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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Guard

Remember "In Bruges" ? Well here's the incorrigable Brendan Gleeson again. This time he plays "Sgt. Gerry Boyle," small town very Irish cop, paired with Don Cheadle, playing an FBI agent. This unlikely "team" is dealing with 1/2 billion dollars worth of drugs being loaded onto a ship, a missing, presumed dead young policeman, three evil drug traffickers, police corruption, charming prostitues, and Boyle's surprisingly sweet relationship with his dying mother in the mix.  In the sold-out theater I was in today, the audience laughed almost non-stop and I did my share (when I could understand the Irish accents).  As the FBI agent remarks to Boyle, "You're either very stupid, or very smart."  John Michael McDonagh both wrote and directed this quirky, fun, fast moving film.


Kevin James loves the animals in his care, and when they break their "code of silence" in order to help him win the girl he wants to marry, you get wonderful actors voicing the lions, the bears, the giraffe, etc. etc.  I don't know what's the matter with the critics who mostly gave "The Zookeeper" very low marks, whereas I found it entertaining and quite enjoyable.  OK, it's not a great, Oscar contender, but other than a few lame lapses, overall, it was fun and the dialogue was quite clever.  I especially loved the Orangatang  ("Big Gorilla" would have been easier to spell) who has been mistreated by another zookeeper, but is finally won over by Kevin James and they become "best friends." If you are unsophisticated enough to simply appreciate talking animals, and the power of kindness, this is worth seeing. Directed by Frank Coraci.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Captaiin America

Based on the Marvel Comic Book hero, "Captain America," the movie does a good job of capturing the appropriate look and presentation for those who are comic book fans. Depending upon your age and gender, you may find it great fun and enjoyable, or not. The story takes place during World War II, when patriotic flag waving themes were all the rage. If you're old enough to recall the Charles Atlas ads on the back page of many comic books promising that a 95 pound weakling (the kid who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach, and gets beaten up regularly by every bully in the neighborhood) can become a "muscle man," then you'll appreciate how our hero in this film, through a break-through scientific experiment, turns into the symbol of American's fighting spirit, and finally a "real" Army hero.  Chorus lines of beautiful dancing  girls in skimpy red-white and blue outfits  surround the costumed "Captain America."  But his real ambition is to get into the war, and fight for his country. And so he does.  The good guys are really good, and the bad guys are really evil, think Nazis. (Please rate it yourself. Here's why:  I've realized that my ratings are affected by the state of my digestion, level of fatique, and whether I see a film alone, or with other people, or for a second time.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Second Viewing

Seeing "Another Earth" for the second time (went with friends who hadn't seen it yet), gave me a much less enthusiastic opinion from my previous review!  I realized that despite some clever places, most of the suspense was created by almost continuous eerie background music, and weird, off kilter camera angles.  Yes, the acting was great, but all in all, I felt I'd been bamboozled (fooled or cheated) the first time I saw it.  So,  this time, I'm giving it just TWO STARS.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Trip

(FYI:  Though I'm posting two reviews today, I did not see both films the same day! - just haven't had time till now.)    Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are well known British comedians.  This film is a compilation of BBC Miniseries (Directed by Michael Winterbottom)  of their hilarious (at least I thought so!) attempts to out-do each other with impersonations - notably Michael Caine and Sean Connery (and 007's enemies.)  The two marvelous masters of improv set off together, in this story, to gather material that Steve needs to write an article for the Obsever describing the culinary arts of obscure, but really fancy, expensive restaurants in Northern England.  The story says that because Steve's girlfriend couldn't join him, he asked Rob to go on "The Trip."  And it is, indeed, a trip and a half!   I laughed a lot.
 If you like this "Dinner With Andre" (on acid) type of "conversation," you will too!FOUR STARS

Another Earth

Brit Marling, the star, shares writing and producing credits with the director, Mike Cahill (with five other producers involved), all to create a marvelous suspenseful, unexpected story. Brit and William Mapother, who plays "John Burroughs," a composer,  are both excellent.  Best to see this film without any expectations, and enjoy the surprises that it offers!  FOUR STARS 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

All the great things you've heard about this film are true!  I wish I had read the books more recently, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie a  lot.  I don't understand why they needed to show it in 3D -- fortunately I saw it in the regular 2D format, and it was definitely exciting enough! All the young actors who have been with the series since the beginning have matured and honed their acting skills beautifully.  Of course, Daniel Craig has already gone on to further his career -on stage as well.  Sorry this will be the last of the inspired stories of wizardry and the Hogwarts (is it s or z?) school that we poor deprived muggles will be able to see.  Thank you, J.D. Rowlings, for a great ride!  FOUR STARS

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Directed, or I should say "mis-directed" by Gil Cates Jr. who shared writing dis-credits with Kent Sublette, the film was my unlucky choice! Despite interesting previews (which included one scene that wasn't even in the final cut), other than Jeffrey Tambor (playing the police inspector) and Ann-Margaret (as the Mother of "Ben," played by Colin Hanks, nobody else was outstanding. Ari Graynor does seem believable as the girl "Lucy" who marries "Ben" for his money, after he wins the Lottery.  (And she eventually goes off the deep end also.) Slight problem is that "Ben" has killed several women.  A bizarre premise without any real foundation, peopled with obviously deranged characters (including Ann-Margaret as "mama" who seems, at best,  rather strange). I went primarily to see Tom Hanks son.  Perhaps in a better story, he might fare better.  I felt cheated.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Several years ago I read the book on which this disappointing (to say the least) film was based.  The book was wonderful.  I disliked the movie intensely!  However,  I saw it with a friend, who had not read the book, and she liked the movie a lot!   The plot revolves around the friendship established between two very young girls who are ceremoniously made "lautong" or "soul sisters." This relationship is is permanent one, supposed to continue through generations. In the film, which jumps around from the 19th Century to contemporary times (including two different years -- just to add to the confusion) and shows Snow Flower and Lily, the protagonists, as children (the only good part of the film) and as adults. (The movie script, unfortunately added a lot of the contemporary scenes that were not in the book.)  There are long, lingering, sorrowful looks the camera seemed to love.  I did not. Over the top sentimental melodramaSoap opera stuffboring!!  Directed by Wayne Wang.

Horrible Bosses

The dialogue is not just vulgar; it is vile! The premise is clever, the acting by most of the leads is excellent, especially Kevin Spacey who plays one of the three obnoxious "Bosses." Jennifer Aniston's behaviour as the sex predator dentist boss is beyond disgusting. The three victims' desire to kill their bosses is understandableHorrible film!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Page One

Not to be confused with the 1928 Broadway comedy, "Front Page," written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur  (later made into a 1931 film starring Pat O'Brien and Adolph Menjou, plus another version with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau), "Page One: AYear Inside the New York Times" is a fascinating documentary with exceptiionally revealing interviews with David Carr, Brian Stelter and Tim Arango among others. Directed by Andrew Rossi, "Page One" covers the inside world of reporting, editing, and the print Jouralism vs all the modern day devices that the Internet has spawned. It includes an interesting segment about the whole WikiLeaks situation - including  interviews with its founder.  It is, of course concerned about the possible demise of Newspapers from the financial crises they have been suffering, due to lack of Advertising revenues, as well as the competition presented by all the electronic sources for 'news.'  - I really appreciated this movie.  I  am still firmly attached to the Los Angeles Times delivered daily to  my front door, and books in hard copy  (despite my Kindle).   "Page One" gave me a greater understanding  of the complexity of what it takes to put together a first class Newspaper like the New York Times.  I heartily recommend it. FOUR STARS

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Monte Carlo

This one took me by surprise.  The trailer looked promising:  three teenage girls are on vacation in France, and one of them is a dead ringer for an extremely rich and famous spoiled and obnoxious heiress.  If you are a 12 years old girl, or a very young teen, you probably would like this film.  Otherwise, avoid it!   Cliche situations. Over the top caricatures of mishaps that can happen when you travel).  Unlikely romantic meetings. Dashing, handsome young men ( one from Australia). The nice sincere boy friend from Texas who follows "Emma," his one true love to reclaim her. OMG -- The usual OK photography of well known Paris sights.  A totally wacky tour bus leader goes at an absurd breakneck pace, not allowing anyone to really see anything.  Katie Cassidy plays "Emma." Leighton Meister plays "Meg." and Selena Gomez gets the role of both "Grace" from America, and the wealthy, spoiled"Cordelia." Oh, and another plot conceit is the eventual bonding of "Meg" and "Grace" who have recently become step-sisters.  The  "accidental" impersonation by "Grace" of "Cordelia" enables the three girls to live in luxury for a few days. Directed by Thomas Bezucha.  I'm too old to give this film a twinkle, much less a STAR: 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


It was a very hot day in Los Angeles, so sitting in a nearby air-conditioned theater (not a multi-plex) on the Fourth of July seemed likd a good idea, even though "Submarine" sounded like a film I would not particularly like.  --- And I was right.  It was mostly slow moving, artsy, and therefore, boring. Welsh accents didn't help the too many minutes spent in the occasionally whimsical fantasies of a fifteen year old boy, named Oliver Tate, played by Craig Roberts, who narrates this supposedly 'biopic' of his life.  His acting as well as that of Paddy Considine, who plays a New Agey lecturer and TV personality was fine.  Directed by Richard Ayoade (GOK what he had in mind), I reluctantly give "Submarine" (title does not relate to the film at all) ONE STAR for the acting.  (Well, at least the A/C was working.) Sigh.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rejoice and Shout!

The history of Gospel music, narrated by several famous names in the genre, especially Smokey Robinson, was truly wonderful!  Interesting, informative, and entertaining, with lots of clips of former performers and performances.  I especially loved the groups with their expert a capella harmonies!   If you like Gospel music, you will love this film, as I did.  I must admit, however, that by the end, the "Shout" aspect got to be a bit much -- but not enough to detract from the overall excellence of this documentary. I was tapping my foot through a lot of it!  FOUR STARS

Larry Crowne

The main flaws in this film are the fact that Julia Roberts (playing an unhappy boozy college teacher) dialogue with her writer husband are so annoyingly boring and repetitious. And to think that Tom Hanks (always delightful to watch) co-wrote the script with Mia Vardolos (sorry about my spelling), and Directed!  Overall, however, I enjoyed the movie - especially once Roberts gets sobered/cleaned up, and Hanks joins a motorcycle gang he meets when he goes back to school (after being downsized from his managerial position at a large box factory, because he didn't go to college.  (And therefore cannot be promoted up the Corporate ladder.) The leader of the motorcycle gang is a really, really handsome dude ( who could/should be given a starring role in something soon!) and there's an appealing pretty girl in the group also.   Anyway, I know the critics panned this, but I had a good time, and that's all that matters to me!  So,  THREE STARS!