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.