Vanishing on 7th Street: written by Anthony Jaswinski; directed by Brad Anderson; starring Hayden Christensen (Luke), John Leguizamo (Paul), Thandie Newton (Rosemary), Jacob Latimore (James), and Taylor Groothuis (Briana) (2010): Vaguely enjoyable, apocalyptic horror movie in which nearly everyone vanishes because the darkness seems to be eating people. The movie remains steadfast to the end in its refusal to offer a succinct explanation of what’s really going on. The cast is fine but perhaps too recognizable for this sort of low-budget horror movie — they kept pulling me out of the world of the movie. On the bright side, this isn’t found-footage and it is set in Detroit. Lightly recommended.
Tommy Boy: written by Bonnie and Terry Turner; directed by Peter Segal; starring Chris Farley (Tommy Callahan III), David Spade (Richard), Brian Dennehy (Big Tom), Bo Derek (Beverly), Dan Aykroyd (Zalinsky), Julie Warner (Michelle), and Rob Lowe (Paul) (1995): Chris Farley’s incandescent star turn as the titular screw-up elevates Tommy Boy to a near-classic. Barely two years after this movie’s release, Farley would be dead of alcohol and drug-related issues. The three films he did after this would represent the law of diminishing returns in stark fashion. But Farley’s comic genius and leading-man sweetness survive here, helped by able supporting work from David Spade, Brian Dennehy, and the always-game Rob Lowe. Also, Fat Guy In A Little Coat. Highly recommended.
Scoop: written and directed by Woody Allen; starring Woody Allen (Sid Waterman), Scarlett Johansson (Sondra Pransky), Hugh Jackman (Peter Lyman), and Ian McShane (Joe Strombel) (2006): Amiable minor comedy from Allen during his British phase (that thanks to where his funding was coming from in the early 2000’s). ScarJo plays a journalism student who stumbles onto a story involving a British peer who may be a serial killer. She enlists the help of stage magician Woody to catch the killer and get the story. She gets the tip from Ian McShane, whose award-winning journalist character is dead. But that doesn’t stop his ghost from helping out. Johansson is far too pretty for the part, but she gamely riffs on Diane Keaton’s mannerisms, especially in scenes with Woody. Allen wisely declined to make his stammering magician ScarJo’s love interest, leaving that to Hugh Jackman as the possible killer who’s also a real charmer. It’s Wolverine romancing Black Widow! Recommended.