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Thumbnails Aug 14

by Tony Medley

Magic in the Moonlight (10/10): Woody Allen has done it again with a thoroughly captivating romantic comedy set on the Côte d'Azur in the ‘20s with star turns by Emma Stone (more beautiful than she’s ever been) and Colin Firth, who create bewitching chemistry. Woody’s laugh out loud script seems to be deeply influenced by George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, resulting in Magic in the Movie Theater.

What If (9/10): Zoe Kazan stars in a sweet love story about a woman in a relationship with another man when she meets her soul-mate, Daniel Radcliffe. There is no nudity to distract you, which is good because this is a movie that emphasizes good values and uses language instead of four-letter words; you must listen carefully to the acute dialogue. It’s also a movie in which Kazan continues to demonstrate that she is one of the most talented actresses on the big screen. Not uncommonly beautiful, she captures audiences with her expressive eyes and incomparable acting. Opens August 8

The Purge: Anarchy (8/10): This sequel to last year’s surprise low-budget hit (it returned 11 times its cost of production) is an extremely well made film, highlighted by top-notch directing with wonderful unrelenting pace and tension by James DeMonaco, outstanding music by Nathan Whitehead, and fine acting by the little-known cast.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (3/10):  For the first 90 minutes this is an entertaining film with good performances, especially by Mark Wahlburg, and eye-popping special effects. But that’s only the half of it. As it creaks on and on it gets more and more duplicative until finally one is begging to be put out of the misery of waiting for it to end.

A Most Wanted Man (3/10): John le Carré writes long, boring, wordy novels. Director Anton Corbijn has faithfully converted le Carré’s 2008 novel into a long, boring, wordy movie that is memorable only because it is the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movie and one gets to watch Rachel McAdams cavort in the tightest jeans ever donned by woman.

Tammy (3/10): This is not Debbie Reynolds’ Tammy, and more’s the pity. Where Debbie’s Tammy was beautiful and sweet and innocent, Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy is of meager intelligence, gross, and vulgar. Worse, director Ben Falcone (McCarthy’s husband) can’t seem to decide if he’s making a smutty comedy or a film of maturation and relationships. The result is a coarse, humorless movie with a low moral tone.

Sex Tape (0/10): Made by protégés of vulgarian Judd Apatow, this movie has three strikes and out. One constitutes the scriptwriters who display that they are functionally illiterate in one of the first scenes in which Cameron Diaz ends a sentence with “for Jay and I,” then fill the script with F-bombs, adding dialogue and sexual incidents that are too silly to be considered childish. The second is abysmal directing by Jake Kasdan, who was also responsible for the tasteless “Neighbors” a few months ago. The third is the acting that required the subtlety of a Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Instead we get Diaz and Jason Segel who have the subtleness of an atomic bomb.

Mood Indigo (0/10): This is a phantasmagorically bilious movie, carrying surrealism to its nth degree. Although it is supposed to be a love story between Romain Duris and Audrey Tatou, their world, the devices in it, and the physics under which they live are so preposterous it’s difficult to develop any empathy.  Examples: a water lily growing in Tatou’s lung, an apartment that changes shapes according to Duris’s emotions, and a gun that is built by having naked men lie for 24 hours at a time on mounds of dirt. In French, color, and black & white.