LATEST: (rating system comprised of stinks/sinks/floats/flies)
Ghost Rider (2007)
October 8, 2011
Ridiculous graphic novel nonsense about a biker indentured to the devil who turns on his employer. So over the top, Evel Knievel couldn’t stick a landing. But who doesn’t want to see Nicolas Cage burst into flames? There are times I think old Nic wants to see himself self-immolate. This is a vehicle where Cage can come in, chew up the scenery and leave with some pieces stuck between his teeth. Hang in through the ending credits for a rockin’ electro-pump version of the title song. Eva Mendes looks great and Sam Elliot (no surprise) sounds great. FLOATS
FROM HERE ON, ALPHABETICAL:
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
(June 28, 2011)
This is another movie based on a story by Philip K. Dick. The man was a genius. So far ahead of his time. Crazy too, based on his biography. The seven wives were a clue. Have to believe in the love affair and Matt Damon and Emily Blunt pull it off. Damon’s usually okay when he’s not hanging around with George Clooney. One has to view the rest of the story as an allegory. It makes no literal sense. Watch for the hats. They steal the show. FLOATS
Black Swan (2010)
(April 12, 2011)
This movie is INTENSE. Deals with several themes: single-parent/single-child issues; the need to let go as part of the creative process; using the excuse of letting go as a seduction technique. Loved the transformation book-ends at start and conclusion where male and female become night creatures. All culminates with a chilling Black Swan dance. Hard for a movie to go wrong with Tchaikovsky’s music playing in the background. Interesting what an audience will accept these days. There really was no way to tell what was real from fantasy. Mirror images everywhere. FLIES among stinks/sinks/floats/flies.)
(September 25, 2011)
Congrats to ladies for milestone. You now have a girl buddy film every bit as crass as any boy version. Many funny moments, but also some zaniness that falls flat. Surprisingly touching scenes as well. Also mixed in with the mayhem, subtle humor sprinkled sparingly. Best came at end with cop-car head duck. Father of bride mumbling he won’t pay is a recurring good bit. No American comedy film is complete without a fabulous house somewhere in it. Check mark. Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne are standouts. Rating it FLIES. Does deliver on the entertainment factor.
(March 14, 2011)
Also saw the remake of FAME while on our kids’ school March break. It only came alive during the closing credits while the title song was playing. Any episode of GLEE is better. Felt bad for the kids. It should have been their moment to shine. But production numbers were overblown. Also, new songs not that good. All of the charm was missing. This was despite the presence of some really appealing actors, especially among the teaching staff. Rating it SINKS (among stinks/sinks/floats/flies).
The Godfather (1972)
(April 17, 2011)
I loved this movie when it first came out. Loved it in many re-viewings. But it’s starting to show its age. What’s with Brando’s mumbling? And there’s a ridiculous missed punch in a street scene where Sonny is laying a beating on his brother-in-law that should never have made it into the final print. Still, men feel in their gut the primal nature of their existence when they watch this movie. It teaches many lessons. A terrific family business saga. Features many of our best actors when they were “kids.” One of the greatest of all time. FLIES.
Gone With The Wind (1939)
(April 17, 2011)
Plucky Civil War era southern girl can’t get out of her own way. Vivian Leigh is feisty gorgeous as Scarlet. Clark Gable is charmingly roguish as a realist in a crazy time. The Ashley character is annoyingly wishy-washy. And Melanie is too perfect for words. Scene that opens out on wounded in Atlanta is unforgettable. Sweep, cinematography and music help make this the Greatest Movie of All Time. There can’t be a sequel. One would lose all respect for Rhett if he ever went back to this woman. Rating it FLIES.
Julie and Julia (2009)
(August 10, 2011)
Written by Nora Ephron, so not surprising this movie is quite funny. Meryl Streep is a wonder. She has the accent and manerisms of Julia Child down pat. Nice that in many ways it’s a love story (two love stories, actually). Plus there’s the omnipresent love of food, especially butter. The domestic sets and the characters contribute the charm. Amy Adams is also very good. Sad J & J never met but can understand how older generation doesn’t “get” the social-media-savvy younger. Rating it FLIES
October 1, 2011
A movie nominally about baseball that’s really about change. Carries its message that expectations need overturning partly through its form. Brad Pitt, who bears a striking physical resemblance to Robert Redford, is more effective than expected. Plot and character development are more cerebral and slower-paced than expected. In some ways, a primer for managers on what’s needed for some industries to break their hide-bound shackles and become competitive again. Quite funny in spots, but not slapstick funny, as in so many sports movies. A joy to watch neanderthals among certain members of the sporting fraternity get their come-uppance. FLIES
Morning Glory (2010)
(March 29, 2011)
The family watched the movie “Morning Glory” tonight. Great fun! Full of funny zingers about the media business while not taking itself seriously at all. Young girl loses crappy job. Then gets even crappier job, but with great potential. Can she make it work while finding romance along the way? It’s the journey that counts. Cranky Harrison Ford and game-for-anything Diane Keaton are superb but it’s Rachel McAdams’ energy and sparkle that slam dunk the whole concoction. Rating it FLIES (among stinks/sinks/floats/flies).
Red Riding Hood (2011)
(June 27, 2011)
Better than I expected. Rustic setting meant it was claustrophobic. But I liked the scenery. Every shade of brown imaginable. Amanda Seyfried was necessarily gorgeous as the lead character. There were other great female actresses/presences including Virginia Madsen and Julie Christie. Gary Oldman did his usual crazy person routine. The story was hackneyed but so what. There were moments that were creepy and almost scary and that’s what the kids and I wanted. The woods, the village and grandmother’s cottage set away from everyone else were entities on their own. FLOATS.
The Secret in Their Eyes
(April 3, 2011)
This is a fabulous Argentinian movie. Reminiscent of Hitchcock. Watch for a wondrous tracking shot from way on high into a soccer stadium. What sells the movie are the faces of the main actors. Also, terrific chemistry between the two leads, but also with the secondary players. Complicated plot that illustrates the high anxiety that comes with living in a totalitarian state. Sub-titles, but relatively easy to follow. Rating it an enthusiastic FLIES (among stinks/sinks/floats/flies).
The Secretary (2002)
(April 17, 2011)
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sweetness saves this movie. James Spader is good, but he can play creepy in his sleep. The plot involves self-mutilation and kinky sex that is pretty out there. Some scenes veer towards the uncomfortable. The decor in the lawyer’s office is a third character. There’s a scene with a dead worm that’s genius. Lesley Ann Warren’s other worldliness is used to good but minor effect. I liked this movie. Many wouldn’t. Viewed as art and because it’s so thought-provoking, I’m rating it FLIES.
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011)
(September 25, 2011)
The 6-part prequel to “Spartacus”. “Upstairs Downstairs” moved back in time to ancient Rome and with a little more violence, ya think. Haunted by the real-life death of the actor who played Spartacus, Timothy Whitfield. Pretty much supplies the fantasy viewing of all males, red-blooded and otherwise. Writers have discovered how to make English sound like Latin, by intermittently dropping subjects and verbs. Oh, and there’s sex. But only when it’s integral to the storyline, which is always. Distractions aside, there is a very strong storyline and mostly great acting. Lots of talent behind and in front of camera. FLIES.
Valley of Elah
(March 15, 2011)
While we were on holidays, saw a number of movies. The best was “The Valley of Elah” with Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. Jones was his usual irascible self with a presence as firm as earth. Theron was a surprise, both an everyday person yet lovely at the same time. All about how a conflict zone changes people and not for the better, regardless of how righteous the cause. Labyrinthine story finally becomes clear after tenacious sleuthing by Jones and a put-upon Theron. Rating it FLIES (among stinks/sinks/floats/flies).
(March 13, 2011)
Starring Kate Beckinsale and Tom Skerritt. In many ways a typical who-dunnit. But was elevated by unusual location scenes – the Antarctic. Could feel the cold in my bones. A great deal of running around outside in a blizzard. Sometimes confusing, but always tense. Plus fascinating to see some of the detail about life on such a remote science station. Held my interest throughout. Rating it FLOATS (among stinks/sinks/floats/flies).