Sunday, January 30, 2011

The WAY BACK

“The WAY BACK” (Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell & Saoirse Ronan)

‘The Way Back’ is based on a true story – a story that sounds like it would make a fascinating movie – but the problem is, despite the remarkable feat the characters accomplish, the translation to film is kind of boring.
Based on a book titled, “The Long Walk”, that is precisely what you get here – 40% of the film is simply scenes of guys walking; walking over snowy mountains, walking thru forests, walking across deserts. They walk and they walk and they walk for 4,000 miles.
At the beginning of the film we are told how seven men escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940 and that three of them made it to India. If we do the math that means four will perish - Except, that’s not what happens. And for me that lessened the achievement of the three that ‘survived’ the entire trek from Siberia to India.
It starts off strong, the film’s central character, Janusz (Jim Sturgess) is given up as a spy to the Nazi’s in Poland by his wife, who was obviously tortured into betraying her spouse.
Janusz is sent to Siberia. As they parade the new prisoners into the gulag they are told that escape is futile since even if they make it past the guards, there is nothing but a barren wilderness for thousands of miles and any villagers they come upon will kill them to collect a bounty on political prisoners.
In the gulag, Janusz befriends an American named Smith (Ed Harris) when asked for his first name, Smith replies, “Mister.” Getting up there in age, Smith does not want to die in prison so he joins Janusz in plotting an escape because of the Polish man’s weakness – kindness.
Also joining the party is a violent Russian thief named Valka (Colin Farrell)
When the first member of the escapees meets his demise, Valka scoffs, “Heh, one less mouth to feed.”
The other members of the group include a man with night blindness from working in the mines - along with a cook, an artist & the last man they called the jokester, though I don’t ever recall him saying anything humorous (Must have been that Polish humor that I don’t get)
You’ll enjoy this film if you like looking at scenery – which doesn't cut it for me. Although the feat is remarkable, it is still just a group of guys walking... and walking... and walking... etc, etc, etc...
Other than the elements of weather, they are never endangered. Even when a group of Huns rides down around them on horseback, the fear that something bad may happen is quickly squelched.
The group is also joined by a Polish girl, Irena (Saoirse Ronan) who tells each man a different story as to how she became lost in the forest.
‘The Way Back’ is basically ‘The Incredible Journey’ without the talking dogs & cat.
The acting is fine, with the exception of Farrell who resorts back to his pre-‘In Bruges’ style of hammy, bug-eyed acting.
I’d say part of the problem is that it’s too long (2:13) but then again, would the viewer really get the full effect of the effort if it were clipped down to 20% scenes of walking and walking and walking?
If someone were to tell me this story – taking 15-20 minutes to tell it all, I know I’d find it fascinating to listen to, but unfortunately saying someone walked 4,000 miles to freedom is much more interesting than actually watching them do it...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

“NO STRINGS ATTACHED” (Ashton Kutcher & Natalie Portman)
This is the perfect date movie . . . if you want to end the relationship.
Adam (Kutcher) meets Emma (Portman) at summer camp when they’re in their early teens. After she consoles him for being treated like a geek by the other kids, he asks her for an uncouthed favor and she simply says 'no'.
They meet again in their late teens & since Ashton doesn’t look like such a geek anymore, Emma invites him on a date. We then see Emma’s mother, a grieving widow at her husband’s gravesite, surrounded by mourners dressed appropriately in black – Except Adam who is wearing bright yellow sweats with Michigan Wolverine lettering. Some audience members snickered at this – It turned me against this film and I knew the thing didn’t stand much of a chance of winning me back. That scene wasn’t funny because NO ONE WOULD EVER DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT. This (supposedly) young woman PURPOSELY RUINED HER FATHER’S FUNERAL – Made a complete mockery of her father’s death while showing a complete disregard for her mother’s devastation. Making Emma one callous bitch.
The film then turns into an episode of ‘Glee’ as we discover Adam’s job is as an assistant on the Ivan Reitman-directed TV show of singing and dancing high school students. The joke being that Reitman is the actual director of the movie. First James L. Burrows releases a total piece of crap & now Reitman sinks to his lowest level with this garbage.
By the time Adam & Emma reach their mid-thirties (& the actors actually start looking their age) they still behave like teenagers. This isn’t funny either, it’s more sad than anything else. ‘No Strings Attached’ is as meaningless as the casual sex these two immature airheads are constantly having as ‘friends with benefits’.
And the writing doesn’t help matters; within a two minute span each of the main characters asks someone, “What up?”
Whilst dining with Adam’s father (Kevin Kline as an over-the-hill one-time child star of an early 70’s sitcom called ‘Great Scott!’) Emma then has the gall to tell dad & his girlfriend (an ‘ex’ of Adam’s) that THEY’RE behaving like children.
Throughout the film Adam acts as though he can’t stand his father - hooking up with his ex-girlfriend was the last straw - yet when he hears that his father has OD’d on cough syrup, a panic-stricken Adam immediately rushes to the hospital, dumping Lucy, the well-built production assistant (Lake Bell) that adores him.
They try to make dad seem... well, I don’t know what Reitman was going for when he filmed a scene of dialogue where Kline states that he’s "58 years old and has 6 pictures of his (penis) on his phone – plus two others of someone else’s (penis)". . . I don’t normally like to use ‘text speak’ when I write, but after hearing this line I did think, “WTF?”
The only entertaining moment came for me when Adam burned a ‘period’ CD for Emma to play when it was her ‘time of the month’ – as Emma was reading off the titles, I felt certain that the obvious choice, Alice Cooper’s “Only Women (Bleed)” would start playing, but it didn’t – wasn’t even on the mix! So, to compensate, I started playing the song in my head – the long version – it was the best 5 minutes of the film.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The SOCIAL NETWORK

“The SOCIAL NETWORK” (Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield & Justin Timberlake)

I was told to expect to dislike Jesse Eisenberg’s true-life character Mark Zuckerberg within the first 5 minutes of ‘The Social Network’, but that didn’t happen... it took about 2 minutes to just dislike him which gradually turns to a deep seeded hatred as the film progresses.
The Nerd Zuckerberg is shown conversing with a young woman in a pub. Zuckerberg talks at a rate of 2,000 words per minute and says virtually nothing. As he bounces from subject to subject without slowly his breakneck speaking speed I wondered why this girl would subject herself to this inane torture. I assumed she was a student Zuckerberg was tutoring so she had to associate with this clown – when it is revealed that the couple are dating, I was more appalled by her than him – Why didn’t she simply get up and walk away from this jackass?
I worked at a sportsradio station for 18 years in Seattle, so when Zuckerberg ‘invents’ Mitch’s Bigger Dance (Matching two females against one another & voting which one is hotter) I wasn’t impressed – Mitch was doing it years before Zuckerberg & although I like him, I would never consider Mitch to be a ‘genius’ for coming up with this idea – the boys at Harvard, however, would.
In the first half hour or so of ‘The Social Network’ I knew what was going on, but I really didn’t care – it was meaningless to me. ‘Inventing’ a website similar to several others didn’t strike me as brilliance – it was boring.
The younger generation that actually uses these communication sites to post unnecessary communiqu├ęs might have been fascinated by it – but I couldn’t fathom why – it really isn’t a mind-numbing or world changing invention, so what’s the big deal? (& I’m talking about websites where people post what they’re having for lunch & what they’re planning to have for dinner later on – not the entire www . world)
The characters were speaking English, but I didn’t understand half of what they were saying – I began to realize why no one wanted to bad mouth this film – they were afraid it would make them appear to be stupid... I don’t have that problem. I often found myself thinking “Who Cares?” after most scenes because I certainly didn’t.
So the actual inventing (or ripping off the idea) of Facebook is, as I expected, a dull, uninteresting story – what saves this film from being a complete disaster is what happens afterward; when The Nerd Zuckerberg goes from being an annoying know-it-all into a complete Douche Bag (& yes, I meant to use capital letters because this is what I would have nicknamed Zuckerberg if I had known the guy – D. B. for short)
The story perks up when Nerd Zuckerberg interfaces with another professional rip-off artist, Sean Parker (Dusty Craterlake) and they begin to scheme as to how to totally screw over the only friend Zuckerberg had, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield)
Fellow Harvard student Eduardo provided the financial backing for Zuckerberg’s dream of ripping off the Winklevoss Twins’ idea of creating a social network on the internet. In D. B.’s mind the fact that he ‘tweaked’ the Winklevoss plan made it his domain.
The movie bounces between flashbacks and a deposition involving Douche Bag’s & Saverin’s lawyers – That wasn’t annoying, in this case it helped the viewer figure out what was going on. At times, Zuckerberg actually shows some slight compassion for the friend he completely f---ed over, but those moments are brief and don’t erase the fact that Zuckerberg is, underneath that mindless nerdy chattering robot brain, still a Douche Bag.
His ex-girlfriend (the one from the opening scene, and another victim of D.B.’s egomaniacal callousness) tells him when he attempts to win her back, “You think everything you have to say is so brilliant that it must be shared by everyone.”
Which perfectly describes this guy. Sure, his knowledge of computers and hacking and the fact that his fingers go whizzing across a keyboard almost as fast as he talks is impressive, but what did he actually ‘invent’? Something that was already available - which he stole, tweaked & used to make himself one of the world’s wealthiest Douche Bags.
And it all started from blogging . . . something HAS to be done to stop these guys from just writing whatever they feel about people... what they’re eating... or movies that they’ve seen. It just isn’t healthy for society to be hanging on these jerks every word. . .
So I’m thinking Taco Time for lunch. Do you LIKE THIS? Do you want to leave a COMMENT?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RABBIT HOLE

“RABBIT HOLE” (Nicole Kidman & Aaron Eckhart)

This film broke my cardinal rule of ‘if you can’t relate to the characters, it is difficult to care about what happens to them’ because I couldn’t relate to this couples’ situation & yet I became emotionally involved in their predicament.
I’d say the main reason for this phenomenon was the acting – Nicole Kidman has never been better, she replaces Naomi Watts as my frontrunner for Best Actress with her magnificent portrayal of Becca Corbett; a woman that 8 months prior to the beginning of the film tragically lost her 4 year old son, Danny, when the youngster chased after his dog when he ran into the street.
The story centers on Becca and husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart – also in a career best performance) but includes a small circle of supporting players, the most significant being the teenaged boy, Jason (Miles Teller) that, through no fault of his own, struck and killed little Danny.
Becca and Howie deal with the death separately in almost every fashion – Howie enjoys viewing the last video he made of Danny on his phone; Becca wants to remove any reminders of Danny’s existence because it's simply too painful for her. Howie desperately tries to ‘get past’ the tragedy while Becca distances herself from him and attempts to display a cold veneer from everyone in her life.
Dianne Wiest plays Becca’s mother and she too is perfectly cast – she lost her son/Becca’s brother when he was 31, but in no way as painfully as her daughter. Still, mom insists on bringing up ‘Arthur’ whenever Danny’s passing is mentioned.
Howie wants to put their lives back together, while Becca seems to want to embrace the misery.
Becca agrees to attend a group therapy meeting with other couples that have lost a child. As one couple struggle to talk through their method of coping by saying “God needed an angel so he sent for our little girl” – Becca breaks out in a mocking laugh, espousing, “Why do you feel the need to say that? Why doesn’t God just make another angel? After all, he’s God!” . . . needless to say Becca doesn’t attend anymore meetings.
But Howie does and he gravitates toward Gabby (Sandra Oh – Should I say it again? -Clearly her best performance, though that’s not saying much)
Becca meanwhile begins stalking a young boy she sees on a school bus but the puzzling behavior is soon revealed (& it isn’t because she thought the boy looked like an older version of Danny)
“Rabbit Hole” packs an emotional wallop because these characters are so expertly portrayed they force you to care about them even if you’ve never lost a child. Throughout most of the film I felt empathy for Howie as he tries time and time again to both get passed the tragic event and yet still keep Danny’s memory alive while his spouse is taking the complete opposite route; putting up a stoic front while wallowing in pain on the inside and trying to erase Danny from their memories.
Yet, I cared about them both.
There were times when I wanted to hold Becca & times when I wanted to slap her. When she verbally attacks her mother for lumping Arthur’s death with Danny’s, I was behind her 100% - but when she confronts a mother in a supermarket for not caving in to the child’s candy demands, I was – at first shocked - & then displeased with her reaction.
Howie doesn’t skate through without his moment of despicable behavior either when he encounters the kid that accidentally ran over Danny – Mind you, this boy is pretty much blameless for the accident; he was just driving down the wrong street at the wrong time when a dumb kid darted in front of him – the way Howie treats this poor guilt ridden kid made me want to punch his lights out.
It’s an emotional ride that flies on different levels but each scene seemed to have meaning; each conversation seemed poignant – there were no wasted scenes. Unlike ‘Blue Valentine’, I CARED about these people. I WANTED a happy ending for them, though that didn’t have a chance in hell of happening.
When the film ended I sat in my seat unable to speak. My wife looked at me waiting for my comments and all I could utter was, “I can’t talk right now.”
If you want to see a very real uncompromising drama about a very human couple go see “Rabbit Hole”
I hope you have the same reaction that I did because just thinking about the ending – and the film in general - has my eyes welling with tears and a lump crawling up my throat...
& I couldn’t ‘relate’ to these people at all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

127 HOURS

“127 HOURS” (James Franco)

“Well, there’s 127 hours of my life that I’ll never get back.”
That was my comment to Alan Smithee and his ‘partner’ when ‘127 Hours’ mercifully reached its conclusion.
James Franco one of the favorites for Best Actor? Are you joking? Where’s the acting challenge? He stands in front of a rock for an hour babbling to himself as he stares at his mini-camcorder. And he doesn’t say anything all that interesting. The one moment I went ‘Hey, that was cool – I liked that!’ lasted for less than a fraction of a second. A flash of lightning reveals a blow-up doll in the likeness of Scooby-Doo and I got excited that something humorous or interesting might take place... but it didn’t.
I had little interest in seeing this film, but I decided I had to see James Franco's performance so I would know whether ot not it was Oscar worthy.
Franco plays Aron Ralston, a true life arrogant airhead without much of a personality and obviously no friends or acquaintances that care about him (other than the mother he ignores)
The opening sequence was one of the most annoying ever; loud headache inducing ‘music’ invades your ears while the screen fills with annoying scenes of bright flashing lights & super-fast motion cars driving at night with their headlights glaring in your face. Then we see Aron, a grown man riding his bike like a child; a dumb, ignorant child at that – and of course, the musical noize continues to grate on one’s nerves. The musical selections/score never improves so I certainly hope that whoever had the job of picking the music for this never gets hired again – at least not for any project I might want to see.
Aron is so in love with himself he comes across as pathetic – he is constantly taking pictures of himself as he bikes and hikes his merry way thru a lonesome, useless life.
As everyone knows, the title comes from how long Aron was trapped in a crevice with his arm wedged between a solid wall of rock and a large boulder. Most of the film consists of extreme close-ups of arrogant Aron talking into his camcorder.
Once in a while, a girl appears – the one that got away – but we were never introduced to her so she means nothing to the viewer.
The extreme close-ups used here didn’t bother me as much as they did in ‘Blue Valentine’ because Aron isn’t conversing with anyone else – what bothered me was that he was just as bland and boring as the couple in ‘B. V.’
A comparison can be made between this & ‘Into The Wild’ (another true story from a couple of years ago starring Emile Hirsch) in that they are both about idiots who put themselves in dangerous situations. The difference being (& the reason I liked ‘Into The Wild’ and hated this) Sean Penn told the whole story – we were shown why Chris McCandless left home and the interesting people he encountered along his way ‘into the wild’ – All we find out about Aron Ralston is he’s an immature loser who has one undeniable talent – He knows what kind of batteries last the longest because his camcorder doesn’t go dead until hour 120-something!
Emile wasn’t even nominated for Best Actor despite putting himself thru torture to achieve a realistic look as to how his character appeared by the end of his journey – All Franco had to do was stop using Chapstick for a few weeks. Every person in our party noticed that after 5+ days of being trapped in a canyon, Aron’s beard didn’t grow at all – His lips got chapped, but the beard refused to cooperate with reality.
As Alan Smithee’s learned ‘partner in life’ commented; “The movie glorified cockiness and stupidity – how is that a good message to send?”
Besides commenting on why I decided to make him sound gay, I’m sure Mr. Smithee will entertain us with his comments on this ‘disaster’ flick.
THIS time I’m not alone in my opinion that this so-called Oscar caliber film sucked donkey balls. So those of you that are going to challenge me for disliking this movie, be prepared - for I have backing this time and you can’t say it’s just because Reid dislikes everything the American sheep likes.
I get chastised for seeing garbage I know will be crap and how I should be seeing ‘quality’ films like ‘Black Swan’, ‘Inception’ & ‘127 Hours’. Well, I gave those 3 Oscar contenders a D-, D & D+ which pretty much assures that all 3 will be in my Bottom 10 for 2010; right down there with ‘The Bounty Hunter’, “The A-Team’ & ‘You Again’.
So I guess the old saying is true – Crap is in the eye of the beholder (& ‘Critics don’t know crap’ also applies)
Oh, and A. Smithee’s ‘partner’ is the very lovely and upbeat Dr. P. – One of the most cheerful people I know. But this dreadful tale even brought her down. I just said it stunk, while she said it ‘F-ing’ stunk!

BLUE VALENTINE

“BLUE VALENTINE” (Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams)

This is the type of project you wonder why anyone would green light.
It is sad, depressing, poorly told & relatively boring.
Once some dreary executive gave it the thumbs up, they bring in a director who decides practically every scene should be shot in EXTREME close ups & I do mean extreme; most conversations are filled with the face of the speaker from the eyebrows to lower lip portions of their faces. It gave this very realistic film an unrealistic feel because people don’t have conversations fractions of inches away from their companions’ faces.
Then they bring in another annoying habit – let’s bounce around in time so no one knows when each scene is actually taking place in chronological time. This is a very simple story of a couple from courtship to break up & yet for the first half-hour or so, I had no idea what was going on. My wife, who rarely utters a word during a film, turned to me & said, “I’m confused.” And all I could do was shrug my shoulders in agreement, even though I had caught on to the pre-marriage/post-marriage flip flopping by looking at Ryan Gosling’s hairline – Receding, they are a married couple – Full head of hair, they’re back in time to when they were dating. So the story gets jumbled as well - you see one scene where they appear to care for one another a great deal and Ryan’s character, Dean, is a sweet guy who’d do anything for Michelle Williams’ Cindy – to a balding, bitter, chain smoking resentful Dean that has a quick temper and blames Cindy for everything that goes wrong in their lives. Cindy, on the other hand never really commits to Dean so she goes from ‘needing’ him but not sure if she wants him to being unsure as to whether or not she needs him, but very sure of the fact that she doesn’t ‘want’ him anymore. So they cohabitate basically for the sake of a child that Dean knows isn’t biologically his. The little girl doesn’t know this, of course, since her mother married Dean while pregnant with her.
Then let’s bring in my old friend Mr. Boredom. In the first half hour of ‘Blue Valentine’ the family dog is missing, Dean gets a job, then the dog is found... that’s about all that happens – In the FIRST HALF HOUR. I began thinking of better titles and came up with ‘You Are Wearily Numb’ – or ‘YAWN’ for short.
The movie basically consists of one boring bland conversation/argument after another. The lone highlight is a funny, but sick little joke that Cindy tells Dean to prove she has a sense of humor (During one of their dating-era scenes)
To describe this film scene by scene it would go – Here’s a dysfunctional couple / Now they’re in love / Now they’re dysfunctional / Now they like each other, sort of... Repeat a dozen times – The End.
The acting isn’t bad – Gosling rises above the material, but despite a valiant effort, I don’t think he should be considered for a Best Actor nod because the film is such a let down. Other than the joke she tells, Cindy doesn’t emote much; I truly thought she was going to wind up committing suicide because she seemed to get no enjoyment from life. By the film’s end I felt that bad things kept happening to Cindy because Cindy doesn’t attempt to get any fun out of life. This is the kind of person most of us would rather not have to socialize with – so why make a movie about such a person? Watching her purposely suck all the joy out of life made me so depressed, I almost forgave Dean for becoming the jerk that resorts to violence at the film’s climax.
“Blue Valentine” is bland, boring and extremely depressing to watch – What’s not to love? I wondered if they shot it realistically (no extreme close-ups) & told it as it happened; cute couple fall in love without really having anything in common and then the nice guy who weds the pregnant girl slowly watches his marriage disintegrate – If THAT would have made it more interesting and less depressing?
But since it is mostly uninteresting and depressing, I don’t think so...
The pedophile joke was funny though.

MEGAMIND / LEGEND Of The GUARDIANS

“MEGAMIND” / “LEGEND OF THE GUARDIAN (The Owls That Give A Hoot)”

Two cartoon movies that I went to see but didn’t have much to say about;
‘Megamind’ is okay – I gave it a C. It isn’t all that funny, but it isn’t exceptionally dumb – or terribly unfunny like ‘Shrek 4ever After’ or the ‘Madagascar’ films.
Younger children should enjoy it – it’s aimed at them. Although it followed the same path as ‘Despicable Me’ it doesn’t come close to being as entertaining because it has no adult lines.
Will Ferrell’s bad guy, the alien known as Megamind decides to change his stripes when Brad Pitt’s MetroMan (think ‘Superman’ clone) is accidentally incapacitated
by one of Megamind’s villainous plots. Realizing it’s no fun being evil when there’s no good guy to counteract his schemes, Megamind secretly turns into a hero only to find he’s somewhat of a failure at that as well. Like I said, it’s OK, but if you’re 12 or older, don’t expect to laugh that much.

I gave ‘The Cartoon Owls That Give A Hoot’ a higher grade of C+, probably because it was a more serious cartoon than ‘Megamind’. Slights can be made since it follows the same premise as ‘Avatar’ (which was a rip-off of ‘Ferngully’) in that a ‘tree’ represents a heavenly safe haven and evil owls are plotting to over take it.
I liked the storyline better here, possibly because it was filled with talking owls, which I felt was a bit of a novelty; but also it was ‘classy’ – the animation was excellent – I didn’t think a cartoon about owls would work since they don’t have a lot of movement in the facial area. They made each owl different somehow so you could tell them apart – sort of like the minions in ‘Despicable Me’ except the birds weren’t the least bit funny (But they were fluffy!)
So ‘The Legend Of The Guardians’ is worth seeing if you’re a fan of good animation – about halfway thru the film I had to remind myself that these weren’t real owls! The story is an uplifting one – yes, it’s your usual good-vrs-evil fare - but hey, they’re owls and they’re talking with English accents! That’s the best way to describe it, really – it’s a quality animated film that you really can’t say anything bad about.
Though I wouldn’t call it exceptional, it was a pleasurable enough experience viewing the cartoon owls that gave a hoot. By the way, I call it that because I don’t know how to spell or pronounce Ga’hoole...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The KING'S SPEECH

“The KING’S SPEECH” (Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush & Helena Bonham Carter)

When I first heard about this film (from dbm) I thought it would be the type of ‘art house’ rubbish that apparently I can’t stand (according to movie luva)
In some ways it is that – any story involving Britain’s royal family is going to be snobbish, there’s no way around it – and in the beginning I didn’t like Helena Bonham Carter’s Duchess of York, nor Colin Firth’s Duke. They thought they were better than everyone else. ‘Common’ people shouldn’t even be allowed to gaze upon them, let alone associate with someone of their superior bloodline. So when Elizabeth (Bonham Carter) engages Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to be her husband’s speech therapist and help to cure his stuttering problem, she acts as though Mr. Logue should be honored to help a member of the royal family and not expect to be paid for his efforts. I sneered at her every time she stuck her snooty nose in the air as though Lionel’s abode had a distasteful odor that her pristine nostrils shouldn’t have to inhale. I then prepared myself to dislike this film as much as I disliked the Duchess.
Then Colin Firth appears as the Duke, second son of King George V and he’s an even bigger snob than his stuck-up wife... until he speaks. ‘Bertie’ (as Lionel calls him, much to his dismay) has a very pronounced stutter. “Know any jokes?” Lionel asks.
“T-t-t-timing isn’t my s-strong s-s-suit,” the Duke replies. Suddenly, the Duke appears human and almost likable.
That’s what separates ‘The King’s Speech’ from other ‘historical’ films involving the Royal family – it has a very pronounced sense of humor – One might even call it a snob/com.
Lionel bets the Duke that he can have him reciting Shakespeare without stammering during their first lesson. He hands his royal highness a copy of ‘Hamlet’ (Piglet’s father) and then places a set of headphones upon the Duke’s head with loud orchestral music playing.
“I can’t hear a bloody word I’m saying!” Bertie yells.
“Surely a Prince’s brain knows what its mouth is doing?” Lionel asks.
“You’re obviously not well acquainted with Princes, are you?” the Prince smirks.
Firth and Rush are outstanding; especially Colin as the stuttering ‘man who would be king’ – they play off of one another effortlessly. When the future King tells Logue he’s ‘peculiar’ – Lionel responds, “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
This film works because the ‘common’ speech therapist doesn’t accept that members of the royal family are any better than anyone else – Yet, at the same time, he WANTS to help the Duke conquer his impediment because that is what he’s paid to do.
Slowly, begrudgingly, ‘Bertie’ sees that Lionel is not only an excellent speech therapist, but an advantageous advisor as well – Did the royal family begin to lose a bit of that snootiness because King George VI brought Lionel Logue into the palace to guide him through his many speeches during WWII?
Sure, it’s reminiscent of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ in storyline, but that film overcame its title character’s prejudice to make her lovable as well.
My complaints are few and miniscule; Guy Pearce seemed quite bland as King George V’s eldest son who gives up the throne after his father’s death to marry a divorced American woman (Gasp!) For all the controversy surrounding King Edward’s promiscuous behavior which leads to his abdicating of the throne, Pearce didn’t play the role with any pizzazz. And Timothy Spall played Winston Churchill like he was channeling the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock instead. I kept waiting for him to drawl, “Good evening...”
Yes, the critic that hates ‘art house’ movies found one he enjoyed thoroughly in ‘The King’s Speech’ and the chief reason is the humor.
I have been accused lately of not liking the movies that EVERYONE else likes.
I recently read a list of the top grossing films of 2010 & yes, I thought most of them were junk – I don’t see how anyone could think that ‘Toy Story 3’ is a better cartoon than “Despicable Me’, but I guess that’s what separates me from the sheep.
It wasn’t my idea to start writing movie reviews – I was asked to do it at the radio station I once worked for to simply add a little substance to the station’s website. From the beginning I said that I wasn’t a professional critic – I’m a normal movie fan that isn’t going to favor foreign films or stuffy crap that usually wins Oscars (Hoity Toity art house flicks and those dreadful musicals) I wanted to write for the ‘commoner’ – to give an honest opinion on the types of movies we regular schmucks go to see. Along the way I’ve been enticed to see films that I normally would avoid because ‘someone’ wants to see what I would write about it (thank goodness I never gave in & paid money to see ‘Borat’)
But I have learned that I’m not a commoner; Commoners like car chases & explosions & movies that look keen. So instead I present my thoughts using my own unique niche (I hope) and even though you may totally disagree with what I’ve said about a film you enjoyed, you still came to this blog to see what I had to say about it because you’re not going to get your run-of-the-mill review. I appreciate comments from my regulars and encourage anyone that hasn’t added their opinion to please do so.
Movie Luva is probably my favorite because she has on more than one occasion said that she went to see a film based on what I had written about it (& enjoyed them)
So I have a question for her – You wrote that you knew if I went to see ‘Black Swan’ that I wouldn’t like it – Did you think that I would love ‘The King’s Speech’? Because, until I saw the trailer, I had no interest in it whatsoever – Now, I hope it wins Best Picture. Because it’s the only one being touted as a contender that I liked; along with ‘The Fighter’ – but I was more impressed with Christian Bale’s acting than I was in the overall film. And I would be shocked if Colin Firth doesn’t win for Best Actor & Geoffrey Rush should finish second (behind Bale) for Supporting Actor. So, M. L., did you see THAT coming?

Monday, January 3, 2011

BLACK SWAN

“BLACK SWAN” (Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barabara Hershey & Vincent Cassel)

I can describe this film perfectly in just two words; Awe & Full.
This is the worst movie of 2010, hands down – it is one of the biggest loads ever to be shoved into a dumpster & the critics are all raving it as a Best Picture contender?
It’s because it’s snooty – It’s about snooty ballerinas & the snooty ballet & there isn’t much more to it than that.
I was bored 1 minute into it watching Natalie Portman’s Nina Sayers tie on her snooty ballerina slippers - & this isn’t a one time occurrence, we have to sit thru quite a few scenes involving Nina and her slippers.
Other than some snooty French guy (Vincent Cassel) putting together a stripped down version of ‘Swan Lake’, there is no storyline – Just skinny women flitting around on their toes pretending to be birds. Note to the filmmakers – birds don’t have toes & even if they did they wouldn’t waste their lives standing up on the tips of them – they’d fly off; especially if they were cast in this piece of s---.
From the beginning Nina always looks frightened and on the verge of tears – In EVERY FREAKIN’ SCENE she’s this way – so when she starts to ‘melt down’, there really isn’t much of a change. I found Portman’s acting in this so bad it was laughable. This film is like ‘Showgirls’ with ballerinas instead of strippers. & the worst part is – there’s no nudity!
Nina is void of a personality – always looking frightened & on the verge of tears tends to make a person unpleasant to be around. She has no life – she lives with her overly protective mother (Barbara Hershey) who treats her like a 10 year old. Someone like Nina would never reach any level of success as this story suggests because she’s too high strung and unable to control her emotions under any circumstance. She’s sad, pathetic and creepy.
We’re supposed to feel Nina’s torment because the overly dramatic score tells us ‘Oh My Gawd, This A Poignant, Dramatic Moment!’
Nina enters the hospital room of Beth (Winona Ryder) an over-the-hill ballerina that was hit by a car. Nina lifts the covers as Beth lies sleeping and sees a brace on her leg – the loud score builds momentum as Nina lifts another section and sees . . . a laceration!!!!
Nina flees from the hospital looking frightened and on the verge of tears while the score pounds in our ears that this is indeed a horrifying moment and we all need to hold our breath until Nina reaches safety – Oh, the brace... oh the laceration...
oh the humanity!
How much more of this can she (& we) endure?
Then there’s the dance rehearsal scenes; I counted 171 of them before I became bored and stopped counting. I believe ‘Black Swan’ just might be the dullest movie ever made.
About an hour into this travesty, there’s a scene involving an old man on a bus that made me laugh. Then dance rehearsal scene #88 followed and I was bored again.
Then to relieve the viewer of the monotony of dance rehearsals, they throw in a disco scene involving a long sequence of strobe light dancing. Wonderful! Now I’m bored AND I have a headache...
Mila Kunis, as in all of her movies, is the best thing about this film. The problem with Mila Kunis’ film career? She’s yet to make one decent movie. She’s great, but the films suck. (Book Of Eli, Date Night, Forgetting Sarah Marshall... am I forgetting anything good she’s been in?)
Now the weird mother-daughter relationship that develops here might have been interesting in a different, less boring setting but with all the elements (meaning; dance rehearsal scenes) the extremely uncomfortable ‘Mommie Dearest’ plot becomes boring as well. But Nina’s revolving door of traumatizing scenes that may or may not have actually taken place happen so frequently it reaches the point where the entire plot seems like a drug induced fairy tale and it fails to excite because it’s all so stupid.
There’s one scene where Nina rushes into the bathroom and tries to puke, but can’t...
I could relate because I felt the same way.
Anyone that thinks this dance rehearsal deserves an Oscar nomination is obviously a fan of watching other people dance and I just don’t understand how anyone could find that entertaining. And the fact that Natalie Portman is supposedly the ‘favorite’ to win Best Actress is utterly ridiculous – Personally, I thought she laid an egg.