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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Unconventional, But Could Have Been Ripped From Today's News
For one reason or another I don't see many movies these days, so I had never seen or heard of the two primary actors in this movie, Bradley Cooper and the beautiful Jennifer Laurence. Watching them on screen in this movie, though, has truly been eye opening. They are both brilliant, if not totally realistic, in this film in their depiction of mentally ill people trying to return to "normalcy." The only actor I recognized immediately was Robert DeNiro, and his performance was, I think, his best in may years. The supporting actors in the cast were also uniformly good, especially Chris Tucker. Severe mental illness and other neuroses are not a laughing matter, but this film uses fantastic humor to bring those problems to our attention. And that mentally ill people - rather beautiful people in this film - need love as much, if not more, that the rest of us is something to think about. Despite the subject matter, this is still a romantic comedy. It's poignant as well as terrifically funny. Go see it.
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Car chases and foot races, we've seen this all before.
Car chases and foot races; boring! we've seen it in dozens of other movies - since the 1930's at least (when they were better done.) I swear that whole scenes in this movie have been lifted from other films. Merely having a few good actors (Renner, Weisz, Norton) in the movie cannot turn this sow's ear into a silk purse. Watching this film wasn't even painless (especially a mass murder scene that could have been lifted directly from today's headlines), but it most definitely was brainless. It also seems to have been made with a sharp eye on its budget. It's just less expensive to shoot parts of the film in an East Asian slum.
And why is the great actor Albert Finney making a cameo appearance in this movie. Is he doing someone a favor, or is he down and out?
I wonder what they are going to call the next sequel in this series, "The Bourne Repetition"?
The Raid (2011)
Doesn't anyone in Indonesia have a telephone?
SWAT team of Indonesia's finest invades 15-story apartment building in order to arrest criminal gang. Martial arts battles, firefights, and non-stop mayhem continue for hours, but apparently no one calls for more cops! Maybe the martial arts episodes - in fact, they are the whole movie - are of interest to aficionados, but their extreme length just bored me. If I had gone out for a ham sandwich, the same fight would still be going one when I came back. This film has the distinction of being both extremely loud and extremely boring. Don't believe the good IMDb ratings this movie is receiving - they must all be from 14-year old boys. Adults should give this movie a pass.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Compares poorly with the brilliant 1979 British television version
I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this 2011 version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy with Gary Oldman, but when it finally arrived I was so disappointed that I considered leaving the theater shortly after the movie began. I didn't, but I should have.
To be fair to this current film, I admit that I have seen the British TV series version with Alec Guinness many times, so perhaps I'm merely biased. Frankly, though, - and despite the wonderful reviews of this film from many people - I don't see how anyone can take this dull, lifeless version seriously.
The acting in this film runs the entire gamut from A to B. Gary Oldman is no Alec Guinness. For all the taciturnity of his George Smiley, Guinness imbued his Smiley with genuine character, whereas Oldman is reduced to maintaining a stone-faced, unemotional countenance for the entire 2 hours 40 minutes duration of this film. Much has been made of Oldman's not saying a word in the first 18 minutes of the film, but this can be easily matched by some characters who had barely a sentence of two in the whole production. The usually formidable actor Ciaran Hinds must not have had more than 10 words total, and they were of absolutely no consequence. Academy Award winner Colin Firth had barely more to say, and I doubt if his role in the film contained even a whole page of dialog. Compare that to the brilliant 1979 performance in that role by the late Ian Richardson. The only character in this film who exuded any sense of real life was that of Jim Prideaux, played by Mark Strong. But Strong was not allowed to be anywhere near as "strong" as that of the character played in 1979 by the late Ian Bannen.
If I had not seen the earlier British television series I honestly doubt if I would have been able to follow the plot of this current movie. The film is dark, the characters rather dull, and flashbacks abound. I really believe the makers of this film expect viewers to already know the plot before arriving in the theater.
I have other quibbles. This film has the headquarters of MI-6 located in what looks to be a former warehouse. Inasmuch as MI-6 is an arm of the U. K. Foreign Office, are we expected to believe that the elite of the British intelligence establishment would be housed in those dark, dank conditions? And would spies work in an open office environment with no privacy? Hard to believe.
If you go to this film I hope you enjoy it. But I'd also recommend you get a DVD of the 1979 British TV series in which the acting, atmosphere, locations, and music are all far superior to this current version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy.
The Guard (2011)
Disappointing, Derivative Movie. Only A Couple Of Mild Chuckles.
I found "The Guard" to be at times quite humorous but, as in so many films of the past 20 years or so, it has been negatively influenced by the "Pulp Fiction" school of film-making. It's more a parody of a film than a film.
Are we really to believe that the Irish have no point of reference in their lives other than the American entertainment industry? In this film the Irish police are incompetent oafs who seem to think they are living in a movie script and who are enthralled to be in a partnership with the FBI. That's the U.S. FBI. Ludicrous. The whole plot is absurd and is not remotely redeemed by having some sort of pseudo-repartee between the characters played by Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. All the characters in this movie are so over the top that I can almost see the figures of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson lurking behind the scenes. "Pulp Fiction", "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", and even "Trainspotting", may be been very unique movies in their time, but that time has passed. The same can be said for this movie. Its style is merely repetitious. Too bad; it could have been something special
The Company Men (2010)
So, we already know the basic plot: a company's well-paid executives are let go (fired) as part of the plan to "downsize" the organization. Thus, the company's reduced payroll obligations leads to an increase in the company's stock price, making whoever owns the stock that much richer; in some cases, much, much richer! But can we really generate much sympathy for the fired executives who had at least 6-figure salaries, much less a probable huge array of benefits? Yes, they might be the working class writ large, but they are not the working class. And as for the ethics of the company itself, it's enough to make you want to punish them by running out and buying the equivalent of more Chinese junk - or Japanese non-junk.
One might just ask how this situation came about. My own take on it relates to the famous quote attributed to a former chief of General Motors: "GM is not in the business of making cars; GM is in the business of making money." That philosophy was endorsed, and especially seemed to take hold of corporate America, during the time in office of a particular American president. It's that philosophy which the executives in this film probably accepted without reservation, and for which they wound up paying the price - along with the rest of us.
Just as with the unemployed executives in this movie, we'll do what we can, but there's no turning back the clock.
PELADA: A Brilliant Film About Soccer, Life, and More. Highly Recommended!
While PELADA may be regarded as a film about soccer, it is really much more. This is a film about perseverance, love of a game, love for one's friends - and for strangers, too. Dare I say it, it's even a little bit about romance. This film is a behind the scenes look not only at football - soccer - but at the lives of ordinary people around the world.
This movie calls one's attention to one's values, and doesn't preach about what those values should be. To a great extent, this is a film about the need we all feel for play. Seeing women in Teheran "playing" is bound to make one think about the effect of religion and politics even on such a basic human desire as the need for play.
This is not a political film,though it may shine a light on some politics. Basically, it's just a film about people - about humanity, even. Whether the young film makers knew it at the time or not, they've made a very profound film. I most highly recommend PELADA.
"Salt" is pretty much a nothing film. It is full of irrational action, though, and that does appeal to much of the movie-going public. Does any of it make sense? No. Does anybody care that it makes no sense? Probably not.
Here's something else that needs to be said: Angelina Jolie is not an especially attractive woman. She's not. She has unusual facial features, but that's about it. That, and she's a "celebrity.
As opposed to that other terrible "spy" movie that's making the rounds right now ("The American", with George Clooney), "Salt" at least has a plot, totally nonsensical that it is. So that's what it comes down to for summer 2010 films, a movie with absolutely no plot or a movie with an absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical plot. And the winner is ...
The American (2010)
Pretentious, Idiotic Clap-Trap. An Absolutely Awful Movie.
I can't believe the exaggerated ratings this horrible little movie is getting. Absolutely nothing in whatever there is of a plot fits together. Guy shows up with just the clothes on his back, and pretty soon out of nowhere he's running a full-up gunsmith shop in his rented house in a foreign country! Professional hookers are seen kissing their clients, there isn't a condom in sight anywhere, and yet the hero is seen going muff diving on a working girl. Is this planet Earth we're talking about here? Clooney's character is seen walking, running, and firing his pistol all over this small Italian town, yet there's hardly another soul in sight, and certainly no police. Apparently, the townsfolk here stay in their houses all day and night, only to come out for religious processions an saints' feast days. Wow, only in the movies.
If you don't "get" this movie, don't worry. There really is nothing to get.
Robin Hood (2010)
Ridley Scott's ROBIN HOOD is a horrible disappointment. The movie is dark and depressing, and every man in it seems to be a thug, including the hero himself.
Scott has made every character in this film loathsome, irritating or ridiculous. Friar Tuck is a smarmy half-wit, Little John has the intelligence of a tree stump, and Russel Crowe's Robin Hood must be the most uncharismatic hero of all time. Maid Marian would have to be really hard up to have anything to do with the likes of this plebeian Robin Hood. Of all the characters in this movie, only the one played by Max Von Sydow generates any real empathy. This movie is so bad that in one of the final battles I actually found myself laughing. Frankly, Scott should stick to making movies about Avatars and leave Britain's legends, culture and traditions alone.
The director almost seems to be attempting to destroy the legend of Robin Hood with this abysmal movie. What's really going to happen, of course, is that the legend of Robin Hood will survive, but this film will quickly find it's way into your local supermarket's DVD bargain bin.