Monthly Archives: February 2012

Flash Movie Review: Act of Valor

One would think, with live bullets and real U.S. Navy SEALS, this movie would be a safe bet for excitement. Alas, that was not the case for me. The conflict scenes were well done and had a good amount of building tension with intense action. However, the in between scenes were simply dreadful. I knew going into this film that the military men were actual special force fighters not actors. And I was okay with that, realizing this story was not going to be actor driven. However, I do not care if military people talk like that in real life; it was absolutely corny and cliched. If you are making a movie, then you need a good script writer. For me, I felt I was viewing an extended ad campaign. It was a real shame, because with a decent script, this film would have had a steady balance of drama and excitement. Instead, I quickly became bored with the non fighting scenes. One thing I found very curious was the crowd’s reaction to a woman being tortured. I believe it made everyone more squeamish than if it was a man getting abused. If I were you, I would wait for this film on DVD, so you can fast forward through parts of it.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

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Flash Movie Review: God Grew Tired of Us

The reality shows aired on television are certainly not reality to me. This movie was a sobering dose of reality, with such a spirit of life; all I can say is that I was in awe. You may not be familiar with the lost boys of Sudan, who walked thousands of miles in search of a safe haven, due to the civil war raging in their country. Their plight was horrific as they had to avoid the northern aggressors during the day and lions at night. For some of them, the only life they had ever known was living in refugee camps. This documentary showed the journey of a few boys out of a group who were able to migrate to the United States. Imagine for a moment what it must have felt like to leave not only your family and friends, but your country. I’m stressed just when I have had to move to a new house, talk about getting a reality check. How does one explain a light switch to someone who has no knowledge of electricity? I loved the scene where the friends were introduced to a grocery store and offered a frosted, sprinkled doughnut. Looking at it, they were not sure if it was food. The phrase “food for thought” came to mind here. What I really appreciated from watching this illuminating movie was the way the director not only showed their life in America, but also showed a little bit of our lives through these boys’ eyes.

 

3 1/2 stars — DVD

 

Oscar Telecast

As I was scrapping the last spoonful of ice cream out of my 2nd container, the Oscar telecast came to a close. Another season of movies fighting their way to the ultimate prize in Hollywood–the Oscar statuette. Overall, I enjoyed the telecast, with its even pacing and shorter than usual acceptance speeches. I am not sure if it was the length of the telecast or the amount of caffeine I consumed from the lovely chocolate creations, donated by my local bakery; but, it seemed as if I needed more bathroom breaks. It was good to see Billy Crystal again. Having him host was like finding a comfortable sweater that was out of fashion, so you would only wear it to the grocery store. Some of his jokes were funny or at least amusing, though the focus group clip did nothing for me. As for the movie stars in attendance, I felt their attire was elegant in a muted way.  Though what was up with Angelina’s leg? Did she think her dress was not beautiful enough without thrusting her leg out? Cirque du Soleil did a wonderful piece, though the space of the stage made it look too busy for me. I did not know what to look at first. And so what if their act had nothing to do with the movies, maybe they were there for the cool factor, albeit  fifteen years ago. Though I wish the results would have been different, I will continue to seek out those elusive 4 star movies…right after I fill out my application to be a seat filler for next year’s show.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Wanderlust

The only wandering that was done in this movie was the story line. What I thought would be a fun movie, turned out to be flat with a handful of chuckles. Paul Rudd (Role Models, I Love You, Man), who is always consistent in his performances, could not save this film. I would love to know how much ad libbing Paul did in an attempt to save this movie–the raunchy talking to himself in the mirror scene comes to mind. His wife Linda was played by Jennifer Aniston (Marley & Me, The Bounty Hunter). I only wish Jennifer would change her management company and get a new acting coach. There never seems to be any growth in her performances; she always is the same, with a narrow range of ability. After striking out in each of their business professions in New York City, the couple set out to stay with George’s brother in Atlanta, where a job was waiting in the brother’s waste company. During their road trip south, Linda and George stumbled upon a bread and breakfast owned by a commune. The members’ non pressured, laid back lifestyle intrigued the couple to extend their stay. What could have been a gold mine of hilarious material never took place, with the last half of the movie taking on a ridiculous quality. Such a shame a good idea went up in a haze of smoke. But at least Jennifer got a boyfriend out of the experience. If you insist on seeing this movie, stay through the credits.

 

2 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: Irina Palm

Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands to make a difference. In the case of Irina Palm, she certainly did. Widowed grandmother, Maggie played by Marianne Faithfull (Paris, je T’aime, Marie Antoinette) was desperate to get money for her ill grandson’s surgery. Without having any marketable skills, Maggie in her search, spotted a help wanted sign in the window of a commercial business, looking for a hostess. However, the establishment was not a restaurant. It was a sex club being run by Miki, played by Miki Manojiovic (Underground, The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner). I must tell you I had my doubts, thinking this story would not be feasible in the real world. But then I started thinking, what if I were in that situation and needed to get money to save someone’s life. And you know, I would do everything I humanly could, to make it happen. What seemed like a joke at first, Miki decided to test Maggie, to see if she could “handle”  the responsibility, eventually dubbing her “Irina Palm”. With sparse dialog, I loved Marianne’s acting performance and was hooked into this odd, but interesting film. The story brewed with subtle undertones that unfolded with a couple of interesting twists. For you music fans, do a search on Marianne Faithfull to read about the inspiration behind several classic songs. Oh, and if you have been wondering what Miki had Maggie do at his live sex club, the answer can be found in the movie title and within this review.

 

3 stars — DVD

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: This Means War

Two grown men fighting over Smurfette; I did not get it.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Reese Witherspoon ( Walk the Line, Water for Elephants), who doesn’t? But in this role as Lauren, I felt she was miscast. Top CIA agents FDR Foster and Tuck, played by Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable) and Tom Hardy (Warrior, Inception) respectively, discover they are both dating the unsuspecting Lauren. What ensues essentially is a testosterone competition between the two agents as they try to win her affections. Using any means at their disposal, including the agency’s, we saw one dating scenario after another being sabotaged by the other agent. It was a goofy premise, but there were some easy laughs one could get out of this fast paced movie. Let us face it, this was the type of movie that did not require common sense. And after seeing Tom Hardy’s intense work in the movie Warrior, I had a hard time believing him in this role. On the other hand, I was amused by Chelsea Handler who played Lauren’s sharp tongued friend Trish. For a nonsensical film, where you just want a couple of good laughs, then this is your movie. However, I am not sure I would want to see it on a first date.

2 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Rabbit Hole

How does one handle tragic loss? For me, it can manifest into a physical pain that feels as if it is consuming my body. When a family member or friend experiences a heartbreaking loss, I never know what to say or do, always feeling I’m not doing enough for them. It is an uncomfortable feeling and it was this same type of feeling that welled up in me as I watched this powerful drama. Becca and Howie, played by Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, The Hours) and Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Thank You for Smoking), were a married couple dealing with the heartbreaking loss of their son. Each of them had their own way in dealing with the loss. Unfortunately, this caused the bond between them to crack, bringing forth deeply embedded emotions. Even though I felt uncomfortable, I am grateful to have seen this raw yet beautiful movie. Nicole was wonderful in this role, easily conveying her feelings without uttering a single word. And I have to give her credit for hand picking Aaron to play her husband, for his performace blew me away. The depth and range of his emotions on display were a complete surprise. The play this movie was based on won the Pulitzer prize for best drama and was nominated for a Tony award. Even though the movie drew a feeling of discomfort out of me, it did not compare to what I witnessed in this intense actor driven film.

 

3 1/3 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Big Miracle

Do you remember where you were when the real story was breaking news? Please do not tell me you were at a fish fry. I have no memories about the trapped whales; but no matter, the movie still charmed me. This dramatization of the real story was sweet and smooth to watch. Adam Carlson, played by John Krasinski (It’s Complicated, Leatherheads), was the reporter who spotted the three whales trapped by encroaching ice off the coast of Alaska. His news reel hits the airwaves where his former girlfriend, Rachel Kramer played by Drew Barrymore (Charlie’s Angels, 50 First Dates), witnesses the mammals’ plight. Now she happens to work for Greenpeace, so you know she is going to fly up there and try to save the whales. There were no surprises here and the acting was a bit mundane.  However, I have to tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie. Maybe I am just a sucker when it comes to an animal in peril. Drew is not a great actress but she is reliable, while John comes across as your old childhood friend, who has a little more growing up to do. This film is what they call “a feel good” movie. We have opposing groups wanting their needs met as the clock is ticking on the whales’ fate. But in the end as the audience applauded, I left the theater feeling upbeat and happy.

 

2 1/2 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: My One and Only

How many more seven degrees of Kevin Bacon (Mystic River, Apollo 13) were made with this movie? I really did not give it much thought, due to a surprisingly solid performance from Rene Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Chicago). I have not always been fond of her acting, but she really shined in this film as the polite, southern belle, Anne Devereaux. Her huband Dan Devereaux, played by Kevin, was a popular bandleader. Loosely based on George Hamilton’s (Love at First Bite, Hollywood Ending) childhood experiences, the lovely and proper Anne discovered her husband in bed with another woman. Rounding up her two boys, Mrs. Devereaux set off on an unusual cross country road trip, to seek out a new man. Not only did he have to be a father to her sons and husband to her, but he had to be rich enough to allow them to live in the lifestyle they were accustomed to living. I was curious to see what the perpetually tanned Hamilton’s childhood was like (maybe to find an answer for his obsession with being bronzed); however, I was not expecting to find the dialog so witty. There was a great stylish look to the film and the acting was quite decent. As it turned out, this was a fun and wild road trip movie, where I actually was glad to be a passenger.

 

2 3/4 stars — DVD

 

Oscar Predictions

As I prepare for what is the biggest holiday in my world, the Oscar awards, I am wrestling with either placing my cycling bike in front of the television or my dessert tray alongside my couch. Looking over my list of nominees, I certainly would have made some different choices. However, since I am not a member of the academy (why won’t they respond to my pleas?!) I must make do with what has been given to me. Sorry Ryan Gosling, come back next year Leonardo Dicaprio and Michael Shannon please do not take their snub personally. Following, I give you my choices on who I think should get an Oscar:

 

Best Actor: George Clooney

Best Actress: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer

Best Original Screenplay: A Separation

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

Best Director: Martin Scorsese

Best Picture: Hugo

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