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Thumbnails Jun 13

by Tony Medley

The Great Gatsby (9/10): This is a phantasmagorical telling of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story, highlighted by fine acting, incredible sets, and brilliant colors so vivid and bright that they resemble three strip Technicolor from the late 30s through the mid-50s. Catherine Martin, director Baz Luhrmannís wife, produces Oscarģ-quality production design and costume design with incredible sets and dazzling clothes by Prada and Miu Miu. Adding to the fun is the 3-D which is among the best Iíve seen so far. This shows life as it never was and never could be, but it is captivating. For a movie well over two hours in length Luhrmann keeps the pace moving

Star Trek Into Darkness (8/10): Benedict Cumberpatch gives a sterling performance as an ambiguous villain in this second of the new iteration of Kirk and Spockís adventures in space, maybe the best Star Trek ever. Directed with wonderful pace and amazing special effects by J. J. Abrams, Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) have grown into their roles and seem much more assured than four years ago.  Quinto is markedly improved, giving a performance rivaling Leonard Nimoy.

The Iceman (8/10): The only thing off-putting about this film about brutal serial killer Richard Kuklinski (a.k.a. The Iceman), superlatively played by Michael Shannon, is the graphic violence. But the story is so well told that even if you have to avert your eyes a couple of times, itís an entertaining film.  Diverging somewhat from the facts, it is an oddly sensitive portrayal of a cold-blooded monster. It downplays the fact that while he never mistreated his daughters, he often beat his wife. On the downside, I deplore the delicate treatment of this despicable beast. Watching Vromanís take, one almost feels sympathy for him.

Before Midnight (7 /10): This is the third in a series of films directed by writer Richard Linklater. The first hour is burdened by a labored 20 minute two shot of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in a car and another half hour of agonizingly contrived dialogue at a dinner party. Fortunately it comes to life in the last 40 minutes with dialogue between Delpy and Hawke that is acute, sharp, and biting, reminiscent of Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), although more realistic and not alcohol-driven, much of it with Delpy emoting topless.

Fast and Furious 6 (5/10): This apparently unending series actually produced a good movie with 2011ís ďFast FiveĒ that introduced Dwayne Johnson as a character. Unfortunately, except for his huge arms that might attract women, Johnsonís not that much of an addition to this iteration which is nothing but two hours of loud car chases, crashes, and races, and interminable brutal fights that share no relation with reality. If thatís what you want, this is a wild ride.

The Hangover Part III (5/10): This profanity-laden mediocrity is not nearly as good as the first, but is better than the dreadful second, both of which were boffo box office. The lack of quality of the two sequels is explained by the fact that the writers of the first, which was a delightful screwball comedy for the 21st Century, were not retained on the next two. Advertised as the ďlast of the trilogy,Ē one can only hope.

Augustine (3/10): Terribly slow and lowlighted by dark cinematography this is yet another film about the diagnosis of female hysteria in the 19th Century loosely based on Dr. Jean Martin Charcot, a French neurologist, with whom Sigmund Freud studied in Paris, and his patient, Augustine, played by singer Soko. Neither the cachet nor a bungled B story of an alleged sexual relationship between the two help first time director Alice Winocour, and thatís unfortunate because itís a film that had the possibility of being another Snake Pit (1948). In French.