Thumbnails Apr 17
by Tony Medley
Betting on Zero
detailed and explicit exposé about portfolio manager Bill Ackman’s
seemingly quixotic quest to prove that Herbalife is an illegal pyramid
scheme; it tells both sides and the evidence is overwhelming that it is.
Among extensive facts, it raises serious questions about the ethics of a
California U.S. District
Judge who approved a
settlement of a class action against Herbalife that resulted in each
plaintiff getting approximately $10 even though many lost their life
savings. This is an excellent, eye-opening documentary.
Beauty and the Beast
terrific entertainment combining live action with animation; the
outstanding production numbers and orchestration make up for mediocre
melody. Romantic enough, I thought Dan Stevens had a lot more sex appeal
as the Beast (achieved through
performance and facial capture technology, not makeup)
than as the Prince. Visual and special effects are award quality.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
Chastain shines as Antonina Żabińska, a working wife and mother who,
along with her equally heroic husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan
Heldenbergh), became a hero during WWII saving Jews from the Nazis. The
recreation of their tense life in Warsaw, with a Nazi constantly lusting
after her, during those dark years is spellbinding, based on Diane
Ackerman’s book and Antonina’s diaries.
Kong: Skull Island
Well directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (only his second film), the special
effects, production design, and cinematography alone are worth the price
of admission, buttressed by the symphonic score that greatly enhances
the action. And they should be since the estimated cost of production is
around $185 million. Final kudos should go to the editor. I’m constantly
carping about films needing good editing. This one got it, thanks to
I Am Not Your
Negro (7/10): This is an
angry black man ranting and raving and revising history to fit his
narrow concepts of how he would like people to view the world. His many
statements in the film are glaringly racist and dishonest, hoisting
himself on his own petard. After a TV appearance with
Baldwin, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was secretly recorded by the F.B.I.
saying that he was, “put off by the poetic exaggeration in Baldwin’s
approach to race issues.” Black author Ralph Ellison was also critical,
as were many other black leaders.
stars in what is basically the story of a “Court Jew,” a character that
goes back to the Old Testament. But why pick a Gentile to play a
traditionally Jewish character? There are lots of Jewish actors who
could have done this role, like Dustin Hoffman, who would have been
perfect and is the right age. Nothing against Gere’s performance but
since this is an ethnocentric movie; shouldn’t the actor be the right
ethnicity? Gere gives one of the best performances of his career, but
what he needed was a good editor with sharp scissors and a director who
had a better understanding of pace. As good as the film is, it was hard
to stay awake throughout. Opens April 14.
Table 19 (5/10):
situations are too silly and trite to be involving. This good cast
deserved better material.
Cézanne et Moi
What a monumental disappointment! Slow and boring, the film’s only
redeeming features are the locations and gorgeous, award-quality,
cinematography, so good each shot looks like its own painting.
Architect” by Charles Belfoure, a riveting WWII drama, and “Escape
Clause” by John Sandford, two rare tigers are stolen and a serial killer
is on the loose.