Monday, March 22, 2010


“The BOUNTY HUNTER” (Jennifer Aniston & Gerard Butler)

Sooner or later, I’m going to reach the point where I tell my wife, “Unless Jennifer does a nude scene, I’m not going to anymore of her movies.”
So there are your choices, Jen; either start picking better projects, or strip...
This piece of crap wants to be everything; a romantic comedy, a thrill ride buddy flick & a gritty police drama... it fails at every level. Other than the obvious blame going to Sarah Thorp, the writer of the bombastically stupid screenplay, an equal amount of blame must be heaped upon Butler. He wants to become another Hugh Jackman but he’s clearly in the Matthew McConaughey zone of bad actor that picks dumb roles.
Butler has developed the annoying habit of speaking out of the side of his mouth (It seems to happen every time he adopts an ‘American’ accent) which, I believe he thinks makes him appear to be ‘macho’... which is synonymous with ‘a jerk’.
Here, Butler’s Milo, an Ex-Cop turned Bounty Hunter is such an a**hole that you don’t buy for a second that a character as sweet as Aniston’s Nicole, complete with tanned legs & cleavage, would ever fall for him in the first place. But that’s what we’re expected to believe as ex-spouses, Milo & ‘Nic’ are thrown together when Aniston’s reporter character becomes a wanton criminal after missing one court date. She is a respectable news reporter with no criminal activity in her past – they are not going to put out an APB or send a bounty hunter out to ‘bring ‘er in at any cost’ like this dumbass film’s premise expects us to believe.
And although I slammed her in the opening of this review, Jennifer is actually the only tolerable part of this horrid film. It is Butler who needs to have his acting license revoked.
The premise is; news reporter Nicole gets a traffic ticket for ‘brushing’ a policeman while driving recklessly to cover the story of an apparent suicide victim who clearly didn’t commit suicide. While heading to court for her appearance she receives a call from her ‘snitch’ who wants to meet her immediately (the proverbial matter of life & death) so Nicole blows off her courtroom appearance & heads to the meeting place where she finds the snitch’s abandoned car with the driver’s side window busted out.
Within minutes of missing her court appearance, Nicole’s name shows up as a bail jumper & her ex-husband Milo is assigned the case – from there hilarity ensues... if your definition of hilarity is an hour & a half of idiotic set ups & humorless dialogue.
In the fairly crowded theatre in which I viewed The Bounty Hunter, I’d say the crowd laughed twice, chuckled twice & yawned too many times to count. I’m guessing word of mouth is going to sink this film in its second week & it will fade very quickly.
Just to give you an idea as to how moronic this movie is – there’s a scene where Milo & Nic are trying to get into a posh country club. Milo, dressed in a checkered ‘discount store sale’ shirt, well worn jeans & tennis shoes, pretends to be a U.S. Senator. The receptionist asked from which state and Milo says “Oklahoma” while Nic says “Kansas”
Then Milo changes his answer to “Kansas” while Nic says, “Okla...homa.”
That scene was so funny & original I thought I’d wet myself from doubling over with laughter – I’ve never witnessed anything like that before in my life, it was just... so...
I mean, who in the **** do they think they’re entertaining with lame s**t like this?
Then, as seen in the preview, Nicole offers up that she ‘used to be a model’. The receptionist wonders aloud, “How long ago was THAT?” Like she’s buying that unshaven, dressed like a skateboarder Milo IS actually a Senator, but an adorable cutie like Jennifer Aniston isn’t believable as a former model? The saddest part is that this scene was responsible for one of the 2 laughs I heard from the crowd...
Though Jennifer is still attractive, even with the appearance of wrinkles crinkling onto her over-tanned cleavage, she is not enough to make this junk pile watchable – Avoid this Bounty Hunter like he was one of the ex-wrasslin’ freaks you’d find on a Bravo network reality show – it is NOT an pleasurable experience.


“The GHOST WRITER” (Ewan McGregor & Pierce Brosnan)

A nicely made political thriller reminiscent of a typical Alfred Hitchcock film.
McGregor plays a writer hired to ‘ghost write’ the memoirs of ex-British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Brosnan)
The movie begins with the body of McGregor’s predecessor being washed up onto a beach after his abandoned automobile is found on a ferry. The police come to the conclusion that the drowned writer got drunk and fell off the boat.
As McGregor’s character lands the job off taking over as the ghost writer, Lang’s reputation is being grilled by the news media as his link to the U.S. and backing all of a recent administrations abominations has him labeled a ‘War Criminal’.
Residing in the U.S. at the time of these allegations, Lang’s advisor’s (Timothy Hutton as his American lawyer, among others) tell him a return to England would be unwise.
Olivia Williams plays the Prime Minister’s wife, Ruth. During their first interview, Lang tells the ghost writer that Ruth was responsible for his going into politics in the first place. Ruth seems to have reached the point where she’s tired of politics, except to protect her husband from this onslaught of bad publicity. The fact that he’s clearly having an affair with Amelia, his ‘secretary/PR person/assistant’ (played by Kim Cattrall, finally in a role where I can watch & enjoy her again!) just seems to add to Ruth’s boredom factor.
The secrecy surrounding the manuscript that the drowned writer created isn’t revealed until the final scene, though McGregor searches thru the book for clues every time he’s allowed to view it.
Tom Wilkinson graces the screen with his formidable acting prowess as a prominent businessman with a link to Adam’s pre-political past. As the replacement ghost writer discovers Wilkinson’s Paul Emmett was the last person the original ghost writer met with before his untimely demise, he realizes his life is in danger without having much of a clue as to why...
“The Ghost Writer” builds its momentum slowly (Ala Hitchcock) to the point where every suspicious car on the road & every knock on a door has you wondering if McGregor’s writer will ever get out of this assignment alive.
If I had one thing to complain about with this film, it would be McGregor himself; he’s a somewhat blasé actor in my opinion – he is overwhelmed by Brosnan in almost every scene they appear in together - & no, it isn’t because Brosnan’s playing a bigger than life Prime Minister & McGregor a lowly ghost writer; Brosnan clearly has an onscreen presence (when not singing Abba songs) that McGregor lacks. Fortunately, the storyline and the way it develops are intriguing enough so that a weak actor doesn’t spoil the show.
The Ghost Writer joins Shutter Island & Edge Of Darkness as the clear cut 3 best films of 2010 so far.

Monday, March 15, 2010


“ALICE IN WONDERLAND” (Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter & Anne Hathaway)

I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie; I had little interest in yet another remake of a story that I never cared for in the first place. But we were in an area with only one theatre, the weather was lousy & the other choice was ‘Cop Out’. . . Enough said.
The only reason I decided to check out Tim Burton’s latest ‘fantasy’ flick was due to Grace Slick’s “White Rabbit” – I literally rolled the lyrics thru my mind as each character from the song was shown onscreen... There’s the hookah smoking caterpillar... There’s the dormouse – Wonder if she’s going to say “Feed your head”?... Okay, how did they get Helena Bonham Carter’s head to fit on that tiny body while interacting with ‘normal’ sized actors, that’s pretty impressive & woo-hoo, she said it, “Off with her head!”
So visually, it was fun to watch, but if it wasn’t for the song, I wouldn’t have thought much of the plot or the acting; Carter was clearly the ‘queen’ of the cast.
I’m sorry if this comes across as sexist, but Mia Wasikowska was a poor choice to play Alice because of her rather plain looks – she seemed much too ‘boyish’ to me. Even though I understood that this was Alice’s second trip to ‘Underland’, she seemed bored with everything that took place.
Sorry, Johnny Depp fans, but other than his large, hue changing eyes, Depp brought very little to the table from an acting standpoint. His Mad Hatter came across as a gay cartoon character as he hammed it up like a bad actor with a lisp.
Anne Hathaway’s White Queen was so badly over-acted, it was embarrassing to watch.
Carter, however, appeared to be having a ball playing the evil Red Queen – she is the lone savior among the ‘human’ cast members.
What made the film worth watching though were the creatures; the rabbits, dogs & cats, etc. It clearly would have been a better film if everyone except the Red Queen were created totally via computer graphics.
At times exceedingly childish and confusing (Let’s be honest, this world was created by someone who had taken more acid trips than all 4 Beatles combined) the ‘Alice In Wonderland’ saga has always been a little too far out in left field for me... Maybe it’s a ‘guy’ thing – I wouldn’t buy a boy taking on a giant dragon armed only with a shield & sword, why would I believe a girl could do it? So you already know the story & you know what happens – is there any real reason to sit thru another re-telling of this weird fairy tale? Only if, like me, you get a kick out of talking rabbits & dogs – otherwise, you’re only going to be cringing at the awful acting by 90% of the cast.

Monday, March 1, 2010


“AN EDUCATION” (Carey Mulligan & Peter Sarsgaard)

This film made me think – What is acceptable pedophilia? The answer could be this movie because, despite the fact that it concerns a man well into his thirties seducing a 16 year old student, I wasn’t as disgusted by it as I expected I might. It helped that Jenny, the student, was played by actress Carey Mulligan; although she has a very youthful appearance, there were crinkles in her face and other signs that she wasn’t nearly as young as the character she was portraying.
Peter Sarsgaard plays David, the creepy older guy that charms Jenny’s father (Alfred Molina) into allowing him to date his teenaged daughter – Making ‘dad’ almost as creepy as David. I liked this film even though I found most of the characters to be rather bland; it is Mulligan’s performance that kept it interesting.
Jenny is an excellent student whose main drive is to be accepted into Oxford. She has a classmate, Graham, who is infatuated with her but exceptionally shy & much too ‘simple’ for Jenny to take seriously as boyfriend material. Being afflicted with acute shyness myself, I related to Graham – Yet at the same time, I knew he was way out of Jenny’s league & that he should have set his sights on one of Jenny’s girlfriends.
David spies Jenny waiting for a ride during a downpour & worms his way into becoming an acceptable stranger by offering to give her cello a ride, since she should never get into a car with a complete stranger. “How do I know you won’t drive off with my cello?” Jenny asks, so David gives her enough money to cover the cost of the instrument should he decide to dash off with it.
David offers to show Jenny a world she thought unattainable for a girl her age and is even successful into conning her parents into allowing to take her for an entire weekend. They make David a little less creepy by having him accept the fact that Jenny wants to remain a virgin until her 17th birthday (& when that day finally comes, he blows it by using the old ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ gag of the banana in the tailpipe routine)
Even though David is much more ‘worldly’ than Jenny, it is made clear that she is the more mature of the two – Another reason the ‘creepy’ aspect was palatable; she acted like someone much older than her age while he was somewhat immature (When he wants to use childish nicknames for one another, she tells him she’d rather not)
Her new lifestyle leads to her grades falling & her hopes of getting into Oxford dim.
So she faces the dilemma of ‘Do I need an education if David is going to take care of me for the rest of my life?’
Eventually Jenny turns to her favorite teacher, who is not without her ‘creepy’ side as you get the strong feeling that she also has a crush on her ex-student.
Despite having all these ‘older’ suitors (David’s best friend/business partner also undresses Jenny with his eyes) Jenny somehow manages to stay innocent enough to make you hope she comes through this ordeal unscathed. Normally I avoid Older man/much younger woman stories, but this one, along with the excellent “Crazy Heart” are making me re-think my position that they should be banned for promoting child abuse.
A nice little film, well acted (Sarsgaard displays a very subtle British accent that works, if you’ll pardon the expression, like a ‘charm’) but does it belong among the 10 best of the year? No, not when you consider the much more entertaining ‘Crazy Heart’ wasn’t nominated. Still, I’m glad I saw it so I can say that Carey Mulligan definitely deserved to be nominated for Best Actress.