(9/10): When Oliver Stone
puts his mind to it, he can really make a movie. This one is filled with
brutal graphic violence and has constant tension. I asked my friend how
she liked it. Her response, "It's riveting, but I don't like it" might
be a fairly common reaction.
Despite the foolish, teasing way Stone ended it, this is a high-quality,
Jesse Forever (8/10): An
acute, perceptive story of a girl, Celeste (Rashida Jones, who wrote the
screenplay), who is too smart for her own good. The film is replete with laugh out
loud lines, even though the story is bittersweet. The dialogue is
but filled with F-bombs. This is a comedy for the 21st-Century,
capturing life as it is today. While it would be unthinkable to imagine
Deborah Kerr or Gene Tierney using an F-bomb, this film does reflect the
way some young people talk today, whether it's due to the influence of
filmmakers or not. Despite the coarse language, this is an enormously
rewarding and entertaining film.
Kingdom (8/10): Director
Wes Anderson restores what's sorely missing from today's movies,
innocent sweetness, in this bizarre tale of two 12 year-olds
experiencing their first love. Enhancing its uniqueness are Anderson's
quirky cast of characters, story line, and script. This is an Indie that
should be high on the list of Oscar®-nominations.
Spider-Man (8/10): A new
cast, headlined by Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, and a new director,
Marc Webb whose only previous effort, 2008's "(500) Days of Summer," was
one of the best of the year, breathe fresh life into this tired series
and the result is a surprisingly entertaining film, mostly because Stone
is such a talented actress that she conveys her infatuation and love for
Parker through her incredibly expressive eyes.
Knight Rises (8/10): A
boffo start of an in-air highjacking, amazingly without CGI, paves the
way for fine performances by Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Marion
Cotillard and wonderful tension-enhancing music by Hans Zimmer which
allow director Christopher Nolan to keep this dark, almost 3-hour movie
moving with good pace.
(7/10): To call this
brutal crime thriller convoluted would be an understatement. There are
so many swarthy characters that it's often difficult to keep them
straight. With no good guys, it's long, dark, stark, and humorless. If
you can put up with the violence and many confusing characters, though,
it's an interesting tale. In Swedish, Serbian, and Spanish.
(5/10): Fine performances
by Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, and Gina
Gershon are overshadowed by a stirring turn by Juno Temple as a teenaged
beauty held hostage by contract killer and cop McConaughey. The film is
replete with nudity and foul language, and is torpedoed by disgusting,
over-the-top graphic violence and an inane but graphic simulated sex
scene in the finale, which earned it an NC-17 rating.
Queen (3/10): Despite a
sparkling performance by Léa Seydoux and fascinating cinematography of
Versailles, if Marie Antoinette had been required to sit through this
slow, talky, paceless telling of the 4 days succeeding the storming of
the Bastille she would have pleaded for an early trip to the guillotine.
Who would have guessed that a story about a teddy bear who comes to life
would be to "Alf" as "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is to "The Sound of
Music?" Ted is a smoking, drug taking, foul-talking jerk; too low moral
tone for children and too inane for adults.