by Tony Medley
Angelina Jolie gives an emotional performance portraying with
heartbreaking poignancy a woman who loses her son, only to be brutalized
by the LAPD, which in the 1920s and 30s was as corrupt as any 1880s
frontier town. To his great credit, director Clint Eastwood tells it
straight up with little Hollywood falderal, also getting fine
performances from Jeffrey Donovan, Jason Butler Harner, John Malkovich,
and Amy Ryan. But as good a thriller as this true story is, the star of
the movie is the loving recreation of 1928 Los Angeles by Production
designer James Murakami, location manager Patrick Mignano, and visual
effects supervisor Michael Owens.
Quantum of Solace (9/10):
Gone are the sexy style and sophisticated humor of Sean Connery’s
James Bond, replaced by wooden Daniel Craig. Craig has the sense of
humor of Attila the Hun and so little interest in women his only
on-the-mouth kissing scene is excruciatingly clumsy. Judy Dench, back
for her fifth unfortunate stint as M, is as humorless as Craig. Not all
of the charm has been cast away, however. In a nice touch, director Marc
Forster pays homage to “Goldfinger” in a scene near the end of the film,
and retains the multiple exotic locations that have been de rigueur
in Bond films. This is an entertaining action film; it’s just not James
High School Musical 3 –
Senior Year (7/10): A 21st-Century version of Mickey
saying to Judy, “Let’s put on a show!” There is no profanity, no nudity,
no gratuitous sex, no bad parents, no terrible teachers, no evil people.
This fun-filled movie was not made for the story or for any reason other
than lots of delectable singing and dancing.
Pride and Glory (8/10):
Director Gavin O’Connor gets terrific performances out of Edward Norton,
Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich, and Jennifer Ehle which make
this tense story of mixed loyalties in an NYPD family compelling,
despite a loss of pace whenever the film turns from the cops to the
Zack and Miri make a porno
(3/10): What is a classy lady like Elizabeth Banks doing in a film
full of crude language and common dialogue about body parts, including
female lubrication? Her co-star is Seth Rogen, who apparently won’t
consider a script unless it has him saying the “f” word at least 50
times in the first ten minutes. Add graphic scenes of fornication in
gymnastic positions, and it is easy to see why Kevin Smith, who wrote,
directed, and edited, has the reputation as the inspiration for the Judd
Apatow genre of film that concentrates on juvenile obsessions with foul
language, free sex, and genital humor, which is not much to be proud of.
W. (2/10): Director
Oliver Stone mounts a malicious attack on George W. Bush that includes a
particularly venomous portrayal of Secretary of State Condi Rice by
Thandie Newton as a shuffling Mrs. Stepinfetchit. I was surprised Stone
didn’t have her say “Yassa, Massa,” sometime during the film. Elizabeth
Banks’ performance as Laura Bush is the only saving grace.
Soul Men (2/10): Why is
the innocuous “Amos ‘n’ Andy” (which features one of the most
delightful, memorable TV characterizations of all time by Tim Moore as
Kingfish) condemned to solitary confinement but degrading stuff like
this allowed to demean all American blacks with nary a peep nor whimper?
Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac head a cast that portrays most
blacks as crude, lawless buffoons who cannot utter three words in a row
without using the “f” or “MF” words. Hollywood needs to produce more
uplifting, positive films about blacks, like Denzell Washington’s “The
Great Debaters,” and less debasing drivel like this.