Thumbnails Oct 12
America (10/10): Ignoring
the controversies over Obama's birthplace and well-hidden school
transcripts, writer/director Dinesh D'Souza partially pulls back the
curtain surrounding the most inscrutable, secretive President in U.S.
history in this examination of who Obama really is and, more important,
why. D'Souza gives a new, revealing look at the mysterious man through
his own words and interviews with family and others.
(9/10): What's brilliant
about this movie is not only the Oscar®-quality acting by Tom Hardy and
Guy Pearce , but the spellbinding evocative recreation of life in
Franklin County, Virginia during Prohibition. The violence could cause
some to find it troubling. But this was a tough time in America and
that's what the movie is about, so you know what you're getting when you
buy your ticket.
(9/10): With a premise
that is immoral and upsetting at its heart, this is laugh-out-loud
funny. Hugh Laurie returns to the comic genre that gave him his start
("Blackadder") and he hasn't lost a step. While Leighton Meester
sparkles in a difficult role, the tongue in cheek narration by Laurie's
daughter, Alia Shawkat, had me in serious belly laughs.
(8/10): Reminiscent of a
young Albert Brooks movie (like 1985's Lost in America), although
not as funny as Brooks at his best, this is deep and complex. Like
Albert, this is an auteur performance by Josh Radnor, who wrote,
directed, and stars. He has an appealing presence, with an easy smile
and projects an immense likeability. He's aided by wonderful
performances by Elizabeth Olsen, Zac Efron, Allison Janney, and Richard
Jenkins. Adding charm to the movie is the shooting location at Radnor's
alma mater, Kenyon College, an impossibly picturesque Ohio location with
tree-lined walkways, comfy dormitories, and delightful white brick
the Curve (8/10): People
still watch and read Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz
even though they stray far from reality. So who cares if this syrupy
film is closer to a fairytale than real life? Superstar Clint Eastwood
is a cantakerous baseball scout/father playing off Oscar®-nominated Amy
Adams as his lawyer/daughter who feels ignored. With both at the top of
their games, who could ask for more? If you want more, though, there is
a terrific performance by Matthew Lillard as a Machiavellian bad guy.
(8/10): Richard Gere
returns after a four year absence to give a scintillating performance in
this complex Bernie Madoff-inspired tale of wrongdoings on Wall Street.
(5/10): I got tired of all
the cinéma-vérité bicycle-riding shots of Joseph Gordon-Levitt cutting
in and out of traffic, going the wrong way on one way streets and
running red lights early on and started looking at my watch less than 30
minutes into the film. Alas, there's little story, and the film
continues with 61 more minutes of bicycle riding and chases.
End of Watch
Bill Ayer shows the typical LAPD cop as being an over-the-top vulgarian
who can't utter three words in a row without two of them being the F
word. One of the most foul-mouthed movies I have ever had the misfortune
to sit through, this presents an LAPD comprised of immature people
straight out of Animal House. That's a shame because the action
is intense, the cops (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) are shown to
have good hearts, and the incidents that they have to deal with are
(1/10): Obviously aimed at
13 year-old girls, this is a film that is mostly annoying. Starring Anna
Kendrick and Brittany Snow, it's the story of a bunch of college kids
who devote every waking moment to an a cappella singing contest. The
setup scenes are ludicrous but not as silly as the various characters.