Friday, December 26, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

When you have 3 hours, it is worth the price of admission if only for the computer generated images and how they get Brad Pitt's face and body into the different ages he plays. If you are from New Orleans, beware- because if you are a certain age, these houses and cafes and people will make you homesick. Like me. In the movie, Pitt ages backwards. His brain goes from old man to baby, and his body ages in reverse- which doesn't explain why he is born as an infant and dies as an infant. But that detail didn't matter to the script writer I guess. Kate Blanchett is, to me, the very definition of the phrase "she is so homely that she is pretty". And the supporting actors do a very nice job. The worst performance is actually by Pitt- who just isn't up to carrying the weight of the human compexity of Benjamin Button. Probably the biggest flaw in this film is the length. The mid part of Button's life, when he is at sea, becomes tedious and filled with well, filler. A story that tells an ENTIRE life, well, it has to pick and choose how it does that. I thought Forrest Gump was a scene too long. And this film is really about 25 minutes too long. I could have edited it myself- very easily. The other problem is the score- a maudlin and intrusive score that distracts from the movie, and encourages weeping from the sensitive souls in the audience. I am glad I went to see it as the entire premise is intriguing, the actors are lovely to look at, New Orleans is and always will be my home. But this is not the second coming of film perfection- and in fact, it was as if the filmmakers fell in love with a script and then no longer paid attention to the fact that the REST of us mattered.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I don't know why Indian films consistently show the crap parts of their country- but they do. And they don't mince words. This film shows horrible poverty, the grim results of a caste system, religious discrimination, police brutality, and a disregard for children and childhood. But perhaps we Americans romanticize childhood long past its usefulness anyway. The people in this film are survivors. They have lived brutal lives, but it is the power of a consistent and unrelenting love that smooths the edges. It is a 4 star film for the wonderful performances and for the inventive and well written plot (adapted from a novel). It is grueling to watch the torture sequences, and painful to think we have humans who exploit children with such cruelty, but it explains the people and events in the film. With the backdrop of the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire- a life story unfolds. It is a powerful and moving film that ends in a way it should. Go see it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have to say, I haven't enjoyed an animated film like this since Monsters, Inc. The premise was inventive, the voice work (yes even Miley Cyrus) was done perfectly, the animation was well done, and the action moved at a good clip- not a boring moment. Animation has had some rough moments- CARS was almost disastrously boring- but BOLT is funny and witty and charming. I smiled throughout the film and laughed out loud many times. I may actually buy this DVD when it comes out so that I can watch it again and see if I missed anything. I'd say any adult with a sense of humor will love this movie. It's almost perfect. When BOLT realizes that he is really an actor, and is just a dog- well, it is priceless. The cats are wonderful- particularly the cat who is the foil to BOLT. The parody of the Hollywood film industry is sharp. Go see it.

Quantum of Solace

bang bang bang bang bang bang- WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?-punch punch punch- I SAID WHO ARE YOU?- bang bang bang- BOND keeps killing people, find him- bang bang- owwwww that hurt- bang- runrunrunrunrrunrun- look into my steely blue eyes- kaboom bang run punch. There's the review. There is no finesse, and it's like following a confusing map that someone has spilled coffee on - you'll get there, but you wish the lines were clearer. I love the rugged Bond, but there has to be a story with some dialogue in this somewhere. Even Bourne has more personality than this. If Daniel Craig wasn't such a good looking guy in his rugged beat up way, this would have been just tedious mayhem.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Role Models

It's crude, it's vulgar, it's rrrr rated, it's sexist and it's very funny. There, I said it. I thought it was much funnier than Knocked Up (ugh), and much, much funnier than Superbad, and except for being much more vulgar, at least as funny as Forty Year old Virgin. I do wonder, however, how a child was allowed to act in this film. No kid under the age of 14 or 15 should be allowed to even SEE this. But the kid in this film- well, if that kid talked or acted like that in SCHOOL- CPS would take the child out of his home. That's how bad that is. It does have a message about love and acceptance- that messed up adults can be paired with messed up kids and they will see their commonalities. It's about two immature adult men who are paired with two kids as part of their community service- and they wind up learning to respect the kids as well as themselves. I found the writing to be very funny- but then, I saw several older people not laugh once. I'd recommend it wholeheartedly- but NOT for kids.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

This is a movie that is so simple in plot, but so complicated in character that the viewer feels IN the film. Anne Hathaway finally has a role that requires her to act. And she acts incredibly well. The story is simple but complex-Hathaway is home from rehab (again) in time for her sister's wedding that takes place at the family home. Her parents are divorced. Her father is the ultimate peace at all cost sort of guy, and his second wife is benevolently tolerant and understanding. Her mother (played admirably by Debra Winger) is distant and no longer involved with her daughters- who feel the loss with confused sadness. This movie is not really about Hathaway's character- we, as an audience, KNOW who she is. We are exasperated with her behavior and want her to shape up. The movie is about the people AROUND Hathaway. The way her behavior, and other things I won't reveal, have affected their lives. I've always said that it is a shame that in schools, families, businesses, etc, it seems to be the poorly behaving or performing who get the attention, while the excellent are left to their own devices. This movie might make you wonder why that happens. Don't go to it expecting to have action- you will be part of a wedding, and it will be slow. But it is never dull. If you get bored, then you aren't watching the cast as they each tell the story of their character - beautifully.

Friday, October 31, 2008


RockNRolla is the new Guy Ritchie (and soon to be the former Mr Madonna) movie. Fortunately, Madonna isn't IN it, so it doesn't suck. It goes back to the formulaic "give them a bunch of puzzle pieces, throw them on the rug, put out some clues and shoot a bunch of people before we put the puzzle back together" formula. It's not as smooth as "Lock, stock" or as witty as "Snatch", and it feels like a cousin of those tighter, more imaginative films. But that's what being in the same realm as Madonna will do to a creative man, I guess. Maybe he is back on path. Maybe not. But it's like Danielle Steel- either you like the formula or you don't. It's a good movie, well acted, but the predictability of it all makes it seem like Ritchie was a man learning to walk again. Hopefully, he will ditch the formula or at least make it better the next time. If you see it, be prepared to hide your eyes from some of the gore. It was good enough but disappointing in how it felt like Ritchie was just leaning back trying to finish it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Go Lucky

This is a Mike Leigh film, meaning it is really a character study. Of sorts. The lead character is a 30 year old, elementary school teacher named Poppy. She lives the life of extended adolescence that is very popular right now. And she is happy and silly. There are some bizarre moments, and some fresh moments and some poignant moments, but the problem is that the character and most of her mannerisms are so damn annoying that you don't care about her. She has an irritating habit of giggling under her breath, and of making inane conversation that one can't listen to without starting to itch. I couldn't decide if Mike Leigh wanted us to actually LIKE her, and unfortunately for me, that was the only way the movie could make sense. Of course, growing up and being an adult and committing to another person does NOT take away your ability to be happy. In fact, it rubs offs some of those annoying edges in most people. I'll give it 2 stars so you can go if you want and judge for yourself. But I doubt I'd have gone to see if despite its high rating among other reviewers. I think those reviewers just didn't pay attention!

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Oh, yes I did. I went to see it. Talking dogs have come a long way. And if you are UNDER the age of 12, happen to like dogs, have a tender heart and huge leaps of logic, then you will like this movie. Should you be lacking ANY of those things, you should probably skip it. I'm sorry to be late posting this, but well, it just wasn't on my mind! If you have kids over the age of 4 and under 12 and need a place to seek cover during a storm or something, then by all means, go see it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An American Carol

David Zucker, the director and co-writer of Airplane!, uses the format of Dickens' A Christmas Carol to build the plot for this satire/comedy about the commonly held and true notion that Christianity and conservatism and patriotism are under fire these days. It's trendy to hate your country in some areas. If you read a review by a liberal critic, they will pan it. If you read a review by a conservative critic, they will like it and agree with it. The audience of about 250 we saw it with on a Sunday afternoon APPLAUDED and laughed. It has a silly plot, but a heavy point. I've seen movies that derided anyone who believed in the terrorist threat to America and blamed the evil Americans. It's worth essays and books to explain the generosity of Americans and the way they hand back countries to their people rather than occupy and set up a flag. If the premise of this movie doesn't appeal to you- if you hate the military, think the war is not worth it, think Christians and/or religion is a waste, and don't like Trace Adkins, Kelsey Grammer, Leslie Neilsen, Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper or Kevin Farley (chris's little brother), then don't go see it. IF you do see it, realize that it is a movie, but it has a serious message shrouded in slapstick and some comedy. Sometimes it feels like a lecture, but maybe some people need a little lecture. I'm not the person to discourage going to see it. I felt good after I saw it. Maybe you might, too.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ghost Town

Ricky Gervais established his acting style in The Office and Extras. If you know Gervais is in a movie, you can be fairly sure that he will be playing the same character. But, it's a good character. And one you are comfortable with. In this, he plays a dentist who dies for 7 minutes during a routine colonoscopy, and can see dead people with unresolved issues. It's an old story that's been told quite a few times before, but in this, he acts with Greg Kinnear and a sincerely more developed actress than she used to be, Tea Leoni, in a way that becomes touching and sweet. Despite the adult references and languages, there were incredibly NOISY children in the showing we saw. It's an R in some respects and should be treated as such. Also, ghosts of this genre are mature issues- not for kids really. The comedy is well timed. Don't grow restless in the beginning- it will begin to tell a the story soon enough. I'd say go see it- because it never gets maudlin or any more ridiculous than it needs to be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Burn After Reading

A Coen brothers picture can be a can of worms- or box of hammers, or box of candy- but you never know until you see it how much YOU personally will like it. I happened to like this one. It was the curious mix of Brad Pitt and John Malkovich and the shocking spots of violence that got to me. Seeing George Clooney in such an odd role- sort of a dopey sex obsessed philanderer- seemed off kilter. Clooney seemed miscast to me- and I spent most of his time on screen looking at his new teeth. It's bad when you know an actor that well. It does make playing a specific role harder on them. I must say that Frances McDormand was too quirky, too frantic, too oddball to bring a sense of belief to her character. That is the fault of the directors, the Coen brothers. Also, the film itself has an unfinished end- the viewer KNOWS what is happening, but it seemed like the Coen's wanted to save film, so rather than show a montage of the characters going their various ways, they let someone just SAY it. Movies aren't books on tape. We don't want someone to TELL us the story! At least it wasn't narrated. But I liked it nonetheless. It was preposterous. And Brad Pitt and John Malkovich play characters that they normally are never associated with. So, for that reason, I'd recommend it. NO KIDS- there are adult "toys" prominently featured. And if I was a kid, I'd have nightmares about the one I saw! And some unexpected but pretty gross violence.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I guess you're wondering why you haven't heard of this movie. And for the life of me, I can't answer that. It's a great little thriller- well written, excellently acted, with an engrossing story. It's better than most films of this genre because it relies heavily on characterization- not special effects. Woody Harrelson is the enthusiastic train nut, who, after a humanitarian stint in China with his wife, Emily Mortimer, decides to go back home via the grim Transsiberian railway.(On a side note, Emily Mortimer is REALLY married to a friend's brother. So much for that two degrees of separation.) They meet another couple on the train and Emily reveals to the other woman the brief story of her past and the two realize they have commonalities and a bond is forged. You will think Emily is the most convoluted character, but in the end, I'd argue it was Woody. The first 40 min or so, you start to wonder if this is just a chatty art film. Then it kicks into gear and doesn't let up until the last scene. I just don't know if there are many films out where the actors are so capable, and so unself-conscious. There is really no humor in this, and at times, it is gruesome and if you are sensitive, maybe even nightmare provoking in spots. Certainly no children in this one. But it is worth every effort to find a theater that is showing it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Ben Stiller directed this occasionally hilarious, sometimes vulgar, but well acted comedy. Just about everyone in Hollywood is in it. I'm not kidding- everyone who is male. It's a guy flick, and the guys in our viewing laughed the loudest. It is technically a movie about making a movie about making a movie. Stiller is funnier than he's been because he isn't quite so silly in this. Jack Black also reigns in some of his mugging much to the advantage of the film. Tom Cruise does a great turn as a studio mogul- and I know, you can't believe that I said something nice about Tommy Boy- but he really is a good actor. Ahem. This film is funny and crass, and definitely not for children. While there is no nudity, there is so much graphic and X-rated language that I can't imagine someone bringing a child to that. Even a 15 year old. As someone said, it's not even a third date movie. And that is saying something. I thought it bogged down in the middle, was fairly unbelievable, and needed a little more editing, but as far as comedies of the summer go- it is the best. Having sat through the puerile Pineapple Express, I can tell you this movie, while far more adult, is twenty times funnier.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Henry Poole is Here

Luke Wilson finally uses his low-key blandness to his advantage. As Henry Poole, he finally shows us that he can act- though it is still his hang dog, mumbling, woe is me facade. Everyone else in this capable cast shows their acting chops. Henry has been given a terminal diagnosis, and he moves back to his childhood neighborhood to die in a really ugly tract house- the kind southern California has in spades. His perky realtor has the house restuccoed and painted before he moves in (as IF a realtor would do that!) and when a water stain appears to be the vague image of Jesus complete with blood tears, his neighbor struggles against Henry to make it a shrine. Now the film becomes a story of faith, and the power of faith, and it becomes almost a parable. Make no mistake, this is a story of belief and redemption- definitely. What could have been a sappy, silly, saccharin story becomes a sweet tale of how humans can create what they need and believe in it and not question it. I guess that is just called faith. Everyone in this film has expressive eyes- and if the eyes are the window to the soul, then, this movie is filled with it.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

This movie was misnamed- the Vicky(Hall) grad student character is bland and annoying, the Cristina (ScarJo) character is adventurously unbelievable on all accounts, and Barcelona stands as a beautiful but mute backdrop. The movie SHOULD have been called Juan Antonio (Bardem) and Maria Elena (Cruz). Until Bardem and Cruz get together, the movie is as bland as tapioca- without the pearly things. The story is believable, sort of. But Woody Allen needs to get his act together and cast real actors with real facial expressions. You'll see what I mean when you are stuck watching Hall and ScarJo recite dialogue like zombies, and then the momentous electrical change when Cruz joins the group. Even in the quietest scenes, it is Cruz who provides the nuanced emotions without losing touch with the camera. It makes the most striking contrast with the actress Rebecca Hall. She is supposed to be playing an uptight, tight panty girl who is surprised by her own passion but she comes across as cardboard. Johansson has a few moments, but not many. Her eyes are what bother me- no sparkle, no life. It is okay, but not great. If you are a Woody Allen fan, then you have to see it, but if you aren't, well, don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pineapple Express

Sometimes there is a film that is so bad that how it ever got produced is not just a mystery, but confounding. Pineapple Express is the name for a kind of weed, as in grass, as in marijuana. And just like the definition I just put out there, it is repetitive, mind robbing and often a waste of time. I love a good stoner flick- or a flick with a good stoner in it- like Dazed and Confused, or my all time favorite from the Atlanta Film Festival in 1972 or so- Arnold's Wrecking Company. But this movie is pure, unadultered, unfunny, poorly written crap. If you enjoy people getting hit in the balls (even the female cop gets hit in the groin), smoke copious amounts of dope, get stabbed, shot, throw up, bleed, get an ear partially shot off, all to the the slowest, most self-absorbed, marginally acted, dialogue ever written, then this will be the film for you. It is endless and boring and contrived- unfunny and pretentious. Apatow and Rogan are beginning to suffer from Kevin Costner/Jack Black syndrome- when a few good reviews and some box office convinces you that you poop gold and can do no wrong. It's a bad sign.

Monday, August 4, 2008

American Teen

Director Nanette Burstein spent a 1000 hours filming 5 teens in Warsaw Indiana, trying to capture the essence of the commonality of the adolescent to adult experience in the senior year of high school. These are real kids. And they have all hotly stated that they were NOT scripted, but were trying desperately to get out of high school and into college. If you had any angst or trauma in high school, you will remember it as you watch. There is the incredibly unlikeable "popular" over achiever and head bitch, Megan; the jock, Colin, being overwhelmed with the need for an athletic scholarship; the most socially inept and oblivious horndog nerdy boy you'll ever see- Jake; the cool guy who ditches a girl with a text message, Mitch; and a very cute girl who considers herself "different", when what she is really is a sweet and talented and spirited girl who is far more decent than the other girls at her high school- Hannah. It is absorbing. And really, universal. You KNOW these people and you KNOW these parents. But of all, it is Hannah, the creative and exhuberant girl, who is essentially motherless with an adorable grandma, who will earn your respect. And well, you will remember the girls from your high school (mine were named Vera, Lynette, Sandra and Lanier), who went to great lengths to make others miserable while acting as if it was "just a joke". Enjoy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

Following my guideline of "it is what it is", this is a beautifully filmed, well cast, British remake of the book by Evelyn Waugh. I had to read it in graduate school in a "British literature from 1940 to 1970" class. I didn't watch the tv series. So, though it appeared truncated in spots and overlong in others, it was compelling enough. Emma Thompson plays the matriarch with great control. The other actors were not familiar to me, so they rang true. The theme is one of religion more than one of homosexuality. Neither the book nor the movie state that the relationship between the two male leads is consummated. It is likely that the lead character is heterosexual. It is a story about the hand of religion and the fading of the aristocracy more than it is a love story. Catholicism, at lease the kind practiced decades ago, is at the core of the motion and guilt that drives the story. If you like this type film, you will like this one. I do have to say that the sets are visually stunning- the scenes in Venice put you right there. I'd not sit through it again- it was 2:30 in our seats. But it was beautiful and worth it the first go round.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mama Mia

Mama Mia- the musical with the simple plot and lots of ABBA songs put on film for posterity. It was beautiful scenery, not too much drama, some silly moments and fun to watch. Meryl Streep truly seems to have not done a thing to her face, and has let her body age rather gracefully, and for that I am personally happy. She comes across as very real. Her daughter, played by Amanda Seyfried, is bouncy and sincere with the best voice in all of it. The men playing the putative fathers are Colin Firth (too young for the role by 15 years), Stellan Skarsgard, and Pierce Brosnan (who is STILL younger than Streep and about as vocally talented as a pita wrap). Don't do the math- the daughter is 20 years old, the dads are younger than the mom (one ridiculously so), the plot depends heavily on the late 60s, early 70s hippy sleep around days, and it takes place in the present time or close to it because there is mention of starting a great web page for the inn. It is most disorienting in that regard, so just take a deep breath and let it go. And then they need to SHOOT the person who just HAD to put in that webpage reference. Probably a young person who has assumed that the internet has been there forever. Other than that, you can't ask for more fun just listening to music. It's like one long ABBA video. You will smile because you have to.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

I'll make this part short- Heath Ledger does the defining role of his brief career- I thought it might be posthumous hype at first, but he is positively compelling and brilliant in a role that could have come off as campy and banal. You cannot take your eyes off of him as he fills the screen with his performance. He will be forever on the list of top 5 movie villains of all time. Hands down. Now, for the longer part. When Ledger is NOT on the screen, you must endure Christian Bale as a rather miscast Batman. Why, you might ask? Thith is why. He lithpth. Tho much tho that I giggled at one point. As Batman, he has an affected, gravelly voice and his teeth look like piano keys. But you cannot be compelling when you are lisping like sylvester the cat. Then it becomes a weird obsession to listen for the way his lisp comes and goes. What Superhero lisps??? At least while in the Superhero mode? Then there is the homeliest actress in America today- Maggie Gyllenhaal. And in this film, she is referred to as beautiful and desired by not only Mithter Batman, but by the charming Aaron Eckhart. Not gonna happen. Even in a fantasy film. Was there no one else available? Michael Caine is charming as always. The film seems to have some extraneous and confusing story telling in spots. A film this long should have every plot twist clearly delineated. By far, this movie has one star- and for once it isn't the special effects - but the incredible performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker. And that is the reason to see it.

Monday, July 7, 2008


It's a simple story- little WALL E is in charge of finishing the clean up job the dirty humans left behind 700 years ago, and he is doing it one compacted trash cube at a time. A space probe with a sleek little robot named EVA is sent to find any sign of photosynthesis on earth so humans can return. WALL E is inadvertently brought back with EVA to the base where the humans are hugely fat with hardly any bone mass from inactivity. yada. And on for at least an hour 45. The pro- the story is a little, but not too, preachy, and the animation is incredible. If you only watch the detail in this you will be entertained. Not one detail is left out. The con- the film is 20 min too long. The kids got restless. I got restless. It was like the director was so in love with the animation that he just couldn't stop the film. But it is a wonder to behold and worth seeing just to look for the beautiful ways they used the physics of motion with such precision.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Sometimes, a movie skates through because "it is what it is". This applies to most Adam Sandler movies, family cartoons, and any other movie with someone from Saturday Night Live in it- especially if the film is based on a skit. This is an action movie with a ton of cgi, based on a comic book, and is geared to the average 10 year old boy. But in today's world of grand theft auto, there is a possibility that even a 10 year old boy will find it as boring as watching paint dry. Edward Norton's massive talent is wasted on this film- Liv Tyler is NO match for him as his girlfriend. I hardly recognized William Hurt. It's not like you don't know what this movie will do next. But the story is boringly told- relying on nothing but ammunition and growling. It will make a ton at the box office- but if you read the negative reviews closely enough, they will tell you why you just might not like this. It is bombastic and overdone, repetitive and lengthy, and frankly, not worth your admission. It is what it is- and you know exactly what that is and it should be easy enough for you to decide it 2 hours of cgi and violence is worth it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sex and the City- the movie

No one was a bigger fan of the tv show that I was. And now, the movie! There's good news and bad. IF you were a big fan of the show, and if you have the emotional attachment to the characters, then this is definitely the movie for you. It's 5 years later, Charlotte has adopted her chinese baby girl, Lily, and is still happily married, Samantha is still with her younger guy out in Malibu managing his career, Carrie is about to get engaged, and Miranda is struggling with marriage and a career. It takes off from there. The sets are great, the movie is written VERY much in the same fashion as the tv show (thank the shoe gods) and the faithful can hop along for the ride. It is great to watch a movie where friendships stay firm- forgiveness is given for trespasses and women defend and protect one another. These women understand loyalty. The bad news is that Sarah J Parker has set herself up as the icon- she actually sets this story up so she can have a photo layout in VOGUE in varieties of wedding dress, while her adoring friends look on and cheer. She is so skinny, and not a soft looking skinny but a muscular, bantam chicken kind of skinny. Even with her nose thinned on the end and those Hollywood veneers, she is still not meant for glamour. She has not aged any better than you'd think, and it really is tough sometimes to believe that Big would have ever dated her in the first place. Shallow, I know. But the world is shallow. I hope this movie doesn't win an award for lighting- in some scenes,the lighting is so harsh that even beautiful Charlotte looks a little worn- and in others, the lighting is so soft that the actresses don't even look like themselves. It is hard to believe that a film of this expense has such inconsistency on something as basic as lighting and soft lens work. I'd highly recommend this film for adult women- but only if they were fans, because it won't make much sense if you haven't been familiar with the women. There is graphic sex and nudity- and that goes for males and females. The writing is as good as the tv show. If there IS a sequel, I'd see it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Outlandish, cartoonish and flamboyant are words that you could use to describe this return of Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford reminds us all of what age can do- he walks like his prostate is the size of a grapefruit, and he looks stiff and old. So it's a good thing they brought the young'un in there- Shia laBeouf- so that at least one character gets a move on. Karen Allen was dragged out of her knitting studio (really) to come do this film. And I am really glad they did. Ms Allen has not had any plastic surgery- NONE- not a laser, not a botox, not a collagen flappy mouth, and she comes back as a woman who could honestly and truly be believable as a long ago lost love. She doesn't look anorexic, and she doesn't look meemaw either. She just looks like a nice 58 year old woman who still has a beautiful smile and the same personality. It is beyond pleasant and feels real. Ford, however, looks like he just opened up the ark. The action is in the typical serial form with a big action scene about every 11 minutes. Most of it is just suspension of belief- no reality, some obvious and jumpy cgi scenes, and creaky acting. But it is what it is, so to speak. I'd see it again because it's like a college reunion where you see people you like- it is just fun and the fact that nothing is what it seems is irrelevant.

Red Belt

This is, of course, not just a jiu-jitsu movie. It is a story about character, and how it is difficult to be true to yourself if your honor is not making you any money. Chiwetel Ejio gives a masterful, controlled performance as the martial arts studio owner who, by a twist of fate, saves the life of a movie star, played wonderfully by the unlikely Tim Allen. Ejio unwittingly gives up a money making idea which is stolen from underneath him. Though, in our hearts, we know that Chiwetel's character would never actually DO that himself, we are also angry that this man has had his idea pilfered-in typical hollywood fashion. It's a David Mamet film, so the dialogue is said in his stylisticly choppy, almost without emotion, fashion. It's annoying, but the film is so interesting you can get through it. I don't think it has gotten the audience it should have, so it'll be out on DVD soon. I think this is the start of a good dramatic career for Tim Allen- he is no longer puckishly cute and it works for him. I'd highly recommend this film.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Iron Man

I should give it 4 stars but we'll get to that in a minute. Robert Downey plays Robert Downey- with a noticeable eye job since we last met. But he does himself so WELL in this movie- he is likeable and is also a superhero of great likeability. Most superheroes are okay as saviours of the weak, but liking them as their "day job" person isn't much of a concern. Downey's Iron Man is really a superhero you might hang out with. This movie really appeals to guys- the whole theater was engrossed but the guys really reacted. It's violent but fun. A little bit of sex, but enough that a 10 year old would say "big deal". The special effects are spectacular. The little sports Audi is so cool that you wish it had a better reliability rating so you could actually own one. For once, the USA is the hero (as in most Marvel comics) and the military is just and good, and the bad guys are truly the bad guys. Now to that .5 star deduction. Gwyneth Paltrow (and her nasally bland voice) gives one of the flattest and dullest and worst performances by an actress that I have EVER SEEN. I honestly believe that Courtney Cox would have done this role justice. Paltrow is almost visibly BORED by herself. She is just awful. When you see it (and I HOPE you do!), pay particular attention to her dialogue when she can't open a door near the end of the film. It is screamingly bad. So other than Gwyneth the Dolt, the movie is just great.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Baby Mama

Since Alex and I could laugh at Amy Poehler reading the phone book, we preferred this to seeing harold and kumar. I'm not a huge fan of Tina Fey- feeling that she was probably a really mean girl in high school, therefore, not my kind of girl. It starts out as a send up of women in their late 30s who face poor fertility by succumbing to the newly developed fertility industry, and winds up as a sweet little romantic comedy. It is this bizarre sort of plot twist that detracts from the film. In the beginning, it's screwball and full of sight gags and then it slides into a straight romantic comedy. Not that it isn't funny- because it IS. Poehler looks older, but somehow sweeter on the large screen. Greg Kinnear is finally growing into his looks- no longer boyish, but charming. Sigourney Weaver does an over the top performance as the head of the surrogate mother business. Holland Taylor reprises her role as a mother, exactly like her character in Two and a Half Men. Maura Tierney, who has a beautifully sweet face, plays the sister. And one of my favs- Romany Malco (from Weeds), is the doorman. Steve Martin plays Fey's boss with a wonderfully controlled parody of a new age exec. For once, he doesn't mug his way through- he just relaxes and does it. With that cast, this movie really couldn't fail even with the huge lapses in script. It is funny, some times it is very funny. But it isn't the success it could have been.


In this film, Ben Stein talks about the oppressive censorship in the hallowed halls of academia when science expresses an interest in Intelligent Design (from any source or origin) as a way to investigate the unanswered questions of Darwinism. Now, with electron microscopes and detailed biological data, we can see the brilliance, order and intricacy in the tiny human cell. We can also see that Darwinism is, to some extent, relatively quaint - adequate to a point, but unnervingly incomplete. Ben Stein is a brilliant man. No one can doubt that he has made a living thinking and wondering and learning. He is a scholar and writer. And he comes across as far smarter than most of the Darwinists in this film. And it mystifies me as to how the mass media film reviewers would give Michael Moore and Al Gore a pass on their inconsistencies and exaggerrations, but criticize Stein for his allowing these academics to hang themselves. Truth? Maybe we can never find how we got here. But to gag (fire!) the dissenters- to assume that only humans can explain humanity- well, is there a gene for hubris? Keep in mind that it is NOT just intelligent design that gets this shrift- it is also global warming opponents and the ADA support of low fat diets to prevent heart disease. The day academia accepts theory as fact and punishes dissent is the day human knowledge disappears.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Whoa- it isn't often that a romantic comedy has full frontal male nudity. I figure that's as good a way as any to start a review. It follows the typical romantic comedy formula from the opening scene to the credits as if it was an online stock outline where you fill in the characters and plot twists. Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) plays essentially the same character that he does on HIMYMother. But he does a very good job of being likeable and believable. Mila Kunis is adorable as always. Kristin Bell and Russell Brand might be the unknowns (at least to me) but there is a cast full of recognizable Apatow regulars. The setting is Hawaii. The story is Boy loses Girl, goes to Hawaii to recover, gets into resort where Girl is with New Boyfriend, Boy falls for desk clerk..scramble, unscramble and finis. There was ID checking at the theatre, though one stupid parent didn't get it. He walked out after the second male nudity with his 10 year old daughter. I hope they didn't give him his money back. We laughed during all of it- because it was funny. I didn't like Superbad- I thought it was very dumb and very "boy" oriented. But women and men both liked this movie and everyone was laughing and having fun. It isn't a documentary about brain surgery- it is a silly, raunchy, funny movie about a probable romatic mess. I loved it. But remember, on the old review web site I wrote a pretty good review for Deuce Bigalow, so take your chances!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Let's say, for a moment, that I could write this review merely by suggesting a subtitle: "My Big Fat Lebanese Monsoon Wedding". Because those 2 movies must have made BIG contributions to this movie- particularly Monsoon Wedding. This is a movie about women. And they are each loveable and strong and loyal to one another. The setting is Beirut. And we are reminded again that there are countries that are highly developed, complete with world class universities, but the infrastructure and utilities are crude and unreliable. It is a country that still requires proof of marriage for a woman and man to share a hotel room. It is a country where men demand proof of virginity so doctors specialise in putting in a "stitch or two" so it will guarantee a renewed virginity. And it is a country where women know that to love and support one another is what keeps their lives not just bearable, but vibrant. It is an interesting movie, and in some ways a romantic and sweet movie, and it is beautifully acted. I would say that, especially for women, it is worth 4 stars.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Counterfeiters

Set in a concentration camp, a Nazi plan to flood the economy of Britain with fraudulent money makes use of Jewish prisoners who have histories of excellence in the skills necessary for counterfeiting money (and passports). Since the actors are largely unknown to American audiences, there is an intensity to the portrayals. Unlike the melodramatic "The Pianist" which I abhored, or the incredulous "Life is Beautiful", this movie does not strain credibility or logic. At least not to the limit. I found it intense, and it presents the audience with questions of what would their own participation in these scenarios be. It was gritty and violent because concentration camps and Nazis are grim and violent. It is a reminder of what despots can do, and what the human cost of the world's dictators bring to the rest of us. It is a story of lucky survival for some because of a talent honed for criminal purposes. Is it fair that the counterfeiter is the one to be fed and housed while so many Jews with other talents are starved to death and gassed? There are other questions in this film that you can only answer for yourself.

Friday, April 4, 2008


This movie comes within an inch of being successful. It's pleasant enough, and has some funny lines, but it suffers from bad casting in the form of Zellweger, mugging in the form of Clooney, and an inability to burst into song, which would have come in handy. It's a period piece set in the 20s, and everyone acts like it just so you don't forget. The blatant overacting is the reason WHY Clooney is NOT now and never will be Cary Grant. It isn't smooth- nothing in the film is smooth. John Krasinski is well cast in his role, at least. There is never quite enough punch, and Zellweger is hardly believable as a femme fatale with snappy wit. She is, in fact, the major problem (other than the poor pacing). How Zellweger has a leading lady career, as opposed to playing the side kick, is just not clear to me. And I'm not alone on that elevator. If anything is worse than Clooney's mugging, it might be Zellweger squinting like she lost her glasses. In every scene. And it is highly implausible that she would be noticed by all men withint a 20 foot radius. Where is Reese Witherspoon when you need her? In fact, where are the "30 something" actresses who could have carried off the Carole Lombard type of skills needed to play this role? I think, sadly, nowhere. I wouldn't make this a special trip.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Horton Hears A Who

I saw this with only 6 other people in the theater! I expected hordes of knee biters with their chatty moms. I don't know where they were that day. I had to see what the fuss was all about- though nothing can equal Monsters, Inc for me. But this was pretty neat. This form of animation is now almost perfect- hair looks like hair, fur looks like fur, everything reacts in scenes with breezes or noises, etc. I really love that water, which is hard to capture in its essence even on film, is done so artfully. The dialogue is snappy Seuss, and the voices, despite being those of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey and Carol Burnett, were not distractingly recognizable. So it is totally unlike the Shrek films in that regard. I really was perplexed in the middle by a ridiculous anime sequence. I kid you not- what was THAT about? Why throw anime into a classic Seuss tale that stands on its own quite well? It was actually jarring and a bad decision. Once it returned to the actual story, it became enchanting again. Find a kid, and take them there. It's probably even nicer when there is a little kid enjoying it next to you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Hammer

You might ask yourself what I was doing in an Adam Carolla movie on a Friday afternoon. I was lured in by the promise of a review that said it was a funny and light comedy with plenty of real laugh out loud moments and only about 85 minutes long. BANG! Perfect. And it was hilarious. It is the usual Carolla stuff- but with a plot about boxing and love and dreams and what they mean to people who have little else. Carolla is a loveable lug and the object of his dreams is an actress named Heather Juergensen- who is a dead ringer for Lois Griffin- you know, Stewie's mom on Family Guy. I tell you, she must have been the MODEL for Lois. I digress. If you have a couple of hours, and you want to laugh and feel good and have a little fun in a movie for a change, this would be a great little movie to see. Alex thought it was very funny also. So it could technically be called a good date movie.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Just about 15 minutes into this I was looking at my watch wondering how I fast I could get to Hollywood and pour a pitcher of water on Amy Adams's head and scream at her to stop pulling the same schtick in every film. But then, like a miracle, the movie started to change and make more sense and stopped being so cutesy flibbertygibbet- it FINALLY got the ball rolling. And really, once it found its footing, it became a really enjoyable, heart felt, golly gee, sweetie pie romantic "comedy" that was smart and easy. I really liked it and everyone was smiling by the end of it. It is easy to smile at Amy Adams. She is, however, in danger of having those blue eyes get stuck in the wide open position. Hopefully she will stop playing gullible ingenues (and even Junebug was a variation on this theme) and one day play a role with some real meat on it. Frances McDormand is frighteningly au natural in this- she is indeed a homely woman who only cleans up to the level of presentable. But she is acting a real role. There is some skill other than wide eyed wonder or pouting in this for her. But it is a lovely little movie of the kind they just don't make very much any more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Bank Job

I'm giving it 4 stars- and here's why- it's a great movie. It is what an action movie is supposed to be- it has an involved plot, lots of plausible action, is loosely based on an event that actually happened, has great acting, doesn't star anyone so recognizable that their face interferes with the storyline, and the pace is non-stop. It is never, ever boring. Not for a second. It is a very adult film, with nudity, sex scenes, subthemes involving prostitution, etc- so it isn't one of those 'Take the kids but shield their eyes" films. It is a NO KIDS film. There is violence- both graphic and implied. There are some torture scenes. And the plot requires your attention. There was a bank heist like this in 1971, but some of the film's characters are made up (like the main female lead!). BUT those are penny ante details that you don't need to care about. It is about a small group of part time petty criminals being recruited by one of their former gang to rob a small bank in London. It is a really good movie and deserves 4 stars for being such.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

UGH. My friend, Liz, and I went to see this knowing that our husbands would not be interested in a story about Henry VIII and Scarlett Johansson. ScarJo is not much of an actress, and that is woefully seen in the few shots of her where she has no dialogue but the director yells "look happy" or something similar. She has to have dialogue to be in character, but never mind. As Anne Boleyn, Natalie Portman struggles with hysteria and screeching and tries valiantly to drag the half-dead Eric Bana , playing the formerly lusty Hank as a robotic lech, through scene after scene. It's as if Portman is pleading with the other actors to save her from the boring script and boring acting and boring story. I don't know WHAT went wrong here. Unless I read my own sentence about the boring part. It isn't even a good bodice ripper because everyone seems to be in a coma. It lasts for quite a while and then, mercifully, it is over. I am SO sorry this is not a good movie. The story is a phenomenal one and the BBC did it all quite beautifully in a 90 min special. I never like movies that portray historical facts in inaccurate ways. Most people don't go look up the facts, and totally believe the filmmakers are telling them the real story. Too bad. So this movie is not only bad, it is inaccurate. Go at your own risk.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Be Kind Rewind

Oh my- this is one of the worst movies ever made. We both fell asleep after the first ten minutes. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes of blissful relief, we woke up. It was boring and stupid- not even silly and funny. Just stupid. Jack Black is just at his worst- mugging and acting like a moron. The story is much dumber than Lars and the Real Girl- and heartless, and the whole film feels like a way to just steal money from the public without actually using a gun. A gun would have been useful though- I'd have shot up the screen. The popcorn at the theater in Claremont CA is very good though. Now THAT I'd recommend. God- if someone takes you to this movie, then you'd better just break up with them and ask for the $9 so you can cry in some coffee.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Charlie Bartlett

Suspension of all belief is an important mental prep job before entering the theater to see this. It's all a fantastical (yes I mean that) story about a likeable chronic sociopath of a teen who, after being tossed from yet another prep school - this time for fake ID making-enters public school when he returns home to live. He finds his way to popularity by conning his shrinks out of presciptions which he recycles as a pseudo-counselor while perched on a toilet in the boy's bathroom. He falls for the principal's daughter. He reforms the school bully. He calms an entire student body who looks to him for....oh screw it. Now- it is a good movie, an easy to watch movie, a weirdly upbeat movie with a real ending. Nevertheless, it requires a good deal of seeing past the holes. Any kid dealing psych drugs from an attache case in the bathroom of a high school would be put in juvenile detention in about 5 seconds. Okay- as just a movie- it's good. As a movie that is based in any reality at all- it would be pretty bad. So approach it that way. It'll be easier. Alex really liked it. He'd have given it 3.5. I just can't.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Bruges

I really liked this movie. It wasn't what I thought it would be because I read nothing about it before I saw it. Colin Farrell plays an inept assassin under the tutelage of an experienced killer- but his first attempt to kill someone goes terribly wrong, and it haunts him. The story unfolds in beautiful Bruge- in Belgium. It is a fairy tale background for a gritty and grimly violent film that, nevertheless, is very funny in spots. And despite the lack of frank sexual acts, it is a very adult film that cannot be shared with kids of any age. I was going to give it a 4, but the fact that Colin Farrell is SO recognizable, as is Ralph Fiennes, is a major distraction. I liked not knowing the other actors. It was weird to see Fiennes play such an immature and depraved (and silly) character. I never lost sight of the fact that it was Ralph Fiennes. Or Farrell. I highly recommend this movie.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This is a film based on a book of the same name by the former editor of French ELLE, Jean-Dominique Bauby. Julian Schnable just had to get in there and make it a movie. A French movie just to be authentic. The acting is great. Mathieu Amalric is phenomenal since he can only act with one eye, due to the massive stroke that produced "locked in syndrome" where he couldn't move but his brain was intact. That a million reviewers have given this 4 stars has not affected me in the least. Alex snoozed for a few seconds, despite the fact that I was not a totally willing attendant and it was his idea to go. The film was actually praised for the fact that it is done from the viewpoint of Bauby- as is the book, of course. But it spends lengthy, real time, annoyingly, doing what my French teacher never got me to do- learn the proper pronunciation of the letters in the French alphabet. And on and on and on. And JUST when you are getting to like the resilience of Bauby, he rubs the last grains of salt in his arsenal of pain for the mother of his kids by telling his useless, non visiting girlfriend that he misses her while the mother of his kids holds the damn phone and interprets. She visits him every week and brings his kids. That was her chance to kill him. I don't know why she didn't. That was the final straw for me because after that, I didn't LIKE Bauby. So his survival became inconsequential to me. Had Schnabel spent more time on the life of Bauby so that I could identify with him and his frailties, it would have been a better movie. The people in this film who are heroic are his caretakers, his long suffering former girlfriend who has his 3 kids, and the patient woman who wrote down every letter of every word of his book. The movie was interesting, but though Schnabel probably felt he was giving us an idea of what it would be like to have locked in syndrome, and an idea of how tedious it must have been to write a book, I frankly no longer cared by the end.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

I was confused by this film. It has Tom Hanks in it, and Aaron Sorkin was a writer for it- so HOW did this become a film so pro-Afghani and really pro war? People who are so against supporting the people of Iraq in their recovery from Saddam Hussein- well, how can they be so sympathetic to the Afghani's of the 1980s and not the Kurds? Julia Roberts plays Joanne Johnson King Herring Davis, a Houston socialite whose second marriage to Robert Herring (oilman) got her an in to be the honorary consul to Morocco and Pakistan. Her cause became the freedom of the Afghani's from the Russian marauders who were maiming and killing the Afghanis at warp speed, while the Afghani's had no real means to defend themselves. Charlie Wilson is a dissolute softy who would be sued right and left for sexual harassment by his employees if he pulled all that stuff today. But his ability to get along in Congress serves him well when the time comes for him to get a billion dollars thrown into the cause. It is oddly uplifting to see Wilson succeed. And since everyone around him knows what he is (because he hides behind nothing), he winds up being a likeable guy. Observe Roberts' plastic surgery- that is one tight eye job. Hanks looks his usual affable self. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays an unlikely CIA agent. And Amy Adams does a great job of being a competent assistant to Charlie- without being his bimbo. Which was probably hard to do. This movie hasn't gotten enough good press. There is plenty of nudity- so though there is a great message here, it isn't for youngsters.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

There Will Be Blood

This film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a oilcatter back when oillcatting was really work. No Red Adair to call when the well blows up. I digress. The plot is involved enough, yet simple enough that midway through I turned to Alex and said "I am just not sure what this movie is really about". I wasn't lost, I understood the action, I just couldn't figure out what the message was. It took until the very last scene for me to understand it. And once I did, it was intriguing and was such an intricate study of a man that we meet midway in his life- with no explanation of his past in order to understand his future. Does that make sense? We walk in on Day-Lewis as he inherits a child, and we leave him when he is done with everything. He is a man of retribution. If you must know the plot, which is from a book called "Oil" by my favorite author, Upton Sinclair (whose father was an alcoholic), go read it online. It actually might help. The scenery is grim and rough, just like the people who work in the fields and subsist on the miserably dry land. The costuming is perfect. The sets were built without a level and with an eye to authenticity. If the guy playing the twin brothers looks familiar- he was the brother in Little Miss Sunshine (that's to save you from spending 2 1/2 hours wondering how you know this guy). Every performance is perfect. It is probably as good a film as you will see this year. And I can't really explain why. In yet another film, the score is too intrusive and seems to be used as filler for action in some scenes. If there is a negative, that is the only one. No children in this one. It has several scenes that simply cannot be put in the head of a child no matter how grown up they may seem.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Savages

The Savages stars Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the adult kids (of abusive and neglectful parents) who are summoned to put their demented father into a nursing home. It's a story of two children who must now grow up and handle their father with more mercy than he handled them. They prove to be capable, if somewhat frail and lost. If you have elderly parents, you will hopefully do these duties with love in your heart in return for a loving childhood. But as is the case when parents are not deserving, the tears shed here are tears of sorrow for what was never had, not for what was. The odd thing to me was that I was the youngest person in the theater, by, oh, say 15 years. I personally found it depressing. Though they did paint the valiant health care workers, often immigrants, who struggle in this unrewarding field, as kind and patient. That may or may not be the case, but the stark reality of the subject of this film is seldom touched upon, and for that, if not that alone, the filmmakers are to be commended. All of the actors in this do an excellent job, though Linney and Hoffman are in danger of being typecast these days.

Friday, January 18, 2008


**guest review by Hollis**

Ok. I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible, in case you haven't seen this yet and are planning on it. First, let me say, I liked it. However, I knew some of the background of the movie, and wasn't expecting anything other than what the movie was. If you're looking for traditional storytelling, or having everything explained to you ... well, you won't find that in the movie. Cloverfield is the story of a monster attack on Manhattan (J.J. Abrams's take on Godzilla), told from the perspective of a hand-held video camera operated by a regular person who, with a group of friends, is trying to get out of the city. And that's it. Like any event documented by a bystander, there are no explanations, no backstory (well, almost none), and what you see is what you get.

J.J. Abrams is the same guy who created Lost, so there are all the corporate conspiracy theories, and "super"-plots (a larger story that the movie is only a part of) that you would expect. In fact, Cloverfield has a huge viral marketing campaign that goes along with it - if you haven't been paying attention to it, there's a brief summary here -
If you want answers to a lot of the movie's questions, you're going to have to dig into the external stuff. You still won't get all the answers, but the bigger picture will become a little clearer. Oh, and it's not done yet ... new info is still being added ... which has already lead to people speculating that there may be a sequel at some point. But who knows.

Ok, back to the movie itself. The use of the hand-held cam is both a plus and a minus - it definitely puts you more "into" the movie with the characters, but the shaky camera work can get annoying. I had to look down at the seats in front of me for some of the scenes because they were so shaky - so it didn't turn into a barf-a-thon. If you get motion sick easily, I would take some preventative measures. The movie is relatively short - kind of realistic to the length of a camera battery, although you'll wonder in some scenes how the camera has managed to survive so well (whatever brand of camera that is - you should definitely buy it!) The monster is really cool - not totally unique since you can see other creatures that it references - but definitely fun to watch. Some of the scenes were very 9/11-esque - especially towards the beginning - in fact, when the attack first occurs, one party-goer says "is it another terrorist attack?" I don't know if the film will get a different reaction in NYC, but I bet some people will be having flashbacks.

The acting was good - very believable. There are no recognizable faces here, which makes for a much better movie ... it was refreshing to truly believe in a character, as opposed to trying to suspend disbelief so that you aren't just watching Tom Cruise in yet another outfit. Also, I just have to say, I give some of the female actors props for running around in high heels for as long as they do. *That* made me wince as much as anything - I would have had those suckers off in the first 5 minutes.

So, bottom-line - if you liked Lost, enjoy digging up plot information for yourself, and piecing together clues (oh, and big monsters attacking NYC), then you'll enjoy this movie. In fact, do some of the background work before you go see it - it helps. If you need a plot with character development and a traditional story arc, well, maybe you should wait for the new Indiana Jones film.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Everyone who has read the other 300 movie reviews I did on my last webpage knows that I really have thought Kiera Knightley was the most overrated actress around, except for Scarlett J. It wasn't just her stilted and monotonic (that is just possibly not a word) dialogue, but her annoying habit of making a pouting face everytime she was trying to project any emotion other than happiness. It drove me crazy. Well, someone must have talked to her about it. Because she only does it about 10 times in this film (no, I didn't count). She does a wonderful job, yes, I have to give her credit. She's still distractingly skeletal, but she managed to act her way through it all. Saoirse Ronan does an incredible job as the little sister who misinterprets several pivotal moments in her sister's relationship with a young man who lives in their house, and well, it goes downhill from there. But Saoirse (pronounced SEER sha which is Irish for freedom) is one talented child actor. The weight of the story lies in her body language when telling her tale to the police. Every child in this is very talented and very believable. James McAvoy, who you might remember from the incredible The Last King of Scotland, plays Robbie Turner with such a touching performance that I was a tad teary eyed. It is easy to see how Briony smarts from his rejection of her childish crush. I can't give away the plot, but this is a very solid, very believable film. The plot twists are interesting. And there is enough chintz and floral wallpaper in this to stock a Laura Ashley warehouse. WWII is the backdrop- and not OUR WWII but the one the British were involved in before we got there. When losing 4000 men was a DAY'S loss, not a 4 year loss. Don't get up during the movie because every moment counts. If I had one complaint it would be the score. I have never had a score, except in a B horror movie or Jaws, telegraph the action like that. It was very annoying. But that's a minor complaint. I'd say this is one of the best movies in quite a while.

Sweeney Todd

Oh okay, I will admit that I just loved Sweeney Todd when Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury did it. I did. I thought it was very clever. So I dreaded seeing it with the Tim Burton goth and gore spin. Johnny Depp does a really nice job looking like a grown up Edward Razorhands. Tim's wife, Helena Bonham Carter Burton, looks haggish and sinister. But then, she has been looking that way in real life for a long time. Tim Burton said he was a lonely child who played by himself. Gee, wonder why? The blood runs in RIVERS in this. I guess Burton has never actually seen a carotid cut, because these people had hypertension for a long time blowing blood all over everything. Alex doesn't like blood or throat slitting. I personally have seen so much human blood that the fake stuff doesn't much bother me. Depp sings with enthusiasm and emotion, and Bonhamcarterburton swallows her words like so many meat pies. Sadly, her lyrics are some of the most clever in the musical but just try understanding her words. Some time, listen to the original Broadway cast. I have to say that the younger actors in this, while adept, are so unattractive that it is startling. Usually Joanna is seen as a delicately pretty girl. Not this one. If you don't have an appetite for gore, buy the original DVD for 22 bucks on amazon.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


This is a movie about a pregnant 16 year old named Juno. She decides to have her baby when she hears (outside the abortion clinic) that the baby has fingernails. Never mind that it has a heartbeat and circulatory system, it's the fingernails that endear the new life to her. The adults in her life are about as reasonable as adults could be. She does have the baby, with seemingly minimal emotional pain, as well as having really few problems at school. This is about as far from reality as you can get. But Juno is a tough kid, and she has a smart way of looking at things. She has sex with the "father" out of a weird curiosity. That a girl this smart would get pregnant is kind of curious to me. But she seems to just float through it. It will probably win a bunch of awards, it isn't too cheesy, and Juno makes some of the adults look childish. She probably does grow up a fair amount, but it isn't easy to leave your baby in the arms of someone else. And the movie seems to lightly tred on that sort of pain. Oh well, I guess I saw this subject as much deeper than it was presented. I wouldn't bring an impressionable child because it made it all look too easy. It isn't easy. Sometimes the dialogue feels very contrived. Juno has an answer for everything. She never looks back. Jennifer Garner is very sweet in this. So, weigh the pros and cons. It is, after all, a movie. And it is very much a pro-adoption movie even though I don't know if the director meant for it to be.