Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Transcendence: Best Laid Schemes...

The Movie Slut wanted to love this movie, this cautionary tale about human hubris. Or is it folly? Or are they one and the same? It's about scientists who fail to see the logical reprecussions of their work. But she had to settle for like.

Will and Evelyn Castor (Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall) are the brains behind an artificial intelligence experiment that aims to enable robots to transcend human intelligence. Needless to say, segments of the population (call them Luddites, if you want) foresee danger around this hairpin turn.

Some say this is a classic Frankenstein story, only this time it's not science that runs amok. It's technology. And that sounded brilliant to MS. Also on the plus side was a shape shifting theme that muddied the waters between the good guys and bad guys.

So what went wrong?

The focus of the flick also got muddy. You might ask what's love got to do with it? Why are we suddenly submerged into contemplating the enduring nature of love, a fine theme for a film, but not one with so much else that should have remained in sharp focus.

In the end, Transcendence doesn't transcend the level of a pretty good popcorn movie. A shame, when it could have been so much more.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted: It's Not Easy Being Mean

Constantine, left, and Kermit in Muppets Most Wanted

You've heard the old saw that everyone has a double. Well, this movie proves it. To the right we have loveable Kermit, star of film and television. To the left, sporting a black mole, is his dopplegangar, Constantine, the baddest frog in Muppet Land.

And so, a case of mistaken identity fuels this delightful comedy. Annie, 8, Charlie, 6, and Sidney, almost 4, were glued to the big screen for the entire 112 minutes. Not a whine or bathroom request was heard. And no pleas for those sugar-laced Icee drinks that stain kids tongues in garish shades of pink and blue.

The Movie Slut also enjoyed every minute of the flick, which included wry performances by Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais (not usually a MS favorite).

 Muppets Most Wanted is a fun movie for the entire family.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Draft Day: No Crying in Football?

Kevin Costner as Sonny in Draft Day
"You sure got big balls, Sonny," a character in this football movie tells the team's general manager. And from the look on Kevin Costner's face, it's the ultimate compliment.

Sonny's mission, which takes place on the day that the NFL trades and hires players, is to pick the best players for his team, the Cleveland Browns. And he executes that feat with the kind of expert wheeling and dealing that would have made Lyndon Johnson proud.

Draft Day is a squeaky clean football flick with characters that appear to have as little to do with reality as Kermit the Frog or Miss Piggy. Forget steroids, concussions, dog fighting rings and domestic violence, the players Sonny signs and trades might as well be wearing Boy Scout badges and helping little old ladies cross the street.

Still, thanks to Costner's low-key performance this is an eminently likable popcorn flick.
Reality can be overrated.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier: Camera Ready

A box of negatives purchased at  auction began an odyssey that uncovered the work of the an unknown street photographer. One box led to another. Soon, there were 100,000 negatives and a name.

Vivian Maier was an amateur street photographer in Chicago in the second half of the 20th century,  discovered in the early 21st century by a young historian, John Maloof, who got more than he bargained for.

The resulting documentary chronicles his search for the person behind the camera and then for information about this mysterious woman, who never processed her work. Not everything he learned about Maier, who died in 2009, is pretty. In fact, the film left the Movie Slut wondering what was considered too unpalatable to bring to the multiplex.

Still, her photos are arresting and the documentary provides a fascinating look at a person who lived on the fringes of society and seemed to truly connect with others only through the lens of her camera.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Under The Skin: Out Of This World

At times baffling, unsettling and upsetting, this is a movie not to be missed by moviegoers who are willing to wait in wonder for most of the 147 minutes. For this reason, the Movie Slut warms readers away from The New York Times review, which gives away everything in the first sentence. And it doesn't even have the grace to say "spoiler alert."

Luckily, MS read the review after seeing the movie.

Under The Skin gives new meaning to the term "art house film." It's a melange of modern art, music, and even dance. Scarlett Johansson stars as a mysterious and exquisite young woman. Who is she? What is she doing? Why is she doing it?

Don't worry, you find out everything in the end. And it all adds up. When you look back at her every act and action, it makes perfect sense.

Beautifully scripted, choreographed and filmed (in Scotland), this is a movie for people with patience and fortitude. It helps to have an open mind, too.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bad Words: Skip This #%^@#$% Movie

Jason Bateman must be the most likeable, and, or, luckiest guy in the movie biz. The critics adore him. This movie is a perfect example.

In his directorial debut, Bateman also stars as a 40-year-old poster boy for arrested development. (Sound familiar?) Since he quit school somewhere around the eighth grade, he technically qualifies for the national spelling bee. And that's fortuitous because he happens to be a spelling dynamo.

So there he is onstage with the kiddies, viciously competing.

There's a back story that's divulged at the end of the movie.
Hint: Revenge is a word best spelled R-E-V-E-N-G-E.

Still nothing can explain or justify his unfunny, uncouth shenanigans. Now, the Movie Slut loves a good politically incorrect movie as much as anyone. (There's Something About Mary is a favorite.) And there's nothing on this screen that offends her.

 "It's just not funny," she says.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Lunchbox: Eat & Meet?

Irrfan Khan, as Saajan & Nimrat Kaur, as Ila, in The Lunchbox.
The loneliness of the main characters in this romance of sorts is all the more poignant and palpable because they live in Mumbai, the most populace city in a country known for human density. A young housewife and a white collar worker are brought together by, what else, lunch.

The plot is no more than a short story (a good one.) But it's stretched into a full-length movie. Those with short attention spans and action/thriller fans might grow restless. Not the Movie Slut. She savored every scene, all of which opened windows onto modern day Indian life and customs.

Bollywood this is not. But the film may have a happy ending if you choose one. That's left for the audience to decide.