Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is, as you know, a widely anticipated movie with some mixed reviews, but mostly good, just like this one. If you don't know what the enigma machine is and what it did, well, you are poorly educated and shouldn't go to movies at all because you will think everything you see in every movie is true anyway. Here is what is true- Alan Turing was brilliant with a dose of functional autism and his invention, a computer that cracked the enigma code, saved millions of lives and shortened WWII. Mr.Turing was also a homosexual at a time when that meant jail or a "chemical castration" with estrogen shots. Alan Turing was one of those  British boys who did not do well at boarding school with the bullies and dumbasses that seem to frequent those places. The movie doesn't side step that. It is told in flashbacks. Now, you should read up on what the machine is and why it and Turing's work to solve it were important before you go, because that is what gives the film the minimal suspense it has. The movie takes liberties with the roles of the others at Bletchley though. It adds a few characters and gives one a job as Soviet spy (which did not actually exist). I sort of resented that since it was totally unnecessary to add that to the movie- Hollywood is incapable of sticking to the story in biopics. Dumb. Now people who can't read will think that really happened that way. And, somewhere in heaven, Joan Clarke is looking down and marveling that Kiera Knightly is playing her. If they make a movie about me, I'd say "I'll settle for Kiera Knightly"- especially since someone FINALLY broke her of that annoying pout she'd make to show emotion.  It is a very touching film. You'd have to be a tad cold in spots of your heart not to shed just ONE tear at the end. Not because Turing was gay- but because it really must be a special hell to be brilliant. I'll never know.
Anyway, the movie can be slow in spots. It is the last half hour that really is best. And the other moral question about who lives and dies, well, it is a sad dilemma indeed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Anyone of a certain age may remember the way things unfolded for John E DuPont in 1996. I thought everyone knew, because it was such a big story- but it was clear that at the end of Foxcatcher, the audience was surprised. So I won't ruin it here, and it is up to you to ruin it for yourself looking it up.
You can also check online for the accuracies and inaccuracies if you want, but in general, except for a few things (like 7 years of time missing), it is more accurate than most Hollywood "based on a true story" films are.
At first, Steve Carell looks just odd. Why would they try so hard to make him look like John DuPont if most people have no idea anyway? It's not like Carell didn't all ready HAVE a big nose. Oh well. I found it a distraction to make his face look so odd. A haircut and some dye would have been okay by me.  He might win some awards, but if you are aware of how really crazy John DuPont was for YEARS, you don't get the aura of insanity off of Carell that you should. You know he's weird, and that he is strange and a little crazy, but not schizophrenic and unpredictable.  He should have channeled more of that. Even without it, the audience knows something is terribly wrong with the guy.
Then there is Channing Tatum playing an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler. He is really amazing. This is a highly physical role, and he really makes it believable. Unfortunately, though his character graduated from college, he is played as if he were an idiot meathead. It is hard to believe even OU would give a degree to someone who was that much of a dolt.  That's not Tatum's fault. The director made it that way.
But the big surprise here is Mark Ruffalo. He plays the Olympic gold medal in wrestling brother of Channing Tatum. At first it is natural to go " oh no, it's Mark Ruffalo being Mark Ruffalo acting like Mark Ruffalo does again". And yep, for a short time, that's true. But then he morphs into the star of it. He comes into the movie late, and he changes everything.
Why? Well, because this movie starts out as a snoozer- no kidding- if it went any slower you'd be watching backwards. And it goes on that way for over an hour.  I have no idea why. Maybe if they'd spent a little time with some action showing how damn crazy DuPont was, there'd have been some action. If you see it, you'll know what I mean.
I'm not going to give it 3 stars because the script was really not that good. I'll give the actors 3.5 stars. But the movie itself gets a 2.5.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Hunger Games-Mockingjay part 1

I liked this one the best. I find Jennifer Lawrence to have such a bland and uninteresting face that she really has to act her heart out to get her emotions expressed. There is a sort of Hollywood love affair with these boring faced actresses.  Sometimes Lawrence succeeds, and some times she doesn't. This time, she makes it happen. This is, of course, the set up for the final movie in which there will be some sort of victory for the team that we have been set up to root for. There's a lot of action in it but it is more grand scale than an arrow to the chest. It is long and loud. Don't go if you are sleepy because it does drag in a few spots. Over all, I'd say if you've already seen the first parts, then go see this. If you haven't, well...better catch up before you go or skip it.

Monday, November 3, 2014


This is kind of a sado-masochistic version of jazz band. It's supposed to be the best music college in the United States, with the best jazz band. It is basically about a frustrated and miserably angry jazz teacher (played by the guy who played Juno's father- J K Simmons) and the drummer he promotes up to the elite jazz band (played by Miles Teller).  The student is bullied and brutalized until the predictable ending occurs. It is pretty good- evidently 97% of the critics thought it was just great. I won't go that far because there is SO MUCH implausible behavior in this. Great music schools don't keep teachers who think they have the right to push students to the edge. Music school is not basic training. I hate movies that glorify the image of music and dance teachers as so ineffective at managing students that they have to scream at them. If you don't have a stomach for watching someone bully a kid, then simply don't go see it. I think it is an all right movie- and kind of nerve wracking to watch. It is not something I would care to see again because I felt a little traumatized by it.  But it is still better than August Osage County's yelling. It is definitely up to you. The musicians in this are excellent- and the music is really good. And I don't even like jazz!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

St Vincent

Bill Murray pulls out all of his tricks but leaves his smarm behind in St Vincent. If he was hoping for recognition from the Academy for the role of his life, this might be it. Murray has a tendency to be smug and trite in a lot of his acting. He has it in his comedy, too. But this time, his quirks are suppressed and tempered by the excellence of his young co-star, a rather serious but game little boy played by Jaeden Lieberher. Some actors should never act with kids, and probably Bill Murray is one of them. But since Murray seems to understand that this is a great child actor and trying to out act the kid would NOT be a good idea, it seems to work.  Of course, you know how it will turn out because it is as formulaic as it can get. After the first 10 minutes, you could write the story- but not the script. The script is funny is just the right places. And it is a tear jerker near the end for all the right reasons. Never mind how this would have played out in real life- you don't go to movies to see real life. (You go to see documentaries and then feel depressed about things that will never affect you).  I highly recommend this movie despite the predictability. You'll get a nice touch of Melissa McCarthy as the sad mom and a very entertaining Naomi Watts as a Russian "lady of the night".   I do think it is worth 3 stars.  And after it, go rent Millions- that's an even better  movie.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Brad Pitt is the rugged tank commander who heads into the heart of Germany in the final months of the war with his rag tag team of survivors a tank named Fury,  and a newby 19 year old recruit who was only trained to type 60 words per minute in training. The movie is about the intricacies of the camaraderie of war when people who are unalike until they are forced to change into soldiers. It runs long, but is never boring. Because it is war, it is violent. And every time you are having a moment of relief, the war picks up and savages every one again. Men have fought wars since the dawn of man. Suddenly, we live in an era where many Americans think of war as unnecessary- which will never happen as long as there are humans who can convince others to follow their malevolent schemes. But in the meantime, I wonder how the men in the theater felt about what they were seeing. It isn't as if WWII was that long ago. I am one generation away from it. It is hard to believe that humans can destroy one another as persistently as they do- but they do. I am not sorry I saw it, but it is not for the people who don't think about what they see. I congratulate Brad Pitt for doing a WWII movie that feels more real than Saving Private Ryan did. And I look forward to his wife's efforts with Unbroken. I hope people feel the horrors the Japanese perpetrated on other humans. They deserved what they got. It is a somber reminder of the cost of war.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gone Girl

I once had some great advise from a creative writing teacher. He said "when you write your story, make sure you can see it on the movie screen". That was the feeling I got the whole time I was reading Gone Girl (2 years ago thus making this movie an almost record breaking novel to movie release).  The book is a page turner. In it, I grew to dislike both characters. I never pictured Ben Affleck as Nick in my mind. Too smarmy, too smug, too arrogant, too boring to watch- it is all over his natural physiognomy. And yet, Affleck makes it work. Somehow, he almost makes me like him. His wife, Amy, is played by the very lovely and believable Rosamund Pike (Bond girl, Jack Reacher girl) who, at 37, looks all of 24. She is absolutely crazy in this movie, and despite her pretty but also bland face, she manages to use her crazy eyes to convince us of her insanity. She is very believable. I think that Neil Patrick Harris is woefully miscast as Desi. He just isn't weird and creepy enough. The best role is that of flamboyant lawyer, Tanner Bolt, played by a wonderful Tyler Perry. I hope he gets a best supporting nomination. He is great and made for the role. Why do we get so entertained by flamboyant lawyers?? If you've read the book, and really you should, then you will know everything that happens. The deviations from the plot are so minor (especially if you read the book 2 years ago )you won't even notice them. It is a long movie, violating every rule of the flickerchick's movie guide, but it is worth it. Go see it. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Skeleton Twins

In a predictable story, with the plot twists telegraphed well ahead of time. Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader take a huge step into dramatic storyland. Most of the cast are highly recognizable as recycle television actors, be it on cable shows or standard network. But I have to say that the real story for me was the relationship between fraternal twins who grow up with a quirky, depressed father and the worst kind of mother- naracissistic new agey and irresponsible. The twins have a sort of contrived past split over an incident involving Hader's character as a teen ager. It is now 10 years later, and Hader's and Wiig's potential suicides bring them back into one another's lives. Luke Wilson reappears on film as Wiig's enthusiastic and kind husband.  Flashbacks let the audience see the tender past the twins shared in their own little word of imagination and invention where they escaped their reality. Hader is gay, and Wiig is nurturing, so the twins are close.  That is as much as I can say, but I did like this movie. I didn't focus on the contrivances and predictability; I focused on the relationships and the toll that miserable parenting takes on innocent and vulnerable children. Some kids do okay, but most don't.  I thought that it was handled rather touchingly. Without the flashbacks, it might have been a really bad movie that's been done on Lifetime TV before. But I really felt for these two. There is a really cute musical number which just screams SNL skit. But hey, those two are such talented comedians that it would have been a shame not to showcase just a little of that. But for the future, if they want to do more serious roles, they'll have to drop the schtick.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Drop

This will always be known at James Gandolfini's final movie. And that's okay but it sort of slights the great performances of the rest of the cast. If I hadn't known he was near death in this, I would have assumed it. Sadly, he is bloated, hugely overweight in that dangerous belly area, and though his performance seems somewhat nuanced, it just isn't full of the mental energy you see in the rest of his acting. His eyes are weary- and it isn't the character. It reminds me of the woman who asked Robin Williams if he was okay a couple of months before he died and he  sat down and said "I feel so fucking old and tired". And that is how you feel looking at Gandolfini- he looks weary.
The best performance in this is by Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski, a seemingly slow witted bartender who seems more like a survivalist than a thug. Noomi Rapace (remember her from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc) plays his sort of girlfriend. Gandolfini plays the boss of the bar.  It is a sort of gangster movie, with the cruelty and lack of respect for life, but the real story is that of Saginowski.
This is a dark and seedy feeling film. But it is very worth seeing- you really don't know where it will all end up. And the little pit bull puppy that starts the action is really cute.
I think it is a good movie to see when you aren't trying to have some sort of Pollyanna day of happiness.  And certainly, seeing Gandolfini for the last time would make it all worth it anyway.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Hunderd-Foot Journey

Here's a quick quiz- how many films about people's relationship with food have you seen? Don't forget Supersize Me, because that would count. Tick...tock...still counting? Well, here's another one to add to your list. An Indian family has their van break down in a charming French Village that just happens to have a 1 star Michelin rated French restaurant. They open an Indian restaurant 100 feet away, across the street. A widow runs the French place, a widower runs the Indian place.(ohhhh, wonder what happens there?)  Turmoil ensues. Young Indian son is  a great chef, he meets the aspiring young woman French chef, etc and on and on until the very predicable but sweet ending happens for everyone.  There you have it. A whole bunch of clichés are here. Don't do a drinking game based on them unless you have a designated driver. What carries the film is the cast of charming actors. I'll give it 3 stars because it was really relaxing. I love all things Indian in most movies, but I am not a big fan of Indian food. Maybe someone who is would have given it a higher rating because food does feel like home, and if you read my review of Chef, you'll see that home is New Orleans for me, not Mumbai.

The Giver

If you go to see a movie based on a young adult (YA) novel, you'll get a movie that is suitable for 14 year olds, as well as people who want to go to a movie that is entertaining in a really light and simple way. I have to say that YA novels are really fun to read. A lot of them have a very interesting take on the world or the future, and they are fast reads.  The movie is pretty simple- it is the future, and in the future we are all treated the same, raised by surrogates and brainwashed so that there is no discord or even love felt. Medications are dispensed every day. One child is born with the mark on his wrist that means he is going to be trained to be the next Giver. The giver is the person will all of the old knowledge of love, war, history, etc.  You can figure out how it ends if you think for more than 10 seconds about it. But it is nicely done, well acted, and you get what you went to see-a young adult type movie with all the simplicity that entails. If you have a 10-14 year old, you have a movie that will make them feel very grown up when they really aren't.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The One I Love

In one line of the film, the Twilight Zone is referenced. Good idea - just stay in that mindset. This is a soft, elegant comedy about people who don't really get along anymore but don't know what to do. They go to a marriage therapist and try. But because the trust is gone, the going is rough. I say it is a comedy because I laughed more during this than I do at most SNL skits. But it is also a film with a very interesting and sci-fi sort of premise- and to explain it would ruin it for you. It is very well written- though the premise is, for the curmudgeons, ludicrous, it is also inventive and fun to watch unfold. It was nothing like what we thought it would be, and we almost didn't go- I am so glad I didn't miss it. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Mark Duplass (you've probably never seen him) play all 4 of the characters. The setting is beautiful. Special thanks were given to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen- it could have been their house for all I know. We went to dinner after and talked about the logistics of the premise for quite a while. They could have done more to help explain it- it is explained in 20 seconds of dialogue near the end. But oh well- it was very nicely acted and very well written, and that is enough sometimes.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Though this violates the "say it in under 2 hours or get a new editor" rule, it still keeps you in your seat and entertained for a full 2 hours and 45 minutes. You heard me. But since it uses the same actors over a 12 year period, if you get bored, you can simply spend some time looking for all the physical differences in the actors that occured over the 12 year span. Richard Linklater used the 6 year old Ellar Coltrane in the lead, and used him for 12 years.  He used Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, too. The story is gentle. Despite some marital violence, some divorces and a little bullying here and there, there are no horrible moments or surprises. It's just the way the story goes with Ellar Coltrane in the lead. There are moments we all could identify with. And, there are moments were are grateful we never had. Unlike a lot of movies, I think this one will translate well to the on demand feature on your cable. You don't need to rush out and see it despite the glowing reviews. In fact, because of its length, it might best be viewed in 2 or even 3 sittings.  Sitting through the credits we saw the name of one of my daughter's former classmates as "band member #3".  Ethan Hawke does a great job as a father who had disappeared for a year but comes back to be in his children's lives. We hate him for being such a ne'er do well, but then we grow to like him because he truly loves his kids and tries. In many ways, though he is the one who seems least dependable, he is the one who is the refuge his kids can depend upon. Patricia Arquette plays a mother who has to be beaten to discover she has a huge problem with liking jackass alcoholics who try to be authoritarians with the kids. She lets them. Her peacemaking almost gets her killed. It takes her years to wise up. The kids in this are so likable. It leaves you with some thinking to do.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

 What a slam bang 3D sci-fi movie! Lots of action, some really funny lines, a silly (of course) premise, a talking raccoon, a tree with a limited vocabulary, a few alien women with attitudes and Chris Pratt (not to be confused with Chris Pine).  They take on bad guys, and it all revolves around an orb with some magic powers- which really is just a device to move things along.  It's been a long time since the first Star Wars, and boy, the special effects are non-stop and really fantastic. I can see how it has made so much money. Don't sit too close- I think that is part of the trick. Our 3D glasses made the movie so dark that in some scenes, I had to take mine off. If you watch Halt and Catch Fire on AMC, you will enjoy seeing Lee Pace in the role of Ronan the Accuser. Even if you don't recognize him, you'll recognize his voice. If you like sci-fi action movies with plenty of shooting and some sly jokes, you'll like it. I am giving it 3 stars because I think it was a lot of fun. I took a star off for it being so dark that it was hard to see the action.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Get On Up

Ahhhhh, I feel good, nanananananana...etc. Not bad. Not bad at all. Chadwick Boseman (42, Draft Day) plays James Brown in the biopic , which, for once, is close enough to the true story to be worth seeing. Boseman does a fabulous job following in the huge footsteps of Gretchen Mol in Bettie Page,  Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash,  Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, and Will Smith as Mohammed Ali.  Boseman sings the songs and dances the dance, and he is phenomenal. I think that it is of note that Nelsan Ellis (everybody's favorite Lafayette on True Blood) is fantastic as Byrd, Brown's sort of whipping boy who was a performer in his own right but was sabotaged in real life by Brown just to keep Byrd in the background. Only once or twice did I think "Hey there's Lafayette", which means he was doing a great job. I would not be surprised to see Ellis nominated for Best Supporting Actor- he highly deserves it.  Yet again, the white man is evil- and the film tries at least to compensate for it by painting an overly sentimentalized version of Brown's manager, Ben Bart- played by Dan Ackroyd. By the time Bart died, Brown and Bart weren't on the best of terms, even  though Bart was certainly a father to Brown in many ways.  Knowing the horrors of Brown's childhood and adolescence, it is reasonable to assume that we are lucky he was only a quasi-violent, wife beating entertainer as opposed to a mass murderer. There is almost no way a person could have that sort of beginning and not pay for it the rest of his life. But James Brown tried- and in many ways, he succeeded.  It certainly is a movie that leaves you wondering if James Brown would have been greater had he not had such a hard childhood, or would he have become nothing without it.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Okay, calm down. Regular readers know that I don't like ScarlettJ as an actress in anything. Usually it is because her boring face and boring attitude really put the brakes on a scene. But since the character of Lucy is usually in a trance like state of some sort (I can't think of what else to call it), or running and shooting,  this works just fine. Lucy is a science fiction film, and not in a logical or engrossing way. It has been described as "silly" by other reviewers. So, okay. It is silly if not downright ridiculous. SO an Asian mafia stitches some sort of hallucinogenic drug worth a lot of dough into the bellies of a few people, Lucy (not her real name) (but referring to Lucy the hominid) gets kicked in the stomach and her drug bag breaks thus releasing vast amounts of drug that can make it possible for her to use 100% of her brain and move objects, dodge bullets, and melt into a tangle of computer brains, or something.  Silly? or French? You decide. Luc Besson, the writer and director, did a fun movie in 2006 called "Tell No One". You have a choice, rent Tell No One or see Lucy. Hmmmm- which shall it be? btw, we use most of our brain. If we didn't, a head injury wouldn't bother us at all.

Dawn of Planet of the Apes

Wohoo! I'm a fan of the new Ape franchise. And this one is really remarkable. I think it could have been without sound and I still would have liked it. The special effects are just fantastic. We have grown used to special effects. I remember when 2001 was released, and we all gasped at the way it was done. Then Star Wars- we just didn't think it could get any better. But watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will just astonish you. The world is massively diminished in population (we aren't really clear how much because there is no electricity for communication) by simian flu. Of course, the simians didn't spread it- what could you be thinking?? Anyway, the apes have evolved a bit thanks to Caesar's educational skills. They can speak English (after a fashion). But obviously, they can't build worth a crap. They live in a Tarzan like ape slum. But hey, what do they need anyway? The humans enter the ape world to fix the dam so the water can flow to give them electricity.  etc. etc. In the end, it all points to a sequel, which is fine by me. If you don't like apes, do NOT go see it. And jeez louise, leave the little kids at home. 

Monday, July 14, 2014


Like idiots, we didn't pay attention to the 77% viewer tomatometer reading versus the 94% critic rating and we went and paid good money to see this in a theater rather than watching it on demand at home.  The first 30-45 minutes are so dark and so weird that I once looked over at my hubs and he mouthed the words "let's go".  Then it picked up a bit. But basically, it is an apocalyptic movie about an overtreatment of the planet to combat global warming, (oops), which put everyone into global freezing, killed everyone on the planet except for these violent ragamuffins and their cruel captors on a stupid train that goes around the world every year. It is not clever, not very imaginative, and one violent confrontation (complete with gooshy sounds and snaps) after another. I think it was awful. Just awful. Don't go see it. Wait until it is on cable and watch it for "free".

Edge of Tomorrow

This is late because blogger kept eating the original review. Sadly, it wouldn't even give me access to the draft of it and ate that, too. So here is a quick summary- it was really good and if you haven't seen it, and if it is still playing in your neighborhood, GO see it!

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Okay, I can see how some critics didn't like it- the story is not told with much tension, you can't take a kid under 9 or 10 to see it because it is intensely scary at times, and it relies 99% on the skill and charm of the "am I evil or am I not" performance of Angelina Jolie. BUT boy oh boy- Angelina Jolie is amazing. I have seldom thought of her as a serious actress- she seems to take the same kind of approach to everything she does. But here, she uses her voice (in several varying accents but who cares) so beautifully to express sorrow and anger and kindness. I was a tad annoyed at the overwhelmingly saccharine performance of Elle Fanning as Aurora. That was the director's fault. Restatement alert: I would not ever bring a small kid to this.
If anything, this needed a better editor since it drags in spots. But for me, it is the best thing Jolie has ever done. There is one problem- she used her own child to play the very young Aurora. Knowing that, it takes the audience totally out of the moment while they stare at Vivienne Jolie-Pitt. Jolie claims it was because she might scare a child who didn't know her. Well, whatever Angelina. The fairy world is lovely. So, do what you wish on this one. I can't give it more than 2 stars because a movie should be more than its megastar.


A talented but frustrated chef (Jon Favreau) quits his job and winds up getting a food truck that he drives back to LA, serving food all the way. In the process, he gets to know his son and reclaim his enthusiasm.  In one of the most unlikely pairings, his ex-wife is played by Sofia Vergara. His son, played by Emjay Anthony, is a charming kid who really does a great job of interacting with all the adults. It is a tremendously likeable movie.  The food is fantastic and the New Orleans bit really made me homesick.  It should have definitely been promoted more. I'm not sure why it wasn't. Go see it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cold in July

Meh. I've seen 5 movies in the past week- this one was on demand as well as in theaters.  Michael C Hall (Dexter) plays a homey type guy who awakens to an intruder in his home and he (somewhat) accidently shoots the guy in the head, ruining the wall and sofa. He is stunned, as is his wife, but it was obviously self-defense. Unfortunately for him, the person he shot has a father who just got out of Huntsville State Prison. The old guy seems set up to kill Hall, but at some point, Hall realized he is the one being set up in some bizarre way. It unfolds in a sort of interesting way. I found it totally unbelievable- it just doesn't seem right that Hall's character, Richard Dane, would leave his family to go search after a story that can only bring danger to his family and doesn't really involve him anyway. I never felt the tension of the story. Obviously, I'm the one with the problem since 75% of the 3000 people who have seen it like it. 91% of the tomato meter critics like it. And that is what I don't get. It's okay- but well, that's about it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

First of all, why did they name this after a Moody Blues album? (Much as I love that album). Oh well.
I've seen every one of the X-Men franchise movies. Every one. I liked them all. But I like this one the best. It moves from the present to the past rather seamlessly, and gives us a reminder of the younger crew. There is a lot of action- an epic battle or two, subterfuge, and a great deal of intense action and acting. I really liked it. I would have even seen it twice. Jennifer Lawrence finally found a way to act around her bland face and bland voice- she reprises the role of Mystique/Raven and gets to change into something interesting. Brava!  I think everyone should see this unless loud noises and creepy things bother you. I have the feeling there will be one more movie made. And I'll be there for that one, too.


When will Seth Rogan stop making movies that are ridiculously immature attempts at comedy? And by the way, this is a step back for the far more adult looking (yet still handsome) Zac Efron. Though I guess coming out of rehab means doing what you can until everyone forgets you might be a risk.  In the several scenes, you can see that Efron really did act his way through this, while Rogan mugs and goofs. Even Rose Byrne sort of embarrasses herself here as a breast feeding mother who goes to a frat house to flirt, get drunk and party. There are a few laughs- but mostly it is a curiously ugly movie about immature adults who don't really do a very good job as parents.  Now, on the other hand, the BABY in this (played by alternating twins) is so adorable that you wish they'd just filmed her for 2 hours. She is adorable.
Listen up, Seth Rogan- your younger "twin", Jonah Hill, has found a way to escape the trap in which you find yourself. Go talk to him, fire YOUR agent and get his, and stop taking these stupid roles.


Holy Mutant Amphibians! Godzilla is a spectacle. The story is pretty funny if you take it at face value, so just suspend your belief entirely. The story is also thin and kind of weak. But the special effects are awesome! I hear the Japanese think the American version of Godzilla is humiliatingly fat. I personally don't think so- but then I'm a little chubby myself and just don't notice it. Maybe he just has more radiation to eat now.  I don't know. If you are a fan of special effects and adventure- then go see it. If not, then don't, because that is mostly what it is. Some people have written some rather grandiose reviews of this- like "a story of human courage". Naw- I think Zero Dark Forty and Lone Survivor do that. This is more like saving the world one lizard creature at a time.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Million Dollar Arm

Jeez Louise- I love a lot of things about India. I like Indian movies, Indian food, Indian colors, Indian clothes, Indian décor (as in lots of lights and flowers), and how Indians (at least the ones in movies) keep their families close and give their children a sense of family integrity. I don't usually like "based on a true story" because I'd rather know the TRUE story. I don't like audiences carrying away ideas about something that is real, but they've been given a made-up version.
In order to save their fairly new sports agency, J B Bernstein (Jon Hamm) and his partner, Aash, convince a Japanese investor to fund a "Million Dollar Arm" pitching competition to recruit players from India with talent and get them into the MLB. Much of the actual story line is true. I searched in the ether for the part that wasn't and really got tired. So maybe this fake true movie is more true than fake.  I think this is a guy movie for the baseball dreams, and a girl movie for the lovely ways that Indians interact with their families. Despite poverty and massive overpopulation, they get along. I'm sure the movies only show the good side (except for Slumdog Millionaire which showed it all), but the good side of India is so good sometimes.  It is overly long; the romantic part (though true) is unnecessary and drags out a lot of it.  It is a good story. And it is worth seeing unless you have your heart set on Godzilla. Like me.


Nicolas Cage does a great job as Joe, an ex-con who runs a crew that takes down the scrub trees so that the logging company can plant healthy, saleable trees. He meets a hard scrabble, hard luck kid who wants to make money for his derelict father in order to help support his family. Joe respects the kid and takes him as a crew member. As the kid's family life story unfolds, Joe sees his chance to keep this angry kid from being like Joe.  This is an indie film- a film so bleak at first that I thought it would never get to the point, and I might as well leave. Some indie films do that- self indulgence. But once the action starts, it is a dark, violent and somehow great story.  I really enjoyed this. It was a very limited release last month, so you may have to watch it on Netflix. But if you like Nicholas Cage, and sometimes I do, this is one of his movies that is a must see. Just don't worry about missing a little of the beginning.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Draft Day

Going on here with the motto of "it is what it is"....Kevin Costner looking natural, a really botoxed or somethinged Jennifer Garner, the cast offs of a lot of HBO/SHO series, a pulled tight Ellen Burstyn, and Denis Leary looking a lot like your older PE teacher at a girls school, share the somewhat fast paced action in this sports film about football Draft Day for the NFL.  It takes a while to get going, but once it is all figured out, it is sort of fun.  There is not much meat to it- you won't walk out wondering how the world could produce such amazement and emotion. But it is what it is- a sort of guy movie about draft day negotiations with a teensy bit of romance, some dearly departed dad/adult son issues, a few mommy moments, and a lot of phone calls and BS.  I sat long enough and listened well enough to get pleasantly entertained by it. It's pretty easy to watch, and you'll feel okay that you saw it. If you like Kevin Costner- you'll like the movie.  So there is your info. If you bring your significant male other, they will love it, but they will say, at least twice, "what did Jennifer Garner do to her face? It is frozen." Yep. It sort of is. Maybe ladies, if you get bored, you can drink every time you notice someone who has had bad work done!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox is a subtitled Indian film that is touching and so heartfelt. The basic story involves a wife who makes a special lunch for her husband in order to get him to pay attention to her- the lunchbox delivery service (yes, they have those) brings it to the wrong man, a quiet and stern about-to-retire widower who is surprised at the bounty.  Trying to figure out why her husband doesn't mention it to her, she encloses a note in the box. And the lucky widower recipient replies. Thus begins a tentative but sweet exchange of her sadness and his grief, all over some Indian food delivered in a tin. The relationship deepens, and when the time comes to meet....well, I won't ruin it.  There is so much charm to this movie. I really believe it to be one of the best movies of this year and last. If you have a chance to see it, please go.   Perhaps you wonder why I would give it 4 stars- well, because it does everything a movie should do. And it does it well.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Words

What the hell? How can this movie even be allowed? Here ya go- if you don't feel uncomfortable to the point of queasy watching a trashy prostitute show a young boy her huge breasts, then I'm a little worried for you. There is a sad and woeful immaturity, meanness and mental illness to this movie. It isn't a comedy- you will know that because if you laugh, you'll feel awful that you did. I am sorry we paid money to see it. It is supposed to be funny when Bateman slips alcohol to the kid. Not a sip- an entire tumbler or two in a bar. If Bateman had done this with maybe a 15 year old, I could see some adolescent humor (or not) or edge to it. But this kid is a CHILD- in real life, he is now 9 years old.  What exactly is this movie trying to be? Bateman's character is SO unlikeable and so disgusting, that it is hard to excuse his behavior or feel sorry for his backstory. He's in a spelling bee that he technically qualifies for because he didn't finish the 8th grade. But the twist at the end is something you see coming from a mile away. He sabotages his competition with idiotic remarks and pranks.  I could even forgive that. I don't even care if the kid used a green screen and never saw the prostitute.  The entire theme of this movie is grossly immature- it is no adult/child buddy movie for certain. I assume you have now gotten my point. I'm just surprised there weren't police visiting the set. Ewwwww. If you read my reviews, you know I'm not some prude. So it's up to you, of course.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted

What is wrong with movie reviewers in general? They are snobs. Take this movie, for example. I've seen the Muppet movies- every last one. I'm relatively famous for yelling "light the lamp, not the rat, light the lamp, not the rat" for no reason whatsoever. I have  The Art of the Muppets poster framed and hanging in the hallway from the New Orleans exhibit loooong ago. And I can even cry when I think of Jim Henson.  In my mind, there is no really bad Muppet movie, and there is no point comparing the movies to one another.  Now, to break the point I just made, I liked THIS one the best. I laughed out loud, tapped my toe to the catchy music and very funny lyrics, and I especially loved the silly plot.  In fact, if "I'm Number One" isn't nominated for an Oscar, well, then I am boycotting. So what if it is predictable? That is, after all, a relatively stupid criticism for a movie starring a bunch of muppets. There are a few references to classic cinema, art, some Cold War references, etc. What's not to like? nay- I say LOVE about the muppets. So, if your heart is merely a lump of coal that must be squeezed like an accordion to feel joy, then don't see it. But if you love the muppets and musical numbers and silliness, this is your 3.5 star movie of the month. Screw the reviewers. (except for me)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is a time for honesty- I don't know how to review this so bear with me. It has great reviews everywhere- and I don't doubt those. I've seen every Wes Anderson movie. Maybe the fact that my previous favorite was The Fantastic Mr Fox, and that I hated the Life Aquatic,  might tell you something. I know people love Wes Anderson- to the point of fanaticism. I am not a fan of the "precious" or predictable and Anderson has been both to me. He lost his bonus points with me when he cast Gwyneth P in a movie. I'm that easily offended.  Yet, this time, he seems to have somewhat broken free and given us real substance. The GBH is an alpine confection of a hotel- the confection theme is continued in the featured fancy pastries that serve all sorts of purposes. In the darkest moments of the story, there are always the pastries. Ralph Fiennes is wonderful in this- just wonderful. He is the all-controlling concierge of the GBH, and he does it with a sweet whimsy, energy and a genuine comedic touch. His lobby boy is played by a newcomer you've never heard of- but he is the perfect side kick. Saoirse Ronin is charming, and Tilda Swinton- well, words fail.   There is a murder (well, a few), a stolen painting, many chase scenes, a prison break and other things. It's a good thing that it has such humor and such lovely sets, because you must stay wide eyed and  pay attention in this. There really aren't any tidy bows at the end. And for once, the quirky characters actually add to the plot rather than self-consciously announcing themselves as cast members in a Wes Anderson film.  If you do have a moment of boredom, just count the people in the cameo roles. It is unbelievable.  So what is the final judgment on this highly anticipated film? Aside from being a solid 15 minutes too long, it is really, really good. You will ache a little for the pink postcard of the brief time between wars in Europe, and you will feel the slow seeping of dread that begins to squeeze the color from life as brutality invades.  I think if you have not liked Anderson's movies in the past, this will be one you would like.  In a bit of irony- I had to look up the lesbian painting because I recognized it. It is a real painting (unlike the fake stolen one) and you might recognize it also. I'm just saving you the time- it is by Egon Schiele- an Austrian. So the real painting is a fake made for the movie, and the painting that takes its place is real. I'm done.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Wind Rises

This animated masterpiece (details to follow)  is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese airplane designer, whose passion for elegant design helped bring Japan to World War II. Hayao Miyazaki, a well known Japanese animation and manga creator who was also involved in Princess Mononoki and The Secret World of Arrietty.  It is lengthy- the 3:15 pm show (including previews) ran until 6:20 pm. At times, the story drags. But when the story drags, lean back and take time to marvel at the beautiful animation. In fact, there are moments where all you think is that each frame is the world's most wonderful coloring book; and then, other times, you see the characters against a backdrop that seems to be a beautiful watercolor.  I was mesmerized by the art.  It shows you that not all animation has to be 3D , or even detailed.  Also, I would advise you to see it in Japanese with subtitles. I think that dubbing is just awful- you as the viewer should know the intonation and cadence of the original language. Dubbing is a way for you to Americanize your own experience- but you should not. Who wants to hear a bunch of American actors screw it up? I can tell you that I didn't regret seeing it in Japanese for one second. This was a very good story. It is a Japanese writer/director's view of Japan's lead up and aggression in World War II, which you will struggle to understand. How a country that used oxen to transport test planes to the airstrips could get it into their heads to attack America. It cost us all dearly. I'd like to provide the usual list of exaggerations or omissions in the script, but I couldn't find a real biography of Jiro Horikoshi.  I'm sure there is one out there. If you are debating whether or not to see it, here is a gem- it was the highest grossing movie in Japan in 2013. It has a lot to recommend it. As long as it was, the children in the audience sat still the entire time. I don't know what the little ones who couldn't READ did, but the beauty of the film must have been enough for them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Lego Movie

Okay- let me get this off my chest first- the villain in this (Will Ferrell) is called President Business. Because God knows that in the film industry (industry being French for BUSINESS), business is always the bad guy. Rich, evil, beat down the workers, etc, Bad Guy. The irony should never be lost on the viewer that your kids are being manipulated by people who work in a HUGE businesses, are highly overpaid, and charge YOU gobs of dough to make those salaries possible. Not to mention that while you are sitting to watch this, everything around you (including the seat you are in) is made or made possible by businesses. The stupidity of these attitudes is something you should explain to your children.  Then tell them nothing stops them from having their OWN business one day.
Okay- now the review. At first, it is like watching subtitles- the action is sort of jerky, the characters look and move, well, like Legos (oh look, another BUSINESS rears its ugly head).  It is similar to the feeling you get while watching subtitles and suddenly your brain adapts, and you think you really did speak Italian (or Japanese, Chinese, etc). You do adjust and your brain starts believing these little animated bricks are real. Thank God. Because otherwise it would be quite the miserable experience. There is also a lot of adult humor, though Alex and I seemed to be the only ones who a) got it and b) laughed at it.    We thought it was fun. I realize I am 3 weeks late to this party because I just didn't think a Lego movie was worth the jillion dollars the evil businesses charge for 3D, but I pretty much think I got my money's worth.  I don't think seeing this on a small screen would be as good (if anyone actually HAS a small screen anymore- again those damn evil businesses building those big screen sets).  So try to catch it in 3D now.


The blogger monster ate my first Frozen post- so now we skip to the true short review. It has a great sountrack- witness the number of kiddo sing-a-long shows going on with that. It has a fun story. It has an ugly snowman. It is based on a very old fairy tale.  And who knew Kristen Bell could sing like that? The end. Go see it.


This subtitled film is headed up by Paulina Garcia, a Chilean actress, who could teach the plastic, middle aged American actresses a thing or two. In fact, she is really the main reason to see this. Paulina Garcia plays the title character, Gloria. Gloria is a middle aged woman whose nest is empty, whose ex-husband never fails to remind her why he's her ex, and who is very good at getting out and around through dance clubs.  There is a wonderful ordinariness to this as we watch Gloria meet the man (Rudolfo) that we believe will give her the relief to her loneliness. Turns out, Rudolfo cannot stop being the handmaiden to his former wife and daughters. In the end, Gloria faces her reality in a wonderful scene where her inner security settles into a calm on her face. This is an adult movie - and by that I mean that Gloria has a maturity and lack of neediness that is charming to see. She is truly a good woman who is just trying to stay busy and happy without being desperate. I really enjoyed this and I think it has not gotten enough press. If it is gone from your local theater, then be sure to catch it on DVD. It's worth it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Monuments Men

Remember how much I hated The American? Surely you remember. It stunk. Well, MOVE OVER The American- because this is one of the all time worst movies (with the best cast) ever made. Curiously, they even managed to use odd music in bits and pieces, and then only in parts, and totally inappropriately. The script had to have been written by 14 year old aspiring script writers. The film is so disjointed and so poorly paced that the audience cannot possibly be sure of where they are in time. Plot: (again, based on a true story) The amateur soldiers taken from the knowlegable art elite to rescue the art stolen by Hitler become suddenly seasoned soldiers who can use explosives, go into Nazi locations as the LEAD team, etc, etc. There are so many holes in this, so many poorly written scenes, so much jumping about that if I hadn't paid IPIC a small fortune to sit in my recliner, I'd have walked out. Jean Dujardin was lucky- he got to die in this. Shame on Clooney for producing this piece of crap from what could have been a really exciting and fun adventure to see. It plods, it disconnects, it isn't funny or witty or even interesting. That's quite a skill- to take a great story and kill it.  If you go see it, you've put money into the pockets of people who really don't care if they entertain you- and that should be a crime. If you go, please pay attention to the miserable score. Believe me, you will notice it because the film just isn't that interesting and you'll have to have SOMETHING to do. For once, Wikipedia is a better place to find out the information on the "story" they based this on:  Then save yourself the admission and time.

Lone Survivor

I was so afraid to see this movie- I avoided it until I realized that it is really a tribute to the incredible men who do the most dangerous missions with the most horrible cost if they are found. It's a true story of Navy Seals who went into Afghanistan in Operation Red Wings.  The title tells you the end, but it doesn't tell you the story. It is gritty and brutal and sad- their honor was their downfall. Because in America, we don't shoot children even if they can go find an adult who will shoot us. Not so much in Afghanistan. We teach our children with Sesame Street- they teach their children warfare.  It is much more involved than that. I was one of those people with tears streaming down my face- because these men are real. At the end of the movie, they show the families and lives left behind- personal pictures that bring their loss right into your heart.  I could stay composed through the battle scenes, but I couldn't keep it together seeing what these unbelievably heroic men did, and did for my safety and yours. I can't imagine the sense of loss. So, if you are up to it, definitely go see it. It is really remarkable and 99% of it is true to the event, unlike most movies now.  But bring about 5 tissues and some sun glasses.

August:Osage County

Oh Jeez. This has a huge cast- Streep, Roberts, MacGregor- even Margo Martindale. But it never loses the feeling of "watching a play". Lots of plays are made into movies and are given the sort of nuances that only a movie with close ups and lots of scenery can do. But this never, ever stops feeling like an overacted, overprojected play.  And it is so ANGRY. The looks are angry, the words are angry, the actions are angry. the family is angry. If you leave the theater feeling exhausted, well, you are only human.
On that note, I'd say rent it. I'm late with this review, so maybe you got lucky and missed it on the big screen. I was just so sad I was sitting there. We all know people who can dish out anger in person if you need a dose of it, call them- it'll save you a lot of money!

Friday, January 10, 2014


In this thought provoking, Spike Jonze written and directed film, you must realize that 20 years ago, this would have been a futuristic, surreal projection of the fate of humans with computers. But hey- fast forward 20 years, and we are maybe an INCH away from having adaptable operating systems that will change and grow and interact with humans in an intimate and complex way in order to provide amusement and companionship, knowledge sharing and support. The tour de force acting is on the shoulders of Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly.  He lives in a jillion dollar apartment in the Beverly Wilshire that is not a nest by any stretch. He spends his days as a writer for while wearing nerd chic clothing that is not good looking at all. He composes touching and memorable letters and sends them on behalf of total strangers to other strangers. But he KNOWS these people- some have used him for years. He observes people. He wonders about them. But his pending divorce and loneliness lead him to an OS named Samantha. She's new. She's a handy pocket pal full of enthusiasm, flattery and ideas. So they explore together- the beach, carnivals,  phone sex, surrogate sex and no sex. She gets to grow with him. And they call it love. But the problem is that Samantha is not just a static OS, she is also a growing and evolving OS with an eye to being in the bigger network. Others in the world are also lost in cyber world for their relationships. In most previous movies, the computers are devious and destructive with motives to take over the world- but here, they grow wise and wind up as good. So you can relax. Nothing is going to come pop out of the ground and zap heads off. It is a rather gentle movie that relies almost solely on the ability of Phoenix to convince us that it is NOT weird to have a girlfriend in an OS device. Or that others will accept an OS as a dinner companion or date. There is much deeper meaning in this movie that you can sort out for yourself. We're almost at that point technologically, so you might as well go see it now. In fact, of all the movies this winter, this is the winner.


Apologies to the flickerchick fans, far and wide. I had a little surgery on my HEAD last week, and it made me forget I'd even SEEN Nebraska.  Then a tv commercial today made me sit up and say "what the hell? I didn't review it and I'm sure I saw it!" So here you go. It's all coming back to me.
This is a great movie- everything about it is worth seeing. Bruce Dern plays an old guy who is convinced he's won the equivalent of the publisher's clearing house scam. He is determined to pick up his prize in Nebraska. His beleaguered son, played by Will Forte, just finally gives up and piles the old dude into the car and takes off. Forte does a touching job of putting up with the misery that old age has brought to his dad, and to the rest of the family by default. The scenery feels as bleak as the situation. But somehow, as usual, Alexander Payne makes a movie that draws the viewer in. There is some humor, but it is tempered by the desperation of small towns that have faded from their hope and glory days.
I really think this was a breath of fresh air. Payne is such a great story teller. I hope you go see it. There is so much more here than in a lot of the other current releases.
Apologies again for not reviewing it sooner.