Sunday, November 25, 2007


What's not to like in this sweet and funny spoof of fairy tales gone right? It wouldn't work any other way than to cross the lines between animation and reality. Amy Adams is the strongest link in the magical chain. Her face is all innocence and charm. She never drops her pose. She sings most of the songs herself and does a lovely job. Patrick Dempsey is even more charming than Prince Charming -the better to win the heart of the lost princess-to-be (Giselle) . And speaking of Prince Charming, the hilariously camp James Marsden does a twinkling turn as the Prince. The only weak link is Susan Sarandon as the wicked witch. She seems woefully miscast- especially with her poor delivery of her dialogue. But look past that and enjoy the warmth of this movie. It had enough storyline to keep the little ones quiet in the theater, but enough sight gags and humor to keep the adults happy. It should have ended before Sarandon came on at the end as that was truly the logical moment. The ending was like the extra sequin on a costume that turns a fancy thing into something a little garish. So ignore the end, and enjoy the trip.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers strike with a screen version of Cormac McCarthy's book- and they strike with a bloody, violent, graphic, heart thumping vengeance. A modern day (1980s) western composed of white drug runners, border Mexican drug gangs, and people who live in the rugged and conveniently lawless areas of the west Texas-Mexican border , it uses the talents of Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin to bring it grittily to life. The body count is large for such a "small" film. The title tells the story. No one expects to live a long life here and when money comes in an opportunistic form- well, what is there to lose by taking it? Ah, Bardem-a more heartless villain has never appeared in film. With the exception of the vile Natural Born Killers, there just isn't another person as cold, disconnected and methodical as the villain played by Bardem. The story has a very nuanced reference to the VietNam War and how it has produced killers like the ones portrayed by Bardem and Woody Harrelson (botoxed and smooth as a baby butt). It is hard to watch yet you will watch it- every gory, bloody, bone crushing second of it. And the end? It made perfect sense.

Friday, November 9, 2007

American Gangster

Probably the best movie we've seen so far this year. Violent, gritty, moral and amoral. A movie where, finally, there is no equivocation about good and evil. And a movie where the audience leaves feeling there is some justice in the world. The human propensity to addiction is difficult to digest- most humans have the ability to be addicted- to have their lives ruined by substance abuse. And we pity the weak. But we have no sympathy for the dealer- the supplier who cares for nothing but his money. Russell Crowe does a fantastic job here- controlled, decent, and yet his ex-wife sees his doing his job as evil as a drug dealer's because it means he ignores his child. She could not be farther from the truth, because a man as hard working and decent as this character is a role model for a child. The script is so well written that it doesn't tip you off - you sit hoping that the ending will be just. Go see it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl

David Arquette's ringer, Ryan Gosling, plays Lars- a guy whose mother died during his delivery, whose father was distant and whose older, now guilt ridden brother, left home and left Lars to the cold old man. Now that dad has died, Lars lives in the garage next to his brother and his brother's charming wife, played by Emily Mortimer. Lars is shy around women but not so shy that he can't order a mail order doll- not a nasty blow up doll, but an expensive, choose your own options, real doll- with correct anatomy. It's creepy but everyone in his life and town realizes that if Lars won't give it up, they may as well accept it. It's an odd premise, and an oddly sweet movie about people who love and accept somthing as real because someone they love accepts something as real. As Lars begins to feel again, a little jealousy over an office mate creeps into his delusion, and he begins to become human again. It starts with arguing with his doll and ends with his freedom. It's a little weird, a little sweet and, well, different.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dan In Real Life

Dan writes an advice column called "Dan in Real Life". He's a widower with 3 daughters- all playing typecast roles for a reason- who goes to Rhode Island for the family weekend and meets his brother's new girl (Juliette Binoche) in a book store, only to fall in love without realizing who she is. It goes on from there. Steve Carrell is really wonderful in this because the role was written for him. The story is very sweet, contrived and predictable - all those things make the movie just swell! And I mean that. It is about a family, contains no stupid political motivations, ends up the right way (oh come on, you KNEW it would), and makes people laugh out loud. It's been critiqued as being "not real life". Well, I'm sure those film critics thought A Wonderful Life, Sleepless In Seattle were ALL documentaries or something. Why should any romantic comedy be like real life? Who the hell would watch that? The semi-recent spate of crummy romantic movies (usually involving Dianne Keaton or Sarah Jessica Parker or Cameron Diaz) has almost ruined the genre. But when we watch this movie, we wish that was our wise and funny mom and dad, and that we could lose a spouse with such grace and dignity, and that our kids were rebellious without being possessed (oh okay, mine were not possesed- not at all- but you know what I mean). And that is what this movie does. The only thing it didn't have was fireworks at the end- over a scenic lake. But it was close. Alex pronounced it wonderful. And if it feels odd- that's because it feels like a PLAY and not a film. That only adds to the experience.