Thumbnails July 2010
by Tony Medley
Joan Rivers Ė A Piece of Work (10/10): Itís
hard for me to listen to Joan Rivers without smiling and laughing, even
when what sheís saying isnít that funny in and of itself. This is the
story of Rivers today, filmed over a 14 month period, beginning on her
75th birthday and finishing in the summer of 2009. It is
frank. She tells it like it is and nakedly reveals her inner feelings
about her life. It contains archival clips of her appearances as a young
woman with people like Johnny Carson and Jack Paar. But it also contains
clips of her contemporary appearances on the road, some of which had me
The Karate Kid (10/10): Even though this
film exaggerates the fighting sounds to make the fights far more violent
than they are, this is enormously entertaining. While Jackie Chan and
Jaden Smith, Will Smithís son, give fine performances, it is the
sparkling performances of Zhenwei Wang as the bully and Wenwen Han, who
has a smile that rivals those of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, as
Smithís love interest that make this something special.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (8/10):
This is what the movies used to be, an action film that doesnít take
itself seriously and is a lot of fun. Jake Gyllenhaal, a handsome dude
whose parkour puts one in mind of Douglas Fairbanks, combines with his
gorgeous leading lady, Gemma Arterton, to evade the people chasing him.
But the best of this is the creation of the fictional city of Alamut out
of a dusty, unpaved village, twenty kilometers southwest of Marrakesh.
Production designer Wolf Kroeger turned it into a huge city containing a
magnificent square with a Taj MahalĖlike palace rising 50 feet above the
ground. Streets abound with mind-blowing architectural and decorative
Killers (7/10): Director Robert Luketic has
taken a pathetically weak script with a pitifully contrived romantic
setup, and made them into something entertaining. Helped by strong
comedic performances by Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, the movie
picks up after they move into suburbia and everyone seems out to kill
Get Him to the Greek (3/10): Although this
is bursting with crude language, vomit, prolific drug use, infidelity,
and generally low class manners and morals, all staples of producer Judd
Apatow, the production values, color, and cinematography are first
class. The concert scenes are very good, as is Russell Brandís acting,
reprising his role, as an outrageous rocker from 2008ís
Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I thought that with the enjoyable
Funny People and Year One last year Apatow had discarded his
attempt to lower humor to the lowest gutter available, and had finally
started making thoughtful films about and for adults; apparently not.
The A Team (3/10): Iím a big fan of producer
Steve Cannell, who created some of the best TV shows of all time, like
The Rockford Files. But his biggest show, The A-Team,
which saved NBC from bankruptcy, was not one of my favorites. This
conversion to cinema is shockingly hackneyed for someone of Cannellís
talent. Millions of bullets are shot without ever hitting anyone, but
break lots of windows. Replete with expensive special effects, the
performances are forgettable, although women might enjoy the constant
shots of shirtless Bradley Cooper. To his credit, Cannell keeps crude
language out of the film.
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (1/10): I
didnít think Iíd soon see a slower movie about the putrid way a Russian
artist treated his loving wife than last yearís The Last Station.
I was wrong.