Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Oh dear. There was a premise here that borrowed from quite a few other films (Peggy Sue, Back to the Future, etc)- and while there is no actual crime in that, even in making a "guy gross out bonding film", there have to be limits. Gross can be funny, and it can also be stupid. This movie is inexcusably stupid. Even the 80s parody part of it is so off the mark- and could have been at least entertaining, but wasn't. I didn't expect anymore from this than I did back when I reviewed "The Ladies Man" for the old website. But I'd sit though The Ladies Man twenty times before I would even watch the opening sequence of this ridiculous movie again. This will not be a cult favorite. There is not one endearing moment in it that would make you be interested in these characters. It is just plain awful. The high point- hearing "Talk Dirty to Me" on the soundtrack. The low point- everything else.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

It's not exactly Alice in Wonderland. But it is a wonderland of special effects and familiar characters. But it is not comical. Not for a moment. There is no warm or fanciful charm. And since it is never cartoonish but rather very realistic, it is not really for smaller children. It's the movie you'd wish they'd made in 1970. If you don't like Tim Burton's bizarre visions and interpretive tales, then you will HATE this movie. But if you have a soft spot for Burton and his willingness to twist and turn and darken all he sees, then you will find it a little joy ride. The most peculiar part of this film is the casting of Mia Wasikowska as Alice- she is as bland and engaging as a water cracker. Such effort wasted on so much vagueness. But Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and others are excellent at what they have come to do. The 3D was well done- unlike the headaches many people got in Avatar. There was no visual lag to interfere with the story. If Burton is your cup of tea, then have a seat with the Mad Hatter. And as usual, enjoy Danny Elfman's score.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shutter Island

DiCaprio, Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer--7 reasons to see this movie. Everyone gives a flawless performance. DiCaprio plays a federal marshall sent to investigate the goings on at a mental hospital for the criminally insane on an island off Boston. Martin Scorsese directs it with a dark undercurrent and does keep it moving along amidst great scenery. Plenty of clues are dropped along the way. And there are actually TWO twists in this movie- one is about 20 minutes from the end when you find out what is really going on. The other is in the last two minutes- where you find out that some memories are better off lost forever. That's all I can say. Great cast, great director, great setting and costuming, and a good script. The only misstep was the music- unnecessarily morose and foreboding in spots where it wasn't needed. In the first scene, the music was so heavy handed that I said a silent prayer that it would stop. It was only intermittent, but Scorsese should have seen that the music didn't call attention to itself in an otherwise wonderful film. See it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Last Station

This is about the events leading up to the 82 year old Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer looking older than dirt) deserting his wife (Helen Mirren) and wealth to start a new life of asceticism. Tolstoy has a complicated brilliance- he begins as an author of very popular literature and becomes involved in pacifism and non-violence. Over time, he becomes something of a hypocrite as he preaches against wealth, but lives as a rich man-which causes him intense guilt. Yet, he is a Christ figure to his followers. They are devoted to him. With time, his wife becomes aware of the dangers of having an idol as a husband. Mirren plays Sophia Tolstoy as a hysteric- but with good cause. Someone IS trying to take her family's fortune away. James McAvoy plays Tolstoy's secretary, Bulgakov. As usual, he is incredibly good. Paul Giammati plays Chertkov, the leader of the Tolstoyans. The cast is so good that the poor editing in the film is barely noticeable. But not quite. There are a couple of scenes that seem to come out of nowhere- as if a logical transition would have been impossible. It's emphasis on the hysterical Mirren seems to go on too long. We GET it. But it is certainly worth a trip to the movies-if for no other reason than to see something about a man who influenced people like Martin Luther King on the value of non-violent resistance. I didn't know what to expect when I bought my ticket, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Plan to stay through the final credits since original film of Tolstoy is shown.

Percy Jackson &The Olympians:The Lightning Thief

Okay- I am going to try to be fair. I never heard of this book series. Strike one. I am not between the ages of 9 and 13. Strike two. I cannot help but compare it to Harry Potter. Strike three. Percy is the son of Poseiden- thus explaining his love of sitting at the bottom of the pool. Someone has stolen Zeus's lightning bolt. The daughter of Athena and the satyr, Grover, go with Percy on the mission to find the bolt- where they run into hellfire and brimstone, Medusa, etc. So this is the fair part- IF you have a kid between 9-13 who doesn't scare easily and who is smart enough to be interested in mythology, this is a terrific film. It does have some adult humor but the kids won't get it. The special effects are a tad dated, but still scary enough. The movie is so simple that most kids wouldn't even ask you to explain anything. I give it two and a half stars because, well, in the words of the flickerchick: "It is what it is."