  Unfortunately, the weather in Wichita is frightful, and they are going to have to wait until the next morning to leave town.  This leaves both men in the position of having to fulfill their duties and not tip anyone off that something's going on.  This leans more heavily on Arglist, who makes the rounds at local peeler bars that Guerrard controls.  One of the owners, Renata (Connie Nielson), figures out what's going on by Arglist's uncharacteristic behavior, and tries to take advantage of his long-standing crush on her to find a way out of Wichita.  Before long though, Roy Gelles (Mike Starr) is onto the scheme.

While the crime plot is pretty straight-forward (stay out of harm's way and play it cool until Charlie and Vic can get away safely), the smaller stories are very interesting.  Arglist, and his friend (possibly his only friend - he comes across as a very lightly-reformed not-entirely-pleasant guy to be around) Pete (Oliver Platt, an absolute riot here) are both mired, and trapped by the circumstances of their lives.  Charlie's ex is Pete's current wife, and there are a lot of tensions between all of the characters.  Charlie and Pete also both drink nearly constantly, with vastly different results.  Charlie is subdued, the crime story-line means that he's largely playing out his string, seeing a lot of people for the last time one way or another.  Pete's a mess, a social disaster, pushing buttons with glee and ferocity for as long as he can stand upright.  Charlie offers advice, but  lets Pete get into trouble, and then helps dust him off once whatever is going to happen has happened.

There's a sequence in this film that's a glimpse into an entirely different type of film, had anyone cared to take this material in a different direction.  Charlie takes Pete to his family's holiday dinner, both soused.  Pete is loud and delights it in, while his wife and her parents smirk through it with a sort of stiff-upper-lip condescension.  Charlie's children are there; the young daughter just misses her father, the teenage boy is all fury and takes everything the worst possible way.  It's a great scene, a ton of information packed into just a few minutes of film.  But what makes it great is the little bit that immediately precedes Charlie and Pete's arrival at the dinner.  Standing outside on the sidewalk, looking at the happy family (happy possibly because of Pete's absence), Pete admits to Charlie that there was some overlap between their respective relationships with the mother of Charlie's question.  Pete invites Charlie to take a swing at him, but instead of doing that, he lowers the boom.  Pete asks why he isn't angry, Charlie responds (in the way that only John Cusack can), "Actually, it makes me curious.  It makes me wonder who she's fucking now."

It's not necessarily said with malicious intent - it's both a forgiveness and a freeing of Pete.  He's in a miserable marriage with no way out, but the awareness that he's in the same boat that Charlie had been in forges a further bond between the two.  Also, it's the setting of the fuse for Pete to finally unload on everyone once inside, which is also one of the primary joys of watching Oliver Platt in just about anything he's ever done.  I don't know how to factor this into a review of "The Ice Harvest," but watching Platt drunkenly shake a turkey leg at people in an accusatory manner has to be worth something.

The pacing of this movie is unusual, also.  It's a ninety-minute movie, so it's not what you'd call long by any means.  And the pressure definitely gets to Arglist's character (there are a number of fantastic shots of Cusack looking progressively more disheveled as the movie goes on), but it definitely doesn't feel like things are happening very quickly.  That's not to suggest that there's a lack of content, or that the side-plots aren't fulfilling on their own, but "The Ice Harvest" lacks the sort of narrow-minded focus that a lot of noir-ish films have.  I suspect that's because there's no time devoted to the actual commission of the theft; it's all aftermath.     This movie feels a lot longer than it actually is, which is often a kiss of death, but here I didn't mind it.

I don't want to get into hyperbole, and suggest that this is a must-see movie.  But I will say that it's the only good film director Harold Ramis has made since "Groundhog Day."  And "The Ice Harvest" isn't as good as that film, but it does have healthy doses of the same kind of dark emotional states that lend some heft to the funnier material.  It's a quality movie that I've seen a handful of times now, and not just when I'm trying to find an anti-Christmas Christmas movie.

3.5 / 5 - DVD

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pearl Jam Twenty - 2011

"Pearl Jam Twenty" - 2011
Dir. by Cameron Crowe - 1 hr. 49 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

There's a sort of a caveat that seems required when talking about most documentaries about bands: for fans only.  Most music documentaries end up like that - it's rare that what's being captured ends up being far more interesting than the appeal of the people involved might suggest.  It does happen, though, like in "Hype!" (for which this film serves as an excellent companion) or "Dig!" (my guess is that the exclamation mark makes all the difference), but most of the time, what you're in for is a look at a band, and whether you already like the band pretty much dictates whether or not you're going to be interested in the film in the first place.  The only other approach that seems to be take is the "Behind the Music" approach, that focuses on the misery that breaks bands and people, and in a very voyeuristic manner.

"Pearl Jam Twenty" is neither of those things; it's a celebration.  That's not to say that there haven't been low moments in Pearl Jam's history that could have been exploited, but this movie is very much a survivor's tale.  And that story is vastly different than other band's stories, the ones that burnt out or faded away.  The basic rock story arc demands a spectacular flame-out at the end; you must pay if you fly too close to the sun.  That might be a lot of musicians' story; a quick ascendancy brought low by missteps.  Unlike every one of their peers, Pearl Jam still sells pretty well, packs out arenas, never broke up.  The members of the band got their tragedy out of the way early (Andy Wood's OD death before Mother Love Bone's first album could come out).  That's not to suggest that there haven't been problems along the way, but they're still around and ticking twenty years later.

This film is built on piles and piles of archival footage, from their earliest days (one performance is a mere six days after their forming as a band) to current day.  It includes everything from rare concert footage shot in tiny dives to concerts in front of sixty thousand people.  There's even footage of bass player Jeff Ament shooting hoops by himself in the early 90's.  You know how I know it was from the early 90's?  Ament was rocking the running shorts over bike shorts look that was popular in the NBA for about a season and a half (google "Roy Tarpley" images, if you're curious).  This is where this film fulfills it's promise to fans; if you like Pearl Jam, you're going to love this.  Maybe you'd like to see Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard writing "Daughter."  Or maybe you want to see them get booed like crazy for playing "Bu$hleager" in front of an unappreciative audience.  Perhaps you'd be interested in any of a million interesting clips that you've probably never seen before.  If so, you're completely in luck.

In storytelling, failure is almost easier to deal with than success.  Failure marks a distinct end to a particular era, even if that's not exactly how things work in life.  Pearl Jam existing successfully for twenty years is an achievement, but it's not an easy story to tell.  There is (at this point) no end to that story, and even the members of the band seem not to have a perfect grasp on how they've survived this amount of time.  Fortunately, one explanation exists in the form of the soundtrack.  Whatever personal squabbles have arisen, it wasn't difficult to put together nearly two hours of their music, and it doesn't lag.  It's not a nostalgic set-list either, including everything from early songs to ones as recent as their last album.  Now, this isn't a film that's going to convert the unconverted (unless you've just never heard them play before, and this serves as a first exposure to their music); most people have settled on loving Pearl Jam or just being indifferent to them at this point.  If this is the sort of thing that you're into, it's very, very welcome.

4 / 5 - Streaming