April 2008 Thumbnails
by Tony Medley
Flawless (10/10): There
are so many terrible and mediocre films made today that when I sit
through a film and slowly come to the conclusion that I’m seeing
something special, something well-written (Edward A. Anderson),
well-acted, and well-directed (Michael Radford), I start to get a
tingling going up my spine. Those tingles started after thirty minutes
of this exceptional thriller in which Michael Caine and Demi Moore (in
award-caliber performances) get involved in a complicated diamond heist.
Radford has a unique ability to use silence and pace to create tension.
Forgive me, but this film is close to flawless.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For a
Day (9/10): This dual-Cinderella story about how goodness can
triumph in the hard world of 1939 London is, very simply, movie-making
at its zenith by director Bharat Nalluri. Oscar®-caliber performances by
the delicious Amy Adams (whose character’s name is Delysia) and the
marvelous Frances McDormand, are abetted by the innovative
cinematography of John de Borman.
Married Life (8/10):
From the very start, with Doris Day singing “I Can’t Give You Anything
But Love,” this is a captivating Hitchcockian thriller about a man,
Chris Cooper, who wants to murder his wife, Patricia Clarkson, because
he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings when he leaves her for Rachel
McAdams. With that humorous premise and a voice over narration by
Cooper’s best friend, Pierce Brosnan, this is far from a comedy. There
are some amusing lines and situations, but the story is deadly serious.
The Bank Job (6/10):
Despite some graphic violence, if you can hang in for the shamefully
slow first half of this based-on-true-story of a 1971 London bank heist,
the last 40 minutes is rewarding.
Charlie Bartlett (6/10):
Its glorification of teenaged sexual promiscuity notwithstanding,
this is a meaningless, forgettable film that can fill an hour and a half
of your time relatively enjoyably if you aren’t interested in
challenging your mind over anything more complex than how much is 2 + 2.
21 (6/10): The
Hollywoodization of a true story changes what could have been gripping
drama into derivative mundanity with too many plot holes to count.
The Other Boleyn Girl
(5/10): With Eric Bana playing Henry VIII as a tall, women-whipped
wimp, and Scarlett Johansson’s Mary Boleyn (who was the “other Boleyn
girl,” of the title) taking a back seat to Natalie Portman’s Anne, this
bodice-heaving soaper will disappoint readers of Philippa Gregory’s
brilliant novel of the same name. If you haven’t read the book, though,
it’s an entertaining, eye-filling excursion to Renaissance England.
Drillbit Taylor (5/10):
This derivative high school-bully film has so many unrealistic setups
that it is hard to sit back and enjoy the always-charming Owen Wilson’s
talent and young Troy Gentile’s ability to consistently deliver the
laugh line, as well as Alex Frost’s exceptional performance as the
The Grand (3/10): A
ludicrous attempt at improvisational comedy with absurd characters that
squanders the talents of sitcom kings Gabe Kaplan, Jason Alexander,
Woody Harrelson, and Ray Romano.
Penelope (3/10): First
time director Mark Palansky has taken a first time movie script by
Leslie Caveny that tells a modern fable with a good moral and stretched
it out so that 90 minutes seems more like 900. Christina Ricci is
intended to be so horrific-looking that suitors jump out the window to
escape. Instead she’s just a beautiful woman with a pig’s nose, which
renders the premise silly.
Sex and Death 101 (1/10):
Answers the question, “What do those dopes in beer commercials do
when not drinking beer?” They laugh their socks off at movies like this.