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Thumbnails June 2011

by Tony Medley

Midnight in Paris (10/10): With gorgeous Parisian cinematography, Oscar®-winner Marion Cotillard sparkles, Michael Sheen is a captivating pedant, and Owen Wilson, whose talents have heretofore been wasted in inferior films, finally gets to prove his chops in a terrific time warper that is writer/director Woody Allen’s most enjoyable film. It includes an hilarious take on Ernest Hemingway speaking exactly as he wrote, along with scintillating appearances by Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and all the others that made Paris in the ‘20s a moveable feast.

Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today (8/10): Although the Army Signal Corps only filmed 25 hours of the 10 ½ month 1946 trial of Nazi monsters Herman Goering, Joachin von Ribbentrop and their compatriots, Stuart Schulberg put together this film showing the trial that tells the story of the Nazi years. The film was never allowed to be shown to American audiences due to Democrat politics in the Truman Administration, and was left to rot, even though it was shown throughout Germany. As a result a Soviet film shown throughout the world told the story. Stuart’s daughter, Sandra, reconstructed her father’s work using original sound taken at the trial. Now it’s available and it’s a damning telling of the Nazi misery told in the Nazi’s own words. June 3-9 at The Nuart.

Fast Five (8/10): The opening is so mind-boggling it drew gasps and applause from my screening of film critics, most of whom have seen just about everything there is to see in movies. While the crashes and special effects are wondrous, unfortunately the final chase is too long, although it is interesting to watch for awhile. But the lengthy dénouement does not substantially detract from a highly enjoyable film highlighted by spectacular cinematography of the favelas and pristine beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

Something Borrowed (chicks 8/10; guys 5/10): The problems with all these chick flicks are twofold. First, they are written by chicks who apparently don’t have a clue about how normal men act, think, or speak. Their men, you should pardon the expression, are either girly men like Colin Egglesfield, or sexless like John Krasinsky who gives a good performance nonetheless in the Tony Randall role, or unbearably gross and crude like Steve Howey. The second problem is the dialogue between and among the women, which is enough to send any normal man running out of the theater.

The Hangover, Part II (4/10): While in the scintillating original writer/director/producer Todd Phillips walked a fine line to keep from crossing over into vulgarity and smut, this derivative sequel explodes over that line and the result is unfunny, profane with abundant f-bombs and worse, and often just disgusting.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (4/10): While director Rob Marshall’s take is the most entertaining of the series, that’s damning with faint praise. Despite good performances by Geoffrey Rush, Penèlope Cruz, and Ian McShane, Johnny Depp’s alcoholic, asexual, speech-slurring sea captain, flat 3D that darkens the picture considerably, and nonsensical stories are surely passé by now.

Bridesmaids (1/10): If the movie is full of vomit, diarrhea, and profligate use of f-bombs, especially by women, you can be pretty sure it’s the work of producer Judd Apatow, who continues his assault on gentility and good taste with this disgraceful roll in the gutter that degrades women and substitutes raunch for humor. The sad part is that there is a good, sweet movie lurking here behind all the vulgarity.