Friday, May 31, 2013

Now You See Me

OH, so what if it is illogical? So what if it is plodding in spots? So what? I liked it. I wouldn't go see it twice- or even sit through half of it- but while in the actual theater eating overly salted popcorn (thanks IPic), it wasn't half bad. I liked the premise. Just when I thought I knew who dunnit, well, they didn't dunnit. The cast is PACKED, I tell ya. Now, the mere fact that no one really reviewed this movie until yesterday ought to tip you off that it might be a stinker. But I'd all ready bought tickets ahead of time and well, I made up my mind not to read any more bad reviews but to be honest and objective. And I liked it.  Just pretend it is REAL, and just pretend you are one of a band of people who really DO see the magic show in person and you will like it. There are two scenes you won't like- first is the obligatory car chase- (yawn)- and next is any scene with Mark Ruffalo and some French chick you've never seen before (Melanie Laurent). Their chemistry is about as good as my chemistry grades were. When he kisses her will be the ONE time you will really have to say "I don't believe any of this". In the meantime, I don't think it was all that bad and you should go see it. Get up during the chase scene and go get some popcorn with less salt.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Frances Ha

Don't read the good reviews of this film- read the BAD reviews. Because there are a certain amount of hipster doofus reviewers that love pretentious film making in black and white (for no reason other than hipster doofusness) and love bad dialogue about 27 year olds who still have no idea how to make a real living. Maybe, if you like the whining losers on "Girls", you will like the happy losers in Frances Ha. I don't know when 27 got to be called "young adult". It's really close to 30, and a great many people understand the meaning of adulthood around 19 or so. There was nothing cool or avant garde about this movie. Stunningly- there was not ONE funny thing in it- not a clever line or even a likeable romance. It is virtually a stream of self-consciousness from a lead character who performs like an idiot- devoid of common sense, self-awareness,  or any real charm- just a stupid smile. And we are supposed to root for her. It has been compared to Annie Hall- close but no cigar.  I really don't care which critics like this (maybe because it has almost everyone in it that Baumbach and his lead actress girlfriend might know?). It was not a good movie. In fact, if this is what living in New York does to an educated woman's brain (as seen in both the character and the actress/scriptwriter who plays her), well, you might want to encourage your daughters to stay in their hometowns.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness 3D

Of course I loved this- though it wasn't at all what I expected due to J J Abrams. You know what I mean by that. I was in high school when the very first Star Trek with wild Bill Shatner came out. I thought it was the campiest thing I'd ever seen. I still do. I assume it was a tribute to our naivete and obsession with outer space that made some people go stark, staring crazy over it. The only episode I liked was the one with tribbles. And there happens to BE a tribble in this one. But I have been a huge fan of the full-length movies that have been made. Enough of me. This is not quite as good as the last one, but it is good enough. The 3 D just didn't impress me. The edges were fuzzy on occasion. So so don't bother with the 3D. There was little "back story" in this- but I guess the special effects are supposed to make up for it. You will learn one VERY interesting thing in this movie. Something you've always wondered. That alone is worth the ticket.

The Iceman

Did you like The Sopranos? Do you like movies with lots of murders of bad people BY a bad person? Then you'll like this. Because murder is murder is murder in these sorts of "hit man" films, you have definitely seen all this before. It's based on a "true story" of a hit man named Kuklinski- he worked for a mobster and rubbed out the people who pissed them off. Never saw that before. Anyhoo, it is played by the really evil looking Michael Shannon (who scares ME). Various people waltz in and out of scenes. Kuklinski is worth reading about on Wikipedia- then you can see if this would be your cup of cyanide, so to speak. If you watch Dexter, Kuklinski was the original Iceman killer.  Lots of blood and gore, lots of psychopathic behavior and not much redeeming value.  As these types of movies go, this one is just mediocre.


After you see this film, and you should because it is one of those intersecting or parallel events kind of movie, you will a)sign up for lifelock b) demand all the passwords for every account your kid has and c) seriously think about going back to the good old days. It is about the power of misuse of the internet, and even though you think you are safe online, you never are. You truly are one programmer or support staff person away from having your identity stolen, your kids exploited, etc. Everyone comes close to disaster and some succeed. I'd recommend you see it as a not so gentle reminder of the age we live in. It isn't a 4 star movie because you've seen it before on reality shows, but it is well acted by several ensembles of good actors If you liked Crash, etc, you will like this.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Great Gatsby (3-D)

Baz Luhrmann (of Moulin Rouge fame- one of my favorite pictures) had to make a decision- remake Gatsby as a boring, rehash of what has all ready been done  (and the boring applies to the film with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow), OR take his usual use of imagery and contemporary feel and make it a real visual extravaganza. Fortunately, he chose number two and used Jay-Z to throw in some music. Because WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU DO if you wanted any commercial audience to give a damn. Look, anyone who went to a halfway decent high school probably had this book on their reading list. I have no idea if  Luhrmann and his co-writers lifted exact dialogue (other than "Old Sport"). If I had to bet, I'd say they did. I'm sure there are a lot of people who will positively HATE this film. But with a book this dated, with a story everyone knows, I'm not sure what people would expect Luhrmann to do. Get real here. It is a spectacle-complete with fireworks and dance- and I loved it. So did Alex. It is flashy and beautiful and lively and fun. I was actually surprised at how much I liked it. I think DiCaprio is a fine Gatsby- why not? If Robert Redford could do it, then Leo can. Cary Mulligan is gamine and yet horrifyingy insecure and weak as Daisy. Tobey Maguire is the only weak link- he really is a tad too boring for his role as narrator.  I've never thought of this book as being about decadence- but Luhrmann must believe in decadence, because he goes out of his WAY to make the setting opulent. Beyond opulent.  If you are going to see this, give Luhrmann his due and see it in 3D. There are 4 other movie versions, an opera, 3 plays and a computer game on this.  Have fun!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Before I get to the movie part, I have to mention that I find NO American actor more confusing than Matthew McConaughey. He brushes his teeth with comet, doesn't use deodorant and looks like he has never, ever washed his hair. Yet, he stuffs all that weirdness into Armani suits. He's been in some horrible movies, and yet, he has done some wonderful stuff. Back to the movie now- this is one of his wonderful things. MUD is the name of the title character played by MM. What is this about? Well, two fantastic tween boy actors (called Ellis and NeckBone in the script)  skitter off on a small skiff to an island in the river where a deserted boat, put there by a storm, is up in a tree. They've claimed it but lo and behold, Mud is living in it. At this point, you might be thinking "hey look- they have done a modern day Huck Finn!" Yeah, well, kind of- it has the Mississippi and boys. But not really.  It is about love and learning rejection and regret and how we all learn to start over no matter what our age. The ending is particularly sweet when it is made clear, by a simple smile, that we all put our broken hearts back together with amazing rapidity when we are 14. This isn't for kids- it is too mature a subject and there is some scary shooting at people going on. Plus Reese ("DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM??") Witherspoon plays a kind of slutty girlfriend of Mud's. This movie is really kind of enchanting. The boys were cast because they could handle a boat and ride a dirt bike with ease. The director was on a tight schedule and couldn't take the time to teach a kid that. Wise choice. I loved the acting in this. There is a reason why everyone who has reviewed it has loved it. Go see it if you get a chance. It is limited release. I have no idea why.


The screenwriters sat down and said: "Let's steal stuff from Star Wars and  The Matrix, let's put in some scenes they've seen before a million times, let's get a nice set and borrow the backdrops from Mad Max and then STICK TOM CRUISE in it! They won't even notice the hokey story!" And there you have it. Of course, you are always pretty sure Tom isn't going to die, he usually doesn't,  so there goes the suspense. The set is nice though- and Tom does his usual run run run hide hide hide shoot shoot get caught wiggle away acting job. Sometimes I wonder how he gets the energy to give a damn anymore. Maybe that explains why he took the role of Stacie Jaxx. SO now you know everything you need to know. But I was disappointed. I'll go watch a rerun of Collateral- the best Tom Cruise movie. It'll help.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pain & Gain

You'll be reminded several times in this movie that it is a true story. Except the actors are much better looking than the real people. Basically it is about a group of really stupid body builders who decide to kidnap a few rich people then steal all of their assets. And it works for them until it doesn't. They are cruel and do some ridiculous things- all true. I liked the movie but I enjoy watching Marky Mark and The Rock anytime they make a movie. I found it hard to believe that this all actually happened- but then, just for me I guess, there was a television show about this bunch of idiots. It is sad in parts because you know it is true, and the victims here do not fare well. It is scary in parts because it is true- there are actually murderous idiots who think they will not get caught by stealing all your assets then killing you. If the idea of that upsets you, don't go see it. But if you are good at pretending this could never happen in real life, then go see it. The real problem with the story is that there is so little humor in it- and really little tension or drama. I think that would make most people walk away with a "meh".  I don't think it is that bad.  Maybe wait until it is on cable?