Thumbnails Mar 14
Winter’s Tale (8/10):
an intriguing, metaphysical fantasy highlighted by crackling chemistry
between Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay, and a good turn by
Russell Crowe as a semi-immortal demon, marred only by a less than
lackluster performance by Will Smith as Lucifer, a role that could have
been made magical by Jack Cassidy were he still alive. Akiva Goldsman,
in his directorial debut, exhibits a deft touch in converting Mark
Helprin’s 700 page romantic novel covering 1895 to 2014 to film,
getting a big boost from Caleb Deschanel’s evocative, atmospheric
cinematography. The revered Eva Marie Saint makes a noteworthy
appearance in a cameo.
the novel The Double by Nobel laureate José Saramago, this is a
brilliantly complex thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal in a dual role
that does not let the viewer relax one iota. Director Denis Villeneuve
keeps applying constant tension, greatly aided by a wonderful score by
Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans. Villeneuve says, “The logical point of
view of the film needs to be blurry and daring – a challenge for the
mind. But from the emotional point of view it’s very important that
there is a clear path.” It’s that path that only became clear to me well
after the film had ended.
Mob (8/10): Based
on a true story, Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda portray a couple of kids
who pick on mobsters by holding them up in clumsy, but effective armed
robberies. This is a terrifically-acted, well-paced mob comedy up until
about the last 15 minutes when it loses all its pace and slows down to a
plodathon, complete with Johnny Mathis wailing Dream, Dream, Dream
(a pretty 1964 waltz) under a maudlin montage of shots that almost
completely destroys what came before. While this continues the old
dismaying Hollywood tradition of picturing the mafia as a bunch of
loveable, doddering, laughable codgers, it was anything but. Opens March
question, even before I saw this, is why? Why do a remake with a script
so similar that the original screenwriters are given almost full credit?
Says director José Padilha about the 1987 movie, “I think it’s a
brilliant film, an iconic classic.” Maybe it is. If so, why remake it?
Would he repaint Mona Lisa or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?
“Casablanca” fits his description of a “brilliant film, an iconic
classic.” Would he remake that with, maybe, George Clooney as Rick (I
shudder at the thought)? Now we have two Robocops that are
virtual carbon copies of one another, although this one is less violent
and much blander, aided, however, by a sparkling good cast. Take your
the easiest way to describe this is that it’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia
Woolf” for seniors. Jim Broadbent & Lindsay Duncan are
celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary by returning to
Paris, the place of their honeymoon. This is no honeymoon. It is a film
of sharp emotions highlighted by insightful, biting dialogue emotionally
delivered by Broadbent and Duncan. Even though this is in English, the
audio was so muffled I yearned for subtitles.
Monuments Men (2/10):
tragedy of this movie isn’t just that it’s appallingly awful; it
trivializes the heroic work of the real monuments men. The script by
George Clooney and Grant Heslov may stand as one of the worst in the
history of Hollywood, filled with lines and situations so trite one
shudders in disbelief. Even more dismal is Clooney’s ponderous directing
relying on contrived incidents and a tone that would be more appropriate
for Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.