Thumbnails Dec 14
by Tony Medley
Horrible Bosses 2 (9/10):
There is a fine line between truly funny and truly idiotic. People like
Will Ferrell don’t recognize this line and cross it constantly. As a
result their films are so fatuous they are insulting.
This film approaches the line time and again but never crosses it. The
result is a film with more laughs than any I’ve seen in a long time. It
was hard for me to tell who was the funniest. The triumvirate of
dummies, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day have their
moments. When Chris Pine was onscreen, I thought it was maybe he. The
always extraordinary Christoph Waltz is in the running. Jennifer
Anniston plays a sex-crazed woman impeccably. Her scenes do contain some
language that some might find offensive, but it is its offensiveness
that brings the humor. But, wait, I was laughing all the time that Jamie
Foxx and Kevin Spacey were onscreen, too. You’ll just have to decide for
The Theory of Everything (9/10):
Fine performances by Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne highlight this
whitewashed, highly romantic account of Stephen Hawking’s marriage to
Jane Wilde Hawking based on her second, revised book. A film on her
first book, which told the real story, would have been far more
interesting. I thought it one of the best films I had ever seen
until I did some research and discovered the truth exemplified by her
statement that the only thing that kept her from suicide was her
children, an attitude you don’t get from this film.
Tightly written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal gives a tour
de force buttressed by atmospheric cinematography and tension enhancing
music. Shot at KTLA (renamed KWLA), which is Los Angeles’ iconic TV
station, pioneering “Time for Beany” and “Space Patrol,” among others,
at the dawn of the TV age in the late ‘40s, it is also a wonderful
homage to the city of Los Angeles with 75 different locations.
Director Erik Skjolbjærg gets first class
performances from his cast in this thriller about Norwegian divers going
deep down 500 meters beneath the surface of the ocean to build a
pipeline. When Aksel Hennie’s brother dies in what appears to be
an accident, Aksel thinks otherwise and opens a whole barrel of worms
trying to find the truth. This is a tense film that never drags. In
English and Norwegian.
The Homesman (7/10):
It was a stark life on the Great Plains in 1855, and director/star Tommy
Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, and the rest of the cast, along with
cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto show it with admirable realism. Jones and
production designer Meredith Boswell, did a painstaking job of
recreation using photographs of Solomon Butcher, who spent 40 years
documenting the living conditions of the settlers of the Prairie in the
19th and 20th centuries.
The Imitation Game (7/10):
Despite “Hollywood” scenes of dubious veracity (like purloining and
converting the story of Churchill’s refusal to inform the public of the
Nazi raid on Coventry) this is an interesting tale of computer pioneer
Alan Turing and his sexuality with top performances by Benedict
Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and the rest of the cast in
breaking the Enigma Code in WWII.
Way too long, the first two hours are tolerable, but it’s done in by the
unfortunate influence of co-executive producer Kip Thorne, a Cal Tech
physicist and great friend of Stephen Hawking. His almost hour-long
ending requires an advanced degree in theoretical physics to understand,
and even then it would be ludicrous.
Although “based on a true story,” this is your quintessential long, slow
Hollywood movie without an iota of pace, despite a fine performance by
Steve Carell, eschewing comedy for drama. Further detracting is that it
doesn’t explain a thing about Olympic wrestling, a sport with arcane
rules that could use some explaining.