Thumbnails Dec 15
by Tony Medley
Getting to the Nutcracker (10/10):
This moving documentary about the Marat Daukayev Ballet Theater located
at Wilshire and LaBrea preparing its young (ages 6-18) dancers for The
Nutcracker is as sweet and charming as Tchaikovsky’s music. Watching
these eager little children, who basically are devoting every possible
hour to the dance they obviously love, can’t help but bring tears to
your eyes. Many of the dancers in the show live in our area. Don’t miss
this when it appears on PBS.
The Letters (9/10):
This is the fascinating tale of how Mother Theresa (a brilliant Juliet
Stevenson) started out and what she accomplished. The story is told by
85year old Max von Sydow as a flashback. Apparently she wrote letters to
her spiritual superiors throughout her lifetime (that she wanted
destroyed) that reveal that she was a tortured soul. According to Rutger
Hauer, investigating her for sainthood, “She suffered greatly, stemming
from her belief that she had been abandoned by God.”
There’s only one person alive who can kill James Bond; Daniel Craig. All
the prior iterations had James as a womanizing, double-entendre dropping
secret agent who never let a beautiful woman pass by unattended to.
Craig, however, is unconvincing as a man who finds women sexually
appealing; so gone are most of the womanizing, gags, and
double-entendres. Craig turns this into a straight action film. The CGI
and special effects are terrific, especially the opening. This is
definitely not what we have come to expect as a Bond film, but it’s
still a good actioner.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (7/10):
Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful, easy to watch, and gives a good
performance. With attractive special effects and CGI, it might be more
interesting if you’ve seen the first three films, but this can stand on
its own, too.
The Peanuts Movie (5/10):
I was one of the original fans of Peanuts, starting in the ‘50s. I still
start each day reading that day’s strip. I liked all the TV shows, too.
Unfortunately, this new try doesn’t have Charles Schulz to write the
script and it doesn’t have Bill Melendez to direct and, maybe the
biggest loss of all, it doesn’t have Vince Guaraldi to write the iconic,
mood-capturing music. As a result, it pretty much fails on all levels. I
started looking at my watch after ten minutes.
The Night Before (5/10):
Seth Rogen admitted on The Today Show that when growing up as a Jewish
kid in Canada, Christmas “alienated” him. So he’s getting his revenge
with this F-bomb and expletive filled thing that defies categorization.
It’s not a comedy because it’s not funny. It’s not a romance because
it’s not romantic. It’s not a Christmas movie because it’s can’t
possibly be seen by children and Christmas is really about children.
Worse, the only Santa Clauses shown are drunk.
I can see no reason or justification for a movie that makes aging seem
so depressing, dispiriting, angry, and lonely, although viewing it does
make two hours seem like ten.
True to Hollywood’s political slant, this ignores the main problem with
the Hollywood Ten, of which Trumbo was a charter member: all pledged
allegiance to Joseph Stalin and actively pursued and disseminated their
Communist ideology. This movie ignores most of what Trumbo and his
Hollywood Ten comrades did other than being pro-union activists. For a
decade they filled their films with subtle Communist propaganda, and
Trumbo was a leader in this regard. The film conceals the fact that
Trumbo wrote, “Every screen writer worth his salt wages the battle in
his own way—a kind of literary guerilla warfare.” They were just as
disloyal to America as Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.