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Thumbnails Sep 14
by Tony Medley
Get On Up (9/10):
This is the way the story of a music legend should be brought to screen.
It’s full of music and Chadwick Boseman lip-syncing to the voice of
James Brown. If he doesn’t get an Oscar® for this, something’s wrong,
but I thought he should have received an Oscar® last year for his
portrayal of Jackie Robinson in 42 and he wasn’t even nominated.
Much of Brown’s story is amazing and admirable, rising from abject
poverty, a rough, hardscrabble existence as a child and teenager, to
worldwide fame, success, and acclaim. Unfortunately, like most Hollywood
movies about celebrities, this is a whitewash. There is no mention of
his illegitimate children (at least three), and his wife beatings and
abuse of drugs are only mentioned in passing. This is an entertaining,
if soft-soaped, biopic that doubles as a wonderful concert of Brown’s
music. But tell the flaws with the good.
Although a story of war, it’s not even close to being a traditional WWII
movie like Battleground (1949) or The Sands of Iwo Jima
(1949). There are no battles, no opposing armies, just ordinary human
beings, non-combatants trying to survive a world war that’s being fought
all around them. Set in Hungary, complicated and intense, every
person in this film changes because of what war does to them, up to and
including the shocking, thought-provoking ending. In Hungarian.
The Storm (8/10):
After a slow, poorly crafted start, and some bathetic, pace-challenged
scenes near the end, it is well-directed with fine pace and high tension
by Steven Quale. After starting out as an ordinary day, all hell breaks
loose. The visual and practical special effects (Randall Starr) that
create the storms are spellbinding. Shown are tornadoes attacking
everything in their paths, picking up cars as if they were feathers,
enhanced by exceptional sound capturing the fury of the storms.
This is an admirably even-handed story of immigration problems at the
Arizona-Mexico border with terrific performances by Michael Peña, Ed
Harris, and Eva Longoria. It’s a tense story with fine pace and deals
with a complicated situation with reason.
It Goes (7/10):
While Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton give good performances in this
Rob Reiner-directed romantic comedy about people who have passed the
prime of life, the person who steals the show is Sterling Jerins, who
plays Douglas’s nine-year old granddaughter. She gives a performance
that belies her tender years. While it’s a reasonably entertaining
movie, it’s one that will be enjoyed more by women than men, who might
start to fidget after a while.
The Last of Robin Hood (5/10):
The recounting of 30s and 40s superstar Errol Flynn’s last fling with
underage Beverly Aadland is done in by monumental miscasting of Kevin
Kline as the washed-up Flynn. Flynn was a good athlete and a fine tennis
player. Had they cast someone who could approach Peter O’Toole’s
performance in My Favorite Year (1982) which was based on Flynn,
this could have been a winner. O’Toole played him as an aging alcoholic
with the over-the-top gusto one associates with Flynn. The way Kline
portrays him he has not an iota of athleticism or sex appeal.
When the Game Stands Tall (3/10):A cliché-ridden story of high school
football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Cavaiezel) and how his 2004 team coped
with the ending of De La Salle High School’s 151 game winning streak is
so preachy it’s hard to buy the piffle that lasts for almost two hours.
Almost every time Ladouceur says anything it’s backed up by music so
maudlin it eventually becomes laughable, as if everything Ladouceur says
should be carved in marble.