Music and Lyrics (10/10): I had a smile on my
face the entire time I watched this delightful light comedy with good
music. Hugh Grant, who just might be as good as his namesake, Cary, has
such impeccable timing that watching him utter these lines and make them
work is worth the price of admission.
Black Book (10/10):
Highlighted by a courageous performance by the often naked Carice Van
Houten, this tense drama of the Dutch underground during WWII is
brilliantly directed by Paul Verhoeven. Van Houten, whose undaunted,
effervescent character is a composite of real Dutch resistance fighters,
goes through love, sacrifice, and betrayal. The supporting cast, headed
by Sebastian Koch as the head of the Dutch SD fighting the Resistance who
gets involved with Van Houten, is exceptional. How good is this? Despite
its 145-minute running time, I didn’t look at my watch once. In
Dutch, German, English, and Hebrew. Opens March 9.
Lives of Others (8/10):
What a film! Centered on a spectacular performance by Ulrich Müle, aided
by Sebastian Koch, and Martina Gedeck, this 2:17 film is a slow but
mesmerizing look at how East Germany bugged and harassed its citizens
during the cold war. In German.
Days of Glory (Indigènes)
(8/10): Although too long with a bit too much talking, this is an
exceptionally well-made war movie based on a true story, indicting the
French for the shabby way they treated these Algerian Muslims who fought
for France in WWII and only to have the French renege on their
obligation to pay them what they were due. The battle with the Germans
in Alsace at the end is as brilliant a battle sequence as you will see
in a movie. It’s brutal and tough without being unnecessarily graphic.
Avenue Montaigne (Fauteuils
D’Orchestre) (7/10): A clever tale of how the guileless personality
of a waitress, Cecile de France, at a chic bistro on Avenue Montaigne,
the center of the arts in Paris, affects the people upon whom she waits.
Factory Girl (5/10):
Despite compelling performances by the gorgeous Sienna Miller and Guy
Pearce as Andy Warhol, this biopic of troubled ‘60s icon Edie Sedgwick
is disappointingly uninvolving.
Breach (3/10): Being an
FBI Agent is mostly slow, detailed, boring, monotonous, tedious work.
Sitting through this film full of derivative scenes of contrived tension
about how FBI traitor Robert Hanssen was caught is excellent training
for anyone who wants this kind of work.
Because I Said So (1/10):
If you want to know why “chick flick” is a term of opprobrium, this film
about a suffocating mother, with unrealistic frank sexual dialogue
between mother and daughters, will explain it for you. As Diane Keaton
chews the scenery, Mandy Moore gives a valiant performance with inferior
material. The music is good, but relegated to the background. Maybe
women will like this, although I don’t see how. Why would a woman like a
movie that insults her gender? A man shouldn’t be seen within 100 yards
of it. In chick talk.
Ghost Rider (1/10):
Epitomizes the vacuity of the American film industry, beholden as it is
to special effects, while ignoring script, story, and cohesion.
The Astronaut Farmer (1/10):
It strains credulity to think that anyone would make a movie that
strains credulity like this one. Instead of standing for following your
childhood dreams, instead it glorifies madness and familial
irresponsibility. If it isn’t the dumbest movie ever made, it’s close.
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