Brick (2005). I've had this movie recommended to me for the past 4 years, but I finally got around to it, and I'm glad I waited. It's a film noir set in high school which only works if the viewer knows and enjoys noir tropes. Only in the last few years have I watched enough of these kinds of films to be familiar and comfortable with the genre.
This film could have been cheesy or too reflexive, but it's fairly effortless. It's delightful when you see how things in high school act like a more mature setting, like auditorium dressing rooms act like a showgirl dressing room or a home basement as an underworld lair. But the film also rings tragic. This is bleak view of high school full of drugs and murder, although a very good watch. And I ended up liking Joseph Gordon-Levitt even more than I already do, and now I'm looking forward to the director Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom even more.
Adventureland (2009) is an entirely too timely movie for me to watch. It tracks James, a guy recently graduated for college, ending up in a crappy summer job before heading out to his dream of grad school in New York. While I can't relate to everything that goes on the film, I can relate to still feeling young and confused when you're supposed to be growing up. It captures a feeling through being subtle, not making anyone an easy enemy or friend, and just showing people sucking at being in relationships.
I never thought I'd find Michael Keaton remotely attractive, but Batman (1989) did that for me. Probably since I'm used to thinking of Keaton as Beetle Juice, any semblance of a normal guy would make me double-take. Anyway, this was the first time I've seen this film (I'm a little late in the game), and I really enjoyed it. It's nice to see a streamlined plot when the superhero movies of recent years have been overblown with villains, tons of story lines, and length in general. This is a fairly simple tale that slowly introduces the characters of Batman/Bruce Wayne and the Joker/Jack Napier through details and only the occasional flashback. This is more of a Joker origin story, which was amusing to watch--especially in that it featured music by Prince*. While this wasn't as campy as I expected, it's still a lot more fun than the recent reboot of the franchise, opting for a simple tale with comic book colors rather than dark aesthetics.
Movie highlights: The Joker wearing a suit of purple, orange, and green which are all secondary colors and apparently prove he's a little off-kilter. The Batmobile in this one looks way cooler than the jumbled mess of the reboots: sleek is almost always cooler. Kim Basinger's Vicki Vale kicking off her high heels before running from the Joker = totally something I would do.
*Random aside: was this cool when it first came out? I always wonder about stuff that seems really dated. What would be an equivilant musical artist today?