Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street

Awwww, geez. We've seen it all before. Though this is brilliantly cast, the story is old. In order to keep your interest, there is one orgy scene after another. Mostly naked women, not naked men, As usual. There is a lot of frantic drug activity, bizarre and manic sexual behavior, strange dialogue and ridiculous situations- leading one to believe that the director (Scorsese) mostly wanted to watch naked women having sex with often fully dressed men. I can't decide- it is THREE HOURS which automatically puts it on the Flickerchick's DO NOT SEE list. If you can't say it in 2 hours, it better be the best movie ever made. It is exhausting to watch- endless and inexplicable. The story is simple enough- "based on" is also a pet peeve of mine. People leave the theater thinking they know the story. Names were changed. Who cares? If you saw Boiler Room- then you've seen this movie all ready. Did Scorsese not remember Boiler Room?  Was it not good enough for him? Well, this is not an improvement. It is a self-indulgent, somewhat pornographic, drug glorifying chance for Scorsese to show what he can get actors to do. I don't get all the good reviews- it is a one trick pony. Of course, Leonardo DiCaprio is still fun to watch as he turns the corner to middle age. It is obvious when a body double is used, however. If you like Leo, then there is lots of him- in virtually every scene. But if you've seen Boiler Room, then skip it. Or at least wait until it is on cable and you can hit pause. I'll give it 2 stars because the actors made it through in one piece.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Moses wept. This Cohen brothers film is about a week in the life of a folksinger, Llewyn Davis, in the year 1961. An interesting note is that all the musicians, including Oscar Isaac (Davis), had to play and sing- no lip synching or fake guitar. That is the only impressive thing about this. Llewyn is a loser. His music partner committed suicide. He goes around impregnating women and then raising funds to provide for an abortion. He is disliked by his father and sister.  He acts like an artistic brat with his own obnoxious affectations yet he is forgiven and given a place to eat and sleep by people he has treated like dirt. It is, you see, his right as an artist.  He has so little feeling for others and that is symbolized by his relationship with a beautifully calm orange tabby. In the end, the tabby meets the same fate as everything else in LLewyn's life. He has a peculiar disregard for life and is seemingly unable to care or love. When he is beaten up, you don't feel sorry for him. He is dislikable and irritating; moderately talented but full of himself; a man who seemingly feels nothing while being ingratiating and rude. In other words, he is a jackass. One other thing about having a lead character so unlikeable is that it  leads to is boredom. You heard me- a Cohen brothers movie that is just damn boring.  It is hard to believe that a team that has made cult classics like Fargo and Raising Arizona, as well as making one of the best movies of all time, No Country for Old Men, could actually sit down and make such an abysmal film. I'd like to give it 2 stars because maybe something redeeming can be seen in it- but this is a movie for which there is no audience. I'm sorry. Go back and rent Fargo or No Country. It'll be better for you. I'm giving it one star because of the guitar playing and the cat.

American Hustle

Yet another film like Philomena and The Butler comes out of the woodwork.  To call it "based on" the Abscam scandals would be a joke. At least, this time, they changed the names of the people involved- which is a good idea since it is, after all, mostly fiction. This may be the most miscast movie ever. Some movies are brilliantly cast- like Gone With the Wind. But had GWTW been as miscast, then Fred Astaire would have been Rhett and Mae West would have played Scarlett. There is ZERO chemistry among the leads. Amy Adams has (so far in her career) been incapable of projecting the sex siren character. Jennifer Lawrence seems (so far in her career) incapable of moving her face, but projects all of her emotions through the random tear and her husky voice. Bradley Cooper plays the bumbling FBI agent as a frantic, virtually manic, lothario. Saddest of all is the misuse of Christian Bale as a con man used to work the sting. You've seen this type of movie a zillion times. Bad guy has to work with the feds to catch other bad guys or he'll go to prison. It is SUPPOSED to be a comedy, I think. Yet, I laughed even less than the 5 or so other people who laughed a few times. I was really expecting a fantastic movie- how could it MISS? Ugh. But miss it did- in a sorry, sadly acted, poorly scripted film. I'd say you should skip it. It shouldn't have ever happened.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Based on a book about a Magdalene girl, Philomena Lee, this story is about an 18 year old Irish Catholic girl who commits the unpardonable sin of having a child out of wedlock. She is sent to a convent to be one of the Magdalene women who were literally held in virtual slavery by the Catholic nuns for years while their children were sold to Americans for a few thousand dollars. In 2002, another film, The Magdalene Sisters, was made that was excellent. Judy Dench plays Philomena as a deeply indoctrinated faithful woman who believes in her own sin, and she also plays Philomena as a simpleton, if not an almost spineless dimwit. Lee searched for 50 years but, at times, couldn't stand up for herself against the evil that caused her misery. Of course, and shamefully, the filmmakers did NOT follow the TRUE story. Again, you would be asked to believe a true story told as a lie. I am so tired of Hollywood doing that. This year seems to be one of the bigger years for retelling a good story with lies and hearsay. If Judy Dench weren't so good in this, it would be a sad retelling indeed. Please do me a favor- read the ACTUAL story of Philomena Lee before you see the movie. She found where her son was (actually her daughter JANE found her brother by searching the internet!) before she ever contacted a reporter. Her son's significant other was welcoming and kind to Philomena. Her son was HAPPILY working for the Republicans. etc etc. Don't fall for this as a true retelling- it is not.  I won't give it 92% like everyone else (obviously rated by people who don't feel cheated by needless Holllywood BS used to make political points or by writer's manipulating people by outright lying) However, if it makes the audience aware of the abysmal and hateful treatment of unwed mothers all over the world, then it is worth sitting through.