Monday, December 15, 2014

Thinking of catching a movie? Here's some tips:

After Earth ** (2013) Jaden Smith
Yet another supposed sci-fi film that takes a setting rich with possibilities and important potential ideas and turns it into a pointless 90-minute chase sequence. As weirdly non-dimensional as every other Shyamalan offering whose trailers keep sucking me in.

American Hustle ***
(2013) Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Another revered true-ish film concerning sleazy American heroes whom you have to love because they’re even more maliciously greedy than you. Enjoy, and then take a shower.

Brothers **** 
(2009) Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire
Wasn't a priority to catch this film but I'm glad I did. Not as predictable as I'd guessed it would be and more thought-provoking. And certainly no shortage of tension.

The Cove **** (2009 Documentary) Ric O'Barry
If you're ever inclined to visit Marine Land or their ilk, or to swim with dolphins, it would be morbidly irresponsible not to watch this film first. Heart-wrenching evidence and expert testimony rings trustworthy coming from renowned trainer (Flipper TV series) O'Barry, given the humility he demonstrates.

Ender’s Game ***
(2013) Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
Visually competent imaging of the excellent book by Orson Scott Card. Never misses any of Card’s themes or insights because it never makes any attempt to start with. Utterly shallow.

The Equalizer ** (2014) Denzel Washington
Yet another recent film in which the so-called hero is an unredeeming ass hole. Does the average moviegoer see it that way? Do the filmmakers see it that way? Do the filmmakers give moviegoers enough credit to expect them to see it that way? The answers are not likely to speak well of our society.

The Fugitive ** (1993) Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones
The director had to have been half asleep for this whole project. The writing and acting were each every bit as dull as the first time I saw it (without respect to chronology) when it was called U.S. Marshalls (1998, Wesley Snipes, Tommy Lee Jones) Some of the cutest gentlest fight scenes you'll ever laugh at.

In the Valley of Elah ****
(2007) Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron
Jones takes on the role of a smart-ass know-it-all (go figure...) in a pretty well-crafted tale that has some guts in its exploration of the American military. Nice work with themes.

Noah *** (2014) Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly
Interesting take on an old story, now with 40% more monsters and the unlikeliest Popsicle stick handicraft ever, though certainly not as interesting as Timothy Findley's novel Not Wanted On the Voyage.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower ***** 
(2012) Logan Lerman, Emma Watson
That I'm very much not a Logan Lerman fan but still had to give it 5 stars, says a lot for it, I suppose. 80's high school film, in retrospect, that hits home in so many ways that the John Hughes films of the day, did not. It mirrors so many facets of my own experience so intimately that I can't surmise on the viewing experience of one outside my generation, or who had a distinctly different high school experience.

Requiem for a Dream ***
(2000) Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto
If you think you might be problematically over-happy, this film might just be the cure. Dark, darker, darkest. Beats any Just-Say-No campaign by a country mile. Dynamite performance by Burstyn.

Trapped * (2002) Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon
Film actors are contractually obliged to try to portray ridiculously half-conceived characters and can’t get out of it. The result is ugly.

The Wolf on Wall Street ** (2013) Leonardo DiCaprio
Yet another revered true-ish film that concerns a sleazy American hero whom you have to love because he’s even more maliciously greedy than you. Sound familiar? Enjoy if you can (I couldn’t), and then take a shower.

The Zero Theorem **** (2013) Christoph Waltz
Another clever Terry Gilliam film with his unique hyperbolic style all over it. This one is less frenetic on the surface than others (though constantly amusing) but it's much deeper in terms of its messages and ideas.

12 Years a Slave **** (2013) Chiwetal Ejiofor
Great acting and very well-crafted, provocative telling of a true and compelling story; one that prompts us to face the monster in us and wonder how far we’ve really come. Almost five stars.

3 Idiots * (2009) Aamir Kahn
I can only presume that the title refers to it's writer, director and whoever the former's bud was who first read the script and said, "Yeah dude, this would make a totally awesome movie." The flick has garnered over 13 million likes on facebook presumably due to some cosmic malfunction in the space-time continuum or else some elaborate practical joke.

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