Including his memorable cameo in 2011’s X-Men: First Class, Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in a whopping six films to date, with next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past also featuring Jackman in a key role. That’s a lot of Wolverine for one actor, but it’s also enough time in a role to deliver something that strays away from genre conventions. With The Wolverine, Jackman and director James Mangold deliver a unique superhero film. The Wolverine follows the titular character, a.k.a. Logan, at a particularly low time in his life, as he realizes everyone he’s loved has died. When he’s summoned to Japan to visit a man he once saved years earlier, Logan has to decide whether or not he wants to be the Wolverine. The Wolverine is, fortunately, a vast improvement over 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The action sequences are in some ways simple compared to other superhero films from this year, but they work in their relative simplicity. One impressive directorial decision: many of the conversations in Japan that don’t involve Wolverine are spoken in Japanese, an unusual but welcome choice.
The To Do List
Sex comedies are one cinematic staple with far too few female-led entries. Not only does The To Do List work to correct this imbalance, it does so in an outrageously filthy, frequently hilarious manner. Aubrey Plaza stars as Brandy Klark, a recent high school graduate with zero sexual experience who’s determined to bag hottie Rusty Waters by the end of the summer. To do so, she comes up with a list of sexual activities to experience first, and finds a number of willing and (somewhat) able partners to help. One of the most refreshing elements to the film is how the stereotype of women being emotional about sex is flipped on its ass – here, Brandy goes through her list in a near-academic manner of workmanship, while her partners become the emotional ones. While this is largely Plaza’s show, and she does a remarkable job, she’s aided by a substantial number of supporting players, from SNL veteran Bill Hader (also writer/director Maggie Carey’s husband) and Community‘s Donald Glover to Connie Britton and Clark Gregg as Brandy’s parents. Aside from one scatological moment, the film is one of the funniest of the summer, and there’s a fair amount of rewatch value to boot.
I’m So Excited!
Pedro Almodóvar is one of the most respected filmmakers working today, which makes his work in I’m So Excited! a bit of a disappointment. Ostensibly a comedy, the film attempts an absurdist approach to humor. The execution is pretty poor, though – basically all any audience needs to know is that there’s a lot of drinking, some drugging, and a ton of sex. Gay audiences may get some enjoyment out of some of the sex humor, since a large portion of the characters are gay or bisexual. Outside of that, though, I can’t exactly say I’m So Excited! filled me with excitement.