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Stretched the bounds of believability
It is often taught that a screenwriter can do anything in the first five minutes of the script and the audience will go with it. Unfortunately, the same does not hold for the first 30 minutes of the film. This film really stretched the believability quotient for me. It was over-the-top absurd at times and I didn't "buy" much of the action. The music school was preposterous, people simply wouldn't let this behavior fly in this century. Miles Teller was quite good as the student, but I felt JK Simmons was miscast. Not because he is not a good actor, but because his TV persona is so memorable and opposite, that I just couldn't believe him in this role, unfortunately. The role was just ridiculous at times, so it's not just the actor. I'm happy to say that the film does get better in the second half, but not enough that I would recommend it.
Margot at the Wedding (2007)
I was very disappointed with this movie. I loved The Squid and the Whale, so I was very interested to see this movie. While the characters in The Squid and the Whale are deeply flawed, they were still very funny. In Margot, the characters are just wholly unlikeable, and the humor was so angry that it was more painful than funny. The acting is fairly good for the most part, but because the characters were so unlikeable, I didn't care what happened to them. Production design, cinematography and costume design were excellent, just as they were in Squid. Baumbach is definitely able to evoke a vintage east coast look and mood, but it couldn't save this film.
Disappointing and heartless
There is no heart to this movie. I had no idea what to hope for or fear. The first 30 minutes are entertaining as they mainly focus on the Bucket family, but as soon as we step foot in the chocolate factory (not nearly as lush as one would like), the film dies. The Oompa Loompas have far too much screen time and you can't understand the lyrics to most of their songs. While Johnny Depp's Wonka is humorous in his sissy way (reminiscent of his performance in Sleepy Hollow I might add), his character "arc" (as tiny as it is) is not believable. The golden-ticket winner kids (with perhaps the exception of Violet) do not improve upon their predecessors. I didn't mind Burton's darker interest per say, but all in all very disappointing. The highlight of the film were the costumes by Gabriella Pescucci.
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
Poor casting and a thin plot
Let me start by saying that I have NOT read the book, so I am reacting strictly to the movie. While Scarlett Johansson may LOOK the part of the woman in the painting, she really seems miscast in this picture. Not for one second did I believe she lived in the 1600's, which is when the film takes place. While the film is beautifully shot, often looking like the ethereally lit Vermeer paintings themselves, in addition to poor casting, the plot is scarce and the ending is unsatisfying. It generally feels more like a mood piece than a story. It is not a terrible film, but not a memorable one either.
The Social Secretary (1916)
Loopy romantic comedy where ugly is a virtue
After several bad experiences with hormonally overactive employers, Mayme, played by Norma Talmadge, dowdies herself up to take a job as a social secretary for Mrs. Von Puyster, the matriarch of a wealthy Riverside Drive family. (Ironically and coincidentally, just when Mayme has become fed up with her lecherous male bosses, Von Puyster has requested an unattractive applicant as the previous secretaries have left the job to get married--perhaps this would have made a bit more sense if Von Puyster were an unlecherous male, but whatever). Mayme quickly becomes close to the Von Puyster family. She is like a sister to daughter Elsie, and Mrs. Von Puyster thinks she does a fine job, and once son Jimmy (a drunk) accidentally sees the real un-uglified Mayme he becomes smitten (and cleans up his act instantly to become a good guy!--which is a bit awkward since we don't really like him to begin with, but oh well...) Mayme and Jimmie carry on a secret romance until they are found out by a smarmy reporter (played wonderfully by Erich von Stroheim). The threat of imminent exposure by the reporter, in addition to Elsie Von Puyster's marraige proposal by one of Mayme's lascivious ex-bosses, force Mayme to end her charade. The movie is fun, although the plot is at times oddly convenient, and definitely worth seeing if you have the chance.
Stage Struck (1925)
Swanson as dowdy waitress in love
Gloria Swanson stars as "Jenny," a clumsy and unsophisticated waitress in love with her flap-jack flipping co-worker "Orme." Only problem is, Orme only has eyes for actresses. When the yearly (?) showboat glides into their West Virginia town with its show and new actress, Orme is smitten. Jenny, who has secretly been working on getting a correspondence course certificate in acting, tries to imitate the showboat actress but fails miserably. But she is given her chance to prove her acting chops ... Throughout Swanson works some real pathos into this slapstick comedy. She's generally terrific throughout. The story gets a bit convoluted at times, but this is a pretty enjoyable flick that begins with a Salome performance in Technicolor! Check it out if you get the chance.
Mitt liv som hund (1985)
When Mother's Love Is Missing
This is my absolute number one favorite film. I cry every time I watch it, and it does stand up to repeated viewings. Poor Ingemar! The first 30 minutes are so harrowing for him that when he goes to live with his uncle it is a relief to see him smile. The scene at the mother's hospital bed when she talks about his jacket is just heartbreaking. But this film is also very funny. And the boy playing Ingemar has the greatest sly smile. It's an emotionally moving and entertaining film, the best of both worlds.
My First Mister (2001)
Stale and fake
I went to see this movie because I read so many good reviews and also I love Albert Brooks. I was appalled at how bad it was. My First Mister's version of a goth/outsider girl is so off the mark, it had to be written by someone of a different generation. I couldn't care less about the character Leelee plays, she is utterly unlikeable. I walked out after an hour, and I have only walked out on two other films EVER. Really disappointing!