Monthly Archives: May 2012
Women, for all these years how have you been able to put up with us men? Inspired by true events, this romantic comedy’s main story was about the development of a device that would be used to cure women from the medical condition called hysteria. Set in Victorian England, the young physician Mortimer Granville, played by Hugh Dancy (Our Idiot Brother, Adam), came upon the idea by chance. While holding his friend, played by Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Stardust), Edmund St. John-Smythe’s motorized feather duster; Mortimer came up with the device which was to become the forefather of the modern vibrator. With Dr. Robert Dalrymple, played by Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise); the two men formed a successful partnership. However, one of Dr. Dalrymple’s daughters, Charlotte played by Maggie Gyllennaal (Crazy Heart, The Dark Knight), was skeptical of the whole concept. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s character as she was a strong advocate for women’s rights. All the actors looked like they were enjoying themselves and came across the screen in a likable way. The majority of the audience was female who were hooting and laughing throughout the film. Make sure you stay for the credits, to see a timeline on the evolution of the vibrator. You may not walk out of the movie theater with the urge to light up a cigarette, but you easily will have a smile on your face.
2 3/4 stars
It took me one week to realize there was a pecking order in high school. The first time in my music class, I was picked on for knowing about Ludwig van Beethoven. For Charlie Bartlett, played by Anton Yelchin (Like Crazy, Star Trek), it only took one day. Granted, wearing a blazer on the first day in your new school was similar to waving a red cape in front of a bull, in my opinion. After being expelled from several private schools, Charlie’s mother Marilyn Bartlett, played by Hope Davis (Real Steel, The Weather Man), had no choice but to enroll him in a public high school. Like anyone going into high school, Charlie just wanted to fit in and be one of the popular kids, not one of the untouchables. Striking an alliance with one of his tormentors, Charlie set up a little business in the boys restroom. He would listen to classmate’s issues similar to being in a confessional and dispense pharmaceutical drugs to them. With any successful business, it did not take long for Charlie to get on principal, played by Robert Downey Jr (The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes franchise), Nathan Gardner’s radar. This offbeat comedy displayed in a quirky way, the angst and trials of high school life. I thought the acting was well done especially from Robert Downey Jr. No matter where you placed on the pecking order in your school, this movie is sure to bring back some memories for you.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
Nothing like walking into an unfamiliar movie and being taken on a wild ride of surprising thrills. I needed a seat belt due to my squirming from the tension that was built up in this action movie. Based on the best-selling mystery novel by Jo Nesbo, the screenplay had a mixture of fear, disgust, intrigue and humor rolled up into it, forming a tightly paced film. Roger Brown, played by Aksel Hennie (Buddy, Max Manus: Man of War) was a successful executive recruiter. He lived in an incredible house, had a beautiful wife, drove a nice car; yet, it wasn’t enough. To supplement his income, he moonlighted as an art thief. Tipped off by his wife, who happened to own an art gallery, about his recent client’s priceless painting; Roger set out to steal the masterpiece. The client was Clas Greve, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (At World’s End, Game of Thrones-TV), a former mercenary. With excellent acting and some utterly crazy scenes; this was an exciting movie to watch, even though I found it hard to mix tense action with immediate humor. Also, some of the scenes were extremely violent and bloody. By the end of the film, I was tired but satisfied that my money was well spent by seeing this movie. Norwegian with English subtitles.
How does one go forward if they do not see where they came from? There is nothing wrong with looking to the past to find answers in the present. Based on the best-selling novel, this wonderful movie could easily have been about any group or individual; besides the family in this beautiful story about one’s name and heritage. In my family we are named after a deceased relative, honoring their memory. As a child I did not appreciate this since I was the only one who had my name until I was in high school. It wasn’t until I became an adult (or close to one) that I learned to love and respect my name. Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar franchise, Epic Movie) as Gogol/Nikhil went through such a transformation as the son of immigrant parents Ashima and Ashoke, played by Tabu (Shock, Chandni Bar) and Irrfan (Slumdog Millionaire, The Darjeeling Limited). The biggest surprise for me was Kal’s admirable acting. Seriously, I had no idea he could handle this role and add such believability to it. Tabu’s and Irrfan’s acting was sublime as the transplanted Indians navigating their way between the modern world they lived in with the traditions and customs of their culture. A majestic movie about love, family and the honor given to one’s name.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
Others have tried but failed (think Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost) when they tampered with the space-time continuum, in their movies. In regards to this action comedy, going back in time was the best thing to have happened in this film franchise. The special effects were up to the same excellent caliber as the previous two movies and Will Smith (Independence Day, The Pursuit of Happyness) as Agent J still had his quick witted delivery of endless jokes. Ten years since the previous sequel, this science fiction thriller aged well. A seriously bad alien criminal with a long history tied to Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men, The Fugitive), went back in time to kill the agent, thus changing the course of history. Agent J had to go back in time to prevent the death of a much younger Agent K, played brilliantly by Josh Brolin (True Grit, Milk). Mr. Brolin executed the mannerisms and tone of Tommy Lee’s character perfectly. I also suspect baby boomers will get a kick out of time traveling back to 1969, I certainly did. Except for the need of tighter editing and lack of depth in the script, this 3rd installment did not disappoint me. I had a good time watching this film and believe the space-time continuum was returned to order, with the help of a few good laughs.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary codependency is “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition.” A perfect example would be the mother and daughter of this documentary. Their story was made into a Broadway play and a movie on HBO, but I wanted to see the real Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale. What made this film fascinating was the fact that these two women were the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; living in squalor, in their East Hampton mansion. The house had fallen into disrepair with cats everywhere and raccoons living in the attic. I honestly do not know where to begin in trying to describe Big Edie and Little Edie, except to say they truly were codependents. With so many reality television shows airing these days, some of you may think you are just watching an episode of Hoarders or Animal Planet. However, here were two high society individuals who had been used to having pretty much everything available to them. Added to that, their relative was one of the most famous women in the world. If it was not for that fact, would these two women even have been subjects to be filmed? I believe they would have, because their story really was a startling revelation on one family’s dysfunctions. I am sad to say this but watching this movie felt like I was a witness to a train wreck–it was terribly sad but I could not take my eyes off of it.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
Take an older stoic movie star, a pseudo action hero, a pop singer, a hot television character, a model/actress, a group of aliens and what do you get? You get a half-baked dumb movie. The powers that be must have sat down and gone through a list of options, picking out the ones that would interest a wide swath of the general population. Unfortunately, this left no one to focus on the story, for it was silly. I mean seriously, aliens could travel across the universe, but could not move out of the way of a communications satellite’s path? The gist of the story was scientists beamed a signal out into the universe and something not so friendly answered it. Poor Liam Neeson (The Grey, Taken) as Admiral Shane tried his hardest with the cheesy script. I was embarrassed for Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood-TV, Melancholia) as Commander Stone Hopper with some of the lines he had to utter. Rihanna as Petty Officer Cora “Weps” Raikes was still Rihanna. And if it was not bad enough being part of the biggest movie flop in history, Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, The Bang Bang Club) had to endure being in this mess as Lieutenant Alex Hopper. On the plus side, the real marines used in this film must have had a fun time hanging out with the cast and crew. The only reason to see this science fiction thriller would be to give your brain a break from thinking.
1 3/4 stars
When one hears the notes of a song harmonizing with their own heartbeat, it can be euphoric. Music is essential for me; I have songs that remind me of a number of friends, family members and past loves. This charming film to me was a musical, because the music was vital in moving the story along. The fact they cast musicians in the roles only added to the joy of watching and hearing this movie. When Glen Hansard, the male lead, was not fixing vacuum cleaners in his father’s store; he could be found on the streets of Dublin singing and playing his beaten up, old guitar. One day Marketa Irglova, the female lead, stopped to listen to his moving songs of love that immediately resonated with the chords of her own heart. From this crossing of paths, the two found the catalyst to push them closer to their dreams. Not typical Hollywood fare, this low budget independent film perfectly blended emotions into songs, which moved into scenes, that led to creative passion; all the while staying simple and real. This was a wonderful movie to watch, which allowed my heart to open up and replay some of its stored songs of love.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
After his movies Year One and Gulliver’s Travels, I went to see this Jack Black (Be Kind Rewind, Tropic Thunder) comedy with some trepidation. I cannot tell you how shocked I was at his performance in this movie; it was one of his best. Portraying Bermie Tiede, a mortician; Jack had the perfect blend of comedic timing and fastidious attitude in this mockumentary based on a true story. Living in a small Texas town Bernie stood out from the other residents. It did not matter since he was loved for all the good work he did around the community. Even when he struck up a relationship with the town’s bitterest, wealthiest, elderly Marjorie Nugent played by Shirley MacLaine (Valentine’s Day, In Her Shoes); the town folk thought Bernie was a saint. It was a real stitch watching this humorous film. I especially enjoyed how scenes were spaced apart by various resident interviews, commenting on their thoughts about Bernie and Marjorie. The acting was excellent from everyone, including Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Two For the Money) in his role as Danny Buck. Since I did not know anything about the story, I was completely surprised to discover this wild story was really true. As the credits began, we saw pictures of the real characters. Jack Black certainly redeemed himself in this funny film.
Even with me not being a pie guy when it comes to desserts, this delectable movie made me hungry. The scrumptious looking baked pies added an extra richness to the wonderful story. Jenna Hunterson, played by Keri Russell (August Rush, Felicity-TV), was in a loveless marriage with her controlling husband Earl, played by Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, Into Temptation). Added to her misery was discovering she was pregnant with his child, extending or possibly cementing what she felt was her prison sentence. Only familiar with her work in August Rush, I was impressed with Keri’s acting. She was excellent in the role, beautifully displaying a full range of emotions. When she met new resident, Dr. Jim Pomatter, played by Nathan Fillion (Serenity, Castle-TV); little did she know how her life would change. Dreaming of having enough money to become independent and free of her husband, Jenna planned on entering one of her creations into the pie contest, with the hope of winning the 1st place cash prize. I was truly moved by this lovely, sentimental film. It was a shame Adrienne Shelly, the writer and director, did not live to see the finished movie about the strength of a sweet southern woman’s heart and her ability to pour it into her pies.
3 1/4 stars — DVD