Monday, November 23, 2009


“A SERIOUS MAN” (Michael Stuhlbarg)

A better title for this film would have been, “Unresolved: The Story Of A Jewish Man & His Jewish Family Living Ultra-Jewish Lives”
Although, they are correct in that this is a ‘serious’ movie; but being a Coen Brothers creation, one would have thought that was a facetious title... It isn’t, though the Jewish people in the theatre ‘got’ the so-called jokes that went over my non-Yiddish head.
For the record I chuckled once (At the oft repeated line, “I’ll be out in a minute!”)
& laughed once (At the one memorable line, “F Troop is fuzzy.”)
For the rest of the duration of the movie my emotions ran from confused to bored to annoyed. This is an awful film. It will be hard not to include in my Bottom 10.
The film starts in what I imagine was Hebrew; a scene involving whether or not a certain Jewish man was dead. The reason for this intro is never explained – apparently it was to tell us that the Gopnik family has a curse on it... But it was all gibberish to me, so I could be wrong, & if I am, I really don’t care.
They used subtitles for the opening scene, but then they stopped for some reason, even though I had no idea what language these Jewish people were speaking. I was told that one needn’t be Jewish to enjoy this film – That is a complete & utter lie.
You only need to read a couple of my reviews (“Religulous”, “The Invention Of Lying”)
to know that I am not a fan of religion... ANY religion. So I didn’t have any desire to see this film. Then I was told that it was the story of a ‘typical’ family from the 1960’s that ‘just happen’ to be Jewish’. No, these people are Jewish to the core; everything they do, think & speak involves being Jewish. Your ‘typical’ family doesn’t wear beanies & run to rabbis every time they feel troubled. Your average teenage son doesn’t have a Bar Mitzvah that you have to suffer through while he practices the ‘chant’ he must recite at the religious ritual. Yes, I’m picking on Jews because that’s what this film is ALL about.
If it was all about any other religious cult, I’d be complaining about that ‘sect’. & I was unhappy about it because I was led to believe that religion WASN'T the centerpiece.
Now, if you happen to BE Jewish & you’re still reading, I am going to recommend this movie to you (I mean, if you’re REALLY into being Jewish)
The plot in a nutshell; Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a professor seeking tenure at the college where he teaches math (That’s another thing – You need to REALLY be into math equations as well!)
I guess it was suppose to be funny that Prof. Gopnik’s lone Asian student was the only one who was failing his class & that his family decided to bribe the teacher to get their son a passing grade.
Larry’s wife, Judith tells him she’s been seeing widower Sy Ableman & she wants Larry to move out (Along with his Uncle Arthur)
Don’t get excited about the name, old timers, it isn’t Paul Lynde as Uncle Arthur, it’s Richard Kind & you couldn’t imagine a more annoying person if you tried...
Larry’s trips to see the 3 rabbis follows & each ‘visit’ is as uninteresting & void of humor as the next.
By the time they got to the unrealistic & dumb meeting Larry’s son has with the eldest rabbi, I was so done with this film, I saw no humor at all in what I’m sure the Coens thought was a very clever scene. It wasn’t clever, it was stupid – trying to make a 100 year old rabbi seem ‘hip’ was a very low grade ‘pay off’.
So yes, if you’re Jewish & rabbis telling dull stories are your ‘bag’ then you’ll love ‘A Serious Man’.
& I can’t sign off without registering one minor complaint that no one else would have noticed or been bothered by – It's my trademark - At one point Larry is on the roof of his house fiddling with the TV antennae when he notices the well built Mrs. Samsky (Amy Landecker) sunbathing nude next door. Later, Larry fantasizes about having sex with Mrs. Samsky & she’s wearing a bra... I couldn’t help but shake my head in bewilderment – What kind of man’s fantasy life is less erotic than reality? He knows what her breasts look like (& they’re spectacular) so why does he cover them with a bra while fantasizing about her?
No wonder his nagging, unattractive wife left him for Sy Ableman!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


“PIRATE RADIO” (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Tom Sturridge, Kenneth Branaugh & Nick Frost)

The first time my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I told him ‘a disc jockey’. When I finally decided to pursue a career in radio, I was in my thirties. I went to work for the station I grew up listening to, KJR. I was the overnight board op, meaning I could play anything I wanted as long as it was on the playlist. It was the perfect job for me, but I couldn’t go on the air. Then the station switched to an all-sports format & everyone was ‘let go’ except me. I was finally disposed of after 18 years.
So I know a little bit about the radio business – well, more the ‘on air’ side than the business side as I worked directly with D-J’s (in the beginning) & Talk Show Hosts for the bulk of my career. I throw that background into this review just to let you know where I’m coming from when I say I enjoyed this film because despite the fact that they didn’t stick exclusively to songs that were released in 1966-67, the soundtrack is fantastic & the portrayals are realistic.
Originally titled ‘The Boat That Rocked’, this fictitious story ‘inspired’ by actual events depicts a rivalry between Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ‘The Count’ & Rhys Ifans ‘Gavin’ that is exactly the type of egotistical behavior one would expect to find when the employees of a radio station are forced to live together as well as work together. Hoffman’s verbal & facial sneers at the ‘hot shot’ Gavin are what elevate the otherwise thin plot to an upper level.
True, the film tries frequently to capture the look & feel of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” & fails basically because there’s no John, Paul, George or Ringo... Anywhere! Not even in the soundtrack (Blame Michael Jackson) which made it seem ‘unrealistic’; How do you depict the ‘feel’ of mid-60’s rock & roll without including the group that was played the most often on radio & located off the shores of the country of their birth?
Still, there were plenty of great songs from that era & the ‘DJs’ play several tunes that took me back to my youth (They also play some that made me shake my head & go ‘huh?’) I’ll run thru the list at the end of this review, but first I’ll finish off the ‘movie’ part – To keep from having to pay royalties to Her Majesty & licensing fees on top of that, rock radio stations would anchor themselves off shore & broadcast from ships. Kenneth Branaugh plays a stuffy British official whose main goal in life is to shut down ‘Pirate Radio’ despite the fact that rock & roll in the mid-60’s saved the U.K. from delving into a depression. For this reason, I doubted the validity of this character, but watching the film I realized, this clown is a government official, of course he hasn’t a clue as to what’s going on in the real world.
Bill Nighy plays Quentin, the owner of the radio station/ship & the story sort of centers around his Godson, Carl (Tom Sturridge) who comes on board as an intern. Most of Carl’s scenes involve his attempts to try to lose his virginity to the maidens that row out to ‘be’ with a big time DJ.
But the best parts are the scenes involving the DJs & their off air hijinx. This is true, 80% of my favorite radio memories are moments that happened ‘behind the scenes’.
Although I liked Nick Frost as one of the DJs, one scene that fell flat was when he tried to switch places with young skinny Carl so the lad could ‘lose his cherry’ to an unsuspecting fan of Nick’s.
Emma Thompson has a cameo as Carl’s hot mother & it’s a nice segment, but surprisingly short & void of a grand pay-off.
I’d be interested to see what the Under 45’s think of this film; especially the soundtrack since all of the songs played were recorded before they were born – That would be like me watching a film that only featured 40’s & early 50’s crap... But I know a lot of under 40’s who were introduced to The Beatles by their parents & consider them to be one of, if not THE best rock group of all-time. Now ‘Pirate Radio’ wonders – will they like the bands that followed in their footsteps?
Movie review portion over – Now for the soundtrack...
Opening with The Kinks “All Day & All Of The Night” was pure genius – A much better song than their early ‘staple' “You Really Got Me”, “All Day...” provided a toe tapping blast of fresh air that put this viewer in the right frame of mind; to not care whether or not the song was released in 1966, but to just sit back & enjoy. For the record “All Day...” was a hit in early 1965.
The Easybeats were actually from Australia, but “Friday On My Mind” captured the British Invasion sound so succinctly it belongs on any ‘Best of the 60’s’ compilations. It was released in early 1967.
“Here Comes The Night”(1965) was by Van Morrison’s Them (“Gloria” was their biggie) an unorthodox melody switching from skiffle-like verses to a bluesy chorus. I didn’t care for it much as a kid, but learned to love it later.
“Hang On Sloopy” the first American song heard was a huge hit for The McCoys featuring Rick Derringer (Of ‘Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo’ fame & later as Weird Al’s guitarist) ‘Sloopy’ came out in 1965 as well.
“I’m Alive” was an early Hollies song that didn’t do anything on the American charts yet went all the way to #1 in England (1965)
An odd selection came next, The Tremeloes “Silence Is Golden”. For one thing it came out in the summer of ’67 & secondly, they did a great rendition of Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby” which preceded ‘Silence’ & is just a better all around song.
To bring things to a complete stop, they played Aaron Neville’s “Tell It Like It Is”. I guess because they had yet to play a song that was actually released in their target year, 1966.
A welcome surprise was John Fred & His Playboy Band’s “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)”; Outside of the box (It hit in 1968) but one of those quirky little numbers that you can’t help but like. Bending the rules to include this was an excellent choice.
I found Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” to be a weird choice, but she’s so cute & adorable, I never mind hearing one of her songs (1966)
When you talk ‘classic’ psychedelia, you must include something by Donovan & the “Pirate” producers went for the sure thing, “Sunshine Superman”(1966) I just wished they had found room for his equally strange but delightful “Epistle To Dippy”.
The Supremes should be mentioned during this era & the inclusion of “The Happening”
didn’t bother me at all; In fact, it’s a favorite of mine (1967)
Good thing Michael Jackson didn’t own the Rolling Stones catalogue otherwise “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” wouldn’t have been heard – Going outside the parameters again(1968) but glad they did.
“Fire!” How dull would the 60’s have been without this gem from The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (featuring a young Carl Palmer on drums) So far every time they’ve ventured in 1968, the results have been fantastic.
The Yardbirds’ “For Your Love”(1965) was their first & biggest American hit but I would have preferred “Shapes Of Things” or “Heart Full Of Soul”
The Box Tops’ “The Letter” kind of came out of left field in 1967 as their debut single held the #1 spot for a month. Joe Cocker's remake cooks but this was the original.
I guess to give the ‘gals’ something to enjoy “Georgy Girl” by The Seekers was ‘aired’. It fit the criteria (early 1967) so why not play something cheesy? It just dawned on me – This, “To Sir With Love” & “The Happening” were all theme songs from movies of the same names & they are the only songs used so far with female lead singers... Hmm?
I loved Otis Redding’s ‘Sittin’ on The Dock Of The Bay’ so much, I bought his Greatest Hits CD & discovered ‘Dock’ was Otis’s attempt to move in an entirely different direction (& unfortunately he died before we got a chance to hear where that new direction would have taken him) So I knew his “These Arms Of Mine” when it played, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it – thrown in as an ‘oldie’ I guess since it came out in 1963.
The first song I had no idea who sang it or what it was called was a Leonard Cohen tune, I’m guessing the title was “So Long, Mary Ann”. Leonard was big in England for some unknown reason, so using this made sense for a British radio station to play.
The Turtles provided the next 2 tracks; “She’d Rather Be With Me” came out in ’67 so it fit, but “Elenore” (late 1968) was included solely to be played for a character of that name to be introduced. Still, both cuts are favorites of mine- some labeled Flo & Eddie’s original band ‘bubble gum/pop’ but I was never one to label songs – they were catchy tunes that were fun to singalong with & if it makes me a pansy for admitting I liked The Turtles, so be it.
A lost ‘classic’ came next – better known for the simplistic ‘Wild Thing’, I loved The Troggs’ “With A Girl Like You” back then & it holds up to this day. If ever a vocal ‘style’ matched a song perfectly it was Reg Presley’s on this. (1966)
A second Kinks effort appears with the hard not to like “Sunny Afternoon”(1966)
The Stones are back with the song that I mention anytime someone offers the opinion that THEY are the greatest rock group of all time. Has nothing to do with “Let’s Spend the Night Together”(1967) being a bad song, on the contrary, it’s one of the best ‘flip sides’ ever; but those who know the story about The Ed Sullivan Show will understand when I say the greatest rock band of all time wouldn’t have changed the lyrics to appease Ed’s stuffy producers. Ask Jim Morrison what a ‘real’ rock star would have done in that instance...
Herb Alpert crooning a Burt Bacharach tune on ‘Pirate' radio? “This Guy’s In Love With You” provides more than enough schmaltz to the brew. Doesn’t even fit, it came out in the summer of ’68!
To let everyone know its Christmas on the Boat That Rocked we rock out with The Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick” just to prove that pirates are pussies too...
Not a favorite of mine, but Martha & The Vandellas’ “Dancing In The Streets” at least brought the soundtrack back to life for a moment.
I love Dusty Springfield’s voice, but calling her ‘rock’ is stretching things - Why “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (1966) made the soundtrack had to be because she’s British.
Sorry, Seattlites, but Jimi Hendrix had to go to England to be discovered, thus his rather boring “Wind Cries Mary”(1967, originally) works in this environment.
Skeeter Davis’ version of “The End Of The World” is used instead of Herman’s Hermits for some reason (Michael Jackson owned Herman’s stuff too?) since the original came out in 1963 & The Hermits better version fits right in with the mid-60’s motif...
The Who are finally showcased with 3 songs, one too early (My Generation-1965) one that ‘almost’ fit (I Can See For Miles-late 1967) & one so far off it didn’t even come out in the 60’s! (Won’t Get Fooled Again-1971)
I’m sure ‘Fooled Again’ being included is what set off the naysayers to gripe about the songs being ‘no where near’ the time period. That’s why I bothered to look up every songs year of release – ‘Fooled’ is the ONLY one that isn’t even on the map, but because a few 1968’s were sprinkled in that makes them feel justified to complain.
Procol Harum’s 1967 masterpiece “Whiter Shade Of Pale” would have been a major oversight if they’d forgotten it. Too bad 'Conquistador' wasn't included as well.
Cat Stevens’ “Father & Son” also came out in the 70’s, but it was used as a plot point.
The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin” belongs in any group of ‘classic’ rock collections. Though it wasn’t a hit in the U.S. until the 70’s, it came out in the U.K. in 1967, & it would have been a nice ‘moody’ track to end the film (The station does go ‘off the air’ at the finale)
But then they decided to send the audience on their way home with a more uplifting rock classic... Would they, in true pirate radio fashion, decide to say screw you to the Michael Jackson estate & play the ultimate 60’s song “A Day In The Life”? No, not exactly uplifting, is it? “Got To Get You Into My Life”? or “Day Tripper”? No? Don’t want to take a chance on having to pay for that extravagant funeral? Okay, Cream hasn’t been used – “Sunshine Of Your Love” Yes, that’s the perfect song to go out with! What? Too obvious? What the ---- does that mean? Oh, you want something more obscure – another ‘out of left field’ shot that everyone will enjoy hearing again – an overlooked gem that hasn’t been heard in years... I got it – “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?”
Works on all levels – released in 1967 – fits with plot (DJs fighting over chicks) - & brings Paul Revere & The Raiders back into the limelight with a great singalong cut that also has some bite to it. No, doesn’t work for you? Okay, what kick ass classic song from the mid 60’s do you want to end with? . . .

Go see the movie & tell me if you think THAT was a good choice. I like the song fine, but as a classic ‘send them home bobbin’ their heads in time with the beat’ number? It falls waaaay short.
& those are just the songs I remember hearing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


“2012” (John Cusack...No need to list any other actors since they are merely fodder for the special effects team to create their ‘magic’ around)

Let’s look at the most recent ‘End of the World’ films; “Knowing”, “Wall-E” & “The Day After Tomorrow”; The only one that presented its apocalyptic world sensibly is the cartoon, “Wall-E”. ‘2012’ is like a conglomerate of these 3 films (Only borrowing from the Wall-E the idea of creating space ships to escape the crumbling earth)

‘2012’ actually starts off making plausible sense; presenting a scenario that very well could happen – it’s a question I asked my father as a child; “What if the sun explodes again?” What makes this film a joke is the way they ‘imagine’ the results of such a catastrophe will affect our planet.
According to this movie, we’ll have 3 years to plan ahead...Yes, folks, sorry to say, the sun has already exploded & the neutrinos are on their way as we live & breathe... but hey, we’ve got 3 years to get our affairs in order.

Director Roland Emmerich uses cracking asphalt the same way John Williams score was used in “Jaws” or a rippling puddle of water in “Jurassic Park” to announce that Mr. Rex was approaching – The difference being the music & the ‘impact’ ripples made you anticipate the arrival of something monstrous; the cracking sidewalks made me think, “Oh crap, what’s going to fall over & barely miss killing John Cusack THIS time!”
As with Nicolas Cage’s character in “Knowing”, John Cusack’s Jackson Curtis is the central focus used for viewing the end of the world, thus making it implausible that ALL of these near-catastrophic fates could happen to one person.
By the way, if you expect to learn anything about the Mayan calendar & why they predicted 2012 to be the final year of mankind, you won’t.
Jackson Curtis is a struggling writer, divorced with a young daughter who likes spending time with him & a son who doesn’t. Jackson takes his kids camping in Yellowstone & meets an eccentric goofball named Charlie (Woody Harrelson, clearly the best part of this movie) Through Charlie, Jackson learns why the asphalt is cracking & he rushes to get his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) & her new husband & lead them to safety... Hmm, if the whole planet is ‘caving in’, where does one take ones family to be ‘safe’? Aha! We’ll charter a plane & fly to safety! The scenes of Scott (the 2nd husband) flying the plane between buildings as they collapse into one another is supposed to be exhilarating, instead they are laughable since Scott admits before they climb on board that he’s only had a couple of lessons.
It’s the absurdity of it all that ruins this movie – I could have enjoyed the special effects roller coaster ride if they had just put it in a more logical setting – “Scott flew jet fighters in Iraq, he can get us to safety!” but no, they have Scott sitting in the cockpit looking for the emergency brake release as the runway collapses behind them... Stupid.
& how many times can one dysfunctional family barely escape death? According to
‘2012’, the answer is infinite.

Although they don’t matter, let’s delve into the acting anyway; Cusack does ‘okay’ – he’s forced to say some pretty dumb lines at times, but I didn’t hate Jackson Curtis. Woody is the best by far – Was anyone else hoping that the pick up truck they see in the Himalayas was going to have Charlie behind the wheel? (“Yeah, dude! I was wearin’ a parachute & the volcano blew me clear over here!”)
The ‘other’ characters centered on Danny Glover as President Barrack O’Dogma; his daughter, Laura (Thandie Newton) & his not-to-be-trusted aide Carl (Oliver Platt)
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Adrian Helmsly the ‘American’ who discovers what has happened to the sun by placing a phone call to India (Which was one of the few aspects of the film that made sense) & is given the job of predicting what the outcome of the explosion will have on the earth. Even though Adrian’s predictions are all incorrect, he somehow keeps his job. I’m wondering, did anyone think the same thing that I did – that this film was made by Republicans to ‘warn’ white America what can happen when you put black men in charge? I felt insulted by the film for making that thought cross my mind.
The religious finale added to the laughter, though they tried to cloak it in seriousness by having the Chinese build the ‘space ships’ that would save the most important members of mankind (i.e. the filthy rich)

‘2012’ follows a path from the ridiculous to the sublime, as it takes longer for the ‘space ships’ to open & close their pod bay doors than it did for California to fall into the Pacific. & speaking of the pod bay doors, sorry if this spoils the ‘plot’ for those who haven’t seen the film yet, but it seemed to me that the gears that get jammed should have had 2 obstacles that needed to be removed. I think it would have been gnarly to have Jackson reach down & pull what was left of the ‘other’ item that got stuck in the gears.

Just a word to Danny Glover, if this is the best acting you can do then the line you repeated so often in the Lethal Weapon movies has come to light – You ARE too old for this sh*t.
Another disappointment was the exclusion of the obvious song that should have been played every time there was an asphalt cracking scene – “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” (And I’m So Bored...)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


“THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS” (George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges & Kevin Spacey)

From the title alone you knew this wasn’t going to be an ordinary film... & it isn’t.
It is funny, it is well acted & above all, it is very original & I wanted to love it because of all that, but I can only say that I liked it an awful lot. I don’t know if it was the jumping back in forth in time that kept it from being great, or the mere fact that, even though it is supposedly based on a true story, it was still just a little too bombastic to swallow. It was almost as if the characters were being too serious to be taken seriously.
I have absolutely no complaints about George Clooney’s performance as Lyn Cassady; George was clearly the best part of the film. Jeff Bridges as Bill Django was funny, but not very broad; one wayward critic said he was channeling ‘the Big Lebowski’ – which was ridiculous because ‘Dude’ didn’t care about anything & Bill was one determined hippy officer whose sole purpose in life was to create an army of psychic soldiers – he may have looked like an older version of the Dude, but the characters had very little in common. Ewan McGregor may be the reason why it didn’t click on all cylinders; it is his character that narrates & ‘experiences’ the mayhem that leads to the grand finale. Though I can’t say as I felt that way while watching the movie – he seemed to do ‘okay’ as reporter Bob Wilton who miraculously meets up with Lyn after hearing his name from a discharged nutjob in his hometown. & finally, Kevin Spacey comes into the story late & doesn’t bring that boffo moment that I was hoping for. It was fun to see Kevin playing someone quirky again, but I was disappointed that he wasn’t given better lines.
Even though I laughed quite frequently (A 37 on my laugh-meter) I got a kick out of the premise & I thoroughly enjoyed myself for an hour & a half – something intangible was missing & just can’t put my finger on it (Other than McGregor may not have been the right choice to play the reporter)
The story bounces between the time when Bill Django gets shot in Vietnam (because his platoon doesn’t want to chance hitting someone when they fire their rifles) & his creation of a special forces squad of ‘psychic soldiers’ & present day Iraq where McGregor’s Bob meets Clooney’s Lyn.
Props to the make-up department in making George appear several years younger than his actual age during the flashback sequences as they show his development in Bill’s Psychic army. One of the exercises is to stare at goats & try to make their hearts stop; which Lyn explains he didn’t want to kill a goat with his mind, but he gave it his best shot because he was curious to see if he COULD actually do it.
In one scene, an officer gets up from being the desk in his office & runs full force into the wall. Pardon the bad pun, but that scene falls flat on its face. Maybe it was just that one moment that spoiled this film just enough to keep it from being #2 or #3.
Still, I encourage you to see it because it should make you laugh several times & it is very original – I doubt that you’ll get bored. You may walk out shaking your head wondering, “What in the hell was THAT all about?” – but I still think you’ll feel you were entertained.
Getting kidnapped, escaping, being rescued by idiots, escaping from their rescuers & discovering the Psychic army still exists are all humorously written scenes from the Iraq portion of the plot, but somehow it didn’t quite jibe for me... that mysterious missing link that kept it from gelling. It’s still one of the best movies I’ve seen in this very weak year,
but it had the potential to be #1 & it isn’t...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


“AMELIA” (Hillary Swank & Richard Gere)

This should have been titled “Amelia & George: A Bland, Lifeless, Loveless Story”
What we learn about Amelia Earhart during this biopic is that she was a fraud, an adulterer & a publicity whore.
Apparently Amelia accomplished one single feat in her lifetime (Crossing the Atlantic solo) & turned it into a lifetime ‘gig’ as a corporate shill. The only ‘interesting’ event that happened to this woman was the way she died.
I didn’t like the movie from the beginning because they open by showing Amelia with her navigator during their fateful flight. Earhart writes him a note. He reads it & chuckles... We, the viewing audience don’t get to see what is written. I was a bit peeved – why aren’t we allowed in on the joke? That’s simply poor filmmaking & writing. Then I thought – they’ll probably let us know what she wrote when time catches up to that moment in the film (Which bounces back & forth from telling Amelia’s life story to scenes from her final flight) but they don’t.
It was like they wanted to show the audience that Amelia had a sense of humor, but we’re not clever enough to think of something humorous for her to have written.
If Hillary Swank even gets nominated for this performance, it will be a joke (Or as it looks like it’s going to turn out, the weakest year for films in this century) Both she and co-star Richard Gere (as husband/PR man George Putnam) are as unimpressive as one can imagine. I pinpointed the problem with the fact that they seemed to try so hard to get their accents down they forgot to develop their characters – especially Gere, but we expect him to give weak performances; Swank should apologize for her lazy portrayal. If only they asked Amy Adams to reprise HER Amelia (from the insipid ‘Night at the Museum 2’ in which she was the only redeeming fixture) this film might not have been so boring.
The only thing that works here is if you’re a scenery buff – there is plenty of aerial shots of cool sunsets & storms & banking over waterfalls that if you’re the type that gets a thrill from looking out a window at crap, you’ll enjoy. But it doesn’t help matters when they have Amelia speaking such unctuous lines as ‘the stars seem to be near enough to touch’. . . No, they don’t! They’re millions of miles away, you nimrod.
Amelia initially makes a name for herself by being a passenger on a cross Atlantic flight. She turns this ‘feat’ into a full time occupation (Thanks to George) by becoming the abovementioned ‘Publicity whore’. She fails to win an ‘air race’ to promote women aviators & then, after marrying George, she has sex with a much younger more handsome suitor in Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor) whose greatest accomplishment was in fathering Gore (Shown here as a fraidy cat little boy who has been duped into believing Ms. Earhart HAS actually accomplished something)
When they finally show her one great feat, which she tells George she wants to attempt BECAUSE she is a fraud – the cross Atlantic trip is shown in a 2 minute clip in which Amelia takes off, encounters turbulence & then lands in Paris... er, no, I guess it was Scotland (or was it Wales?)
To subtract from the believability of this landing scene, they show ‘newsreel footage’ of Amelia shaking hands with the baffled sheepherder. Now, in today’s society it’s not that far of a stretch to believe that someone just happened to have a camcorder handy to record this ‘historic’ though wayward event, but in the
mid-1930’s I don’t imagine too many shepherds wandering the rolling hills of Scotland (or Wales) had videotaping devices handy just in case an American female pilot should happen to land amongst their flock...
A fraud, a cheating spouse & someone who would promote any product for money whether she approved of it or not – that’s how the heroine in this film is portrayed. Despite Amelia’s comments that she whores herself out for publicity just so she can fly, doesn’t dismiss the fact that she still whores herself out for publicity.
And I almost forgot to mention the amount of chemistry Swank & Gere produce onscreen... that’s because there isn’t any.