Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zero Dark Forty

Katherine Bigelow (Hurt Locker) directs this account of the 10 years leading up to and including the killing of USB (you know the military and government- there is an acronym for everything, and this is for Usama (yes with a U) Bin Laden). The first 2 hours almost do you in because you are trying to sew together the cloth of this intrigue, and you have to work to keep it all together. It's slow going but not boring. Then the last half hour starts your heart pounding and rivets your attention on the bravest people on the planet- the Seals who went in and killed BinLaden. Like Argo, you know how this ends before you even buy your ticket, but this makes Argo look like a child's movie. If you have a grain of feeling for 9/11 and for all victims of terrorism, you will not flinch at the shoot to kill. The criticism of the torture scenes is a bunch of bull- I actually wouldn't call that torture. Now, what the Japanese did to Americans in the Bataan death march- THAT is torture. But we Americans are now a short memoried, let the other guy do it, too nice for words, and poorly educated about war in general- so some people self-righteously scream about it. Well, I felt none of that. I felt the scenes were honest and  Bigelow was directing a story that she felt should respect the truth. Anyhoo, you should see it if you haven't all ready. Be prepared for a slow lead up. Oh, and be SURE to remember the last half hour of the movie in REALITY that Obama was playing his 66th round of golf of his 27 month presidency, and quit after 9 holes to go to the situation briefing room to see how it was going. He knew it was going down yet he played golf instead. If you check out the pictures, the CIA provided a jacket for him so he wouldn't be photographed in his golf shirt- which he doesn't allow the press to do. Who is your hero now? (Just asking.)  Because it should be your brave voluntary military.  I'm giving it 4 stars because Bigelow has guts, and Jessica Chastain is not a pretty woman so she has the right face to make the part believable and does a fantastic job.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

You are thinking- hey, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence- what's not to like? Hmmmm. I'll tell you. Being in the company of people with OCD, ADD, sex addiction, obsession and bipolar disorder with restraining orders is not always a basket of fun.  Not that it isn't doable but midway through this movie- just when you want to run out of the theater screaming- it CHANGES! Now it is a ballroom dance competition, and football betting,etc, and SUDDENLY the mental illness is no longer relevant. You mean to say after sitting in the theater begging Bradley Cooper to take his seroquil, suddenly the viewer is set free like a bird to watch him dance like Fred Astaire? oh yes. Not that it isn't a relief. But this movie needed to make up its mind- you don't cure mental illness and become the sane one in the room by waltzing with an equally nutty woman who becomes sexually promiscuous the second she feels any rejection.
Robert DeNiro left his career in the ashes long ago. It's been a 10 year decline, and this is another of the same. I guess actors like Cooper and Lawrence will do anything - not a bad idea in a town where your career can disappear, and you are left being fodder for Dancing with the Stars and the National Enquirer's "where are they now" section- but these actors are better than this material.  Shockingly, so many critics liked this and found not ONE thing to say about the bizarre script- I am gobsmacked.  So I will assume I have lost part of my mind, and I missed something (but I doubt it). So I'll compromise- instead of 1.5 stars, I will give it 2.  Good luck with that.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Sigh. I liked it. Not alot though. My movie-mate hated it. BUT would I say to watch it?- (it is out on DVD, etc), well, yes. Being from Louisiana, it always saddens me that there is some assumption that people who live close to the land are ignorant, illiterate and vulgar. I can tell you that many of the people who are fishermen or shrimpers or oystermen are college educated, are close to their families and live decent and kind lives. But somehow, the film industry thinks it is best to just do some cultural profiling and invent a stereotype, and frankly, it does piss me off. So it is hard for me to watch this sort of film. I got through it by pretending that it was directed by Guillermo DelToro- that really helped me deal with the bizarre imagery. As for the acting- I guess this is very good. The little girl (who was probably 8 at the time of filming) is phenomenal. She's a natural and the directors did a great job with her. The other actors have such brutal and surreal action that I have to give them credit.  It's about a group of people (filthy, sad, stereotypical red neck, etc) who live on a small barrier island on the other side of a long levee in Louisiana. One day a Katrinaesque storm comes in, the filthy squalor is now covered in mud, and the drunk father and the little girl and the others get forcibly removed, but they break out and get back (why???) to their lives.  I like to think it is NOT trying to be real, but is rather a tale of woe- not meant to be taken literally. Sigh. It is dark and very morose. But since I liked the kid, here are 2 stars.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Les Miserables

Mon Dieu! I'm calling BS on this. If you haven't seen the stage production, where have you been? Victor Hugo spins in his grave. The "stars" actually sing LIVE while the filming is going on (no trips to the recording studio), and the director has chosen the BEST take and used it. And when you sop up the blood from your poor ears, you will have to ask yourself how this could have been the BEST take- there were worse??. Well, there is Russell Crowe positively bleating out his songs like a sheep being neutered. It is painful to watch and worse to hear.  Amanda Seyfried uses a vibrato that sounds like a Minnie Mouse electric toothbrush set on stun. Hugh Jackman is possibly the very worst because he is a former broadway guy who has had real lessons and he has NO excuse- his vibrato is a loopy, wavy mess never landing on pitch. And because she cuts her hair to nubbins and sings a weepy, nose runny, rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream", Anne Hathaway is almost credible.  It is a beautiful song, but just because one sings it slowly, and with "this is a sowwy sowwy mess" eyes, doesn't do it justice.  The only one worth a damn is the little girl who sings the role of the child Cosette, and she does a fantastic job of "there is a castle on a cloud".  My husband had never seen Les Mis(z) before- and he loved the sets (I agree), loved the costumes (I agree) and summed it up like this- "the real problem with the movie is not the singing, it's the fact that Les Mis(z) is really a boring POS."  Well, I don't agree because the singing sucked also.  If you have fond and glorious memories of a well-sung, professional stage performance of this, don't go to the movie. You'll have to take Advil for your sore ears and tired rear end (it's a LONG one) and tight neck from shaking your head in disbelief.  And if I see Helena Bonham Carter dressed up like Mad Margaret (look it up) just ONE MORE time, I don't know but that I won't start screaming in the theater.  For the sake of Minerva, GIVE THE SHTICK A REST, HELENA.   I give it 2 stars because, well, they really tried and I should have known better. It doesn't really deserve it.

Monsters, Inc 3-D

ACK! I loved it. I've seen the original at least 5 times. The first time, I was mesmerized by the fur on Sully- keep your eyes on it. Each hair seems to have a life of its own.  I adore the story. The only thing that creeps me out (then AND now) is Boo. Odd that I find a pack of monsters to look normal, but the human child seems freakish. Oh well. This is so charming, with just enough monster action to scare kids a teensy bit, that I cannot imagine someone NOT liking it.  John Goodman and Billy Crystal were excellent choices to do the major characters voice work. Normally, I can't stand recognizable celebrities in animation voice work. It is highly distracting to see a character that looks one way (like Nemo) but sounds like Ellen.  Most people probably don't mind.  But it really works here. OH, go see it even if you don't have a little kid to take with you. And save your 3D glasses- they are so much better than the black ones. Much clearer.

Life of Pi

If you read other reviews, you can certainly tell which reviewer (few) read the bestseller, and who didn't. You are about to read the review of one who didn't- which turned out to be good since the ending is really a surprise. I'll assume YOU haven't read the book, either. Good.
This is a gorgeous movie-just beautiful to behold. The colors, the imagery, the lighting- all wonderful. As a first timer to the material, you start to feel that someone is spinning a beautiful and elaborate yarn to entertain you- that something is a little off, but you believe the narrative. The tale is so well told that you wholeheartedly participate in the suspension of belief and ride the waves for over 200 days with the boy and his travel companion, a Bengal tiger. It is a lovely movie, if overly long. I will always grouse a bit about the lack of editing. Why do directors fall so in love with their work that they are willing to risk the attention of their audience? Especially in a movie like this where a great deal of time is spent with nothing happening. That said, just relax and enjoy the sheer beauty of the film- it is a simple tale of survival on the sea, but one with religious overtones. Then go home and read how they made everything so real.