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Almost Everything Felt Wrong
There were strong female characters in this retread of so many Wall Street dramas. Sadly, not one of them was someone that I'd want one of my nieces to emulate. There are so many issues to address in the male dominated US investment banking industry. None of them were addressed in a thoughtful manner.
After the tech bubble burst and then again following the crash of the US housing market, the news was littered with stories about investment banks and bankers who committed criminal offenses. How high paid professionals approach and ultimately cross into the realm of the illegal could provide fascinating fodder for filmmakers and audiences alike. Equity missed the mark again.
How can a film written by women, directed by a woman, and with so many female roles give us so many caricatures of women?
The only thing that looked or felt real was the trading floor and it was way to small for the trading floor of the world's largest investment bank.
I laughed when reading the sponsor credit for Bloomberg.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Too Short and Way Too Long at Once
Friends tell me that they've read that the studio re-edited the film removing much of the Joker footage. With the Joker being the most compelling character, his near missing in action status left me wanting so much more.
Yet and two hours and change in running time felt like an eternity to me. There was little or no attention to pacing; which left the film a bit of a mess. When it was fun, it was exciting. And then someone hit the pause button so they could clue the audience into?
In the end, it was as if certain expensive special effects were purchased at a volume discount so they went on forever.
Did they forget to make the prequel film that might have introduced a few of the characters or was this free form movie making.
Lots of people, mostly under 25, showed up for the 10:30 pm screening on cheap Wednesday. There was an unusual amount of conversation during the film and then everyone got up and left; almost without a word.
Creepy beyond your imagination
I arrived at the local art house cinema expecting to see Weiner only to find that it played at 4:30 and 9:30. Tickled, a film I hadn't heard of was just about to start at 7:00 so there I was.
I have seen tickle videos on YouTube and elsewhere and always wondered about the economics behind these strange, professional looking videos. They weren't advertisements for subscription pay sites so what gives...
Tickled sheds some light on the economics and motivation behind them. Without giving anything away, I'd suggest that it is as creepy and malevolent a story as Foxcatcher. The head games played by Mr. DuPont and 'Teri Tickle' are frighteningly similar even if the results were very different.
Talking about the film with strangers as I left the theater: I thought my 'creepy' was better than any of the other adjectives mentioned. But when I talked about tickle videos being everywhere on the Internet, they might of thought that was creepy.
Too often in documentaries, the person with the microphone can be overbearing to irritation. The low key approach in Tickled makes the journey more interesting. It only heightens what unfolds on the screen.
Arrive Late, Stay for the Credits
Everything about Ghostbusters was oh - so - slow. It plodded along dropping bread crumb hints of the big finale taking so long to get there that the janitor likely swept them up. And then the moment that everyone has already heard about: Chris Hemsworth as the gorgeous, dumb secretary. His performance provided the only comic relief until the credits started to roll.
The credits were fast paced, funny, and delightful in sharp contrast to what preceded them. If you could get in to see the credits for a dollar, I'd recommend you dig into your pocket. Otherwise, wait until it is absolutely free so all you are wasting is your time.
Burn After Reading (2008)
Should Brad Pitt be cast as a Dork?
The couple behind me laughed incessantly, particularly noticeable at the end of the film, while I wondered what they were laughing at.
Brad Pitt is one of my favorite actors of his generation and I have enjoyed most every film that I have seen him in (the major disappointment being Ocean's 11, 12 ,13,14, 15, 16, 17, 18 or at least it seemed that I had to sit through the humdrum of 18 films while only seeing Ocean's 11 and 12). Many male actors have been cast at geeks, dorks, or misanthropes while in their teens or early twenties. Mr. Pitt should never have been cast in such a role at 45.
The only performance worse than Brad Pitt's was that of Tilda Swinton whose performance was one dimensional, that of a harsh and distant wife and lover. If this was reality TV, she would have been voted off the island before the first commercial break.
J. K. Simmons, as the CIA supervisor or director, came through as delightfully wacky reminding me of what made the Get Smart TV series a must see.
More frustrating was the performance of George Clooney, which fell somewhere in the chasm between Good Night, and Good Luck and Three Kings
Savage Grace (2007)
It reminded me of Swoon
I still recall seeing Swoon in San Francisco and the mix of sexually alluring characters that you knew somehow you were not supposed to like. Most disturbing was that their allure lingered long after the film ended.
It isn't surprising then that those strange feeling reemerge while watching Savage Grace, with Tom Kalin and Christine Vachon teaming up again as director and producer again.
Julianne Moore has a knack for creating characters like Barbara Baekeland, drawing you in and repulsing you at the same time.
As Tony moves from cute baby to pretty boy and then hauntingly beautiful young man, he is always a bit frightening even without the voice over.
If you want to remain in the world of mythic youthful beauty, leave the theater or shut off the DVD player when he parts ways with the steamy Spanish boyfriend. If you survived The Talented Mr. Ripley, stay for the somehow expected ending.
One might imagine that all would have been well if Tony had avoided London and returned to bask in the beauty that is Spain.
American Gangster (2007)
Was Russell Crowe on Vacation?
Russell Crowe has delivered many well-honed characters to us in films like 'Sum of Us', 'Mystery Alaska', 'A Beautiful Mind', and most recently '3:10 to Yuma'. By comparison, he must have taken Mondays and Fridays off during the filming of 'American Gangster', as his performance left me wanting much more.
The transformation of Frank Lucas from driver to kingpin and his relationship with his mother deserved more attention. Otherwise, it was a very well crafted genre film.
Well worth the price of admission as the smooth, slick Denzel Washington will surely entertain you.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Rent the HBO Elizabeth I Instead
I have fond memories of 'Elizabeth' staring Cate Blanchett and I had seen an interview of her on TV where she spoke of wanting to bring something new to the role. I had high expectations when I entered the local movie palace from the 1920s, which the film failed to meet.
My only reaction to Geoffrey Rush was to think that I had seen him to it better before and that he was old and tired in the role.
Clive Owen brought too little to his role and left me with more questions that answers about Raleigh.
Jordi Mollà was opaque as King Philip II of Spain.
Cate Blanchett added nothing to our understanding of Elizabeth I that we hadn't learned from 'Elizabeth' and HBO's excellent 'Elizabeth I'. She was so mysterious as Galadriel in 'Lord of the Rings' and so ordinary as Elizabeth. She should have waited ten more years to return to the role or studied with Helen Mirren.
The film's attention to detail provided the highlights. The battle against the Spanish Armada was the low point 'Elizabeth: The Golden Ages'.
The Comebacks (2007)
The Worst Film I've Seen in a Decade
We arrived at the theater too late to see Rendition, which was our intention, and 'The Comebacks' was the only film that hadn't already started. I had an inkling of how bad a film it was after reading the short blurb at the ticket counter. The theater was empty when we arrived and only two other people entered before the film started.
The screenwriters and director threw every imaginable sports cliché at the audience without creating a single laugh, not one during the entire movie. Think of all the football movies that have been made and the millions of dollars schools and fans spend each year on football and you realize how ripe it is to be parodied or lampooned. If you add Texas to the mix,you ought to come up with the sports version of 'Little Miss Sunshine', not a big yawn.
The first film that came to mind as we exited the theater was 'Can't Stop the Music' By comparison, this was 'Can't stop the Music' without Bruce Jenner, Valerie Perrine, or the Village People.
If the film had a single grace note, it was seeing Matthew Lawrence grown up.